The Art and Heart of Writing a Letter

Your words will make someone's day better

Posted May 20, 2015

Source: Pixabay

One of the most endearing parts about receiving letters from my pen pals is that both of these long distance friends, unbeknownst to each other, use stickers. With ruby red glittery hearts, neon butterflies, and gold embossed sunflowers, each envelope is preciously adorned. They are jewels to me. When I receive them, I’m reminded I’m rich.

I’ll call her Katie, even though I know she won’t be reading this. She doesn’t use the Internet. We became friends when I landed a job at a bookstore where she worked. It was two weeks after 9/11 and thousands of friendships were born and lost during those unsettled days.

I didn’t last long selling books—neither did she. I moved, she stayed (she’s married), but we wrote. Not often, but a few months of life story could be sent with a single stamp. Sometimes a greeting card. Always with those stickers and a few doodles—tiny delicate flowers and paisley swirls drawn with colored pens. I’m sentimental—these letters I hold to my chest. When you know somebody out there is thinking of you…on those days when you really start to wonder.

I’ll call him Daniel, even though I know he won’t be reading this. He doesn’t use the Internet. We became friends when…well, it’s a long story. The first time I met Daniel in person I was in fifth grade. I was into stream fishing and growing cactus (cacti?) and tapping maple trees to make syrup. He was easily 30 years older. He was into growing cactus and making maple syrup too. Imagine that.

I rarely saw him through the intervening years. I moved, he stayed (he’s not married), but we wrote. Not often, but a few months of life story could be sent with a single stamp. Always a letter and always with those stickers. I’m sentimental—have I mentioned? These letters I hold to my chest, knowing somebody out there is a little different just like I am. That’s when different feels special…on those days when you really start to wonder.


Already have a pen pal? Share your experience in the comments below.

Interested in finding one? Here are 3 sources for learning about reputable penpal locators for all ages: 

1. How to find a pen pal for your child via

2. The allure of an old-fashioned pen pal via BBC News

3. 15 best sites to find your pen pal to write to via


Brad Waters, MSW provides career coaching and consultation to clients by phone nationwide. He helps people clarify their career direction and take action on life transitions. Brad holds a Master's degree in social work from the University of Michigan and is a preferred career coach for the University of Michigan Alumni Association. More info at

Copyright, 2015 by Brad Waters. This article may not be reproduced or published without permission from the author. If you share it, please give author credit and do not remove embedded links.