It was one of the nicest notes I had ever received. It was from a piano student who thanked me for making a difference in his life. I saved it for a long time. I'm not sure what happened to it.
I'll bet you get letters like that. Not every day of course, but once in a while you get a thoughtful note that makes your day. For me, a meaningful note creates a special kind of happy, one that I like to remember. Think about the last really nice note you got. Do you remember what it said? Do you remember how it made you feel?What happened to it?
When I get letters like that, I save them for a while and read them again and again. Eventually, though, they become part of the clutter of my life. I give in to tidiness and throw them away. It hurts a little. I've sometimes regretted this, but, really, where do you store those special notes and letters? Maybe in a shoebox, right next to the box of photos that your grandkids will someday organize?
I received a gift that changed all that. It was an inexpensive notebook that had been covered with pretty paper and decorated with ribbons. It sat on my shelf for a long time looking lovely, but quite empty.
What to do with an empty book? What to do with sweet little notes? I think I found a match. This idea is so simple that even I can do it. All it takes is a little glue and it doesn't need to be acid free, archival stuff. I'm surprised I didn't think of it sooner.
Another messy problem for me was those cute little handouts I sometimes get. They might have little thoughts or quotes on them. Sometimes they are decorative. These go on my fridge for a while, but how many quotes do I want on my fridge? Do I want my fridge to become a bulletin board. Trust me, I'm not a neat-freak, but even I have limits.
After a reasonable time on my fridge/bulletin board, these little handouts can also make the move to my empty book.
Besides providing storage for special notes and handouts, this book can provide a little pick-me-up, on discouraging days, when I question my value or my effectiveness. Reading notes of appreciation can remind me that I am making a difference. I am loved and valued.
The handouts can remind me of special times with people who care about me. Reading the thoughts on them can lift my spirits, or change my attitude on a difficult day. Even on difficult days I can be grateful and I can be glad to be me.
Not every note or handout needs to be saved, but some are worth keeping. If I come across a thought that speaks to me, I don't have to wait for a handout. I can write it in my book. Pretty markers are fun, but totally optional. Sticky notes work too.
This is the first thought that made it into my notebook. "By being yourself you put something wonderful in the world that wasn't there before." (Edwin Elliot) I don't know who Edwin Elliot is, but I love the way he thinks. Don't you?
Do you have an empty notebook and some pretty paper? Size doesn't matter. You can dress it up, but only if you want to. It's a little scrapbook, but simpler. No stress involved.
Make it plain or fancy. Make it fun. Just do it. Create a space for meaningful notes--a space that you can visit whenever you want. Mine is called Linda's LoveNotes. Maybe yours will be called Teresa's Treasures or Sally's Stuff.
If notes of appreciation make a difference for you, maybe you can make a difference for someone else by writing thoughtful notes. Notice people. Catch them doing something nice and tell them you appreciate it. Notes don’t have to be elaborate, just heartfelt. They don’t even have to be on fancy cards. Nice words on notebook paper are just as meaningful. Make someone’s day.
If it’s been a while since you’ve received a thoughtful note, why not write your own. No one knows you better. Write a note that says the things you’d love to hear. Write the note that you would love to read. It's okay to love yourself.
What would you say to yourself? Here are some ideas.
I love your new haircut. It looks great on you.
By the way, have you lost weight? I noticed. You look terrific.
You have the nicest kids. I think you’ve taught them well.
I really appreciate your kindness. You made a difference last week when you stopped by to say hello.
That was a great lesson you gave on Sunday. It touched my heart.
I love your smile. You make me happy. Thanks for being my friend.