I have this box. Uninteresting on the outside. In fact, a Target special that used to hold Christmas ornaments. I know this because there is a label from a previous version of myself that tattooed “Christmas Ornaments” with a thick, black Sharpie. The box is clear plastic and I can see right through it leaving a tattoo unnecessary.
It contains love. Seriously. Come on! This is #spreadmadlove month. Stick with me.
Almost a year ago I was a whirling dervish in transition. Overwhelmed. Untethered. And feeling like I was on a game show, the viewing world depending on me to get my freakin’ act together. I could see my viewers wedged into the corner of couches, feet tucked under their bottoms holding a glass of well-deserved wine in their left hand, while their right robotically dug for another handful of popcorn. Strained in the easy chair, right hand wrapped around a beer. They were screaming at the 40” television. Screaming at me. “Come on! Come on!” The buzzer was about to go off, I had only seconds left.
To get my freakin’ act together.
I remember walking up the dusty attic stairs that were lined with items I had been too lazy to walk all the way up when I was “staging” the house for sale. As I stepped gingerly around these landmines I took inventory with my eyes and mentally put each item into a pile.
The environmentally friendly light finally started to emit some brightness just as my left foot stomped off the staircase and onto the makeshift floor. “Oh. Shit. Are you kidding me?” The attic seemed to have expanded since my last visit. More things that I had to go through and decide what to throw away, sell or keep from the last 50 years of my life and the end of my marriage. The task seemed insurmountable.
I crumbled to the floor not caring if I got splinters in my butt or if that stupid pink fuzzy insulation made me itch. I don’t think I can do this. Truly. I can’t keep firing up these memories in my head. They will remain buzzing in there like a colony of bees that were startled by the paw of a large bear. They know there is danger but they are defenseless in every way other than the buzzing and stinging. Buzzing and stinging. This will hurt for days. “Please.” I plead to the stale air and dust mites. “Please make this stop.”
I’m not sure how long my pity party lasted but when I finally sat up and pulled my big girl panties up I was chanting, “Just one fu*cking box at a time.”
The first box I angrily stabbed at was a large silver plastic tub. Seriously, by the grace of God, I picked this one. The one that would actually propel me forward for the next 5 hours in the attic as piles formed around me, creating a fortress, defending the approach of those dang bees. My fortress had misshapen towers I named storage, apartment, sell, dump, Andrew. Those last two…in a row…hmmm. I digress. You want to know what was in the box don’t you?
Inside the box, was another box.
Ha! Sorry, but there really was.
The second was the size of a shoebox and decorated with angels, gold handles on either end, metal riveted corners. Dang. I sunk to the floor again, this time with angels on my lap. The box contained all of the letters and cards that were sent to me when I had cancer. Written by my family, friends, neighbors, friends of friends, church members, co-workers from ages ago, college roommates, parents of college roommates, strangers. They contained prayers of strength and healing. They told me that my “courage was inspiring to all who knew and love me and even to some who’ve never met me.” I saved every single letter. Every single line from their heart to mine.
I felt stronger. Bees be dammed.
Energized with the imaginary wind of courage and support I moved through the attic like the project manager I was. In the process, I came upon three more boxes that joined my angels at the center of the fortress, my chapel. These boxes were oddly presented at times when the hum of stinging bees got near.
The red shoebox contained every birthday, Mother’s Day and Valentine’s day card I have received over the years from Kyle, Brad and Andrew. I knew enough to just shut it and put it in the pile. Grateful that was the decision I made as now I read those beautiful notes from Andrew and they reiterate what is finally able to surface in my heart — there was something real in those 25 years.
Next, a cheery orange box. this one I did not need to open. I knew it belonged in the middle. It announced in swirly beige letters “Above All Remember to Love Yourself” and had a magnetic flap adorned with “Love”. This box contained emails, my gratitude journal, artwork, drawings and talisman from my cancer days. I peaked in. Right on top was a drawing of three orange stick figures with my handwritten note “This is me, Mom and Kyle in bed when Mom is sick. 2/03”. Those were Brad’s words when he handed it to me after school. I remember the very moment his heart touched mine.
Then there was the handmade bag. I made four of these. One for each of my college roommates. The sides were adorned with photos of us back in the day. The top was reinforced with a ribbon that said “collections from the journey”. Shear orange ribbon was used to “sew” the sides and came together as a handle. Impressive, if I do say myself. This bag contained long handwritten letters from my grandmothers and old boyfriends. There were stacks of senior pictures all signed on the back from my high school friends. And then there were cards from old co-workers. One, a Christmas card from 1985 read “Have a Jolly Christmas and a Sparkling New Year” and my friend, Howard, followed up the Hallmark message with “You should have gotten a copyright on the world! Still, it’s nice to see it in print. Stay cool and who can tell what Santa may bring.” Ha! I’ve been sparkling since 1985. Who knew?
So. There you have it. My large boring box that contains a magnificent amount of love. I share this with you hoping to demonstrate how powerful your written words can be to those you love and those you don’t even know.
“Handwriting is more connected to the movement of the heart.” ~Natalie Goldberg
I believe this. I feel the connection even now when I read any note in my box.
Writing is a beautiful way to spread mad love. Maya Angelou describes words as things and she believes they have the power to seep into our walls, and the fabric of our life.
Don’t wait until Hallmark tells you to get a card February 14th. Instead spread some mad love today.
- Write a note to someone you love. If they live with you put it in their jacket pocket, in front of the coffee maker or dashboard of the car. If they reside elsewhere find a stamp and mail it.
- Is it someone’s birthday this month? Instead of the old “Happy Birthday” take it a step further, list the 3 things their existence means to you. They were born on this day. Celebrate their life.
- Write a note to a solder that is fighting for your freedom. They may be invisible but they are there and there are many. Find out more at Soldiers Angels.
- This last idea may sound weird but it is powerful. Write a letter to yourself, as if you were writing to a friend. List the things that you love and admire. Address and stamp it. Then give it to a trusted friend and ask them to mail it to you whenever they feel like it. If that feels weird, send it to me and I will hold onto it until the spirit moves me. It is very powerful.
Now, spit, spot. Go write your heart out.