Story Time

Read Peep’s Story

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It’s a fun tale about how the new “Peeping Chick” friendship card shown above came to be: A cardie named Mary Ann Martello emailed us the photo and graciously wrote, “First let me say that I am such a fan of your company. I am so happy to have found your cards and share them with family and friends!  And what a sweet touch, enclosing a special note with orders! I love that!

“So here comes the second reason for my e mail! I have been blessed with four wonderful grandchildren. Last month the oldest texted me this picture she took. Isn’t it adorable?! I printed some copies, glued them on card stock, wrote, ‘Original Photo by Cece’ on the back and mailed them to her. What a confidence boost! I am forwarding that picture to you.”Hehe, no mention of the fact that the photographer she so admires was all of 11! 🙂 We wrote Mary Ann, “It was fun and gratifying to hear from you, and we think the image is nearly as dear as your motives. What do you think of the proposed card message: ‘Hey there … it feels like ages since I’ve heard a peep out of you! :)’ If you and Cece agree, we’ll test it for publication. No promises!” Mary Ann responded, “Can’t wait to share with Cece and, no matter the outcome, what a great life lesson for her! Thank you … sincerely. The serendipitous thing is the baby chick’s name!  It’s Peep! So, your message suggestion is perfect!”

The design tested well, so we reached out to let Cece know and ask for a photo for this story. She replied, “I’m sending this photo of me with Ben; he’s my horse and best friend and who inspired me to start shooting. I don’t have a real camera, I use my iPhone to take photos 🙂 No one has ever taught me, and I haven’t ever taken any classes, it’s just something I started doing. I found a talent that I had that I never knew I had.”

She shared, “Peep was a Quail Antwerp Belgian Bantam – a breed of very small chickens that stay very small. We got Peep as a chick and I let my best friend name him and she named him Peep 🙂 The name fit him perfectly. He was so tiny when we first got him. So tiny that he was smaller than the palm of my hand. He used to lay on his back and let us rub his belly. He was VERY friendly and would let us carry him all around. He was the nicest chicken we’ve ever had. One day we came out and noticed that Peep was missing 🙁 He was so small that he could fit through the wire in the chicken coop. We aren’t sure what happened to him, but we like to believe that he decided to go on an adventure and he is out in the world somewhere having lots of fun adventures!”

Thanks, Cece and Grandma Mary Ann. Little did that escape artist Peep know he would one day be helping the rest of us spread friendship throughout the land!

~ jodee stevens
founder & creative director
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Here’s to the Moms :)

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Inside our new Wonder Woman card it reads, “If the boots fit!” 🙂  With Mother’s Day in mind, we thought we’d feature this new design along with a selection of other appreciative cards as they may help you pay fitting tribute to the many heroines in your life. We’re thinking moms & beyond … all the wives, daughters, sisters and sisters-in-spirit that you look up to; who treat your children and/or pets like their own; who can always be counted on to see the best in you. Just like a great mom.

I’ll be honest, the relentless advertising leading up to Mother’s Day is tough on me and many. I still very much miss my mom who has been gone more than a decade now, while two Cardthartic colleagues and three more close friends are still raw from having lost theirs this past year. Just last night I received an email from the daughter of my dear friend Shirley who passed away in February; Sue wrote, “I have so much to say to her and miss her sooo much. At the grocery I still automatically put her favorite foods in the cart, then remember she is gone and take them back out. Just taking it one day at a time.” I’ll send Wonder Woman to Sue and these other wonderful women who are somehow making their way through the loss.

I never had kids, and frankly can’t imagine mustering Wonder Woman’s strength and wisdom, endurance and insight day-after-day-after-day. To hold the future of beloved little beings in your hands for so many years, only to be expected to let them go their own way and make their own mistakes, while you’re to hold your tongue out of love. And to know that, every minute of every day, you are leading by example. That kind of awareness and devotion is way beyond me, but oh how I admire those who live it so gracefully.

Our Creative Coordinator Elizabeth Biswell had her own mom in mind when she wrote the Wonder Woman card. At 18, Liz is studying Journalism at Florida International University. She says, “The more I thought about what Wonder Woman’s message should say, the more I found myself thinking of my mother.  She is a strong and powerful woman who has never let obstacles or difficulties get in her way. Growing up in Spain, she worked hard with her school and church groups to fund their extensive travels throughout Europe. She says it was her gypsy soul that made her apply for an art school scholarship in Colorado when she was my age, and she didn’t let any fear of moving to the States without speaking English or knowing anyone here stop her from seizing the honor when it was offered.

“Mom has now made herself at home on three continents, raised three daughters on her own and continued to live with the same fearlessness that she had when she was 18. Because she has always found a way to achieve the goals she set for herself, she’s made my sisters and me feel that we can do the same. Her philosophy has always been, ‘Be very open and accepting of the opportunities that come to you. Never hesitate, or fear that you‘re not good enough, because the opportunities will come with enough obstacles … you cannot become one to yourself.’ My mom IS Wonder Woman to me.”

With those inspiring words, we now offer You the opportunity to acknowledge all the fearless, beautiful women flying in your midst: For every Wonder Woman card you order, we’ll ship you two FREE right up until Mother’s Day.  And you’ll see the other cards we’ve pulled for you all say in one gracious way or another: Thank You. “Thank you for being so good to me, and inspiring great love in me.” All these wondrous women in our lives, long may they fly!

~ jodee stevens
founder & creative director

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Goodness personified

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This new friendship design above was written by a woman who has long amazed us with her ability to see goodness under the most trying of circumstances.  Jenni Betz is the mother of three joyful little boys; their big sister, Celia, sadly left this earth much too soon. To us, Jenni and her own mother, Rosemary Tolliver, are goodness personified.

We met Jenni and Rosie eight years ago now, after publishing the photo of their sweet Celia on a Little Reminders card. When we first chose the photo, we didn’t know Celia was living with a rare and fatal disease called Batten. It was through Jenni’s blog, betzfamilycolumbus, that we learned Celia’s Story, a hard but glorious read.

Jenni’s writing was (and is) so rich and raw and mesmerizing that I soon found myself mining her posts for potential cards. We created the first design featuring Jenni’s words when Celia entered hospice in 2009. Today, messages about life’s joys and challenges from Jenni and the awesome and eloquent Rosie now grace more than a dozen Cardthartic designs. And how cool that these two cardies are not professional writers, just simply exquisite writers!

A few weeks ago, we emailed all the cardies we know that love to write to invite them to submit messages for our Summer release. Back came an e from Rosie that read, “For the past few weeks I have been consumed with caring for my older brother, John. I am eager to do some writing, but it will have to wait a few more days … it did occur to me to share with you the words my husband, Rod, said when I called home to tell him that John had passed away.  They felt perfect.  ‘Well, he lived long and he lived well, and it was time to say good-bye.’”

Then, yesterday, along came another e from Rosie. “The next generation enjoyed a game of friendly flag football on the church lawn after my brother’s funeral service.  This picture that Jenni took of her boys is such a good reminder that there can be joy right in the middle of sadness, and that we need the love of family and special memories to carry us through the tough times.  There’s a card in there somewhere …”

Like their authors, Rosie and Jenni’s cards are all so full of their real life love and fun and wisdom that we thought you might like to see them together as a collection. Long live Jenni and Rosie’s goodness.

~ jodee stevens
founder & creative director
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Pure Puppy Love

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People often ask us, “Which comes first, the message or the photo?”
Answer is: It all depends on which reaches us first! In the case of “be up for anything” cover dog Phoebe, it was the adorable image that prompted a card. Three pounds at three months old, Phoebe belongs to our great Massachusetts Rep Karen Miller, and what a bittersweet tale of love and loss those two have to tell.

A year before Phoebe entered the picture, Karen tragically lost two dogs very dear to her — Knopa to a hit-and-run driver and Lucy to aggressive lymphoma. If you’ve ever lost a pet, you know it’s crushing.

As many people do after having to put a beloved animal down, Karen could have “taken a break” to grieve and distance herself from further loss. Instead, she had just so much love to give that she threw her whole heart into the hunt for another sweet animal that needed a good home. When she saw the pic of Phoebe on petfinder.com, it was love at first sight. Phoebe and her three siblings had been rescued from the 110° southern California desert heat and taken to Hope Ranch Animal Sanctuary outside San Diego … a long way from Boston where Karen and her partner Deb live but, hey, Karen was smitten!

Even before she flew west to bring Phoebe home, the proud new doggiemama had sent me a snapshot taken at the sanctuary. I received it via text while in a Cardthartic staff meeting and, the moment I turned the phone around, saw the tender looks on our team members’ faces and heard their “awws,” I knew we had the makings of a great card. Only problem was, the sanctuary photo was not high-enough resolution. 🙁 Phoebe’s pic would have to be reshot.

Little Phoebe has boundless energy, so getting her to sit for a portrait was quite a feat. 🙂 “We tried three different days for hours at a time trying to get her to stop long enough to get a good shot,” laughed Karen. “Deb took literally hundreds of pictures of just a little white blur. We wore ourselves out trying to wear Phoebe out! Finally, when we caught her on the porch steps, we knew we’d got the shot.” Indeed. Thanks, Deb and Karen. By gracing our new Little Reminders card, your little rescue will melt the hearts of many.

~ jodee stevens
founder & creative director

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Beautiful friends

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When you read this card, I hope you feel your heart filling with love and gratitude for your own longtime friends. It was created for and dedicated to a dear one of mine …

If you follow Cardthartic, you read my email three weeks ago about Shirley Robins saying her goodbyes to this world. Well, days later, she left us and her family gave her a lovely send-off. Yesterday was the first birthday in two decades that I did not receive a card from Shirley, and today is the day I would traditionally slip one in the mail to arrive for hers on the 6th. Instead, I’m thinking back to the last conversation I had with my dear old pal, when she said with such calm assurance that she was facing the end of her life at peace and with complete acceptance. Hearing the readiness in her voice, I said, “Then, Shirley, I will accept it too.” There was a brief pause before I blurted, “Ok, I need to be honest … a part of me is excited that you will finally get to meet my crazy mother!” Bless her heart, she giggled at my absurdity and, with the gift of wry wit that she shares with my long-gone Mom, said, “Well I’ll be sure to tell her you say hi!” 🙂

In that same conversation, Shirley asked me to give her eulogy. When the day came, it was an honor and, truly, a joy to sing her praises. Always the sort of cherished friend that left nothing unsaid, in the end she made what could have been an onerous task for me very easy … to her assembled loved ones I was able to simply read Shirley’s own words, written in a note she’d sent years ago after some minor surgery. She wrote:

“As I sit here in my cozy gift of a new wrap, smelling the many roses and seeing the wonderful array of cards, I realize how fortunate I am. I’m fortunate because of people like you, my dear friend, who came into my life as a gift – a gift made in heaven. Thank you for always being by my side.”

Needless to say, I cherish that note, and our long friendship, and the sense that she is still by my side. So how about this: In Shirley’s honor, choose a longtime friend of your own to receive this card and we’ll include it free in any orders you place this month. Shirley would often joke and grouse about having to “cross out the damn Happy Birthday” in order to send her favorite cards to whomever, whenever. Have at it. Just promise not to hold back on what you have to say to those beautiful friends you’re going through life with. Die-hard cardie that she was, Shirley will be pleased you took the opportunity.

~ jodee stevens
founder & creative director

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Saying goodbye …

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This condolence design originated with our longtime Minnesota rep group principal, my mentor and dear friend, Shirley Robins. Shirley called me one evening two and a half years ago, just beside herself at the loss of her own dear friend and colleague, the beautiful Sally Perlich. Touchingly on and on Shirley went praising Sally, describing what a devastating loss Sally was to the world, and the infinite ways her life had been bettered by Sally. Catching her breath, Shirley said, “Oh, Jodee, there are no words … because there are so many.”

Now, Shirley and her family are preparing themselves for her spirit to join Sally’s. The life-threatening lymphoma she beat 22 years ago reared its ugly head again three weeks ago. Shirley’s devoted daughter Sue says that it is a matter of days.

At 82, Shirley is 20 years older and light-years wiser than me. All you cardies who so graciously say you love our cards and company, well, you have Shirley largely to thank. Back 22 years ago, I knew next to nothing about this industry. Shirley’s Rep group was one of our very first and — as if she did not have her own business to run, family to care for and cancer to beat — she answered every inane question and calmed every fear I had. As you might imagine, I was a needy little piggy, picking her brain and crying on her shoulders left and right. I’m not entirely sure Cardthartic would still be standing today were it not for Shirley Robins.

I know you’re busy facing your own challenges and appreciating all the joys life brings but, if you happen to pass by a rack of cards this weekend, maybe take a moment to consider that they didn’t magically appear — great, caring, hardworking pros like Shirley helped the store select them.  And, if you have a few prayers to spare, please say them for the indomitable Robins Family. They’re with Shirley now and will send her off knowing they were loved with a full heart. As Shirley’s longtime associate Linda Smith put so beautifully, “It is not easy for a family to stand by and wait, but being surrounded by love is such a good thing.” Good Shabbos, Shirley.

~ jodee stevens
founder & creative director
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