Sandra Peachey
Thursday, 11 April 2013

Change your life...with a letter

Sandra Peachey discovered that the best way to make things better is simply to pick up a pen - and start writing

Do you remember the ‘good old days’ of writing and receiving letters? The younger version of me remembers, with unashamed nostalgia, all the fabulous things that arrived in envelopes: news, love letters, job offers, Dear Johns and so on. And while I wholeheartedly embrace electronic communication, still I hanker after that time of letters…

In my grown-up life, I’m a coach, working with people to get the results that they want out of life and business. This often crosses into emotional territory when I support them in letting go of what they feel is holding them back; and then to embrace and move forward with all the good things in their lives. And as a coach, you also have to practise what you preach and sometimes this happens in the most unexpected ways.
ChangeLifeWithLetter-02-590Sandra with her father

Last year, I decided to set myself the challenge of writing a ‘Love Letter to Life’ every day of the Valentine month of February. I had always considered myself to be a writer, yet seldom gave myself the opportunity to write, so I created one and to commit to it publically, created my Peachey Letters blog. I set myself this challenge with a vague notion of writing letters to the people and phenomena in my life that shaped and inspired me. I sat down at my computer knowing that the first person I would write to was my father – the man who had given me my love of language and writing. I started to write and what came out was a mixture of dark and light, how I grew disenchanted with him as an adult; and then happy childhood memories and how much I still loved him; and so it was that the letter was both an exploration and a celebration of our time together.

My letters went to such random recipients as family, lost lovers, snow, cats, work, mentors, feelings, and aspects of my personality. From wondering how I might manage to write 29 letters, the issue I actually had was limiting myself to one daily choice.

As a coach I knew that I wanted these letters to have a purpose and pattern. The purpose was to release demons, feelings and attachments I had to people; emotions and events that were weighing me down and holding me back – clogging my psyche with unnecessary baggage.

I decided that I would not delve into all the negative aspects – to moan about what had happened to me – but rather to explore it and to see how these people and occurrences had benefited me and to see the good in situations that seemed, on the surface, to be quite the opposite. This is why I called them Love Letters – in the sense that I was seeing the power of the most positive feeling of all, in all that had happened to me.

To seal the deal on my Peachey process, the final step was to consciously celebrate all these things in my life. Sometimes it seemed really odd to be thankful for situations that often, frankly, were (at the time) horrendous for me. Yet by replacing those feelings with sentiments of love and celebration, meant that I could literally rewrite my history and feel them differently.

Just as life is made up of the serious and the trivial, so my letters reflected that. As well as the deep-seated issues, some letters were just glorious celebrations and explorations of ‘silly’ stuff like comfort, song, food, photos or whatever happened to take my fancy on the day... I was simply celebrating myriad aspects of my life and enjoying the writing ride.
ChangeLifeWithLetter-04-590Sandra with her parents on graduation day

And though I originally set myself the challenge to be creative and find my writer’s voice, I had also created a process that had allowed me to become my own best coach, as I discovered how free I felt, how much happier I was and that I could reflect on a lifetime of experiences in which I decided there was much to be thankful for. As I added each letter to the blog, I got such an amazing response from people who were resonating with my experiences.

The great thing about using letters to ‘coach’ ourselves is that most of us have experience of writing them and they are one of the most personal forms of communication, so we can really get to the heart of the matter. I started off by sharing my letters with trusted friends and they gave me the courage to go public with them, and I’m so glad I did. As a result of the amazing feedback that I received, my book, Peachey Letters: Love Letters To Life, was published in February. But even better than that was the release and love that I felt after having written my Peachey Love Letters.

How to get started

My advice is not to think too hard about your letter, just sit down and write: analyse, let go and then celebrate. And once the letter is written you can decide whether you want to share it. Reread and absorb, then choose. Keep it for yourself, share it with the person you wrote to, or a trusted family member or friend. Or, if you feel it’s right, share it with the world, in writing, on a blog or via Facebook, etc.

Sandra Peachey is a life and business coach: Peachey Days,

Peachey Letters: Love Letters To Life is published by Anoma Press, priced £11.99 and for Kindle (via Amazon), priced £5.14.

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