Dear me,

Hopefully this letter from the future older and wiser version of yourself finds you well at present time. You must be busy taking the world by storm. Because you would never let the storm take the better of you. Maybe you’ll get wet in soaking rain, but you’ll enjoy the sound of thunder and the sight of lightening. You will think about how fortunate you are to be at the very spot at that exact moment, to be alive and present. You look for signs daily to remind yourself of how small and insignificant we are in this debacle called life. And reminders of how vast and powerful the world around us is. Being alive is a good enough reason for special occasion. As Steve Edge said “dress for the party every day and the party will come to you”. Even when it rains, it’s your party! So make the best out of it every day!

Sometimes, or quite often actually, you bend under pressure. But you always shift shape and you get up and you get going. May take you a while to find your way, but you always do. Makes for a different vantage point, which gives you a unique perspective on things. Like weed, you find soil to grow on and spread out. Like weed, sometimes you feel unwanted, less important, different and unappreciated. But remember, weeds are just wild flowers. Free to choose and be as they want. Free to move and grow where others can’t. That’s where your strength lies. You are different, but that’s not your disability that’s your advantage. You are adaptable!

Remember when you started college, your peers made fun of your accent and overly critiqued your paintings all the time. Remember how after each Monday morning studio class, the 5 hour long torture class, you were either the first to leave the classroom or the last one. Because you didn’t want to give everyone the pleasure of seeing your humiliated 19 year old self in tears? And remember as you were ready to give up, your professor whose name neither of us can remember, stayed behind one day and asked you to get coffee. You didn’t drink coffee but he insisted. I wish one of us could remember his name so we can find him and thank him for what he said that day. He told you his life story. He was a born-alive abortion statistic. Given up for adoption failure, foster system survivor and an artist. You had a lot of things in common, pain, no one to relate to, art and most of love for life. He suddenly asked you what you would do if you went to a gallery that had 39 blank canvases and only one abstract painting. Which one would you look at and which one would you take home? Reluctantly you said, well probably the abstract one. He said “So would I! Now, YOU are the #40! Let that sink IN. You HAVE a place on THAT wall! And don’t EVER forget that!” You smiled and let him see your happy tears of gratitude, but it didn’t sink in right away. It’s still sinking in to this day actually, right?

So I am going to be little critical with you #40. You are not 19 anymore, you are actually 40 now. At times you fail to remember those lessons, the people, random strangers and lifelong guardian angels who stood by you at all junctions of your life. You wouldn’t be where you are if it wasn’t for all the bad experiences and all the good people you encountered. Those who believed you should believe in yourself when you didn’t. Bad days don’t mean you’re having a bad life! Bad experiences make for some really good stories, and are the best lessons. You’ve survived some of the worst so far, so we know it. Maybe those experiences slowed you way down, but they for sure haven’t stopped you before. What stopped you was your fear and your insecurities. You and only YOU have the power to change that. Life is too short to dwell. It’s day one! Or one day! Your pick #40!

I see you are back in school. Congratulations! It took you only about dozen years of complaining about your job, bad leaders, conniving colleagues, lack of support system, the dredged snow in Minnesota, blood sucking mosquitoes you despise. Thankfully you also had a loyal and supportive audience who shared your sentiment along the way. Felt safe to know you weren’t alone. You dreamed together of better days, happiness and sunshine in exotic places spent with equals, doing work that has meaning. But you finally got sick and tired of just complaining and talking about it. About going back to school or figuring out what to do when you grow up. You realized that for things to CHANGE, YOU actually had to make a change to what you were doing daily. I applaud you for that. Not just because you are doing better for yourself, but you are doing this for your girls. You are their example of what is right and what is wrong. You set the standards of conduct for them. Your relationship with your partner is an example of how those you love are to be treated and how they should treat you. Your stress and tolerance levels are a threshold your girls will adapt. Your aspirations and resiliency, or lack of thereof, will set them up for either success or for failure. Be good to yourself, because what you do or say paves the path for your girls and all other girls and boys behind you.

Buy someone a cup of coffee. Share your story with them. Relate. Listen. Empower! Life is about legacy you leave behind. It’s about those who may not remember your name but who will remember what you did for them and how you treated them when everyone mistreated them. Life is about impact you can make. It’s about synergy between everything and everyone around you. The rain, the thunderstorm, the kids and the elderly. It’s about the sky above you and the scorched earth below you, where only weeds can grow on. Accept the change and embrace all transitions. Keep learning and growing, just know you will never know all the answers. Your path is not a conventional one but it is a positive one. There are no trade offs, just trade ups. And while you may not be able to change the world, remember that you will probably change the world for many someone’s.

I am proud of you, as you should be proud of yourself. As far as any advice goes. I don’t know kid…. We are a strange breed. Sometimes we have to fail to stand up and live in dark to appreciate the light. You will figure it out yourself. I did! It was all worth it in the end.


With all my love A,

Your kinder, wiser smarter and happier self!