Welcome to Week 50 of The 52 Week Love Project – Acts of Kindness. The project designed to recognize 52 inspiring humans who are giving back to our community – whether in a small way or by creating a movement for change and inspiration.
Meet Alicia Young, the creator of The 12 Stamps Projects – designed to harness the power of a handwritten note – because we’re more logged on than ever – yet less connected than ever!
When faced with self-doubt, this how Alicia handles it:
“We can try to avoid self-doubt — or we can smile, stare it down and call it out for the fraud it is. I try to remember that uncertainty creeps up on us all at some point, but it’s a conscious choice to keep thinking along those lines or to replace it with something more uplifting. We choose our mindset”.
WHERE DID IT ALL BEGIN?
I volunteered in India years ago, splitting my time between a rural leprosy hospital and an urban hospice run by Mother Teresa. I was awash with incredible experiences, but as the weeks turned into months, I longed for news from home. That’s when the power of a handwritten note resonated.
One friend in particular, Angela, was the most voracious writer. Every week, her letters arrived — stuffed into the mailbox at a convent where I stayed, slipped under my friend’s apartment door in the city, or peeking out from a satchel on the hospital mail-run. The kangaroo-themed stamps proved a novelty among our patients and were traded with workers along the local tea plantations of Darjeeling.
Every time I held my mail, I felt happy even before I opened it. Whether it was the elegant cursive of my aunt, or the comical every-which-way slant of my husband’s hand (with writing so bad, he should have been a doctor…), their penmanship was as individual as they were. Each was a link to home.
Amid their own days, my loved ones carved out time to share the little things that punctuated their lives. It was a loving and thoughtful connection. I read these notes by candlelight when the power failed, or pre-dawn at the convent, or I stuffed them into my work pinafore, to be re-read in my lunchbreak.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU?
The idea for The 12 Stamps Project was born when my husband and I were living in the US. I had sent copies of my book, Two Eggs, Two Kids (about my experience as an egg donor) to First Lady Michelle Obama, and also to Hillary Clinton. First, it felt like a little thank you for our US adventure. Secondly, I hoped to raise awareness of infertility.
I was stunned and so encouraged to receive responses from both ladies. It struck me as very kind and gracious. I’ll never forget the White House seal on that luxurious, thick envelope.
Personal notes count, especially today, when it seems we’re surgically attached to our screens. The written word carries a weight all its own. Consider this: our highest laws are set in writing, with scrolls and parchment preserved in museums. Time capsules always include words to capture a given moment. And when our loved ones pass away, cherished letters are often found among their personal papers.
As busy as we all are, most of us can find a few minutes to pen a note: whether to say thank you, to encourage someone in their studies, or to praise their initiative with a new business. And there’s no faster way to make a child feel important than to send them mail. Let your cousin know you’ll be thinking of her as she adapts to middle school or praise your little nephew for how well he shares his toys.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
I’m a journalist, writer and speaker. I present workshops for aspiring authors and offer media and publicity training to small business owners. We have fun with mock radio/TV interviews and podcasts. It really helps to boost confidence when someone needs to represent their product or service.
My background is in television and radio; I’ve been a news anchor in Moscow, a foreign correspondent in Europe and a local reporter in Australia.
I suspect I was born in the wrong era; I’m torn between my laptop and my letter opener.
HOW DO YOU GET PAST SELF DOUBT?
We can try to avoid self-doubt — or we can smile, stare it down and call it out for the fraud it is. I try to remember that uncertainty creeps up on us all at some point, but it’s a conscious choice to keep thinking along those lines or to replace it with something more uplifting. We choose our mindset.
And when the chips are down, I re-read my cards and letters to boost me! Not just ones from fancy addresses: I mean the little card from my primary school teacher, brimming with warmth and wisdom, or the faded letter from my childhood neighbour who would perch me on her orange vinyl kitchen stool to listen to me read as a six-year-old. Someone took time to notice my efforts, and their kindness kept me going when I felt low.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHERS WHO WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE/CHANGE IN THE WORLD?
Remember that small ripples fan out to bigger ones. Welcome the chance to share a small kindness and make it as much a part of your day as brushing your teeth. On a wider scale, choose something you feel very drawn toward—because on the days you’re tired, your natural affection for a cause will keep you going. Change often comes incrementally, and sometimes we need to be okay with that.
Today, we are more logged on then ever, but less connected. Let someone know that you see them: that you notice what they do for others, or how their patience or warmth makes a difference for those around them.
DO YOU HAVE A QUOTE OR EXPRESSION THAT YOU LIVE BY?
Be a little kinder than necessary… for everyone is fighting a silent battle.
—James M. Barrie, of Peter Pan fame! (at least for the first half of the quote.)
WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO?
I write books. I’ve written six so far, on topics ranging from modern manners and savvy brides, to egg donation and light (very light!) spiritual topics.
HOW CAN OTHERS HELP/GET INVOLVED?
Simply buy twelve stamps and commit to sending a handwritten note each month for the next twelve months. That’s it!
(TIP: puts the stamps on envelopes now, or you’ll never find them!) Someone is waiting to hear from you. Please drop me a line to share ideas, I’d love to hear from you.
In the time it takes to boil an egg, you can boost someone else. Share joy in their achievements, acknowledge their milestones, or amid life’s challenges, simply and lovingly remind them that this too, shall pass. It doesn’t need to be long, grammatically perfect, witty or profound. It’s a message of kindness winging its way to them.
firstname.lastname@example.org and @AliciaWriter
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