Tag Archives: Riverwood Writer

Words, words words: tools for touching hearts and lives, by Elizabeth H. Cottrell

Bundle of Letters - Words of Love

“Bundle of letters – Words of Love” Photo by Christian Mueringer

Saved and treasured notes and letters

My paternal grandfather Robert Beverley Herbert was 71 years old when I was born in 1950. Tucked inside the desk I’ve had since childhood, there is a well-worn, much-treasured bundle of letters from him—letters he mailed me starting when I was a young girl. They were the first meaningful letters I ever received, and they contained news, advice, and wisdom from a man who was born only 14 years after Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox. Such is the connection power of words that they can cross centuries, miles, and even lifetimes.

Since those first letters in my life, over the last many decades, I’ve received hundreds of beautiful messages in the form of handwritten notes and letters from friends, loved ones, and even strangers:

  • Congratulations when I reached milestones in my life.
  • Appreciation for things I’ve done or given.
  • Sympathy when I’ve experienced a loss.
  • Encouragement when I’ve been in the midst of a challenge.
  • Offers to help when I was heavily burdened.
  • “Thinking of you” notes for no particular reason.

I’ve saved the most special of these and re-read them often. Of course any note from my children and their spouses falls in the category of treasured correspondence! I consider each a precious gift, and they carry value far beyond the cost of the paper and postage.

Reviving the art of personal note writing

Now I’m trying to revive the art of personal note writing and encourage others to see what a powerful connection tool it is.

Not just because it’s a nice thing to do (but it is).

Not just because it’s often proper etiquette (although it is).

Absolutely not because I want to put anyone on a guilt trip.

No, the reason I’m committed to shining a spotlight on the personal, handwritten note is because I believe notes containing words from your heart—heartspoken—written by hand on a piece of paper and mailed to the recipient, are too often overlooked as effective tools for connecting with others.

Why is connection so important?

I believe connection with others is nothing short of a conduit for God’s love.

Scripture in the gospel of Matthew describes Jesus telling a Pharisee: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39 NIV)

And from the first letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV)

If you believe, as I do, that love is what life is all about, you’ll see why I get so excited about a simple, affordable tool for using words to connect and share love with others quickly and easily.

Why don’t people write more notes?

I hear many reasons from kind, well-intentioned people about why they don’t write more personal notes:

  • They don’t have time.
  • They don’t know what to say (this is particularly true when writing to someone grieving or in any other awkward situation).
  • They don’t think of it when it’s convenient.
  • They procrastinate, and then it feels too late.

Of course there are people who can’t write because of physical disability. There are others who prefer to connect in other ways: by phone, in person, or by email. Personal note writing is not for everyone.

You can learn to write beautiful notes

If you’d like to write meaningful notes more easily, don’t miss my special free guide that will teach you how to overcome the obstacles above and write heartspoken personal notes that comfort, encourage, and inspire. You can get it at my blog, Heartspoken.com. Just put your email in the box at the top of the right sidebar to receive information on how to access this guide.

While you’re there, you might enjoy other note writing posts as well as letter and note writing gifts.

Here are links to articles loaded with note writing encouragement and tips:

Words, words, words

Words are powerful, and I applaud Karen for reminding us of their richness and purpose in our lives.

Please add personal handwritten notes to your arsenal of tools for using words to spread more love to others in your life. They are your legacy of love.

Photo credit: “Bundle of Letters” by Christian Meuringer via BigStockPhoto.com


Elizabeth Cottrell headshotElizabeth H. Cottrell, a.k.a. RiverwoodWriter, is a master connector who curates information and resources about the power of connection to present them in ways that provide meaning and value to her readers. She is a passionate student of everything related to life’s essential connections: with God, with self, with others, and with nature.

Elizabeth shares connection findings, inspiration, and guidance at Heartspoken.com, where she is also reviving the art of writing personal notes that comfort, encourage, and inspire.

Connect with Elizabeth on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.


Filed under Guest Writers & Bloggers, Special Events, Words & Vocabulary

Poetry Week wrap up on Heartspoken.com

CactusBloomKSExDesert Canvas wraps up Poetry Week

Months ago, Elizabeth H. Cottrell and I started to chat about featuring one of my poems on her Heartspoken blog…then we both got, ya know, busy.

I decided to have a Poetry Week on my blog, and the blocks fell into place.

The Poetry Week wrap-up, Desert Canvas, is on Elizabeth’s Heartspoken blog.


Are you a small business owner? Learn how to connect, create, and communicate on Elizabeth’s Riverwood Writer blog.


Filed under My Guest Posts, Prose & Poetry, Special Events

A Mother’s Gift: Connection, by Elizabeth H. Cottrell

Elizabeth (top) with daughter and mother

The web of feminine connection

As Mother’s Day approaches, my heart is filled to overflowing with gratitude and love for my amazing 87-year-old mother and my precious grown daughter.

The threads that connect us are not just genetic; they are threads of love, support, and mutual respect. The threads also connect us to a larger web of wonderful women: grandmothers, aunts, sisters, sisters-in-law, nieces, daughters-in-law, and friends.

My mother turned love into connection.

Long before I began studying the power of connection, my mother was a terrific connector. When my siblings and I were children, she was always involved with our play and activities, pouring out her love and attention to make us feel seen, heard, and valued.

We loved the outdoors, so she took us to the woods for walks, pointing out trees, birds, and wildflowers along the way. Together we hiked to “Woodside Water Wonderland,” our name for a rippling creek that cascaded through the woods to meet the larger Goose Creek. Here we waded and built rock walls to divert the water into faster channels, reveling in the freshness and magic of nature’s beauty all around us.

On summer Sundays after church, often with one or more families joining us, Mom packed up a picnic and hauled it (and us) down to the farm’s lake where she and Dad supervised fishing, swimming, canoeing, sailing, and water-skiing. Tired, waterlogged, and sunburned, we later fell into bed, mumbled our prayers, and slept soundly.

When I had friends over on rainy days, she let us raid her linen closet, set up card tables, and move furniture so we could make tents, caves, and forts. Oh, the shivery delight of giggling, whispering, and reading with a flashlight in those dark places! Mom relegated some of her clothes and costume jewelry for our dress-up play. Who knew sheer curtains could make such fabulous bridal veils? On nice days, she might organize a tea party in the yard or chase us with the hose while we pretended to run away from the spray, squealing and laughing as the cold water hit our skin.

Mom had a wonderful vegetable garden, and sometimes she recruited us to help her snap peas or shuck corn. Some serious conversations (the “birds and bees” talk comes immediately to mind) took place while we worked together on those homegrown vegetables!

The kitchen, with stainless steel counters all ‘round and its large, round wooden table with a lazy Susan in the middle, was a hub of activity where we were always welcome to bring our homework or help with whatever she was doing. Mom not only prepared our meals there, but she did laundry, arranged flowers, pasteurized milk, and preserved the bounty of her garden through pickling, freezing, and canning. We surely tried her patience and interrupted her work, but we learned to cook and undoubtedly learned a great deal about management from a woman who ran a large farm household with grace and skill.

Mom imparted her love of books and stories that connected us with outside ideas, people, and places.  We crowded together on the sofa for wonderful read-aloud sessions: we traveled the world with Babar, explored New York with Heloise, visited Paris with Madeleine, discovered the secret garden with Mary Lennox, and solved mysteries with Nancy Drew or Sherlock Holmes.

Oh yes, my mother was a master at connecting with her children.

Love in action

Love isn’t just a noun; it’s also a verb. There is action in my mother’s love when she connects, as she still does, by sending articles, books, and gifts, thoughtfully selected because of her attentiveness to our interests and activities. There is action in our love for others when we go beyond the feeling and reach out to help or encourage.

Her love has always been a precious gift of connection.

Thank you, Mom, and Happy Mother’s Day! My tribute to you will be to pass it on.

[This post was expanded from a piece originally published in [The Gratitude Book Project: Celebrating Moms & Motherhood]

Elizabeth H. Cottrell

About Elizabeth H. Cottrell

Elizabeth calls herself a “Connection Curator.” A curator is someone who collects and organizes things to present them in ways that bring meaning and value. She is a passionate student of everything related to life’s essential connections. She shares her findings at Heartspoken.com.

Elizabeth is also a freelance blogger and writer (RiverwoodWriter.com). She works with small business owners to increase their visibility both online and offline, because “Before you sell, you have to connect.” She’s working on a digital publishing certification to help clients get published on Kindle and other e-book formats.

Connect with Elizabeth on TwitterFacebook, and Google+.

See also The Gratitude Book Project.


Filed under Guest Writers & Bloggers, Special Events