How Jen Boggs managed to rock her 2016 New Year’s resolution

If you’re like most people, you don’t do such a great job of sticking to your New Year’s resolution. You might be well-intentioned, but …

  • 45% of Americans make them
  • Only 8% of the 45% keep them
  • Most resolutions have to do with self-improvement
  • People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals

I got that information StatisticBrain.com.

Jen’s New Year’s resolution

My friend Jen Boggs, who’s part of the awesome team at Toderico Creative, is one of the 45% who made a resolution last year. And one of the whopping 8% who didn’t fail miserably!

What was her resolution? It wasn’t to lose weight or take a class or get more exercise or anything else that falls into the self-improvement category. In fact, it wasn’t even on any list of common resolutions.

Jen’s resolution was to send a postcard to someone every day. She admits she missed a few here and there, but if she fell behind, she’d mail a batch to catch up. When she tallied up on December 31st, she had sent 365 postcards. It was a transformative experience — for Jen and the lucky people who received one of her cards.

New Year's resolution. Postcard a day

Here’s what her friend and fellow book club neighbor, Julia Hazel had to say about the postcard that showed up in her mailbox.

“I got this postcard for no special occasion, but I loved it right away. I had read works by Edwidge Danticat but didn’t know her face. Somehow Jen knew that seeing the face of this strong, beautiful, literary, black woman would make my day. I propped it against the fruit bowl on my dining room table, where her visage, and Jen’s warm note have kept me company since.”

Jen loves hearing about the reactions to her postcards.

 “It felt really good to send positive things to people I loved, people I liked, and people I didn’t know very well. Sometimes I sent a quote or a poem, but I often wrote about something I appreciated or admired about the person. What was a surprise was how many people would email, text, or (the best!) write back to me saying things like ‘I was having such a bad day, and I came home to this.’” 

Jen was inspired to do her project when she saw a box of cool graphic art postcards at the Portland Museum of Art. “I wanted so badly to buy them,” she told me, “but wasn’t sure I’d ever use up the 40 or so cards. That’s when I had the idea.”

writing your own notecards
Christine Richards was delighted when I told her about Jen’s resolution. Christine is so passionate about handwritten cards and notes that she launched a business to teach people how. She knows it can be hard for people. Usually, they’re worried about their handwriting or what they’re going to say or both. Here are some things she’s learned about the practice — from personal experience and from teaching others.

  • When you start to do it, you begin to realize more and more how much people enjoy it
  • People’s lives have been transformed by it
  • Thank you notes are a good place to start because  hopefully, people can find something they’re thankful for
  • It makes people who get the mail feel really good about it
  • It makes people feel important
  • It makes people feel thought of and remembered and everybody likes that
  • Think of it as storytelling. Share a story about the day
  • Compose your message on a piece of scratch paper first
  • You only need to write a couple lines
  • Say what you’re writing out loud as if the person is sitting in front of you
  • Instead of responding on social media, send a card
  • Writing a card can help you express gratitude and other feelings in a different way
  • You feel a connection to a person
  • It’s nice to imagine what they’re going to think when they get it and their pleasure at receiving it
  • It’s a great way to start and continue a conversation
  • You can get to know friends and family better
  • The best way to get started is to lay in supplies — cards. stamps, writing implement and scratch paper

Visit Christine’s website Postmark 1206 and you will find tons of information, inspiration, and encouragement. You can also subscribe to her Riddle Me Mail and get a package delivered to your mailbox every month. Each package includes a calendar and daily prompts and a piece of stationery with a stamped envelope so you can “mail it forward” to a friend.

New Year's resolution. Postcard a day

Jen sent a variety of postcards, some that she made herself. For instance, she sent her friend Dante Ciampaglia a picture of Prince that she had pasted onto an index card. 

“After Prince died in April, Jen — a friend, former co-worker, and fellow Prince fanatic — cryptically reached out over Facebook to ask for my address. A few days later, I got this handmade postcard, featuring a screenshot of Prince during one of Jen’s all-time favorite performances. In the note she explained that she was sending out a postcard a day for a year, which is an insanely great idea (and one that instantly called to this art nerd’s mind the work of On Kawara). But more than that, it was a moving gesture from one Prince fan to another to console each another in a time of deep grief. It was unexpected and wonderful, and the tactile, hand-written memory made me feel connected to something bigger — which can be elusive in our evanescent digital age. We have since sent a few more cards back and forth to each other, but this first one resonated in a unique and special way. I’ll never forget it.”

When Hillary Clinton gave her concession speech, Jen was inspired to send postcards to about 20 girls she knew between the ages of 5 and 10 with this section of the speech:

“…  never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.”

New Year's resolution. Postcard a day

Jen Boggs with some of her postcards

Some of the mothers wrote back to say thank you. It also sparked a conversation between Jen and her own daughter, who is six. Jen said sending the cards was for her spirit as much as the little girls. In fact, the entire experience has been uplifting. “The project itself felt creative and good for me,” she said, “and to get responses back was unexpected gravy.”

So, will Jen be able to top last year’s resolution? First of all, she plans to keep on sending postcards, although not every day. This year’s resolution is to memorize six poems. She’s already working on “i thank You God for most this amazing” by E.E. Cummings. I love that poem. And I love Jen’s resolutions — 2016 and 2017.

What about you? How did you do with last year’s resolution? Did you make any this year? What are they?

Because I’m feeling inspired and motivated by Jen and Christine, I’m going to send you a postcard. I can’t send it by mail, but I hope you will appreciate it just the same.

postcard i thank You God

 

Diane Atwood

About Diane Atwood

For more than 20 years, Diane was the health reporter on WCSH 6. Before that, a radiation therapist at Maine Medical Center and after, Manager of Marketing/PR at Mercy Hospital. Now she writes the award-winning blog Catching Health with Diane Atwood.