I remember sitting outside the classroom with the teaching assistant. My pen was poised over an envelope trying to focus all my energies into handwriting my home address in the neatest way possible. I was 7 and we had been learning about letter writing in class. This culminated in us each writing and sending a real life letter. Having had my writing approved by the teaching assistant, I remember being handed a stamp and instructed to lick and stick it to the envelope. Maybe it was the precision of this whole exercise, or maybe it was the fact that the envelope and I were both tiny. Whatever the reason, I remember sitting back on my little plastic chair and being 100% pleased with my letter.
Life in Letters
It is 31 years later and I am still carefully addressing envelopes while sitting on a slightly more comfortable but mostly still plastic chair. I’m a little bit taller and have to buy my own stamps now but the joy is still there. There’s an instagram to prove it! My letter writing has changed a few times. As a pre-teen, I remember being forced to sit and awkwardly write Chinese that I didn’t understand on envelopes to family members I didn’t know in far away countries. At 14, I hand-delivered 12-page essays themed around boys that I definitely didn’t “fancy” to my best friends in high school who responded in kind the next day. I have such fond memories of letter writing. This fondness was probably perpetuated by the fact that my dad worked at the post office for 19 years!
I write to my people both when I am happy and when I’m struggling with life. I write to friends in honour of their birthdays, or to celebrate special occasions, or just because it’s a drizzly Tuesday. On one memorable occasion, I wrote to a friend by candlelight on the 2nd day of a three-day power failure in my neighbourhood. I can’t actually think of an occasion where letter writing isn’t appropriate, so I’m going to keep on doing it!
“For me, post is all about the process: writing, packing, letting go.”
Sending thoughts on paper gives me permission to share, and does not burden anyone with reading anything until they have time. It gives me a great sense of comfort and calm to sit and outline my thoughts — however brief or long-winded — onto a piece of paper.
The process is further enhanced (for me) when I physically walk the letter to a post box, hold the letter quietly to my heart and drop it into the box. That letting go part is huge for me. It’s not about that envelope arriving at its destination – and I’ll be honest here, sometimes it doesn’t! For me, post is all about the process: writing, packing, letting go. It’s my play! It helps me to practice good mental health. It helps me to unravel the knots in my brain and unpack some of the things that I didn’t know were in dusty boxes in my brain. Receiving post is just an added bonus.
The Joy of Post: a workshop
So when Morgan asked me to lead a workshop that focused on mail / post and its relationship to play and mental health, the connection was immediately obvious to me. We’ve already explored zines and chainsaws, so why not mail as well?
I have used letter writing to meet my mental health needs for a really long time, especially during covid. I have been grateful for the opportunity to write and receive mail as a means of connecting with the world and want to be able to share this passion with others. So with that in mind, I’d like to welcome everyone to come and write with me.
The Joy of Post
April 29, 2023
Rockingham Free Public Library
This drop-in workshop is free and open to all
At the session, I will bring lots of examples of post that I have both sent and received. I will also tell you stories about my adventures (and misadventures) in the postal world. All materials will be supplied so you don’t have to worry about bringing anything but yourself to the session. If you have an address or two of people you’d like to send something to, do bring them along! There will be plenty of opportunity and space for you to quietly compose as many postal packages as you like. And when you are done, there will be a postbox within walking distance for you to physically and emotionally let go of your mail.