Valentine's Day is the same week as my partner's birthday, so there is usually much fanfare. This year, however, life got in the way of much celebrating. So we are just trying to enjoy the time together.
Last fall I was approached by a designer to help detail a furniture showroom for Haworth. They were looking for handlettered inspirational signs to pair with Patricia Urquiola's "Openest" line at the launch in the DC showroom. The furniture line is designed to invite people to gather, share ideas and focus on a task (even if that task is occasionally relaxing). The signs were in multiple languages and multiple sizes. It's my highest profile and largest commission to date, even though my work was anonymous!
Zora Neale Hurston is infinitely quotable, but on this MLK, Jr Day it is important to remember her contributions to documenting her rich racial heritage. An influencer of many authors and poets from the Harlem’s Renaissance, Zora is the OG #blackgirlmagic. And while there is chasm between her life and mine, I’m so inspired by her words and texts. This new year, this quote particularly resonates with me. Bring it on, world.
I am not the most patient person by default. So this year will be about taking a pause when before I wouldn't have, giving the benefit of the doubt, keeping quieter, and allowing myself to take the time.
In our current times, as citizens of society, we could all do with a bit more patience for each other. Listening and having a bit more restraint before we jump to conclusions or assumptions. Taking the time to appreciate the nuances and layers of those around us, and remembering that we never know a person's full story. (Recently a co-worker's husband passed away, which came as a surprise to those of us at work. But he'd been living with cancer for some time, and she kept it a secret for her own personal reasons. Not that I was ever unkind to her, but could I have been kinder had I known?) Be kind, be patient with everyone we meet.
As a parent, my patience is continually tested. I hope to be a better example to my kiddos, and cultivate their ability to be patient as well. They deserve that.
And I hope to be more patient with myself, to give myself grace, and in moments of anger or annoyance try to identify what I'm really feeling. Ursula K Le Guin wrote it beautifully when she said, "If I'm in an angry mood and aware of it, I can ask myself, So what is it you're afraid of? That gives me a place to look at my anger from. Sometimes it helps me get to clearer air." Ideally I can get myself into some clearer air this year.
I am sure 2018 will continue to test us all as a society, and certainly myself as a parent, and an individual. Hopefully I can meet the challenges with grace and patience.
It's that time of year. Holiday greetings have been spread far and wide, for us this year in both analog and digital format.
My love of mailed correspondence and hand lettering really culminate this season. Not to mention that the reason I started this site was based on encouragement after sending out my annual holiday greetings in 2013. But I also just have a fondness for the intimacy of a "Christmas letter". I was happy to see this article in Darling about the author's "unapologetic love for the Christmas letter". Certainly a pristine family photo has become en vogue with so many web services printing it with a well-designed border on beautiful card stock. But I love hearing a family's perspective on their year. Certainly it allows my partner and I to reflect on our accomplishments and our adventures, and think about how we've grown and changed in the course of the year. Due to time restrictions with a young family, most of my cards could not include handwritten greetings in addition to the printed message this year. But all of my envelopes were lovingly hand-addressed.
While my young children don't yet appreciate a nicely wrapped present, for ones I send out, I like to take some care to wrap them neatly. This year the wrapping paper was store bought (I'm actually not sure how we acquired it), but I do like attempting reuse where possible. And I have a staunch no-bows rule. Not only do they offend my design sensibilities, but they are immediately trashed. Washi tape and baker's twine certainly suffice.
There really is little better than getting something fun and lovingly designed in the mail.
Last year, during National Letter Writing Month, I ran across More Love Letters, whose mission is to spread love to those who need it. I'm excited to be participating in their 12 Days of Love Letters this holiday season. Each day for 12 days, they will reveal a new request for letters, so you can send some handwritten love during a season when many people need it. It began on December 4, but I'm especially drawn to today's recipients.
Today's request is for a school of adolescent boys, who are at-risk because they are dealing with trauma and abuse, as well as mental health disorders. The administrators at their therapeutic school asked for letters of encouragement and motivation for this over-looked group, so that they can feel more connected in the world. Maybe it is just because of my own sons, or because I'm so protective of the next generation in general, but this request really stood out to me. I'm writing a couple cards today to these young men, and hope that they can feel good vibes from it. (Look below for full request and address.)
The holiday season is a time when we often remember to give back (though ideally we'd do this year round!) and also ramp up written correspondence in general (holiday cards!), so I really appreciate that More Love Letters united these two. Something about holidays makes hand written correspondence even more special. Please visit 12 Days of Love Letters and send a letter (or 12!) yourself. (All letters should be postmarked by December 20.)
More Love Letters received a request for a bundle of letters for students at a school. One of their behavioral specialists wrote to us:
“REAL school serves middle school students who require structured therapeutic school-based supports and are at-risk in the areas of academic achievement as well as emotional and behavioral development. Most are dealing with challenges at home and in the community–trauma, abuse, violence–as well as mental health disorders. They and their families oftentimes lack access to effective resources and lack exposure to people outside of their communities, city, and the world around them. Research shows that these types of disconnections lead to ongoing struggles: incarceration, homelessness, a lower lifetime earning potential, chronic difficulty getting and keeping a job, living in extreme poverty, lack of health insurance, substance abuse, and chronic depression.
Our students (we currently have six boys in the program, ages 12-14) are resilient, vibrant, creative, outspoken, musical, funny, caring, curious, resourceful, athletic, and often, overlooked. They love to rap, dance, play sports, do arts and crafts, and learn about others. They deserve to feel appreciated and supported. They deserve unconditional positive regard. And, most of all, they deserve to feel connected with others.
I'd love to share letters of encouragement and motivation, of overcoming tough times, and of different life experiences (cultures, cities, people) with our students as well as our amazing REAL School staff members.”
Grab your pens and join us in writing letters to these fantastic students this holiday season! Please address all letters to “Dear Students.”
PLEASE MAIL ALL LOVE LETTERS BY DECEMBER 20 TO:
Students of REAL School
℅ Elizabeth L.
12 S. Stafford Avenue Apt. A,
Richmond, VA 23220
If you have questions about the process, visit the More Love Letter FAQ.
December has begun. A prime time to reflect on the year. This quote is definitely one I appreciate the intention of, and think I could do a better job with. Like my boss says, "being right doesn't really change a situation."
The best holiday of the year has arrived. This year is the first for me hosting in our home, and while the guest list was short, I'm so grateful we could gather together.
We try to cultivate gratitude everyday of the year, especially for our sons, but is is great to have a specific day to express our thanks. My tradition is to have each person at the table write a physical list (on my handlettered form, of course.) It was great to see what my 5 year old came up with all on his own.
I am truly thankful I was able to prepare this special meal for my family. I hope that hosting this day of gratitude can become a tradition in my home.
One of the great things about working at Maharam is that we have a gathering every two years focused on design inspiration and company values. In addition to a great location, there are guest speakers at the forefront of their industries. This year was exceptional in that we gathered at the Parker in Palm Springs, and one of my design idols spoke - Ilse Crawford.
I've been a fan of Ilse Crawford since high school when her book Sensual Home was published. I brought my copy along and was lucky to have her sign it. (And had a great aside with her and her husband, Oscar Pena, about handwriting and the power of a good signature.)
In addition to her giving a great presentation to the entire group, I was able to have a meaningful conversation privately. I was enamored as she and I discussed gender politics in architecture versus interiors, and her experience doing business in Asia. And thankfully my boss took a photo of us, so I didn’t have to resort to asking for a selfie.
Luckily last month I was able to enjoy one of her spaces in person, with one of my best friends and some coworkers. I was in Hong Kong and had a delicious drink at Duddell’s Art Club.
Still working my way through her latest book, which is beyond good. It is a set of profiles of her recent projects, highlighting the human focus, and making all spaces more comfortable and inhabitable for the users. Her elaborations on their design process and priorities are invaluable for formulating a project, in design or in life.
She continues to be an inspiration, and I’m so lucky to have met her in person.
Having a couple kiddos really allows some real-world lettering opportunities. Certainly more chalk around than I ever had before children. I really enjoy using handlettering in my day to day life.
At the Navy Pier Kid's Museum new exhibit on fort building.
Labeling school supplies.
And lots more.
More from Nariyyah Waheed. She has such a way with words.
Really enjoying our time in California. Tonight we took an impromptu hike, and were rewarded with great views of Simi Valley. The little dudes led us up the highest peak they could find. We got a good workout, and a nice memory.