Dear Daydreamers by Tracy Brogan

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I love this letter.

Fine, I love all the letters, but that’s because I know the intention of them. I know the notes that come in from readers who feel as if someone has walked around in their head or let them in just a little, I had no idea. I know that women around the country are working on their letters, hoping their voices, struggles and triumphs may help another. I also know there’s a teacher out there that has turned this into a project for her students.

Everyone asks, “What do I write?”

Write from your heart.

I can’t wait to share Love Letters from Readers. From moms, from daughters, from little girls to their moms and grandmas, from grandmas to the littles they see opening their eyes in a much different world. Boys are welcome to join us as well, who do you celebrate and why? What do you want us to know? There is so much wisdom and good intention in the world. Let’s dig into it.

If there are any teachers out there that would like to include letters from their students, please share!

Please email your questions, comments and love letters to loreandlittlethings@gmail.com.

We’re waiting.

I find I’ve had a reason for loving each letter and the reason I love Tracy’s is because I was with her at the first writer’s conference she mentions in her letter. I was there at the hotel cafe the day she walked in and acted as if the meeting of the agents was only a step in the achievement of her dream, This lady is determined. We stood outside the New York Public Library and announced our books would be on those shelves one day. She bet she’d get there first. She was right.

I had no idea that in the realization of her dream she would be subject to something we all struggle with and I thank her for sharing.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Tracy Brogan

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Dear Daydream Believers – and Those Who Aren’t,

It’s an honor to share this space with you and I hope what I have to say is helpful. My advice is from the heart, and if it touches yours then I’ll feel that I have done my job.

Today I am wearing a silver bracelet with three words engraved on it. Imagine. Believe, Achieve. If I ever actually get a tattoo, that’s what it will say – in some sort of artsy, elegant, and hopefully painless, font.

Imagine. Believe. Achieve.

Individually, the words and their meaning are beautiful. Strung together, they form a philosophy that has impacted my life immeasurably.

Here’s how…

From the age of fourteen onward I started telling people I was going to write a book someday. I told high school friends, college friends, co-workers. I told my husband on our first date. But I never really believed it when I said it. Not deep down – down inside the secret place where we keep our true, vulnerable selves. Because I wasn’t an author. Not like a real author.

Sure, I had endless story ideas swirling, twirling in my brain like cotton candy, but just as spun sugar is apt to be, the ideas were thin, translucent, only slightly sticky. There was never enough substance. Nothing I could grab onto or sink my writerly teeth into, and after a while the ideas would melt away and I’d be on to something else.

But always I had the hope of becoming an author. Someday.

Some might say hope without action is just a dream. A hollow wish.

Okay.

Sure.

Maybe.

But it’s still a good place to start, right? Because if you can’t even imagine something, how can you ever create it? How can you move toward a dream if you don’t know what it looks like?

So a few years ago (okay, several years ago) when I saw that engraved bracelet at a craft show bearing the words imagine, believe, achieve I decided to buy it.

And then I did something foolishly, naively miraculous. I decided to live it.

This was a mind-bendingly provocative action on my part. As a recovering Irish-Catholic-Capricorn-Midwesterner, I’m not prone to indulging in flights of fancy. Whims are not my thing. But I decided, for once, to gift myself permission to imagine all the possibilities. The plausible. The far-fetched. All the impossible possibilities that were certainly far beyond my grasp.

“What if” became my question for everything. What if I really put the time into writing a book? What if I committed to finishing a manuscript? What if I actually sent it out into the world? My pragmatic brain was quick to point out all the reasons why these things were pointless, but I’d look at my bracelet and remind myself to imagine it all working out. The line between fantasy and goal-setting became blurred.

After some practice, the imagining became second nature. I indulged it, nurtured it, enjoyed it. But the next part was infinitely harder. To believe. I had to give myself permission to believe in possibility, too.

I have a friend who says, “Self-delusion is so much more productive than self-doubt.” She was kidding, mostly, but the phrase stuck with me – because it’s true. Self-doubt means you’ve failed before you’ve even begun and that’s where so many of us get stuck. So I fought against that insecurity and forged ahead in my blissful ignorance. And yes, I was very probably delusional when I sat down in 2010 and finally decided yes, I could write a book. I was definitely wearing Santa-sized crazy-pants when I signed up for my first writer’s conference in New York city a few months later. And I was certainly quite, quite insane when I submitted my first completed manuscript to literary agents.

But guess what? All the crazysauce paid off.

In 2012, my first book was published, followed by five more.  And I have a contract for another five books to come out over the next few years.

So I should be wicked proud of myself, right? I should feel gloriously accomplished. Because technically, I am accomplished. I imagined it, and I achieved it. I worked hard, and learned innumerable lessons along the way because back when I started this journey I didn’t even know what I didn’t even know. Now I do. I know what it takes to write a book, I know how hard it is, and I know I can do it.

But here’s the most fascinating thing. A slightly diabolical and sad thing, too. It’s virtually impossible for me to embrace the accomplishment. To own it. To believe in me. You see, it turns out that even after achieving a dream, the believing part doesn’t always come naturally. In spite of my efforts, in spite of what I’ve learned, and in spite of my success, the only one who still struggles to believe in me is me. Deep down I feel as if I’ve just gotten lucky. Although I’m grateful for my success, I don’t feel deserving of it. And that fear of being discovered as a fraud, a person only posing as a bestselling author, is paralyzing.

In her book, THE GIFTS OF IMPERFECTION, author and researcher Brene Brown talks about how so many of us “hustle for our worthiness.” We shift from feeling unworthy to asking ourselves who do you think you are?  Sounds as if we are screwed either way, but don’t worry. There is a solution. Brown goes on to say that in order to halt that emotional pendulum from swinging between self-doubt and fear of arrogance, we need to trust deep down in our soul that we are worthy. Whether we succeed or fail, we are worthy of love, attention, recognition, and belonging. Living in an age of air-brushed perfection and endless Facebook posts about other people’s good fortune, it can be difficult to believe we are equally entitled, equally beautiful, equally valuable. But we are. So if there is any message I would want to send out to other women, it’s this:

You can fake it ‘til you make it, but until you believe you are worthy of all your big dreams, they’ll still feel shallow even when you achieve them.

The good news is, you are worthy. No matter what it is that you want, you ARE worthy of it. Of course you are! You are beautiful and unique and never in the history of ever has there been another person just like you. And never again in the future of forever will there be another soul just like yours. The world needs you. It really, really does. So make the most of that.

Yes, life can be a glorious, sometimes unattractive mess, and sometimes it’s easy to feel that that everyone else is smarter/funnier/skinnier but so what? Stop comparing yourself to them. They’re not YOU. Their journey is their journey. Your journey is YOURS. Focus on yours. Focus on your dreams. Your big, Big, BIG dreams, and your little, tiny, sweet dreams, too. Imagine it all and believe that whatever you crave is within your grasp. Believe it’s possible. But most of all, believe you deserve it. Because you do.

Big love to you,

Tracy

Amazon and Wall Street Journal Bestselling author Tracy Brogan writes fun, funny stories about ordinary people finding extraordinary love. She’s a two-time Romance Writers of America® RITA award nominee for Best First Book in 2013, and Best Contemporary Romance in 2015, a Booksellers Best winner, and a three-time Golden Quill winner in both contemporary and historical romance. Her books have been translated into several languages including German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Hebrew, and Japanese, and have placed in the Amazon Top 100 bestsellers list in both 2013 and 2014. She’s honored to have received the Amazon Publishing Diamond Award for sales exceeding one million copies. Her most recent release, a Christmas novella titled JINGLE BELL HARBOR, is now available exclusively on Kindle. Brogan lives in Michigan with her bemused husband, her well-above-average children, and their mindlessly hedonistic dogs.

You can find Tracy Brogan at www.tracybrogan.com.

 

 

Dear Younger Kim by Kimberly Derting

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The feedback we’ve received from LOVE LETTERS has been overwhelming. These words need to be seen and I can’t wait to share them with you. We will post a new love letter every Monday until we run out and based on the conversations, emails and gorgeous responses, I’m really hoping that doesn’t happen. This is going to be beautiful.

Please remember we’d like to share your words too. Click on the Love Letters tab for details and email your brilliance to loreandlittlethings@gmail.com

With that said, let’s get started.

I met Kimberly Derting through the blogosphere when she was on her path to publishing and finally met her in person in Phoenix to eat tacos and celebrate one of the stops on her first book tour. Kim is probably one of the coolest women I know. She once picked me up for a few hours when I was stuck in Seattle so I could take a shower at her house and get ready for a flight out. I met her husband who very quickly called me a moocher and offered me pho. Cool by me. If you’ve read any of her books you’ll know I was just happy that I escaped. We joked that, “With Kim. Still alive,” should’ve been my status update. Her Pinterest is the spookiest place I’ve visited.

What I love about Kim’s letter is that it comes from a soulful place. She didn’t start with this subject matter or the intention of writing what you see today, but it is where her heart landed.

And, it’s gorgeous.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Kimberly Derting:

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Love Letter to Younger Kim by Kimberly Derting

Dear Young(er) Kim,

Believe in yourself.

Cliché, I know.

But your mom is right: You’re tougher than you think. Smarter too. You’re just as good as those who happen to have been born with more—more money, the chance for a better education, those whose families have their you-know-what together.

You just have to hang in there. Keep your nose to the grindstone and all those other hokey sayings. Good things are coming; you just have to work your ass off.

I spend a lot of time thinking about the woman I’ve become in contrast to where I came from. I know that much of what I’ve accomplished is because of my determination. But I also have to give credit to the woman who always said I could do it, and here’s the thing, Young Kim, you should too.

I know you don’t believe it now, but you should love your mom more. Hug her. Don’t roll your eyes (too often) and try not to be so embarrassed of her. I get how hard that is when literally everything embarrasses you—frizzy hair, the tiniest zit known to mankind, food stuck between your teeth—but get over yourself.

Seriously, your mom’s your biggest cheerleader.

Trust me, that woman’s got your back, girl. And that will never change.

She’ll be there when you get your period, go through your first heartbreak, and on the day you tell her you’re pregnant at only eighteen. And get this, she’ll be excited about it. She’ll walk you through stretch marks and hold your hand while you push that screaming 7-pound, 13-ounce little girl into this world.

She’ll be your best friend when you get divorced, and again when you meet your soul mate and have two more babies. She’ll laugh and cry with you, and then she’ll grow old on you. All the while, you’ll learn that you never, ever would have become the woman you are today—living a life you never could have imagined as you were stuck in project housing and standing in the free-lunch line at school.

You were a big dreamer, my friend, but she was always there, chanting, “You can do it. I believe in you.”

I’m crying as I write this because I wish I could go back and hug that mom—the one I never appreciated enough. The one I criticized and yelled at. The one I told to drop me off around the corner because I didn’t want to be seen with her. I wish I’d told her then what an amazing mother she was and that her faith in me was molding me into a strong, self-sufficient, confident woman.

I tell her now, as often as I can.

I wish you would too.

Love,

Older, no, More Mature Kim

Kimberly Derting is the author of the award-winning THE BODY FINDER series, THE PLEDGE trilogy, and THE TAKING and THE REPLACED (the first two books in THE TAKING trilogy).

Her books have been translated into 15 languages, and both THE BODY FINDER and THE PLEDGE were YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults selections.

She lives in the Pacific Northwest, where the gloomy weather is ideal for writing anything dark and creepy. You can find her online at www.kimberlyderting.com.

To My Younger Self by Jessica Moore

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We are so excited to introduce LOVE LETTERS and we hope over the next few months you will read these letters from amazing women and be inspired to laugh at yourself, forgive yourself, offer someone a hand and maybe, just maybe, share your letters as well.

Please see the submission instructions under our Love Letters tab and write your heart out, we’re waiting.

There is nothing more beautiful than women coming together to share the lessons, the grief, the laughs and the things we wish we could say to our younger selves, girls we hope to inspire or a woman that needs a hug, hang on mama, you got this. We hope to read letters from moms to daughters, daughters to moms, women to women and God, wouldn’t it be beautiful to have a man write a letter?

This project had an accidental start and a few times it was over dinners and weekend getaways with my dear friend, Jess, that I’d catch myself thinking aloud, “I think I want to write love letters to women.” I had no idea that as I shared this idea with the women in my life they would not only jump at the idea, but each had extremely personal reasons for wanting to share their stories and insights and, of course, I’d ask Jess to post the first letter. After all, she wore shades on her trike. She knows things.

Jessica is one of those people who believes in you with an earnestness that makes you feel like you were silly to question yourself. From the moment we met it was Us Against The World and I know when a good thing happens she’s going to send me a text with at least three emojis and a slew of exclamation marks. When I received her letter I immediately got goosebumps. So many times we are too hard on our younger selves, wishing we’d done things differently, what were you thinking, silly girl? Jess shows her younger self compassion and provides endearing insight into the kindness and self love we should all offer ourselves more than any other.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Jessica Moore.

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Love Letter to My Younger Self by Jessica Moore

Dear Jessica,

I know you love lists, so I’ll try to make this unsolicited advice less painful than you think it will be. At least read the list; you don’t have to follow everything. Just read the list.

And before you read the list, listen to, “Ooo Child.” These lyrics will serve as the thread that ties all of this advice together.

1. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Don’t make decisions until you’ve had a good night’s sleep and a long walk outside.

2. Don’t touch your eyebrows. Today’s Frida Kahlo is tomorrow’s Brooke Shields. And while we’re on the topic, DO NOT have the mole on your face removed. Pretty soon you’ll realize that being unique is one of the only things any of us really has.

3. Many overwhelming problems will become quite simple after an hour on your yoga mat.

4. Treat the mailman/janitor/barista the same way you treat your best friend.

5. You will endure the kind of pain that you’re certain will be the end of you, but it won’t. Hang in there one more day than you think is humanly possible. The ache is always the most exquisite just before it subsides.

6.. The 5 lbs you’ve gained that are threatening to throw off your whole diet…. no one can see them. Everyone does however, see the frown on your face as you labor over this non-issue. Get over it.

7. Choose the man who wipes away your tears instead of the one who makes you cry. Choose brains over beauty and a sense of humor over almost anything else.
(And don’t choose any man at all until you’re happy with the woman you see when you look in the mirror.)

8. Get a dog as soon as possible. A dog will help you understand your capacity to love and nurture like nothing else. A dog also reminds you that you’re not alone in this world, even when you feel like you are. Trust me on this. Get a dog.

9. Trust your gut and guard it voraciously. Your instincts will always point you in the right direction. When you’re afraid, do it anyway.

10. Be kind and supportive of other women. Not many of your peers will understand the value of this, but the ones who do are unstoppable.

11. People will tell you it can’t be done. They’ll say your dreams are grandiose. Don’t listen. Replace your discouragement with compassion, understanding those words only come from someone who never had the courage to fail.

12. Finally, let life unfold organically. “When you let things come and you let things go, you let things BE.”

It’s all going to be so much better than you imagine it will be, Boo. You got this.

Love,

Me

Jessica is an Emmy award-winning journalist who brings you the news each evening at 5, 6 and 11 on KSNV News 3 Las Vegas.

Originally from North Carolina, Jessica spent time at WDTN in Dayton, Ohio, and WLEX in Lexington, Ky., before joining the News 3 team in August 2010.

While in Lexington, Jessica reported and anchored Kentucky Derby coverage for three years. She also traveled with the University of Kentucky football team to two consecutive bowl games and followed Morehead State to the NCAA Tournament.

In 2009, Jessica made her network debut on CNN during the Northpoint Prison riots and reported for the Weather Channel when a massive snow storm pounded Kentucky. In 2009, a deadly tornado ripped through parts of central Kentucky. Jessica was awarded an Emmy for her spot news coverage of the storm’s aftermath.

When she’s not delivering the news, Jessica enjoys listening to live music, hiking Red Rock, and continuing her search for the world’s best antique store.

You can follow Jessica on Twitter @JessicaNews3LV

Go See The Sky

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My father likes to remind me that at fifteen or so I announced that I would not get married until I saw the world.

That did not work out so well for me.

While in theory the idea of back packing from one country to the next was a romantic one I did not have the resources to make it a reality. Life intervened. The life we talk about in the relatively negative sense; responsibility, calendars, sales goals and taxes. Jobs came next and were shortly followed by boys and love, marriage, selection of baby carriages and suddenly I was way past my wanderlusting teen years without a passport photo. By then travel sounded like something other people did.

This is a reality for so many kids that grow up with big dreams and carry swirly lollipops around Disney with the Anything Is Possible mentality swirling around them like their capes and plastic swords. They want to slay the dragons, stand on top of mountains, be different than those that came before them. Those people with the tall legs and the coffee breath who look tired. They know in their bones they aren’t going to be like those people.

Then they get tired.

I am very tired.

I’m also very aware that now is the time I should see this world that escaped me for so long. Leaving it for tomorrow will turn me into someone I don’t want to be and who I imagine often. She lies in a bed surrounded by loved ones, death imminent, looking at me and wondering why I waited around. This is the image I conjure whenever I face fear or malaise. I shared this with a friend and she responded with an, “Oh God,” that smacked of macabre and concern. I’m grateful for the old lady. She looks at Me Now that feigns aches and expense with a sort of disdain. Do I want to take the risk? Do I want to save up for the thing that seems unattainable? The thing that seems so far away now, but that Death Bed Me is going to wish I’d done because, LIVE, girl.

That’s right. She talks to me. She sits up in bed and she looks at me and tells me that her ride better not be boring because if she’s dealing with Medicaid and tearful eyes (picture her gesturing to all the miserable people offering well wishes, Seriously? This shit is depressing) she wants to assure them that they shouldn’t be sad because she’s lived a full life and heading on to her next adventure, no regrets.

I recently traveled to Iceland and everyone’s response was the same,  “Iceland?! Wow. Why are you going to Iceland?”

I explained that I’ve always wanted to see the Northern Lights. It was about time I saw them. So I booked it. That’s it.

Everyone nodded as if they understood so completely they may just go say yes to something right that minute.

I hope they did.

I saw the Northern Lights. Two nights in a row. I stood bundled in a hat and a hood, thermals, boots and a thick down coat in Hella, Iceland. I stood below a sky so deeply packed with stars you couldn’t see an inch of blackness between them. To the north was a ribbon of green dancing through the sky, reminding me I am both small and bigger than anything that I brought on my trip. My frustrations at work? Stupid. The fight I had with my ex-husband? Insignificant. I stood there and knew in my bones that everything is ok and everything would always be ok. I prayed with my head back and eyes full of stars because it was the only thing that was appropriate in that moment.

The lady in the bed smiled and relaxed into her company a bit, Good one. On to the next, you.

These next words aren’t meant to be condescending, only honest:

You have never seen the sky.

Go see the sky.

I came back from Iceland with one piece of advice for anyone I came across, “Go see something astounding. You have to see something that takes your breath away.”

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The stars themselves made the entire trip, although I saw something astounding every single day. Surreal was the only word I could come up with to describe the experience. If an elf or troll from the Viking sagas crossed a field before me I would not have been shocked. I did not once think of a problem. I did not remember the faces of those that had questions or complaints before I landed. They fell away as I fell forward, leaned in, opened up.

A friend recently asked while we were in Hawaii if the trip was living up to my expectations. I told her I just needed to see or feel something beautiful. That day it was a perfect beach scape carved into lava. One day in Iceland it was standing behind a waterfall and feeling its spray on my face, lava rock and moss beneath my boots. A month ago in Austin it was a transcendent performance by Florence Welch at Austin City Limits Festival. I felt one song in particular in my chest as she sang to me.

The old lady smiled.

Be astounded. Find something beautiful. While not every person wants to travel as extensively as I do, every single person is affected by raw beauty, fresh air, feet in sand or grass or boots trudging across glaciers. It is as if Mother Nature herself screams at you to wake up, see clearly, hear more deftly, feel more intuitively before she sets you back into your life where things seem a little sweeter, a little brighter.

Go see the sky.

Whatever that means to you.

She’s waiting.