Writing Reference Letters


I'm beginning to love writing reference letters, as they've allowed me to recollect my connections I've been asked to write reference letters over the years, and when I received my first request I was taken aback, shocked that someone would ask me. Over the years I've become accustomed and accepting to these requests, and because of them, I feel confident asking for referrals in return.

In most cases I've implemented 'the procedure.'  You see, I've had other people of whom I've requested a reference from, ask 'me to draft it' for them.  It's really a perfect way, in particular if you do not know the person that well, to get the letter you want.  It allows the person needing the reference to ensure the qualities they are hoping to be mentioned, indeed are included, and helps the writer get the letter done, in particular if they are busy people, or not that good at writing.

My latest reference letter request was from one of my best friends. Susan and I have run the gamut of life's experiences together.  I've always looked up to her, as a woman with so much talent.  Her request (as any) come in during my super busy schedule, and so I asked how soon she needed it done.  As I do with most of my writing, I either 'force and trust', or 'let go and trust,' dependent on whether there are time constraints.  In this case with Susan's reference, it was a trip down memory lane, and  a review of our collected experiences together. It flowed quite magically, even with her "I  need it asap request."

Later that day, I came up with the following letter which has made me realize what a joy this process has become for me.  I was able to review the richness of our relationship and recollect what this person offered not only me, but the community we were both a part of.

Here it is:

To Whom it May Concern,

I've known Susan Moir Mackay for approximately 15 years. I met Susan when we were both living in The Bahamas. We met during a personal development workshop, when we were paired to do several in-depth and personal exercises that weekend. We quickly became friends.

While I home schooled my four children, Susan led art classes for them in our home (or out in nature), which I can only say were healing and supportive, as it was during the time of my marriage breakup, and these art classes provided a huge source of comfort, and an outlet to the myriad of emotions my children were dealing with. I've saved some of their pieces and they have helped, even now that they are grown, to understand what they were feeling back then.

I've known Susan to be very involved in her community, as an active volunteer in the school, or the local community centers. She's led classes for underprivileged Bahamian children, who otherwise might not have had such exposure to her level of knowledge in art. She's exhibited in many galleries, shows, and more than several times, had her work exhibited in the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, where she also engaged in public art talks.

I've observed Susan affect and influence, not only the art scene of the Island of Grand Bahama, but also the art scene of that country (Bahamas) as a whole, with her own unique style and belief in art. I watched as many artists began changing their ideas and expressions of art, after Susan boldly went were very few, if any, went before. She did this by exposing conceptual art to the island of Grand Bahama; a place where art was most often only seen as pretty pictures of flowers, people or landscapes.  I was witness to her exhibition, just months after her unexpected marriage break, where she bravely exposed her still raw and innermost feelings, and pain through her art collection titled, "Into the Crimson Room".

Susan and I also were founding members of a Grand Bahama writers' circle, a group which met weekly to write and share; a sacred place where much healing took place through our expression and companionship. Susan was also involved, side-by-side with the founder Barbara Chester and Judy Hopen from Labyrinth Enterprises, in the design and creation of the Grand Bahama Labyrinth.

With Susan's love of art, natural gift of writing, and her unique way of expression, it was easy for me to ask her to become a columnist for our website, TheBahamasWeekly.com, where she still writes today in her column, "Art Life."

As a human, Susan is the epitome of compassion, whether it be for a neighbor, friend, loved one, child, or animal. She takes time for anyone who reaches out to her, and is always sensitive to the needs of others. Sweet and gentle, yet open and always honest, Susan is the 'real deal', and has always been loved and admired by those whose lives she has touched.

It is my pleasure to offer this reference for Susan to attend your program, as I know she is extremely qualified through her art education, community service, and character.