When friendships shift and change.
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We were all taught how to be good friends when we were growing up.  To share our toys and take turns.  We were also taught that if we did these things, then you were able to buy the two heart necklaces with a half a heart on each chain.  One saying “BEST”, the other saying “FRIENDS”.  We would have this same friend that had the other half of our necklace forever.  

Well, I don’t know about you, but I had several “best friends” growing up and I would consider none of those people my closest friend today. What no one tells us when we are little and learning how to be good friends is that not all friendships will last forever, but even more so than that, it’s okay if we aren’t friends with the same people our entire life.  

I never had a clique or a tight circle of friends.  I kind of scooped up a friend or two as a moved along through life.  I have my childhood neighbors that I have inside jokes with from as early as 5 years old, and co-workers today that I would consider good friends I enjoy spending time with.  

When I switched to public school I floated around from group to group like any teenager, trying to figure out where I fit.  I was a cheerleader but I lived in the library.  I was friends with the popular kids that sat next to me in homeroom but always reached out to the new girl sitting alone in the chorus.  I bopped around from group to group, which made my birthday parties super confusing when it was always a group of my favorite people, yet none of them were friends with each other.  When I graduated high school, I only ended up keeping in touch with two good friends.  Everyone else faded away as if me going off to college meant I dropped off the face of the earth and technology didn’t exist.  College introduced me to a wild clique of gals. Drinking and party became a regular lifestyle and while I loved my new friends, I couldn’t keep up with that way of life.  I took a few steps back and ended up very lonely because of that.  I transitioned through new friends but still kept my distance.  Mostly a “loner”, I did my own thing and hung out with people when I felt like it.  

Post college, things changed again.  People got jobs, moved away, got busy.  Once again, friendships dropped off and I was left confused as to what happened.  

I could tell you story after a story of people who I considered a close and loyal friend, turning their back and acting as if I was a stranger.  I still to this day do not know what happened with some of those friends.  But there is something that I have realized in this past year; there are few lucky people who get to keep the same friends their entire life. Most friendships are going to change with each season of life we enter.  

There are few lucky people who get to keep the same friends their entire life.

As our friendships evolve and new ones form, I am starting to believe there is a reason.  I believe that God provides us with the people that we need during certain periods in our life, to teach us different lessons or provide support in a certain situation.  Just as God is guiding our steps and planning our path, he is also setting up our friends along the way as bummers to keep us on track.  So I write this post to tell you that you aren’t alone, that if you have lost a friendship for an unknown reason if someone walked away from you and left you feeling as if you weren’t good enough, know that you are not the only person this has happened to.  Even more so, take confidence that there is a reason that person is no longer in your life.  Think about your friendship with that person, whether a short few months or several years.  Think about the time you spent together and how you grew because of them.  You are never alone because when God takes one friend out of your life, he will replace it with someone new to teach you the next lesson you need to learn.  You will keep moving and be changing and growing and life will move on, BFF or loner, you will be okay.

 

WE LOVE HAVING WRITERS ON OUR TEAM! THEY MAKE OUR WORLD GO ROUND!

 

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Johanna writes at Johanna Documented ( http://www.johannadocumented.com ), a blog all about honest stories & honest growth, living life authentically, and collecting the little moments. When she’s not writing, she enjoy spending hours in the kitchen, watching movies with as many explosions as humanly possible, and filling her Instagram feed ( https://www.instagram.com/johannadocumented/ ) with pretty pictures.

 
Brenna GallagherComment
10 things to remember about growing up.
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1. You don't need everyone to be your friend.

I used to squander so much of my energy on people whom I didn't even particularly like, just so they wouldn't dislike me. We just have to try hard to only let the opinions of those we actually care about matter, and give your energy to those who deserve it.


2. If you feel like you're doing a good job, chances are, you're doing a good job

Most of us will work in a profession that we're qualified for or be doing our damndest to learn everything we can to be qualified. So let's kick that self-doubt to the curb. After all, no one ever moved forward by thinking they couldn't do something. 


3. People are not X-Men - you have to tell them how you feel.

Just like you wouldn't have known that bit of trivia about me if I hadn't told you, you can't expect people to magically divine how you're feeling. If you're angry, say it. If you're upset, tell the person who upset you why. If you admire something about someone, let them know. 

Sidenote: how awesome would it be if we were all X-Men?!? I'd want some combination of Wolverine claws, Gambit energy and Professor X mind-reading skills. 

If you admire something about someone, let them know. 


4. The energy you put out into the world will come back to you.

If you're always nagging or creating problems, that negativity will come back to you. So, as cliché as it sounds, try to only put out positive energy into the world, and that's what you'll receive in return. 


5. Rejection sucks, but it doesn't define you.

Some people simply won't like you, or think you're a little weird. There could be a million reasons why you didn't get that job, or a guy didn't text you back, or someone doesn't want to be your friend anymore. It hurts to feel like you aren't good enough, but we must try our hardest not to dwell on that feeling because it does not define who we are.

 

6. If you don't ask, the answer is always no.

If you want something, you have to ask. Most people are kind and like being helpful, and what's the worst that could happen? A "no" won't kill you, you simply have to start again and find a different way to achieve your goal.
 

7. The worst that could happen is not as bad as what you're imagining it to be.

If you don't email someone back or arrive ten minutes late, it is not the end of the world. Most people are very understanding of the fact that everyone has an off day. Dwelling on apocalyptic end-of-the-world scenarios doesn't do anything for you, especially when things will almost always work out for the best.


8. You're a lot harder on yourself than anyone else could ever be.

No one has noticed those extra five, or saw when you accidentally waved enthusiastically at the wrong person. We tend to forget that we are all our own harshest critic and let that influence our view of ourselves. But all your friends love you just the way you are, and we all just need to be a little kinder to ourselves.


9. Purposely sabotaging yourself is never the answer.

Whether you are sabotaging yourself by blowing your budget, having that third piece of cake, or skipping the gym again, there is absolutely nothing to be gained from actively standing in your own way. Nothing. It doesn't make you one of the cool kids, nor will it help you achieve your goals in the long run. So cut it out.


10. If you're healthy & safe, and those you love are healthy & safe, not much else matters.

Yes, being single can be hard. Yes, having a fight with a friend, or getting yelled at by your boss, or dropping one of the wine glasses isn't fun. If you look at the big picture, though, none of those things matter. You are an inherently worthy, wonderful arrangements of atoms, and you're exactly where you're meant to be. 

 

Johanna writes at Johanna Documented ( http://www.johannadocumented.com ), a blog all about honest stories & honest growth, living life authentically, and collecting the little moments. When she’s not writing, she enjoy spending hours in the kitchen, watching movies with as many explosions as humanly possible, and filling her Instagram feed ( https://www.instagram.com/johannadocumented/ ) with pretty pictures.

 
Johanna SchComment
On the 12th Day of Love Letter Writing...
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DEAR COMMUNITY,

WE made it! And we would not be here without you! Thank you so much for scripting for 12 Days. One last request to go! Need some tips on writing letters? We've got them for you

xoxox, 

MLL


12. ALICIA

Alicia’s sister shared with us that she has been walking through a difficult season + is in need of encouragement. She requested a bundle of letters by writing:

“My sister recently moved to Chicago with her boyfriend of three years. Things had been progressing in their relationship and she imagined herself marrying him. However, the relationship came to a totally unexpected and heartbreaking end.

Although my family is all within driving distance, he was all she had in her day-to-day life. She is heartbroken and can't fathom living her life without him there–her best friend. She feels immense loneliness and doesn't have a community around her to support and help carry her through.

Alicia is the most loving person I know and spends time writing letters to strangers and hanging love notes in the trees of her town on Valentines Day. She loves through her words and actions on a daily basis and I know that receiving words of encouragement from others could really lift her spirit and help her to know she isn't alone.”

Let’s offer Alicia just that, and repay her kindness with kindness! Grab your pens + write some encouragement with us.

 

PLEASE MAIL ALL LOVE LETTERS BY DECEMBER 20 TO:

Alicia’s bundle

℅ Genna F.

1331 Keenland Drive

Bartlett, IL 60103

USA

USA

 




On the 11th Day of Love Letter Writing...
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DEAR COMMUNITY,

Two more days of scripting ahead! Keep spreading the love! Need some tips on writing letters? We've got them for you

xoxox, 

MLL


11. ZADEN

We received a request that tugged at our heartstrings, and it almost certainly will do the same for you.

“Zaden is nine years old. My sister is his third-grade teacher. A few weeks ago, Zaden and his family were involved in a head on collision with a drunk driver. Zaden’s seat belt snapped and he was ejected from the vehicle. He survived the accident but with four shattered vertebrae, internal bleeding, organ damage, and the muscles and tendons on his neck were all torn–meaning his head is only attached by his spine. He’s in a full body cast and he has a long road of recovery ahead. He is scared and confused as they are unsure at this time if he will ever walk again. But kids are special, and they have a way of beating the odds every day.

My sister and I would love to give Zaden (and his mother) the tangible love and support of a bundle of letters. We want to show him just how many people are in his corner cheering him on.”

Grab your pens + join us as we do just that for Zaden!

 

PLEASE MAIL ALL LOVE LETTERS BY DECEMBER 20 TO:

Zaden’s bundle

℅ Persons

PO Box 751

Pleasantville, OH 43148

USA

 




A modern survival guide for long-distance love.
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I have had two long-distance relationships fail.  When I first went away to college, my first love was in his last year of high school.  We stayed together throughout my entire first year, and let me tell you, we had FUN.  It wasn’t always easy, but we were wild about each other, so the good far outweighed the few late night tears.

I can’t say I fully recommend starting college with a boyfriend (I think it can keep you from branching out as much as you would if you were single, but that’s another post!), but I don’t regret starting my four years that way at all.  We parted ways my sophomore year because we were becoming different people with busier schedules that couldn’t always include the other.  It was sad, and it took some time to get over, but looking back, I can see that I learned so much.

My second LDR (long distance relationship) ended for a whole different set of reasons.  That one taught me a lot about the kind of person who isn’t right for me and the importance of trust and loyalty in a relationship.

While that particular “love” story would be an even longer blog post, I can tell you from hindsight that it made me mature and probably prepared me for the best LDR of my life: the one I’m in now.  

Robert and I spent less than five fun, happy, can’t-stand-to-be-apart months together before my job took me 90 minutes away to Richmond, VA.  Seventy-some miles isn’t the most distance couples endure by any means (125 miles is the average distance between LDR couples), but with our jobs and side hustles keeping us busy on weekends as well as M-F, we had our work cut out for us.

We eventually closed the gap (all the praise hands), but we’ll get to that at the end!  Until then, here are some of my tried and true tips for making long-distance last:

Set Your Expectations

When you’re dating with distance, it’s so important to set your expectations for the kind of changes you’ll endure.  Personally, I believe that all tension in relationships starts with unmet expectations.  Before you commit to taking on the distance, have real conversations about what will change.

Before you commit to taking on the distance, have real conversations about what will change.

Especially if there is significant distance between you, start by setting the expectation of just how much you’ll be able to see each other.  That way, no one is disappointed because they had more visits in mind than the other.

Some other things to talk about: What kinds of things will happen when you DO visit each other?  Are you planning on overnight visits, or will you be keeping that kind of “togetherness” sacred?  Will you be spending a lot of time with each other’s friends, families, or roommates, or will you be prioritizing one-on-one time? Setting expectations are key!

 

Get Creative

When it comes to long-distance, you have to get a little more creative with your “date nights.”  It was so easy for me to get jealous of couples who could do cute couple things together like grocery shop or go to the gym or hit the local movie theater for $2 Tuesdays.  Even seeing couples having dinner together during the week made me envious.  That’s where a little creativity comes in.

Video calls or just regular phone calls can bring you closer together while doing any activity.   Call while you’re on a walk or grocery shopping, or try Skyping during dinner or your favorite TV show together.  When we still lived in the same town, Robert and I usually caught Jeopardy after dinner, so we planned nights that we could continue that tradition virtually.  Trust me, FaceTiming during Jeopardy will start some interesting conversations about how on earth you knew that answer!

 

Don’t Rely on Texts Alone

Here’s the thing about our modern, fast-paced world: it is all too easy to start having text relationships.  The problem is that so much nuance is lost in text messages.  Especially if you haven’t had the chance to spend a lot of time together yet, it’s so tough to discern harmless teasing or sarcasm from slights and condescension.  That’s why it is crucial to save your big discussions for the phone or video call.  Never, ever, ever engage in an argument via text — pick up the phone and call.

Here’s the thing about our modern, fast-paced world: it is all too easy to start having text relationships.

 

Mark that Calendar, Baby

Video dinners and sweet texts will help your relationship, but they can only take you so far.  While it may not seem ultra-romantic to sit down and coordinate your calendars, it’s crucial to surviving the distance and making time to have real face-to-face quality time.

With Robert and I working a lot of weekends, we decided to share a Google Calendar so we would always be up to date on when we could make time for each other.  When we had everything in front of us, it was easier to spot free weekends!

 

Know When Enough is Enough

And I don’t mean know when to break up!  I mean to know when you’ve had enough distance and it’s time to close the gap.  After Robert and I had been together for three years (with most of that time being long-distance), we knew we were committed enough to each other for one of us to make a change.  For us personally, it made the most sense for me to come back from the city for a lot of reasons.  For other couples though, it may be a much bigger sacrifice for one person.  Keep the lines of communication open and be honest with each other as you make this big decision together.

Sometimes relationships take work, and LDRs take a little extra.  Remember to give each other grace and room to grow!  I can’t tell you it’s easy, but I can tell you that with the right person, it is worth it.

 

Shalese Danielle is a wedding photographer and writer in Orange, Virginia.  She is a frozen mocha addict and probably has chocolate hidden somewhere in her apartment.  Connect with @sShaleseDanielle on Twitter and Instagram.

 
Hannah BrencherComment
On the 10th Day of Love Letter Writing...
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DEAR COMMUNITY,

Can you believe it's day 10 already!?! Slug some cocoa and get to scripting! Need some tips on writing letters? We've got them for you

xoxox, 

MLL


10. IRENE

Irene’s granddaughter shared her story with us. She wrote:

“Irene is the strongest woman I know. After her husband unexpectedly died after the birth of their fifth child, this young nurse did what was necessary–working long hours to support her children on her own, even at the expense of her personal life. I have never heard her complain once about her lot in life.

Irene now has grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She never forgot a birthday, and holidays with her were filled with homemade cookies and cheer. In her later years, she's been happily living on her own in an independent living apartment. Recently though, she suffered a sacral fracture, sending her to the hospital. We are hopeful she can return to her apartment, however, that may realistically not happen. She's very sharp mentally, but her always able body is feeling the wear and tear of age.

This setback has understandably dimmed Irene's ever-bright light. This once positive, loving figure is now feeling the weight of not being able to live on her own. She does not want to spend her remaining time in a hospital bed or in a nursing home, but her optimism is waning.”

Let’s write to Irene and encourage + support her during this difficult season.

 

PLEASE MAIL ALL LOVE LETTERS BY DECEMBER 20 TO:

Irene’s bundle

℅ Anna B.

451 Acequia Madre

Santa Fe, NM 87505

USA

 




On the 9th Day of Love Letter Writing...
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DEAR COMMUNITY,

Tis' the season to spread holiday cheer... Don't delay! Need some tips on writing letters? We've got them for you

xoxox, 

MLL


9. EMMA

A friend of Emma’s requested a bundle for her + shared with us some of her story. She wrote:

“Emma is going through some struggles. She is currently recovering from an eating disorder and has a hard time believing in herself and her abilities." As a young teenager, Emma is struggling to uncover her own worth and value. Emma's friend writes, "I've tried so much to help her and to remind her of her potential and how much I love her. I really feel like she needs some reminders from people and some encouragement. Messages of hope, encouragement, and love from strangers might be all she needs to find herself again." It's time to rally and remind Emma how beautiful, capable & strong she really is. 

Grab your pens and join us as we write some love letters to Emma!

 

PLEASE MAIL ALL LOVE LETTERS BY DECEMBER 20 TO:

Emma’s bundle

℅ Natalie S.

5033 N Kilt Ave

Meridian, ID 83646

USA

 




On the 8th Day of Love Letter Writing...
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DEAR COMMUNITY,

There's no better way to cure those Monday blues than by sitting down to write a love letter to Lacey. Need some tips on writing letters? We've got them for you

xoxox, 

MLL


8. LACEY

Many individuals face tragic + difficult circumstances in life, and Lacey is no stranger to those types of circumstances. Her friend shared with us:

“Lacey is an incredible individual; she’s like a lightning bolt of energy, love, and encouragement. I met Lacey a few years ago and learned that she had been diagnosed with not just one, but four incurable brain, neurological, and spinal conditions. It's been a long road for Lacey and her husband, as they've journeyed together through her three brain surgeries, consecutive recoveries, and day to day life.

Lacey has been a force to be reckoned with and continues to be a source of positivity and joy to those around her. This fall she began school again, to earn her doctorate in medical anthropology in hopes of helping others who have experienced similar life-changing diagnoses. There are still rough days for Lacey, both physically and emotionally, and I want to show her that she won't be defined by her medical history, but the future she chooses for herself.”

Please join us as we send that same encouragement + love to Lacey that she so readily spreads!

 

PLEASE MAIL ALL LOVE LETTERS BY DECEMBER 20 TO:

Lacey’s bundle

℅ Beeta L.

519 S. Anaheim Blvd

Anaheim, CA 92805

USA

 




On the WEEKEND of Love Letter Writing...
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DEAR COMMUNITY,

We made it to the weekend! We'd love to shower a community cause with love for the next 48 hours. Join us?

xoxox, 

MLL


6 & 7. PEOPLE EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS IN HOUSTON

Homeless at Heart was formed by an 11-year-old boy in Atlanta in 2015 to give Valentine boxes and handwritten cards to people experiencing homelessness. In addition to the donations in Atlanta and other selected communities, HAH also sends materials and cards to partners in cities where there has been a natural disaster. These partners assemble the Valentine bags and cards and deliver them to individuals experiencing homelessness in those areas.

This year, HAH is sending Valentines Day to the homeless at the Star of Hope shelter in Houston, Texas; the city was ravaged by Hurricane Harvey and is still recovering. HAH needs handwritten Valentine cards of hope and love to put with the Valentine bags. For every handwritten Valentine card submitted to HAH from Write More Love Letters partners, HAH will donate $5 to purchase supplies to put with the cards in the Valentine bags.

PLEASE MAIL ALL LOVE LETTERS BY DECEMBER 20 TO:

Homeless at Heart 

℅ Gwendolyn

215 W. Bandera Road, Suite 114-159

Boerne, TX 78006

USA




On the 5th Day of Love Letter Writing...
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DEAR COMMUNITY,

Hang the stockings & spread some cheer with us this Friday! Need some tips on writing letters? We've got them for you

xoxox, 

MLL


5. LIZ

Liz’s friend reached out to us and requested a letter request for her as she faces an incredibly heartbreaking situation. She wrote:

“Liz is an amazing woman. She's smart, funny, kind, and strong. She’s a nurse, a mother, and a wife. And now, also a widow.

Liz fell in love in university with a quiet, strong cattle rancher whose past was rapt with heartache. After they were wed, Liz found herself a whole province away from her entire family and her support system–living in the middle of nowhere on a cattle ranch with the cowboy of her dreams. Liz and her husband were their own family, as he had none besides her.

As life went on, Liz and her husband had four beautiful children, and along the way Liz started to find herself. She developed habits, made friends, found her footing as a wonderful mother, and as ever, adored her husband.

One October day, a wildfire started. Liz’s husband was a volunteer firefighter and rushed to fight the fire for his friends, neighbors, and complete strangers. He left to save cattle and people's homes without a second thought. He never came home. An accident related to the fire took his life that night. And in the morning, the day of her eldest child's sixth birthday, Liz's world was turned upside down. She no longer has footing. She no longer has this man beside her. Her children no longer have their father to look up to. I fear she is struggling to find a reason to continue on.”

Grab your pens and join us in sending some much-needed encouragement to Liz.

 

PLEASE MAIL ALL LOVE LETTERS BY DECEMBER 20 TO:

Liz’s bundle

℅ Katelyn T.

PO Box 327

Tompkins, SK

S0N2S0

CANADA




On the 4th Day of Love Letter Writing...
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DEAR COMMUNITY,

Welcome to day 4 of 12! Pull out your pens and get to scripting. This one is a special one! Need some tips on writing letters? We've got them for you

xoxox, 

MLL


4. CHARLENE

Charlene’s daughter is requesting a bundle for her brave mother! She shared:

“My mom is the strongest, most independent woman I know. She's my best friend. I'm one of those lucky women who's been close to her mother all her life, even through those tough teenage years. She was recently diagnosed with Stage four Hodgkin's lymphoma. Thankfully, this is a treatable cancer, though the diagnosis was still a blow to all of us, especially my mom. Though she's a fighter and will fight this with all she has in her, she has understandably been having a really hard time with this illness putting limits on her physically. She does not have insurance and was hoping to continue working, but the disease just takes too much out of her, so she has taken a leave from her job for a while so she can focus on getting healthy again. She has just begun chemo and is preparing to cut her hair as it is already starting to fall out. She has been so strong and courageous during this so far, but she is understandably scared of the unknowns and frustrated by the limits this has put on her body.

My hope is that she can get letters of love, encouragement, and inspiration from people all over the world. I hope that these letters will help her when she is feeling down and struggling with fighting the cancer beast. I think these letters would be a great source of comfort for her when she's at home alone and needing a pick-me-up. My mom will be getting a full body scan in January to determine if her body is responding to the chemo. I know she will be very nervous before that appointment. These love letters would bring some much-needed positivity.”

Please join us as we pen words of hope + encouragement to Charlene this holiday season!

 

PLEASE MAIL ALL LOVE LETTERS BY DECEMBER 20 TO:

Charlene’s bundle

℅ Stacy O.

730 Spanish Town Rd.

Apt 1

Baton Rouge, LA 70802

USA




On the 3rd Day of Love Letter Writing...
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DEAR COMMUNITY,

We are officially in full swing and there are a lot more letters to write! Today is your chance to write to some stellar students! Need some tips on writing letters? We've got them for you

xoxox, 

MLL


3. REAL SCHOOL STUDENTS

More Love Letters received a request for a bundle of letters for students at a school. One of their behavioral specialists wrote to us:

“REAL school serves middle school students who require structured therapeutic school-based supports and are at-risk in the areas of academic achievement as well as emotional and behavioral development. Most are dealing with challenges at home and in the community–trauma, abuse, violence–as well as mental health disorders. They and their families oftentimes lack access to effective resources and lack exposure to people outside of their communities, city, and the world around them. Research shows that these types of disconnections lead to ongoing struggles: incarceration, homelessness, a lower lifetime earning potential, chronic difficulty getting and keeping a job, living in extreme poverty, lack of health insurance, substance abuse, and chronic depression.

Our students (we currently have six boys in the program, ages 12-14) are resilient, vibrant, creative, outspoken, musical, funny, caring, curious, resourceful, athletic, and often, overlooked. They love to rap, dance, play sports, do arts and crafts, and learn about others. They deserve to feel appreciated and supported. They deserve unconditional positive regard. And, most of all, they deserve to feel connected with others.

I'd love to share letters of encouragement and motivation, of overcoming tough times, and of different life experiences (cultures, cities, people) with our students as well as our amazing REAL School staff members.”

Grab your pens and join us in writing letters to these fantastic students this holiday season! Please address all letters to “Dear Students.”

 

PLEASE MAIL ALL LOVE LETTERS BY DECEMBER 20 TO:

Students of REAL School

℅ Elizabeth L.

12 S. Stafford Avenue Apt. A,

Richmond, VA 23220

USA




On the 2nd Day of Love Letter Writing...
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DEAR COMMUNITY,

Welcome to Day 2 of the 12 Days of Love Letter Writing! Today is all about Patty & Meredith! Need some tips on writing letters? We've got them for you

xoxox, 

MLL


2. PATTY & MEREDITH

Patty and Meredith are a mother/daughter duo in need of encouragement + love as they face memories of loss during this holiday season. Their friend shared their story with us:

“I have been friends with Meredith since first grade–for fourteen years now. Meredith hasn't had the easiest life. In first grade, her sister died. Even though a tragedy like this has the power to destroy any family, Meredith and her parents–John and Patty–became closer than ever. I was always struck with the amount of joy and love that they were able to have and I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with this beautiful family.

Our junior year of high school, tragedy struck again. Meredith's dad, John, was diagnosed with glioblastoma–a brain cancer. This was devastating, but their family still stayed strong and didn't let it get in the way of their love for each other. However, last year, John died a week before Thanksgiving and near Patty’s birthday. In his last moments, Meredith played his favorite song on violin and he went peacefully. Although John is gone, he is always with us in Meredith. Her snarky demeanor and humor is all John, and I'm sure he is more proud of her than words can describe. John always taught Meredith to be a kind woman, and to go through life living it to the fullest. I would love to give Meredith and Patty the gift of words, and not just my own. The holidays are coming up and I know that there are some dark days to come for them.”

Please join us as we write to Patty + Meredith and let them know that they are not alone.

PLEASE MAIL ALL LOVE LETTERS BY DECEMBER 20 TO:

Meredith and Patty’s bundle

℅ Isabella J.

915 W 23rd St apt. 201

Austin, TX 78705

USA




Don't give comparison a seat at the table.
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When my husband gave me a Canon camera as a wedding gift, I was almost more nervous than I was excited. Even though I’d always been fascinated by photography, I thought that the photography “space” was oversaturated, and I wasn’t sure I would be good enough to add to the noise. The last thing this world needs is another self-proclaimed, self-taught photographer, right? Plus, Instagram automatically makes everyone a photographer nowadays.

I started following photographers on Instagram because I thought I could find inspiration, but I found myself getting so caught up in how great their photos were that I only grew more ashamed of mine. I felt crippled by the comparison of my amateur photos to the most beautiful wedding shots. There was this seemingly infinite gap between my current skill level and the impossible standard I had created in my head. I was convinced that my work wasn’t worthy of sharing until I could get it to look like that impossible standard I set for myself. So for the first few months, I hardly wanted to share any of my photos. They just weren’t good enough yet. I wasn’t a good enough photographer yet – not compared to the photographers I knew or the ones whose photos I envied. I thought it was going to take me years to get there.

The funny thing about “there” is that it’s never as good as we think it’s going to be.

The funny thing about “there” is that it’s never as good as we think it’s going to be. The grass isn’t always greener. We build “there” up to be some magical destination where we’ll find everything we’ve been searching for. If we could just get “there,” then we’d be happy. If I could just be as good of a photographer as others, then I’d finally feel proud of my work.

Comparison and the fantasy of “there” is a pretty dangerous combination. When your idea of “there” is a standard that you’ve set for yourself based on other people, you’re caught in a  vicious cycle. It’s impossible to measure your personal growth if you’re more concerned with what everyone else is doing – especially in the creative world. Creative endeavors are meant to celebrate the uniqueness of the individual. Comparison will only rob us of the uniqueness that only we can bring to the table. Comparison shouldn’t have a place at that table.

One of my favorite quotes from Hannah Brencher is this: “I think it is almost impossible to be the best version of you when you are constantly measuring yourself up to someone else. Other people cannot be my standard. Their success does not determine mine. If I am looking to people to serve as a benchmark for me then I have clearly missed the point of people.”

People are incredible creatures who have incredible talents and skills to offer this world. People are the ones who compose symphonies, design skyscrapers, write novels and crunch numbers. People are meant to be celebrated, not compared.

So I’ve learned to compare my work only with the work that I’ve already done. I spend less time dwelling on the fact that my photos might not be as good as the ones I see on those Instagram accounts, and I spend more time focusing on how I can stretch my own creativity. I try to build community with other photographers to learn from them – not compete with them. I don’t know why it was so hard for me to grasp at first: we’re all just trying to do what we love. We’re all in the lifelong process of learning, growing and becoming better versions of ourselves. I want to want this process more than I want the false promises of getting “there.”

We’re all in the lifelong process of learning, growing and becoming better versions of ourselves. I want to want this process more than I want the false promises of getting “there.”

Whatever it is that ignites your passion and gives you life – that’s exactly what you should be doing. Even if someone else is already doing it. Even if thousands of people are already doing it. That shouldn’t matter because there’s no room for comparison here. You have something special to bring to whatever table you choose to sit at. Don’t give comparison a seat at that table.

(photo cred)

 

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Christina is a writer and photographer living in Indiana with her husband, Isaac. She loves Jesus, brunch and nature documentaries. Be her Instagram friend here + follow her blog here

 
Christina DonnellComment
On the 1st Day of Love Letter Writing...
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DEAR COMMUNITY,

We are officially in the holiday spirit and today is day 1 of the 12 Days of Love Letter Writing! Come along with us, read the letter request below, and drop a letter in the mail to Chris before December 20th! Need some tips on writing letters? We've got them for you

xoxox, 

MLL


1. CHRIS

Chris’s aunt contacted us and shared part of his story in hopes that we could provide some hope + encouragement to him. She wrote:

“Chris was born with a severe medical condition that has resulted in many surgeries and repeated hospitalizations over his lifetime. Despite the suffering he experienced, he was a bright and active child. His upbeat and happy demeanor brought joy to many. While in the hospital, he would entertain nurses by singing songs from his favorite cartoon movies. Then Chris would walk down the hall to visit friends and encourage them in their own recoveries.

But as he's grown and become more aware of the differences between himself and others, Chris has struggled to stay positive. The medical regimen required to keep him alive and relatively healthy is very tiresome. He doesn't know anyone else with the same conditions and has always felt tremendously isolated.

Now in his mid-twenties, he is feeling desolate because he is still living at home and isn't able to have a "normal" life like others. He longs for a romantic relationship but doesn't believe anyone could want him or love him because of his conditions and the resulting physical limitations. Recently, he confided to my mother–his grandmother–that he is so lonely that life doesn't feel worth living.”

Please join us in spreading cheer + hope to Chris as he struggles with believing he is valuable.

PLEASE MAIL ALL LOVE LETTERS BY DECEMBER 20 TO:

Chris’s bundle

℅ Angie A.

9617 Great Hills Trail

Apt #1235

Austin, TX 78759

USA




How surviving an abusive relationship is changing the way I raise my son.
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"I can’t help but stare as you lay there sleeping, son. You’re mesmerizing. I want to spend the precious hours of your infancy memorizing the curves of your face, the way your still small hands reach for mine. I know they won’t always.

Because I know that little boys don’t keep. One day, maybe not so many days from now, you will be a man. And while you’ll always be mine, I know a season will come when I’ll have to share your heart.

For years, I’ve been praying for the man who you will become, and maybe more specifically, I pray about the man you won’t be.

For years, I’ve been praying for the man who you will become, and maybe more specifically, I pray about the man you won’t be.

Sweet boy, there’s a type of man that sadly does exist in this world, and my wish for you is to be everything different from him.

There was a season in my life, long before you, long before your daddy, when your mama was a different person. You wouldn’t recognize the me I was (most days, I thank God for that). I didn’t know what I was worth, and I spent my minutes and hours, days and weeks, and far too many months with someone who did their best to make me believe my worth was very, very little.

The first time it happened was in front of my mother. And I’ll never forget the look in her eyes, her head swinging slowly side to side in disbelief. In that moment, I saw all the ways a mother’s heart could break. She wanted more for her girl, as I would want more for you. She was shocked, heartbroken, and I could tell she felt helpless in the situation. Now, in hindsight, as a mother, I can only imagine how that moment must have hurt her, probably more than it hurt me. With the swing of his open hand, someone I loved took away my ability to feel safe and left me with more than just flaming red indentions in my skin.

The excuses he made were infinite. He didn’t “hit me in my face,” it was just another part of me, so it "doesn’t count." I “deserved it.” I “shouldn’t have pushed him.” And I bought every one of his irrational rationalizations. I was small. And the fear that controlled my life seemed so very, very big.

Nearly a decade later, life looks so different. God is good and merciful. My people, now yours, showed up and helped me see the light that once shined within me had been extinguished. And I decided it was time to fight like hell to get it back. Because when you’re given a light to shine through your life, you NEVER give someone else the power to douse your flame. And though you may have the ability to tear someone else down, the true mark of a man is in his ability to NOT use that power.

What you can (and should) do is look for the light in the hearts of others, and do everything in your power to encourage them to shine brighter.

It’s been months since you arrived, sweet boy, and I’m still wrapping my head around the miracle of your life, how after years of prayer and nine months of forming you within me, you lay here asleep on my chest. You are the brightest light in a world full of darkness. I know what an honor and a challenge it will be to raise you to be a good man, but I decided long before you took your first breath to make it my life’s work to teach you kindness, compassion, justice, humility, and bravery.

Be kind. Words are some of the most powerful weapons, much more so than many give them credit for. Use yours for good. Guard your tongue, be slow to anger. Remember that the girl you’re speaking to maybe someone’s future mother and ask yourself if you’d want someone speaking to your mama that way.

Guard your tongue, be slow to anger.

Your hands are a gift, love. Use them for good. Work hard, but stay humble. A grateful man is a treasure, a man too boastful-a thorn. Under no circumstances do you have the right to touch anyone else’s body without permission, in love or in anger.

That season changed me in unimaginable ways, and I’d like to think many were for the better, especially because I feel better equipped to raise a man in today’s world. The woman I am today…I fought hard to become her. I pray you will become a man who will respect the women in your life. That if you were to ever love a girl, you would allow her wings to stretch far and wide and never fear that in her becoming more, you would become less."

 

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I'm Nikki Santerre, owner and lead photographer of Nikki Santerre Photography. I'm a self proclaimed "Heirloom Curator," a fine art hybrid photographer who travels across the country to document and celebrate marriage and the intimacy of motherhood.  If I'm not behind my film camera, you can find me writing for some of my favorite publications, educating photographers, advocating for families struggling with fertility, or spending time with my husband and our precious miracle baby, Mason.

 
Hannah Brencher 1 Comment
Frequently Asked Questions
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We've been doing this letter writing thing for a long time now and we get it... it's intimidating to start. You have nothing to be afraid of! Here are some of our most commonly asked questions when starting out with us:

Q. SHOULD I LIST MY RETURN ADDRESS ON THE LETTERS?

A. Completely up to you! If you feel more comfortable not including your return address then please feel free to use ours on your envelope: 

More Love Letters // 535 Gresham Avenue // Atlanta, Georgia. 30316

 

Q. WILL MY LETTER STAY IN ITS ENVELOPE WHEN IT ARRIVES? 

A. We ask the individual(s) facilitating the bundles to carefully open each letter and go through the contents to make sure the nature of the letter is not compromising or harmful. However, in the past we have seen many individuals choose to put love letters back in their original envelopes because of the creativity of the envelope.

 

Q. WHERE CAN I NOMINATE SOMEONE FOR A LOVE LETTER BUNDLE?

A. You can nominate an individual for a love letter bundle righttttt here!

 

Q. can i send money or gifts with my love letter?

A. We kindly ask that no monetary gifts be included with the love letter bundles. While we appreciate gratuity, we do not not gift individuals with monetary donations or tangible gifts apart from love letters. 

 

Q. i live outside of the united states... can i still write?

A. Absolutely! We welcome letters from all countries and even carve out space with every letter request so that your letter has time to travel where it needs to go!

 

Q. can i write about faith in my love letters?

A. We do not censor religious views in love letters but we are mindful that More Love Letters is not a religiously-affiliated site. It is up to the facilitator of each bundle to determine whether love letters containing faith-based content will remain in the bundle, based on the beliefs of the recipient. 

Hannah BrencherComment
A love letter to college students during final exams.
 
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Hey you, 

I’ve been there.

Books piled up in a stack beside you. Nodding off to the glow of the computer screen. Neon strips of highlighter scraped across your forehead, leftover not from some raging highlighter party the night before but rather the all-nighter spent spooning Shakespeare term papers and mind-rattling interpretations of Samuel Beckett’s best works.

Some of you are halfway through. Knees sunk deep in the muds of history power points and audio projects. Stammering in the mirror before you give that final speech in class tomorrow. Still muddling through the differences between "el" & "usted." Nosotros & Vosotros.

Some of you are stocking up on caffeine fixes and 5-Hour Energy drinks before the storm hits. A storm of finals worth 60% of your grade. 12-pagers that will have you crawling into the light of the morning, turning your study guide into a white flag to wave and surrender.

You’ll make it. I know it.

I can promise you there are lights & lanterns & cold winter nights cuddled by the fire at the end of your tunnel. Perhaps it won’t be the grace of a love letter but the grace you’ll gain from the sound of the last book shutting. The sound of the last pages shuffling out from the printer and into your professor’s mailbox.

Remember to breathe. To eat. To sleep, if you can. Curl up on the couch in the campus center if that’s what it takes. Blast Holiday music while you slug a gingerbread latte you so deserve. And, on the nights where 1am comes quicker than shoppers on Black Friday, be the one to text your friends, “Diner. 2am. I’ll drive.”

I still keep that memory always. Every year I pull that memory out like I do the ugly holiday sweaters. It is a memory I didn't know I would miss at the time. A stack of pancakes. An open laptop. Hot chocolate with whipped cream dribbling from the side. All of us laughing, not knowing at the time that yes, yes, we were going to miss this one day soon.  

It’s hard to believe that right now as you struggle to swallow every prefix in the dictionary or every literary term you’ll need to dissect that Emily D. poem tomorrow but the closeness of friends in one place, seeing of the sun coming up, living in sweatpants for at least two weeks... you’ll miss these things when they are gone. Life will move faster. You'll graduate. All of this will look different a few years from now and you'll find yourself wanting to grab the memories back, hold onto the moments a little while longer. 

...you’ll miss these things when they are gone. Life will move faster. You’ll graduate. All of this will look different a few years from now and you’ll find yourself wanting to grab the memories back, hold onto the moments a little while longer. 

So pick your chin up from the computer. Stand up and stretch. Take a break to call your friend and see how studying is going. If there is someone beside you, smile at them… propose a coffee break… treat them.

Get a fake candle, lay a blanket out in the middle of the floor, and make boisterous claims that a study executed at 800 universities across the country proved that copious amounts of Elf quotes, cuddling, and snow angels increased final grades by a whopping 73% percent.

Let Beethoven trickle through the iHome. Take a Target break. Buy reindeer ears for no good reason. Drive home the long way just to see the lights and feel the unspeakable yet fleeting peace of this time of year. Stop the car. Put it in park. And just sit quietly for a minute– no texts to keep you, no Instagram to push you away from the moment at hand. Forget for a moment that your vocabulary is plumped with Finals & Responsibility & Deadlines & Due Dates. Just laugh & sing & dare to miss the moments that will be gone tomorrow.

Remember: It is a book. It is a test. It is a paper. That’s it. That’s all. You’ll make it.

Myself, this love letter, and anyone who has ever been there before…we are pulling for you. We know you'll be just fine.

Happy Finals!

xoxo,

hb.

Letters of love & vulnerability.
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In the classic, heart-wrenching love story of our time, Noah shows his devotion to Allie by writing her a letter every day for a year. When she reads them seven years later, their love story commences into a beautiful life.

But unlike most movie tropes, love letters can be this powerful in real life. We’ve seen this proven with complete strangers, but it can be a part of our everyday relationships too.

We often think of letters as a parcel of mail with a stamp that has to travel over some distance, but the physical space it spans is not nearly as important as the emotional space. Don't feel silly if you're writing someone a mile away, or handing a letter to a friend.  

It’s hard to say when my boyfriend and I started writing love letters to each other, but as writers and introverts it can be easier for us to express ourselves through letters and it's now an essential part of our relationship.

There is something about holding those words in your hands that brings them closer to your heart and mind. This is why we write letters. This is why we sit down and take the time to express our thoughts and put ourselves on paper. It really is a piece of yourself that you can give to someone you love.

 

When we first started dating, we worked in the same cafe. Even though we spent a lot of time in the same space, there was an inexplicable excitement when he would hand me a folded slip of paper just as one of us was leaving for the day. These letters have been passed between us, left in mailboxes or in other places for each other to find.

I’ve used letters to share both feelings and memories. On the one year anniversary of our first kiss I wrote him a letter retelling what I remembered about that night, he did the same in return and now its a little piece of our love story, documented in our own words from both perspectives.

The letters are all written with love, but many of them contain much more than that. We write these letters not just in times of happiness, but also in times of struggle. We often share intense vulnerability and insecurities with each other through letters. It creates a safe space to say that really really scary thing or that really bold thing like ‘I’m doing my best’ or ‘I love you with all my being.’

 

Like all relationships, there is an ebb and flow between us. When we are having a hard time communicating, we can look back on these letters we’ve written to each other.They remind us that no matter what we go through, we have each other, our love and our letters.They hold versions of ourselves that are intimate, precious and perfectly preserved.

While the idea of writing letters is often romanticized, the reality of writing is gritty and tough. If you're trying to write a letter and find yourself grappling with words and emotions, congratulations because you're doing it right. It should be a leap of uncertainty because the reward is only as sweet as the risk.  

The only way to get to the happy romantic part is through the mud.

The only way to get to the happy romantic part is through the mud. This is how we find the beautiful things inside of us. This is how we share ourselves and write about love.

So the next time you find yourself crushing, or falling in love, consider picking up a pen and sharing a piece of yourself.

Here are a few tips if you're unsure of where to start:

  1. Write exactly what you're thinking! You never have to share your first draft so feel free to write whatever is coming to mind.

  2. Think of a specific moment and tell someone how it made you feel. Getting a glimpse into someone else’s thoughts and experience is extremely powerful.

  3. Have fun with it! Letters don't have to be serious.You'll be happier with an honest expression of yourself to reflect upon later.

  4. Use quotes, song lyrics or other borrowed words. Articulating your feelings takes practice so go easy on yourself even if you can't do it right away.

  5. Make the whole letter a representation of yourself by using cards, paper, and pens that make you smile and bring you joy. Feel free to doodle too!

  6. If you’ve shared some deep feelings get a little nervous like me, just seal it and hand it over. Being vulnerable is scary but it shows incredible strength. Take pride in it.

(photo cred)

 

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Allie Silvas is a writer and line cook based in Los Angeles. You can find her writing about food and culture at matchstickcooking.com

 
Hannah BrencherComment
Performing to please.
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Dawn broke on Nov. 28, I was finally 14. I rolled over in bed wiping last night’s jitters from my eyelids. Like curtains, they sprung. Immediately, I noticed a glossy, deep brown Ibanez acoustic guitar stood in the corner of my room. I snatched It by the neck and raced downstairs. The kitchen spewed a myriad of tempting smells. “Mmm,” the most tempting, bacon. My dad peeked over his shoulder and smiled, “Happy Birthday, Kiddo.” 

With pick in hand, I spent the rest of the day engrossed in YouTube tutorials. By evening, I‘d successfully put on my first show, performing the introduction to the Beach Boy’s classic, “California Girls.” My No. 1 fan was clapping and whistling, as I not-so-humbly bowed to my audience of one.

That was my favorite birthday. It was also my last birthday with countless claps and a splattered bacon breakfast. My dad died from heart disease nine months later.

 

Ten years later, my fickle fingers still manage to strum that intro. Less confident in my skills, I finagle a way to feel proud.

It’s tough. For 14 years, my father was my groupie.  No matter the activity, decision, or dream, he stood behind me cheering the loudest and holding the biggest, boldest banner.

I miss those days. Not only was my dad around, but I was also my purest, happiest self.  He wasn’t the core of my identity that my happiness spun around. No, he was my reflection. Day after day, my dad reminded me of who I was. He accepted the wrong notes I played and the mistakes I made. He clapped when no one else did. He showed me that it was okay to fail, that it was best to be myself. 

If I acted my life out on stage now, I’d garner some nice reviews. That’s because I’ve put on quite some shows and I’ve managed to gain a fan or two. Every morning, I wake up, and dress in the trendy, designer outfits I see on Instagram.  I hurry to work. For lunch, I eat organic soup and crackers specified on my diet plan. In the evening, I sit in my bed, scrolling through my friends’ Facebook feeds, critiquing their lives, and pay no attention to mine. Who was I fooling? 

I’m the jester. I’m the fool. Others are happy. I’m not.

I’m too consumed with people, with ideas, with thoughts. I delight in smiles, but I flee from battles I should have fought. I shrug my shoulders or I say short, soft words. I’m the jester. I’m the fool. Others are happy. I’m not. Performing is taxing, especially when I’m put on the spot.

 Who am I? Oh yeah, I forgot.

And when I look to the crowd, I hear those cheers. Then I see the big, bold sign.

 

Two weeks ago, while cleaning with my husband, I found a yellow, watered stained paper. My fingers fumbled as I tried to open it. He opened it for me and we read together.

Dear Lauren,    October 15, 2001

. . . I wish the best of life can give. Be strong, but most of all, be yourself. Age 8, 18, or 38, you’re still my little girl.

Love you,

Dad

My eyes widened. My husband’s teared.

“I wish I had one. I wish I had a letter,” he said. His mother had died when he was 13, of multiple complications.

I sunk deeper into a spot on the floor, sitting, thinking, analyzing his letter and my life. I heard my dad’s cheers. I picked up my notebook and attempted to write about my life on stage.

I began, “One-star performances won’t get you anywhere darling, especially if you’re not performing for yourself.” I wasn’t performing for me, but for others.

I knew what I had to do and I ran from it. But why be a mere jester when I could play a hit? I held on tight to my pencil in my hand and emptied my heart empty on the paper. I made my own guidelines. I was going to change my stage.

I wrote a letter, to me, to my husband, to us and perhaps to you.

We all need a reminder sometimes, and we all need love, too. 

Dear You, 

Can you remember the person you were, before the world told you who you should be? In this world full of pixelated screens and harsh words, the easiest way out is to put your heart in places of temporary fulfillment. And soon all our dreams and decisions reside in hollow spaces. Our dreams crumble. Our hearts break. We compromise our true selves and identities to make others happy. 

If you do this, there’s something you should know: You are so loved and you belong in this world. But most of all, you deserve to be your greatest, most unique self.

Your reminders:

  • Listen to your heart. First and foremost: do what you love. If you don’t know what that is, find it. Sit and let your mind wander. Find what makes you smile. Remember it.

  • Play your song. Listen to what your heart calls you to do. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Are you refraining from doing something you love because you are afraid of what someone thinks? Don’t. You can do this. Throw your heart on the line because it matters to you. Do it, because you’ll lose yourself, your happiness if you don’t.

  • Look to your groupies. This is key. Find them. Find those people who are going to love you no matter how many tomatoes are thrown. Look to them when times get hard or you just need a push.

  • Your critique over everyone else’s. Dig in. This is the toughest. Truth is, people will always have opinions. It’s what you do with those opinions that matter. Learn to take the criticism with a whole lot of grace and a smile. Yes, it’s hard. But don’t change something you do to please the other person based on their beliefs or opinions. Let them leave their lovely opinions with their shoes at the front door. Your heart stays in your home. Your opinions of yourself matters at the core.

Don’t hold back loves. Keep going. Sing louder. Strum faster. And you will give yourself your own standing ovation.

Hugs,

Lauren

 

{photo cred}

 

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I’m a girl who feeds off grace and strength. I write to empty the heart and exude love.  Beginning my own writing journey at  https://inyourshoesweb.wordpress.com/

 
Lauren Kaiser 1 Comment