Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Letter to a Younger Self - Day 21 of #reverb10

Today's prompt from Reverb10:

December 21 – Future Self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?)

I'm just going to do the bonus part... a note to myself 10 years ago.

Dear 40-year-old Yvette,

I know you are stressed about turning 40, thinking your best years are over, concerned about the laugh lines on your face and the gray strands you're finding in your hair. I'm here to tell you, 40 is young. In fact, 10 years from now, you'll realize that any age is young if your attitude is young. And, by the way, you look even better at 50 than you did at 40. Gray hair is easily covered and as long as you're smiling, the laugh lines only enhance your face.

You will be tweeting in 10 years! I know you are thinking, 'tweeting?' Do I get into bird watching? No... You get into social media... blogging (yes, another word you don't know) and you even write that book you keep saying you'll write one day! In fact, you write a lot these days! You have a job as a Site Editor for a technical publication and are getting quite a reputation as an expert in your field!

You're wondering, 'What about my job at Sun? I love this job!' I will tell you that in the next ten years you will meet mentors and friends from Sun, many of whom still are your friends today. (This is largely due to that social media thing I mentioned.. I know you don't understand now, but trust me, you will never have to say 'goodbye' to friends because of a job change or move again.) You will learn so much and accomplish things that make you proud. But you will see many of those friends lose their jobs. Though you love your job as a manager, you will have to tell your whole team that they've lost their jobs. You will survive that lay-off, feeling like a captain that didn't go down with the ship, but one day you will lose your job at Sun, too. Though this will make you feel sad and scared, you will remember the professionalism that your team showed and follow their example. You will persevere and continue to grow and learn in ways you can't imagine.

Similarly, you will lose your marriage. I know... you think I'm wrong. You are so sure you will never get divorced. But you will learn that not everything is in your control. And though it won't be easy, like your job change, you will find that your life is different but good. You will meet so many more people, explore so many relationships, and find intimacy and love from people you never would have met, had you not gone through this transition.

40-year-old-Yvette... you will go through hard times in the next ten years. Financially, I gotta tell you, you are going to lose a lot. Right now, you are so financially secure, but that will change. You will worry a lot about money. But, let me assure you, that this loss, too, will teach you lessons. You will learn how much richness there is in the world and in love. You will no longer care about stuff that sits on a shelf, fancy dinners, or overpriced gadgets. You will still live a comfortable life, but you will learn to prioritize your spending wisely. And you will learn, that despite your worries, you are much luckier than most.

And now about death... I know you have suffered the loss of our brother to that car accident and grief scares you. You think about mortality and wonder when and how your loved ones will die. You wonder how you will cope with deaths you must deal with in the future.

First, the good news. Your children are all very healthy, happy, and high-achievers! You have raised them well. Scotty has another year in High School and still lives with you in the same house you're in now. Matt's in medical school in Denver. And Megan is married and you love your son-law-Chris, just as though he were your son. You are even a Grandma of a gorgeous little boy who you see often-- he's almost 1.5 years old now! There have been no accidents in these past years that have robbed you suddenly of someone you love.

However, you have to suffer the grief of losing people you love to death. Actually, the two most painful deaths will not be until you're 50... so it is really me, not you, that has had to suffer the most from grief. We just lost Dad.. August 26, 2010. You will grow closer to him in these coming years, especially after he is diagnosed with cancer. You will have many visits with him and know that his life was full and that your relationship with him was strong.

We lost a very dear friend just two weeks ago to Lou Gehrig's Disease. You once saw a movie, The Right to Die, about a woman with Lou Gehrig's and you prayed that no one you ever loved would get that disease... But it happened. Craig was diagnosed in April, 2008.

For the last 2.5 years, you watched your friend get progressively worse... losing muscle function, until he couldn't move, talk, or finally, eat. But you learned so much from Craig. His faith was so strong and inspiring that it rubbed off on you. You saw how he accepted his fate so graciously with never a complaint, and you realized how much you take for granted. You saw that he was not afraid to die -- that he kept living and loving, even when he couldn't move -- and you became less afraid yourself.

So, Yvette, for each hardship you suffer, you learn and grow and find new experiences, people, and lessons. You don't take for granted all the good and wonderful times, you savor them... They are still with me, your 50-year-old self. I have the beautiful memories that are still in your future. I will keep them safe. And in 10 years we will know the new memories of our 60-year-old self. But for now, let's enjoy the present and anticipate the mystery of what those years will bring.

With love,
50-year-old Yvette


Grace said...

I smiled as I read this...It was rich and full of wisdom, and the type of insight that comes only through passing through the hard times. Well done :)

Julie Jordan Scott said...

Oh, wow. We are almost exactly the same age and as I wrote to my younger self, it was with such compassion... just as you were to yourself.

Lovely words and heart.

I am so grateful I found you today via #Reverb10~

My Letters to Myself.

Tia Sparkles Singh said...

Oh wow Yvette! Super huge goosebumps at the love and compassion your current self has for your younger self :) And the wisdom for your future self. Indeed, why would we want to know it all and deprive ourselves of life's greatest joy - anticipation! Loved your post.
Tia #reverb10

The Skinny Doll said...

WOW ... Great post!

rebecca @ altared spaces said...

Sounds like you've found true riches indeed!