Monday, June 30, 2014

Letters for Miss Maya...and the list goes on.

My letter writing project has been going well.  If you missed why I am doing this, then look here.  Once I found a format to follow and started a system of sorts, it's now the same as the regular routine of brushing my teeth.

I think the most difficult part of the learning curve initially was not getting in the groove of writing the letters, it was sitting down to think of who to write 62 letters to.  Have you ever sat down and written 62 letters, maybe for graduation presents or your wedding?  When do do write a note of thanks in these situations:

  1. You know what you got.
  2. You know who to thank.
  3. You pretty much know what to say.

But when you sit down to purposefully write notes to people to acknowledge them and say all the things you have never said, guess what happens?  It creates an avalanche.

You start thinking of all kinds of things...stuff you might have never said to your partner (good and bad), things you wish you had told a previous employer, quippy responses you should have said to a customer.  I find this experience somewhat like a cleanse.  

One key to the success of this is not writing a letter everyday, but writing multiple letters when I am in the mood.  So, I have a list, I know what letter I should be on, some days I fall behind and some days I am ahead.  And that's cool because these are my rules.

Miss Maya...I know words are powerful.  You taught me that.  Thank you for that lesson.  This experience is changing me in ways I had not quite imagined, and I am enjoying doing it for you.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

My Summer in Mexico with a F-ing Hairless Dog

Many, many summers ago, I spent a summer in Mexico doing an intensive summer language program with UST (University of Saint Thomas).  We lived in what was once the Governor's Home in the Yucatan in a town called Merida.  Sounds palatial, I know.  It wasn't.

A bunch of partially supervised college kids in a tiny town with no drinking age.  With only one disco that had no phone and no way to call cabs.  Uh-huh.  We hitched rides from strangers to get home late at night after curfew from that disco.  Yup.  We did.

We bought hammocks in a store where they asked us to go back into the back room and I promise you now, we were lucky to have come out of the back room alive.

The owner of the house had a hairless dog and a hairless cat.  Do you know how weird these animals look in real life? I was in equal amounts awed by their looks and repulsed by them.  My friend, Craig, in an inebriated state after one of these trips to the above mentioned disco, went so far as to describe this hairless dog to our driver while trying to get home.  He kept repeating "We have to get home.  We have a f-ing hairless dog. I have a f-ing hairless dog!" 

During this summer, the historical event that was captivating me was the sale of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor's private jewelry collection.  It was going to be 'the auction of the century.'  I think I read some Dominick Dunne story in Vanity Fair and it inspired me to write my thesis paper on this auction and their love story for my paper...and are you ready for this?  In Spanish.  I think the blood, sweat and agony that my friend Eli went through helping me get that paper finished is what bonded us for almost 30 years now.

Why am I recapping all of this?  I guess my daughter asked me tonight why I knew so much more Spanish than her.  I was able to recount how I did and think about why I did.  I had forgotten I knew this language once.  I loved this language once.  I experienced this culture and was forever changed by it.

I cannot wait until my daughter asks to study abroad.  "Yes, Yes, Yes" I will say...."Go, Go, Go" I will say.  Come back and have stories that you cannot tell me and friendships you will savor for a lifetime.  Experience going into a mud hut with dirt floors and no furniture, where meals are cooked in an oven outdoors, and people who cannot afford beds offer you a soda, because you are their guest.  Stay in a house with no air conditioning.  Eat food that gives you many types of intestinal problems.  Go be with people who have nothing and have no idea that they do.

Go, baby, so you can be the one sitting at the dinner table years from now recounting an amazing journey to your daughter with memories that make you look back and think "Wow, I did that?"

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Why I'll Be Writing 62 Letters This Summer and Dedicating Each One to Maya Angelou

When Maya Angelou passed away, my very first thought
was sadness and then regret.  I regretted never taking even
10 minutes to sit down and write her a thank you note.

A note telling her how much courage she gave me through
reading about her life.  A note telling her how many of her sayings
grounded me, and still do.  A note telling her you have given me
strength and I didn't even know you.

Bless you.  Thank you.
I appreciate you.

I don't want to feel this type of regret again.  To honor her and what she has done, I am going to handwrite one letter a day to
all the people I owe thanks to (even though 62 letters would never cover all the thanks I owe to others), along with some apology letters that are long overdue.

I am going to photograph each letter, so I can reach my goal
by holding myself accountable.  My hope is that this simple
action might inspire others to break out the stationery
and pen one to someone - anyone who could benefit from
their acknowledgement.

Miss Angelou made me believe words are powerful.
They can take on a life of their own.
With honor to her, I intend to honor others.