Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A letter to myself: if I could change things

Dear Anita,

Here you are, age eight or so. What a young thing! Your whole life is ahead of you and you have no idea what you will accomplish or what you will face.

First, let me tell you that you will grow up to marry a wonderful man. Of all the things in your life, this is absolutely the best. Together you will face several hardships, the most challenging being your inability to have a baby of your own. I hate to break such news to you now but perhaps it is better that you do not long for what you will never have. Instead you will find comfort in your husband's nephews and your brother's children. While it is not the same it will be fulfilling enough, I promise.

With that foreknowledge, I urge you to consider a career as a teacher. I think you will find that quite satisfactory and it will make many things in your life much easier. This is not the career path that I chose, not at all, and it is too late now for me to consider it. I am old and set in my ways; you, however, still have time to move forward and will not find the school setting completely foreign, as I do now when I return to those hallowed halls.

Alternatively, study law. You would make a good lawyer one day. Consider being an estate lawyer; you relate well to older people and this would be a good career path for you.

I know you love to read and write and hope to make writing your career; I beg you, don't do it! The future holds changes you cannot imagine and that way lies only heartache. Turn from it and pursue something else. You can write as a hobby and that will be enough, trust me. In this, (and perhaps only this) your parents are right.

Complete your education, all the way through college, and let nothing and no one stand in your way. You're a smart young lady even at the age of eight, and your brains (so far) do not diminish. Sometimes I think you're too smart, one of those people who know so much that functioning becomes problematic. Don't let that happen to you - keep your feet on the ground and your mind on reality. Tend to gardens so that you connect with the earth. It is very important.

I firmly believe that you and the man I love are destined to be together, and with that thought in mind the changes I am suggesting are with the knowledge that you will always be loved and be with him. Perhaps you will marry at a later date, though, like after you have finished college.

Other things you must do:

1. Exercise. I know you don't like to sweat, but I am afraid you will end up looking like a blimp. I did not exercise much when I was young and I regret it very much now. So go one, move that body!

2. Take up yoga, tai chi or other eastern activities. Don't worry that your family will think you are strange; find some books in the library on these types of activities and study them. Your family will always think you are strange regardless of what you do, so you may as well stop trying so hard for their approval and take care of yourself. I so wish that I had done that.

3. Find your spiritual self. This may be in the organized religions or it may be in something else, like Buddhism, or it may be your own personal beliefs. This may be hard for you until you turn 18 because of your surroundings; I know your parents eschew religion in all forms and things do not go well in your teens when you will begin pursuing these matters. Take heart and stand strong. You will need and want this anchor later in life.

4. Learn to cook. And I mean more than mashed potatoes and chicken. You will find great satisfaction in this skill if you can master it. I did not, and it is something I regret. Apparently I am now too old to figure it out.

5. Do not stop playing the guitar. Yes, I know you don't play now but you will soon, trust me. Take your piano lessons to heart and don't give them up too soon. Your music will be a fine companion for you all of your life if you don't let it slip through your hands.

I wish I had received this letter, read it and took it to heart when I was of an age to make some changes. What a difference it might have made!

If you do not follow my advice, let me tell you what is in store for you. You will marry at age 20 (the best part of your life, but that's awfully young to be married!). Your education will be received in fits and starts and you will be 30 years old when you finally receive your degree. Constant striving to please others will take a toll on your body; you will gain weight, you will be out of shape, heart disease is in your future.

I beg you, young Anita, take the better road.

Your loving older self,


  1. A great post! Do you mind if I copy your theme?s

  2. Great idea...not too late to do some on the list. Turn it into your bucket list!

  3. Joan - not at all.

    June - I am working on some of those things now.

  4. you are never too old to learn to cook...never! if you need
    enjoyed this post.

  5. But think of all the fun you would have missed trying to figure it out, lol! And btw, what's wrong with chicken and mashed potatoes?
    I love your picture...you smile hasn't changed one bit.

  6. Dear young Anita. Have courage. Go with your heart and your soul. Write, fearlessly, tirelessly and irrespressibly. You do it so wel.

  7. I might add some further advice to young Anita: Dear Anita---Even if you don't follow my advice while you are young, don't despair. Take heart. Because it's never too late to change your course; you're never too old to forge new paths. You're never too old to grow.

  8. Cute post...much better than what I would have written to myself..."Life sucks and then you die..." Only kidding ;)

  9. Interesting! I loved reading all the wonderful, wise advice. I think all of us experience this "look back" as we get older. If I only knew then what I know now....

    Great post!

  10. You are so bright faced in the photo. I love this idea. I once wrote my own obituary as an exercise.

  11. I think she did excellent with what she had.


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