In our neighborhood, there is a person who lives at the corner who hangs dog treats on the bushes next to the sidewalk. A small sign tells dog walkers to “Please take one.”
She is putting a little love out into the world.
The other day, I saw a woman in the grocery checkout line who was wearing a dress identical to one that I own. I thought that it looked nice on her. A few minutes later, as I was driving out of the parking lot, I saw the same woman. She was walking to her car with her shopping cart. I rolled down my window and hollered “Hey, I just wanted to tell you how great you look in that dress. I have the same one at home and I love it.” She replied, “Thanks, I got it on sale at Kohls.” I answered back, “Yeah, I even wear it just like you do, with leggings and a jacket”.
Just putting a little love out into the world.
“I love humanity but I hate people.” poet Edna St. Vincent once famously wrote. In the same way, I often really need to make an effort to connect and engage with people. It is so much easier to talk with my family or work on my own shit rather than engage with the people I meet every day.
With that being said, it brings me happiness, even joy when others go out of their way to interact, engage, or reach out to me.
Writing thank-you notes was not taught or encouraged when I was a child (or perhaps I just don’t remember). As a teenager, I hated the little triangular-folded notes that friends passed at school to one another. As a young adult, I knew I wouldn’t keep in touch with friends after I moved.
But I’ve saved and charished EVERY note, letter, and spontaneous correspondence that I’ve ever recieved.I have a collection dating back over 40 years! I store sweet notes from friends in a nightstand drawer. When I was dating my husband-to-be, I printed and saved every email from that first year. I still have every love note from my high school boyfriend. Every letter my ex-husband penned are tied together with a string…in a box…in my closet.
It is time to reconcile this dichotomy in my life. I want to be appreciative, thankful, and supportive. (I should have probably begun this project at the beginning of the Covid shutdown.) But anyway, my sister Michelle suggested that what I was talking about was “happy mail”.
So I conducted a Google search.
I found blogs and You-Tube videos dedicated to sharing appreciation to small business customers. There are also scrapbookers and “junk journalers” who share stuff with each other unexpectedly through the mail. These were BEAUTIFUL and inspiring works of art that people were sharing with each other in an effort to “share the love”.
I found it totally overwhelming!!! Some of these creations must have taken days or weeks to collect and construct.
What I am proposing is buying and using store-bought blank notes and writing something thoughtful and direct like this blogger.
I also don’t believe that these notes need to be sent in the mail. They can be surreptitiously stuck under a windshield wiper, taped to a house door, or placed anonymously on a co-worker’s desk.
My mom calls these “Iris letters”. They are the less familiar cousin and the opposite of “onion letters”. (Glinda versus the Wicked Witch of the West.) An Onion letter is what you might send to a business to complain about the mess the plumber left after fixing your toilet or the rude comment the customer service rep made when you returned an item at Wal-Mart. Onion letters help a business correct wrongs. Iris letters acknowledge and appreciate service workers or businesses that go above and beyond.
I should have sent an Iris letter a few years ago to my local Aldi.
After checking out all of my groceries, I realized that I had neither cash nor credit cards in my purse. Upon realizing this, the cashier volunteered to pay my $80+ bill until I returned. She said that she knew I was a regular customer and that I’d be back.
Profusely thanking her, I instead asked her to just put my cart of groceries to the side. I zipped home. Returning a half-hour later, I had cash in hand. Thanking her again, she smiled at my appreciation, and I vowed to myself to write a note to the manager. I intended to appreciate, honor, and celebrate her good deed.
My goal was to share a little love and bring recognition to this kind woman.
I never did.
Her name was Leah.
I’m still amazed at her kindness.