A Letter to My Younger Self

Have you ever wished you could go back in time? To talk to a younger version of yourself to tell yourself what mistakes to avoid making? To share your lessons learned with the one person that matters most – yourself – since you truly know what lies ahead?

I recently picked up a copy of “What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self” where Ellyn Spragins compiled dozens letters written by pretty fabulous ladies like Madeleine Albright, Maya Angelou, and Trish McEvoy where they each wrote a letter to a younger version of themselves, sharing their love, advice and wisdom. These powerful letters, written by CEOs, fashion designers, political activists, entertainers, Olympic athletes – and a Queen, made me think about how many universal struggles we have as women. We make so many of the same mistakes, share so many of the same vulnerabilities and fears no matter our background, race, age, profession…

Ann Curry tells her 22 year old self that “If you have faith in your real self, you’ll suffer less.” Wise words, Ann. Where were you when I was 22??

Actress Shelley Morrison tells her 30 year old self : “You can’t beat yourself up for what you should have done if you weren’t equipped with the knowledge at the time.” Yes – so true!!

I loved novelist Lisa Scottoline’s letter – because first of all it is a list. Second of all – every item on it is so spot on. Here is one nugget of wisdom from her list: “The little voice you keep ignoring is the only one you should ever listen to.” Right on, Lisa!

I found a lot of inspiration in these letters…but it didn’t really hit home for me until I decided to try to write one for myself. To be honest, I hesitated to post this letter to share it with friends, family and whoever else reads this blog. But in the spirit of risk-taking and being vulnerable, I decided to go for it.

If this inspires you in any way, I really encourage you to do the same for yourself. It is a powerful experience. Share it with someone. Share it with me! Create a dialogue – here or with someone you trust.

A Letter to My Younger Self:

Dear Laurie,

I see you so clearly – so much more clearly that you see yourself in this moment. Stop and notice. Stop and reflect. Stop and take the time to appreciate who you are as the independent, resilient young woman that you already know that you are. Those voices in your head??? You know the ones I am talking about. That is your heart speaking to you. Stop and listen. It’s scary, but the sooner you learn how to do that, the sooner you will build the inner strength to make difficult life choices ahead. Those inner voices are your truth – the core of who you are in your heart. By not listening to them, you are not honoring who you are. Worse yet, the deeper that you bury them now, the harder it will be to hear them later in your life. 

Always remember – your heart is trying to help you – to protect you – to love you. If you don’t know what to do about it, ask for help. I know that isn’t easy for you, but being vulnerable and admitting you don’t have all of the answers is not only normal, but is a good lesson to learn early in life.

One day, you will come to love these values that make you who you are: your capacity to love, your kindness, your hopefulness, your desire to help others. You will also come to find out that those same virtues will be your vices if you lose yourself in your relationships, whether personal or professional. Learn to put yourself first – to love and honor yourself. This is not being selfish. This is being true to yourself. The result will be that you have MORE to give as a healthy, whole, loving, confident person. 

Here’s the thing. Whether or not you figure this out now, you are still going to make mistakes. When this happens – because it is inevitable – forgive yourself. The most loving thing you can do for yourself is to forgive yourself. Show yourself the same kindness and capacity to love that you do for others. It isn’t easy for you to do – I know this. But learn to let it go. You will have more room in your heart for other things when you do this. Learn from your experiences, and let go of the past. Don’t bury your hurts. Move through them because they are all part of your journey. 

Love,

Laurie

Spring Cleaning

Today, energized by the promise of spring around the corner, I decided to clean out my garage. I fired up Pandora on my MacBook, opened the garage door and I was off to the races.

As I made progress in collapsing boxes and compiling bags of trash, my mind wandered all over the place – maybe in an effort to clean out the cobwebs, re-organize and purge the clutter bouncing around in my head too..

Here are my random thoughts that I feel like sharing:

  1. My Milli Vanilli Pandora station was the perfect choice to give me energy for my project today. When is the last time you heard New Edition, MC Hammer, Marky Mark, George Michael…or DeBarge? “Just come with me and shake your blues right away…You’ll be doing fine once the music starts…” “Girl you know it’s true!” I am certain there are more than a few of you out there that can sing every word to Bust a Move…yes that came on too. Can you believe that Marky Mark is now Mark Wahlberg? Talk about “Not Peaking Too Soon…” Anyway, my point is that if you need to channel some energy, Milli Vanilli will help. And my other point is that even if you happen to make it big early in your life, you can reinvent yourself and have more success than you ever imagined if you work at it!
  2. I really wish I had washed the salt water off of my bike the last time I used it…like 6+ months ago. That wasn’t very smart. I need to take better care of my things.
  3. There is something very energizing about throwing stuff out. Check out what my friend Greg Hart has to say about it in his blog called The Pare Down. Life is more simple with fewer things.
  4. In collapsing dozens of boxes, I quickly was reminded of how many times I have bought stuff from “Wines Til Sold Out”, and Zappos. This will not surprise anyone who knows me. It doesn’t surprise me either…but standing amidst all of the trash…it does make me ponder if I should curb some shopping habits.
  5. My bocce ball set and tennis racquet are really dusty! I need to play more!!
  6. I should recycle more.
  7. I am glad that I now remember where my 2nd fire extinguisher is. That reminds me – today is the day we are supposed to check the batteries in our fire detectors!
  8. 2012 may be the year I actually learn how to use a lawn mower. Or maybe I’ll just leave it right where it is and keep using my lawn guy.
  9. I am going to do a better job of keeping my plants alive this year. And I am going to try to actually grow some grass amidst the weeds in my front lawn.
  10. I am going to restore the dollhouse my Gramps made for me and my sister when we were kids…The dollhouse has been sitting in my various garages for the past 10 years. I am not sure what I will do with it – but it is one of the first ones he ever made, and it will be a family heirloom once it’s restored to its original glory. I know it will be worth the effort.

So all in all, it was a productive Sunday. My garage is clean, boxes are recycled, and my head is in better order!

What Do Your “Pet Peeves” Say About You?

As I sit in the USAirways commuter terminal trying to get home, dealing with an annoying 2 1/2 hour delay, I figured it would be a good time to reflect about my “pet peeves” since I am literally entrenched in multiples of my pet peeves at this very moment.

Generally speaking, I tend to be a pretty patient person. It takes a lot for me to get angry enough to get physically upset about something.  Plenty of things get under my skin, but I try not to lose my cool outwardly. That said, most of my pet peeves can still ruin my day if I let them. I often say I am slow to anger but easily annoyed. I can easily internalize my feelings, build resentments, and do a crappy job of managing my own energy and outlook on life if I get mired down by my pet peeves.

Since I am a fan of making lists, here is a list of my pet peeves in no particular order.

1. Travel delays on my return trips home.This is obviously on my mind at the moment. I tend to be a pretty patient, calm traveler, but when it’s time to go home like tonight, something in me snaps, and I feel like a contestant on the Amazing Race dealing with “Roadblocks” and “U-Turns” in a race against the clock trying to get to my destination…my own bed.

2. Nay-sayers. I HATE when someone tells me that I can’t do something – or that they don’t believe that I can do something – or they won’t let me try. I hate it. Capital H-A-T-E. HATE.

3. Energy Suckers. These are the people who take more than they give back…these are the people who will exhaust me if I am not careful.

4. People who don’t follow through on their commitments. I find it incredibly frustrating when, despite every effort I make being clear in my request, someone agrees to do something and then doesn’t follow through. I would much rather someone say no to me rather than making a promise they can’t keep or have no intention of keeping.

5. Making the same mistake more than once. This is one of my own personal pet peeves about myself. I have little patience with myself if I make the same mistake AGAIN and didn’t “get it” the first time around.

6. Close-mindedness. I have always found it difficult to have a fruitful, thoughtful discussion with someone who refuses to consider another point of view. What is the point in even having a discussion with someone if their mind is already made up? It’s like talking to a brick wall rather than having a true dialogue.

7. Mean people. I don’t want to and feel I don’t need to elaborate on this one.

So – what is the point in thinking about all of the things that drive me crazy? This can be dangerous, right? I could so easily go down the rabbit-hole of complaining and self-pity. I do that often enough. I could keep adding to this list for hours!

But instead, today I am thinking about what my pet peeves mean about me. What do the things that drive me insane say about who I am as a person and what I stand for? This is an interesting way for me to look at those negative forces and flip them on their heads. To turn it around. To see them in a different way, and to get a different kind of energy – or fuel I like to say – out of them.

So here is the list again – seen in my new way.

1. I value my personal space. I like my home, and I like to be home. Though I am a social person, I like having healthy boundaries and time to myself.

2. I believe in possibilities. I thrive when I see options. I value having control and responsibility over my choices.

3. I value reciprocal, healthy relationships, in both my professional and personal life.

4. I value credibility – my own credibility, and credibility in others.

5. My personal growth and development is very important to me. I want to keep learning and moving forward in my journey, and to continue to make meaning out of my experiences.

6. I believe that I don’t always have the answers. I am open to learning new things and new perspectives by staying open-minded.

7. I believe that the “Golden Rule – treating others the way I want to be treated – is the simplest pathway to peace and serenity.

So now I am sitting here in the same noisy terminal. The delay is now 3 1/2 hours – but I feel pretty calm and peaceful compared to how I felt when I began this post. Maybe I can learn something from this experience the next time something or someone pushes my buttons.

What do your pet peeves say about you? What can you learn about yourself by spending a few minutes reflecting about why these things drive you nuts? How can you use a different perspective to change your energy, change your outlook, and see some new options for action?