Tag Archives: the world needs more love letters

Captured.

The World Needs More Love Letters from Justin Marantz on Vimeo.

I had every intention in the world to publish a different blog post today.

It was typed. It was edited. It was going to be another one of the kind that socks you in the ribs and makes you search the skies for spare oxygen. Because that’s just the kind of poetry that sits in my bones most days.

But I have to be honest & truthful that I’ve been in a funk lately.

I’ve been a little sad. I’ve been questioning a lot of things. And I’ve just wanted to come onto this page and say, “It’s so dang hard to move forwards sometimes when you don’t know what you’re supposed to do next.” That’s the truth in following God’s Dream. You might never know where the next step is but He promises to make it worth it. & it always, always is.

Justin + Mary Marantz, two new friends of mine, contacted me two weeks ago, right before I headed off to St. Louis for a speaking engagement and asked if they could capture my story to share with their audience at WPPI in Las Vegas. I obliged.

I am a fan of their work. I am willing to share in an Always sort of way.

But truthfully, there is always this worry when someone else handles your story. When they take the inner workings of your heart into their own hands and they attempt to capture you. They have the potential to portray you right or wrong to the whole wide world. I was praying for right this time.

The video came out today. I held my breath and clicked “Play.” And slowly, slowly, the tears began streaming down my face. In the middle of a Starbucks, with a mug stained with red lips between my hands, I let the tears from the last few weeks, piled thick upon me, come and drizzle down my skin.

There are words living on my inside. I know there are. They are the words that will push me to write this memoir. They are the words that were there to start this story and they will be there to finish it out. I have to stop doubting them. I have to stop belittling my story… It is one for telling. This video has made me certain, so certain of that.

A good, good artist will capture you just as you are. They will get you in a way that makes you realize that you never truly knew how you wanted people to know your story until you became their muse. That’s how this video feels to me. Like I am speechless. Like I am overcome with gratitude. Like I wish people wouldn’t dig through Google to find and read my story… but that they would simply watch this.

Thank you Justin + Mary. You captured me. You really did.

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Not no victory march.

blueballoons

“It’s not going to be her,” I murmured.

“He said earlier that he could not get past a barrier with her… she never let her guard down.”

I sat curled up in a recliner, still enveloped by unplowed roads and blizzard conditions outside, as I watched four women stand side by side and wait to hear their name called. To be granted with a single stemmed rose and no thorns, offered by a man who keeps falling in love over & over again on TV.

And I thought to myself, while this happens, while girls throw themselves at one guy for a chance to be morphed Cinderellally into his wife for better or worse, a different kind of love is fraying at my sides. A different heartbreak is tearing at my eye sockets. The woman in the limo going home and I, we cannot relate tonight.

 

I found out just before I clicked the TV on that a love letter recipient passed away two days ago. Before she got her letters. Before she ever knew that hundreds of strangers did their best to hitch her up good with their strongest syllables.

It happened quicker than expected. Quicker than anyone expects a mother of two boys, growing like bean stalks, to slip out from the folds of this world. Her spirit slowly dancing away from the loves she grew high like prize-winning sunflowers in the middle of August. Quicker than expected but expected all the same.

Immediately I wonder about all the things I don’t want to know. Was she afraid? Was she ready? Was she angry? Was she whole? And yet, all I may ever know of this woman is what I’ve read from someone who requested dozens & dozens of letters be sent her way. That she was sick. But she was lovely. And she would do anything to make it so her family wouldn’t weep so hard when she was gone.

And, at any moment, that could become a person’s purpose– to make it easier for others when they’re gone. Because life is harder than we ever anticipated. & unpredictable. & often not tidy. & it does not tie easily into bows. & it is not always symphonic. A lot of times the melody gets sucked straight out, and we all forget the words, and the purpose behind the tune we’re humming.

 

When the tragedy struck in Haiti and the houses crumbled and schools fell into the dust, Justin Timblerlake covered a strange & beautiful song that the world has already classified as one of the greatest. Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah was perched on my lips for weeks & weeks after. It was the only song I wanted to hear. The only melody I felt like perking my ears for. I loved the brokenness of that little song.

When I told my Mama I was writing about this song today, she spoke slowly, “I’ve already got 9 pages of research on that song. And I don’t know what it means… but it does a really good job of talking about love.”

She means this line:

“I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch / Love is not a victory march / It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.”

It’s not a victory march. It’s not sealed with a kiss. It’s not filtered out through Instagram. It’s gritty. It’s broken. It needs fixing. And we never get perfect at it. And we don’t always get the chance so we might as well just do it to the best of our ability. It costs surrender. And a lot of days it’s hard to believe that it truly conquers all.

 

It’s funny to be the girl who easily gets labeled as the one who thinks love letters can fix the world. I don’t think that. I never have. And if I thought that brokenness could be mended with twine & stamps then I would have started something else. But never this.

Tragedies like this one remind me why I started this journey. Why I feel stitched to live a life that stands close to the seams of stories that have already broken, and dig out the fragile & cracked Hallelujahs.

And God must have saw me fit for this. My inbox is absolutely unbearable. Not because I’ve slipped from the graces of organization but because people come to it daily to pour out their hearts and their imperfect love to me. And God must have wanted this. To grant me with an inbox that is bursting at the seams with desperation and a life story that He is tenderly stamping with “Lover. Lover. Lover.

It hurts on days like this. It gets harder to breathe on days like this. It gets more & more obvious that I am just human on days like these.

We are all just humans. & we will never get it perfectly. & we may never understand all of life or love or tragedy.  But I think sometimes that love is the only measure of what we know how to do and somehow manage to do it right once in a while.

And even when we can hurt one another. And break one another. And stray. And leave. Love is what makes this whole thing somehow redeemable. It keeps us dancing. It keeps us on our knees. It keeps dirt beneath our fingernails. It keeps us in awe of creation. It keeps us aware that we are not so much in control as we think.

& so we love until we are gone. Until the heart stops pounding. Until we feel less broken. And the sun seeps back into our skin. Until we find the courage to say to one another,

“I might not always treat you like the precious piece of flesh & human that you are, but I am trying. It’s hard and I’m trying. And I love you deeper than any kind of yesterday. So forgive me for my brokenness in loving you. But I will only want to love you harder in the morning.”  

 

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One year ago today: 365 days and 550 love letters later…

One year ago today, life snuck up from behind me, handed me a black Sharpie, and announced to me that she was going to change forever. Right in Front of My Eyes.

Here, here, take this,” Life said, handing off the marker.

Why, what is this? What should I do with it?

Life rolled its eyes. “Draw a thick black line down the middle of me. From now on you are going to look differently at me, as if I am two people. One part of me exists as Before and the other now exists as After.

Before & After.

One year ago today, I wrote a blog post about the handwritten love letter, how I felt like the world probably needed more of these “Thank you for being alive” kind of notes and how I was finding a hobby in writing these kinds of letters and leaving them all New York City.

One year ago today, I made a promise to all of you that if you sent me your snail mail address I would write you a love letter. I didn’t know what I was getting into at the time. Not even after my inbox suddenly flooded with the most heartbreaking of stories that I had ever read, love letter requests from every pocket of this globe.

I didn’t know what to say to the lonely and broken-hearted in Japan or the struggling to look in the mirror Ivy-Leaguer. All that I knew was that there had to be something deeper behind all of this… there had to be something beyond a fun little project with nice stationery and postage stamps.

One year ago today, I was given a surreal glimpse at the poverty that gets us all.

Mother Teresa said it best, that poverty of the soul- hunger and thirsting for something to pull a person away from loneliness- is far different than the need for bread and water. There are a lot of us living in poverty right now. Some of us don’t even see it or recognize it after so hastily assigning the face of poverty to that homeless man or that welfare mother.

Poverty, in all of its forms, has lived in my inbox for the last year. I’ve written to the sad, the depressed, the lonely, the near-suicidal, the struggling financially, the struggling to embrace sexuality, the ones just trying to just get up out of bed every morning.

Am I always equipped to write these letters? No. Not really. I’m just a girl, biting her fingernails, who knows only the first few chapters of life so far. But at the same time, I never promised advice and I never promised therapy. I think the only promise I can make is to be there, in a mailbox, giving the only thing I’ve known to surpass all loneliness and all tragedy and years of experience: Love.

One year ago today, I never had a clue MoreLoveLetters.com would be born. I never knew that a dear friend, Becky, would come up when I needed someone the most and offer to help me with projecting this letter-writing out into the world. I never thought you’d be on board, writing & leaving your own love letters. I never imagined over 550 love letters in just one year.

One year ago today, I desperately needed this, more than I knew it at the time and more than I ever let it show on this blog. I needed an After to place next to a time in my life where I could not script a single line of love to myself. Where I could not even manage to look at myself for more than two minutes without finding hatred somewhere in my own green eyes.

One year ago today, I thought I was just a girl writing love letters to extinguish her own loneliness, not someone tapping into an untouched movement. I would have told you that a love letter left on a train in NYC might be nice, might be sweet, but it would have no real impact. I would have told you that this would never be my thing.

One year ago today, I didn’t know a life surrounded by love letters & all the beautiful individuals who write them by the hour.

Today, I cannot imagine a life without them.

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The world called…. it needs your love letters.

via weheartit.com

I decided to stop writing love letters on a Monday and a reporter from the Wall Street Journal called me on Tuesday to talk about… you guessed it: Love Letters.

That’s how it always works though, right?

We’re sitting before a pile of love letter requests from across the country, tapping a pen against a slab of stationery while simultaneously plucking syllables from the sky for a girl in Toledo who needs a lesson in Loving Yourself 101 when Divine Intervention cracks the back of our chairs like a whip. We sit up straighter. We pay attention the message we are getting.

Me: I am done…

Seamstress in the Sky: Excuse me?

Me: You heard me, Maker of the Universe and all the Cows and Zebras. Done. 400 love letters, finish up this pile, and I am done.

Seamstress in the Sky: (silence)

Me: I have tired fingers…

Seamstress in the Sky: Yes.

Me: Callouses the size of Kentucky.

Seamstress in the Sky: Yes.

Me: I need to focus on other things, I want to write books! I cannot write books if I am only writing love letters!

Seamstress in the Sky: Hm….

Me: Could you say a little more? I am drowning in my own pool of snot and ink right now.

Seamstress in the Sky: Who do you thinks a love letter right now?

Me: The world… duh.

Seamstress in the Sky: Beyond that… yo Daddy is no fool. You know who needs one, just say it.

Me: Me?

Seamstress in the Sky: Conviction… say it stronger.

Me: Ok, ME! There I said it, I need a love letter… I need to learn how to write myself a love letter… I can hide behind another 100 or I can be a little selfish, sit down and learn how to write my own life into a love letter. But, you don’t get it God, it is not so easy to just drop it, people need it. People have always needed these letters.

Seamstress in the Sky: Well, I gave you a recipe… didn’t I?

Me: A recipe?

Seamstress in the Sky: Yes, a recipe. You, leaving love letters on the trains in New York City and mailing them all over the world. A recipe if I’ve ever seen one.

Me: Love letters to those who need them? That’s a recipe?

Seamstress in the Sky: Yes, that was a recipe. I’ve used that one before, tweaked it a bit for your own Loneliness… Did you a lot of good, I’d say. And you wrote 400, bravo Little One! But does it stop there? Do recipes only get used by one person?
Me: I guess not…

Seamstress in the Sky: What did you put into the love letters?

Me: Love. Encouragement. A few funny jokes? Sometimes my own stories…

Seamstress in the Sky: Seems like a solid recipe. Could others follow it?

Me: Well.. yea, of course.

Seamstress in the Sky: Then post the recipe somewhere, you love those domain names of yours. And see if people use it… If it is a good recipe, honest and true, other people will use it. Don’t worry about who or how, just cross your T’s and dot your I’s. Leave the recipe and step away.

And so here I am, crossing my t’s and dotting my i’s and finishing up my own pile of love letters and then passing the work on to you. Many of you have asked me how to get involved, how to leave your own love letters, how to be there for someone in need. It’s simple, really so simple, and all it requires is an honest and true passion to help another person, someone you might never meet, along with a stamp and your very best cursive.

So please check out MoreLoveLetters.com, or follow us here;  I created the site to be a guide for those looking to do what I did for the last nine months. I can so honestly say that is an art that will fuel you, inspire you, fill you and turn you into a very bright spot that the world needs so desperately right now.

And if you do nothing with the site today, nothing at all but this, please consider signing up for the Love Letter Email Alert List… Each month we will send out a call for love letters and then bundle and give them to a person who needs it most that month. The first call for love letters will come out this weekend and so I would love to have you involved.

Please send all love letters to PO Box 2061, North Haven, CT 06473 with one additional stamp (the gods of postage have not blessed me just yet).

I can promise you that your love letter will be mailed out to someone in need today.

Or shoot me an email today at Hannah@moreloveletters.com and we can get you leaving love letters around your parts of town…

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Nine Months Later… No, I did not birth a baby but I did write 368 love letters: Video Update

So the last time I gave an update on the love letters the Christmas bells were swinging and we were hanging mistletoe… I think it’s about time I filled you in on the last nine months.

***This is actually an awful way to have your face frozen on YouTube… I DO NOT recommend it***

If you are looking for the Spark Notes Edition to this video, and I do not blame you, since October I have written over 368 love letters. The love letters have gone everywhere from the Bronx-bound 4 train in NYC to the crooks and crevices of Africa and New Zealand… This project has been absolute blessing to me and I will always have you to thank for fueling me with such an awesome opportunity.

Although I do adore writing love letters, I think I might enjoy it ten times more with you involved. So now is your chance to grab a paper and pen to start scripting a love letter to someone in need. Trust me, I will get it into the right hands. Shoot me an email (hannahkaty@live.com), bombard me on Twitter (@hannahkatyb) or comment below and I will be sure to send my snail mail address your way.

OR ambush your own town with the love letters. I have a strong feeling that there are plenty of strangers out there who would absolutely delight in picking up a mysterious handwritten note on the table in a cafe or on a park bench. I would love to hear how you spread the love letters out.

And, just as a note, the letters that I script are not a) Juliet Style b) Sexual or c) “I am watching from the bush in your backyard” creepy. They are merely notes of encouragement, love, support and positivity, hopefully delivered at a time when it is needed most.

And though I still have a healthy pile of love letters to write in the upcoming months, please do not hesitate to send me your snail mail address and I will send a love letter your way… But please don’t wait by the mailbox. Unless you have a tent and an umbrella… My hand gets tired. I need breaks from time to time.

Thank you everyone once again! And I will be back to writing blog posts shortly.

The Beginning of the Love Letters

The First Update

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Sara Bareilles would not write you a love song but I want to write you a love letter… Seriously.

via weheartit.com

It really is no wonder why Nicholas Sparks seems to have reserved seating when it comes to the New York Times Best Seller Lists. The man has found a fruit that most cannot ignore and he wrings out the sweet juices in almost all of his books.

The art of letter writing.

Let’s be sincere. We love it. We adore it. We absolutely devour this idea of the soldier in his tent at night rereading the letters of his girl back home. Smelling Her Scent Between The Punctuation Points. We tear into a tub of chocolate ice cream as we sigh over the Two Lovers who forge communion in waiting for the post man to arrive.

A college professor of mine once told the class the tale of how she and her husband fell in love. They met one another at a time in their lives where Distance had a cunning plan to keep them apart. But, even being thousands of miles apart, they fell in love. Somewhere Between the Capital Letters and the Paragraph Breaks.

It was really different during that time. You would spill your heart out onto a page, baring all your secrets and then you would drop it in the mail box,” I remember her saying. “The test was in the waiting. Waiting to see what he would say back, waiting to learn more about him with every letter in the mail.”

It is not just “mushy gushy” letters. It is any kind of letter where one sits down and dedicates the writing of words and syllables and sentiments with another in mind. I daresay, it is the most beautiful thing in the world.

It is knowing that someone, right next door or Miles Apart, will know themselves loved through just a few paragraphs and a signature at the bottom. Sincerely Yours.

If I have said it once then I need to say it ten more times: The world needs more love letters. More “Thank you for being alive today” letters. More “You are remarkable” and “You light up the world” letters. More “I think you will do great things” kind of letters.

***This is the part of the post where you take both of your hands and you place them on your forehead. Then you say out loud, “Oh no, Hannah. Where are you taking this?” Because, Lord knows, I never stop when idea comes into my head.***

Are you in position? Ok.

I am writing letters to people I have never met. Yes. I am finding it to be the best activity that I have ever taken up. A hobby, if you will call it, that delivers to me a smile every single time I place down a comma or a period.

It began on a train ride home from Manhattan, as most things usually do for me. I was feeling terribly lonely but almost comforted by the fact that everyone around me seemed terribly lonely as well. But instead of letting Loneliness trample all over commute, I pulled out my notepad and began composing a letter. To a person who I had never met. To a person who I can almost guarantee I will never meet.

It is a surreal feeling, to compose a letter to an individual that you have no ties to but at the same time you want the whole wide world for them. I wished them a bright day. A day full of laughter. I told them they were unique & special & really quite smashing. (I might not have used the word ‘smashing’ but I probably will in the next letter).

Really, we are not told enough, in a genuine noncommercial manner, how brilliant we are. How intriguing and wonderful we are. How much we should be commended for waking up today and deciding to take on the task of being human. It is not an easy task. It is not always fun. But it is wildly worth it. Better that we write all these things down.

And, with an anonymous signature, I left the letter behind on the subway. And on the sink of a bathroom. And on a table in a coffee shop. And scattered all over the place in NYC. Several anonymous love letters. The beginnings to many….

I have always wanted to live my life as a love letter. Why not do it with actual love letters? Who knows where my letters are right at this very moment. If they are sitting in the hands of some of corporate CEO as he sips his morning latte at his favorite coffee shop. Or if one is sitting on the desk of a woman who cleans that same coffee shop every single day to keep her children enrolled in private school. It makes no difference, I just wish for the individuals of this world to know themselves loved. And that means you. Yes, you.

So here is the deal…. If you send me your address, your legitimate “oh my goodness, I have to label an envelope” address then I will write you a letter. You will receive a genuine, handwritten, love letter in the mail. I promise you this. (Don’t worry: I am not about to get creepy lovey dovey all over the paper).

Either leave your address below or via email: HannahKaty@live.com

My poor little fingers might regret this promise when they find themselves cramped from all sorts of cursive, but even if I don’t know you that well, I think you are quite worth it.

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