A Love Letter to My Daughters for Christmas
I cried the whole time I wrote it thinking about how women feel about their bodies, how I've felt about mine and what I want my daughters to know about loving theirs.
There's a beautiful, well, beauti-f-u-l-l mission in the Quad Cities many aren't aware of. Have you heard of it?
A few months ago I had a long coffee with a woman who is changing the way we look at ourselves, because she changed the way she looks and talks to herself. Sarah Stevens and I felt instantly connected and she told me about the love letter she wrote to her daughter, which launched an entire project for her, including her podcast, which tells the powerful stories of women in all kinds, types, shapes and fabulous colors of bodies.
I knew the moment Sarah asked me write a love letter to my daughters, I was going to do it. What I didn't realize, was how long it was going to take me to find the words. (And those of you who know me, I'm not shy on words.)
I thought about it for 3 months and made notes on different things that came to me. Finally, one afternoon, all the words hit me at once. I grabbed my computer and had it written within a few hours.
I share with you what I shared with my beautiful daughter in hopes that you, too, will see your beautiful body and be just as amazed as I am.
I was so honored to write this for TheBeatifullProject.com and have it published.
Below is my Legacy Letter to my girls: (republished with permission.)
Make it All Count: A Love Letter to My Daughters
My Lovelies, My Beauties, My Sunshines,
It’s 100% opposite of my positive nature to utilize what I’m about to describe as a way to paint a picture of beauty for you. Of all things, for me to be inspired by death… well, it seems much too dark for the person I am, the person you’ve grown up with, and even the person you’ve watched me grow into.
We’ve lived a lot of life for being so young. All of us.
We’ve been through true spaces of some really good times and spaces of very bad, confusing and hurtful times. You’ve seen me both at my most beautiful - as a beaming new mother, feeling all the love I could ever feel, crying at your concerts and performances. You’ve seen my ugliest, broken and torn down places. You’ve experienced the difficulty I had coping through immense stress, a circumstance that never did bring out the best in me. I used to regret that you had to experience that darker side. That wasn’t the childhood I imagined for you. I have apologized over and over through the years, and now, I’m done.
I’m done apologizing for that because, in growing, I realize how beautiful the entire journey is. Allowing you to see life as it happens, knowing that there is no such thing as “perfect”… that’s where the true treasure lies. Getting rid of the word “perfect” will be one of your greatest strengths. Releasing your own attachments to what you “expect’’ others to do, or don’t do - or even what you do, don’t do, look like, feel like - all of the “supposed to” and the “shoulda, coulda, wouldas” - will be the key to uncovering you most authentic sense of self. And authenticity is a gift I want you to have more than any other.
My inspiration in death, albeit unlikely, is really about letting go. When I witnessed death, I witnessed a letting go. She exhaled. There’s a lot of power in the exhale, and the final one I saw, among the strange peace in the room, taught me to so much.
I learned that this beautiful, elderly woman, wasn’t worried about how her body looked, only in how it was working, knowing it’s time was limited. When I watched someone die, I realized that there absolutely must be some appreciation for what we have while we have it.
Your bodies are beautiful.
They work, they run, they dance, they play, they climb, they stretch, they cuddle, they rest and yes, sometimes, they can break. Your bodies function. They get the job done, on a basic level. Everything else we learn along the way, is a lie. Truly.
You may remember when I put this quote on the mirror in our bathroom at the old house:
“Comparison is the worst form of violence you can commit against yourself.”
No one else has your genes, your make up, your stardust. No one. You are you and you are the only you there is. And of all the you, you are, it’s enough. It’s all enough.
Time flies by so quickly, My Dear Ones. This life can either pass you by, or you jump in it, with all your might, claiming your joy, your love, your experiences, your abundance and all the things you will learn along the way. I can tell you this because I’ve lived through both the joy and the sorrow. My biggest fear during your little years was that we’d miss out on really living life. I became determined to make sure we all lived and that you would get to see your Mama, participating in life, doing things I had only dreamt about. I can’t think of any better copilots for this journey.
This journey includes setting myself free from the chains of poor body image, from the years of conditioning, years of shrinking so others could feel bigger, and years of negative self-talk that led me down the deep and dark tunnel of self-hatred you witnessed. What hurt me more than the thought of you seeing me miserable was that you would end up talking to yourself the same way.
Nothing, and I mean, nothing (and no one) is worth you ever feeling that way. I wasted nearly half of my life (given the current approximate life expectancy) fretting and having anxiety over how I looked, how I felt in my body, how I didn’t add up to someone else, and how I allowed others to treat me. It is the biggest waste of time you will ever encounter. I share this and ask you heed my words. Don’t allow pieces of your soul to suffer, or ‘die-off’ for lack of love. The love you have for yourself is life-giving. It’s like the oxygen you need to breathe.
Death is natural part of the life cycle. No one can escape it. That’s really scary to think about sometimes, but please don’t fear. Instead, let it inspire you to live more present, live more fully in your beautiful-as-they-are-bodies. Life is too short and flies by too quickly not to wear that bikini, not to jump in those waters and not to be fully confident in the women you already are.
You are my heroes. I love you, fiercely.