A Pen Pal Friendship Story

A Pen Pal Friendship Story

Have you ever opened an envelope that says “Magic Inside”? It’s something my pen pal friends and I write on the back of our letters to each other to signify that something exciting has just been delivered. The most recent letter I received from my pen pal, Makenzi, had that phrase neatly written on the back bottom corner and I gasped when I saw it. I ripped it open and the first thing that fell out onto the kitchen counter was a crystal oracle card that she enclosed. This is the second crystal card she’s given me and it made me smile. The first was a carnelian card (to stimulate creativity) and this one is a turquoise card (for when you want to express something).

I then found a note from her about what’s been going on in her life in the past month. She also included a patterned piece of paper with “Mail Tag” questions like “Favorite holiday?” and “What are your moon and rising signs?” Astrology lingo for those wondering!

Makenzi’s letter to me

There’s something about hand-writing a letter, putting a stamp on it (I recently bought these flower stamps), and sending it off into the world that feels like a warm hug. My friends call me “Mabel” because I’m like an “85-year old trapped in a 33 year old body”. Don’t get me wrong – I love technology as much as the next Millennial, but old-fashioned stationary and markers are really where my true love lies.

Back in 2015, I started a pen pal program called Happsters Mail on this blog and had the best time matching up readers with each other. One of the people I matched up was one of my childhood best friends, Maggie. She and her pen pal, Kylie, are still writing to each other to this day! I’m always so curious to hear the ins and outs of their pen pal friendship when Maggie brings up their letters, so I wanted to share the interview below featuring Maggie and Kylie. I hope that it inspires you to mail a note to a friend or family member soon.

First up, my interview with Maggie about her pen pal friendship with Kylie:

  1. Where do you live?

San Diego, California

  1. How long have you been writing pen pal letters to each other and how often do you typically write to each other?

We have been writing to each other since the beginning of 2015. We used to write to each other monthly, but the turnaround time has gotten longer as life has gotten more complicated. I would say it’s maybe 4-5 times a year now.

The first letter Maggie received from Kylie
  1. What do you think it was that helped you continue to be pen pals after all of these years?

I think we have stayed pen pals for so long because we have truly become friends. When we first started writing to each other, I had just gotten engaged. Now we are both married with kids! We have also supported each other through job changes, personal/family life events, and of course the pandemic.

  1. What’s one or two of your favorite things that Kylie has sent you?

Kylie sends really thoughtful birthday surprises! She sent me some cool beeswax wraps that I love, and always nails it with the snacks. But my favorite part of every correspondence is just reading what she has been up to in her life.

  1. Have you met in person or are you ever planning to meet?

Since we live so far away, we have never met. I would love to meet her someday! We started following each other on Instagram a couple of years ago, so it allows me to sort of see what her world looks like.

  1. Do you ever have themes for letters depending on the time of year (i.e. your birthdays, certain holidays, etc.)?

We definitely have themes depending on the month/season of the year. I love getting Kylie’s Christmas card every year (and sending her mine when I have the energy to make one)!

Holiday snail mail
  1. What’s something you love about having Kylie as a pen pal?

I love having a friend that I haven’t actually spoken to in person. It’s unique and old timey and cool! I never would have crossed paths with Kylie, and yet she is a really supportive person in my life. It brings me a sort of grade school nostalgic joy when I receive her letters in the mail. Then I get to be creative and tactile in return, which is wonderful too.

I hope that we always continue to write to each other. Maybe our kids can be pen pals someday!

Here’s what Kylie had to say about writing to Maggie for all of these years:

  1. Where do you live?

I live in rural Southeast Iowa, just outside of a very small town, Keosauqua.

2. Had you ever written to a pen pal before? What made you want to sign up for one this time?

The only time I’ve previously written to a pen pal has been through school assignments growing up and those were always short lived. This is my first real, long term pen pal. I decided to sign up because I was just fresh out of college, had a lot of time on my hands, and was looking to add something new to my life. I thought having a pen pal could lead to some fun experiences and hopefully a new friendship!

The first letter Kylie received from Maggie

3. What kinds of things do you typically include in your letters to each other?

Our letters vary depending on what’s going on in our lives but it’s usual a general update of what’s been happening in our lives since the last time we wrote to each other, holiday or vacation plans, books we’re reading, and often small seasonal gifts, stickers, trinkets, etc.

4. What’s one or two of your favorite things that Maggie has sent to you?

My absolute favorite thing Maggie has ever sent to me was for my birthday a few years ago. She sent me the cutest tin seed organizer (I’m a big gardener). Not only was it super cute, but it’s super useful and I still use it to organize my seed packets and keep track of my gardening!

The tin seed organizer Maggie sent Kylie

5. Do you have any tips to give someone who is just starting a pen pal relationship?

My tip to someone who is just starting out with a pen pal is to be open and playful. I loved that Maggie and I started out with exchanging an “about me” card that asked silly questions we wouldn’t normally think to ask but really helped us get to know each other. By being open to answering questions (especially silly or playful ones) you can find things you have in common or maybe find out something about them that you want to learn more about.

6. Where do you come up with ideas on what to include in your letters? Do you look online, at Pinterest, or just come up with them on your own?

When we first started out I initially looked to Pinterest for inspiration but have found that I don’t really need to anymore. Our letters are pretty intuitive anymore and we always include a “mail tag” card that asks different questions that don’t flow in our letters, seasonal things (what Summer foods are you enjoying right now?/ Any New Year’s resolutions?/ What are you dressing up as for Halloween? etc)

7. What’s something you love about having Maggie as a pen pal?

I love that Maggie and I live very different lives (Iowa and California are very different in lots of ways!) but we have SO MUCH in common! I almost feel like Maggie and I are the same person in some ways and we could definitely be best friends that hang out every day if we lived near each other. Her letters are so warm and she feels like someone I’ve been friends with my whole life so I have no problem opening up to her like I would with any of my other close friends. I love that I have made a lifelong friend out of being her pen pal!

I’m so grateful that I signed up for a pen pal and that you set me up with Maggie. She was definitely the perfect choice for me and has brought a lot of joy to my life! To anyone contemplating getting a pen pal, you should do it! It’s so much fun!

Thank you Kylie and Maggie for sharing your pen pal friendship with us today!

If you’re interested in getting your own pen pal, here are some organizations that match you up:

I’ve been considering opening up the Happsters Mail Program again soon as well. Send me an email at happsters@gmail.com or comment below if you’d be interested in being matched up.

Have you ever had a pen pal? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

12 Monthly Mirror Messages

12 Monthly Mirror Messages

Today, I want to talk about a project I’m doing for the first time this year that I call “Monthly Mirror Messages.” This project is pretty simple and is exactly what it sounds like. Each month, I’ll tape an affirmation on my mirror to motivate me during those 30 days. Then on the first day of the next month, I’ll switch out one affirmation for another one. That’s it! Here are the step-by-step instructions if you’d like to do it yourself:

  1. Write down 12 affirmations (one for each month of 2022), each on its own small piece of paper.

Here are the affirmations I chose:

  • I make a difference in the world by simply existing in it.
  • I focus on what I can control and I let go of what I can’t.
  • I attract positive people and experiences into my life.
  • Success follows me.
  • I am the master of my abundance.
  • “I am in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing.” – Louise Hay
  • The perfect moment is this one – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • I am full of energy and optimism. I am ready to have fun.
  • Creativity runs through me and leads me to great ideas.
  • I don’t chase. What belongs to me will simply find me.
  • I listen to my intuition and trust my gut.
  • I am well-rested and excited for a fun day.

Looking for others? You can get great ideas for affirmations by searching Pinterest for “inspiring affirmations,” “affirmations for self love,” “affirmations for confidence,” etc.

  1. Optional: Decorate the pieces of paper around the affirmation. You can add paint, doodles, stickers, or whatever you’d like or keep it simple. I glued some dried flowers from my garden onto the paper and used those as the art.
  1. Put every affirmation card into a bowl or jar.
Beautiful bowl created by Elise Joy
  1. At the beginning of each month, choose one affirmation at random. I believe that whichever one you happen to choose will be the perfect one for that month.
  2. Use washi tape or clear tape to put it on your bathroom mirror where you’ll see it when you brush your teeth every day. Say that affirmation out loud or to yourself every day.

Curious if there’s science that backs affirmations? I was too. I was pleasantly surprised that there is quite a bit of good research on daily affirmations. Here are a few benefits of using affirmations:

  1. Affirmations have been shown to decrease health-deteriorating stress (Sherman et al., 2009; Critcher & Dunning, 2015)
  2. They have been used effectively in interventions that led people to increase their physical behavior (Cooke et al., 2014)
  3. They may help us to perceive otherwise “threatening” messages with less resistance, including interventions (Logel & Cohen, 2012)
  4. They can make us less likely to dismiss harmful health messages, responding instead with the intention to change for the better (Harris et al., 2007) and to eat more fruit and vegetables (Epton & Harris, 2008)
  5. They have been linked positively to academic achievement by mitigating GPA decline in students who feel left out at college (Layous et al., 2017)
  6. They have been demonstrated to lower stress and rumination (Koole et al., 1999; Wiesenfeld et al., 2001).

Have you ever created affirmation cards or mirror messages for yourself? Do you plan to? Tell me in the comments section!

P.S. Living with Kindness interviewed me recently about what I call the 4 G’s of happiness. Check it out here.

Top 5 Inspiring Snapchat Accounts to Follow

Top 5 Inspirational Snapchat Accounts to Follow

Snapchat is my new obsession. I cannot get enough of the behind-the-scenes looks at peoples’ lives. Unfortunately, I’ve discovered that it isn’t easy to find inspirational accounts to follow so I wanted to solve that problem! Here are 5 motivational and inspirational Snapchat accounts you should follow.

1) LoveSweatandFit
Katie is a southern California fitness professional and blogger who kills it on Snapchat. I love watching her days whether she’s filming a new YouTube video or just showing what her grocery haul is and chatting about her favorite products. Love her! Add her at: LoveSweatandFit

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Screenshot this to add LoveSweatandFit on Snapchat

2) MichelleObama
Michelle Obama recently just got her own Snapchat account. I love her personality and have found it incredibly inspirational to peek into her life and see all the good she’s accomplishing in the world on a daily basis. Add her at: MichelleObama

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Screenshot this to add MichelleObama on Snapchat

3) SophiaBushSnaps
I’m a fan of Sophia Bush from her days on “One Tree Hill” and her Snapchat does not disappoint. She snaps lots of photos and videos on set of her TV show and highlights causes that she’s an activist for. Add her at: SophiaBushSnaps

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Screenshot this to add SophiaBushSnaps on Snapchat

4) Rachel_Brathen
Rachel Brathen is also known as “Yoga_Girl” on Instagram with 1.9 million followers. She gives a glimpse into her life being a yogini in Aruba with her husband and adorable dog. What you see is what you get with her and I love her down-to-earth real vibe. Add her at: Rachel_Brathen

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Screenshot this to add Rachel_Brathen on Snapchat

5) KelliDav
This is my Happsters Snapchat account! I post happiness Snapchat challenges, happiness tips and a peek into my daily life (which lately has a lot of art, my fiancé, friends, beach time, and neighborhood walks). Add me at: KelliDav

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Screenshot this to add “KelliDav” AKA Happsters on Snapchat

Happy snapping!
Kelli
P.S. I just realized all of these inspiring Snapchat accounts happen to be women – girl power!