Story Time

Dad Gratitude

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To all the good dads out there, Happy Father’s Day. May it be a day you feel duly appreciated because, God knows, most other days a lot of us treat you and all you do for us as a given. And you’re not!

I’ve always loved the story that Randy Moore, our printing company’s founder, tells about his daughter. “One night, when Melanie was about 15, I wouldn’t let her go to a party where I felt she didn’t belong. She was fuming mad. After a few rounds with me holding firm, she marched upstairs and slammed the hinges off her bedroom door. I thought we were done for the night but, Nooo!” Randy chuckled, “A few minutes later, back down she stormed, got right up in my face and pronounced, ‘You know, I can get another dad just like That!’ and snapped her fingers at me. I didn’t want to laugh in the face of her fury, but I just had to as she was such a loving handful.” Hehe, Melanie went on to become a professional actress, and holds her still-protective papa near and dear. 🙂

I recently asked my friend Larry Morini how he thought his large family grew up to be so close and in a heartbeat he said, “Our dad. Even though he died when I was still a boy, one of my strongest memories is of him having us all kneel around our table in Queens to say the rosary together for up to an hour every night before dinner.” Ouch! I said, and Larry was quick to explain, “Yes, but we grew up with his message that that tight circle of loved ones around us would always be there for each other. And we still are.”

The day after this conversation with Larry, my friend Nancy McGinn happened to share the childhood memory of her farmer father coming in from the fields one hot summer evening, covered with sweat and dirt head-to-toe. “He found me by my lonesome, pitifully throwing the ball up on the roof of the house and catching it when it rolled back down. I can still hear him saying, ‘What’s the matter, Nanc? Did you complain to Mom that there’s nothing to do around here maybe one too many times today?’ 🙂  Then, as exhausted and ready for a shower and supper as he must have been, he said, ‘Let’s play ball.’ I’m sure it was only 15 or 20 minutes of pitch & catch, but I remember it so well decades later because — with just that small gesture — my father made me feel as seen and acknowledged as I have ever been.”

As many Cardthartic followers know, I always tie the birth of this company with the death of my Dad, 25 years ago now … it was the kind, sincere sentiments so many people wrote in their condolence cards to our family that made me think, “Wow, why don’t card companies publish real messages like these?” and ultimately to answer, “Why don’t I?”

If you are fortunate enough to have had a good father in your life, and can take the time to sit and consider the many small but significant ways he’s touched it, we hope today you will find a way — whether in person, by phone or by prayer — to say, “Not a day goes by that I don’t give thanks for you.”

~ jodee stevens
founder & creative director
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We’ve got this …

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Needless to say, life gives us so many good reasons to worry … my friend Mary awaits a second scary biopsy report; my friend Candy’s beloved goddaughter starts her third round of chemo, at age 30. And our CAO, Ana Behm, has close family living in the turmoil of Venezuela, where a tube of toothpaste will cost them $40 on the black market. Now, no greeting card is going to change the world’s worries, no matter how well-meaning. But if it can remind our loved ones that they’re indeed loved and supported, hey, let’s go!

The Worry Dolls’ inside message reads, “No worries. They’ve got this.” It was an email from a die-hard cardie named Ann that prompted us to share the design with you today … Ann wrote, “I want to send myself the Worry Dolls card about twice a week! You created it for me and didn’t even know it! But one of the copies I ordered carefully resides in my bedside table so, hmm, I guess I have sent it to myself :)”

Like Ann, I’m a worrier, from a long line of worriers. I remember years ago reading that scientists had found that it’s worry – more than grief and sadness – that leads to depression. Apparently, researchers filled a large aquarium divided in the center by a clear partition with tiny fish in one side and, one by one over time, introduced much larger fish in the other. All the while they somehow measured the brain waves of the tiny fish, who of course knew nothing of “clear partitions.” They found that, the longer the tiny fish lived with the increasing concern of being someone’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, the more depressed they became.

Hehe, now I’m beginning to worry that this story is becoming too depressing! This is all to say, if you have a moment today, maybe consider the worries that keep your friends and family up at night, and perhaps reach out with a little moral support if you have some to spare. At Cardthartic, we so firmly believe in the sweet power of a good card that we’ll drop a FREE Worry Doll into every order you place before June 20th. For a little moral support goes a long way! I know it felt good to hear our yoga instructor Paola’s new mantra: “Trust & Surrender.” And, without even knowing that I’d be writing this post, my friend Susan recently sent me one of her favorite Bible verses, Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything but, in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

No worries. Together, we’ve all got this.

~ jodee stevens
founder & creative director
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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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