Have you read the book or seen “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch? If not, let me share a little about The Last Lecture. It is a tradition at Carnegie Mellon for teachers to do a “Last Lecture” where they are asked to imagine they are going to die soon and clarify what would they want to say or teach for their last presentation. In the case of Randy Pausch, he was actually dying of cancer when he gave his “Last Lecture”. His personal experience made the lecture all the more poignant. Many people connected to his lecture on YouTube, ultimately making it an internet phenomenon. As a result, Randy had many tv appearances on a variety of news outlets. He admitted that while he was presenting as an instructor to his students, his lecture was also a way of leaving a legacy and some wisdom to his kids.
This made me ask myself, if I only had a few months to live, what would I want my daughters to know? Thankfully I am lucky that I am healthy and I intend to be with them to help them through any growing pains (as well as celebrate their joys and successes). But knowing what thoughts I would want to impart onto them can make me more clear in what’s important to not leave unsaid. So I decided to write them a love note sharing some things I hope will help them down the road. Here it is. What would your love note be to your kids?
To my beautiful, sweet daughters,
First and foremost, I know I say it all the time, but I love you. You are beautiful inside and out. You’re both smart, kind hearted and thoughtful. I am so proud to be your mom.
I was thinking the other day that there are some things I wish I knew when I was younger. So I was thinking that it would be good to start to write down some of the things I’ve learned from experience. Maybe sharing it with you will save you some heartache someday or help you follow a dream or enable you to accept your fears and do something any way. Even just you knowing I love you so much that I’d sit down and write this for you is enough for me. Here are a few “words of wisdom” I wanted to share with you….
- Inner beauty is so much more important that outer beauty. But you already know this one.
- Listen to your gut and stand up for what you believe in (not just against what you don’t believe in) or you might regret it.
- But pick your battles, not everything is worth fighting for.
- While you may disagree with and annoy each other at times, remember to love and respect each other. I hope you grow up to be each other’s best friends. As I always say when I see you hugging and playing together, “I love that you love each other.”
- No one ever got anywhere by just complaining. Think of what can be done to improve whatever it is you are upset about. One rule of thumb I have is if I complain about it three times then I have a choice to make. I can quit complaining and accept it or do something about it.
- Don’t waste your time gossiping. There are so many more interesting and helpful things to talk about.
- Follow your passion. Try a bunch of things so you can find out what it is. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes in the process, that is how you learn. If you’re not making mistakes and feeling like a fool once in awhile you’re not challenging yourself enough.
- Always remember the saying “This too shall pass”. This relates to sad and happy occasions. Sometimes when you’re hurt or sad it will seem like you will feel that way forever. You won’t. Give yourself time and things will change, they always do. The same holds true of when you’re happy. Cherish every moment that makes your heart sing. Time passes too quickly not to stop and appreciate the moments and people who make you smile.
- When you’re frustrated, believe you can do something to change the situation or yourself for the better. But don’t waste your time trying to change other people.
- Don’t strive for perfection. Just strive to continue to do your best and learn from every experience. I hope you will always remember the question I often ask you both, “What did you learn from this?”
- If you don’t have confidence in a skill, then have the confidence that you can learn it. Don’t let the lack of a skill stop you from achieving your dreams.
- Love lots and let your heart be broken. I was afraid too often in my life and missed out on some living when growing up. Don’t let fear stop you from doing things you want to do and meeting people you want to meet.
- Even if you are afraid at times don’t label yourself as “shy” (or any other limiting label). Realize you may just need to learn some new skills or gain some experience in order to feel more secure and confident in what you want to do and who you are.
- Be vulnerable. This is something I’ve learned late in my life. I thought being emotionally independent showed strength. But being vulnerable is not a weakness. It takes courage to be vulnerable. Often times the only real way to build true intimacy is by letting yourself be vulnerable.
- Don’t just rely on others for love and acceptance. Accept and love all of yourself too. Be vulnerable with yourself about who you are and accept all the good and all the imperfect in yourself. Other people aren’t perfect either and they can’t always be there for you.
- People aren’t prefect and will let you down. It’s the ones who will build you up more than let you down that you want to stick around.
- Say nice things to yourself. You are always going to be with you. You might as well be a friend to yourself.
- If other people criticize you, assess if it’s true or not. If it is, you can choose whether to work on that weakness. If it’s not, realize that it’s not about you, it’s just their weakness and insecurities talking.
- Compromising is so important in relationships. It’s good to find a balance of what you want and what others want. However, there are some things you should never compromise….don’t ever feel you have to compromise your values or beliefs to please someone else, which ultimately means don’t compromise yourself.
- This is one of my new favorite quotes by Doctor Suess: “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
- If you ever feel like you don’t belong somewhere don’t take it personal. We all feel like we don’t belong sometimes. Think of the ugly duckling story. He didn’t know he was a swan and was hanging out with the ducks. What a joy when he discovered other swans like him who understood him.
- It’s important to have friends who have things in common with you. It’s also important to be around people who don’t think like you do. That is a great way to expand your perspectives. If you only hang around people who agree with you, you won’t be challenged to have new thoughts or perspectives.
- Here are two of my favorite quotes by Albert Einstein: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” and “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”
- Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because you don’t agree with someone you don’t like them. A person is more complex than one issue. At the very least, you don’t have to agree with or like other people, but you should make an effort to show them respect. A little respect can go a long way.
- If someone doesn’t respect you, you can turn the other cheek from the next room. You don’t have to stoop to their level and return the hurt, but you also don’t have to stick around and continue to be hurt. Make good choices about who you spend your time with. Whether you’re aware of it or not, who they are will affect who you are.
I wrote at the beginning of this letter that I hoped some of the things above would help you avoid some heartache. Scratch that. Sometimes we only learn things by experience which can include heartaches. It may also be that you will only truly understand some of these ideas after experiencing more in your life. My hope is that while I can’t stop you from having heartaches, hopefully when you do go through heartache, these words might help prepare you and maybe comfort you in some way.
Oh and just because I wrote some of these words of wisdom (or rephrased wisdom shared through the ages) doesn’t mean that I am able to live them every day. All we can do is strive to do our best to live authentically while trying to make the world a better place, hoping we learn something in the process and gain some true friendships along the way.
Also, I’m sure I could have written a whole book because there is so much to learn in this life. But this is a start. I would love to hear or read your words of wisdom some day.
With all My Love,
Randy Pausch is sadly no longer with us. He lost his battle to cancer. However, his example and message continue to touch many hearts, including his kids. What are some things you would like to tell your kids? Please share your wisdom in the comments. Then be sure to share them with your kids through words, letters or whatever way you can. Just be sure to share them. Your child is too precious and life is too short not to do it.