It’s been a long time since I last wrote one of my *long* letters. These letters have remained in the domain of friends and family e-mails over the last year and a half on a semi-monthly basis, but I’ve moving them onto this blog – I think it keeps things a little simpler. This is a letter from January 1st, 2015.

It’s been since early August. Which makes my silence about five months long, and now we’re into a whole new year. (Happy New Year!)

I’ve missed writing these letters to you as much as many of you have expressed missing my epicly long missives. Thank you for your appreciations. I love writing, and feedback really helps. Affection helps. Kindness, love, and caring all helps.

Here’s the thing. When I last wrote in the summer, life felt so darn good. Better than it had in years, in fact. I was so excited to share all about how great I was feeling, and how life felt, finally, like it was flowing with more ease. Health issues that have plagued me, feelings of stuckness, many less tangible ills and sadnesses had fled, and in their place I felt like ME – the me I know lives at the foundation of all the layers that create me – and it was such a good place to be – free and light and happy. Full of joy, ease, happiness and sensuality.

Well, although I got a taste of that freedom, it started to slip away, and in it’s place the gaps cemented again into the uncomfortable states of being I thought I had finally shifted and escaped from. I know you all know this experience – in whatever personal and unique form it takes – of the back and forth between how lovely things can be, and the little traps of ‘shitty’ that we all step in. Many of you have shared those struggles with me.

What I love about my friends is that you are so willing to share and expose both the joys, the celebrations and the delights, but also the challenges and struggles. It’s a reminder that we’re all human, and that in fact neither I, nor anyone else, struggles alone.

For example, the bubbly gregarious friend who slips, every autumn, particularly as the days slide towards November, into a seasonal depression. But, what I love so much about her, is her willingness to SHARE how it feels. Because of this, I know to connect with her around that time, and I also feel safe to share that I too am feeling my share of the grey season blues. Because of this, we are both lifted out of the blues, just a little, and can at least laugh about the predictability of it.

Another friend, another bubbly, creative and dynamic friend, has had his share of depressions that tend towards suicidal thoughts. Again, he talks about this. He reaches out, says when he’s not doing alright, while also, incredibly and amazingly, expressing such profound faith that the world is good and things are going to work out. I am so inspired to know that someone I admire and love is capable of riding those pendulum swings back and forth, without being tossed right off into the darkness.

Another friend has shared struggles with addiction. How it bothers her, how she feels trapped in it. And yet, from my perspective, I see someone who has come a long way and mastered many challenges, managed the ‘monkey-on-her-back’, and functions and copes well. She is able to, through humour and quiet presence, be a great friend and the best of company. I am, again, inspired by someone’s intentional growth, and the slow and steady changes that have resulted.

Another friend, quiet and thoughtful like myself, creative, beautiful, delightful, amazing – she’s been feeling the disheartening effects of having a hard time getting by doing the work she feels called to do on this earth. Boy, can I ever relate! There is nothing more confidence shattering and heart scraping than trying to offer up beauty and life and spirit, in the best way one knows how, and feeling invisible in the attempt. I’ve been struggling with that lately myself.

Another friend, on a similar spiritual path of growth as myself, shared her latest shamanic ceremonial work. Her positive changes have inspired me – she has grown in the most positive, enlightening and exciting way.

In the spirit of reciprocating what I admire about my honest and open friends, I’d like to share what’s been going on with me. Since my last letter I’ve had a bit of a hard time. I’ve been in the doldrums these last few months. The flow and ease that I was riding on foundered, and instead of being a sailboat with a wind in my sails, water unfurling away from the prow and blue skies all around, I’ve felt like a very small rowboat, sails shredded, one oar floating off in the distance, down at the pit of a valley of water, surrounded on all sides by walls of water and a grey wet sky overhead. No horizon, no light, and no perspective. Boiling in a ton of frustration and discouragement.

Then two weeks ago I totalled my car. It’s a write-off. I rolled it, a combination of going around a hairpin turn too fast, not knowing the road, and driving on slick pavement. Amazingly, I walked away unscathed.

For the first time I called 911. Firetruck, ambulance and police arrived within minutes. In my state of shock, surrounded by four tall baby-faced  firemen who were concerned about my safety, I couldn’t stop looking up at them with an internal swoon, they were just so handsome!

Well, I’ve taken this collision (with myself) as a gift.

And I’m taking my correspondence with friends as a way to share what I’m doing with loved ones who can both cheer me on, and make me accountable.

Today is the first day of 2014, and is also the first New Moon of the year. New moons are a great opportunity to create ceremonies and intentions around letting go, and calling in what serves you. So, in service of calling forth my year:

I will no longer act small, hold back or feel constricted on behalf of my own fears, or others.

I will create art and carve a path towards making a living off my creativity – which has always felt like my vital and constant lifeforce – my artery of self-expression and meaning.

I am calling in more pleasure, more love, more ease, flow and joy.

I will save space for the sad, the hidden, the discouraged and scared parts of myself to be as they are, I will hug and love them up, but I will no longer give them the best room in the house.

Most of all, I will share, soon, the exciting changes that I’m creating!

In the meantime, I take a great deal of solace from my nightly gratitudes. I do these with my daughter before bedtime. We started doing them when my dad had leukemia, at his suggestion. No matter how hard the day is, there are always a few things to be grateful, and sometimes, the day is so incredible that the time it takes to savour the gratitudes stretches on and on, making it even more beautiful. I love doing these gratitudes.

However, I realize, I’m more than a little hungry for expressions of love. LOVE! The kind of love you get from children, amazing friends, and lovers, and experiences in nature. Love that is expressive. Love that says things about you that you didn’t even know about. Love that isn’t scared to say it, to trail a finger up your forearm, around your elbow and with a squiggle make the journey past bicep towards the dips in your collarbone, all the while dropping words of honey – all about the lusciousness and beauty of you. I’m looking for more love that nourishes, delights, and pleasures in the fun and sensuality of making sure the other person feels adored, seen, encouraged, snuggled and desired.

In this spirit of feeding this hunger, I’m interested in WRITING love letters. And PAINTING them.

Here’s where you all come in…

I’ll love you up! Send me an image (written or snapped) of a person, a place, a body part, a thing, that you think needs some lovin’. Of you or someone/thing else. Be as vague or as clear as you’d like. Tell me exactly what you want written about – your knobbly knee? Take a pic, and I’ll love it up. A quote that makes your insides quiver and your heart soar? Your spindly tree in the backyard? Same deal. Your favourite book, or celebrity, or even one you despise. I’ll love it up!

Your town? Your snaggle-toothed husband? Or wife? Your sweet pet? It doesn’t matter. Send me one, or two, or three prompts. Be as playful or clear as you like.

I want a creativity challenge for this year, and I’d like it to be illustrated love letters. For each prompt you send me, I will write and paint it out, and share the results (this offer is good till the end of August 2014).

What better way to get some lovin’, than by giving it?

So, with love, smooches, and snuggles, here’s to the best year yet,

Janelle