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.

IMG_2564

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

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.

IMG_9793

“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.

10683619_10152955944370873_7511260270403440823_o

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

Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Instagram

 

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.

10847861_10152855474765873_4010308926359508989_n

1962330_10152855486925873_7939864662056452645_o

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

10828009_10152855487020873_2466524384437642799_o

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:

10687930_10152907762300873_3332624499718108006_o

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

September 2013 – The Book Deal

10854886_10152855480405873_536153480373238453_o

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.

10834939_10152855492600873_3643599077919835645_o

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.

10284851_10152855519765873_6049961150537211007_o-2

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.

60 postcards_pb for cosmo

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.

Lucy & Linda; A Message on the High Line

Bringing you news once a week about the ongoing 60 Postcards project (you can read a summary of the story in Glamour Magazine, here).

Earlier today I was in the creative cafe, Drink Shop Do, having a coffee and a chat with Lucy. I didn’t know Lucy before our meet but I did know a little about her already, as she heard about 60 Postcards Stateside in Emerald Street a few days ahead of my journey to NYC. Her postcard arrived just in time. Phew.

There is nothing like sitting down and chatting away with a total stranger who just ‘gets it’. Although the experience of losing our mum’s fell at different stages of our lives, the conversation flowed with openness and ease. We could share, rant, laugh, reflect and feel completely comfortable talking about the taboo topic of loss in a, ‘This is how it is’ way. Completely refreshing.

Today’s post is about Lucy’s note for her mum……

IMG_0149

“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

The High Line in the Meatpacking district was high (ahem) on my list of things to do during my trip. Somehow I had managed to miss it on my first NYC visit. It is a walkway of greenery set above the streets, running over Chelsea up to the Lower West Side. It sounds pretty self-explanatory but I still wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I hopped up the stairs and realised how much of a hot spot it really was. I held Lucy’s postcard tightly in my hand and could only hope that I would find a quiet moment to leave it.

10830466_10152822099985873_6320938512997195063_oI walked along the urban park, taking it all in. I went through a group of stalls – one of which was selling old postcards. I was tempted to buy some but I have more postcards than I have ever owned in my life right now, and I certainly didn’t want to get any mixed up with the heartfelt messages I was carrying with me. I got about half way along the High Line when I took a stop break on a bench. Behind me was the buzz of the city and in front of me was the beautiful view of the Hudson River. This was it. This was the place. I didn’t want an audience for what I was about to do so I waited for a flurry of tourists to pass by and as the path became free of wanderers, I tied the postcard to the side of the bench, took a few snaps and flurried down the nearby stairs back down to street level.

10474635_10152822099990873_4312964379057573222_o

The scattering moment has been made even more special after meeting Lucy in person. We talked about how difficult grief can be, as sometimes you want to talk and other times you don’t. That fact reminds me of why I believe using creativity can be so beneficial when dealing with the loss of a loved one. You don’t need to talk at all. You can remain completely anonymous or you can choose to share to the world. Even just reading other people’s stories can help ease the pain.

I adore the closing line of Lucy’s postcard, ‘Tell your close ones you love them today’. It is such a lovely call to action for whoever may find the postcard and to anyone reading this blog post now.

Linda and Lucy – this one’s for you. Thank you for being part of it.

Rachael xx

Follow 60 Postcards on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Follow Emerald Street on their new Instagram account

Pauline & Jo; A Tribute Filled with Friendship

Bringing you news once a week on the ongoing 60 Postcards journey (you can read a summary of the story in Glamour Magazine, here).

It continues to be a very busy time at the moment – rushing around for meetings, doing research, filling the diary with events around Christmas (which I still can’t believe is almost here). I have also been enjoying my notifications from the Timehop app, which reminds me that at exactly this time last year, I was finishing the first draft of the book (and having several panic attacks in the process!).

So, today’s post is about another wonderful NYC postcard from my stateside mission (you can catch up on the plan here).

Over to Pauline…..

IMG_0456

“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.”

The friendship between these two ladies shines through in both the postcard and letter. As I have said to Pauline, I have no doubt that the fantastic support of her friends and family were the reason that Jo beat the odds and kept fighting. I know that this is very raw for Jo’s loved ones, as it was only last February that she passed – I am just so pleased that this note was packed safely into my bag for the journey to New York City.

The scattering….

It felt like I had walked to every corner of Manhattan and back on the day I left this message. I had worked up quite the appetite and as the Lincoln Centre for Performing Arts was on my way back to the Upper West Side where I was staying, I decided to find somewhere to grab a bite. The Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Centre was the chosen location – a perfect people watching spot in the window of the Indie Food and Wine restaurant.

1553350_10152805468505873_828791140545968051_o

The NY Film Festival was on while I was visiting, so there were lots of industry folk and film lovers floating about. I ate my food very slowly as I watched the passers-by and I was beginning to daydream (as I do so well) when I felt a tap on my shoulder. A lady smiled at me warmly and asked if she could put her coat with mine on the seat in between us. ‘Of course!’

I slipped back into my daydream but couldn’t help but notice that the lady and her friend next to me were totally engrossed in a wonderful interaction. Chatting and laughing – as if they were the only people in the room – it made me smile. I was thinking about friendship and suddenly realised that this would be the perfect place to leave Pauline’s postcard. I psyched myself up, got into ninja mode, grabbed my coat (being as quiet as possible) and snuck the postcard onto the seat. I walked out quickly and calmly (and with a grin from ear to ear). I had to take a diversion so that I didn’t walk past the window in full view of the ladies, who may or may not have noticed the handwritten note that was hiding right next to them.

When I sent Pauline an email with info and photos showing where her words had been scattered, the last thing she wrote in her reply was, ‘Nice touch with the cinema. So thought through’. This left me a little confuzzled to say the least. The link I had picked up on was one of friendship. It was when I had a look at Pauline’s twitter account that I realised she works for BAFTA. Serendipity has surrounded this project from the very beginning until this very day.

I would like to send my love to Pauline and to Jo’s family. What an incredibly strong woman Jo was, and she now lives on through her daughter and all of the people she touched in her life.

I look forward to sharing more of these notes with you very soon.

Have a lovely week,

Rachael x

60 POSTCARDS MEET UP – JANUARY 2015

I am very keen to arrange a meet up for blog/book readers on a weeknight in the last 2 weeks of January (in London).

It will be an informal eve of chats, drinks, NYC tales and also an opportunity for me to let you know the ideas I am working on behind the scenes for the next stage of the 60 Postcards project. I would really appreciate some group feedback from those who know the story so far!

Just so that I have an idea of numbers, please may you register your interest by voting below. Thank you!

 

 

 

Grand Central Terminal: A Postcard for John

Bringing you news once a week on the ongoing 60 Postcards journey (you can read a summary of the story in Glamour Magazine, here).

I returned from NYC a little while ago and, as promised in my last post, from here on I will be blogging about some of the postcards that I scattered around the Big Apple on behalf of other people – a mission of remembrance that I feel so honoured to be a part of.

Here is Jo’s story…..

The Postcard

IMG_0006

“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’

Jo has followed the 60 Postcards blog for a while now and I was excited to see her at the Wimborne Literary Festival talk last week, which prompted me to begin with the story of her postcard in memory of her brother. Jo’s letter was so honest and heartfelt, explaining about her brother’s wonderful character and love for living life to the full. I really wanted to find the perfect spot for his tribute.

As I mentioned briefly in, The One Where 60 Postcards Hits NYC, I had contacted NYC blogger, Ashley, before the trip. Ashley and Sara are two friends that set up a lifestyle site called Wanderlust in the City (WebsiteFacebookTwitter) and I came across it as I was searching for tips about the city. I decided to reach out and get in touch as I thought that with their knowledge of NYC, they may be able to lend a helping hand.

Ashley and I met near her office and headed straight for the nearest Starbucks so that we could have a chat and make a scattering plan. We picked out Jo’s postcard and, with her words about John’s love for travel, Ashley suggested we head for Grand Central Terminal. It was the perfect place – such a transient hub – full of history and buzzing with travellers and tourists.

GCS

We stopped for a couple of photos outside the front of the station. There was a lady close by who was curious as to why we were doing that – assuming that we must be tourists. I explained that I was from London, Ashley explained that she lives in NYC and when the lady then asked how we knew each other – Ashley and I glanced at each other and laughed as we realised that unless she had a spare hour, it would be difficult to explain the whole story. Photos done – it was time to head in to the station.

We stood looking over the main concourse, scouring the area for the perfect postcard spot. There was a row of ticket booths and some of them were not open for business at the time. I had attached a piece of ribbon to the card so we were able to tie it to the railing underneath one of the booth windows.

GCS2

Just as Ashley explains in her blog post about our day (60 Postcards in New York City), the hardest part for us was to walk away without looking back. Our scattering had been seamless, however, my goodbye with Ashley was not as I managed to spill coffee on her as we hugged goodbye (sorry again, Ashley!).

I feel honoured that with John’s love of travel, the memory of him could travel with me across the pond and was left in a place perfect for him. I have no doubt that Jo’s words on that postcard have been read – by one or by many. I haven’t had a response from a finder, but you just never know.

Jo and family – thank you so much for being part of this.

With love,

Rachael x

Paperbacks, Postcards & The 2 Cents Collective

Bringing you news once a week on the ongoing 60 Postcards journey (you can read a summary of the story in Glamour Magazine, here).

Yet another apology from me for another spectacular disappearing act. Might start calling myself Houdini? I am most definitely back to blogging now and have decided to reduce my posting down to one a week (in order to lower my blood pressure levels and give you a little less waffle to wade through)!

What is going on behind the scenes? I am developing a framework and a creative business model for the future plans of the 60 Postcards project. The very personal tribute I began remains as a wonderful starting point but now heads towards becoming more of a concept – a support service – offering help to those who have lost, exploring the creative angle towards dealing with grief and creating a safe and open environment for people to share stories and to connect.

Almost all of the 60 Postcards Stateside (NYC) postcard info sheets have now been sent to the tribute writers and I am delighted to announce that we have had a few finders! Exciting stuff.

Another part of my 60 Postcards work that is about to kick off is preparation for the release of the paperback for February 2015. As book lovers and fellow writers will know, there is a fresh market out there in the paperback world and Simon & Schuster UK designer Anneka has created a brand new cover to reflect that. And here it is…….

60 postcards_9

Needless to say, when I nervously opened up the design from my inbox, I was blown away once more. Tears of joy trickled down my cheeks. It is pretty, Parisian and perfectly captures the narrative. I’m in love.

Other lovely recent news is that 60 Postcards is going to be published in China! Totally random and wonderful. Can’t wait to see what it looks like! (And wonder if they will understand the Made in Chelsea reference amongst others!)

The 2 Cents Collective

Now for a flashback to my New York trip. When I was hanging out in a coffee shop in Manhattan, I came across a postcard. (Of course I did). It was the last one of its kind. It took me 2 seconds to read and by then I was totally invested in the 2 Cents Collective.

The 2 Cents Collective is the brainchild of Brooklyn based, Maple. Maple has a close bond with her 14-year-old sister, Allison, but the distance between them is 800 miles. Her love for her sister and desire to give her as much advice as possible led her to think about how she could help other young people, too. On September 16th Maple launched her campaign which asks people, “What advice would you give to someone turning 16 years old?”. People can get as creative as they like with it (details below). And although this will help so many young people, Maple’s aim is to have this made in to a coffee-table-style book to present to her sister for her 16th Birthday. What a beautiful gift.

 FOLLOW 2CENTSC – WEBSITE  |  FACEBOOK  |  TWITTER

2CentsCollective

Give your Advice! 

Maple would really like this to kick off in her hometown of Charleston but welcomes advice from all over the world. if you do one thing this week amongst your work and play, please make it this! It is such a fantastic idea and a lot of fun to do as we think back to our younger years. I am sending mine off tomorrow! Here is what to do:

1. Think of advice you would give to someone turning 16 years old.

2. Write, draw, paint, collage, sculpt, highlight, record it – whatever.

3. Send it in via snail mail (134 Franklin St. #4Brooklyn, NY 11222) or online.

4. Influence somebody.

(Your advice will be anonymous unless you state otherwise.)

Postcards, words of advice – all inspired by a family bond. It is no wonder I love this collective so much. Maple – wishing you all the success in the world and I hope that I may be able to meet you when I visit NYC again in the future!

So there we have it – paperbacks, postcards and a heartfelt collective.

What is coming next? Well it is about time I start sharing the incredible stories of the postcards I took with me to New York!

Speak to you next week.

Love as always,

Rachael x

Ps Message for any Dorset readers….

I am speaking at the Wimborne Literary Festival this Friday 3-4pm at Allendale House. Tickets are £6 if you would like to come along! Let me know if you book as would love to meet people afterwards.

The One Where 60 Postcards Hits NYC

Bringing you news once a week on the ongoing 60 Postcards journey (you can read a summary of the story in Glamour Magazine, here).

10013448_10152691950685873_2443444004358498373_o

I hoped that this trip would be special. It really has knocked my expectations out of the park, though, and continues to be more magical than I imagined. It has been non-stop exploring, eating, drinking, laughing, wandering and postcard dropping. I am not quite sure how I am going to document absolutely everything on here at the moment – just so much has happened! Until I make a game plan, here is a little summary…..

Location, Location, Location

After a frantic and disorganised start to my accommodation, it has ended up working out wonderfully.

On my first night I headed to Stephanie‘s place in west Midtown. As she was in rehearsal until later, I dropped in to a local café for some much-needed coffee fuel as the jet lag was wearing me down. It was amazing to see her and to meet her best friend, Uthman, who was dancing around the lounge (naturally). It made me feel so grateful for those handwritten postcards in Paris which have resulted in a beautiful friendship across the pond.

Beccy arrived the next day and off we went to our Airbnb pad in Bushwick, Brooklyn.  We were a little apprehensive as the taxi pulled up into a deserted industrial estate, but once we walked around the corner we saw just how cool it was. Street art, galleries, vintage stores and coffee shops galore – this place has a real East London vibe. It’s New York’s Dalston (except it’s even more hipster). Vogue rates it as one of the top 15 coolest neighbourhoods in the world and that was judged in September – if they knew I was going to visit, I may have ruined it for them. I’ll never be ‘cool’.

Next up I stayed with lovely James (brother of my great friend, Emma) on the Upper East Side and given the fact that James and his girlfriend had never met me before, they couldn’t have made me feel more welcome! They gave me a set of keys and told me to drop in and out as I pleased and I loved hanging out with them for beers and chats (and educating me on baseball).

I swung up to the Upper West Side a couple of days later to stay in Rachel’s room while she was off for a weekend in the Hamptons. I lived with Rachel when I first moved to London and I have loved being able to hang out with her as she settles into New York life as a masters student at Columbia.

A few blocks away was my next abode where I hit my next Airbnb, hosted by John, Marcus and Randy. Owner of the flat, John, also owns a bar just moments away where I listened to some great (and horrifying) karaoke.

Planned and Surprise Meetings

 

1077813_10152694164825873_7461421021505324876_o-2Before I left for NYC I had been in touch with some people about meeting up. Most of them are friends but two were people I have never met. Ashley is one of the girls who runs a NY & LA blog called, Wanderlust in the City and we got on fabulously as we chatted about the project while we searched for a spot to leave a postcard together.

Meghan Markle is mostly known for her part as Rachel Zane in the USA TV series, Suits. She also runs a successful lifestyle blog called, The Tig. I emailed her blog team about my NYC mission (if you don’t know about that, read more here!), as I wanted to spread the word about the project in the hope that perhaps they could put a tweet out. Never, ever did I imagine that Meghan would get back to me personally saying that she would love to be involved. She was so lovely and so supportive of 60 Postcards. It is great to have her as part of #Team60Postcards.

I have met many new people along the way but the two most surprising have been at book events. Caitlin Moran and Lena Dunham – utter legends – were two people I never thought I’d meet in life, let alone in NYC on this trip. Both with new books out, I was lucky enough to get in to hear them speak at their separate events, get a book signed and even chat to them briefly in person. AND Lena has one of the 60 postcards. Wow. Now, lets all tell her to read it! (Look out for a tweet tomorrow. Retweet away!)

60 Postcards Stateside  

Postcards have been scattered left, right and centre and I still have a few more planned for over the weekend. It has been terrifying but fun, emotional but an honour and I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

10679672_10152691950680873_1185943404164260677_o

To everyone who wrote a postcard, you can expect the following when I return:

  • A map marking the postcard’s location
  • Information about the hiding spot
  • A few snaps of the area and the postcard where it is left
  • A description of what happened when I left it

What else has happened? I saw Adam Driver from Girls on my flight (must have been a sign), listened to the most wonderful gay man trying to calm down some angry youths on the subway by throwing imaginary glitter on them, I’ve bought shoes the wrong size by mistake, experienced my first bike ride for years on the treacherous roads of New York, danced at a drag bar, got sunburnt in Central Park, drenched in the rain outside the Lincoln Centre this morning and left many bars feeling tipsy and totally in love with this city.

I may only have a few days left here but I don’t intend to waste one minute of it. The fun isn’t over yet. I still have work to do, events to attend and one more meeting with an inspirational man.

Sending love from NYC.

Speak soon,

Rachael  x