Story Time

You made my day!

Posted | 0 comments

If you missed our “Hannlis is Turning 94!” eblast a month ago, in it we invited any Cardie who wished to, to send greetings to this much-admired card muse of mine. I’m now writing to share highlights of her birthday bash, and the first thing I’d say is what Hannlis said: “Opening the box filled with cards was a Wonderful! surprise, and then reading all of them lifted me up and up. To all those thoughtful Cardies I say thank you, thank you, thank you!!!”

Let me back up here and say, Friday before last, 20 close friends, fans & fam of Hannlis gathered under the full Miami moon that glittered over my seaside terrace. Honoring her request that we have “shrimp, shrimp and more shrimp!” throughout the evening we served two yummy variations chilled, and another four grilled, from Honey Ginger to Rosemary & Thyme.

Because we didn’t want to muss the gorgeous cake decorated to look like her beloved beach, we also made an H-shaped rice krispie candelabra … great holding-power but, hard as we tried on that breezy night, no way could we get all 94 candles lit at the same time!  🙂

When it came time for Hannlis to open her pile of presents, she turned to me and grinned, “Looks like I’m going to need a few more boxes of Thank You notes!”  I wish you could have seen her open the sweet box stuffed with cards sent by Cardthartic Cardies throughout the land. Taking in such a show of thoughtfulness from complete and gracious strangers, Hannlis said, “Wow! This made my day!” It really did. She was touched at the time, and even more in the days after as we sat by the sea re-reading every last card she received. She especially loved that:
~ Cardthartic’s long-appreciated Connecticut Rep, Donna Dillingham, wrote, “This card comes from four friends who’ve hiked together and shared your appreciation for fine wine for nearly 40 years. As we celebrate a birthday here this week, we will raise our glasses and toast you, an inspiration to us all.”  And each friend had penned her own little note.
~ Clever Ruth Wakefield of Albany, NY, wrote what surely has the makings of a great new Passages card: “Cheers to you, and for you!”
Nancy Sinelli in Livonia, MI, warmly wrote, “I enjoy reading about you, Hannlis. You sound like someone I would enjoy having as a friend!”
~ Our Retail Partner, For Goodness Sake, in Waterloo, IA, was good enough to send a card to say, “Have a fabulous birthday, Hannlis. We ❤ your humor!”
~ Hannlis Fan Nancy McGinn in Peoria, IL, wrote, “After reading your motto in a story two years ago, I hung it on my wall to remind me to, ‘Make more time for friends, sunshine, books, music, wine: They all exist solely for our enrichment.’ I’ve not even met you (yet!) and you’re making my life better.”
~ And the gracious Ann John of Columbia, SC, penned in her card, “What a privilege to have the opportunity to know of and about you, Hannlis. It’s only been in the past year that I have begun a bucket list ~ so mine is more of a pail list ~ but meeting you is on it!”

At one point in the pleasant afternoon of re-reading, Hannlis admitted, “I really have no idea why these kind strangers consider me an inspiration.” Then, with a giggle added, “but OKAY!” I tried to explain how much we all gain from her near-century’s worth of wisdom, and simply how she lives her life. For example, the week before the party, I’d mentioned to Hannlis that several friends had asked me for gift suggestions. Now, in my experience, many people hearing that would insist, “Please tell them that’s not necessary.”  Not Hannlis!  “That’s very nice,” she said, before adding, “Books are always good.” 🙂  And darned if she wasn’t given three!  The most appreciative person I’ve ever known, Hannlis could teach a master class in “How to Receive.” It makes her such a pleasure to give to.

As Candace Sklarz of Ipswich, MA, wrote in her card filled with good wishes, “Happy 94th, Hannlis, and many more to come!”  To Candace and all you other considerate Cardies, Hannlis replies, “Truly, your gesture made my day!”

~ jodee stevens
founder & chief creative officer
Comment here

Get your Gratitude Cards :)

Posted | 0 comments

This weekend, I plan to order cards to send friends and family for Thanksgiving. I’ve been thinking that, while all year long I’m very conscious of what I’m grateful “for,” the idea of sending cards makes me step back and consider who I’m grateful “to.”

I shared that sentiment with our Sales Director, Carissa Nelson, yesterday as I was driving Miss Josephine Barker to have a CT scan. Next week, this beloved little dog of mine will have radiation therapy to shrink an inoperable tumor on her spine. As I said to Carissa, at times like these I would typically think, “Thanks, God, for the talent that creates the cards that creates the income that will possibly create a miracle for this sweet creature.” With Thanksgiving cards on my mind, though, I was focused on how grateful I am to the amazing vet oncologists who will possibly change the course of Josephine’s little life.

Carissa readily agreed, “I, too, am a very grateful person, but I do find I seem to give thanks for things more often than people: My health, our home, a safe car to drive.” Then she shared, “When I was in that fender bender a few months ago, I quickly jumped on my phone, asking my mom to please go pick up the kids at daycare, saying to my husband that I was shaken up and hoped he could come home early. If I hadn’t immediately reached those two, I had another five or six more people I could have called for support.

“Meanwhile, the other driver – 85-year-old Minnie – shared with me, ‘I honestly don’t know who to call.’ She had no one. I helped her call for a tow and, while we waited, multiple supportive text messages rolled in from my sister and dad. In that moment with Minnie, it struck me how very lucky I am to have so many people that would drop everything for me. So, in gratitude for this epiphany, I’m now going to send Minnie a card for Thanksgiving, letting her know she has a new friend for life.”

Still driving, I checked in with friend and mentor Jack Kraft, who frankly blew me away with his plans for a thank you of all thank you’s … Jack will send cards to two women who helped care for his beloved mother, Ann, who died recently at 93. And he will write to these caregivers, “Mom always said you made her feel like a princess,” and then surprise Marie and Judy Ann with a trip to visit their respective mothers in Haiti and the Philippines. How lovingly grateful is that!?!

As you may know, it’s a very gratifying exercise, this sending of Thanksgiving cards. What we want to be sure you know is how much we appreciate You (so don’t be surprised when we include the armful of flowers card FREE with every order placed before November 16). In the lead-up to Thanksgiving, and every day, with a full and grateful heart, we thank you. 🙂

~ jodee stevens
founder & chief creative officer
Comment here

Send Hugs

Posted | 0 comments

I’ve always loved the old proverb, “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, then you’ve never been in bed with a mosquito.” So I’m proud to say that our community of Cardies is growing and making a little bigger buzz every day … fyi, a second $3,000 check is being sent to the humanitarian aid organization Direct Relief, a direct result of so many of you choosing to buy our cards while we were donating half of what you spent with us. The funds will help those affected by the hurricanes, earthquake and, now, the heart-wrenching wildfires too. Thank you for participating.

Here’s another way that our cool card-sending collective is making a difference: Last week, Cardie Shellie Sakai quick emailed, “We are evacuated from Calistoga. Send hugs. We need them.” Beyond being glad this kindred spirit is safe and sound, isn’t it great how she knew that ~ via Cardthartic ~ she’d reach You, a whole bunch of caring people who will absolutely send hugs in all their various forms.

I can’t imagine having to run for my life out of my home, knowing that everything I own will soon go up in flames. Inspired by Shellie’s sweet plea, how about we hold all those Californians in our virtual arms and hearts now. While we’re at it, let’s stop and consider all the other people in our lives who could do with a major hug from us. The many that face grizzly challenges way bigger than they think they are.
Granted, all the Bear Hug magnets and cards in the world are not going to magically turn loved ones’ troubles around, but they may lift spirits just enough to make the hard stuff easier to face.  Actually, our great yoga instructor Paola has a lovely way of reminding us that we ALL need hugs. If she were writing this, she’d invite you to, “Back away from the screen you’re using to read this, wiggle your fingers and stretch your arms way out, then wrap them around to give yourself a big squeeze. Now breathe.”  And pray for rain in California.
~ jodee stevens
founder & chief creative officer
Comment here

Cheers!

Posted | 0 comments

First, TGIF! Next, If you’ll soon be celebrating the birthday of someone who loves a good beer or some fine wine, here are a few ideas for you ~ cards inspired by a certain someone who will soon responsibly celebrate her 94th!If you’ve followed Cardthartic for any length of time, you’ve read various stories of my Miami Beach neighbor friend mentor, Hannlis. You’ve heard all about how wise and inspiring she is. Now, let me tell you, she’s also a hoot! Always a little mischievous and merry, like the taste of her favorite aperitif, Peppermint Schnapps. The two cards above quote Hannlis when she sends her regrets to parties she can’t make (rare, but it happens 🙂

Here holding a bottle of champagne, she’s wearing her ever-present Life Alert necklace and big smile shortly before her 93rd. Hannlis brought the bottle down to the shore one lazy Sunday afternoon, to the delight of those of us who already happened to be there.

“What’s the occasion?” we asked, though of course none was necessary. 🙂  Well, she explained, one of her favorite lifeguards had just graduated from college, and she thought she’d surprise him with a bottle of bubbly. Bright and early that morning, she’d placed the champagne carefully in the basket of her walker, lowered the lid and then put the big, highly-decorated cake she’d had made for him on top of that. But when she arrived at the lifeguard stand, she’d been told the graduate had not yet made it in. Back home she went. A few hours later, she packed it all up again and trooped to his elevated station, where there he now sat. Only, as Hannlis told us while she wrestled with the cork, “He was still quite hung-over!  So I handed him the cake, gave him a big hug and headed straight here. No use wasting this delicious beverage on someone who clearly can’t handle it.”  Pop!  That’s our Hannlis. 🙂

It’s been fun … after reading some Hannlis tale or other over the years, a number of Cardies have emailed us, “I wish I had a buddy like Hannlis.” And no wonder! This matriarch’s motto has always been one to live by: “Make more time for friends, sunshine, books, music, wine: They all exist solely for our enrichment.”

We many not all be fortunate enough to live as long and healthy a life as Hannlis, but we can sure strive to live it as joyfully.

 

~ jodee stevens
cardthartic founder & chief creative officer
Comment here

A lovely legacy

Posted | 0 comments

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
Comment here

Calling all beautiful free spirits

Posted | 0 comments

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!

Comment here