The Joy of Penpals – Hannah’s Story

Letters from Hannah's penpalsThe joy of letterwriting is something I speak of often and always, to anyone who listens. However, today, I wanted to feature someone else and get their take on it. I’m very pleased to welcome Hannah from Han Plans to the blog. I’ve actually had the pleasure of meeting Hannah in person, through the planner community (why yes, there is a community). Not only is she a kind and amazing lady, she’s also an avid planner, crafter and – you guessed it – letterwriter.

So without further ado, let’s hand over to Hannah and hear her story!

Like most people I had my first penpal when I was at school as some kind of English project. I vaguely remember that my penpal went to one of the schools in a village near Hitchin. I think we’d all been paired up in a sort of “exchange student” kind of way. Now, I have no idea where I’d start but I’d love to track down my penpal. One day I might need to see if any of my letters are still with all my school work in my Mum and Dad’s attic.

I’ve always loved keeping a journal (online or notebook), loved card making and scrapbooking. I will often send postcards when I’m away on holiday. As I write this I’m on a train to Birmingham – I’m wondering if I’d have time to send Jaxon a postcard while I’m away. It seems silly as I’m away less than 24 hours but I think he’d appreciate getting his own post for once.

Anyway, so back in 2007, I graduated from university, I had a temporary job while I found something a bit more permanent. Around this time I stumbled upon Swap-Bot. I signed up for small swaps and joined in. One of my longest penpals is Bob, he’s based in Kansas in the USA. He’s an artist and nearly always (no actually make that always) decorates the outside of the envelope. I think I have kept nearly all the envelopes because they are works of art in their own right.

Hannah spotting a letter from one of her penpals

Now it’s almost 12 years later and I’ve had some penpals that have lasted 2 or 3 letters and then fizzled out or other penpals that keep writing. I’ve learnt about life in Australia, USA, Denmark, Hungary and Norway amongst other places. I’ve told my penpals about life here in the UK and taken them on adventures with me too. I think I posted a couple of letters from Paris before we went to Disneyland Paris back in May 2018.

Most of my letters are in English but I’ve attempted to write the odd things in other languages depending on whom I’m writing to. I’ve wished my German friend Frohe Weihnachten and my friend in Denmark Godt Nytår. Sometimes I’m worried I’ll get it wrong and call someone’s Mum a goat or something like that. But, I hope that my penpals know that it’s me trying to make an effort rather than intentionally insulting them!

Letters from Hannah's penpalsSo in such a technological time when it’s so easy to open an email and fire off a few sentences, what is it I like about handwritten penpal letters that is so important.

Well, to me it’s the time it takes. It’s the thought that goes into the letter. You sit down with a pen and paper and you write (in your best attempt at neat handwriting) a letter that you hope will bring someone some sunshine. I love those days when I’m having a terrible day and then a penpal letter arrives. Clearly, when the person wrote it they had no idea that I was going to have a bad day and yet that moment it arrived, I needed to see it.

Then it’s the topics, do I write about what’s going on around me or do I write about something specific? Maybe I have something going on and need to talk about it. When my grandmother had a stroke back in 2008 and passed away the same day, I wrote to my penpals. I poured a lot of grief into my letters. But also when I found out I was pregnant and then when Jaxon arrived in the world I celebrate with my penpals too. I’m friends with a few of my penpals on social media so we sort of touch base between letters but there’s something about those letters charting our friendship.

Letters from Hannah's penpalsPenmanship and writing letters is a dying art, our banks and mobile networks give us discount for paperless billing, less people are sending Christmas cards because of the cost to the buy the card and then the cost of the stamps. It’s easier just to post on social media and move on with life. But in a time when we are more connected by technology than ever before, more of us are feeling lonely. Maybe writing penpal letters is the way to shrink that loneliness.

What better way to end this month’s focus then with a personal story from a friend. I’m thrilled to be able to share her experience of letterwriting and the penpals she has made through it. Hannah’s story has definitely made me want to write more letters and get some more penpals.

I really love the creativity that goes into letterwriting. Some people choose to express themselves through words, other choose to draw or decorate them. There’s no right or wrong. It’s all about connecting people together and I really love the freedom it gives people.

Follow Hannah over on her blog, Han Plans. She’s also active on social media and has a lovely Instagram, full of stationery and crafts!

From Me to You – The Big Letter Write

Throughout this blog, I’ve spoken a lot about mental health and the impact that it has on physical health, particularly for myself. However, it’s important to recognise that sometimes it’s the other way around. A physical illness not only affects your body, it can also affect your mental health and your emotions. Cancer is a very clear case of this. It has a strong impact on patients and their loved ones, affecting their mental health and causing a lot of stress. And that’s why, when I saw this website called “From Me to You“, I instantly thought it was brilliant.

From Me to You is an organisation that encourages you to pen a letter to someone with cancer. The idea of writing to someone that is going through an illness that I cannot truly understand is a little scary, to be honest. There’s always the question of: “Am I going to say something wrong?” or even something as basic as “How do I start this?” However, From Me to You addresses those fears by providing a lot of writing tips, which include ideas on what to say or what to avoid saying. Their helpful tips have helped me to put together this post for you today.

World Cancer Day

On World Cancer Day, on the 4th February (this Monday!!), From Me to You is encouraging everyone to join the Big Letter Write and to pen a letter to someone with cancer. There are two main ways to get involved. You can either reach out and write to someone you already know or you can choose to donate a letter to a stranger who could use a friend.

By signing up to donate a letter, I received a writing kit from them within a few days, which contains a variety of useful information. This kit takes a few days to arrive so you won’t receive it until after Monday but if you want to join, I’ve collated my favourite tips and some things that you could do to get involved before the pack arrives. So you can join the campaign and make a difference to someone’s life this World Cancer Day. Continue reading “From Me to You – The Big Letter Write”

Monthly Challenges – February’s InCoWriMo

I have spoken quite a bit about the goals that I want to achieve in the next year or two. This is something that I have been sending some of my free time working on. However, my list of goals are rather long and time has the ability to get away from me – especially when I get caught up in video games. With the bad health that I’ve been experiencing over the past few years too, I feel like I’m long overdue on a bit of self-care. What better way to start tackling my 30 before 30 list than with a bit of stationery self-care? And with InCoWriMo around the corner, what better time than now?

To help me motivate myself and keep me on track, I have decided to have a ‘focus’ for each month. This would be a theme that I focus on. January’s was very much ‘settling back in’ to reality, blogging and work. It has been a month of regaining focus on my goals and motivating myself for the coming year with a little bit of planning. Today, I thought I’d share February’s theme in the hopes that perhaps someone else will join me on this challenge. Together, we can stay a little more motivated to stick to it, after all.

February’s Challenge

February's Challenge

Now with February around the corner, it seemed like a perfect theme for the month was an upcoming challenge – InCoWriMo. Also known as International Correspondence Writing Month, the challenge is pretty much what the name suggest – writing to people. This works perfectly with my challenge of handwriting more letters or cards! The challenge itself encourages people to write a piece of correspondence – a letter, a card, a postcard or even just a note – every day for the whole of the month.

One of the things I love most about writing letters to people is the response I get from it. From my experience, it makes people smile and, even if it’s just for a moment, it makes them happy. It’s a pleasant surprise in this day and age of technology.

The challenge might have stopped last year as I haven’t seen any activity in a while. Hopefully I’m wrong and they are still very much running. Turns out that I was wrong and they just moved to a new website suddenly! So I’m thrilled to say that they are still alive and running. Nonetheless, the idea of the month is still something that I really like and I wanted to give a mention to them as I’ve been inspired to dedicate the month of February to trying to write more letters because of them. The idea itself works perfectly and it’s a great way to encourage more writing, which I really like.

Want to Write?

Feeling inspired by the concept, I want to extend this challenge to all of you reading this now. Why don’t you try to hand-write a message to someone this month? If it’s something you already do, then perhaps aim to write a bit more. If it’s something you never do, even one would be great! This could be any piece of correspondence you like.

Writing Challenges you could do:
  • A correspondence every day [28 by the end of the month]
  • Two or Three correspondences a week [8 to 12 by the end]
  • One correspondence a week [4 by the end]
  • Once in the whole month [1 by the end]
  • Write X letters to strangers
  • Write X letters to your loved ones
  • Come up with your own!

If you are feeling up for the challenge of doing a piece of correspondence every day for the whole month then be sure to check out InCoWriMo’s new website to find out more about their campaign.

My personal challenge will be to try and write two pieces of correspondence a week, at least half of which contain some sort of handmade element within them. By ‘handmade element’, this could be anything from a quick sketch to a designed by me card.

If you’re feeling inspired to give it a go, please do let me know! I’d love to hear from you and see what challenge you set yourself for the month. Leave a comment below, drop me a message on social media or email me and let me know what your challenge is!


Find out more about InCoWriMo at their website hereand fingers crossed that they return!  Huh, wow, fingers crossed worked! InCoWriMo 2019 is back over on a new website, which you can find here: https://incowrimo-2019.org/.

P.S. If you’re interested in any of the products that I featured in the photos I used in this post, be sure to follow my Instagram. These are likely ones I’ll be using over the month and will feature in more depth! (Or drop me a message and ask for details!)

Luxury Writing Gifts

If you’ve been around the Aumsome blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of writing.  I encourage it in so many situations.  From handwriting your notes to writing letters.  Thanks to Manuscript, who organised the first ever World Calligraphy Day earlier this year, I’ve been bitten by the calligraphy and lettering bug too.  Calligraphy is a skill that requires a lot of practice.  It requires a lot of patience too.  While patience isn’t a virtue I have, I actually do love calligraphy.  I also want to improve my general handwriting.  So just handwriting everything I can helps!  Whether it’s in my planner or the letters I occasionally write.

Today I wanted to share a few products that I’ve been testing out (detailed reviews for all of them coming in the new year).  These are products that I think would make luxury writing gifts, as they make the whole writing experience more of a luxury.  They would make really great gifts for anyone who likes to write letters or practice their calligraphy.

Since I’m quite new to the whole calligraphy thing myself, I think a lot of these would be great for someone just starting out too.  So if you – or anyone you know – wants to look into a new skill, definitely check these out and see if you fancy giving it a go.

Continue reading “Luxury Writing Gifts”

Write_On Campaign 2017

Writing letters is making a definite comeback in society.  As technology advances, the art of letterwriting seems to wither away.  It’s understandable in a way – social media has made it easier than ever to contact someone, anywhere in the world.  It’s a lot faster.  But there’s some advantages to writing that cannot be achieved in other methods of written communication.  And there’s a few of us that don’t want to see it wither away.  That few of us that seem to be growing in strength and numbers.  With several months, weeks and days dedicated to writing, letters are becoming popular again – and for good reasons!

In February, we saw InCoWriMo, which stands for International Correspondence Writing Month (run by the organisers of NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month).  But that’s just the beginning.  The start of April marked the start of the Write_On challenge.  This challenge encourages you to write 30 letters in 30 days but since we’re already started, you could aim to write 12 – one of each of the remaining days.  At the very least, aim to write one!

I particularly like that National Stationery Week, here in the UK, also falls in this month.  Two major campaigns to get people writing more.  I found out about the challenge last year, where I shared over 30 letters you could write, in case you didn’t know who to send them to.  This year, I thought I would take a moment to share over 30 reasons why you should write in the first place.

Continue reading “Write_On Campaign 2017”