Bucket List: Write a letter to my children
I completed a bucket list related to family, personal and inner goals the last 3 years of my life, which I documented in a prior blog, MrsBucketList In this post, I share a letter of what I hope my children know deep in their heart. I think every caregiver/parent should write a letter like this to leave their children - it would be a great gift. I was inspired by Lt. Col. Weber in "Letter to My Sons," who I talked about in my prior blog. My wisdom is a greatest gift I hope to leave them.
I thought about writing this letter for a while now. Maybe I am not old enough yet to fully express all the things I know I will learn as time goes on. Yet, life is short, and I wanted to impart on you the knowledge and wisdom that experience brings. My hope is that you will one day read this letter and learn from the lessons I have experienced in the past 38 years. I have made my share of mistakes, and you will make mistakes too, but that is a good thing. So my hope for this letter is not that you avoid mistakes, but rather take from it wisdom and clarity for your own life.
Here are some things I hope you know deep down inside -
1. My deepest hope is that you will do all you can each day to live to the fullest. Mistakes are ok, everyone makes them. It is what you learn that is important, so focus on the lesson, not on the mistake. Perhaps in this way, you can achieve a new level of understanding. Take the lessons I have taught you, and experience something new and different than me. Learn in your own way. Don't be sad or mad about the learning - just go with it- life is your greatest friend and teacher.
2. Live a life beyond what I could imagine for you, don't listen to the expectations placed on you by the world. Do what makes you happy. Don't worry about expectations - you know what is best for you - inside you there is a voice - just listen to it. If you can't hear it, sometimes we just have to be still, sometimes the quieter we are, the more we can hear it.
3. Growing up is not always easy. You will find some of the deepest pain will come when you are young. The depth of feeling will feel like a bottomless ocean when you are young. This is because everything is new, but over the years you will learn ways to cope and not just survive these challenges, but you will become stronger. Don't do it alone-ask for help when you need it. Through these challenges, love yourself. Use strategies of self-love - self compassion - and self-acceptance. The love you have for yourself, is the seed of the gift of love you can give others. Never forget that you are whole exactly as you are-there is nothing you need to do.
4. Find things that awake your joy for life - writing, music, art, laughter, expression, dancing, sports, traveling and do them. These outlets will make life worth living. Also, find ways to know yourself more deeply - yoga, mediation, stillness, or practices that look inward. A lot of times the answers we seek, are inside of us, if we are still enough to listen.
5. Help others and better the small worlds around you. These small worlds are perhaps the most important ones you will touch, never take them for granted. Even if you touch one life in this world with your own kindness, that is enough. One life can change the world. Remember what Helen Keller said,
I am only one, but I am still one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.- Helen Keller
6. What goes on in the bigger world around you is important too. Stand up for what you believe, and never be afraid to be the one who defends the weak, or speaks out when everyone would rather be silent. You will regret more what you did not say, than what you say in defense of what is right and true.
7.Never let anyone demean you or put you down. From the moment I held each one of you-I could feel your divinity – the special place in life and purpose you each have-is something I saw when I first looked into your eyes as one day old infants. And with that, our connection as mother and child is special. I can feel the divinity in each of you - and I can see it in your eyes, never let anything come between your bright light that your presence has on the world. Let your brightness shine so it can drive out the darkness in the world. Don't let your light be dimmed.
8.Always keep learning. My life began as a daughter to an immigrant family who came to the US in search of a better life. I lived with a loving mother, who went to school to become a nurse. She instilled in me a core belief, one I hope you carry with you to a new generation, the belief that education was the greatest way to surpass society’s constraints. She believed that an education could never be taken away from you and was the one sure way to change your life. She was the first in her family to attend college. I believe that learning opens new worlds to you - every type of learning you do - about yourself, about the world, about things you care about - can be used to know yourself better, and make the world better too.
9.I was raised by my grandparents, who filled my younger years with so much love. Their longing for Cuba taught me to love something I had never seen or experienced. It taught me that culture is a beautiful way to experience the world of many different people. Explore all you can of this love, it will teach you many things and open you to new experiences and people.
10.Life is not meant to be suffering, but joy, love, and peace. You can speak out about the things that hurt you, and no one has the right to hurt you. Life is meant to be joyful-so surround yourself with people who make you happy.
11. There is nothing you can not overcome. You have the tools and more importantly, the love inside you to get through any challenge that life brings your way. You will do many great things in life. But remember this, the deepest sense of accomplishment and pride you will feel, is already inside of you. I saw it the day you were born. When your dad and I held you for the first time, I imagined for you all the amazing things you would experience. Never let anything take away the sense of wonder I felt for you. You were already amazing the day you were born - you don't have to do anything to earn that - anything you do to be great is icing on the cake. You are a beautiful soul. And I love you for everything you have already become - it is enough and I am proud of you.
12. Be bold. Set goals and don’t let pain stop you. Pain gets easier. But work through it and keep trying. Don’t give up. Be consistent when you want something, it may seem small at first, but step by step, it will pay off. Think of how an artist craves a sculpture out of ice, piece by piece chipping away, that is how success comes. And if success doesn't come, that is ok too, take what you learned to the next experience and be happy to have had it.
I know these are things you’ve heard before. But really believe them. Take them to heart and follow your dreams. I am still working on them, so don’t be mad at yourself for the down days. You’ll have more good days than bad. Persist through the hard days, and never lose hope. Some dreams will make you dream bigger - it may seem like the dream is lost - but it is only just beginning. You can't see life backwards - you life in forwards, but one day it will all make sense.
I imagine that is what my mother would tell me now. She died of pancreatic cancer very suddenly. For years, I wondered what she would have wanted and lived a life locked by these expectations I made for myself, instead of being happy - I stopped living and was sad. The loss was so hard. But it took me years to realize she would have wanted me to live and be happy. Live each day. She still reminds me that she is with me. Before she died she told me before she got sick, “Even when I am not present physically, I will always be with you.” And she is right, because I carry her in my heart always. It took me long time to figure that out - people keep living through their love. Love never dies. That is why they say love is eternal.
When I am gone one day, when I am 100 years old like a turtle, I want you to keep living - keep dreaming - and keep wishing. Remember what I told you about magic - we are the ones that make it real - the same is true of life - we can make it magic if we try. Celebrate it. Don't miss a holiday or a birthday - make it special - because life really is special.
So let me summarize (because you know mommy is a writer and I like to : )
Go live the life you dream. Let nothing stop you. Do not be afraid of anything. This world is meant to teach you. One day you will realize that each day is worth giving it your all. Be brave and speak out when you see injustice. Live the fullest life you can and tell me all about it. I’ll be here to listen, always. Remember nothing born of love is ever lost. We will be forever connected to each other, for the universe is bigger than we can ever imagine. Let yourself feel small when you look at the night sky and think how amazing this world is-never forget that sense of awe – that very sense of wonder is inside of you.
Live in the present. Now. This moment is precious. You are precious, right now, just as you are. Today is everything. So never let fear come in the way of living. And remember I am always, always with you - never doubt it. My love is so immense that the world can not contain it, like the stars in the sky are countless. Love each other.
I love you always,