My daughter, my son.
My children, who I never had.
Please read my lessons learned and hard-earned wisdom.
Take it with you as you journey through this life.
From the moment you enter this world, you will be told what to do, how to feel, and which direction to take. Whether it is learning how to walk, being told to stop crying, or getting pushed into a future you are uncertain of, there will be someone—if not everyone—thinking they know what is best for you.
And some do, but many don’t. Not even your parents. They may only know what they want for you—not what you need for you.
Take the time to get to know yourself and develop your intuition, that gut feeling that rarely lets you down unless you disregard it.
Learn your strengths and weaknesses; then capitalize on your strengths. Find your sense of purpose; then focus on how you can make a living pursuing it. Know your values, beliefs, and morals so no one can convince you to do what does not feel right. Understand what you need to bring you satisfaction, fulfillment, and contentment.
Keep those ears open and listen to understand, not to project. If something doesn’t sound right, don’t be afraid to question it. Gather everything you hear, then contemplate it all, relying on that self-knowledge to make your own decisions on what’s best for you. And while you’re listening, pay attention to the nonverbal cues—body language. Learn to read between the lines and align what you hear, with what you see and, most importantly, what your gut tells you.
Ask questions. Don’t ever be afraid to raise your hand. More often than not someone else in the room is dying to ask the same thing but lacks the confidence. Be that person who inspires confidence in others. Curiosity is a sign of high intelligence—don’t ever lose it. Read, read, read. Take classes. Inquire. And don’t ever stop.
Kindness is a strength. Don’t be intimidated by bullies. Whether you are holding the door for an elderly person at the market or reaching out to someone who has been chastised and ridiculed by the more popular folk, whoever they are, be kind. To everyone. None of us know what battle someone else is fighting.
No is a complete sentence. Taking time for yourself is not selfish. And having limits isn’t noncommittal. You can’t be there for others if you don’t tend to yourself. Reasonable people understand that and unreasonable people will pull out every bit of ammunition to make you feel guilty. Only you can make yourself feel badly, so don’t. With your self-knowledge, you will intuitively decipher the reasonable folk from the unreasonable ones.
Each of us have different strengths, limits, and boundaries. But that should never allow you to lose sight of your fellow human and what she or he may be going through. Step into the shoes of others, even though your footsteps may be different. Have a heart. Sense their pain. And whenever given the opportunity, be a blessing. Be that one person who may spark a smile where there was once no hope.
Be strong, but don’t be inflexible or build walls that keep others out. Strength is agile. It is composed of kindness, compassion, and self-knowledge. It listens. It helps. It also admits defeat. It knows when to forge forward and when to retreat.
Never confuse confidence with arrogance. Confidence is created from the ingredients listed above. When you know who you are and what you want, yet feel for your fellow human, you are pretty much invincible. That doesn’t mean that nothing can crush you but rather if it does, you will rise again. You will be that person to make lemonade out of lemons.
Trust is earned, not given away. What is critical is trust in one’s self. That is what you need to develop, hone, and nurture. It should be at the top of the list because it will be your compass. When you trust in yourself, you will intuitively know who can be trusted—and who cannot. You won’t have doubts. Your mistakes will be minimal and there will be little to no collateral damage.
We hear people talk about self-esteem so often when, in reality, there is no self-esteem if there is no self-respect. There are many walking around with inflated egos and high self-esteem yet void of self-respect. Know yourself, trust yourself, and respect yourself. The price on giving that up is high and you deserve all that I want to instill in you.
It’s not the quantity; it’s the quality. And if it comes down to you being your own best friend, you best step up to the plate. Relationships are sometimes complicated, though, that shouldn’t be the case. People change, grow, and sometimes leave you for reasons you may never know. Find one person who will be there with you through thick and thin. If that person is yourself, then you are already light years ahead of the rest of us.
Love. It’s what makes the world go round, yet it comes in all shapes and forms. Romantic love is wonderful—you hear Puccini singing in your head, walk on air, and become a 15-year-old version of yourself. Companionate love seeks a partner. The romance may still be there, but it’s the humor and friendship that become the steadfast of your relationship.
Find love— but know that it may not always come in the traditional forms. It may be friendship, vocation, volunteerism, or some other version of how you decide to give and receive love. It’s not always holding hands and valentines. Life teaches us that we should expect that. Seek, build, and find love wherever you choose.
Money. The root of all evil and the means to stand on your own two feet. Define what security is to you. May it be the ability to work, the ability to support yourself, and the desire to save. Money cannot buy happiness but it can ensure security. Tapping into that self-knowledge and trust, you will believe me when I say that lipstick, pocketbooks, or vacations will not buy you happiness. Maybe for a moment, but that moment will pass. Be willing to work. Save your money.
May you define success by measures other than money. Money is security, but success is how you’ve lived your life. Success can be defined by friendship, shared accomplishments, or just having survived another day. Success is not what others impose, but rather how we define it.
That is up to you. Riches should be measured by life’s pursuits, relationships, and accomplishments. Much like success. It’s not money or material things. It’s what you hold in your soul. May you define your wealth.
Whatever you believe in, believe in it. Find that higher power and guidance you need to move forward in this life. And if that faith you found isn’t the one, find the one that is.