Tuesday, December 27, 2016

This is 50 - A Letter To My Younger Self

Dear Nylse;

You've done all right for yourself; you really have. You have been blessed with a wonderful husband and four children; after putting in many years of hard work you are beginning to reap the rewards of having raised decent (actually better than decent) children with a husband who stands by your side. You are surrounded by love in the form of family and friends in many states and countries.

You had minimal expectations for your life - you just wanted to be happy. That seems like a low bar but that is pretty high because you've learned that happiness is fluid and is made up of many ingredients.

As you see your oldest daughter embarking on the next stage of her life, you think about when you were her age. Her generation communicates a whole lot better than yours did. They have the benefit of accessible knowledge well before they may need it. You're impressed with the way your daughter and her fiancee communicate. They ask and they listen and then they figure out the "we". You see them putting this into practice for little things and it bodes well for their future. Sometimes you wish you had mastered this sooner.

You've learned that communication determines the quality of your relationships; that it's central to relationships. You've learned that to outward appearances of some communication may appear awkward, difficult and tenuous,  but yet when you look at the quality and longevity of those relationships - there's something that's working in spite of what is seen in a moment. You've learned that an ideal may not always be attainable, but getting pretty close is good enough. As it relates to communication, the foundation was laid at home. You learned, "speak when you're spoken to, answer when you're called." You learned to respect each other but that greater respect automatically went to your parents. You learned how to determine a mood based on how something was said. You learned how to make your voice heard in a large setting - this you learned well for you have a loud voice that you have often worked to tone down.

Confidence is great (and sexy), but knowing how to communicate with the people in your life is important. It is not a one-time lesson but one you will need to relearn over and over again. Our communication shows evidence of so much that goes on internally - strive to be genuine, yet kind, authentic yet loving, truthful yet precise.  Since you have what may be perceived as a  problematic tone, let that be the opener to your deepest heartfelt conversations so that your hearers don't get stuck on how you're speaking but on what you're saying.

But about that loud voice, it's part of who you are - so embrace it and use it well. When others need a mic to be heard in a loud room, you don't. If you want to train or give presentations, your voice lends itself to that. Speaking with authority comes naturally to you - never shy away from this but also recognize your influence. Work with what you have and use it to the best of your ability. Don't make your voice small for others, for in doing so you shortchange yourself.

You have learned that love makes all the difference in the world. Because if love is the foundation, you are quick to forgive each other. You were never good at holding a grudge - too much energy to do so or you were lazy. Whatever the reason, I'm glad you don't hold grudges. Grudges lead to resentment, which leads to long-simmering anger, which can rear it's ugly head over the stupidest things. Try not to hold grudges; the only way to do that is to remember your foundation of love so that you can forgive quickly.

Life doesn't end at 50 or any magical age that you've placed in your mind, as a matter of fact, as you turn 50, you feel more hopeful. Though this year has been hard in ways that you could have never imagined, you're so glad you made it to another birthday. It was imprinted on your heart this year after your mother's passing that every day is a gift; every day is an opportunity to start anew - start new habits, start new careers, take on new opportunities, start new friendships. Take nothing or anyone for granted; unfortunately, it's very easy to do. Don't wait until someone is gone to appreciate them; show your appreciation in as many ways that you can, for as long as you can, while you have them.

You've learned in this half a century not to ever give up on your dreams - for just as disappointments come when we least expect them so do appointments, so does joy and so does fulfillment. You've learned that where there's life and breath there is hope.

None of what you have done or achieved was done in a vacuum; God was with you all the way and that is something you will continue to acknowledge. It humbles you and keeps you grateful. It is because of the foundation of God's word and your decision to follow Him that your life has unfolded in the manner it has.

Keep learning, keep laughing, and keep enjoying life.

Lots of Love;

1 comment:

  1. Seriously all the goose bumps reading this post. You are an incredibly wise woman! Happiest of birthdays to you!


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