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Whether writing a thank you note to a neighbor, a love letter to a partner, or slipping someone a piece of paper with your phone number on it, handwritten notes can serve not only to deepen existing relationships but also to create new opportunities for connection. Aficionado Lauren Popish teaches us how to rediscover connection through the lost art of letter writing.

We would love to know what you think. Please help us build a better BBXX for you by sending your feedback to hello@bbxx.world 🙂

Lauren Popish

Handwriting is something that is totally unique to an individual. Think of handwriting experts who try and decipher like people who have forged notes or forgery. There’s people who are trained just to find those intricacies, those things that are just totally unique and different even if you try and copy. There’s something just so personal and unique about handwriting.

Sasza Lohrey

Hello, Hello, everyone. This is Sasza, your host of the BBXX podcast. So I wanted to introduce a bit of a new series of interviews were doing. While, the coronavirus pandemic has presented us with an infinite number of obstacles. It’s also presented us with an opportunity. And while we can’t go outside, we are being invited to look inwards instead, to connect to reflect, to learn more about ourselves, and to recognize how much our relationships matter more than anything else. And I think that is probably one of the most beneficial lessons that we can learn from all of this. And so as we’re faced with this obstacle, and this opportunity, we’ve decided to launch a series of Instagram Live interviews, to help us stay connected to you, connected while we’re at home. And while we’re all having this fascinating, global shared experience. We’re launching this series first, but we’re also planning some other exciting content releases from short format audio to more casual discussions, as well as some igtv videos. So be sure to tune in on your preferred platform, or how about just all of them. So stay tuned for announcements on the BBXX podcast, and stay tuned on our Instagram at BBXX.world. And if you don’t already, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter, where every week we send out tons of amazing content recommendations, the show notes for all of our interviews, a q&a article, and lots more.

Today, we are going to be talking with Lauren popish, about the lost and wonderful art of letter writing. And so during this crazy, crazy time that we are all living and having this actually fascinating shared experience around the world at the same time, and finding ourselves faced with how to stay connected, despite being isolated or distanced. But also with this opportunity to reconnect. When before have we had the excuse to reach out to anybody and say how are you I wanted to check in. I think everybody’s looking for company, everybody is welcoming in another hand, another voice. And so Lauren, she was telling me how she still uses notes a lot. And writing letters as a way to connect in kind of an old fashioned way. But in a way that I think is truly different than you know, sending a text, it’s a completely different gesture is a different effort. And it has a very different meaning and especially coming off of some of the our last two interviews with Nick Eppley and with Stephanie Koons both on which they talked not only about the benefits of small interaction, so be it with a stranger writing this note to your neighbor or something. But Nick Eppley talked about the power of gratitude and how they’ve done scientific research studies that demonstrate the power on both ends of how much I can benefit from writing you a letter or something and then how much the receiver can benefit from reading that. And actually the benefits of writing it come whether or not I even give the letter. So if nothing else, and if people are too afraid to give it. I think it’s still worth a shot, writing it and finding out. Lauren, welcome to our first IG live. Thanks for joining us.

Lauren Popish

Thank you for having me.

Sasza Lohrey

I’d love to just have you start out by I guess introducing who you are, what you do. And then, you know in what ways you are living or feeling connection, or just connection. How has this experience we’re living in right now lent itself to feeling disconnected, maybe in some other ways, unsurprisingly, connection itself.

Lauren Popish

Well, I spend my time now working on podcasting. And that’s how you and I got in touch. I have a company called the wave podcasting. And the entire goal or mission of the company is to help bring more voices into the podcasting landscape, and really have the people who are creating podcasts reflect more of the diversity of the actual listenership. So when you go to find a podcast, you want to hear your own experience reflected in podcast you’re listening to. And that really comes from having diversity in who is creating podcasts. So we’ve created a lot of resources to try and get women out of the mindset that podcasting or podcasts are hard to start, or that there’s technical barriers to them. But what I like about podcasting, as a medium, is the use of voice and how unique voice is to every individual. And yeah, actually, like a fingerprint, right? You can’t replicate it, you can mimic it, but you can’t replicate someone’s own individual voice. And in a similar fashion, handwriting is something that is totally unique to an individual. Think of handwriting experts who try and decipher like people who have forged notes or forgery. There’s people who are trained just to find those intricacies, those things that are just totally unique and different. Even if you try and copy. There’s something just so personal and unique about handwriting as well. So in both cases, voice and handwriting are unique. And I think when you remove being able to see people in person, you actually start to crave some of these aspects of connection that feel totally authentic. And that’s really what quarantine or being apart from someone, you begin to lose slowly those different aspects that either come from being in person or seeing each other face to face, the way that’s affected me, I have really kind of enjoyed, like not having the experience of FOMO not having an excuse to pretend this event or be in a place, and just really permission to be at home. Like that’s a delightful part of this. I think a not delightful thing is where I go for creativity to really expand my mind, which happens to be outside and in public places. It’s not even getting to be there. It’s just contrast that I’m really missing. But I am enjoying the excuse to be like, sorry, can’t see you today or hang out or be at this event because everybody is in that position.

Sasza Lohrey

I have a few parallels with that. And going back just a bit to our voice as a fingerprint, as handwriting. And I think it’s really interesting, because a lot of other things. We know what our handwriting looks like, or you get used to knowing those parts of yourselves. But in both the literal and metaphorical way, how well do we know our own voice? I think until we use our voice and write or podcasts or try these things reflect how well do we know our voice in the sense of our perspective and opinions and feelings about things? And I think it’s, you know, there’s that whole psychological argument about whether labels come first or feelings, in what order and I think with perspective, perhaps it could be the same with voice. In regards to the FOMO thing you mentioned, I am kind of loving the concept of this level playing field that has gotten rid of FOMO. And I think I find it inspiring in a way that gives us the opportunity to be able to share a part of I would say our lives but more ourselves. And so I’m finding that to be fascinating and honestly, obviously this whole situation is not overall a positive thing, but I think there are very interesting, positive lessons that can come out of it. One of which being I think it presents us with an incredibly unique opportunity to focus on connection and is an opportunity that I with BBXX really want to try and help people as much as we can.

Lauren Popish

I totally agree from all extremes. I mean, you can live in a happy place all the time, right, like happiness coexists with fear and unhappiness. And so it makes perfect sense that when those things are present, there is room for people to be grateful. And where there’s disconnection, there is like the polar opposite, they need each other to be able to exist, you wouldn’t know what connection it was until you knew what this connection was.

Sasza Lohrey

Kind of going back to this simplicity we’re being forced to live in right now. And that focus on relationships are the things that we still have via in a confined space, or virtually. Now, we’re not looking at how many people viewed the story of you on your hike, or whatever you’re looking at. How many people have you connected with today, it’s more becoming more about quality rather than quantity. In a way I want to say.

Lauren Popish

you know, when you’re talking about quality of communication and quality of interactions, I think it is the right way to think about why I like notes, and handwritten, so much. I think that quality is a really important word there, because you can see the effort. So I would say that is one aspect that is really cool about writing a letter to someone, you see how long it took, you know, someone picked up a pen, you know, someone found a card, found a note wrote it down, it’s like, emails begin to feel. And in fact, there’s so much like machine learning and automation around emails. I mean, Google finishes my sentences for me now in in Gmail, honestly, like, how long did it take me to write that email, probably not very long. But my effort can actually be seen in a material and a note and a card. And I think it is the combination of effort plus authenticity, that thing that we were talking about, like your handwriting is as unique as your fingerprint. It’s those things that make a card, even a note that is a very shorter, brief or a postcard, very, very intimate. So it’s a connection between these two people. Something that comes to mind is like, you know, when a waiter writes on your receipt, thank you, or thanks for coming in nice to see you. I’m sure there is a direct correlation between writing something on a receipt to a customer, and the amount of tips, it is intimate and personal and shows a certain amount of effort while the amount of plan they thought of me it’s human. And so we’ve talked about like, a couple ways that you can, you know, who should you write letters to, when should you use your handwriting as not just like a way to be intimate but like as a, I’d like to think of it as a differentiating factor. In a world that is like, everything is competing for attention. Because it’s very, very ignore, easy to ignore a faceless personality lists, email, it’s very hard to ignore the way that someone writes says about them, the speed of it, the messiness, the tightness, the smallness, the bigness, all these things, say something unique about you. And so, two times that I’ve used handwriting handwritten notes to differentiate me. One is in the workforce, when job searching, where I used handwritten notes, prior to an interview to getting an interview, essentially, if I’ve admired the work of someone, I used to work in architecture and interior design, I would go on home tours, I’d see something in a magazine.

 And I would literally find the person who designs that thing. And it’s not hard to get an office address these days, many companies keep their addresses on the website, and just set attention to this designer person and said, Hey, I saw your key, your work in this magazine. I’m a student, I found this incredibly inspiring. I used it on my recent project. And I’m going to be graduating in a year. If you ever need interns or someone even to just help. I would love to participate. I would love to come take an office tour if I’m ever in your city. Like whatever your ask is. It’s really hard to ignore when someone goes outside of themselves and what is better than getting mail. When you pull out your mail and you’re like, why is this and you don’t know who it is. I mean, when was the last time you didn’t know when something came from how it got to you and it was addressed just to you. I’ve done that night definitely got a job in college that way after going home to her and writing me a designer and just saying like wow, I really admire your work from a very genuine place, not from a pitchy sales pitchy type of way. And they reached out in in a month and we’re like, Hey, that was so sweet. I also got in the habit in my early days, like my college days when I was applying, it was like looking for jobs, and I would do a lot of printing of my resume and sending it in the mail with notes because I knew someone was going to intake. That it’s hard to ignore effort. And usually, it’s a small amount of effort. But it’s a meaningful, intimate. So that’s one way. A second way that I’ve used notes that we’ve talked about is in the dating world, pretty successfully. One thing I used to do in New York a lot, after I was kind of disenchanted with the fact that I couldn’t understand someone’s body language from an application, right? So it was like, I have to meet people in person to know if the chemistry is going to be there. Because so much of your personality is not just what you say, it’s the way you act. It’s your posture. It’s the way you communicate with service people. It’s a way to communicate with your friends. And it’s really hard to get those out of an app. And so I started kind of like looking around just going to bars and restaurants, honestly, the subway, where I was looking everywhere and

Sasza Lohrey

Leaving anonymous notes on the subway.

Lauren Popish

I know, Listen, I’ve seen it happen, not successfully. But I think I have some tips for that. I would keep little note cards in my purse, that I kind of personalize, like, I found the thing that made me like, feel confident and cool. It’s these little, they look like they’re the size of business cards, but they’re blank. These are from Russell and Hazel, which is like a really cool paper goods company. They have all kinds of beautiful stuff. So it’s not very big, right? Whatever you’re going to say is pretty brief. But I would just say, hey, you caught my eye. If you’re ever interested, you know, here’s my number. Or if you’re ever interested in meeting, and then what I would do is I would say I’ve seen people kind of drop this and then walk away or this situation I saw on the subway was a guy dropped a card like this into a girl’s lap, and she was so offended, she smacked it off her lap and like, threw it on the floor. And it was like, I don’t want that. She just kind of like, get off and dry.

Sasza Lohrey

Yeah, tell us about the delivery. 

Lauren Popish

Yeah, sothe delivery can be cheeky, which is my preferred method

Sasza Lohrey

For everything

Lauren Popish

for everything. My go to line is, hey, I think you dropped this. It’s a risk, right? 

Sasza Lohrey

But it’s no risk than anything else. The rejection is less than anything else. If you sit and talk, there’s not even either what they leave in a card or they take it but they don’t text you is that’s not even projection. That’s just no nothing changing.

Lauren Popish

Exactly. So the key is, I think you drop this when you’re exiting a situation or you’re going to the bathroom or you’re kind of walking. 

Sazsa Lohrey

Yeah, yeah.

Lauren Popish

I have a guy friend who is just moved in with a gal he met because her sister dropped her number in his lap.

Sasza Lohrey

Oh, dropped, oh there you go. Perfect. 

Lauren Popish

So get your friend involved.

Sasza Lohrey

I like that.

Lauren Popish

Yes. Get involved. 

Sasza Lohrey

I’m just gonna take around the note cards and start dropping the numbers on my friends. 

Lauren Popish

Exactly

Sasza Lohrey

my friends won’t even be with me. They won’t know it.

Lauren Popish

 And I am like, what an endorsement for third party person to be. I mean, it’s the reason we love being set up with our friends is friends, right? Because you’re like, Hey, I think there’s someone you would vibe with.

Sasza Lohrey

There’s something here right?

 Lauren Popish

Yeah, exactly.  It’s like, you’re almost acting as a matchmaker. So I love the card thing. And I think a key to it is like, a really fun part of it is finding your signature thing. So your signature like piece of paper, your signature like little note, some people have like business cards, like printed, and that actually does not work very well. I’ve seen it. And because it is that personal thing. It’s like this is manufactured. This is bull. 

Sasza Lohrey

Yeah, it’s uh, you already had that you were going to give Exactly, yeah. Working partner. 

Lauren Popish

Yeah.

Sasza Lohrey

And I think that because I’m thinking in the context of outside at a bar or at night, even you know, if you’re at a restaurant or a coffee shop, or you know, at a cowork or something like that, you know, I think this could where you could say, Hey, I think you left this in the fax machine. 

Lauren Popish

Yeah. 

Sasza Lohrey

Really?

Lauren Popish

They’re like that, was it the fax machine?

Sasza Lohrey

Yeah, but I think it could be kind of taken into all other sorts of contexts. And I think it’s a really good to use the word nifty but creative, human intimate way of connecting and I think I would really love to stress how there’s no downside. I love that part of it.

Lauren Popish

Yeah. Also, I want to point out that sometimes good things can come out of when you drop a note to someone and it’s not a fit. Two examples. I have of that one. I dropped a note to a guy in a bar, who’s very cute and had glasses. And I think my note said, cool glasses. Call me if you ever want to get a drink. And his response was, I’m very flattered. 

Sasza Lohrey

He texted you?

Lauren Popish

He did! Yeah, he was on his way out. And I think I handed that to him. And he texted me and said, Hey, thank you so much. Like, that’s flattering. I don’t think my boyfriend would approve.

Sasza Lohrey

So that’s amazing.

Lauren Popish

It’s a hit or miss sometimes. 

Sasza Lohrey

That’s amazing. 

Lauren Popish

But to his point, he was really sweet and very flattered. And a different example is, I have a friend who left a note for a man that she saw at the restaurant. And he wrote her and said, Hey, I just want you to know, I’m been happily married for 10 years. But this made me feel so good and young and flattered. If I was younger, I would have said, Yes. He was like this made my day. It’s kind of a sweet, genuine thing that there’s very few downsides, I guess, even if it doesn’t work out.

Sasza Lohrey

Yeah, that favor of that nice little, you know, the joy of receiving a kind note, who doesn’t enjoy receiving words of affirmation in a better form more unique. Just today, actually, right before this call you were talking about it in the context of the current day situation and how you’re bringing note writing locally and happen to have some ultra friendly neighbors who are apparently equally creative and intimate. And using this as a way to connect during this crazy time we’re in.

Lauren Popish

Exactly, as you were saying, I’ve had seen this like note writing really take shape is since we’ve been kind of quarantined in our little apartment, we have some wonderful neighbors. And I used to live in New York. And for the eight years that I lived in New York, I never met my neighbors, not once I lived in like three or four different places. But I found since I’ve lived in Los Angeles, but the people in this building are very, very friendly. And people are using this as a chance to check in on each other. We’ve woken up three days in a row with different people like notes as communication on our little doorstep here. And I wish I had the one with me. One was just with a bottle of wine and a big note that says you’re enjoying spring break.

Sasza Lohrey

Oh my god, get out. That’s genius.

Lauren Popish

Yes. And she was like we’re in this together is what exactly. I know, this is weird. But we’re in it together. I can’t, you know, really looking forward to when we can have a glass together. But in the meantime, hope you can enjoy this on your own. And then another neighbor checked in, she’s using this as a chance to kind of like, be creative. And so she made this like body scrub out of brown sugar, and she was giving us to neighbors. And again, like really trying not to disrupt or coming contact. Like I said, it’s such a treat to leave something to be discovered to get something in the mail to open your door and see something on your doorstep. I think it’s just such a awesome way to express humanity, even if you haven’t met your neighbors to just say, hey, I’d like to use this as a chance to introduce myself. And I hope you’re okay. And if you ever needed anything, we’ve got lots of toilet paper, we’ve got a cup of sugar, whatever. If you need something, please lean on me. And here’s my phone number. I mean, to use it as a chance to connect to people, but doing it through the hand, leaving a note flipping it under the door leaving it in someone’s mailbox. When other time do you have this excuse, maybe Christmas? To say yeah, hey, I’m here for you–

Sasza Lohrey

Thinking of you.

Lauren Popish

As a total stranger. 

Sasza Lohrey

But after that note, no longer is a stranger. But if you were to send a text or something, it kind of feels disposable, feels less authentic or you send a text. And I think the closest you feel to them wouldn’t be changed by a text that note, and that gesture, I think creates something different and it kind of changes that title or that status and kind of breaks down that stranger barrier.

Lauren Popish

And it would be totally different if this person had typed something out. Think of every time that someone has typed something out. It was a neighbor. It’s usually something like I don’t know if you ever see this but like can whoever is doing exercises in their room at 4am can you please stop, signed apartment one 1A. So the tone of a typed message or digital communication. It just loses that personable.

Sasza Lohrey

Yeah, and not only on the writing end, but again, if I I get a text from you. If I’m in the middle of something, I won’t spend time thinking about it, maybe I don’t even read it, or I glanced at it. I respond later. But on average, I can only imagine how much time I spend thinking or crafting response before sending it. 

Lauren Popish

Yeah.

Sasza Lohrey

Zero to minimal. If you send me an email, okay, maybe I read it, maybe I respond in an hour later that day, maybe go back to it. But a letter, really, it’s somebody taking all the time, they need to really save things exactly in the way they wanted to choose the right words, to craft that story, that emotion, whatever message it is, and it gives the person on the receiving end, I think, a really unique opportunity to be able to digest it in a different way. You know, there’s not that rush of what’s your response? I think a lot of letters, maybe don’t even need a response. And so I guess I’m not putting it in the context. But I’m thinking and kind of love letter, the context of a nice note, but extended so I did a series where I wrote love letters to friends and family members. And there was zero purpose of getting any response to any of them. But what it does, is it one, it takes off that pressure, because if I write you an email, and you don’t respond, it’s weird. Or, you know, a text like did you get it versus I know you’ve got it, or they’ll respond in some other way. But yeah, it gives people the chance to really sit with it, and I think feel it and process it and understand it in a totally different way.

Lauren Popish

I think you’re exactly right, in terms of timing, the pacing of it be intentional thing about it, and the kind of mutual knowledge that not every letter needs to be responded to, or not in a timeframe that feels immediate, you can really take your time, that permission to slow down and absorb something or that permission to not respond at all, I think is really interesting. Think of how you could live on a letter for so long and go back and die.

Sasza Lohrey

Yeah. They’re nourishing. Yes, no, yeah, that was the word. They’re nourishing. Yeah, they can kind of feed your spirit, their relationship, your soul in a different soul food in a different way.

Lauren Popish

Yeah, letter writing is something of a whole other depth and probably could go in on that for a while, especially love letters.

Sasza Lohrey

As we’ve been here, talking about the power of personalized kind of more human communication in the form of handwritten notes in the form of letters versus digital communication that is so second nature that we’re used to, and how you know, going back to these almost forgotten ways of communication really differentiates whether it’s wanting to get attention for a job interview or a date, it can differentiate us, it can also differentiate what we’re saying. And it has a different meaning as a different impact. And so, I would love to kind of help people try and channel that and give a challenge to people to during this time, there is no better time than now to use a more human way to connect. I don’t know, we can send stuff in the mail, but to a neighbor to somebody you don’t know to leaving it, you maybe drive by somebody’s house and you can still leave stuff on somebody’s front door or to your roommate or your partner in the morning just start their day off in a different way and use this time to take advantage of practicing this skill in this gesture and understanding the benefits of it so that beyond this, we can hopefully tap into this more often. So drop a note, let me know and send us a picture of the note let us know how it felt to write it to leave it, how the other person felt receiving it. And then we’ll be letting you guys know when we’re going to do another little live session during which we can talk about ways to craft a letter what the different purposes can be to whom you can write these things or just come right like funny notes. You could even look up funny pickup lines or anything

Lauren Popish

or write to someone who doesn’t exist or who you’ve always wanted to know. Right?  Like a celebrity.

Sasza Lohrey

We have this right that future children talk more about on that other call that BBXX has a series of love letters. So if you do write a love letter to a partner, which can be definitely one of the things you come on, don’t call with the intention of doing. But we also have a series of people writing Love Letters to a future lover, partner soulmate. It doesn’t have to have a title but person, then again, I challenge us all to find our voice through using it in this lovely almost at times forgotten but beautiful, impactful human way. Make somebody’s day. Give them the gift of feeling notice of feeling valued of feeling more connected and feeling more human. 

Lauren Popish

Yeah, I fully agree. 

Sazsa Lohrey

I’m so much looking forward to it. And thanks so much for joining us.

Lauren Popish

Thank you.

Sazsa Lohrey

And Thank you everybody who tuned in for joining us. And we can’t wait to hear about the notes and the lessons learned and the the smiles created through the new communication and connection. Absolutely. Thanks again for tuning in. And be sure to follow us on Instagram at BBXX.world for exciting updates and even more fantastic content. And if you have any questions, comments or suggestions, shoot us a text at 1-415-888-4742 or shoot us an audio which we love. At that same number on WhatsApp. I’m your host Sasha Laurie and remember, I’m always here learning a ton myself right along with you.

 

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Home Forums Casual Conversations: “The Lost Art of Letter Writing”

  • Casual Conversations: “The Lost Art of Letter Writing”

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    November 6, 2020 at 2:11 am
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    • What did you learn about yourself?
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    • What is one way you can enact what you learned in your own life?
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