Letters from near and far

“To write is human, to receive a letter: Devine!”
― Susan Lendroth

“Letter writing can be seen as a gift because someone has taken his/her time to write and think and express love.”
― Soraya Diase Coffelt

A wonderful, magical thing happened yesterday.  I received mail. No bills, no formal letters from council or banks or insurance companies. No junk mail. Actual mail from dear friends.  Rarely do I receive personal correspondence so you can imagine my delight when opening the letter box I saw two rather plump envelopes addressed to me, one from near and one from across the oceans.

Okay, sure, receiving mail isn’t exactly magical, I’ll concede. It happens every day all around the world and millions of people still receive mail even in this automated world of electronic mail and text messages.  The magic was in the similarity of each letter.  My darling friends, have never met nor know of each other.  One lives in a town close to me and we formed a bond when we met eight years ago.  We have not seen each other in that time until last weekend when we both attended an event, each for the first time, and reconnected like we’d never been apart.  Her warmth and gentleness enveloped me like an embrace. My other friend lives over the seas in a place I have not yet visited. We are still to meet face to face yet we share many similarities and have forged a lovely connection woven by sharing words sent back and forth across invisible networks, spanning continents. So warm is our connection it feels as though we each sit regularly in the other’s kitchen and natter over a pot of freshly brewed tea.

Both of these remarkable women sent a letter from their hearts and homes that arrived on the same day. Both reached out in the most remarkable way to let me know they were there for me.  Okay – not magical enough yet?  Each envelope revealed an exquisite card, warm words and a gorgeous gift. Both women had chosen a gift of a magnet. What are the chances? You’d have to agree that’s pretty magical; for two women who have never met, who live on different continents, to send a letter that arrives on the same day that took the same form and held a similar gift with the intention to raise my spirits and let me know they were thinking of me.  That, my friends, is pretty synchronistic if not magical to me.

Have you had a magical, synchronistic moment that warmed your heart?


A year of inspiration: Inspired by friendship, magic and the workings of the universe.


The Gift


“A wonderful gift may not be wrapped as you expect.” – Jonathan Huie

“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.” – Mary Oliver

Often when relationships end, especially when they have ended unpleasantly, we look at all the bad, all the damage and all the hurt that was generated. Recently I was reminded of an old relationship, one that ended many, many years ago. My relationship with this person was tenuous. It didn’t so much end but dragged on unpleasantly for a long time. It was unpleasant not least of all because of the damage done to me but to others I cared for as well. I have done so much work to calm my raging heart and turbulent head. I’ve cut chords and forgiven. I’ve written letters, pouring out my angst, and burnt them, I’ve even sent some to sea. I’ve meditated and used visualisation and, well, you name it, I’ve done it. Over the years, maturity and time have healed my wounds. The rage has abated, and, while there isn’t a sense of true calm about this person, my every waking moment isn’t consumed with thoughts of them. The occasional thought no longer propels me to the edge of reason, teetering on the brink of a black hole of rage and self-destruction.

This last week, I was challenged to look at the gift in that relationship. Yes, you read it correctly, the GIFT!

Now isn’t that an interesting concept? “You mean there was gift amidst all that anger and hate and shame and agony?” Wow! That idea blew my mind for an instant. But you know, it was there. There was a gift; a tremendous and beautiful gift. One I would not have sought for myself if it hadn’t been for that person coming into my life. I spent the next week reviewing the magic of that relationship, looking at it from a new and different perspective. It’s changed my outlook and it’s amplified my gratitude for so many things.

I see now how that relationship, as difficult and fraught as it was, as agonising and draining as it was, has shaped me. It has, through the gift, rounded out my life and made me whole. What an incredible discovery to make. I now feel true forgiveness for the other person. I now know what real gratitude and love is as I can now hold that person in my heart with compassion, respect and a new sense of understanding.

Sounds a bit dramatic and over the top, doesn’t it? I can’t explain the shift that has occurred for me in any other way. Imagine what our lives would be like if we looked for the gift in those relationships that ended unexpectedly or in ways we hadn’t planned. Imagine if we looked for the gift, instead of focussing on the hurt. Imagine if gratitude took over where revenge or confusion, or heartbreak might step in. Imagine how much freer we’d be. Imagine how much lighter we’d be. Imagine looking at your life from a whole different perspective and being full of joy for what you’d learnt and gained and how you’d grown as a result of all of your interactions with others.

Food for thought.

Blessing to you,

The ripple effect of a $2 gift


Image courtesy of against the grain scholars

Image courtesy of against the grain scholars

My husband made me cry last weekend. He said the loveliest thing that tears sprang to my eyes and streamed down my face.

This story began one Christmas morning about twelve years ago when I gifted my husband and son a box each for Christmas. They were $2 boxes from the discount store, about 20 cm cubed with lids, bright, colourful and empty. Yes, that’s right. They were empty.

My husband, trying to remain polite, looked incredulously at this empty box. His expression conveyed his thoughts – what was the meaning of an empty box? At Christmas?

As I explained to the pair of them the box was a ‘Happy Box’, empty now so they could fill it with happy memorabilia.  I too had a box which I filled over the years with photographs, love letters, certificates, news clippings, small hand-made gifts. I filled it with things that made my heart sing. Things that bought joy to my life. Things I wanted to remember.  My husband’s box began to fill too.

About six years ago my beloved used his box as the focus of a motivational talk to his students. He is a Principal in a high school. I’m not sure exactly what he shared in his story. I wasn’t there but I do know that he shared with them the types of memories he collected, the joy of delving into the box to reflect on successes and achievements. He impressed them by drawing from the box a photo of their cohort and sharing the positive impact they have had on his life and the joy he received from working with them, seeing them grow and helping them reach their goals. Funnily enough, he shared with them too his reaction at having received an empty box on Christmas morning. That got a chuckle I’m told.

That story and the happy box, shared for the first time six years ago,  was such a hit that parents, teachers and students continued to comment about it throughout the year.  In the years since that first speech the senior students have asked for the ‘Happy Box story’ to be told at assembly. Parents, teachers and friends of friends have commented about the inspiration that simple story held for them.  Students have bought friends happy boxes for their 18th birthdays, parents have bought them for all of their children and themselves. Each year a cheer goes up when students become aware that the happy box story is about to be told.

How does this connect with my tears you might ask?

You see, we were discussing the popularity and the reach of the happy box story and my darling husband turned to me and said “Shannyn, from one small act you have changed the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of people.” He calculated that over six years he has told the story to almost 300 young people each year, who then share it with goodness only knows how many others.

He looked at me and said “You always say you want to make a difference in the world. And you do through the small things that come naturally to you. Each day you impact so many people in such positive ways.”

(Hence the tears)

I hadn’t considered this before, particularly in connection with the box. I’d not considered the ‘Happy Box story’ to be my legacy. I’d always marvelled at the inspiration my husband instilled in others with this story.  I’d not realised that a small gift I had given, with love, one Christmas morning many, many years ago would touch the lives of countless people.

I was humbled.

I realised too, that we never really know the impact we have on the lives of others.

I realised that it doesn’t have to be grand gestures that change the world, that small acts of love, consideration and sharing of ourselves can have the mightiest influence.

The idea of the ripple effect really sunk in for me. I have been mindful all week. This new knowledge has put a different perspective on the way I act. The way I talk. The choices I make.

Don’t underestimate the impact you have in the world.

Much love,