Part of me is quite sad that I’ve taken such a long break from writing on this little blog of mine. Another part of me feels like I’m still outputting creatively, just in different realms. On the Studio blog, on Instagram and Facebook. But I think a bigger part of me really misses coming here daily to write. I remember way back in Memphis I was posting multiple times per day! Where did all that free time go?! I’d like to post more, and I’m going to make an attempt to be more consistent. Don’t we go through this every year?
I’d be ok with this blog becoming a place where I get to write when I have something worthy to say. A big topic that I want to elaborate on, rather than a log of my food and training runs. Maybe I can work back into that. But, here is what I want to write about today.
I have been considering for years some way to “get involved” and give back. I’ve looked into volunteering at nursing homes, in after school programs, Big Brothers Big Sisters, animal shelters and even hospice. Nothing ever really jumped out at me as something that I truly felt passionate about and felt was feasible flexibility and time wise for me personally. Of course I want to help better the world in any way I can, but I also needed it to be something I enjoy doing or I know I wouldn’t last.
Then one day, I saw via an acquaintance’s Instagram (acquaintance is tough. She is more important than that. Once upon a time we were close friends, but years and miles and missteps across time just pulled us apart. But what do we call that?) that she had created this incredible project to send handwritten letters to girls who were struggling in a particular stage of life.
Of course she did. This gal was a big rock for me in the tumultuous years of high school. The years when we found our worth in grades, athletic performance and boys. I still have a photo album of beautifully simple and silly words scrawled on brightly colored scrapbook paper reminding me “we do not wait by the phone for him to call.” Oh W, how things have come so perfectly true for you!
How brilliant. How simple. How powerful. This project caught my attention because I was lucky enough to be surrounded by powerful letter writing women in my adolescence and even on into young adulthood. My mama is a wizard with words and I have shoeboxes of letters saved from occasions, some momentous, some trivial like my first homecoming date (which turned into heartbreak eventually), getting into college, rejection from college, more breakups, studying abroad, starting a business, joining a sorority and on and on. Whether she was proud of me or hurting for me or empathizing or encouraging, or was able to predict inevitable fear and doubt before I even saw it, her words helped me start to believe in myself.
I give a grand amount of credit to these letters for making me the strong-willed, stubborn girl today who thinks her way is usually right. Sure, my stubborn streak can be trouble at times but it is well worth the strong foundation of self-worth and self-love that is cemented within. I’m willing to take risks and be vulnerable because I know that failure in business or relationships or even running goals doesn’t diminish who I am as a person. And I owe that to all those letters.
I still have some sealed cards from a different close friend with specific titles on the envelopes – “open when you’re feeling sad” “open when you don’t know what to do” . Early and mid-twenties were a weird bitch mix of self-doubt, flopping around for new friends in the city I made all my best girlfriends in after we all leapt our separate ways, dating and doing adult things with no real rules. Having gentle, positive and encouraging words to read and re-read when I needed them was more than once helpful. I felt less lonely. Less helpless.
And now, I get to give back in the same way that helped shape me. By writing letters.
I will believe in you, until you believe in yourself!
If you’d like to join in as a letter writer, you can sign up here. (I’m lookin’ at you mama)
First photo: Lemongrass Wedding Photography
Second and third: To Love Ourselves