What Showing up Today is about…
Showing up today is a site for letters to our younger selves, a sharing of the wisdom and lessons we've learned so far in the Kindergarten of life.
In my book Dive In - Unlocking Happiness and miracles, a memoir consisting of letters penned to my 20-year old self, I issued an invitation to readers to also share their words of wisdom with their younger versions.
"We have to sometimes dig deep to find those pearl bearing oysters in the depths of our lives- the events that happened to us and the lessons we learned from them. It is a sacred and scary thing, this diving in."
Writing a letter to your younger self is a way to draw together the strings of your life at whatever age you are at and weave an authentic, heart to heart conversation with yourself from it.
By taking charge of the stories we tell ourself about the shit that happened to us, the bad choices we made and the pain we experienced, we are able to transmute them into helpful shining examples of bravery and kindness to ourselves. It's a special kind of magic.
If life is indeed a learning school, I hope that it is, in fact, more like a Kindergarten, filled with giggling friends, daily field trips and bright stars awarded for just showing up - rather than a serious Harvard of the Universe.
It would be fun to read what you would like to tell your younger version about what is going to happen in your life, how to deal with it, what you've learned from it and what they need to know about life, love and everything else.
And maybe after we compare notes about our life's studies so far, we can have some milk and cookies and a nap under a warm blanket. Drifting away to dream of butterflies, clutching our gold stars in our hands, awarded for simply Showing Up in our lives today.
Write to email@example.com
My wonderfully talented and artistic friend Zunia Boucher-Myers recently wrote a wonderful letter to her 18-year old self, after a friend that she studied photography with posted some photos on Facebook of her, when she was 18. She writes of this photograph:
If I tell you that I had a physical reaction to them, I am not kidding. Here was a familiar face staring back at me, and I realized how wrong I have been for all these years. Not only was the girl in the pictures thin (!) she was delicately beautiful.
Behind the images is a story of a girl that was sexually abused as a little girl, physically abused by a lesbian girlfriend*, and an insecure and vulnerable individual who hid her pain behind her sense of humor.
Looking at myself at 18 has made me walk through memory lane, looking at my past and reliving some of the most momentous experiences of my life up to now.
And what this has made me realize is that I have made it.
Perhaps not in the exact way that I thought I would, but damn near enough.
I wanted to be a poet, an artist and a baker.
I have done all of these things to a more or lesser degree. I have had my poetry published, as too articles in magazines, exhibited and sold my art as well as my photography and I co own a restaurant where I bake almost daily.
My concept of fame may be completely different to that which I had initially aspired to all those years ago but that which I have achieved is valid and real and meaningful to who I am now;
I have addressed groups of women, some as large as 400 at a time, I have coordinated the most powerfully transforming events and have been invited to speak publically at various charities and events.
Having been so desperate to be loved I had perhaps been too keen to step into relationships that may have not been ideal, however these made me learn so much about me.
So to my 18 year old self I would like to say:
- You are beautiful. You really are. Not conventionally in the chocolate box kind of way, but more in a porcelain doll or Greek Nymph kind of way. And you are thin. Enjoy it.
- You do not need to change who you are in order to be loved. The right person WILL come along (this I promise) and will love you unconditionally just the way you are. They will also think you are drop dead gorgeous and seriously sexy. But I digress.
- Stop being afraid of what other people think of you. It is none of your business and spending time in pain or anxiety over this will just rob you of precious happy time and energy.
- Look after your physical as well as mental wellbeing. Dieting for 30 years is really a drag and living in a constant state of denial is enough to make anyone depressed. Especially you.
- Find things that make you happy, such as Tai Chi, meditation, dance, swimming and going to the gym. Music inspires you, so use it to make yourself move. You will love yourself and the world for it. Also you will meet wonderful people along the way.
- Be honest. (point 3 applies here as well) the more honest you are, the taller you will walk and the more authentic you will live.
- You will have more than one love of your life. Be open to stepping out of your comfort zone and truly living in the moment.
- As big as your dreams are right now, you will accomplish more. Your tenacity, courage and fearlessness in the face of adversity will create situations that will enhance your life, many times.
- Love your Mom and Dad. Yes, and forgive them for being human. They are your greatest allies even tho you may not believe that right now.
- You are highly creative and talented, but you need at least 8 hours sleep to be of any use to anybody!
- Stop feeling shame for being a sexual being. Sex can be so much more than you imagine. Let the past go and revel in the fact that you are desired, sexy and love sex. But be safe at the same time. Never have sex out of guilt and never use sex as a weapon.
- Not everything people do is about you or because of you. The fact that you are highly sensitive and highly emotional can at times cause you to behave badly and obsess to the point of madness. The sooner you learn to take nothing personally, the happier you will be. This will be a very hard lesson to master. But you will. I hope.
- Live your life in the now. Be present. Life is really very, very good. You are so blessed, so lucky, so loved that when you look back you will be amazed at just how good it all was. And is.
- And finally, I am sorry. That I did not believe in you, trust in you or treat you as well as I should have. When I look back to this moment from the future I will know that this was a catalyst for change. That starting right now I will be enough; pretty enough, wise enough, educated enough, thin enough, healthy enough, strong enough. Just enough. And I thank you. From the deepest part of me, for overcoming, for rising above and for not giving up. Ever.
You rock Sista, and I love you.
Me at 47.
Reblogged with kind permission from JUST NOT LIKE THE OTHERS. (I know – aren’t I lucky to have such awesome people in my life? – Melanie)
Well-known author Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat.Pray.Love-fame said during a Supersoul-Sunday interview with Oprah that there is no advice she could give her younger self that she would have listened to.
“I was surrounded by all the grace and wisdom in the world, and I was just like: I got this,” she said.
If she, however, could give some advice that she would have followed, it would be to avoid romantic entanglements in her youth and to focus on herself, using the many hours to instead feed her mind.
Watch the full interview here:
I don’t know. On the one hand, I’ve always had this feeling that I know best for my life. This doesn’t mean that I don’t listen to other people’s advice, just that the locus of control and surety about the right path has always resided within me, for me.
It is one of the things in my life that is precious to me still.
But if I was convinced that it was really me, a future me, sharing the wisdom…
I think I might just have listened.
What do you think? Would you have listened to your own advice? And what would that advice be?
Share at firstname.lastname@example.org
Yay, our first letter to a younger self, has arrived, all the way from Durban, South Africa.
Letter to my younger self…
You should have had more fun when you were young, like going out with friends and socializing, rather than being confined to home and school and family occasions.
You could have made more informed career choices and traveled more before starting a family.
Become wiser in the world. Become freer and more mature to make life decisions rather than following the normal process of doing what is expected of an Indian female, born and raised in apartheid South Africa.
Learn well, choose a profession, study, get your degree, get married, have children and live for your family.
Pursue your passion and live your life with passion, rather than with rules and regulations that restrict and confine.
Your youth is a passport to develop and grow and become me, the true me, not doubtful of who I am.
Focussing on my skin breakouts and curvy nose hindered my socialization. I could have been a better speaker, a more assertive person, a confident young lady.
I think I have reached a belief in my inner self now, at 50 years old, when I could have done so earlier.
I think we all tend to focus much too much on our appearance when we are young and we let this keep us back. For me personally, it was my weight and my teeth. The great thing though is that as we grow older we realize that the imperfections we cared about so much when we are younger are not that important and that we are amazing and special despite them, maybe (and this is a pretty radical thought:) even because of them.
You sound like an amazing person. Thank you for sharing a few of your life lessons and showing up.
I can resonate with the “fun” part of your letter and not just doing what is expected of us, soooo much!
At least we are starting to get it now that we’re older, hey?
I hope you’ll have a fun-filled, amazing weekend.
Lots of love,
Oprah wrote a letter to her 20-year old self, as published and re-blogged from here
Dear beautiful brown-skinned girl,
I look into your eyes and see the light and hope of myself.
In this photo you are just about to turn 20, posing outside the television station where you were recently hired as a reporter. You’re proud of yourself for getting the job, but uncertain you’ll be able to manage all your college classes before 1 and arrive at the station by 1:30 for a full day’s work. Even so, your biggest concern is how to manage your love life with Bubba. Yes, you are dating someone named Bubba.
On this day you’ve brought him to the station to see where you work, hoping he’ll be proud, too. He seems less than impressed. The truth is, he’s intimidated. You don’t know this, though, because you can see yourself only through his eyes. A lesson you will have to learn again and again: to see yourself with your own eyes, to love yourself from your own heart.
You’ve spent too many days and years trying to please others and be what they wanted you to be. You will have to learn that the wounds of your past—rape, molestation, whippings for “stepping out of place,” and not being allowed to show anger or cry afterward—damaged your self-esteem. Yet through it all, you’ve held on to a belief in God and God’s belief in you.
That will be your single greatest gift: knowing there is a power greater than yourself and trusting that Force to guide you.
The trajectory of your life changed the day you answered the call from Chris Clark, the news director at WLAC-TV. Your response was ignited by the words of your then-favorite Bible verse, Philippians 3:14. “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Knowing there is a “high calling” is what will sustain and fulfill you.
From where I sit now, viewing your journey, there are few regrets. Only months before this picture was taken, you wrote a poem about a “woman becoming.” Even then you understood that success was a process and that moving with the flow of life and not against it would be your greatest achievement.
Love you deeply,
I love the part about moving with the flow of life – which is what the chapter on Finding the Flow in my own “letters to my younger self” published as the book Dive in, is all about. To learn to “love yourself from your own heart”… That is what I think it is all about. Respect. – Melanie
To write your own letter to your younger self, to be published here, submit it to email@example.com
Dear Younger Self…
- “Who wouldn’t want a love like that? I want that. Why can’t I have that?” – Anonymous
- “Have the courage to go for your dreams” – Melissa
- Pete Sampras: “Play hard and do it on your own terms” – letter to his 16-year old self
- “I look back at you and I smile” – Victoria Beckham to her 18-year old self
- Zunia Boucher-Meyers’s letter to her 18-year old self: “You are beautiful! You really are.”
- Liz Gilbert: I would have told myself to focus on me, instead of boys, but I wouldn’t have listened.
- Serena Frank’s letter to her younger self: “Have more fun!”
- Oprah’s letter to her 20-year old self: Love yourself from your own heart
- Richard Branson’s letter to his 25-year old self: Let your dreams guide your path
- The letter that started it…