notes to self

writing woman

“Letter writing can be seen as a gift because someone has taken his/her time to write and think and express love.”Soraya Diase Coffelt

This month, we are focusing on letter writing and correspondence – the letter, the postcard, notes, all written forms of communication meant to carry words from one to another on paper. The women inside are avid letter writers. They don’t have access to the internet and phone time is limited so a letter is a line drawn from their hands to those they care about. Each conversation is a record, a body they shape before they send them out of the prison like paper doves.

This week, when we asked “What lifted you this week and what weighed you down?” one woman answered:

Being able to write my words and thoughts freely; When the guard came in, I realized I was in jail again.

A letter is a place where our written freedoms can live in relationship, where the liberty we choose for ourselves can be heard, remembered, put in writing. Each writer is his or herself in the room of the page both in jail and independent of jail. We can even reflect that freedom back to ourselves, mirror it in words as though we promise it will come into being. The letter is a note to another and a note to self: remember, to get the bills paid, remember, that I care for you, remember, who you are. While the jail is a constant reality, each writer can create another one, invites themselves and another into that free space.

In the two pieces below, the women are addressing themselves as much as an audience, creating a world where even the elements support their written and literal of acts self-liberation:

Note to Self


We’re going on a walk today. Go, jump and run and yell and shout. TO be free from the worry and despair of everyday life. We walk along the winding road, kicking stones as we go. Dancing as one as the sun and clouds make their way for rain. We see the tree we’ve got to make it to, as lightning flares and the thunder booms. Splashing through the puddles as we run like children. Huddled underneath the boughs of leaves, under the willow tree, we hug and sing a song and say a prayer to help us carry on.



Cold Spring Shedding

The cold spring has eased. The ice finally melted into the lumpy muddy road. My car’s been smacked underneath and thrown sideways like beans and tumbling dice.

I ride 50+ miles everyday, passing beautiful lit up hills. Grey, brown and gold sticks and branches texture across the horizon. The silence touches the horses and soft human steps.

Sliding away, I leave for town with no fan fare. I say “Hello”, “Good-day” and “Good-night” that’s it. We used to embrace and cling. We come home at different times now and cook our separate meals. Our broken love is stiff as cardboard.

And the screen door still swings too fast, out of my hands. A relic we saved from the dump. It helped keep the icy air out. I will leave in summer. Almost 10 full years from when we meet at summers end.

My eyes are dry, my skin ready to shed. Shedding this weight. The weight of hanging on.

I may take a long walk to reset my default switches. And burn calories never reached while driving too many hours and miles.

Shedding is like submerging under water, and capturing a new momentum. Perhaps I will learn to move and loco-mote like a dolphin, or at least a person with adventure and joy.




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