Peace For Paris: Why Social Media CAN Make a Difference

60 Postcards is moving towards the Tribute Collective. To find out more or to get involved, please contact: thetributecollective@gmail.com

Feeling overwhelmed by the online world and intrigued to experience life without it, I spent October completely switched off: no Internet, nor a mobile phone. At the time, I appreciated it and was reluctant to log in to anything again. But on Friday night, after the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris, I felt grateful to be back online and, in particular, to be back on social media, as I realised how powerful it can be; a powerful force for good.

Sickened by the barbaric events in northern Paris, I wondered how I could help in any way. Realistically unable to jump on the next Eurostar to the city, I felt that social media was, and is, the most accessible way to offer support. Yet, I was disheartened and disgusted to find so many disagreeing with that fact.

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Jean Julien’s ‘Peace for Paris’ sketch – now a global symbol

I have witnessed and heard several slammings of the French Tricolour profile picture on Facebook and the sharing of the ‘Peace for Paris’ symbol with some questioning, ‘How does this even help?’

Are you kidding?

Rather than scrolling through feeds of day-to-day dilemmas, trivial moans or vain holiday selfies, instead we are viewing a sea of solidarity; people all over the world joining together, showing support for the City of Love and letting those affected know that we are thinking of them. In my eyes, it is poignant, crucial and comforting in a time of crisis. No, of course it isn’t going to put a stop to acts of terrorism directly. But it is a global act of love, for a city and country shaken up, terrified and grieving. We are offering a virtual hand on the shoulder. We are telling them that we are here, no matter how far away we may be.

Isn’t this the best possible use of our online presence?

I wonder if the people opposed to this example of unity are also opposed to the function of ‘checking in as safe’ or the ability to use the platforms to share information about missing people? I doubt it.

I understand and appreciate that social media provides a space for everyone to share their personal thoughts and opinions, but I felt compelled to write this to remind myself, and others, that we really need to take control of our own networks. WE set up our accounts. WE select who we connect with and who we follow. WE choose what we read or ignore. WE decide if we want to show support by joining in global campaigns like this – for Paris and beyond, of course. WE have the option to unfollow or unfriend the poisonous people who post vitriolic, ignorant, racist statuses. Cut them out – don’t let them have a voice.

Right now is a time where social media should be used positively and for its vast reach. It is not a time for hating. There is enough of that going on.

Out with the selfies and in with the solidarity.

Paris – Je t’aime.

x

 

Inspired Travels: A Post from A Reader

To find out more about the 60 Postcards journey so far, you can read a summary here.

The Tribute Collective, which launches in November (initially to readers of this blog), is all about inviting people to join a unique, collaborative group – a chorus of voices – who use words and stories to remember and celebrate loved ones.

Sarah’s story is a different example of grief and one that is very important to share. When I heard that she had created a postcard project of her own, I got in touch with her to tell me all about it….

“Hi I’m Sarah, a 40-something-year-old from Kent, England.

Back in March this year I finished reading Rachael’s book, 60 Postcards, whilst on a touring holiday in Spain. I could really relate to her grief – it’s one of the only books I’ve read that made me shed a tear.

Although my situation is very different, I could relate to it as my mum, Anne, had a major stroke 8 years ago. Although we are still lucky enough to still have her with us, she is severely disabled, needs everything to be done for her and has completely lost her independence. That is just not my Mum!

Sarah&Anne

Prior to her illness she was extremely active, always out and about and the life and soul of any party. That few seconds back in October 2007 cruelly swiped the ability for that life away and left her with a body unable to function in most normal ways, exhausted with fatigue and at times unable to clearly remember or register what’s going on around her. So although I am lucky that she is still here, I grieve for my mum the way she was.

As requested, when starting the book I purchased a postcard. This was done in Barcelona – my favorite European City. Once I’d finished the book, I had a burning desire to use it to do something to help improve things for my mum; to help to fulfill her want to travel – which post stroke is very difficult – and to brighten the routine in her day. So the planning started…

I decided that it would be fun to start a similar project to Rachael’s, by hiding postcards for people to find. I scribbled out a brief message which changed several times and then set up an email address dedicated to this project. In the message, I asked the ‘finder’ to give their recommendations of places I could visit which I could talk to my Mum about. Once I had refined the message, I wrote out my first postcard.

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When we headed out on the next day of our tour, I took my postcard with me and decided to hide it when we stopped for lunch. We were on a day trip in the Pyrenees and stopped at a café bar in Font Romeu for lunch, I decided on my hiding place and carefully left the postcard, feeling like a criminal. I’m not sure that you can be arrested for hiding a postcard but I felt like I might be. Shortly afterwards, I left the cafe feeling very pleased with myself and bought another postcard in preparation of my next hide. To date, I have hidden 15 postcards at various locations around the UK and Europe.

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Recently, I started to feel brave enough to talk to people about my project. I am overwhelmed by the response I have received. Everyone is extremely enthusiastic about the idea and I’ve had offers of help from donations of postcards for me to use, to people wanting to write and hide cards for me. I’ve currently got friends travelling around Europe buying and hiding cards for me, as well as taking cards back to Australia to hide there for me too.

Each week is bringing new discussions and the opportunity to interact with new people. I’m having fun, enjoying sharing tales of how the project is evolving with both my parents and enthused by the offers of help I am getting. I’ve yet to hear from a finder, but I guess the way I am hiding the cards is a bit of a needle in a haystack chance of them being found. I have every confidence that I will get a finder eventually, though. In the meantime I’m having great fun and it has created interesting conversations to have with my beloved Mum each week.

If you want to hear more or join in the fun, please contact me on Twitter (@travelinsp) or via my email address (inspiredtravels71@gmail.com).

Sarah x”

***

Thank you so much to Sarah for writing this and I will be following to find out more about the wonderful postcard locations and how everything develops.

I hope this is the first of many stories shared – if you have one (it doesn’t have to be postcard related, of course) then please drop me an email or a tweet.

Have a beautiful bank holiday break.

Rx

Revisiting Tales of the NYC Postcard Tributes

To find out more about the 60 Postcards journey so far, you can read a summary here.

Within a week, I’ve heard of two people embarking on postcard adventures of their own. It reminded me of the NYC tributes and how many of those stories are yet to be told. With a promised move towards the creation of a tribute collective (in November this year), I wanted to revisit the four postcard messages I have shared before; a taster of things to come…

Grand Central Terminal: A Postcard for John

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Postcard Message:

“Great! You found me!

My name is Jo, I live in Dorset, England. I’ve written this card in memory of my brother John who sadly lost his battle with cancer 7 years ago, age 56. During his life John loved to travel so I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to join the ’60 Postcards’ Project and let his memory do some traveling.

Now you have found this, please do get in touch. I’d love to know about you and were/when you found my card. 

Here’s hoping, Jo xx’

R E A D   M O R E…

*****

Pauline and Jo: A Tribute Filled With Friendship

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Postcard Message:

“We always knew Jo would go before us. She’d been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at 14 but ‘made it’ to 45 so we sort of thought she was invincible.

Jo had been my best friend since we had a fight over a boy in the playground in the 80’s. That boy (& many others) went by but we remained the best of friends even though I moved 200 miles away. Her legacy lives on through her beautiful daughter who through the grief aced her A Levels & this month starts uni.

Jo would have been so proud and I’m so proud to have had such an amazing best friend,

Pauline.”

R E A D   M O R E…

*****

Lucy & Linda; A Message on The High Line

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Postcard Message:

“To whoever finds this postcard – local or traveller, I send you positive energy from London, UK.

I am writing this to spread the memory of my mother – Linda who passed away in 2003. 3 months before this we took a trip to NYC having the trip of our lives. It remains a very special place to me due to these memories of happy times. My mum wanted to travel and see the world a great deal more than she had the chance to. I’m lucky enough to travel monthly with work and take her memory with me. Most recently to Greece – as on the front of this card. 

Tell your close ones you love them today. Lucy :) x”

R E A D   M O R E…

*****

A Heartfelt Note for Rose on the Brooklyn Bridge

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Postcard Message:

“Hi there,

Please don’t throw me away but take a few minutes to read.  

This card is in memory of my mother, Rose, who loved New York. Sadly I never really knew her. She gave birth to me in Dublin in 1953 when she was just 17. She looked after me for 18 months but in May 1955 gave me up for adoption. I was adopted and went to live in England. She then set off on the boat for New York, where she worked hard and made many friends. It wasn’t until 1987 when I decided to trace her that I found she had been taken ill in 1974, returned to Ireland and died aged only 39. I met her sisters and brother and heard who an amazing, loving and lovely person she was. I don’t know if it’s genetic but my daughter loves New York and would love to live and work there.

Not a day goes by without me thinking of Rose and I’m sure that between 1955 and 1974, while living in New York, not a day would have gone by without her thinking of me and praying that life worked out OK. I can let her know now that it did. 

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Tony.”

R E A D   M O R E…

*****

Thank you again to Jo, Pauline, Lucy and Tony for sharing your words and memories.

I look forward to posting more of the NYC postcards in the coming weeks along with other articles from readers. If you have created a tribute in memory of someone or would like a platform to share your story, then please email me on 60postcards@gmail.com. Come join the collective.

Speak soon,

Rachael x

Grief: Let’s be Honest…

 (To find out more about the 60 Postcards journey so far, you can read a summary here.)

“We don’t want to overpromise – we want to be honest”, she said.

That comment was made just a few days ago during a conversation with someone I am currently working with. I first heard from this lady by email. She was messaging from London as I was standing under the clock at Grand Central Terminal in New York last year, during my postcard mission. It was a moment that will always stay with me.

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She had stumbled across an article about 60 Postcards and, as her project was born from her own experience of loss, wanted to reach out to find out more. Since then she has become a mentor, a confidant and a friend.

Her words about overpromising and honesty have also stayed with me as I realise that on this very blog, I often tell you how frequently I plan to post when I should simply explain that I will do it when I can.

So – speaking honestly – It has now been 3 years, 4 months and 6 days since my mum died and I still had an unexpected meltdown over the weekend. The fact that I have just spent so long trying to work out how long it has been is another horrendous blow. One minute you wish you didn’t have the monthly reminder of ‘that’ date – the next, you hate yourself for having missed it.

60 Postcards may have started as a tribute of handwritten notes scattered around a city but it is now about sharing stories and connecting with people. I have previously mentioned how powerful it can be to find yourself nodding in agreement and feeling a great sense of comfort while reading something that you can relate to.

There have been two profound articles shared online recently that have that effect.

Journalist, Sali Hughes, with the experience of losing her dad nine-and-a-half years ago, offered her thoughts on an article for The Pool:

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Image source via The Pool

“Grief is not a choice, a project to manage or a course of medication to take. It just happens while you’re unable to form a single, sensible thought.”

“…within the hangover of grief, you will still be able to experience the joy of a great joke, of a kind gesture, of an excellent meal or a Sunday morning in bed.”

“And if a dear friend you care about loses their parent first? Say, “This is horrible, this is complete and utter shit, this is the absolute pits of the pits” – never identify any silver linings in an utterly ghastly situation.”

Read the full article HERE.

The second was Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg’s open post about her husband’s death:

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Image source via Facebook

“Real empathy is sometimes not insisting that it will be okay but acknowledging that it is not.”

“I have learned how ephemeral everything can feel—and maybe everything is. That whatever rug you are standing on can be pulled right out from under you with absolutely no warning.”

“I appreciate every smile, every hug. I no longer take each day for granted.”

Read the full article HERE.

I have mentioned my vision for a Tribute Collective before. These articles (amongst so many others) fuel my passion for making it a reality as soon as I possibly can. Despite grief being a totally unique experience, there is also a resounding, underlying sense of a society; a collective.

Until next time (whenever that may be)…

Goodnight,

Rachael x

 

 

 

 

 

My Pitch to Enrich for Virgin’s #pitchtorich

 To find out more about the 60 Postcards journey so far, you can read a summary here.

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In my last post I introduced the concept of my new collective to you. As I confessed, I am spending time preparing and looking for as much help as possible in order to give this a real chance of long-term success. Richard Branson is a name we all know. Branson started his first business (a music magazine) at the age of sixteen. Now, of course, he is the famous entrepreneur who founded the Virgin Group. He has been through it all in business – the struggles, the trial and error, the highs and the lows – everything that has contributed to reaching the stage he is at now. With a wealth of business knowledge, Branson runs a competition called #pitchtorich which offers growing and new businesses the chance to win funding and guidance. I had to put the Tribute Collective forward…….

THE PITCH:

Tribute Collective

 Offering people an alternative way to channel grief through the creation of unique projects in memory of lost loved ones and providing a platform where stories can be shared and connections made. Join the movement.

Most people reading this will have experienced the loss of a loved one. It is something that we often feel like we have to deal with quietly, on our own.

Together, we can change that.

The Tribute Collective is inspired by the readers of the 60 Postcards project – a project where handwritten postcards in memory of a much-loved mum were scattered around Paris for people to find. The journey was documented in a blog and a book, and hundreds of people have been in touch – sharing stories and expressing an interest in becoming part of it. Every message received sparks the passion and drive to form a collective.

The collective will offer:

1) A website where people can share memories, seek guidance on creating their own personal tributes and connect with other users.

2) Workshops, talks and meet-ups for face-to-face help and interaction.

3) A Tribute Collective London HQ in the form of a creative café for the above to take place (long-term goal).

Postcard Photo Wall

Because it is:

UNIQUE – being the first collective of its kind.

FAR-REACHING – bereavement is a universal issue and we want to help as many people as possible.

ORGANIC – it all started with a personal tribute but developed very naturally through connections made and stories shared.

COLLABORATIVE – the word, ‘collective’, was carefully chosen. We want the people who join us to be a chorus of voices in our future business decisions.

ENRICHING – no one will ever be able to stop the inevitable, uncontrollable storms of grief but we hope that through this collective we can provide beautiful distractions while keeping memories alive.

LEARNING – we don’t know everything about business but that is why we would love to have the Virgin team guiding us, and giving the Tribute Collective the exposure we know it deserves.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

WHY I WOULD LOVE YOUR VOTE:

It always makes me cringe when you have to ask people to vote for something – I am going to be sharing this all over my 60 Postcards and my personal social media streams so be prepared!

The reasons are simple, though. You have been part of the 60 Postcards journey for a long time and, therefore, you will understand better than anyone.

The only chance to get shortlisted in this competition is by the amount of votes you receive. I have used up almost every single character of the word count allowance to get my message across on-screen, but what I really want is the opportunity to present my passion through pitching it myself.

If you believe in the idea, PLEASE VOTE HERE!

I will leave the last words to Mr Branson – words that reassure me of my mission:

Richard Branson

Have a top weekend,
Rachael x

Introducing…The Tribute Collective

To find out more about the 60 Postcards journey so far, you can read a summary here.

tributebrainstormI feel like I am forever apologising for being a bit quiet lately. Sorry again. I just wanted to reassure readers that my spark for 60 Postcards has not faded. Far from it. As I have explained many a time, it is important for me – both personally and for the future of the project – for it to become more of a group venture. Behind the scenes I am investing my time in my postcard project in a very new and exciting way.

Introducing….The Tribute Collective – a non-profit enterprise that I am aiming to launch by the end of the year.

I am being a little bold by sharing my initial ideas so publicly, but you have been part of this journey so far and I want to keep you in the loop – even at this early stage. (Please remember that this is very much a work in progress, though. None of the below is set in stone and I believe it would actually be a bad thing if it didn’t change and develop along the way!)

The idea:

Tribute postcard

What the Tribute Collective will provide:

1 – The Website 

  • Online postcard memory wall where photos of handwritten postcard tributes can be uploaded.
  • Features of inspirational stories.
  • Guidance on how to create your own tribute.
  • A page on how to seek further help if you need it.
  • An online community where you are able to chat to others.

2 – Speaking & Workshops

  •  Interactive workshops, encouraging people who have lost to get creative with their own projects.
  • Meet ups – tributes aside, this will be a chance to socialise at various events in a safe and open environment.
  • I am willing to travel around the UK as much as physically possible to deliver talks/workshops around this idea and the back story of 60 Postcards (including schools).

3 – The Tribute Collective Cafe

  • This will encompass all of the above in our own space in London. (Admittedly a long-term goal!)

The most important thing about The Tribute Collective is the notion that you can get as involved as you wish. You can sit in the comfort of your own home and read the messages, or you can share if it feels right. You can meet people if you feel, in your heart, that you are ready. Everyone is welcome at any stage of interaction.

What happens next:

I am currently working out the legal status to sign up as, I am working on my business model, trying to secure the website and social network aspects of the collective, looking for some help with logo and branding and all while researching various funding avenues. This is such a learning process for me. Starting up a business is a wee bit daunting. Some people disassociate business from emotion. I’ve thought about that a lot lately. The conclusion that I have come to is that they are wrong. Working on something so close to the heart can only be a good thing, as it drives the desire to succeed.

Focus Group: 

I think I have found the perfect spot to hold a focus group about The Tribute Collective. I am just finalising plans and then I will let you know the details. In order for this to be a success, I would love to gather feedback from those who know about the project. I chose the word, ‘collective’, for a very good reason. I like to think that when I launch this later in the year, it will be something that has been born through collaboration.

So there we have it! Apologies again for the radio silence but now you are in the circle of trust, I hope to chat more about the progress of 60 Postcards and The Tribute Collective very soon.

Speak to you later in the week,

Rachael x

watermarkbooksPS: I will be at Watermark Books in Kings Cross Station (just next to platform 9 & 3/4) tomorrow (Weds 1st April) from 6.30pm to celebrate the bookshop’s 3 year anniversary. Everyone welcome. Give me a shout if you can drop in!

 

Mother’s Day: With or Without Her

To find out more about the 60 Postcards journey so far, you can read a summary here.

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Sunday 15th March is almost here and Mother’s Day marketing fills the shop windows, dominates articles online and generally smacks the motherless amongst us in the face with every single mention. It is a day that is tainted for me since Mum’s death, but one that has changed over the past three years. As much as I hate the fact that I cannot spend the day with her, I feel as though the bitterness is fading.

daughterhoodI was recently introduced to The Daughterhood, which is all about  mother and daughter relationships. It was inspired by Natasha when her Mum was diagnosed with a progressive illness and she soon found many other people who wanted to take part in the discussion.

They have just released as a book and you can check out the website where people share stories. I adore the concept and, of course, wish it had been around before Mum passed. But, it was a lovely reminder that we don’t have to stay quiet about those we have lost.

I know this will be a difficult milestone for those who have lost their mum, but what I always find myself repeating is that we need to remember there is no right or wrong on how to feel or what to do on the day.

Perhaps you would like to avoid the world and stay in? Or go out and find a distraction? Whether you are with or without her, Mums should be appreciated and celebrated. Here are a few things that you may want to try this Sunday:

  • A Card or a Postcard 

If you have lost your Mum I would still recommend writing a card or even a postcard. This has been tried and tested by moi and although it is, inevitably, an emotional task, it can be helpful to get your thoughts written down. You can do this in the comfort of your own home and space, do it with friends or family and in 60 Postcards style, you may even want to leave your Mother’s Day note somewhere special.

  • #LoveforMum

Yep, Facebook and Twitter will be flooded with images and statuses of what people are up to on Sunday but, rather than be forced away from our social networking sites, I suggest we create an idea that we can all get involved with. Write a message (include a photo if you like) and send it to my Twitter, Instagram or Facebook…..

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  • The Meet 

This Sunday afternoon I plan to head to a pub in Shoreditch. I will have my phone and laptop on me so that I can be sharing the #LoveforMum messages and you can contact me all day by email. Further than that, if you would like some company and want to join (on your own or with mates) then feel free to email me on 60postcards@gmail.com and I’ll tell you where I will be.

Speak to you next week. Until then have a lovely weekend, enjoy the sun and spoil or remember those Mums.

Rachael x

PS: Stars Charity Concert

My sister, Sarah, was inspired by Mum and her passion for singing to set up a charity concert on 10th April (7.30pm) at Merley House in Dorset. Songs from the stage and screen will be performed by a very talented group of singers and you can buy tickets here (includes a drink on arrival).

All of the proceeds on the evening are going to the children’s charity CLIC Sargent.

Raffle: A huge thank you to Tim, Norma, Raphael (Stylechapel) and Jayne (Home Farm House) who have kindly donated raffle prizes.

If you (or anyone you know) may be able to help with a raffle prize, please drop me a note at 60postcards@gmail.com.

An Open Letter To Mum & The Paperback Countdown

Life is manic at the moment – beautiful at times and tough in others. Last week was the three-year anniversary of Mum’s death and so I decided to turn to my escape once more, using words to mark the occasion. I have spent a lot of time writing about Mum but this time I decided to write to her through an open letter. It is posted on my Huffington Post page and here is again in full:

“Dear Mum,

I cannot begin to comprehend how three years have gone by since you left this world.

On one hand it seems like just yesterday we were nattering away on the phone, heading out to share a cream tea or off to the theatre together. On the other hand I feel like it has been forever since I have seen your warm smile and heard your infectious giggle (which would escalate into hysterics, tears streaming down your face).

I miss you. I miss you so, so much. I miss your calming, nurturing ways. I miss the way I could call you with any problem – no matter how trivial – and you would talk me through it and help me to find the perfect solution. I miss linking my arm through yours. I miss your hugs.

I have not forgotten the advice that you gave me in your final days – to allow myself to feel whatever I feel. I had a tough start with that, admittedly. I bottled things up and I put on a brave face – my, ‘I’m Okay’ mask – which I have observed as such a natural reaction for anyone who has lost a loved one. The trickiest of them all was being able to embrace moments of happiness without the sharp pain of guilt because you are not here. I’m getting there.

I have always been a terrible sleeper, as you know. I was once torn apart by nightmares that would haunt me night after night. Waking up from those was like losing you all over again. But, in the past year I have started to dream about you – beautiful you. Now there are times when I wake up and I feel like you have been right there beside me.

I have so much to thank you for, Mum. I don’t even know where to begin. Thank you for being so patient with me as a teen, when I probably had a few moments of being a bit of a sarcastic madam (she still makes the odd appearance). Thank you for passing down your love of crosswords, although somehow it seems your intelligence didn’t make it so I am yet to complete one. Thank you for encouraging me to follow both my head and my heart. Most importantly, thank you for teaching me that family comes above all else and for showing me, Dad and the girls, so much love.

Now, this may seem a strange one but I would also like to thank you for my 28th Birthday gift of Eurostar vouchers. I always thought we would be able to go to Paris together someday. How I wish we’d had more time. But I want you to know that I put those vouchers to good use.

I was certain that you must still be a part of the trip so I decided to go to Paris to celebrate your 60th Birthday. While I was there, I left a creative tribute for you around the city. You would never believe how much has happened and how much your legacy has grown since that weekend. You are such an inspirational woman it is no wonder that there is so much magic behind it all.

You may be wondering why I am writing to you so openly. Well, you always taught me to be an honest person and as someone who wears their heart on their sleeve, sharing our story and my experience of grief through the written word has helped me immensely. On top of that, it seems to have opened up a discussion – a heart wrenching but necessary one – and with death as such a taboo in society, this can only be a good thing. By sharing our thoughts and feelings with each other it can help us to feel less alone. I know you would be a massive advocate of this.

I will never look for ‘acceptance’ and ‘closure’ or even begin to try to make sense of what has happened. I know that your death will stay with me forever. But I will continue to stay as strong as I can for you – finding my own way to deal with it day by day, month by month and year by year. I will never stop trying to make you proud. You always made me believe that I could take on the world and, as time has gone on, I have started to believe this again.

Saying goodbye now is easier than before. Because really, you are not gone, Mum. I am taking you with me every step of the way.

Yours always,

Rachael x”

I feel very lucky that so soon after such a difficult milestone, I am able to have the light of the paperback release ahead of me. It is exactly one week today and Simon and Schuster UK have started a twitter countdown:

If you are an avid tweeter, please share away and look out for the next one!

I will be back next week with more stories.

Until then, have a wonderful one.

Rachael x

A Heartfelt Note for Rose on the Brooklyn Bridge

This blog began as a way to document my personal tribute to my mum. To celebrate what would have been her 60th birthday, I scattered 60 handwritten postcards around Paris in her memory and I wrote my email address on them in case anyone was to find one. (You can read more in my Glamour article here.)

Since then, the project has now moved forwards with the overwhelming amount of messages received from people who are sharing their own stories. I invited readers to become a part of the magic via 60 Postcards Stateside and I set off to New York City to scatter the individual notes.

Today’s post is for Tony, who wrote a heartfelt note to his mother, Rose.

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“Hi there, 

Please don’t throw me away but take a few minutes to read.  

This card is in memory of my mother, Rose, who loved New York. Sadly I never really knew her. She gave birth to me in Dublin in 1953 when she was just 17. She looked after me for 18 months but in May 1955 gave me up for adoption. I was adopted and went to live in England. She then set off on the boat for New York, where she worked hard and made many friends. It wasn’t until 1987 when I decided to trace her that I found she had been taken ill in 1974, returned to Ireland and died aged only 39. I met her sisters and brother and heard who an amazing, loving and lovely person she was. I don’t know if it’s genetic but my daughter loves New York and would love to live and work there. Not a day goes by without me thinking of Rose and I’m sure that between 1955 and 1974, while living in New York, not a day would have gone by without her thinking of me and praying that life worked out OK. I can let her know now that it did. 

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Tony.”

I know Tony, as the daughter he refers to in his message is one of my closest friends, Beccy. Yet, this postcard came as a complete surprise and I felt so moved when I read about his search for Rose.

Beccy was with me for that very first trip to Paris and I lived with her for 4 years – she was there through it all. She flew off to Canada last year but we were able to meet in New York on her way home and so, naturally, we wanted to do this one together.

I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was about 12 so why not give it a whirl for the first time in years on the TERRIFYING roads of New York? Sure. We went to the bike hire shop in Brooklyn, signed a disclaimer saying that we would be responsible for our own deaths (great) and set off for the Brooklyn Bridge via Prospect Park and many a gorgeous NY street. I was wobbling about like crazy but we ignored the beeping cars, embraced the downhill straights and enjoyed a pit stop for an ice cream en route.

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Our plan was to leave Tony’s postcard for Rose on the Brooklyn Bridge – a structure full of history, brimming with tourists and a gorgeous spot connecting Brooklyn with Manhattan. Beccy tied it to the railings with ribbon, we hopped on our bikes and rode away – hoping that it would be read.

The beautiful, Rose

The beautiful, Rose

In Tony’s letter (to accompany his postcard) he describes how, despite the fact that he was unable to meet his mother in person, he has now connected with new family members and they continue to tell him all about Rose and her warm and wonderful nature. I had the pleasure of meeting one of his cousins in NYC , too.

I’ve sobbed all over again writing this one up. It is an incredible story. There may be heartbreak in the separation of Tony from his mum, but there is so much beauty in the fact that he is still able to get to know her through others. And now, she lives on through him and his children too.

Tony, Rose – I will be raising a glass to you this evening.

With love,

Rachael x

Every single one of these postcards has a different story, a unique message and an overwhelming amount of warmth and love embedded in the words. If you would like to do a postcard tribute of your own, please do get in touch – I would love to help.

Email: 60postcards@gmail.com

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60 Postcards Hits 2 Years; From Paris to Now

Hi there. So, it has now been an utterly astonishing 2 YEARS since that first trip to Paris, where the 60 Postcards project began. I still can’t quite comprehend how so much has happened since that long weekend but I thought, to see the New Year in, it would be nice to review the journey over the past 24 months.

December 2012 – 60 Postcards in Paris

The month was December, the location was Paris and the reason for the long weekend there was my wonderful mother. Frustrated and lost after her sudden death to bowel cancer in February 2012, I wanted to celebrate what would have been her 60th birthday by spreading her memory around the City of Love. I chose to reach out to the tourists and locals who may stumble upon a postcard and wrote my email address on each one, in case anyone was to find one and get in touch.

My article for Glamour last year (60 Postcards; One Unique Tributesummarises the trip and the tribute.

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March 2013 – The Beginning of the Blog

It took me three months to share my story. I knew that by documenting the magic of the postcards and the responses, I would also be talking openly about my grief – something which I had found so hard to deal with. But as the very first words hit the page, I felt a release. I realised how much of a taboo death still is, and how speaking out should not be something to be afraid of.

I have written 95 posts – approximately 720,00 words – and after a quiet couple of months recently (due to the development of the project behind the scenes), I am looking forward to writing again.

(You can read the very first post here.)

April 2013 – NYC – Part 1: More Postcards & Meeting a Finder

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When I received an email from ballet dancing, NYC based postcard finder, Stephanie, I knew I had to get out there to scatter more postcards and see her perform. While I was there (with friend Caroline), I met so many wonderful characters, stumbled across inspirational projects and really didn’t want to come home. One of the projects was a Before I Die wall and I took part by writing a message on there:

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I was incredibly lucky – my hope for the future came far sooner than I could ever imagine….

September 2013 – The Book Deal

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Suddenly, it was more than the odd blog post that I was going to have to write. My world felt like it had changed in so many ways since the trip to Paris but it was on signing a book deal with Simon & Schuster UK when it totally flipped upside down. My extra curricular writing became a real life role as I took some time away from my full-time job for an energy company.

I can understand why so many people assumed it would be a book of my blog posts. But I didn’t want that. Although some of what I had already written has been echoed and adapted, I wanted the book to have a real narrative and to go into far more depth about both Mum and the postcards.

I buried my head in my laptop for a few months and fuelled with fear, emotion, passion and a hell of a lot of coffee – I wrote my memoir 60 Postcards.

February 2014 – The Release of 60 Postcards

I didn’t sleep all that well the night before the release of the book. I will never forget walking into the Foyles in Waterloo and seeing it on the shelf for the very first time. I thoroughly enjoyed a few chats on the radio and seeing my story in an article or two. It was all very surreal. When postcard finder, Stephanie, flew over for the book launch at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel in March, it really was the icing on the cake.

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October 2014 – NYC – Part 2: Postcards Scattered Stateside

As the months after the book released passed, I adored the emails that would fill my inbox from readers sharing their own stories. This is where my mind started to kick into action and with my strong desire to move forward with my own grief, I wanted to create an opportunity for other people to be a part of the project. 60 Postcards Stateside was the plan and I set off for NYC again. And this time I would be the messenger.

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2015 – New Year Plans

High up on the 60 Postcards New Year event list is the release of the paperback – with a lovely new cover.

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After the success of the New York trip, delivering memories on behalf of other people – I was sure that it was time to take this project to the next level. A social enterprise is a very daunting thing to be starting, but I am game. I am ready. I am petrified and excited in equal measure and now it will be a very busy year ensuring that I work fiercely hard at creating a network, platform and service that can offer help to those suffering from grief, using creativity either anonymously or for the world to see.

I won’t be able to do this alone and I hope to hold a focus group to bounce off some ideas and gain some honest and valuable feedback. More to come on that very soon!

Phew. I think that’s everything for now. Let the hard work begin.

Wishing you all a very happy New Year and a wonderful 2015.

With love,

Rachael x

PS I have also been invited to blog on the Huffington Post platform – my bio page showing my articles can be found here.