Dear 35-year-old Me,
I hope you really enjoyed the past few days of stuffing your face and lazing about with family over the Christmas holiday. As the new year approaches, you will find yourself making the same day-to-day choices you have been confronted with for several years now, but do me a favor. Please consider MY well-being as you make these choices.
Now before tear you down a bit, I feel obligated to mention that I completely understand the stress you've been under lately; after all, I literally walked in your shoes 25 seemingly short years ago. But here's a news flash you may want to consider: as you age, you will not necessarily find life LESS stressful. Many things are coming your way that will push you even further, testing your will and your patience. So rather than just viewing this as a hard time that will pass, see it as a plateau where you can rest, catch your breath, and prepare for anything. We both know that preparing, making plans, following through with tasks that require consistent self-discipline--these areas have not always been your strong suit. But a little structure now will benefit ME, and my interests should be of great importance to you.
Here is a simple list for you to consider--a starting point, of sorts. First, set some goals in every area of your life. I don't want to give anything away, and the future is not set in stone yet, but you should probably consider some health-related goals, for instance. I strongly recommend attaining a respectable level of fitness, strength, and flexibility NOW, while you still have that relatively young body to work with. Even meeting some minimum recommendations will suit me fine, just please, make a few improvements and for the love of God, DON'T let it get worse. Trust me, you want to be able to play on the floor with your grandkids, and you would LOVE the option of wearing a bathing suit in public. Which brings me to my next point...
Finances. I would love to wear said bathing suit on a beach, on a vacation, or even better yet, on a vacation taken during retirement. I do NOT want to teach for another six to ten years, so at the very least, make sure that my retirement is taken care of. If your current financial situation does pick up (and I'm not saying it will or won't!) PLEASE remember the lessons you've learned over the past two years. I like to think of myself as a wise woman, so don't make a fool of me.
Finally, nurture your relationships. Send emails, cards, notes, make phone calls. Keep up the date nights, the mother-daughter days, play-time with the twins. Make an effort to hug and visit your parents and sisters more often. And the advice you could use most right now? Make some time for yourself. You're creative, you'll figure out when and how. The writing is a good start--don't stop. Find a few more outlets like this and I'll be a well-adjusted lady.
I realize these are basic areas of life that I hardly need to mention, but they are gifts that I want more than anything, and only you can give them to me. YOU get to determine so much of who I am, how I feel, and what I have in my life. All I can give you in return is a bit of direction, and a couple detailed scenarios to choose from. As you read this, do you picture me lumbering about, winded, pasty, and disheveled, exhausted by life and constantly frazzled? Am I lonely and unsettled, with few options ahead of me? Or am I chic, trim, and energized, with a sense of calm and a youthful spark, looking joyously forward to years I will share with loved ones? Which do you think I'd RATHER be?
It's up to you, in so many ways. Don't forget it.