Dear Younger Camille by Camille Di Maio

 
Camille at St. Therese

When we first introduced Love Letters I was concerned that I wouldn’t have enough content. I wanted to post a letter every week. Just like having a child, your babies have a way of telling you how to raise them. I’ve learned to let the letters come when the writers are ready and the result? Stunning.

Each writer has dug in and I’m so humbled that LORE is entrusted with such heartfelt missives. It is as powerful for the writer as it is for the reader.

Big, beautiful thanks to the gracious Camille Di Maio.

She dug in.

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Dear Younger Camille,

It will take you months to write this letter. Not the actual words. You will type those out in minutes. But, it will take longer to commit to them, curate them, share them.

Because it’s not a simple thing to bleed on to paper.

I will tell you the end first, or at least the end as it sits here at forty years of age, which once seemed like an unimaginable ancientness to you. The end is good. Very good. And, you’ve only found two gray hairs, so four decades really isn’t as decrepit as you think.

But, if there were more, you would have earned them.

You won’t have a friend until you’re fourteen. You will have vampire-like teeth and Coke-bottle glasses and be picked last in gym class. The girls in seventh grade will write a public declaration of dislike. You’ll become the reclusive kid who spends all the time in the library. Your friends will all be fictional and their names will be Nancy Drew and Anne Shirley and Jane Eyre and Christine Daae. You will live in their worlds, pouring over their words.

You will fall in love with a guy who tells you that he slept with someone behind your back because he “couldn’t wait for you any longer.” You will spend years convinced that you are only worth the sum of your female parts.

You will love the theater, but you will be cast as a chorus girl time after time. You will accept that you are not the one with the most talent, and enthusiastically support the show with your bit part contribution. Until one day, you will audition for a lead role, and your performance with your partner will be so moving that the other people auditioning will give you both a standing ovation. And yet, neither of you will get even a small role in the production because of the director’s personal friendship with the eventual leading lady. (Who, by the way, grimaces when she has to kiss the leading man.)

You will be assaulted by someone you tried to be nice to when no one else was. He will wait until you are alone and he will press you against a wall and try to force something on you that you don’t want, even rubbing hundreds of dollars in cash against your cheek as an offering. You will get away, physically in tact, but emotionally scarred. You will tell the police, who will say that they can’t do anything since there is no evidence. It will be more than a decade before you can hear the words “Dominican Republic” without shuttering because that’s where he was from.

You will move across the country after a devastating unemployment. You will be hospitalized with a serious illness in which you almost lose your unborn baby. You will be threatened by someone who tells you that he is going to kill your children. You will mourn the suicide of someone in your family. You will have a chronic health issue that often makes your days painful.

You will emerge so very strong.

The bullying will teach you to be kind. The cheating will teach you to be loyal. The loss of the lead role will teach you to never give up. The attack will teach you to know how to defend yourself. All of it – every moment that seemed bad at the time – will be a lesson that will build character, fortitude, and faith.

And, there will be good moments. Oh, will there ever be. You will ride on a camel in front of a pyramid. You will meet Mother Teresa and a pope and a Beatle. You will eat oranges under the Eiffel Tower and step on the cobblestones of Pompeii and swim under a waterfall in Hawai’i and straddle two continents while sailing in Istanbul. You will co-found a very successful business. You will sign book contracts for the novels you will write.

But much more importantly, you will find genuine love with a man who treasures you. You will delight in four children who bring immeasurable fulfillment. You will have friends that outnumber the stars. And you will discover that every sorrow and every joy is part of a plan for your life by a power higher than yourself. A plan that has meaning and purpose shaped by its highs and lows if you only keep faith as everything unfolds.

You will be given a platform to encourage and inspire others to overcome their difficulties.

Because that’s what it’s all for. None of it is about you. You are an instrument. You can choose to play the sour notes of negativity and self-pity that will compose a cacophonous dirge. Or, you can play the sweet notes of love and the robust notes of determination that draw people to something good, something eternal. And, in that eternity, there will be a joy beyond your comprehension and an absence of all pain.

Until then, chin up, shoulders back, use sunscreen, lay off the Diet Pepsi addiction, and wash your face every night. Forty is closer than you think, and it will thank you.

Camille Di Maio lives in San Antonio with her husband and four children. She’s traveled to four continents and most of the states, and is always planning her next trip. By day, she is an award-winning real estate agent, and by night, she is an author. She does pretty well with little sleep.

Camille loves belting out Broadway tunes at a moment’s notice, shopping at farmer’s markets, and will try anything that doesn’t involve heights or roller skates. Her debut novel, The Memory of Us, is available on Amazon.

Her second novel, Before the Rain Falls, will be released in spring 2017.

Find Camille on Twitter @camilledimaio, Facebook and Instagram or at her website, www.CamilleDiMaio.com.

Dear Young Amy Jo by Amy Jo Martin

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Every love letter seems as if it was written to or for me, arriving at the moment a question arises within or another idea regarding content is tucked into my iPhone Notes. The thing that makes my heart soar and shine, however, is that every single woman that has approached me has found a letter that resonated as well. Over the course of the past several weeks I have had people approach me at work functions, charity events and holiday parties to say, “Kimberly spoke to my heart,” or, “I use one of Jessica’s points as my daily mantra,” or, “Tracy was in my head!”

Forget Marc’s. His went viral and was picked up by God Updates.

The magical part? I am having conversations with people I don’t know about how we are all connected. We are talking about failure and freedom, why don’t we believe in ourselves more?

Another thing I’m finding that I didn’t expect is that letters are promised, but delayed. Every person that wants to share insists their words be meaningful, “I know what I want to say, but I have to get to a place.” There is a vulnerability and an openness that speaks, but it can be a scary journey.

Be scared.

Fear is the fraud, not us.

We are lighting the way for others; inspiring, impassioning, incandescent.

Send your love letters to loreandlittlethings@gmail.com 

We’re waiting.

I reached out to Amy Jo Martin after seeing a few of her empowered posts, but was blown away when I watched her Inbound talk, THE RENEGADE FACTOR: EVOLVING “PRETTY” TO “PRETTY DAMN RAD” FOR THE NEXT GENERATION. MEN REQUIRED.

When I received her letter I was sitting in my car outside of my daughter’s school having just dropped Olivia to her teachers with a hug and a kiss and a promise that swim class is tomorrow night, don’t worry. Preschool conversations, share day and my next meeting fell away as I read Amy Jo’s words, nodding my head, eyes watering.

This is good stuff, y’all, and I love Amy Jo’s voice. It is math brain meets soft soul.

Ladies and gentlemen, Amy Jo Martin

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Dear Young Amy Jo:

I write this letter to you on a plane as I fly back to U.S. soil after spending time in Asia. As I boarded the plane in Hong Kong, yet another mass shooting in the U.S. topped global news. The more we’re exposed to in this world, the more we realize how little we know or understand. That said, please take what’s useful from this advice and leave behind what is not. You will create your own journey which makes you unique.

Btw, we’re quite stubborn and it’s possible you won’t listen to the advice below. Regardless, you will still live a fulfilling life (at least until you’re 36). And, we think in bullet points and absorb content best in the form of bullet points so here goes . . .

  • You’re going to experience some amazing things. Humble yourself or the universe will do it for you. The world is much bigger than us and it doesn’t revolve around us. The people we respect the most, including our mentors, are the humblest people we’ll ever meet.
  • We can’t bank sleep. Meaning, we can’t deposit and save up hours into a fictitious sleep account and withdraw rest when needed. This strategy simply doesn’t net out well regardless of what grades we earn in math. After averaging 4-5 hours a night for several years, our 36-year-old version has finally learned to respect sleep. She guards it fiercely. I encourage you to protect your sleep at a younger age. (PS – math is one of our sweet spots. It’s our jam. We like black and white answers and scenarios. This poses challenges for us. Read on.)
  • Learn to push your own buttons. Inspire yourself. Everyone else is busy. It’s wonderful and convenient when others inspire us but there will be droughts between the supply and demand. Subsidizing with a self-sufficient supply of inspiration serves as our safety net. This is how we make inspiration sustainable and scalable. Personally, our strongest source of inspiration is nature – being outdoors.
  • In third grade, you will be put in a ‘special’ reading and writing class because you’re not quite performing up to par with your classmates. Accept, listen and learn. We will apply these skills years down the road when we write our first New York Times bestselling book. We must always appreciate the opportunity we are given to slow down, listen and learn. Timing is everything. Trust the process.
  • Where purpose, passion and skill collide, bliss resides. This sounds like fluffy BS but it’s your reason for not worrying about knowing what path or profession you want to choose when you enter college – just be open, try everything and listen to how you feel. Purpose. Passion. Skill. Collide them. (Heads-up, they change so don’t get too comfy)
  • Don’t let other people rent space in your head for free. That’s valuable real estate. What other people think of you is none of your business. Be you and let go. Repeat. This is a tough one for us. It requires constant practice. We struggle and trip over this one at times.
  • Learn when to make things happen vs. when to let things happen. When you’re feeling strongly about one or the other, move confidently in that one direction. Down the road, if you don’t like that path after you’ve given it a red hot go, then simply choose again. If you are torn on whether to let something happen or make it happen then sit down at the fork in the road and pause. Hint: We have a tendency to make things happen (force it) at times. Ease up, sister.
  • Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is extremely powerful. It takes daily practice. Take risks. When in doubt, ask yourself: What’s the worst thing that could happen if I try ____? And then what? And then what? Also ask: Is ____ safe enough to try?
  • Read. Read. Read. Make it a part of your day, your world. Surround yourself with people who also love to read. Give books as gifts. The benefits are unmatched.
  • Travel. Even if it’s an hour from where you live. Exploring will open your mind. If you have an opportunity to travel due to your career, take the ticket and explore while working – especially while you’re young and have less geographic anchors. Don’t spend 36 hours in Australia for the first time because it’s a “quick work trip”. Add a few more days and explore, chances are that nobody will question the request. Hint: You just have to ask.
  • Words matter. With all relationships, exchange “we” vs. “me” as much as possible.
  • Try not to worry so much about: your career, your weight, your finances, your future, etc. It all works out. We are warriors, not worriers.
  • Your career is going to take off, but please, please don’t get caught up. Make family a priority. I didn’t attend my grandmother’s funeral because I had a business trip that was “critical to my career.” We are one of 19 grandchildren and only two of us didn’t make it to the funeral. To this day, I don’t remember what that very important “career-altering” opportunity was. Show up for family. It matters.
  • Be kind and smile. It’s good for the soul, it’s a mood-changer, it’s contagious and … it attracts. Kindness and a smile are the ultimate positive boomerangs.

I love you and hope you learn to love yourself at an earlier stage than I did.

Ajo

Amy Jo, author of New York Times best-seller Renegades Write the Rules, founded Digital Royalty in 2009 to help corporations, celebrities and sports entities humanize their brands online through social communication channels. Amy Jo has worked closely with world-renowned brands such as Hilton Worldwide, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal to successfully humanize their presence. Her motto is, humans connect with humans, not logos.

Amy Jo herself has a social media following of more than a 1.1 million people and was named the third most powerful woman on Twitter by Forbes. She travels the world to speak about the latest trends in innovation, the future of social communication and women in business.

In 2012 Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, and Baron Davis, NBA player, invested in Amy Jo and her company. After a successful seven-year run as the Founder & CEO of Digital Royalty and growing the business globally into ten different countries, Amy Jo recently exited the company.

Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Amy Jo began working for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns during their 2005-06 season. These were the wild wild west days of social media and there were no rules or regulations in place. After asking for a lot of forgiveness instead of permission she became recognized as a social media pioneer while trailblazing through this new unchartered territory.

As a young female building her career in male-centric industries, Amy Jo has developed a passion for helping women thrive in business leadership. She is currently spending her time investing in other female entrepreneurs so they can reach their full potential.

Amy can be found at www.amyjomartin.com or The Guild Agency. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AmyJoMartin.

Dear Younger Kim by Kimberly Derting

Kim and Scot Christmas Morning

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