Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Chloe in NYC

Dear Chloe,

You are just finishing up your summer internship. In a little over two weeks you will be starting your second year of your MBA program. You started packing tonight and reflecting on your life. You started to think about the wedding you called off three years ago and how your life today is so different then you thought it would be then. Then, you thought you'd be married and, at this point, probably well on your way to having baby number two. Such is not the case. The truth is, you have no idea when or even if you'll get married. Sometimes this makes you feel very...lonely. Don't feel bad about that. It's okay to feel lonely every once in a while. The good news is, you aren't bitter. Make sure you don't ever become bitter.

You need to look back at your life on a regular basis. You have been through some very hard things. You lost your mom. You don't exactly have a great relationship with your dad, although it's better than it was. You have struggled with your weight and how you feel about it for a very long time. You walked away from a marriage...a marriage you wanted so badly...but you knew it wasn't the right one.

In looking back on all of the hard decisions you've had to make, at all of the hard things you've had to live through, at all the stupid mistakes you’ve made, you need to realize and always remember that you really like who you are today. In fact, you love you. You love who you are becoming. You know that this is a process. You have finally realized that you are never going to feel like you've arrived, but that's not a bad thing. Along the way to becoming, you can see so many amazing milestones; milestones that only exist because you did hard things. Never lose sight of that.

Life will keep going...and it will throw you curve balls. I can't see into the future, but I can tell you this because this is the way it is supposed to work. You are going to have make decisions and most of these will not be decisions between right and wrong. In fact, they will often not be between good and better. Believe in your ability to choose. Believe in the mind that God gave you and in the lessons you have learned throughout your life. The truth is, you can't have it all. This life was designed that way. And you are finally starting to see that. Just like not arriving is not a bad thing, not having it all is not a bad thing either. You will learn how to prioritize. You will learn where your values are; not necessarily on a moral level (those are what they are and, hopefully, will not change), but on a personal preference level. Decisions require sacrifice...otherwise, what is there to decide? But know, that in giving up one thing, you will gain something else. That's the nature of life.

More than anything, I want you to remember how you feel right now, in this moment. You have worked your tail off this summer and the people you are working with have noticed. You have great friends and you are a great friend. You aren't perfect, and neither are they, but you are all doing the best you can (which somedays is much better than others) and they value you as much as you value them. And today, you can feel that. Your family is not perfect, but they are yours and they love you. And today, you know that everything is going to workout, despite all of your mistakes and misjudgments. Today, you know that you are going to be fine. Don't let go of that feeling. And on that day in the very near future when you start to question, when you start to doubt that, remember that where there is fear, there can’t be faith. Remember, as your mom constantly reminded you, it always works out. Always.

Love and rockets,

Your biggest cheerleader

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Dear me yesterday,

Buy more milk. Oreos wouldn't be a bad idea either.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Michele at 22

Dear me,

You do not have to move to Atlanta. In fact, you probably shouldn't. Of course he's wonderful, and of course you want to stay with him. But, Atlanta? What are you going to do in Atlanta? You just graduated college, I know you have no idea what you're going to do -- grad school, audition, live at home and wait it out? But that's okay. It's a good thing! Following a boy because you don't know what else to do? Maybe not so smart. (And guess what? He's not going to want that house in the country, or the chickens, or to do anything but play Starcraft and drink beer. And you're not going to marry him.)

You know how you ended up spending three months on $300 as he got more and more depressed about his job and, well, Atlanta? And then remember working at that hoity-toity wine bar (where you have no business carrying more-than-one of anything made of glass and/or filled with stain culprits)? And remember how none of it really changed anything except that you felt lonely, irritable, and like a failure? You weren't, you aren't, I'm just saying...the most important lesson from this (that you still struggle to learn, or manage, or something) is that you need to NOT lose yourself in relationships. Your mother, your teachers, your friends, all have made a point to tell you how independent and adventurous you have been, and how you've always just picked up and gone wherever you wanted. And this time you didn't, and it had serious side effects. They got better. But pay attention to that lesson and learn how to live simultaneously with a relationship and with your instincts. Don't let any boy guilt you out of your independence, your need for solitude, and your need to travel, drive away, see the mountains and oceans from many angles. People may cry, "Escapism!" -- but living a life for which you have no feelings, or feel trapped or manipulated is far worse. Don't think of it as escaping or running away -- think of it as running to.

Also, listen to your mother. She really is aware of what makes you happy far more than you are -- you're still trying to replicate what makes others happy because you think you don't know what pleases you. Stop it. You are not other people, and their happiness is not yours, their jobs are not your key to success and their hobbies are not your interests. Be happy for them. But shut up already and listen to yourself. And your mother.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Therese in Alaska

Dear Younger Self,

As you will find with many things, it is amazing the change of perspective being a mother and taking a few steps back will have on you. You are going to say and do many remarkable things in the next 15 years of your life and you will also make decisions and react in ways you will be less than proud of. I am not going to stand in the way of those less than proud decisions as they will help you learn and blossom. They will teach you to not be so quick to judge and to keep your mouth closed at certain times. Don't waste time regretting those moments because they are part of the intricate weaving in the tapestry of your life.

However, we do need to get one thing straight. Tanning beds are absolutely disgusting and vile mechanisms. I know, I know: you crave the warmth of the lights in the winter time and you think it helps diminish any imperfections or dimples on your body. Well I have two bits of advice for you:

1.) Save the money you would spend on your tanning pass and buy a flight to the Caribbean each winter
2.) Join a gym and start lifting weights and you won't need the extra camouflage

While you are at it, you need to refrain from being so gullible in believing that those ultra violent lights are a healthy alternative to a daily dose of a Vitamin D pill. Do you think it is natural for your body to smell like the burning flesh in a concentration camp when your 20 minutes is up and the bed shuts off? Yuck!

One morning you are going to wake up and look in the mirror and notice that your face is aging. The time is going to come sooner than later, but wouldn't you much rather have it come later? I hate to break it to you, but you look like a leather handbag when you are unnaturally tan!

Worse than that, one day you are going to have babies whose little lives you want to watch unfold and you are going to read about tanning beds being the #1 cause of cancer (being likened to mustard gas of all things) and you are going to worry when every new mole surfaces on your body. Your brother-in-law is going to die of brain cancer as a young father in a disease that he has no control over and yet you are choosing to subject your body to such harm? Shame on you! You know better! Stop being so proud of the fact that you do not take harmful chemicals like tea, coffee, tobacco and alcohol into your body, but then continue to be addicted to what it takes to have a good suntan. If you can justify those actions, then you clearly do not have things figured out.

Now I don't think that you should walk around with a parasol, but for heavens sake girl; start taking care of your skin! Enjoy the beach and all that summer has to offer, but be a little smarter about cancer prevention! Hopefully the only repercussion for your foolish discretion we will have to deal with are the fine lines on your face!

Your older, wiser and much more pale self.

PS: Just wait, there are more times ahead that I sound just like our mother!