BARBARA — DAY 30: 4 Differences Between E-mail and Ordinary Mail

40 notes to 40 people in 40 days

gmailIn writing handwritten notes the past four weeks, I’ve learned a few things:

1. You don’t put links in notes — One distinct difference between writing notes/cards v. writing e-mails is links. I mean — sure, I could jot down the url to that great vegan recipe I tried last night or even a link to this very blog, but it just feels somehow wrong when you’re writing a handwritten note to someone. Not to mention cumbersome. That’s what e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter are for. Handwritten notes are personal. You might even say emotional because they are an expression of how you feel about someone or something that’s happening to someone (birthday, wedding, loss, etc.).

2. This Lenten challenge is brought to you by the Post Office — You know — that place where you go to mail things. I’m not talking about a Google server in North Carolina or another part of the world that’s filtering e-mails. I’m talking about a building in your neighborhood with a flag waving outside and people wearing Post Office uniforms inside. A place where — at least in New York City — there is always a line. Mark my words, it might be three people. It might be 13 people — there is always a line. I stocked up on stamps before Lent and have only been back to the actual Post Office a few times since Ash Wednesday, but it is the reason I’ve been able to send notes to people in California, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, and uptown.

3. There is no delete key on a Hallmark greeting card — That’s right, sometimes I make a mistake when I’m writing. When it’s an e-mail, easy enough — delete, delete, delete. But in a handwritten note? Well, not so much. This fact does lead me to be more focused and intentional about what (and how) I’m writing. And in the absence of a delete key, there is always the physical strikethrough — a few quick lines through a misspelled or misplaced word. Yes. I cross things out in my notes. I like to think of it as part of the handwritten charm.

4. Penmanship counts — Instead of Helvetica and Times New Roman (my standards), I’ve got “Barbara” — a cursive-print hybrid that has been known to include abbreviations and some crafty “special characters” that take the place of -ing endings. These are things I try to avoid when I’m writing a note to someone. I try to slow down, concentrate on my handwriting, and have a greater sense of mindfulness about what it is I’m actually writing. I pay more attention to writing every letter distinctly, legibly. Apologies to Mrs. Furry, Mrs. Ellingsworth, and Mrs. Dagenhart who taught me penmanship. Things have, well, slipped, over the years. But this Lent I have had a little more practice.

At this point, we can probably all list a few things we’ve learned about our Lenten fast or challenge. Or we’ve discovered something unexpected in our Lenten journey. What has surprised you? What are you struggling with? Who is helping you with your Lenten journey? Let us hear from you!