Saturday, June 4, 2016

Letter to Self (from a Sixty Year Old Me)

Dear Fifty Five Year Old You,

I am writing this letter to you four and a half years in advance of you turning sixty years old. I am writing it to you this morning because I'm a little disgusted and disappointed in "55 Year Old You" and I think you need a good talking to. This may not be pretty. You have been warned.

I am very disappointed in you lately. If I didn't know who you were and where you have been, I would call you a "quitter". Heavens, I can't even call you a quitter because lately you have been too afraid, paralyzed &/or lazy to even start anything.

I know, I know. Once you start, you feel committed. Once you feel committed to something, you start beating yourself up. Relentlessly. You think you can't start something because you don't have a whole big chunk of time to devote to the job. So you don't start anything.

This has got to end. You know that. You know the answer is to simply take small bites out of big jobs and whittle away at them. You know this! Why aren't you acting on it? I know, I know!  You are tired. Your daycare days are long. Your weekends are short. How can you do "big things" when you have so little left over at the end of the day?

If you keep this up, by the time you hit the age of sixty you will want to abandon this ship and this home you have created because there is always "too much to do". Isn't this home everything you ever wanted? Hasn't this house enabled you to work from home and adapted to whatever you wanted it to do for you? Hasn't the ability to pay "interest only" on your mortgage allowed you to pay your bills, live a comfortable life and given you more financial freedom than renting an apartment could ever afford you?

This house is so much more than a roof over your head. It sustains you. It shelters you from the harsh elements of life in so many ways more than the weather. Respect it, take care of it, pamper it a little from time to time and it will continue to be there for you. And please, please, please try to pay it off!

Speaking of houses, I have no idea why I started this rant about "where you are" and "where I want you to go" with the house. I should have started with this body that is going to carry us from Point A to Point B. If I think you've let the house that shelters us go to pot, what in the world do you think I think about the way you are treating our body? How in the world is this vessel going to weather stormy weather if you don't smarten up and take better care of it?

As it is with the house, it is with our body. Start small. Rome wasn't built in a day. Fifteen minutes isn't long. Start there. Fifteen minutes of extra curricular movement. Yes, I know you think your daycare life is keeping you from turning to stone. But it isn't challenging you. You need to stretch and move and lift and get your heart pumping faster. You know this. But you aren't doing anything about it.

Start with an early morning walk. Rain or shine or sleet or hail. Walk. Just walk! Remember how awesome you felt when you took on those early morning paper routes? Walking the streets of your neighborhood while "the world" slept? You marvelled at the Northern lights, the glistening snow, the sounds of silence and nature. You thought. The words flowed in and out and through you. You came home revitalized, energized and motivated. You loved that time. Skip the paper route, take on the walks. Start there. Add and change things up as you go along. But you must BEGIN. You must. Your life depends upon it.

While I'm at it, you must nourish yourself with good food. What you feed your body fuels your brain and your brain is acting starved lately. Give it some good, solid fuel to work with and you may be amazed that your ability to think, act decisively and "do hard things". This is half the work you thought it was when you were spending your life binge watching the Gilmore Girls on the couch, with a can of Pringles at your side. Replace the Pringles with almonds. Make good meals and you may be amazed that you may fuel the appetite of others. "If you make it they will come."

I've sat back and watched you wither yourself away into a shadow of who you are capable of being. You do not have to do great things at all times but you do need to follow your passions. When you deny yourself the ability to dream big and chase a few of those dreams you become small and your world becomes smaller. You know your world is shrinking. You think you like this feeling right now. I want you to look outside of your smallness and do uncomfortable things again. Invite people into your life.

You need to look out the window and let the world inside. You are lonely and you don't even know it. You think you don't have enough of yourself to spread out any thinner than you already are. You have been here before and you will be here again. Writing is where it is at for you. If you are too tired, too fearful and too stuck in your ruts, WRITE! Send emails, letters, cards and write little notes to those who have made an impact. Write! Write! Write! This is the way out of your small world. It is a beginning.

Judging by the dreams you have been having lately, you are feeling very aware of Mom's mortality. In some ways, you feel like you are "channelling Mom" in the ways you have slowed yourself down, felt overly attached to this house and subconsciously made your world such a small one. I think you are trying to understand exactly what she is feeling by mirroring her world within your own. STOP IT! Stop it right now!! Instead, focus on "who Mom was" when she was the age you are at right now.

When Mom was this age, she was faced with her new reality after Dad's heart attack. He never came home again. I think of Mom when she was going through that time and she was strong. She simply kept taking the next forward step during a time where she must have felt completely in limbo. We marvelled at how young Mom was at age 65 and all the memories her grandchildren had of their very untypical grandma. Yes, Mom was (and still is) a force to be reckoned with. Her family and her home were (and still are) everything to her. Yes, she has slowed down. Yes, her body is starting to wear out. No, she will not live forever. That scares you, doesn't it? Ya, me too.

We don't know what life is going to hand us in between "now" and "five years from now". You simply cannot spend your time focused on that uncertainty. Take the lessons you learned from "loving André" and pay them forward.
  • SAVOR THE MOMENT. Always. 
  • Make memories, document them. Take pictures, but write. ALWAYS WRITE!
  • Let your love shine. Your actions speak louder than words. ACT LOVINGLY.
  • Let others know how you feel. SPREAD THE POSITIVE. One positive word goes a long way. 
  • You will never regret what you have done. DO ALL YOU ARE CAPABLE OF DOING.
You know where your passions lie. For you, it is writing. Write for yourself. Share what is worth sharing. Just keep writing.

You are at a crossroads right now. Your children are adults and on their way. Some are further down the road than others but never forget how you feel towards your own Mom because that feeling is one you want to nurture with  your own children. We have a good, solid foundation. Just keep building.

You have some amazing friendships and relationships within your world. Don't neglect them. Even when you think you don't have time, you can always make time to send off a note or card or email. Keep those connections alive. They nourish and sustain you.

Take a chance. One chance at a time. You have become a shell of who you used to be. You know it. You are disappointed in yourself right now but this is not the end of your story. Even though (at the moment) you wouldn't care if it was.

Yes, you are tired. You are tired because you are not involved in creating your own story. You are sitting dormant, waiting for life to happen. When "life happens" it is like a slap on the face. You react. You feel indignant. You recoil then rebound. You always rebound. How about not waiting for a "slap in the face" this time? You have the power to live life out loud without being slapped into it.

Feed your body, mind and soul with fresh air, good food and positive input.
Walk. START by walking.
Write. Never stop writing. It is where you find your answers, your inspiration and your dreams.
Love. Open your heart up and take a chance again.

I want to read these words in four and a half years and say "YES! YES!! and YES!!!". I did it. I made changes. I pushed myself out of that rut and into a new and improved one. Most of all I want you to believe "Life does go on regardless of how you live it. Live it well!"

See you in the future my weary friend. You have everything you need inside of you. And if it isn't inside of you, it is here within your home, your heart and those who touch your world. Stay connected, my friend. Stop, look, listen with your heart. You will find your way. You aren't lost. You just haven't found the right highway yet.

You will find your Field of Dreams, my friend. "If you build it, they will come" ...

To be continued.

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