Copyright Kate Brennan Hall

Copyright Kate Brennan Hall

My studio space is a lovely creative mess. If creativity is tied to messiness then I’m very creative! But, like my dad used to say about his workshop, “I know where everything is!”… There are stacks of freshly printed crisp towels waiting to be sewn into everything from cafe aprons to totebags. I love this jam-packed space. On one wall I have a cork bulletin board and on it are photos of family and friends and tucked in between, are small scraps of papers that hold a goldmine of kindness and love. They are the product of a group exercise a friend conducted almost a decade ago. She asked members of a group of friends, to write ten things we loved about each other and bring them to our next gathering. I’ll never forget the happiness and gratitude that flowed over me when I read what my friends valued about me. Humbling, yet such a gift that I needed and still need to this day.

These “ten things” sprang to mind when I was pondering the current state of negativity and divisiveness floating around our airwaves and on internet comment boards. This air of rancor, coupled with news of dear ones who have been diagnosed with life altering conditions, led me to think about how I could push back in a positive way. Having lost loved ones early, it is clear that life is so short. A cliche to many, but it rings true. But even knowing that, I still needed to push past my level of discomfort at telling friends and family the things that I love about them. Why do I have discomfort? Well, on one hand people receiving a compliment might think you’re just trying to flatter them for personal gain. (reminders of high school behavior…) But on the other hand giving compliments runs against the grain of my cultural heritage (read Angela’s Ashes). I was taught that compliments/sweet words were to be doled out in tiny crumbs…or not at all. There seemed to be an outright concern of puffing up of a person’s ego if you gave them words of praise. I used to think this was just a peculiar characteristic of my particular family, but after reading about other cultures it is clear to me that this idea abounded among many.

So casting those fears aside, I decided to create a postcard using my Never Forget the Difference YOU Make design. On the back of the postcard I wrote, ” My top 5 things I love about you: (there’s more but these will have to do for now!)

Copyright Kate Brennan Hall

Copyright Kate Brennan Hall

First I sent out an email to ask for snail mail addresses. In this age of people shedding land lines, it is growing more and more difficult to find mailing addresses. Many responded and so, when I find time to actually sit down for a break, I pull up a stack of postcards and start thinking about the things I admire in each particular person. (If you haven’t rec’d one it’s because I’m sending them in batches OR, I don’t have your mailing address!) I’m so glad I’m sending these postcards out. The feedback I’ve received confirms for me that taking the time to tell others (on paper!) that they matter—and why they are so special, is badly needed. It feels like there’s literally a compliment desert out there.

Many recipients asked me to create some postcards for them and so I did. They are on my Etsy shop and locally, available (starting May 5th) at Hatchlings & Hens in Cedar Falls.  (Stockists outside of downtown Cedar Falls, IA: contact me if you need these stocked. Thanks!)

I’ll be ever-thankful to that friend who inspired this exercise in reaching out with love and I’m happy to keep spreading this idea…! Cheers, Kate

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