25 Things I Want My Daughters to Know

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….

  1. Inner beauty is so much more important that outer beauty. But you already know this one.
  2. 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.
  3. But pick your battles, not everything is worth fighting for.
  4. 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.”
  5. 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.
  6. Don’t waste your time gossiping.  There are so many more interesting and helpful things to talk about.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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?”
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Say nice things to yourself.  You are always going to be with you. You might as well be a friend to yourself.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.”
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.”
  24. 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.
  25. 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,

Mommy

P.S.- No matter what life brings you, may you alway find the fun and joy in living.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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A Mom’s Guide to Dating After Divorce

According to statistics, 1,000 people get divorced every day in the United States ALONE…WOW! That means fewer than 50% of first marriages end in divorce.  Now most of you out there reading this who might be married will probably gasp a little, and I do not blame you.  But those of you who are divorced might be doing a little happy dance right now at the thought of all those possible divorcees out there for the taking. But first, be forewarned, my friends. If you are recently divorced, or have been divorced for a long time, whether you are old or young/have kids or do not, entering the dating world can be a very exciting time in your life.   It also presents itself with some challenges that you should really think about before making the decision to jump back in and get into the dating driver’s seat.  You are going to feel scared, and at times, intimidated. But never let that hold you back in finding and meeting other people because, in turn, you will find out more about yourself along the way.  If you let it, it can be one of the most rewarding things that can happen to you.

Dating after divorce can be very overwhelming, but over the past five years, I have developed my own “Method to the Madness” for dating after a divorce. Here are some tips that have helped me in the dating scene, and some tips that have basically helped me in ALL of my relationships as well:

1.         WHO AM I AND WHAT AM I DOING?  –  Make sure you can answer these questions.  If you cannot, then you should not be dating anyone until you can.  DO NOT PASS GO and DO NOT COLLECT $200.   I cannot stress this enough to all of you.  Being able to re-establish your identity is PARAMOUNT to the success of any relationship you have or want to have down the road.  Whether you want to admit it or not, you lose yourself sometimes when you are in a marriage, and you need to take advantage of this time alone.  You need to take the time to re-discover who you are and what you like.   You need to make sure you are ready to move forward and know what you are looking for in a mate.  You never get a second chance on life, but sometimes, we do get a second chance on dating. TAKE FULL ADVANTAGE OF IT!

2.                  BE ACCEPTING BUT DO NOT SETTLE –   This one is very important.  Never let possible post-divorce loneliness, sadness or insecurity make you lower your standards when you start dating again.  Everyone deserves and has a right to be happy in life.  Be respectful of what it is that you want, and be proud of who you are and what you can offer a person.  This is one of the most challenging but rewarding tasks you can achieve.  Believe in yourself and others will follow. 

3.                  DON’T DISH THE DIRT AND TRY AND LET GO OF THE PAST – It is important to not discuss your ex on your dates.  It is within reason to discuss your divorce, but you do not need to become the Daily Gazette with all the dirty details on your date. This tip is extremely important, especially if you were recently divorced or it was a messy or sticky situation.   I am not going to lie and say you will not be tempted to talk about the details on what went wrong, or who did what to whom and how and when, etc.  It is important that you try to resist the temptation and focus on the person across the table from you instead.

4.         PROCEED WITH CAUTION!!!!   IF YOU HAVE CHILDREN, TAKE YOUR TIME AND INTRODUCE THEM TO YOUR PARTNER SLOWLY!  –  I find this tip invaluable in every possible way.  My son adores my boyfriend, but we waited and took our time before we introduced him.  You need to be able to identify your relationship and what you are as a couple FIRST before you bring your children into the picture.  It can be an incredibly stressful situation for all involved, and timing is everything when bringing your children into your new relationship.   Make sure you give your children enough time to be able to adjust to the new changes on their own.  Do not ever force your child to accept the relationship, but also do not let your child call the shots on who you do or do not date.  It is important to have a healthy balance in this situation.

5.         TAKE YOUR TIME, STAY POSITIVE AND ABOVE ALL, ENJOY YOURSELF –   We all know that divorce can leave you with baggage, and we have to stay positive and believe that someone out there has that “matching set of baggage” just for us to make a complete luggage set.  It is very important to take your time and have fun with it.  This is a time of re-discovery for you in so many areas of your life, and it would only benefit you to live life to the fullest and be confident in what you can bring to a relationship. 

6.         IF ALL ELSE FAILS, THERE IS ALWAYS WINE AND CHOCOLATE –  Of all the tips out there, this is the MOST IMPORTANT AND VALUABLE ONE!!!  Well, not really — but I have benefited from this one a time or two myself.

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Mate-less in Massachusetts?

Dear Mom,

I’m 37 and single, but dating a great guy.  We’ve been dating for 5 months and he’s terrific with kids.  We have an amazing relationship.  The other day–seemingly out of nowhere–he broke up with me saying marriage and kids just weren’t something that interested him and he thought it was unfair to stay with me, knowing it’s something I want.  I’m crushed.  What should I do?

Signed,

Mate-less in Massachusetts

 Break up

Dear Mate-less in Massachusetts,

You’ve had plenty of time to think about what you want in life.  If you know your life will not be complete without kids in the picture, then you need to be honest with your boyfriend.  But I have to wonder if something else isn’t going on here?  You say this was out of nowhere.  Most of the time, when it comes to things like marriage and children, people make no secrets about their desires.  It seems odd that your boyfriend just one day decided it wasn’t fair to stay with you because you wanted a family and he didn’t.  Had he led you to believe otherwise before?  I’d have a heart to heart with him and see if something else isn’t going on.  Keep us posted and let us know how it works out!

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