Coffeegirl63's Blog

I Love To Laugh August 15, 2015

Laughter thrills me. And it fascinates me. How many laughs do you know? I’m going to hazard a guess that most of you have seen the movie Mary Poppins. Do you remember the song, I Love to Laugh? The laughs that were heartfelt, sincere, and based in freedom were clearly the favorites. This is true for me as well. My favorite memory of a laugh is my kids’ tickle laugh when they were little… especially my now-24-year-old son’s because he liked to be tickled more than the others. My favorite laugh to elicit from anyone is the laugh that comes from an unexpected turn in the conversation.

I don’t remember how much I laughed as a child, but my parents have told me I was a very happy child. If my mother reads this, she will (hopefully) comment a response. I went for several years not laughing much at all… because I thought that was the way I was supposed to be–sober and grown-up. In the self-discovery stages I’ve gone through in the last several years, I’ve realized that I truly do love to laugh. I started by just smiling more, then quietly chuckling… now I just laugh right out loud if something tickles me.

There are some things that can make me laugh every time till the tears flow and my tummy hurts. Almost every episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway? is laugh-out-loud funny. Clean, clever improv is one of my favorite forms of entertainment. I like stand-up comedy, too, but improv fascinates me with its cleverness, quick-thinking creativeness, and intelligence. It’s exciting that it can go any direction at the slightest twist.

By sister and best friend Jeannie can always make me laugh. She and I can have entire conversations without uttering a word, or with only talking in movie lines. She gets me like no one else, and I’m grateful for how she’s held the pain and laughter of my soul in her hands for 52 years. Our conversations are not complete until there has been real laughter. My favorite is when she makes me laugh so hard my face gets all dorky looking.

My favorite friendships are the ones in which we are fully comfortable with laughter and tears—sometimes tears from the laughter, sometimes laughter from the tears!

I pray your days may be filled with heartfelt, healing laughter. Choose it, make it happen, and embrace it!

And now, I leave you with some beautiful thoughts about laughter:

“When the first baby laughed for the very first time, the laugh broke up into a thousand pieces of light, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies. So now every time a new baby is born, its first laugh becomes a fairy.” – Sir James Matthew Barrie, Peter Pan

“Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.” – Mark Twain

“A good laugh heals a lot of hurts.” – Madeleine L’Engle

“A smile starts on the lips, a grin spreads to the eyes, a chuckle comes from the belly; but a good laugh bursts forth from the soul, overflows, and bubbles all around.” – Carolyn Birmingham

“I never would have made it if I could not have laughed. It lifted me momentarily out of this horrible situation, just enough to make it livable.” – Viktor Frankl (Holocaust survivor)

“Laughter is the corrective force which prevents us from becoming cranks.” – Henri Bergson

“We cannot really love anybody with whom we never laugh.” – Agnes Repplier

“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.” –Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

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Begin again January 18, 2015

Filed under: House hunting,My House,Writing — coffeegirl63 @ 11:07 am
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To say I’m going to begin again makes me feel like I need to fill in the gaps. Somehow that’s intimidating, and so more than a year goes by, and I think about how I should be writing, how I want to be writing, and then two years go by, and I get more and more intimidated, and so I just stay silent.

Suffice it to say, it’s now been two years since I posted anything. At first, I was tempted to create a whole new blog so it wouldn’t look like I’ve been a slacker for two years. However, those few of you who read my simple writings here will probably be invited to read my start-over, too… so… like Michael Finnegan, I will begin again.

There have been some major changes in the last couple years. The best one involves my living situation. I was able to sell my Falcon house and move into one more suited to me.

My old house was:
~ too far away – 25 miles from work
~ east of town – not as pretty as I’d like… almost no trees, no old neighborhoods
~ too big – 2600 square feet all by myself
~ too expensive
~ too many responsibilities with owning, but not being handy enough to maintain, a home

My new DLH (Dear Little Home) is:
~ close to work – 2.5 miles from work
~ on the west side – running distance to Red Rock Open Space and Garden of the Gods, old neighborhoods, trees, community, walking distance to shops, library, post office, farmers’ market… where I’ve wanted to live for years
~ two doors down from my girls’ apartment – no explanation needed
~ perfectly tiny – my whole stand-alone little house is 300 square feet

Some things are the same. This summer, I will have been at my current job for 13 years, and I still love it. One thing that makes me love it more, though, is that my younger daughter has been working with me for over a year now. Not only does she make my work life so much more reasonable (definitely a two-person job), but it is such a delight to get to work every day with one of my best friends and one of my favorite people in the world!

I’ve been in my DLH for a year now (January 4, 2014), and I love it more as time goes by. It’s perfect for me in so many ways (as listed above). DLH was built in the 1960’s, but it was rebuilt for me. One of the perks of that is that I was able to have bookshelves put in all around! They are above the door-jam/window-sill level on most walls. DLH is easy to keep clean. There is only room for absolute necessities (books, stuff for cooking, clothes… necessities). So if I find a new coffee mug that I love, I have to decide which of my currently necessary coffee mugs must go; there are only so many cup hooks, and they are currently all full. I’ve become clever with storage space; not as clever as I’d like, but it’s a work in progress. For example, I grocery shop more often. Currently, my out-of-season and a few other things are in a storage unit. This winter, my landlord is building me a large shed. I think it will help a lot to have stuff easier to get to. I’ve been here a year, and it’s already time to cull again. The only thing I miss, and only at this time of year, is a garage.

Every single day, coming home puts a smile on my face and brings peace to my heart.

Other things… I ran my first half-marathon in September, 2014. It was fun. I set a goal to finish in under 2.5 hours, and I finished in 2:27:58. I was quite pleased! My older daughter ran with me. She has helped me go from being a poor runner to enjoying long runs and being able to push myself a bit. I am signed up for another half marathon in Livermore at the end of March. It should be beautiful. It starts a few blocks from my sister’s house and runs through the vineyards on the edges of town. I ran some of it when I was in Livermore at Thanksgiving, and it really is a pretty run.

 

No Such Thing As Too Many Books… January 18, 2013

Filed under: Books,Relaxing — coffeegirl63 @ 7:06 pm
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I live alone. One of the upsides of this is that there is no one to be disgruntled by the fact that I currently have 6 books on the other half of my bed; 5 books, 2 journals, and a Kindle on my nightstand; quite a stack on my bedroom floor (close enough to reach, not so close as to be tripped over); a couple on my dining room table; and one on my coffee table. And one in my purse. Those are just the books I currently access. I also have overflowing bookshelves.

Not very long ago, I rarely made time to read. This was mainly because I worked a lot. I grew up reading, though. I would stay home from school “sick” sometimes so I could read. I got away from it for a while, but it seems I’m back with a vengeance… it’s wonderful!

A text from my son recently: “So apparently Charlotte’s Web turns 60 today. N&N (his housemates) have never read that or Stuart Little, and I was just thinking about how cool it is that you used to read us all those awesome books. Thanks for raising us to love reading! :-)” Reading to kids goes back as many generations as I’ve heard stories of in my family. I still almost always have a kids’ book in my stack of current reads. A couple favorites are The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis and The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. Once in a while, I will read a book and wish I could read it to my kids because I think they’d enjoy it. We often recommend books to each other.

Recently, someone asked me how I could read so many books at once and how I kept the characters straight. At the time, I was reading Dracula, The Fellowship of the Ring, the Bible, and The Audacity of Hope. I can honestly say that I never confused (in any combination) Romanian vampires with Elves or Hobbits from Middle Earth, Senators and Presidents in Chicago and the White House, or God and the Middle East. Ok, some people made comments about there being vampires in public office, but I contend they are not Romanian so they don’t count as characters who can be confused with each other.

Some of my current reads:
~The Case For Faith–Lee Strobel
~Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation–Lynne Truss
~One Word That Will Change Your Life–Dan Britton, Jimmy Page, Jon Gordon
~The Seed: Finding Purpose and Happiness In Life and Work–Jon Gordon
~Boundaries In Dating: How Healthy Choices Grow Healthy Relationships–Dr. Henry Cloud, Dr. John Townsend
~Doing Life Differently: The Art of Living With Imagination–Luci Swindoll
~Don’t Know Much About Mythology–Kenneth C. Davis
~Don’t Know Much About Geography–Kenneth C. Davis
~The One Year Chronological Bible NIV–God
~168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think–Laura Vanderkam
~The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act–Barak Obama (no really, it says he wrote the whole 2000-page document)
~The Chotchky Challenge: Clear the Clutter from Your Home, Heart, and Mind… and Discover the True Treasure of Your Soul–Barry Dennis
~100 Years of Cocktails: Recipes and History–H. L. Holbrough

That seems like a lot, but I just read what I currently am in the mood for and have access to. Some of those books are paperback, some hardback, and some electronic (Kindle and phone apps). Sometimes, I’ll read 3 or 4 books in a weekend. Some books take me a long time to get through.

Here’s an example of how I take advantage of any spare reading moment. A couple nights ago, I was getting together with a friend for drinks. I got to the (hotel) bar before she did, so I told her I’d wait inside. This is what she found: Me, sitting alone at the bar, drinking a glass of Australian Shiraz, reading Eats, Shoots and Leaves, and chuckling audibly. It really is a very funny book. Since it’s my current “purse book,” I’m usually reading it in public and laughing. This makes people ask what I’m reading… They either get it or they don’t.

What are you reading these days? What are your favorite kinds of books (genres, formats)? How have the books you’ve read influenced you? Can people see into your personality by looking at the book you are reading at any given time? by the stack of books you consider your current-reads and next-reads? Do you, will you, have you read to your kids? Do you write in your books–if so, what do you write?

By the way, Thank you, Jerry (http://authorisinthehouse.wordpress.com/) for reminding me to write again!

 

Where *HAVE* I been?? April 29, 2012

Filed under: Spending Time — coffeegirl63 @ 12:56 pm
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Recently, a friend told me that he had finally got around to reading my blogs (including my professional blogs). He said he really enjoyed them and had shared them with his mother, who also really enjoyed them. I had conflicting emotions—their accolades thrilled me, and I felt like a bum for not having written in so long. I actually had to go look it up. I haven’t posted anything here since November. Very Pollyanna of me to have kept waiting until I had time… you know, until things slowed down. It seems my seasons never really slow down. I thought they would, but I feel just as busy as ever.

To my new readers, Welcome! And Thank You to those of you who are still with me in spite of my long absence. I will take just a moment to apologize for not writing. I know that I enjoy regular posts from the writers I follow, and I don’t want to let you down.

In spite of my being as busy as ever, I was able to take some vacation time in April. I spent a week in Northern California visiting my sister and my daughter and relaxing a lot–ok, I worked some, but not very much. I was home for one day–long enough to unpack, run through an entire payroll process, and pack again. Then I spent five days in Florida where my son got married. His wife is adorable, and I’m really excited for them. I didn’t work at all (except emails and a couple phone calls at the airport on the way to FL). I was home for another day–long enough to unpack, catch up on work bills and accounting, and pack again. Then I spent six days in San Diego–I worked a little bit and checked emails for critical stuff, but that was all. In one week, I read three books (The Hunger Games series) and walked in two major bodies of water (the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean). It was a whirlwind, and I was pretty exhausted by the time I got home. I’ve been working hard to catch up. There were enough chores at home that I didn’t go to the office this weekend… even though there is enough work at the office to keep me working overtime for a couple weeks.

Work will always keep me busy, but I’ve started reading again. It’s been delightful. I used to read a classic a year, but I pretty much stopped reading regularly, for pleasure, a few years ago. In February, my girls and I discovered a used bookstore in Colorado Springs—The $4 Book Store (https://www.facebook.com/thefourdollarbookstore). We spent a good amount of time in there, and we walked away with large bags of books. One of the books I picked up was Dracula. I’d never read it, so it seemed a valid impetus to re-start my classic-a-year readings. It was a tough one to start. Bram assumed that I would know as much about late 19th-century Europe as he did. Once I got past that part in the first chapter, though, I just flew through the rest of the book. My review: two very enthusiastic thumbs up! I loved it, and it’s one I’ll read again. Bram Stoker wrote this book in the form of journal entries from different people (mainly, three diarists). I have read books that were written from the viewpoints of different people, but never one in which the author kept the personalities so distinct. Also, I was impressed with his use of the Kodak and the phonograph, both new inventions at the time of his writing. So I highly recommend Dracula by Bran Stoker. (Note: it’s not at all creepy, horrible, or scary.)

My other project these days is gardening. Last summer, I had my backyard landscaped. The landscaper (Transylvania Landscape) put in four raised garden beds. I’m pretty excited to get them filled with plants. My seedlings, started indoors, are quite happy. They will move outside in the next couple weeks. I need to plant some seeds this week, though, and I need to get my sprinkler system on today… which means I need to read the book that tells me how to do all that homeowner’s stuff of turning on water and setting up zones and times and such for my watering system. Any of you know how to do that? Anyone want to come help me? 😉

Note: my reading of the book Dracula and my mention of the name of my landscaper’s company are purely coincidentally connected—although Dracula and my landscaper (Valentine) are both from Romania.

I hope you’re having a fabulous Spring!

 

The Times, They Are A Changin’ November 20, 2011

There is a saying: The more things change, the more they stay the same. I can see the truth in that. But I’d like to talk about the drastic changes one person can see in his or her lifetime.

Tomorrow I will attend the memorial service of my Great-Aunt Theresa, my maternal grandmother’s oldest sister. Theresa was born in 1907… she would have been 104 next month. One hundred four years old. That boggles my mind! The things that she has seen in her lifetime must have boggled her mind at times… a mind, by the way, that was sharp until shortly before she passed. I did not know my Great-Aunt well, but the times we spent together were always good. I was always in awe of her… not in a frightened way, but in a fascinated way.

The year Aunt Theresa was born, UPS was founded in Seattle, WA, it cost 2 cents to mail a letter, and Hershey’s Kisses were invented. She was born before WWI, and was probably old enough to have memories of the news of it.

I was talking to a 20-something girl the other day, and she was sounding all kinds of impressive that she could remember when we didn’t have texting. I told her I could remember when cell phones were the size of bricks, when we didn’t have cell phones, and even when we didn’t have cordless phones–so to take a phone call, we actually had to stand right next to the phone. As young mothers, my friends and I were grateful when we could get really long cords so we could talk on the phone and still check on our kids and do the dishes and other chores. That girl I was telling all this to was amazed! lol. But Aunt Theresa saw the progression from most homes not having a phone to most people keeping a phone in their pocket.

She saw the progression from computers not even being a glimmer in any scientist’s eye to computers in the home to computers in most homes to many people have a computer on that phone in their pocket. When she was a child, it took several days for a letter to cross the country. Now, when someone writes a letter, it arrives in a couple days. Most of us, however, do our written communication by email, which can be instant when both parties are at their computer. My daughter talks to her friends on Skype.

In the early 1900’s women stayed home to take care of their husbands and children. Couples didn’t question whether they would choose to have a child. No mother would choose to feed her baby from a bottle. There was no instant way to “throw something together” for dinner. Meals were made purposefully, and meal gatherings were an expression of love. Bread was made by hand. Many homes had a garden–families ate fresh food in the summer, and they put up food for the winter months.

I don’t know if my great grandparents had a radio in their home when Great-Aunt Theresa was a girl, but I’m listening to streaming radio on my computer as I write this. When I go for a run, I’ll listen to music on my iPod.

A couple weeks ago, I was explaining to my daughter that it’s only been recently that we would just drive up to the curb to pick someone up or drop someone off at the airport. When I was a girl, and even through my teen years, airport drop-off and pick-ups were a family affair… a real event. The entire family would go. We would park in parking lot, we would all walk into the airport together, and then we would all wait at the gate… whether it was to see our loved one to the plane and wait until the plane would pull away, or it was to wait with joyful anticipation for the plane to land and our loved one to walk through that doorway. And no one would wear jeans on a plane; it was a dress-up affair. Also, plane tickets cost more when I was in high school than they do now. She thought it was pretty strange. However, we can hop on a plane whenever we choose. Just 4 years before Aunt Theresa was born, Orville and Wilbur Wright made their historic flight.

In many ways, the world was a much safer place. When I was a kid, we’d go outside to play and not come in till it was dark and mothers were flashing to porch lights to call us in. I’m sure it was the same when Aunt Theresa was a girl. Kids always walked wherever they needed to go, and no one worried about whether they would make it safely to school, the neighbors’ house, the store, or wherever they were heading.

When Great-Aunt Theresa was a girl, there were some very scary diseases that killed many. No one under the age of 60 has seen a case of smallpox, most people under the age of 40 don’t have the smallpox vaccination scar on their upper arm, and a case has not been seen on the planet since at least 1980. Helen Keller was left blind and deaf as a result of scarlet fever. Started in the 1940’s, the Centers for Disease Control have worked to cure and prevent many diseases.

As I sit and write this on my computer, I can easily go back and correct mistakes. I will (hopefully) not post this until I have caught and corrected any mistakes… and everything I write is saved on “the cloud” forever, as far as we know. If Great-Aunt Theresa kept a journal, is was with a pencil or pen in a bound book.

What about you? What have you seen in your lifetime that fascinates you? What was common in your childhood that is unknown or amazing to children today? Is there someone in your life who has lived a long, blessed life? I encourage you to spend time with that person, record some of their stories, enjoy the richness that comes from a life well lived.

Thank you for joining me today. I appreciate the gift of your time.

 

Like Chickens With Our Heads Cut Off November 12, 2011

Filed under: Friends,Odd Interests,Writing — coffeegirl63 @ 12:21 pm

A couple months ago, I wrote a piece on words. I truly do enjoy words. I also enjoy the cadence of language. Remember in my words piece that I mentioned my friend who feels the words in his mouth? He may also feel the cadence, since it is generally the entire phrase or sentence he repeats. Alliteration gives me a little thrill every time. Puns and word plays are probably my favorites. Some time ago, my sister sent me a comic (which I tried to find so I could post here) showing a scrabble-like board with a few letter tiles on it and several letter tiles on the floor. One guy was searching through the tiles on the floor, and a couple other guys were standing by watching him. The caption said, “It’s all fun and games, until someone loses an ‘I’!” I thought it was hilarious… laughed out loud. Not everyone would see the humor in that (thank you, Jeanice, for laughing out loud with me), but our world works in wonderful and mysterious ways because we don’t all see things the same way.

I have noticed that people who have a strength in a certain area will have a finer sense of the correct and incorrect in that area. For example, I had never questioned the accuracy of touting a product as “chemical-free” until my scientist friend said, “That’s impossible… everything is made of chemicals. If it were chemical-free, it wouldn’t exist!” Well, of course, I know that. I also know the point the manufacturer was making in his ad. However, since chemistry is not an area of strength for me, I never caught the error. A director may view the world through a camera lens, or he may (in his head) edit every film he sees. An artist may view the world as laid out on a canvas, and she will see beauties and flaws in a painting that I never would notice. I tend to edit what I see and hear. Most of the time I’m not judging the writer’s or the speaker’s intelligence (I’m ashamed to say that, once in a while, I do judge, but I’m working on it), I’m just making it right in my own head. One of the most painful-in-my-ears grammar errors is incorrect use of pronouns, especially reflexive pronouns. I know! Who even knows what that means? My good friend Mandy Houk, English teacher and delightful writer, can give you the technical definition. You can read her writing at http://forbetterforworseforlife.wordpress.com/.

I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the way, the myth was spread that using the word “me” was self-centered and evil. Why is one so comfortable saying, “Johnny gave the gift to me,” but must change pronouns when involving anyone else–”Johnny gave the gift to Julia and I”? Fingernails on a chalkboard! Of course, it’s just as painful to hear, “Johnny and me gave the gift to Julia.” You would never say (Oh, PLEASE say you would never say), “Me gave the gift to Julia,” would you? As I said, the most painful of all, to me, is the misuse of reflexive pronouns–myself, yourself, himself, etc. I’ve noticed it in business more than anywhere else. For example, “If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Jeanice or myself.” Ok, there is no place in this reality that allows me to contact yourself. It’s impossible. Let’s just take responsibility where it is ours to take. I can contact myself, you can contact yourself, I can contact you, and you can contact me. Clear? Good. Now…. right before I step off my grammar soapbox, I have a request. If I ever express my gratitude to you, there are a number of responses that are appropriate: “you’re welcome,” “absolutely,” “my pleasure,” even “whatever, man!” However, I think I would rather read no response at all than to read, “your welcome” because my first response is always, “my welcome what?”

Ok, I’m done ranting. Painful, I know. I do apologize. Once I start… :-/

One side of noticing nuances in the English language is the great stories it affords one. Currently, I’m writing in four blogs–this one, which is just for fun; two professional blogs, human resources and payroll; and another which you’ll never get to know about because it’s private and I only write for my counselor, and even she doesn’t get to read everything I write. In my latest payroll post, I told the following story:
I was working with a new vendor–new to me, but also relatively new in his company. He sent me an email shortly after we established our working relationship, at the end of which he said, “thank you for baring with me.” Umm. Ok, I let it go. However, the next email was addressed to me, with cc’s to his boss, his boss, and my boss. It ended with, “Joni, I really appreciate that you bare with me whenever we work together. It’s been really fun to get to know you.” I replied, just to him, with the following,
(more…)

 

Writing Letters the Old-Fashioned Way October 23, 2011

Filed under: Friends,Introspection,Writing — coffeegirl63 @ 9:02 pm

I’m just curious about something and hope to hear some feedback from you. (But if I don’t get any feedback… well, you’ll see.)

Do people write personal letters any more? I do, but it seems since Facebook status and texting has taken over so many forms of communication, few people write what I think of as “real” letters any more. Before texting, people who missed each other, or just enjoyed each other’s company on a personal level, used to email each other or talk to each other on the phone. Before we had cell phones with free long distance, phone calls were usually purposeful and fairly short. In the days of expensive long-distance calls, and before that, we wrote letters using a pen and paper.

When my sister’s fiancé at the time (now husband) was in Air Force Basic Training, she wrote to him every day. She always sprayed the letter with perfume and mailed it in a purple envelope with a lipstick kiss where she sealed it closed. Every day at mail call, when the other airmen saw that purple envelope, they’d smell it as it was passed back to my brother-in-law. I think those are important memories. People always saved love letters.

Sometimes, I still write letters the old-fashioned way: with pen and paper. I just think there is something about seeing a letter mixed in with all the bills and the junk that elicits a smile. I don’t write nearly as many pen-and-paper letters as I wish I did. Most of my letter writing is in the form of personal emails.

What’s difficult is that most of the letters I write (whether pen-and-paper or email) go unanswered. Sometimes that means I just don’t get a letter back, sometimes (with email) there is a response, but not to anything I’ve said or asked. Now, I understand that I tend to be a bit “particular” (some would say peculiar) in the way I live my life. When I get an email (I can’t remember the last time I got a letter), I tend to reply item by item. It seems to me that if someone asked questions or took the time to tell me specific details about his or her life, that person would like a response on those questions/details. Am I wrong or over analyzing?

My challenge: Many times in my letter writing, I struggle with things to say. I mean, there is always something to talk about, but what do I say without asking questions, without having anything to say in response to someone else? Do you ever struggle with this? How do you handle it? Sometimes I write away ignoring that fact that there will be no reply. I ask questions. I talk about what I’ve done that day or that week. Unfortunately, that can make me feel like I’m talking to myself, and that just makes me question my sanity. Sometimes, usually just in the emails, I ask question I genuinely want, or even need, the answer to. Do I send another email with just the one question, hoping the recipient will respond?

Another question: When sending a letter or email to a loved one, what do you use for a closing? Very few people even use a closing any more. When I write to my kids, I usually sign, “I love you, Mommy” or “I love you soooooooo much, Mommy” or “I love you, Mama” or “I love you, Mama Bear.” (I know, but they’ll always be my babies, so can’t I always be their mommy, at least in writing? Anyway, they’ve never told me to knock it off.) Some emails (when writing to my boyfriend, who doesn’t live in CO), I sign, “Your… Joni” or “Missing you… Joni” or “Anticipating seeing you in however many days… Joni” or something like that. When I write notes to my parents, I usually just sign it, “Your favorite” because I know it’s true. 😉

Anyway, those are my thoughts. Do you have, or have you had, any experience with writing letters or personal emails? Do you think this post will have any influence on your future correspondence?

Please let me hear from you.

Affectionately yours,
Joni