Letter to My Former Self

Red Dress Fantasy Wallpaper
Red Dress Fantasy Wallpaper

Seven Year Itch

The one constant in life is that everything changes.  Everything.  Even the cells in your body, your skin, your bones, your blood — many parts of you renew themselves every seven years.  You are not the person you were seven years ago. You will no longer be the person you are now, seven years down the road.

That being the case, consider yourself a work-in-progress. You will always be on the verge – of something wonderful, something terrible, something challenging, something different.  And that’s what makes this life both harrowing and heartbreaking. Constant change.


“You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed.  And you are beautiful.” ~ Amy Bloom

Playing the Fool.  Sometimes.

When I roll the wheel back and look for myself seven years ago, I see someone flattened with grief and uncertainty. My life was in shambles. I was indebted and broke. I lived with a lot of fear and doubt. I’d opened my heart and lost my mind when the man I loved handed it back to me and said, “I’m just not feeling it.  I’m just not feeling this.”

He cut me off at the knees. I was hoping for rescue, resuscitation, relief.  Instead, same-old, same-old. The pattern repeated.

Or so I thought at the time.

But the truth of the matter is, I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and started the soul-work needed to forge a new life. I quit waiting. I rode in on my own white horse and picked up the pieces. I built a handmade life I am proud of — attached or unattached — a life that has me at the center, not on the periphery.

And that was the gift — the pony, so to speak — that was buried in all that sh*t.

I realized my worth and stood in the center of my own life, instead of watching myself from a dark corner.

Oh, my love…

If only someone had told me when I was younger how full of light this life is — how bright and smeared with stinging raw color — color that makes my eyes tear up.

If only I’d known how inaccurate and fleeting and wrong-headed and flat-footed some of my ideas about myself were. I had so much more compassion for other people than I did for myself.

Be Kind to Yourself

“Growing into your future…requires a dedication to caring for yourself as if you were rare and precious, which you are, and regarding all life around you as equally so, which it is.” ~ Victoria Moran

Dear Literary Girl,

You will be OK. You will figure it out. You will love again. You will find your voice and forgive yourself for how long it took you. You will become brave.

You will throw your hat in the ring. You will piece and stitch language in ways that only you can, eventually writing stories and essays and poems. You will bite your lip and muster your courage and let them fly out of your chest, like a flock of ravens taking wing.


“To have that sense of one’s intrinsic worth…is potentially to have everything.” ~ Joan Didion


You will begin to truly understand how rich your life is, how indescribably lovely and blessed and wild. You will become a master teacher, an editor, a magazine publisher, an author.

You will find kindred spirits all over the world who hear your voice and echo back in words that you understand and treasure.

You will be loved and assisted by both the seen and unseen plane, by angels and guides, by men and women.

Your body will become a temple of granite, copper, stars — no longer in rags, no longer betrayed, no longer a forest of  heartbreak. You will walk the labyrinth of life, first this way, then that.  You will know yourself. You will know your worth.

In your dreams, you will wear red. A red dress, a red coat — colored like pomegranates or a hummingbird’s throat.

You will be surrounded by friends that are family and family that are friends, comforted by the warmth of your home, wherever you might make it.

You will be fully awake, fully alive.

You will never forget that you built yourself.

You had help, but you did the work: the requisite heavy lifting, the digging of the foundation, the placing of the cornerstone.

Whatever happens, don’t go back to sleep.

— Your future self


And in another seven years, what will I write back and reveal? Will I share my wise-ways, my mistakes, my adventures, and my inevitable wrong turns?

Only time will tell.

© 2014  Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved

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10 thoughts on “Letter to My Former Self

    1. That makes me happy, hearing that. Blessings to you on your journey, Mariann! Warmly, Shavawn

  1. Wow. My friend Kimber sent this to me, knowing that I write a lot about this and currently have one up about age… however, I think you have said it so beautifully! I am so grateful she shared it; your words are gorgeous, and powerful. I am sending it to my girl, so that she might soak some of this beauty in. Really enjoyed this post! *I’m sending this to the folks at Freshly Pressed… it should be. 😉

    1. Thank you, Dawn. Sometimes magic happens when I sit down to write on Saturdays (the day I blog each week). This one in particular just gushed out like a slippery little baby! I am glad Kimber shared it. We went to high school together and reconnected on Facebook. She’s so wonderful. I am glad you related to this and passed it on. Warmly, Shavawn

      1. Looks like we’re both on Word Press. I generally post 3x a week, and write a lot about aging, my kids, life… or sex toys. Whatever comes up. 😉 (So to speak). Kimber is a very special person, and I’m sure this one resonated for her, as much as it did for me. It’s really special. I do love those ones that just flow… Great connecting with you. Ciao! Dawn

  2. Dear Shavawn: Thank you for your wonderful post. May I have permission to use your photo of the woman in a red dress to illustrate a piece I wrote on my Tumblr blog: Tell Your Story Walking? It’s about gossip and Liz Smith’s quote about gossip going ahead of the news like a woman in a red statin dress.

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