A few have asked if I’ve written my letter yet and while it is in my heart, it hasn’t hit paper, it’s complicated.
As I’ve tried to figure out what I want to say I realize there is too much. I find myself hoping that the collection of letters will scratch some of the topics I’d like to cover. You see, my letter wouldn’t just be to my younger self, it would also be to the girls that grew up in my poverty stricken neighborhood. While I was raised by a minister, the girls across the street weren’t so lucky. My letter would be to the women and girls who were trafficked out of my neighbor’s houses. It would be to the women who were beaten and choked when they got too mouthy.
I would tell them they are not where they came from and not the things that have happened to them even though they can’t imagine deserving anything more.
I would tell them they are not the person described to them by those who have taken ownership of them.
My letter would be to all the little girls who don’t yet believe in themselves, and may not, if they’re not guided to find the squeaky little voice inside. This is why Jess Lyons’ letter below resonates with me.
I hope someone who does not have access to the women writing earnestly each week stumbles across this site and realizes there is so much more. It is like a viral hug from women that hope you figure it out much earlier than they did.
Please send your love letters to firstname.lastname@example.org
I reached out to Jessica upon finding her Twitter feed filled with positivity and girl-centric messages of hope and asked her to write from her heart.
She did that in spades.
Ladies and gentlemen, Jessica Leigh Lyons –
A teenager blew me away this weekend.
Sitting in a circle of women at a workshop, a 16 year old woman shared her thoughts on power. She spoke about the girls at her school. She watched as her girlfriends changed themselves to be like the boys; joking like boys, tearing each other down. They changed their dress, their makeup, their hair. The girls actively morphed themselves into some contortion of what they thought boys wanted.
This young woman looked each of us — 30-somethings and 40-somethings — in the eyes as she spoke.
This young woman was courage — unafraid to be in the wrestle.
Women of my heart, I cried.
I cried for my younger self who knew about my deepest heart’s desire, which I contorted to fit into my surroundings.
I cried for the journey of my 20s — finding myself, losing myself, selling everything, traveling, moving, and returning home.
I cried for the tears that I had spent, for the shame-talking I had engaged in.
I cried because in this space, I could. I was surrounded by bad-ass women who grieved the losses of their younger selves and had risen stronger.
I cried because this young woman is so beautiful–in her deep knowing, in her courageous wrestle, in her coming of age.
I cried because she will go on her journey, too.
I cried because watching her, I deeply wanted to reflect back …
You are so powerful.
I shared this reflection with her.. I wrote her a letter which doubles as a reminder to my younger self AND to my future self; for those moments I feel as though I’ve lost my power.
It is this:
“I know you will be afraid that you are doing the ‘right’ thing. There will be angst because you must walk through YOUR OWN LANDSCAPE. The first time will be difficult and you will not know what to bring. But the second time will be easier, you will have more tools for the journey. And finally on the four-hundredth time, you will speak lovingly to yourself even through the difficult passes.”
And you must distinguish your truth from what women are told and what women are not told.
We are told to get it together, figure out your life, your passion and your purpose in order to achieve fulfillment… yesterday.
We are told that you are only worthy of success if you figure it out on your own.
We are told that we must stay happy and positive in order for others to love us.
We are told to say yes to what comes along because we might not get what we really desire.
I do not believe what we have been told. Rather, I’ve found my truth in what we are not told.
WE ARE NOT TOLD that OUR POWER COMES from FEELING, from SHARING, from BEING SEEN.
WE ARE NOT TOLD that TRANSFORMATION COMES from being with, from expressing our deepest emotions & letting them run their course through us, from emptying so that we can be full again.
WE ARE NOT TOLD that WE MUST CRY-LAUGH in a cycle, surrounded by women and their curves, and their fierce, and their nurturing in order to experience deep healing.
WE ARE NOT TOLD that we can BE WITH ALL OF EACH OTHER AND THEREFORE ourselves.
WE ARE NOT TOLD that anyone can handle you IF you want to be handled.
WE ARE NOT TOLD THAT WE CAN BE WITH ALL THAT IS AND THEN SOME because we are powerful just by being.
To all the 16 year olds, and the 6 year olds, and the 56 year olds: your truth is your power. This is an invitation to share the story of your journey and proclaim your power.
It is only by being SEEN — in the struggle, in the wrestle– by speaking what is true for ourselves, that we heal.
You NEED NOT KNOW YET for what purpose.
You, my sweet, wild, fierce, courageous woman, are powerful regardless of your knowing.
Please trust in your path. Please ask, seek, beg, open, receive, and create the support you desire. We are here to bear witness to your power.
In so much love + deep healing belly laughter,
Jessica Leigh Lyons is a life coach dedicated to liberating women from their stories of self-doubt and creating the biggest boldest vision of themselves. She leads an event called Storybowl, a place for women to gather and speak truth, which she is taking around the country in April 2016.
In addition to her private practice, she regularly leads training on mindfulness and happiness at Bossed Up Bootcamp, a workshop to create sustainable success and she is the Director of Desire, Goals, and Planning for Inner Glow Circle, a powerful sisterhood of possibility and personal development.
Jess can be found on Twitter @JessLyons_ and Instagram @JessicaLeighLyons