Letters Mingle Souls

The medieval poet, John Donne (above), said it best. “Sir, more than kisses, Letters mingle souls….”. In the private, quiet moments when our minds are freewheeling and our defenses are down, the pen becomes the perfect tool for translating our soul’s complex energies, thoughts, and emotions into words on paper. Letters are the vessel that capture our true, raw essence in a way that allows others to peer through the curtain and to see more of who we are at a soul level.   I am an introvert, yet I enjoy knowing and socializing with people. The key for me is keeping the size of the group of friends or relatives on the smaller size. I generally try to avoid larger gatherings, mostly because I…

Thank You for Your Letters, Vincent Van Gogh

I became acquainted with Vincent Van Gogh when I was 12 years old, and he became a reliable friend of a sort. I am a native of Chicagoland, growing up in a northwestern suburb of Chicago, about 30 miles from the city. Our town was easily and splendidly connected to Chicago’s city center by the Northwestern Railroad (now Metra) train line. This train system allowed us to easily toggle back and forth between the gritty, mesmerizing experiences of one of the world’s great cities, and a rather idyllic, peaceful small-town existence. We lived near downtown Palatine, which sprang up along the Chicago rail lines in the 1800’s. Walking to the train was a pleasant experience, including walking over Salt Creek, my elementary school playground, and…

Midwest Book Review

Please Write: Finding Joy and Meaning in the Soulful Art of Handwritten Letters makes a case for handwritten letters as an important source for communication even in a digital age, tapping personal experience, anecdotes, and the enthusiasm of avid fellow letter-writers to make its case. From why putting ink to page creates a different legacy and feel than a phone call or email to different kinds of writings that inspire not only connection, but art, Lynne M. Kolze reviews the history, methods, and purposes of effective letter-writing using a lively voice that will inspire readers to cultivate their own letter-writing skills and circles. Kolze makes a powerful case for choosing writing over dashing out an email: “Today, emails work well to convey one’s homesick feelings to…

No Muss, No Fuss. Letters are the Simplest Gifts of All

Clunky jewelry. Bad lawn art. Ugly sweaters. Unnecessary kitchen appliances. Vacuum cleaners. What do all these unrelated items have in common? Sadly, these are some of the “surprise” gifts that my friends’ husbands gave them for holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions. I would hear about them after the fact, when my friends had recovered from the initial disappointments. Even though it is the thought that counts, some would lament the fact that their lovers could not now or probably ever get it right. Their husbands simply had no idea at all how to pick out a special gift for them –not without very strong hints or detailed lists to go by. I have been luckier than this, as my husband has always (well, nearly…

Star Struck — Or Simply Grateful?

Believe me when I say that I am typically not one to follow the lives of famous people or to buy magazines about Hollywood stars. I do, however, take notice of and an interest in people who exemplify the best in us, who quietly model admirable qualities, who are honorable, and/or who seek to inspire us to be better and more compassionate people than we often are. If you have read my book, Please Write, you know that on rare occasions, I have been known to write handwritten letters of appreciation to people who I feel are true treasures in this world. Deciding who to write to is based on my own values and criteria, of course. I have only written to those who have…

Please Write:  Signed, Seal, Delivered

If you told me five years ago that I would write a book about handwritten letters, I might have had a good laugh. While I loved reading books from a young age and did a good deal of writing for my job as a public servant, I never imagined myself motivated enough to research, write, rewrite (many times), and market a book. In fact, had I known the extensive challenges involved and the steely determination needed to create a book of any kind, I doubt I would have ever started. This is where ignorance being bliss could not be a truer sentiment. My journey to publishing a book would never have happened without the help of many people. First, a friend who told me about…

Old Irises, Like Old Letters, Connect Generations

This spring brought some familiar, old friends back to greet me – the sparse, tattered tulips planted by a previous owner decades ago, the allium plants, with their lovely, purple, orb-shaped flowers, and a small patch of Siberian Squill, which I have been nurturing now for several years. But the greatest joy this spring, came from seeing some new friends–a group of short, yellow irises which pushed through the soil in my front garden for the very first time. These heirloom irises, which came into my family some 80 years ago, have moved from state to state, and brought along with them precious family memories.   Their story began on a small residential lot in Wood Dale, IL. In the early 1940’s, my grandmother planted…

Penmanship: More Than Just Pretty Writing

There is nothing much I like more than searching through antique stores and flea markets for interesting relics of our past. I don’t usually buy much, but I do find myself attracted to strange bits of history in the form of paper ephemera. This includes old magazines, postcards, advertisements, letters, sheet music, greeting cards and the like. I often love the graphic design elements they include and what these bits and pieces of day-to-day life reflect about the times in which they were created. Old paper ephemera can create a variety of responses in me—everything from joy, to amusement, to horror. These remnants of the past can, on the one hand, reflect the sweetness of simpler times, yet, on the other, show us at our…

When the Ordinary is Extraordinary

One of the things that interests me most about handwritten letters is that they capture the day-to-day lives of ordinary and extraordinary people. Sometimes, letter writers describe the most mundane tasks, like hanging out the wash in sub-zero weather, or planting the corn in the spring. Other writers may go deep as they philosophize about the times in which they are living, with all its drama and challenges. Handwritten letters run the gamut of topics and viewpoints, providing a kaleidoscope of substance and perspectives. In other words, personal stories told in the form of letters bring our history to life. They fill in the gaps in what we think we know about history from books, newspapers, and journal articles. Instead of memorizing the names and…

Letters are Stories. All are Golden.

One of my fondest memories is of our annual family camping trips to Apple River Canyon in northwest Illinois each fall. Over three or four different weekends, from Labor Day to mid-October, we would spend time there, down in the canyon, on private property (a farm), next to the river. My grandfather, a widower, and my uncle and his family joined us on these occasions. We’d park our campers together and share a communal fire pit, freshly dug spring, and good food. At that time, my parents, uncle, and grandfather all hunted in the fall—mostly for squirrels. Hunting was part of the family ritual, something my grandfather did from a young age to help feed his poor family in rural Missouri, and later to feed…

End of content

End of content