Liv has just completed her Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award, supporting us to complete her voluntary element. Her blog here provides such a wonderful insight into the mind of teenager going through these difficult times and how to take a breath, carry on and connect via a letter.

A year ago, I wrote a blog post for ‘Me to You Letters’, sharing the experiences of me, a then 14 year old girl, who had decided to embark on a promise to write a letter a week for 3 months, as part of her Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award. I remember sitting back in my chair as I pressed the send button, and reflected on what a rewarding experience putting pen to paper had been. Just knowing that a simple, ‘hello, how are you?’ makes a difference to someone’s day, can truly make the greyest of days feel like the loveliest morning in May.

As I sipped my tea and closed the lid of my laptop, of all the things I considered, never did I imagine that within a month and a half, writing those letters would actually prepare me for the madness of 2020, and most importantly, highlight the value of reaching out to others.

When I initially started writing letters, it dawned on me I needed to read some accounts of how it feels to live with cancer. Although I had experience with family members managing illness, I had never met someone who had had cancer. One thing I learned, was that both cancer and some of its treatments can cause the immune system to be compromised and weaken, so when COVID19 swept through the world, I knew how much harder it would be for people suffering with cancer. Not only that, but as soon as lockdown set in, and family and friends were seperated, I knew how difficult it would be for us all to find the right words to put in a letter, to lift another. As a teenager, I know many - so many people - who were struggling to find the positives in life and the light at the end of the tunnel during 2020.

Sure, there were days where I felt sorry for myself too. I was missing friends, schoolwork was constant (and different), and let’s be honest, there is only so much television you can binge- watch, right? There came a point where I would honestly switch on the television and say, ‘OH, WHAT NOW..?!” before rolling my eyes and marching off to make yet another cup of tea to soothe my weary head. Reader – it’s important to have days where you indulge yourself in these moments. Why? Because…life is…really hard at the moment! There’s no escaping it. But, and this is a big but, once I sipped that cup of tea and got that dramatic sigh out of my system, I’d remind myself that no matter how sorry I felt for myself, and however glum I felt about the state of the world, there were so many people who had it way worse than I did. What’s more, it was more important than ever that we help one another, in whatever way we can.

As contact is limited, writing for From Me to You is an amazing opportunity to do some good.

What would I write about, you ask? Everything. School. Relationships. Family. The internal monologue of my dog (who thinks he’s a human) Ted. During spring, I pulled out the watercolours and painted the beautiful blooms. During summer, I’d talk about going out on runs. In autumn, I’d jot down the feeling of the crunching of the leaves as I walked, how there were always free apples on every corner (perks of living in Dorset), the smell of apple cake in every bakery…and the ‘distinct’ smell of silage as the farmers got ready for winter. In winter, I’d recommend films, the books I had read, the food we had cooked – I even shared my favourite recipe for a beetroot wellington. I talked about the general day to day, as though I knew them and they knew me.

For those who are thinking about picking up that pen and reaching out – I implore you to. We all feel so very divided right now in so many ways, yet from experience – writing is truly healing. Reaching out to one another, especially at the moment, provides a moment of much needed calm. It allows one to sit and reflect – to ignore the news and the gloom, and just for twenty minutes or so, think about the good things in life. Or imagine it! Share what you’re looking forward to doing – get excited and share it, as though you’re writing to your dearest friend.

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