First I just want to let you know I am giddy as a three-year-old at her own birthday party over the response this idea has had. Thank you for making it possible. I usually just throw these ideas at the wall and pray something sticks. Like when I was ten-years-old and tried to get my neighborhood friends to band together to raise money for fireworks and a pizza party but I killed the idea cold in its tracks when I decided to call the group “Autumn Splendor” because the fundraiser was to take place in August with the celebration over Labor Day Weekend and my friends didn’t have the heart to tell me I was a super dork who specialized in being cheesy with my love of words. But obviously, this isn’t anything like that because I have lived a few more years and most people have secretly discovered that they are as nerdy as me. Or they appreciate my nerdiness because it makes them feel better about themselves. Or they’re benevolent souls who take pity on us socially awkward ones. Or you got peer pressured into taking on the challenge because another friend asked you to and you thought, “Eh, what the hell…”
Whatever your case may be, YOU ARE HERE; Welcome to the party! There may be pizza and/or fireworks. It just depends on how far we decide to take this thing.
So here we are approaching summer even though Michigan is being a cantankerous crone and refuses to warm up appropriately, have faith it will be warm soon! I have talked to more people lately who are in a self-proclaimed funk, especially my mom friends. We don’t know why. We are just less than enthused with life. Everything has lost its sparkle a bit. We are underwhelmed looking at ourselves in the mirror. We are feeling tired, drained, and depleted. We may even be angry at ourselves for letting resolutions slip through our fingers yet again.
Social media doesn’t help us. Scrolling through my feed it looks like everyone is having the best days of their lives. Meanwhile, I think I need to reapply deodorant, I’m hoping I remembered to buy bread the last time I went to the store, my hair looks like it’s about to take flight from my scalp with these fly-aways I have, and I don’t know if it’s considered neglect to have your kids eat cereal for dinner three days in a row, but I’m hoping not because I don’t have enough cash to tip the pizza delivery driver tonight.
So, do you feel me? The problem is, we are so stuck in our own heads all the time. Judging by what we see, it’s hard to believe anyone feels unhappy anymore. We think we’re the only ones. But how can I be so discontented? 23 people liked my Instagram picture? I had ten really sweet comments from people who saw the picture I posted of little Timmy at the zoo…why do I feel sad?
Let me ask you a few questions: When was the last time you played? I don’t mean Pokemon cards with your seven year old. I mean, when did you do something for yourself that made you feel creative or joyful like painting, writing or journaling or even photography—not with the intention of posting it to social media? When was the last time you ran around outside and had pink cheeks, tangles in your hair and were out of breath from doing something fun for you, not just your kids ? When was the last time you connected with another soul in a real and meaningful way, like by having a real discussion, one-on-one with a friend or family member. A conversation that made you think, “Wow! I never thought of it that way.”
When was the last time you became completely vulnerable, opening yourself up to be judged and found not only did that friend not judge you, they loved you harder than they did before because in that split second, they saw your humanity and your imperfections laid open bare and decided that they see the real you underneath it all? And when was the last time we did that for someone else? This, friends, is LIVING a creative and meaningful life. This is LOVING yourself and those around you exactly as you are, not worrying about what anyone will think of you. And so many of us have lost the ability to do these things.
SO here is where we are going to spring board from. You are going to catapult yourself right into living with purpose. Each week, I’ll post a prompt or assignment for you to do at any point in the next seven days. It will help you to get in touch with your inner self. It will require you to use imagination. You will need to make a little time for it. But before you say, “I really don’t have time for it,” may I please point out to you that you make time for each of your kids to do their things? You make time to help other people every day. There is that metaphor about being on the airplane and securing your own oxygen mask before helping anyone else with theirs. You cannot effectively help anyone else until you are willing to help yourself. Make time for this. Make time for yourself. You will notice that you’ll start doing all of your work and duty with more joy when you start paying attention to yourself.
Your assignment for Week 1…Get ready, it’s a tough one. You might have to ignore your phone for at least a half hour after you get the kids to bed in order to accomplish it.
Write a letter.
Not an email, an actual paper letter hand-written (not typed) to someone you love. But here is the catch; you have to tell them what they mean to you. I know…warm fuzzies… Uncomfortable. But I promise, so worth the reaction. You may actually be really excited about this. Other ideas: draw a picture to go with it. Stickers. If you’re feeling daring, sprinkle it with glitter. Or “Elle Woods” it with a little fragrance.
Pro Tip: Shake out your hand if it cramps up while writing; it’s probably been a while since you wrote anything longer than a grocery list (if you don’t have Alexa).
The Only Rule: This is only a letter. You cannot send a gift with it. The written words are the gift to the recipient. We are harkening back to the days when flashy things didn’t impress us yet. I repeat: You can only send a letter. Do not try to sneak in a gift card. This isn’t a birthday gift. This is a “Just Because I Love you and I Need You To Know Why” gift. If it also happens to be someone’s birthday, you can send a separate card and tell them it’s my fault and you will have to buy another stamp. Sorry. You should have picked someone else who wasn’t celebrating a birthday.
Last step: Put it in an envelope and place a stamp on it. If the lick-able seal on the envelope is a dealbreaker for you, two words that will change your life: Glue. Stick.
Last, put it in a mailbox. Wait. See what happens. You might get a phone call in a few days OR A LETTER BACK!
Bonus Assignment: Take a twenty minute walk without your phone. Unless you are pregnant or diabetic, or have another health condition that requires you to have access to a phone. But the idea is to get outside and listen to the sounds of nature around you. Twenty minutes. You can do this as many times this week as you like. Just be sure that you disconnect and are alone in your head.
Again, thank you for joining me in my quest to liberate our bodies, minds and spirits from the oppression of expectations and societal pressures that we and others place on ourselves. I look forward to reading your comments of your experiences if you feel like sharing them. And if you don’t, that’s fine too!