I wrote this letter for Kerené—my mysterious, quick-witted, daydreaming daughter. As I reread it, I realized I want the same things for the other powerhouse women in my life. We as women spend far too much time beating ourselves up, second guessing our decisions. We gain so much more when we choose to celebrate instead.
So, to all the Wonder Women in my life, this letter to my daughter is my letter to you too.
Have you ever seen pictures of The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries? Woven of wool and silk, these six tapestries live in the Cluny Museum in Paris and are dated back to the late 15th century. They are beautiful, Kerené, intricate in design—much like you.
The first five of the tapestries are said to represent the five senses: taste, smell, touch, hearing, and sight. But it is the sixth tapestry that has left everyone guessing, encouraging others to create their own interpretation of the message intended by the artist. The tapestry depicts a woman standing in front of a tent. Across the top of the tent are the words “À mon seul désir,” my one sole desire.*
A sixth sense—one of understanding, love or passion? Or does the sixth tapestry represent a statement of free will in the face of the five senses? Regardless of the tapestry’s true meaning (of which no one will ever know), it is unique in comparison to the five before it, mysterious and beautiful. It is exquisite and full of color.
This, my sweet girl, is how I see you. An array of vibrant colors woven together in such a way that leaves others perplexed, in a state of wonderment and awe. You are a tapestry of the battles you have won, those you have lost, and those you have yet to fight. Your tapestry is a continuous work of art.
It is unique. It is yours alone. You should celebrate its intricacy.
You see, The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries tell a story. It is a story that seems so well put together, one that can only be told using the richest fabrics and most vivid colors. It is a story that unfolds with purpose. Kerené, “À mon seul désir,” my one sole desire is that you are intentional and aware of the story you tell.
Embrace the perfection of your imperfections
If you ever get the chance, look at the underside of some of the most celebrated tapestries on display today. While the focus is on the topside, they are often a hot mess underneath—the chaos of tangled threads. Threads that seem to go nowhere; threads that seem as though they should have no part in creating something so celebrated.
The same beauty celebrated in life is often fueled by chaos, uncertainty and lack of clarity. I am no different.
I wish I could tell you I’ve figured it all out, that I’ve found the path in life that will help you find success and happiness. But the reality is that the underside of my life’s tapestry is wrought with wrong turns, bad decisions, mistakes and heartaches. Someone recently told me that these are the very threads that I owe my success and, ultimately, my happiness to.
I’m starting to embrace the perfection of my imperfections. I’m learning to throw myself out there, to be vulnerable and curious. I hope you can do the same, Kerené.
Push yourself to the limits. Take chances. Be brave. Know that you will fail. Embrace the hot mess underneath and forgive yourself along the way.
Most importantly, stay true to your convictions—know them inside and out. Your convictions, the principles by which you are not willing to compromise, will keep you grounded and help you be intentional in the story you tell through how you live your life.
Find your “À mon seul désir”
Did you know that tapestries were originally hung in castles and large stone churches for warmth and protection during the winter months? They were also used to depict historical events, a reminder of where we have come and the lessons learned along the way. They served a greater purpose. The same is true of you, Kerené. You are here for a reason and it is up to you to uncover it.
The one thing I have learned is that it is nearly impossible to live with purpose without understanding your convictions. What beliefs do you hold that you are willing to fight for, perhaps even die for?
Write your convictions in bright red lipstick on your bathroom mirror so that they are staring you in the face each morning. Read them to yourself. Say them out loud. Give them the attention they deserve. These beliefs, your convictions, will help you find your way back from wrong turns, bad decisions, mistakes and heartaches.
When you stay connected to your convictions, you will question yourself less. You will forgive yourself more. And your story—rich in its purpose—will be beautiful and full of influence.
Perhaps one day you and I can go to the Cluny Museum in Paris. Together we can admire The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries and, at the same time, imagine the mess underneath.
As for you and the beautiful mess that you are, I am full of wonder at the woman you will become and the story your life will tell. Find your one sole desire, baby girl.
*There are multiple translations for “À mon seul désir.” The one I’ve included here, “my one sole desire,” is my adaptation.