In 2011, I received a letter in the mail and felt that instant excitement of finding something in your mail box that isn't a bill. The letter came from Wendy DeLury, my 2nd and 3rd grade teacher. She was the teacher that had inspired me to be a teacher and I had been in contact with her often in the last year.
Around that same time, I was dealing with a lot emotionally. I was working hard to come to terms with my past, make sure I continued on the path to eating disorder recovery, and trying to get a college degree. It was a lot of pressure and I wasn't always good at handling it all. Wendy (even after many years, it's still weird to call her that) was a big supporter during that time in my life. She challenged me and was also one of my biggest cheerleaders.
I opened the letter and found a list of 101 reasons why I deserved to be happy. I remember the first time I read it, it was difficult. It's overwhelming to hear so many things a person admires and appreciates about you when you can't even list 10 reasons why you appreciate yourself. But I kept the letters tucked away and when I had a difficult day, I would come back to them.
Some of the list made me laugh. For example, number 27, "she's not afraid to watch Shark Week all by herself." I know, that's got to be hard to believe but it's true. I'm fearless. Shark Week has nothing on me! That would have never been on a list I created but there it was, number 27.
Some of the list made me feel a great sense of pride. Number 55, "she values the personal histories she has with others" and number 66, "although she doesn't always recognize it, she has joy deep in her heart that she unwittingly shares with the world around her."
In the end, I framed the letters because they were that important to me. I have them sitting in my home office and I still look at them periodically when I'm struggling.
Now I feel like it's time to pay it forward. Everyone deserves to hear these things from people in their lives. Ultimately, everyone deserves to be happy simply because they exist but during difficult times, that can be hard to wrap your mind around.
The fact that I had someone in my life that had thought to sit down and type out a list of 101 reasons they appreciated and admired me got me through some really dark times. Everyone should be as lucky to have a Wendy DeLury in their life.