Tag Archives: 30 day letter challenge

“Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everybody I’ve ever known.”

day 30 – a letter to your reflection in the mirror

Look at yourself in the mirror. You look almost the same as you did three months ago, don’t you? You cannot always see the progress that results from ninety days’ time, but it’s real.

via weheartit.com

I am a result of a collection of the wonderful human beings who take a few seconds out of their day to acknowledge my presence. To admit that I exist. I’m a part of their life. I don’t think any of them realize how wonderful that it.

I have a best friend who calls me every Tuesday and Thursday at 11:30 in the morning. Sometimes, I reach for the phone and it starts ringing.

I have a sister who keeps me looking (somewhat) fashionable. Parents who believe in the power of a liberal arts education but wouldn’t stop me from doing whatever my heart desires after college.

I have dreams that reminded me to roll out of bed on last Tuesday at 7 in the morning when I didn’t have class at all that day. And strangers who offer advice and insight in 140-character segments.

I have an ex-boyfriend who taught me how to fall in love and heal back together.

I have a friend in the middle of the Bronx who has offered writing and sheer strength to heal my wounds of depression and self-hatred.

I have a musical idol whose heart-on-her-sleeve attitude reminds me to do the same. To write these words now.

I have a God who keeps me from careening into oncoming traffic. A gymnastics coach who taught me how love can change the world.

I have been bullied by girls who remind me why I love being different.

I have a best friend who keeps me in her life despite all the strings tugging her into the Real World. A roommate who decided to love me before she even met me. A friend in Canada who taught me that age doesn’t matter when it comes to friends and that wisdom is invaluable.

I have friends from my childhood who taught me how to be a flexible parent someday and how to take giant risks.

I have a friend in Ohio who taught me how to take initiative if I want to see the world change and reminded me of the power of verbal affirmation.

I have friends in North Carolina who love my sister the best way they know how.

I have a friend whose indecisiveness about me has taught me how to be firm in my own feelings and actions.

I have a track team who taught me to believe in magic, persistence, and the power of the underdog.

I have a best friend who deserves to live in California, far away from the destructive people in her life.

I have three beautiful and talented cousins who taught me to believe in miracles, and a stranger who showed me the power of a mother’s love. A friend in Wisconsin who changes the world each week in less than 15 minutes.

I have a best friend who’s been a big part of my life from 300 miles away and who is always there for me without question.

And I have me. I am the only Kaleigh Erin Somers you will ever meet. I’m almost sure of that.

What do you have? Who are your people? What are their lessons?


Maybe it’s a collection of small moments. And an active decision to save certain ones.

letter 29 – someone you want to tell everything to, but too afraid

via weheartit.com

Dear Mike,

Sometimes, I wonder what I ever saw in MySpace. It’s such a mess of a site.

Sometimes, I wonder what I ever saw in cross-country. It’s such a lonely sport. But then I wonder what would’ve happened if I never joined MySpace or ran cross-country. If our paths had never crossed.

I wrote ten different letters in my head before I settled on this one, but maybe that’s what this whole thing’s about. I knew that when I started this challenge, you deserved a letter. I just didn’t know what it would say.

This is a thank you for never judging me when you found out where I’d been. Who I’d been. For seeing me the same way you’ve seen me for the last five years. For reminding me why I like being friends with guys. For being in my life for these last six years, however sparse at times.

That’s my fault—not yours.

Thank you for arguing with me about who had a better boy’s varsity team well past midnight all those years ago on AIM when I should’ve been doing homework. Thank you for keeping me up until two a.m. and always telling me to have sweet dreams when I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore.

You’re one of only a handful of consistencies in my life. And I don’t think I ever tell you that, but you deserve to know. You deserve the truth.

For some reason, whenever I listen to Hands Down by Dashboard Confessional, I think of you. And sometimes, I want to call you and tell you how many songs I imported into iTunes (just so you know, it’s 5526 songs).

Sometimes, I feel like I’m back in your red Jeep on the way to the King of Prussia mall and you’re making fun of me for playing 3 Doors Down because it’s the first artist I recognize when I scroll through your iPod.

It’s funny, knowing someone for five years and only having a handful of tangible, face-to-face memories. But each one is stuck in my memory. You’d be surprised by the details I remember. I’m surprised by the details I remember.

But maybe that’s life. Maybe it’s a collection of small moments and an active decision to save certain ones.

I guess what I’m trying to say is thank you for giving me memories worth remembering. Thank you for being the kind of friend that sticks around for five years, stringing together conversations from 300 miles away. Thank you for knowing me better than I probably know myself and for always driving me crazy with your incessant debating and god awful nine-minute instrumental metal songs.

That’s what’s real. Driving someone crazy until you’re stuck in her life.


Dreams written on crumpled slips of paper: the power of taking ourselves seriously.

day 28 – someone who changed your life

Dear Nate,

There have been a lot of benchmark people in my life who have changed me in some small way. Sometimes the change sticks. Other times it doesn’t. Almost none of those people can say they changed me for good. For always. You can.

via ItStartsWithUs

I want you to know that when I stumbled across your “Aha” moment video, I got the chills. Admittedly, I think I played it two or three times in succession, just letting the conviction and passion sink in more and more with each progression of the recording. I might’ve been in the middle of homework and got distracted. I can’t remember. At that point, though, I was already a member of ItStartsWith.Us.

You should also know that I grew up with a pretty firm stance on community service. For me, it’d always been something I did so I could add it to my future scholarship and honor society applications. Just a list of mindless hours accrued for the sake of Doing the Right Thing. I never felt personally connected to the people I’d helped, the causes I’d supported. The hundreds of small moments I spent at soup kitchens, nursing homes and church functions. Maybe I hadn’t found my niche.

Your conviction and sense of empowerment changed that for me. You wrote, “Next year I will change the world,” and then you did. As if everything were as easy as writing it down on a piece of loose leaf paper.

When ItStartsWith.Us came into my life, I needed a purpose to feel like I wasn’t running in circles. And if you hadn’t written those seven words at your conference for work, if you hadn’t jumped in headfirst on the path to self-discovery, I might never have realized the potential a couple of Do Gooders across the globe could have in altering the way we see the world.

There’s a whole world of reasons why you’ve changed my life beyond giving me a task every week. That, of course, gave me some small belief that I, too, could change the world. But more than that, it reminded me that once upon a time, you were just a guy in a conference with a dream. A dream you might not even have realized until that free writing exercise. I don’t know. But instead of looking at that daunting task you’d scribbled out for yourself, instead of crumpling up that piece of paper, you started in on a project.

And for someone who’s always looking to start a new project, to see it grow, I’ll always have proof that it’s possible. You’ve given me that. And you’ve spread love and found a wonderful team who has helped you tremendously. I cannot thank you enough for taking yourself seriously.

And this morning, when I read the letter you had written to Lauren, I knew that you deserved your own.


You don’t wake up one day and stop being a mother. It’s forever and always.

Dear Mrs. Gasciogne,

In under an hour, you changed my life.

I am sitting on a cold metal bench, digital voice recorder in hand, and I’m yelling in my head for making a grown woman cry.

girl on bench

via weheartit.com

It’s the first week in October, but already the biting wind isn’t helping alleviate the sting in both our eyes as I listen, wanting desperately to help you. I watch the way you reach a hand up, brushing back a steady stream of tears, and I try to imagine what it must feel like to lose a child. I can’t.

Journalists interview a gamut of wildly different people. Eccentric people. Intellectuals. Creatives. Endearing people. Disheartened people. Oh, God. Did I just call myself a journalist?! But it’s true. I had a long list of choices to work with for this post.

And you’re the winner. You’re it.

You are the reason I fell in love with journalism. You are one of so many reasons I keep coming back to a world I never ever thought I would dare to enter.

I remember standing up, having to remind myself that yes, it was a production day. Yes, this was a time-sensitive piece. And yes, I still had yet to write it. I remember the way it felt to hear words spill from your mouth and believe them. Believe them because I couldn’t afford not to. Because I looked at you and knew that there was a certain unspoken code of conduct.

And that code was armed with a single word to bridge the gap between two strangers who knew each other for less than an hour in time on a blustery day last autumn — love.

L-O-V-E. That’s the million-dollar word.

“You’re going to change the world,” you told me.

And you hugged me the way only a mother can. The way only a mother knows how. You believed, and stated quite firmly, that my words would change things. That your son up in Heaven had told me to take this story assignment. That we were, in fact, meant to meet. And you were right.

I see now that you were right. I see now that a mother can lose her son and still wake up in the morning to share her love with the world. She can roll out of bed, taking each day in stride, and she can find comfort in the way love saves people. It really does. That maternal instinct doesn’t dissipate. It doesn’t waver.

You’re one of the hundreds of mothers I have met. And each time, I am struck by the supernatural ability mothers possess, exhausting themselves with love and devotion to their children.

So when I grow up, perhaps I will be a journalist. But I will definitely be a mother.


letter 27 – the friendliest person you only knew for one day

When I was seven years old, I witnessed my first miracle.

letter 26 – the last person you made a pinky-promise to

To my boys,

When I was seven years old, I made a subconscious decision to believe in miracles.

I watched an infant grow into a kid who saw angels, a teenager who would rather tap dance across the kitchen than stand stoically in front of the fridge. I watched an infant grow into a toddler who struggled to express himself verbally, a preteen who could battle any college-aged guy in his ability to lick clean a plate of hot wings or baby back ribs. I watched an infant grow into a toddler whose strength was measured not in physical size but in character, a kid who thought smiling every second of every day was mandatory.

On any given day, there are a handful of people who always deserve a letter. You are most definitely in that handful.

I think I made a series of invisible pinky-promises to you. Promises I never acknowledged out loud, but knew existed nonetheless.

I promised to be a role model for you. The kind of surrogate older sister who you would love and respect and feel like you could come to for advice when you’re nineteen or twenty and get yourself into trouble at college.

I promised to look at you and see all the good in the world wrapped up in three little boys who each stole my heart successively. And I promised to make sure you always saw the world that way, that you always found that love in all the deep corners and brought it to the surface. That you expelled any doubt that there was an alternative to living each day with a smile plastered across your face.

I promised to appreciate the way you’re all different. To relish in the fact that you each bring something entirely new to the table and share those attributes with the world.

I promised to remind myself and you each and every day that your actions create a ripple. A ripple the size of the Pacific Ocean, bouncing off of everyone around you. Good or bad. It is impossible to step into a pond and the water not move around your submerged foot. But do you make an active decision in treading carefully so as not to crush a fish swimming beneath you? You do.

You have taught me that. In filling up the hearts and minds of those around you with so much love and energy, you have made a subconscious choice. You create counteractive ripples to cancel out the bad that filters into my world. You create ripples of love. And you cannot deny the light that shines within you.

When I was seven years old, I witnessed my first miracle. I witnessed the struggle of a premature child who served as a peace offering from God. And four months later, when the mother’s child lost her own mother, you were that miracle for her and for the rest of us.