Dear j…

At Zebra Sounds, we’re dedicating May to exuberant, heartfelt, sing loud – dance wild, revel-in-your-one-precious-life self-love. Last Monday, to counteract all the negative shit we tell ourselves daily, I suggested we write ourselves love letters.

When I sat down to write mine, I expected to feel awkward and self-conscious. I thought it would be hard to talk to myself nicely, but it wasn’t. It was exhilarating. Usually when you give someone a pep talk, you’re sort of guessing what they need to hear, hoping you get it right, hoping if you don’t, at least your love will shine through. But writing to myself… I knew just what I needed to hear.

This is my love letter to me.

Dear j,

Breathe. Listen. I have important things to say.

Remember Humboldt in April, how you walked through forests and over sand dunes, along shore lines and creeks and marshlands poised on the edge of spring? Remember how, as you walked, something inside you stilled, an inner voice shrill with worry and doubt, a nervous, chattering energy that kept you in motion and exhausted at the same time? Remember how it felt to lie down on the dunes and watch the clouds skim overhead?

Don’t stop there. Walk more. Walking is good. Pay attention to your steps, the planet pressing up to hold you. Spend time every day just being.

You’re doing great. You’ve leaped so many times in the last two years, often without a landing in sight… and you haven’t always landed safely. You’ve had your heart broken, your mettle tested, your ego bruised. That’s okay. Good even. Cliche or not, we grow in the hard times. We evolve in failure. It’s a weird (but reassuring) truth.

The important thing, the most important thing, is that you’ve known joy, the exhilaration of sudden awareness. When you open up and let the world in, epiphanies happen. You meet amazing people. Some of them will make you cry. Some will challenge and expand you. Some will remind you what it means to love fearlessly… all of them will change you.

Let them.

Here’s what I wish for you…

I wish you’d stop being afraid – of getting older, of missing the boat, of being too late. I wish you’d believe that beauty radiates from experience and so you can’t waste even an instant wishing you’d acted sooner. I wish you’d dance your precious, wild, love-filled life assured that anyone watching is mesmerized. There are few things more breathtaking than watching those who take life by the hand and just dance.

I wish you’d trust love, when all else fails, trust love to be the lasting thing, the thing you’ve always got, no matter how slim your bank account, how unfashionable your clothes, how awkward your social graces. (Authenticity rocks… even when it’s clumsy.)

I wish you’d live your big, fat, north-bound life, not in spurts, but always. Even when you’re nervous, uncertain, tired, stressed. You’re good at messy, embrace that. Expand, connect, explore, risk.


Be fierce. Be amazing. Be alive. Be j. No one else is going to.


Did you write yourself a letter? If you did, I’d love for you to post it (or an excerpt of it, or a link to it) here in my comments section. If you didn’t, maybe you can write yourself a few friendly sentences. I’ll totally back you up.


This week’s self-love assignment: Give yourself permission, every day, at least once. Eat something decadent, take yourself somewhere gorgeous, use crayons, take a stand, roll down your windows and sing (I’m thinking Bohemian Rhapsody here), dance with a stranger, hula hoop, daydream, doodle, pour a glass of champagne, wander… One thing. Every day.

Next Monday, we’ll compare notes.


  1. Jeffrey Bennett on May 8, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    My heart leapt, when I leaped to a lower ledge
    to arrive, not at the bottom of this assignment
    but at the very, very edge.

    Wonderful letter j, it eclipses your shadows, gives
    your radiance definition.

    • j on May 9, 2011 at 8:26 am

      I had your example to live up to. xo

  2. Joanne Ludlow Firth on May 8, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    I love your letter and the entire concept. I love you. Wishing all of your letters’ wishes to come true, every single one, plus. Happy May j!

    • j on May 9, 2011 at 8:33 am

      Thank you, Joanne. It was really cool doing this. I think it might just be a generally good idea to, as Rachel Ford suggests, check in with ourselves now and then. Advise, encourage, love ourselves a little, intentionally. And I think the “in writing” part is powerful. (This is a not-at-all-subliminal suggestion.) xoxo

  3. Melissa on May 8, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    I absolutely adore this and it brought a few tears to my eyes. I hope you read it lots of times because I think you’re right: we do know what it’s important to hear but it’s all too easy to forget or overlook or lose. I also think it’s important to wish things for ourself cos I think that strange kind of empathy and care is often trampled – but feels quite amazing and connecting when it’s regained (or that’s been my experience).

    I haven’t written a love letter but I’m inspired to do so. And, just so you know, even via the medium of the Internet, you’ve had me mesmerised. xx

    • j on May 9, 2011 at 8:35 am

      I hope you do, Issa. It’s more powerful than I thought it would be, but in a quiet, “oh yeah, this is who I am” sort of way. You’re right about how easy it is to lose track of ourselves, for all the right reasons, and some of the wrong ones. Writing this to myself made me feel… buoyed. Believed in… by the person who needs to believe in me most.

  4. keishua on May 9, 2011 at 5:57 am

    I have not written a letter to myself in a while. Yours is simply beautiful. I love the theme for this month and it is very fitting for what I need in my own life.
    If I write one, I will give you a peek.

    • j on May 9, 2011 at 8:36 am

      I hope you do. And, yes, a peek. I have a feeling a letter from you (to you) would do me good too.

  5. lunaJune on May 9, 2011 at 7:36 am

    great letter j… it is so important to remember why we love ourselves because so many times we forget to honor that love… easier to reach out with that love and lighten someone else’s day then to shower our love on us… it may be years of being told it’s selfish… but let me tell you… although I know you know it if you don’t love yourself you truly can not love another…
    I did write mine… it’s been years since I wrote like that to myself… just a little of it…

    Dear MoonChild…
    I love the way you dance upon this earth. I love the way your smile exudes such wonder on all those around you. To see how fearless you are with your heart…always seeing the wonder….and letting go of pain. How instantly you can see such beauty in the smallest thing.
    Know this… when people say are you always this happy? the answer is YES ….know it is a choice and remember what an amazing swimmer you are… for every traumatic thing in your life, you have overcome it and not allowed it to beat you… there have been tears.. many many… but always in the end your love of life and yourself shows you back to the wonder that is always there.. mainly because you are such a big part of it .

    you rock….I love you

    thanks Judy for being fearless… offering your love as a light
    you are AWESOME

    • j on May 9, 2011 at 8:39 am

      Wow, June! Who wouldn’t want to get a letter like that? And let me verify wholeheartedly that you do, in fact, rock. Thank you for sharing. This big grin is for you.

  6. Amy on May 9, 2011 at 7:55 am

    Dear Amy – stop worrying about death. For every day and bit of energy and worry you spend thinking about dying, you lose out on living. And stop wishing your kids’ life away. They will soon pour their own cereal, they will soon tie their own shoes, and they will soon be asking for the car keys…and you’ll wonder where the time went. Enjoy the now. Just enjoy the now. Because your now is pretty fabulous. Relax a little or you’ll miss it.

  7. j on May 9, 2011 at 8:42 am

    Worrying about death is a lot like worrying about age (only, I guess, further along the “I’m too late” spectrum). It occurred to me as I wrote my letter that every single second I waste obsessing about how long it took me to start writing like a motherfucker and loving fearlessly, is a second I can’t get back. Worse than the seconds I wasted before because now I know better.

    Our nows are pretty fabulous. Yes. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Amy on May 9, 2011 at 8:12 pm

      I guess that wasn’t much of a love letter, was it?! Isn’t it funny that I don’t worry about aging, but I totally worry about death. To me that’s an indication that I do love my life…and want to hang out a while longer 😉

  8. Estrella Azul on May 9, 2011 at 9:20 am

    LOVE your love letter, j, it seems perfect and is awe-inspiring to read! This assignment was timely for me, thank you for challenging me like this (and for your sweet words last week)!

    I just posted my love letter to my blog, here’s a teaser:

    Dear Self,
    Self love doesn’t come easily. That’s the main reason you need to write this letter. The main reason to set aside criticizing, undermining and doubting yourself… –> read the whole letter here

    • j on May 9, 2011 at 1:05 pm

      Love your letter, Estrella. And yes, you leap! I rarely see you standing on the sidelines. Thank you for always jumping right in here to dance with me. xo

    • Estrella Azul on May 9, 2011 at 1:29 pm

      I enjoy every second of it, you’re a great dance partner, amiga! 🙂

    • j on May 10, 2011 at 8:17 am


    • j on May 10, 2011 at 8:17 am

      Wow! Beautiful!

    • C. Fassett on May 10, 2011 at 8:28 am

      Thanks j, for inspiring us all to write a love letter to self. It was a hard, dark week for me, and I was fairly saturated in self doubt, and the act of writing this letter yesterday reminded me just where I’ve been, and the strength and faith and love it took to stand back up. If I had it in me then, I have it in me now…I can keep going, I can love anyway…even when its dark, I’ll remember the stars.

  9. JW Rogers on May 9, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Why spend so much time judging yourself if others are going to judge for you?

    Why spend moments in sadness if others are sowing sadness around them?

    Why give room to your doubt, as others declare their doubt like clarion horns.

    Let your space be the quiet space, the space you clear out for yourself, that’s just right, that is all yours, that is filled with forgiveness, love and patience.

    Certainty will follow.

    • j on May 10, 2011 at 8:18 am

      And so will j. (But you know, from a safe distance.) I have certainly appreciated that calm space you inhabit. Love this.

  10. Becky on May 9, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    Dear Courageous Girl,
    Look in the mirror.
    Do you like what you see?
    Stop longing for brighter days because the days are so bright and clear and wonderful…
    Open your eyes.
    Look again.
    Do you see where you were?
    Now, look where you are…
    Surrounded by the people who love you,
    truly love you.
    Do you think they’d stay if they didn’t?
    Look at the reflection staring back,
    Do you know her?
    She’s so full of love and hope and kindness and understanding,
    People are drawn to her.
    They push forward to talk to her, to laugh with her.
    Look at her, there…
    In the mirror.
    She’s breathing.
    She’s hoping.
    She’s living.
    She’s been to places that most people never come back from.
    She balanced on the edge of a cliff wishing for a strong wind to push her off.
    She stood up…
    Over and over and over.
    Look at her,
    Do you see the crooked smile?
    Do you see the twinkling eyes?
    Do you see the light?
    Do you see you?
    Look in the mirror, courageous girl…
    It’s you.

    • j on May 10, 2011 at 8:27 am

      This is lovely.

  11. akakristin on May 10, 2011 at 1:37 am

    Your letter is inspiring and wonderful. Very much like yourself. I did write a letter to myself… for some reason I had a hard time writing it, but I’m glad I did. Thank you.

    Love, Me.

    • j on May 10, 2011 at 8:27 am

      I’m so glad you did too. You rocked it. BIG smile.

  12. Lance on May 10, 2011 at 7:19 am

    I like how your hold yourself responsible. We are similar in that vein.

    I am so glad you are passionate about who you are. You are an example.

    • j on May 10, 2011 at 8:28 am

      Got no problem being similar to you, Lance. 😉

  13. Tricia on May 10, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    See yourself as your mother does, as your daughters do. Do they think you’re unlovable, untalented, ugly, fat? Good, then neither should you. Do you want your daughters to grow up hating on themselves? Then maybe you need to show them how not to. Nobody wants to live with a martyr. Stop all the nonsense sacrifice and treat yourself to that haircut, that outfit, that new restaurant you didn’t think anyone else in your family would like. You have a personality, stop hiding behind it. Break free, be fun. Be the friend you always wanted.

  14. j on May 10, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Tough love, but you’re absolutely right of course. Here’s some things to love about you: you are hilarious, generous, and talented. I know. I’ve been the direct recipient of those Tricia truths. xo

  15. KjM on May 10, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    “Be fierce. Be amazing. Be alive. Be j. No one else is going to”

    There is something beautiful and profound there, J. Elegant in its simplicity.

    Ah, but then, consider the source… 😀

    • j on May 10, 2011 at 8:49 pm

      Kevin! I’ve missed you. (And thank you.) Clicking to come see you.

  16. Meg Sweeney on May 10, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    Dear j,

    This is absolutely the best idea. I have fallen completely utterly in love with myself! Thanks for this idea and for the love project.

    • j on May 10, 2011 at 11:20 pm

      Sweet Meg… THAT is, without a doubt, my favorite quote of the week. <3

  17. Becky on October 5, 2011 at 10:33 am

    Dear j —
    thank you for not giving up on me.
    thank you for letting me write a letter to myself, which I forgot I wrote and now I read it and I remember who I can be.

Leave a Reply Cancel Reply