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Connecting the Past & Present: A Small Story Behind the "Dear Veterans" Letter

A dozen years ago, I had two ideas: T. Rex & the Rabbit Foods and a workshop series that I created called Who the Hell Am I…Honestly?®. Even though cooking and feeding people filled me with happiness, I chose the workshops.

The workshops helped people to get to the root of their beliefs and behaviors and begin to heal their pasts. During this time, I also started freelance work. I wrote about women’s and veterans’ issues, body image, alternative therapies, and unfortunately—for someone who loves food—the ways that food can make people sick.

Together, the writing and the workshops were intense. And serious. I approached what I was doing with a heavy heart; it was a “sacred privilege” because I connected to people where they hurt the most. I may have helped some people but I depleted myself. I lost my joy.

And so, I slowly let the workshops and writing go. I turned my life toward T. Rex & the Rabbit and felt my life returning to me.

But part of me still held on to what I had created. Even though I stopped facilitating the workshops, I maintained the website for a year. I finally unpublished the website but I kept the domain name. I unpublished the Facebook page. But the one thing I hadn’t yet done is to take down the blog that I wrote to support the various themes of the workshop series. That I kept.

On October 11th of this year, for no reason other than wanting to look forward instead of behind, I decided that the time had come to take the blog down. As soon as I could take a break from cooking, playing with food, and teaching, I would give myself a moment to grieve as I pulled the plug on the last remnant of Who the Hell Am I…Honestly?®

Life, however, has a funny way of reintroducing us to the past.

When I was doing the workshops, I posted what I called a “Thought for Today” on Facebook. It was really a way of making my social media meaningful. Some of the “Thoughts” were funny; some ironic; some soapbox-y (yes, that’s a word); but most of them were geared toward connecting to the best parts of ourselves in order to connect to others. And on November 11, 2013, my “Thought for Today” was the letter Dear Veterans. As the former military wife of my veteran, T. Rex, the letter was particularly meaningful to me—so I posted it on the blog as well as Facebook. And then, I forgot about it.

Four years later, that letter has taken on a new life. On October 13th—you know, only two days after I decided to say goodbye to the workshops blog—two women (within two hours of each other) contacted me. One was from a Veterans Services Office in Massachusetts and the other from a school district in Texas. Dear Veterans had found its way onto Pinterest and they each wanted to know if I was the author and if they could use it.

I gave my permission. The letter I wrote so long ago is now being featured in a column and is being framed and given to veterans in a Veterans Day program.

I am humbled. And I am honored. I had worked too hard and too seriously to force meaning and connection into what I was doing with my life. It’s amazing that the moment I decided to finally let that past completely go, a piece of it came back to me in a way that was not a heavy burden but positive and loving!

What a gift I have been given by this odd turn of events: I finally feel nourished by what I created years ago.

I think I’ll keep the old blog around for a little while longer. It’s okay to take a peek back once in a while.

For now, I’m exactly where I’m meant to be: cooking, connecting, and filling my life with joy.

Thank you.

Let’s get cooking!

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