Sunday, December 11, 2011

Come on in, the Future is Fine.

This one is going to take a little more creativity and thought. Last time I wrote a letter to my 22 year old self. But what would my 62 year old self want my 42 year old self to know right now?

Dear Brooke (age 42):
Greetings from 2031! Yes, the world is still here and humanity is chugging along quite nicely. Although some things will never change, all in all humans are evolving. We have achieved so much in 20 years and you are personally doing splendidly.  In fact, your life is everything you hoped it would be. No regrets. You are in the ideal position to answer your life calling and--although the path is sometimes fuzzy--your trajectory in 2011 really is leading you just where you want to go. So this is what I have to say to you. Listen:

Stop worrying! Sometimes you can see how far you've come and sometimes you are just too hard on yourself. Where you are in your life right now is perfect. It is a wonderful time. You will look back at this time in your life with great fondness. Your children are at such a fun age and you are enjoying them immensely. This is a good thing. A great thing. So you worry that you aren't accomplishing as much as you should professionally, that you should be making more money, that you should be more "successful." Do us both a favor and stop "shoulding" all over the place. You need to see that you already are successful. You are on the right track. It's not about the money right now. It's about your kids. Remind yourself of one of your favorite facts: Even United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor took several years off to raise her children. I'm not sitting here at 62 saying, "Gee, I should have spent more time at the office and less time with Macie and Lucas." You know what my perspective is in 2031? This is it: I can't believe my babies are all grown up. It just flew by so fast. I'm so glad I didn't miss it. The school-age years were such precious times. I wouldn't trade them for all the money, power or conventional success in the world. In 2011 they are 8 and 10 years old. In 2031 they are 28 and 30 years old. Happy, healthy, productive good citizens blessed with a terrific, nurturing childhood contributed to largely in part by having had joyful, loving and involved parents. Congratulations! You are doing the right thing by prioritizing your children at this time in your and their lives. Besides your business is doing just fine and it's only going to get better. As you have more time to devote to building your career, your career will grow and thrive. You have the perfect work/life balance right now. So quit worrying. Everything is progressing the way it should. It's all going to come together beautifully. You'll see.

Stop feeling guilty! What is it with you? Why is it that whatever you are doing, you think you ought to be doing something else? Can't you see that whatever you are doing is what you are supposed to be doing right now? That is why you are doing it. When you are working, you feel you should be exercising. When you are exercising, you feel you should be working. When you are resting, you feel like you should be doing something "more productive." You are actually doing a rather fabulous job of having it all. You have everything you need. Everything is perfect just the way it is. Enjoy the moment. Be mindful of whatever you are doing at the time you are doing it. There is time for everything. One step at a time. Have a little more faith in your choices. Cut yourself some slack.

Stop being afraid!  There is nothing to fear. You may not always be able to control what happens to you but you are always able to choose how you will react to it. Know that you will face whatever comes your way and you will handle it with grace and dignity. You will make the most of everything life hands you. You have always exhibited resilience in the face of adversity and you will continue to do so. Believe in yourself and what you stand for. Stay true to yourself and your message. Don't let the naysayers and adversaries bring you down. Listen to whatever criticism you can use to improve and grow and let go of the rest. Align yourself with people who will mentor and support you. Friends and teachers are all around you.  Ask for help and you shall receive it. It all comes together when it is supposed to. Remember that "o fim sempre da certo"--everything always works out in the end.  It is only a matter of seeing it as so, remembering that there is a lesson to be learned, learning it and moving on. You've always been good at seeing and learning and incorporating new information. Keep the faith.

The cool thing about being 62 is that it is much easier now to internalize these concepts and be at peace with myself. At 42, although you know intellectually that I speak true, you still struggle to stay in the moment. You have to keep practicing patience, tolerance and compassion as well as loving and forgiving yourself and others; but trust me, you are well on your way. Be happy knowing that you will be everything you want to be when the time is right. You know how you wish you were smarter, wiser, and more Zen-like? You know how you wish you had 20 more years of experience? I'm happy to report that age provides for this. You got it. It's just that time takes time.

So please enjoy your 40s and stop second-guessing yourself. This is a beautiful time for you. Appreciate it. Also, your instincts are great. They have never steered you wrong. I know you can't see the future from where you are, but I can promise you it will be a bright one. Everything is as it should be. I should know, right? Now you know this: I am proud of the woman that you are right now as well as the woman you are becoming. And the best is indeed yet to come, so relax and hang in there, Sister. I'm rooting for you.
Much love, Brooke (age 62)

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