Love letters: the transformational power of pen and paper

Image by Elyse, used under CC license
Image by Elyse, used under CC license
Image by Elyse, used under CC license

Love letters are traditionally written by hand.

Now that almost all communication is via a keyboard and screen, there can be a deeper significance to hand writing. There is the implication that the missive is out of the ordinary way of things, a special undertaking, using special equipment, for a special person.

There is also the fact of receiving a piece of physical paper, which has marks made on it by the actual hand of the lover. Not just their thoughts, emotions and desires, but the action of their writing, a small portion of their physicality, is inscribed onto the paper.

But the first time I wrote a love letter, a real, honest to goodness, opening to mystery, adult love letter, I wrote it using early word processor software.

I don’t know why I typed it rather writing it out long hand, but what this method did was to put witty, playful parts of me in charge of communication. And that was perfect: for the me I was then, and for that early, flirtatious stage of the relationship.

When I write by hand, I tend to be more serious, more raw, and to talk about deeper, darker things than when I use a keyboard.

I recently took part in an online group, mentored by Fabeku Fatunmise, writing love letters to money. (It’s a practice he shares in his Unfuck Your Money Mojo teletastic, if you’re interested in finding out more.)

And I chose to write my letters by hand, because I knew I was going to be going to some serious, raw, deep and dark places. It aided the flow of feeling, the unfolding of self-discovery, giving shape and voice to thoughts and beliefs long buried, and long denied.

It was a richer, more nuanced, deeper experience than the few times I wrote my love letters on a keyboard. 

I found a new understanding of myself, of my history with money, and my current relationship with it. I uncovered beliefs and attitudes of which I had not previously allowed myself to be aware, and also their roots.

Because I wasn’t just journalling, just exploring myself, I was approaching the questions of money and I from love. Seeing through the eyes of love, writing from the heart of love, brings knowledge and understanding not possible any other way.

What difficulty in your life can you approach from your heart today?

Radiating love to you and yours,

elliesig

Love is creativity: why and how I write

Image by Jonathan Reyes, used under CC license
Image by Jonathan Reyes, used under CC license
Image by Jonathan Reyes, used under CC license

Writing is one of the things I love. I was posed these questions about writing by Halo of A World Enchanted as part of a blogging festival. I’ve tagged Avi Lago at Kali Ma’s Botanica and Niki Whiting of A Witch’s Ashram to carry on the good work. They’ll be posting on Monday, 16th March.

1. Why write? Why not sing, dance or figure skate?

Creativity isn’t a zero sum game. I write and sing and dance – and paint and bake and knit and make mixed media artworks.

Creativity is a way of engaging with life that is fundamental to me – and, I think, fundamental to human beings as a species. It is a way of integrating experiences, of bringing emotions into awareness, of exploring the world and the beings round me and my relationship to them. And each way of being creative brings some thing different into that engagement.

I have three writing practices: journalling, poetry and blogging, and each is different, has its own processes, precursors and effects, but fundamental to each is writing as a way of discovering-shaping-discovering-shaping knowledge. Every time I write, I find out something I didn’t know I knew

2. Do you have a musical play list or do you need to write in absolute silence? If you have a play list would we recognize any of the songs or artists on it?

No play list, but nor do I write in absolute silence. Right now, I’m writing to the sound of the wind outside the house, my partner sorting through his screw collection, and the heat recirculation unit doing its job.

Other aspects of my sensory environment are at least as important to me when I’m writing as sound: colour, light, space, physical comfort, as well as the tools I am using. All of these are more important to my ability to fully engage with my writing than sound.

3. Can you see a future for yourself in which writing forms no part of your day to day life?

I don’t think so. In the past, even when I’ve dropped blogging and poetry temporarily, I’ve kept journalling, although by no means consistently.

4. Which author/s inspire you currently? I am not talking about some of the greats but departed. Authors alive today, which of them inspire you?

I don’t read a great deal of published fiction, and when I do, I tend to return to well-loved works. Having said that, Ursula (K.) le Guin is a constant source of inspiration, not only as a writer, but as a person.

5. Share an article written especially for this tour!

Love letters: the transformational power of pen and paper.

Radiating love to you and yours,

elliesig

How to choose love, always

Public domain image: from Cox, P. "Squibs of California"
Public domain image: from Cox, P. "Squibs of California"
Public domain image: from Cox, P. “Squibs of California”

I had a shock last week. I discovered that a couple I married in June are getting divorced, just 7 months later. To my knowledge, it’s the first time that has happened for anyone I’ve married in 15 years and over 50 weddings.

The couple have reassured me that their wedding ceremony was perfect, that there was nothing else I could have done to accommodate their needs or seal their union. But I still feel gutted.

But it’s none of my business

It’s really not about me. Once a wedding ceremony ends, the relationship of the people involved is no longer any of my business.

And yet, I am feeling sadness to hear of people whose relationship seemed so happy choosing to part so quickly.

That is perfectly natural and acceptable. But I am also feeling a sense of guilt and shame that this happened “on my watch”. And that is my fearful self overstepping the mark. Because how could guilt or shame be an appropriate response unless the couple’s happiness were my responsibility?

So I’m calming my fearful self, and returning again and again to the knowledge that, as invested as I may be in the success of the marriages of the people I work with, the only marriage I have responsibility for is my own.

I’m also reminding myself that a divorce can be just as loving as a wedding, by returning to the contemplation of what love actually is.

The opposite of love?

In trying to define what love is, we pair it with a lot of opposites.

Love is the opposite of hate.

Love is the opposite of fear.

Love is the opposite of apathy.

But one of the lessons from A Course In Miracles which has stayed with me over the years since I was a student is that love has no opposite. It’s an idea, a truth, that can be found not only in Western faiths and wisdom traditions, but also in Vedic philosophies, and in indigenous traditions around the world.

If love has no opposite, what does that mean?

For me, it means that love is not just a feeling. It’s an underlying truth of life, the ground of our being.

And that means that love is always accessible. 

Love is accessible not only when I’m feeling happiness or joy or gratitude, but also when I’m feeling sadness or anger, when I’m in hate or fear or apathy.

Love IS.

And so love is present at a wedding, and it is also present at a divorce. It is present when people make love, and it is also present when they argue.

And because it is always present, it always accessible — always there for us to choose.

But how?

Still the mind, calm the heart

Hate, fear and apathy may not be the opposites of love, but they are states of mind and heart that make love much harder to access. It takes practice, and the development of an inner observer, a witness consciousness, to be able to do consistently.

Please be assured, I am not saying that the emotions I mentioned earlier — sadness and anger — are incompatible with love. Sadness and anger both often arise from love, after all. But here too, the ability to feel while being aware of what we are feeling enables us to choose love, regardless of what is going on in our mind or heart.

Radiating love to you and yours,

elliesig

Can you fall in love with a stranger, just by choosing to?

gaze
gaze
Image by bambe1964. Used under CC license.

 

I came across a story earlier today, about research by Dr. Arthur Aron and other psychologists in the 1990s into how people fall in love. The team succeeded in ‘making’ people fall in love with each other, in a laboratory, simply by asking each other questions, and staring into one another’s eyes.

Mandy Len Cantron, the author of the story I read, tried out Dr. Aron’s questions with an acquaintance. They were both open to falling in love, and went into their impromptu experiment willingly, if with a little trepidation.

It worked by leading them gradually into more and more intimacy.

The final four minutes of eye gazing were the seal for their falling in love.

When we allow ourselves to be seen, when we allow ourselves to really see another, our barriers are diminished. We experience a kind of communion. We perceive one another’s truth.

No wonder they fell in love. Our truth, each on of us, is love.

But is falling in love enough?

The original experiment was so successful that some of the experimental subjects got married.

But I am left with the question of what their marriage was like, how long it lasted, how alive they felt in their life together.

Because love and marriage isn’t just about falling in love. In the words of the famous quote from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, any fool can do that. No, marriage isn’t about love as something that happens to us, however it may be induced.

Marriage is about love as a choice.

Not just choosing love when we have reached a momentary experience of intimacy, when our barriers are down, but choosing love when our barriers are up, when we are a million miles away from communion, when we can’t perceive one another’s truth.

Marriage – not just the legally recognised kind, but any lifelong relationship of love – takes discipline. It requires a commitment to daily, hourly, sometimes minute by minute choices for love.

And not just when you feel like everything is right with the world, but when you feel like shit and think your loved one is an arsehole.

That’s the side of love that our culture doesn’t pay any attention to. And it’s the side of love that we need the most.

If you want support getting in touch with that side of love, check out ways to work with me. I’ll be happy to help.

Radiating love to you and yours,

elliesig