The Australian Postcard Tales Begin…

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

I did it. I went to the other side of the world. Crikey, it’s far isn’t it? I thought I had an idea of what the cities would be like but no clue about the rest, other than what a few Google images and Trip Advisor searches could let me know. I was surprised and excited by what I found out there. What a magical place. And magic struck again with the postcards. You’d think I’d be used to process by now but every time a postcard was scattered, that nervous excitement kicked in again. The lovely people of Australia were so warm, welcoming and supportive of the project. And, after wondering if I would receive any responses, luck was on my side.

First stop – Melbourne

I felt like I watched approximately 20 films on the flight over. It would have been the perfect time, as I mentioned in my Aus launch blog, to write the postcards. Of course with the frantic last-minute packing and my fussy nature when it comes to choosing the right cards – I didn’t get them in time. Classic. And so, on arrival in Melbourne, I headed into the city to find what I thought – maybe, possibly, not sure – what I was looking for.

The Melbourne Shop by Lumbi was where I spotted some postcards with a design of Australian stamps all over them. That’ll do nicely. I picked up 20 and took them to the counter. Super helpful and lovely, Elle, served me (photo below) and was a more than a little puzzled by my purchase of so many of the same postcard. I told her why, we chatted for a while and then I decided to return a little later to make it up to the whole 60. Job done.

Postcards purchased, now it was time to go off and get writing. The familiar wrist-ache kicked in. Always worth it.

The postcard message:

“Hello there, 

You have found one of 60 postcards scattered around Australia. My name is Rachael and I am visiting from London, UK. The 60 Postcard project first started in memory of my wonderful mum, where postcards were scattered around Paris & NYC, asking the finder to get in touch. Now the tribute has grown and has become more of a collective concept to reach out to strangers, create new connections and to remind us all that grief does not have to be shouldered alone. We are in it together. If you stumble upon this note, please get in touch and become part of the project and story. With heartfelt thanks, Rachael xxx”

It felt good to be writing postcards again and it felt fantastic to be re-launching a project I love so dearly.

As soon as I began to write, I was itching to get out there and leave some around the city. My first stop was the State Library. I had a tip-off from a reader that there was an exhibition there which was right up my street.

And how right she was…..

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Please Note: My 60 Postcards Facebook page is temporarily out of action (for two weeks) due to another blog series I am writing called, ‘Girl Offline’, on the Huffington Post. Read more here.

60 Postcards in Australia: The Relaunch

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

So, it seems to be the 9th of June in the year of 2016 and I have NO IDEA how that happened.

Time has flown. My grief has remained but adapted and moved in different ways, I’ve had new work experiences and become an Auntie. Life’s been good, challenging, surprising and wonderful – things are ticking along pretty nicely. Yet, whereas I really needed to give my head and heart a break from the 60 Postcards project for a while, I’ve recently started to feel like there is something missing in my world. I soon realised that it was this. It’s time to get writing and postcard scattering again.

As ever, I am going for the slapdash, totally unprepared, late-night blogging-over-a-glass-of-wine approach. As ever, I’ve decided to incorporate 60 Postcards in to my upcoming travels. As ever I am still no better at planning the what, the where and the how. Hey – at least I’m consistent.

But the idea is very simple – the way it should be.

I’m hitting Australia at the weekend for a 3-week trip, travelling around Melbourne, Adelaide, Cape Tribulation, Whitsunday and with a final night in Brisbane. There was absolutely no way I could head to the other side of the world for an adventure and not use this opportunity to scatter postcards as I go.

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I will handwrite a message on 60 postcards  – explaining that it is a project to remember lost loved ones, that grief is universal and shouldn’t be shouldered alone – and scatter them around the places I visit. I will leave my email on for people to get in touch. I will wait and worry and hope that someone may find one. I will probably drink some beers along the way.

If you want to get involved by sharing ideas or spreading the word, please get in touch. And if you are an Aussie who happens to be around in the locations I am hitting, perhaps you could help with the postcard scattering. I am on 60postcards@gmail.com, tweeting on @60Postcards, photo sharing on the @60Postcards Instagram account and will be posting all updates with the hashtag, #60postcardsAus.

Just 6 days ago I received an email from a man who had stumbled across my book in Brisbane. He is launching a postcard project of his own and I am going to meet him when I am there. Serendipity is back in my vocab.

With just under 48 hours until I leave, I best get postcard writing. Failing that, I’m sure I will find some time on the delightfully long flight. Gah.

It’s good to be back,

Rachael x

 

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:

thepoolsalihughes

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…..

LoveforMum2

  • 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