Story Time

A lovely legacy

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Here’s to all those who chose to stock up on our cards these past three weeks when we were donating half the income to the humanitarian aid organization, Direct Relief. Collectively, we proved small but mighty — in 124 Cardies’ names, $3,130 was contributed to Harvey and Irma efforts. Now, given the magnitude of sad devastation in Puerto Rico, let’s keep going … the proceeds from your card purchases until October 15th will now also go to Direct Relief.

I’d like to tell you a sweet story closer to home. If you follow Cardthartic, you know that I avoided Irma by leaving my home office on Miami Beach for our corporate apartment and offices in central Illinois. Well, while there, I was invited to the home of one of my favorite Cardies, Nancy McGinn, whose great husband, Jim, dazzled us with pan-seared salmon and rosemary rice. I arrived just before the grandkids headed home from a weekend stay and, boy, wait ‘til you hear what they did and had to say.

Brooke, 8, and her brother, Pacey, 6, had strategically placed a lemonade stand next to the golf course while a tournament was in play that day, and raised $10. While Brooke felt she needed to keep $3 for her college fund, I was asked to take $7 back to Miami to deliver, “To someone who could use a boost after Irma.” Both kids had made cards to tuck their monies in, and Grandma Nanc had a Passages card ready for her own crisp $100 bill. The kids had wisely addressed the envelope,“To Sumbutee,” until the right submbutee’s name was known. It didn’t take me long to suggest, “Hugo Caproni!” Originally from Argentina, Hugo maintains our sweet, little old building on da beach — one of the few former tiny motels still standing, with the Four Seasons, Marriott and Ritz Carlton trying hard to crowd her out.

I shared with the McGinns that, while I was packing for my escape, Hugo had been securing the building and bringing in a generator to use after Irma hit. As we said goodbye, I’d pulled out the $100 bill I had in the secret compartment of my wallet and told him, “My mom always said to keep some ‘mad money’ and, Hugo, staying here seems absolutely mad to me!” He laughed and said, “I’ll watch your place, and be fine.” So when I suggested him to Nanc & Co., they promptly changed that Sumbutee to Hugo, and wrote in Nancy’s card, “Thank you for keeping Jodee and her good dog Josephine’s home safe!”

Hugo opened the McGinn’s cards yesterday and, after wiping away a little tear that I suspect no one was supposed to see, he waved the cards around and said, “I will keep these forever. Truly. Because these cards say that the people who sent them know how hard I work and that they appreciate me.” And then he had me film a little video to send to the kids saying, “You can always count on Jodee’s place, and Ana’s downstairs, too, being safe with me. I’m more than the maintenance man around here … we’re all like family!”

I emailed Hugo’s video to our CAO, Ana Behm, who is traveling. She’s the Ana that Hugo mentioned lives downstairs. She wrote back, “Aww! Now I’m crying. So sweet of Nancy and her grandkids. She blesses them with how she lives her life, and they bless her with their love. What a lovely legacy!”  Yes, may we all follow her lead.
~ jodee stevens
founder & chief creative officer
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Calling all beautiful free spirits

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This is one of my favorite designs – it’s featured here on a magnet and appears on a card, too. Mermaids are so wildly popular now (and forever 🙂 and the “feminine power” message was inspired by two dear swim buddies of mine. Hannlis Hawk and D. Clancy are both life-long swimmers and ~ at 93 and 80 respectively ~ credit their good, long, amazingly-active lives in part to the joy and vitality they gain from swimming. Nearly every agreeable day of the year, Hannlis’ bright white hair can be seen gliding along in the sea surrounding Miami Beach. Irma sent this little mermaid packing to her son’s in Rhode Island, where she took great pleasure in sitting on the shore, watching him surf. An Irma evacuee myself, last weekend I joined D. for morning laps in her building’s second-story terrace pool, tucked among the towering high-rises of Chicago. Lovely.So Cardthartic’s Sales & Fulfillment Center crew wants me to tell the story I’m about to below because they believe we could all use a smile after this past month of such sad, international tragedies. Until Miami Beach is more back to its gorgeous normal, with no schools of poor dead (and naturally quite stinky) fish and debris still up and down the shoreline, I’m enjoying hanging with our amiable team up in the corn and bean fields of central Illinois. My colleagues can all sense I miss coastal living … along with ocean swimming, they know I love sitting down by the water with my muse, Miss Josephine Barker, writing our cards.

At the sea is where I am most in touch with that “beautiful free spirit deep within us.” In the warmth of a setting sun, I’ll sit with my toes in the water and MJB on my lap and do some wordplay. I go through print-outs of possible photos and Joanne Friar’s great Meanings of Life illustrations, and then scribble the words that speak to me. More and more often, something one of our eloquent Cardies has written to us will come to mind, and I’ll marry that sentiment with an image, then ask permission to publish. Very fun.

Just between us, my own best messages come to me while skinny dipping. When no one is around, I swim way out, hang my suit over a shoulder and have a nice, long swim. One day, a man I didn’t know but had often seen walking the shore passed by as I was out there just leisurely treading. He waved. I waved. He yelled, “Why do you swim so far out?!” I called back, “Because I like skinny dipping!” Taking that in, he yelled again, “And you don’t want anyone to see that you’re not wearing a suit?!?”  So pleased that he somehow understood, I hollered back, “Right!” and, quick as that, “Then you’re not out far enough!”

~ jodee stevens
founder & chief creative officer

PS: One last reminder to your own beautiful free spirit … this coming Monday, September 25th is the cut-off for our donation to Direct Relief. If you are not among the many who have joined in already, half the money you spend on our cards before then will be donated to this great humanitarian aid organization in your name. Thanks for considering!

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Never far from mind

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This timely card came to be nearly a decade ago now … my Miami Beach neighbor Sarah Wilson and I had somehow not run into each other on our seaside walking path for weeks and, when we finally did, these are the words with which Sarah greeted me. I’m guessing it’s what a lot of people have been feeling lately, wondering and worrying about friends and relatives in hard-hit states.

I was fortunate to have been able to get out of Irma’s way; unlike so many who had no choice but to stay, I was blessed with a place to go and the means to get there. A week ago today I flew to our Sales & Fulfillment Center in Illinois, and am staying in our corporate apartment here until the coast is literally cleared. Caught up in my own (safe, cool and dry) little world, I have had my Miami colleagues, friends and neighbors steadily on my mind. Through the storm, those who evacuated and those who stayed were all in close contact, as text messaging makes so quick and easy. I was relieved to hear that everyone in our neighborhood is thankfully doing fine, there was no real damage done, and power is already back on. Amazing.

Fearing the worst as the storm approached, we all kept expressing how good it felt to hear from so many people who just wanted us to know we were on their minds. I received calls, emails and text messages from lots of family and dozens of kind-hearted friends dating back to pre-K, and it was especially touching that so many of our caring Cardies emailed us “good energy.” My friend Linda, a fellow evacuee, on Friday received a Facebook message from a college roommate with whom she hadn’t spoken in 30 years: “You and your sweet dog are both welcome in my guest room.”

On Saturday, knowing I was safely watching and waiting, my friend Nancy sent me a teasing e, “I just received your card and candied pecans! Are you kidding me?! How did you have time to make and send these?” Since her nice husband had had a brief but scary stay in the hospital recently, I’d made a point of dropping the little care package in the mailbox on my way to the airport. It was no effort at all, a pleasure really, as she means a lot to me.

I guess this is all really meant to say that I find it sad and good at the same time, how tragedy seems to get us off the dime, prompting us to finally reach out to those who are never really far from mind. In “normal” times, it is so easy to get caught up in our own little worlds. Here, on a crisp morning in central Illinois, I could so easily forget how sweltering Florida will be today for those with still no air conditioning (much less a roof 🙁  At the Y swimming laps, I saw the Aqua Zumba ladies joyfully jumping around in the sparkling clear pool and couldn’t help thinking how upsetting it must be to trudge through murky, waist-deep flood waters, tripping over your own cherished belongings buried beneath. Passing by a dozen gas stations, it’s hard to imagine the lines 30 cars and hours long at the stations that have gas at all for the evacuees still trying to make their way home. When for lunch I will have a wide choice of groceries and restaurants ready to serve, how scary to be scrounging around for anything that may be left in a cooler that days ago lost its cool.

So, as millions of people throughout the south set about the sad task of trying to reassemble their lives, Cardies, do your thing! Whoever is never far from your mind, take this opportunity to tell them so. It could be a phone call, an email, a Cardthartic card or not – just don’t hesitate. Because as those same millions can tell you, we never know what tomorrow holds. If you have loved ones like mine (and I’ve gotten to know enough of you to bet that you do 🙂 you just may receive a most gratifying response like I did from Nancy. On the day Irma was bearing down on Miami Beach and I feared I’d not have a home to go back to she wrote, “Hope you can feel my arms and God’s wrapped around you.” Indeed.

~ jodee stevens
founder & chief creative officer
PS: A reminder that half the money you spend on our cards by September 25th will be donated in your name to Direct Relief, the humanitarian aid organization that tops Charity Navigator’s list as measured by financial performance, accountability and transparency.
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A Bit of Good News

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We had this eblast announcing our new cards ready to go before Harvey wrecked the lives of so many. And we’ve not distributed it because – while Texas is still flooding and the western states are battling wildfires – it’s just felt too out-of-touch commercial. But now that Hurricane Irma is chasing Cardthartic’s Creative Team off our home turf of Miami Beach, we’re thinking that – just to spite her — let’s let this baby rip! (Or something like that.) Seriously, this card in particular is just such a perfect message for these stressful times that we want it out there doing its soothing thing. Inside, the card simply says, “A lot.”

While hearts are still going out to those so horribly hit in Texas and the West, here on our way out of south Florida we’re feeling very blessed that so many caring friends and family are reaching out to wish us well. As you know, it makes life’s challenges so much more bearable when you hear that you’re being held in someone’s thoughts and prayers. Not to take away from those devastated by the major natural disasters that dominate the news, I can’t help but think of the many other people struggling with losses the world will never know. All those friends and family members quietly grappling with life and health issues of their own.

Night before last, a couple of neighbor friends and I were lingering on our lovely stretch of beach, as-always grateful to be watching the beautiful moon rise over Miami. Naomi turned to me and said, “Hey, Jodes, do you have a card I could send my stepfather in South Dakota … he’s a man of few words, so not big on expressing his emotions, but I know he’s hurting as he watches his dad suffer with throat cancer. I just want him to know I care.” Thanks, Naomi, for the nudge: Get that soothing new card out there!

So how about this? It would feel very gratifying to send half the money you spend on our cards by September 25th to Direct Relief, the humanitarian aid organization that tops Charity Navigator’s list as measured by financial performance, accountability and transparency. And, before your order ships, your Fairy Cardmother will see to it that this new card is slipped in FREE. (She’s safely based in central Illinois where I’m also headed for Irma’s duration.) Imagine how it would feel to be going through a hard time, and to receive this card featuring that sweet face, to open it and read the name written there, reminding you that they’re with you in spirit. A little card can make a big difference!

And just maybe we should take a moment to feel how blessed we are today to be on the sending end of support & encouragement cards, eh? May you and yours be safe, happy and well.

~ jodee stevens
founder & chief creative officer
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Sending Lovingkindness

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This comforting card began as a voicemail from my friend Astrid Sheil who, because we live on opposite coasts, I don’t get to see or speak with nearly as often as I’d like. I was sitting in the dentist’s chair, waiting for the novocaine to kick in, and thought I’d just check messages. And there was ever-eloquent Astrid’s version of “thinking of you.”

We propose it’s a good thought to hold now for all those in Harvey’s wake. For all the Texans who are still taking in the magnitude of their tremendous losses. For all those volunteers who are putting their own lives on hold in the service of others. For the many who will forgo Labor Day’s grilling with family and friends in order to put their energy to loving use for total strangers.

Looking for our own Cardthartic ways to contribute other than giving more blood and money, we considered asking you to join us in sending a huge bunch of soothing cards like this to the shelters. We imagined how comforting and reassuring it would feel for those in the midst of it all to read such a warm, loving card from caring people they’d never met … but we couldn’t imagine how such a package would get through at this point. That day will come. For now, let’s just keep holding them in our hearts.

~ jodee stevens
founder & chief creative officer

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Celebrating You

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This soothing new birthday card was inspired by the love and admiration our Creative team feels for our yoga instructor, Paola Villegas, who will celebrate the opening of her new studio ~ Blissful Yoga Miami ~ this weekend. We feel very fortunate that every MWF from 2-3, you can find our CAO Ana Behm, Creative Coordinator Liz Biswell and me practicing with Paola. If you were to join us, you’d hear Paola in her soft earth-mother voice and manner say:

“You have given yourself this gift of time and so have nowhere else to be, nothing else to do, no decisions to make. Enjoy it. You deserve it.”

Born and raised in Argentina, at age 10 Paola was struck by a car and thrown 25 ft down the road. In the years after the accident, she had four surgeries, spent months at a time in a full-body cast and relied on a wheelchair. Paola’s mother introduced her to yoga in an effort to defy the doctors’ odds of her young daughter never walking again. Through yoga, physical therapy, and swimming, Paola slowly but surely recovered her full mobility in her teens.

Today, she has a wonderful, nurturing way of teaching us that yoga practice is just that, a practice. With a gentle touch here and a guiding nudge there, Paola makes us ever stronger, more patient and self-accepting on and off the mat. We’re reminded that it’s with a touch here and nudge there that potential new card designs become stronger. 🙂

In a recent class, Paola introduced us to this beautiful Sanskrit mantra and its meaning that feels so right for our times. Namaste.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

May all beings everywhere be happy and free.
And may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.

~ jodee stevens
founder & chief creative officer

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