I wrote this poem-like letter in my journal in 2011, after becoming certain I wanted my own chid someday. I had never been pregnant and was starting to feel concerned. Fortunately, in 2012 I got pregnant and began a journal to the life inside my womb. Six years later, I still keep a journal of letters for my daughter. It's deeply rewarding. After I leave this body, my daughter can read her mother's thoughts and stories -- all in my own, real hand writing.
Dear Baby Boy Soul,
Are you calling to me?
I dreamt of you last night.
Someone in India had asked me to care for you while traveling.
For two weeks, you'd be mine to watch and care for.
And in that dreamscape where all lines cross
and one reality becomes another
you felt like
my little boy.
Then one day our group of travelers
went to the mall. I had dressed in a full silk sari
fuchsia, magenta, pumpkin colored
wide skirt flowing at my ankles.
A tall American girl I had befriended
walked beside me and somehow
she was holding you now. She said,
"I'm going to hold him for the next few hours."
My heart fell deep into pain.
I had loved holding you.
It was heaven and I'd waited all day
to be with you again
your soft brown hair and chubby thighs
felt like my hands were designed to hold them
as you sat on my hip.
"No you're not," I said to the tall girl.
"I've been wanting to hold him all day and he's
my responsibility. I'm watching him."
She said, "Well, too bad because I'm holding him."
I stood there shocked, jaw dropped down toward
layers of pink and orange
floral print silk.
Fighting energy does not belong
I would not grab you from her arms
She would give you back later
but the grief...
Baby boy soul
are you real?
Like in Velveteen Rabbit...
are you real because I love you?
Will you pass through my body someday
bewildering my being
with the sheer miracle of yours?
I would die with love for you every day.
Am I going to have you?
And if not, why do you keep
showing up in my dreams?
Do you believe there is one thing you were born to do or be? Were you born to be an ice skater, or to sing opera, or to help transform the way humans relate to plants? Though there are people who have found that "one thing," to me it seems we are all vastly talented -- how could there be just one thing?
If there is one thing I was born to do, it is to love people through writing letters. To feel the Love that powerfully pulses through my heart, the connection, the admiration, the curiosity, the thanks, and to put pen to paper. I've placed 1000s of letters in mailboxes in my lifetime, using this powerful art form to find people feeling more loved, more seen, and more valued than they did before getting my letter.
It started when I was five years old — now it's time to take it to a new level.
That's why I'm sharing this big announcement with you! Beginning this year, I am offering my lifelong art of letter writing more widely, as a service to humanity. I offer two services to help you experience the power in this simple, affordable, powerful, seemingly old fashioned art form.
For those who want to write your own letter, I offer coaching to help make the letter say just what you want, in a way that matches your style and voice. I help you find the essence of what you want to say. You might want to strengthen or heal a relationship that is important to you. You might have something difficult to say that you'd rather put in writing than say it via phone. Or you might just be struck by someone... their grace, their wisdom, their dance moves... ;) and want to put your admiration into words. My coaching happens over the phone, so you can be anywhere in the world.
For those wanting me to write the letter for you — using your wisdom, your feelings, and some of your words intermingling with mine — I can be commissioned to write a letter. This involves a coaching session (via phone) and then I write your letter and send it to you via email so you can hand-write or print it, and mail it yourself.
Fun, huh? For me, it is! Letter writing is rewarding, meaningful, therapeutic, generous and sensually pleasing. I write like I breathe. I was born for this. The photo above was taken in Ladakh, northern India in 2006. As usual, I was writing letters, and as seen here licking stamps, this time on a rafting trip in the Himalaya.
To explore more, check out my letter writing website here. Thanks for helping to spread the word, too! As I'm not on Facebook these days, I'd appreciate it if you shared this post there for others to see.
For a solo-go at activating your letter writing practice, read my post A Year in Letters and begin!
What if you wrote 52 letters this year? One a week, with your pen, stamp on the envelope, gone. Would that be crazy? As in, no way? Or would that be easy, and you'd simply need to write it in your calendar to remind yourself to follow through?
Whoever you are, if you want to do it, here is your nudge to begin.
Think of how good it feels to find a card or letter in your mailbox, with your name and address hand written by someone important to you. Holding their letter in your hands, knowing they took time to put their thoughts into words for you in this seemingly old-fashioned way.
It can be two sentences inside a small note card. It can be seven pages long. What seems to matter most when you send a letter is that you put your heart, your words, on paper for someone who is dear to you, using your hands to write it, your body to pop it in the mailbox. It wasn't all done by machines, it is real, raw, touchable.
To begin, find paper for the first week. Whatever paper, envelopes, cards you've already got. Put them on your desk or near the bowl of citrus on your table, set a pen down next to them, and if you're super-prepared you might even have postage stamps ready to go.
Who, right now, can you show love?
Who did something generous for you last week or last year?
Who is up to something professionally or athletically, artistically or as a human citizen, that you admire and want to support with your words?
Who could use a boost of confidence, a sense of companionship, someone you can encourage and offer softness?
Consider an elder, someone who might be lonely in a culture that doesn't value elders. Consider a child who might not have ever gotten a letter in the mailbox. Consider your mom -- when was the last time you thanked her for carrying you in her womb?
Choose someone and write their name on the envelope. You know these basics, the rest of the envelope part is easy. Sometimes I simply scan my address book and find names that pop out at me.
Now, sitting ready to write, ask yourself... How much love is my heart willing to express? Think of one strong note of positivity that you feel for this person. "I see how much you give," or "Your work is such a contribution to the world," or "Last year I was lifted out of many dark moments because of your friendship."
It is totally fine to simply write their name, "Thank you for being you," and sign your name. Done. Truly, a simple acknowledgment is a perfectly wonderful use of paper, a stamp and your time.
Make this easy on yourself. Just write something.
Pick someone, find what your heart wants to say to them, and send it off. Perhaps you know a child who doesn't like school. Let them know they're seen! You could write something like... "One day at a time, find something you like about school and enjoy it! Then write down the stuff you don't like in your journal. Then you'll know what you don't want in college, or... ever again! Heck, you could even design your own school without all the things you don't like about yours!" A little humor goes a long way to soften tough situations. Just being with someone, on paper, letting them be seen by your heart's eyes, can make a big difference.
Next week, same thing. Calendar it. Sunday morning with tea? Tuesday at bedtime?
My bet is that if you stick to it, and weeks pass, as you create your practice you will begin to feel a delightful sort of astonishment at how much love this can light-up in your life. If your letter writing practice is anything like mine, people will be touched you wrote to them, you'll feel therapeutically uplifted after writing, and all this for about 50 cents (for a US postage stamp) and some paper.
Tempted to complain about the US Postal Service? Take it from someone who's written 10s of 1,000s of letters and cards in my life --> we've got a good one. The US Postal Service has lost very few of my letters over the years, and its prices are reasonable. Living in Sweden for a year, letter writing was a hefty hobby at 21 Swedish Krona (the equivalent of $2.52) per international letter. Our postal prices and delivery were one reason I was glad to be home.
Try to write without thinking. Let your heart write for you. You've got this.
Jessica Rios, Founder of Leaning into Light, is a mother, coach, lifelong letter writer, and eternal fan of Mr. (Fred) Rogers. This deeply personal blog and our free recorded conversations are devoted to one of her greatest passions: illuminating the beauty of the human spirit.