Life Letters 1

The first in a series called Life Letters.

Do you remember getting your first note in school from a friend or maybe from someone special? I mean a ‘good’ note. Or maybe did you receive a nice letter or note from a teacher, mentor, or special relative? Your parents? Maybe did you receive a job offer in a letter?

Do you remember that great feeling of reading it over and over again? If you had one of those letters in your hands now it would take you back to that moment of great feelings and you’d feel good all over again, right?

First of all, I love email, texts, tweets, etc. But I’m talking old school written (or maybe typed) letters here. The kind of note that you can feel and fold up and open up later and read and re-read. The kinds of notes that you save somewhere and stumble upon years later. You can’t do that with a text so much.

I recall quite a few notes in my lifetime – here are just a few –

  1. I had moved schools a few times at a young age and my mom would sometimes put a note in my backpack. I’d find it later at school, often when I was shy and felt alone.
  2. during a field trip in grade school, all the parents were asked to write a note and send along so we’d read on the trip. I can recall the note in great detail from my father and his handwriting, taking up the pages, overflowing in the margins to the top, sides, and bottom.
  3. later in grade school and high school, I recall getting a note from a girl that I really liked and the excitement and energy from those pure, happy notes and letters as we both learned how to communicate with the opposite sex. Often it was folded up many, many times and placed in a locker or strategic, yet hidden spot in a desk. The note smelled of her perfume.
  4. in college I recall getting encouraging letters from my parents telling me how proud I was. Sometimes I didn’t act or feel so proud of myself.
  5. again in college, corresponding with good friends from high school and grade school who were now at other schools. We grew into young adults
  6. letters back and forth with my then soon-to-be-wife as we wrote  about our plans for the future, our feelings, our wedding, traveling, and the fun stuff that goes with being engaged.
  7. a letter from a former employer expressing their job offer, the salary, the signing bonus – the excitement and feelings of abundance there.
  8. letters of support, sympathy, and encouragement from friends and loved ones when I lost my job and soon after lost both of my parents.
  9. letters from my two beautiful daughters, telling me they love me and that they enjoyed something we did together.  “Dad, remember that no matter what, even when I get mad at you, I still love you.”
  10. after my parents passed, finding letters that I sent to them and realizing that they thought they were important enough to keep.

I am a letter writer, at least moreso than most people I think. I enjoy writing and I feel compelled to do so in many cases. I often type them because I write too slow for my mind and I get sloppy. I also find that I receive a benefit back – if I write to encourage a friend, I feel something good in return just for sending it.

What kind of letter could you write? Can you support someone? Maybe send a random acts of kindness letter sending good thoughts? Maybe send an anonymous letter to someone you know?

One of the best letters I wrote was just before I got engaged. I felt that I wanted to somehow resolve or conclude any relationships that I had in the past in a nice way. I wanted to say something and leave it on a good note. I remember reading a great suggestion of a letter about moving on, leaving things ‘well’, and so forth.

The letter went something like – ‘Hi, I just wanted to write and tell you that I respect you and I reflect fondly on our past relationship. I hope that we ended it on a good note. As I think back on things I have good memories. As I move ahead with my relationship with my fiancee I am grateful to have had the relationship with you. I hope that this finds you well and I wish you the best.”

I save things, maybe too much so, but in this case I’m glad. I still have lots of letters from some of my friends and relatives, certainly from my wife, daughters and my parents. Sometimes the grief is a little raw but it is so nice to have letters from my parents – it is as if they are still here for a moment. As my daughters grow, the letters mark different, important times in their lives. The letters from my wife help us both to refresh and remember how and why we fell for each other. Letters from friends and relatives let me remember that we all face challenges of some kind and that I have a great support network. There is great laughter to be found in many cards and letters.

I’ve even written letters to my parents and other people who have passed away. Someone told me about that once and it definitely helps. You can write them – even express angry, sad, or other feelings in order to get them off your chest. I’ve seen people burn them, put them afloat in a stream or river, or simply just save them. Similarly, when relationships end bad, I’ve seen people write that person and express feelings, yet never send the letter. It is sometimes an exercise for ourselves.

I encourage you to take a few minutes and write someone that you care about. Whether it is about family, fun, forgiveness or the future, I bet that that one piece of paper will mean so much to that person. I also bet that years later, when they re-discover the note, they will reflect on it and you in even higher esteem.

Think about the letter that you received from someone that really gave you that boost, or that letter that made you feel special. We get caught in our daily routines but what things stand out from your past?

If you didn’t get such a letter, what kind of letter would have helped you or made you feel special? Who in your life can you touch in a postive way? What kind of things can you say, even in only a few lines, that can change their day?

Here’s a quote that I shared in a “Simple Stuff” that shows how one simple line can mean a lot. And yes, it is “legal” to share a quote with someone that letter – you don’t always have to have the perfect words, use someone else’s.

“There hasn’t been one single day of your life when the world hasn’t been made a better place by your presence in it. “- Mike Dooley


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