Everytime I sit down to write these letters reflecting on the past year, I always feel like I have nothing to say at first and have a “Really…did anything happen this year of note?” moment. Here is our letter from last year: Dear 35
Of course, once I start writing, I remember (which is really all the more reason to keep writing these letters).
It seems as though each year you seem to have a few ‘big dreams’ you wish for each time. Falling in Love & Getting a Book Deal.
Then each year around this time you find yourself feeling the weight of what you didn’t achieve, that pressure you put on yourself.
This year as your birthday neared, you couldn’t help but notice that weight was missing.
Did those 2 things happen this year? No.
But maybe it is finally soaking into my bones that it isn’t about the final achievement
But rather the beauty & bravery in the work it takes to get there.
And that indeed you did do this year.
Soon after 36 started you found an agent, finished a book proposal and had an exciting meeting with a big publisher, all within the first half of the year.
While it didn’t lead to a YES, I am proud that you went for it none the less.
More than that, in fact, what I’m most proud of about this year is that you didn’t stop there.
You wrote and wrote. 36000+ words in fact (and growing quickly).
You aren’t waiting for someone to say YES to us, you are writing the book no matter what the outcome.
36 was good for the most part, even though at times it was pretty rough. It wouldn’t be a truthful letter to you without this part of the story of 36.
Midway through 36th you lost someone you have loved & been loved by all of those years. Grammy.
You been well acquainted with grief for a long time now, but this one was one of the roughest.
Some days all you could do to get through it was to walk, for hours. You lived in your grief for a bit rather than pushing it away.
You did your best and while I wondered if it might make this year so rough that I might not even want to write this letter, you did okay.
Your grief was woven with such gratitude because 36 years on the planet with a Grammy you adored is still a pretty lucky thing.
You travelled to places like Texas & Nashville & Portland & San Francisco. Sometimes you taught and sometimes you were a participant and both were amazing (a really really divine year of trips). You swam in a river in Texas. You jumped and danced on Muir Beach. You giggled so much with your nephew in Portland. You fell head over heels with Nashville & now have gorgeous red boots that remind you of that journey.
You still have that sweet meowing cat at home and as we well know, she won’t be with you forever (she has a chronic illness) so she too has been big lesson in gratitude in this lifetime. Plus she’s ridiculously cute and so sweet to come home to.
You probably read more this year than you have in a long long time.
About Body image, Self-love, Healthy at Every Size, Intuitive Eating.
You’ve been in full-on self-education mode and it feels really beautiful.
You got even clearer on what Be Your Own Beloved is about and where you want this work to go.
That this is your life mission, to help women heal their body image & stop waring with themselves.
You always kind of knew that life would get better with age. In fact it was something that gave you hope in your teens.
You had a sense that as you aged, despite the self-hate you felt at the time, you would grow into yourself.
And it is true. With each year I love you even more
And you live more of a life free of self-hate and shame with every orbit around the sun.
I guess that here at 37, that is one of the things I’m most proud of you for.
Even if things don’t feel like they come easy, you are going for them anyways.
Really learning to love yourself and see yourself as beautiful, healing a whole lot of self-hate, even without finding your beauty only through someone else’s eyes.
And, Dear Vivienne, it is as clear as day that this time when things haven’t come easy has made you who you are. Made you able to give the world what you are meant to. To feel happy, truly happy…even without a publisher or a partner.
You are making your life worthwhile outside of those things.
And indeed it is.
For 37, I hope for you to have completion and transformation. I hope for you to really open your heart more, to new friends, to love, to life. To dream even bigger both for yourself and for Be Your Own Beloved.
I also hope you ask for help more, a lot more. You don’t have to go it alone all the damn time Vivienne!
Mostly I hope for you keep on this path that has been unfolding. Trust it.
Keep writing please. Finish the book and get it out into the world, publisher or not.
Be open, wide open to love.
From yourself and from others.
Mostly, I want you to just keep doing what you are doing.
Keep going on photo walks.
Keep devouring as many body image memoirs and books on self-love as you can.
Listen to Geneen Roths audiobooks over and over again and find your way even more fully into the path of intuitive eating.
Keep running with your awesome running community and moving in ways that bring you joy.
Keep following the clarity you feel.
Keep making peace with your belly.
I’m proud of you.
Have you ever written a letter to yourself on your birthday. I can’t recommend this activity enough. Be it on a blog or in a journal. Whether you share it or not. Even if it feels a bit self-centred. Even if it is hard to write. It always makes me feel more ready to step into the year ahead by honouring & giving voice to the one that just passed.