Story Time

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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Rising Above

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I’ve always loved this Winged Heart message written by cardie Rosemary Tolliver, and I’m smiling at the thought that, if my mother were alive today, she’d be ordering dozens to send far and wide.

Saturday would be Mom’s 94th birthday and, watching the news last night, I couldn’t help thinking how much she’d have to say. And that made me think of something she once shared with me … I’d asked her how she thought she’d become so open — actively seeking out friends of various faiths, cultures, and backgrounds as she did — when she herself had grown up so sheltered. She was an only child raised by a maiden aunt surrounded by the corn fields of central Illinois.

“I’m sure it was because of Aunt Anna,” she said. “I learned to see the world through her eyes. I remember being around eight, returning home from our one-room schoolhouse up the road. Because Aunt Anna was such a voracious reader — all our days and nights were spent reading everything we could — I was sure she’d be really excited about the new word I’d learned on the playground that day. ‘It’s n****r,’ I’d proudly proclaimed, then watched her calmly rise as she explained, ‘Honey, that is not a good word. It is a word no one should use. Please come with me.’ She led me to one of her floor-to-ceiling shelves and pulled out a book that was big and thick and titled Heroes of the Dark Continent. Then she led me to my favorite reading chair and proposed that I ‘read this cover-to-cover so you will know the proud heritage of the African-American in our society.’”

I’m not sure which is more striking to me now, that that conversation took place 86 years ago, or that it’s so necessary to have again today. I do know that I am very grateful to the tiny enlightened Scottish woman who so gracefully guided my mother, and I hope her sense of truth and justice soon finds us all.

~ jodee stevens
cardthartic founder

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A Better World

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No matter how wishful, loving or beautiful, a card is not going to calm the collective nerves of our nation. But we put this one out there as a touchstone, a soothing reminder to see the good in the eyes of those who are doing us small kindnesses every day.

Cardie Christy Wheat wrote this card message to her friend Meg Mosley. “It was when Meg was going through a chaotic period in her life,” Christy remembers. “With her mother’s health declining, she was trying to move her mom closer to her while coordinating doctor’s appointments and transportation remotely.  At the same time, her job was requiring her to travel all over the world. Well, some minor drama was playing out in my life — really no big deal in comparison — and Meg took the time to reach out to ask if I needed anything. Me!?

“Thing is, she’s like this with ALL her friends, not just me. Meg’s that one-of-a-kind friend that everybody needs, the kind that shows us how much better the world could be if we were all as good to each other as she is to me.”

May this find you with a moment to bring your own Megs to mind. Let’s let their goodness fill us up and give us hope. Then let’s all go out and be Megs today.

~ jodee stevens
cardthartic founder

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