A Letter To My Future Child: Slow Down

Dear Future Child,

You will watch a lot of movies growing up, and not just when I get too tired to fully supervise you (even though movies are a great alternate babysitter). And one of those movies will be Ferris Buehler’s Day Off. Not only will this movie teach you about being young and reckless, it will teach you about slowing down. As Ferris says while he constructs his master plan to get out of another mundane day of high school, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

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And if this isn’t the cold hard truth, I don’t know what is.

There will be days when you wish life would move faster. When the shower is cold and you spill your cereal and get stuck in traffic and stub your toe and breakup with a boyfriend and fail a test and miss an opportunity and cry yourself to sleep. Because that’s life. I can’t protect you from days like these, and every time they happen I’ll wish I could. However, every day is only 24 hours, the good and the bad.

And you’d be surprised how fast 24 hours can go when you aren’t expecting it.

My dear child, the main takeaway from this post is to slow down. If there’s one piece of advice I’d give myself, it’s this. Because I’ve been moving so fast, my entire first year of college is over in three weeks. I’ve been moving so fast that my second decade will be here in a few months, and that’s an important, meaningful age. I’ve been moving so fast, that sometimes I don’t even take the time to appreciate how beautiful life can be through a non-stressed lenses.

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I walk too fast, because I don’t want to be late. I eat too fast, mostly because I’m not as mindful as I should be. I shower too fast, so that I have enough time to dry my hair. I drive way too fast, and don’t have an actual excuse for this one other than a lack of patience.

I want you to slow down today when you go for walk, and enjoy the color of the flowers in our yard. Slow down when you eat lunch, and think about how wonderful the combination of rice and seaweed pairs together (if you end up eating as much sushi as I do, anyways). Slow down when you shower today, I promise our water bill will maintain the heat. And most importantly, never get into the habit of driving as fast as your mother. This one is non negotiable.

And you know what? If you have to skip a day or two of school to stop and look around every once in a while, I’ll call in and tell the office you have a fever. Life’s too short not to.

Yours truly,

Madeleine

A Letter To My Future Child: Finding Where You Belong

Dear Future Child,

I am writing to you from my college dorm in Kansas. I am not from here, but it feels like home. My other home, my childhood house and city is 200 miles away. Someday, I am hoping to move to Arizona, a warm, sunny place, where you might even be born.

I’m not sure where my true home is or if I know what it feels like, but I get glimpses here and there. Home isn’t a place, dear child. It’s a feeling. And I’m hoping that through my letters, my other writings, and my instructions to you as a mother (and a friend?) I can teach you where to capture that feeling.

As a child, you don’t get to choose where you live, how big your house is or who your neighbors are. I grew up aimlessly happy, and loved everything about my surroundings. I lived in the outskirts of a large city, the ideal location to be close enough to the buzz, but far enough to avoid the noise. I played in grassy fields and wooded areas with my brothers, my family grew flowers and vegetables, and we fell asleep listening to crickets, frogs, and owls.

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Fishing in the cold and rain and knee-length jean shorts. (Notice how I refused to hold the nasty fishing line).

But as my primary childhood came to an end, I had to make a decision. There weren’t any upper level schools near our house, so I had to either go 15 minutes up the highway into the country or 15 minutes towards the heart of the city. Somehow, I don’t remember the choice being difficult, because maybe I was more easy going then.

I chose to stay in the country.

The school was in a town, a small one, and someday I’ll tell you more in depth about this kind of lifestyle. The rumors, the gossip, the drama, the drinking, the drugs, the abuse, all swept under the rug of the one road that runs through the middle of the town. Some people are raised to believe this way of life is how the world spins, despite being hidden behind fields of corn and beans. In fact, this is the common ideology for many, many families in the Midwest, and even America.

It took me four years to open my eyes to my potential future, and I quickly decided what I wanted couldn’t be achieved because of where I was, the habits I had formed, and who I had surrounded myself with. I left, honey, I left just as quickly as the realization was made.

As my teenage years came crashing over me, it was clear that I was missing something. This was the first time I questioned what in the heck I was doing here? Not in small town Nebraska, not even in the United States, but in the world. What was my purpose in life? Poor sixteen year-old me was confused and lost, trying to find home.

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Daydreaming at 15 about a future here (Arizona).

 

I found condolences in my parents and family of course, but lost most of my friends who couldn’t see through the glasses I began to wear. These glasses showed me how terrible the world could be, and also how much potential lay on the other side of the country fields. I was led to believe that I was the only one who could save myself, and formed a personal escape mission called “college”.

Fortunately, I was detoxed from my previous adolescent years through a private education for my last two years of high school, and many doors and windows were open to aid my getaway. The thought of leaving my family (my mom and grandma?! How could I?) was horrific, but so was getting trapped in a mundane and monotonous lifestyle.  I knew I was set on finding a place far away and warm, so I narrowed my options down to Arizona and Texas. I visited beautiful campuses and toured regal areas full of sunny hallways and trails, each with bright and shiny writing programs, and yet I left each place surprisingly underwhelmed.

What was missing? I was transported back a few years to the emptiness, the unknown location I found myself seeking but not knowing its name. I was discouraged and began losing hope, and my dad persuaded me to tour a school in Kansas, even though the thought of staying in the Midwest made me want to gag.

And from here, you can guess what happens next in the story. Our car pulled onto campus, and knew before even stepping out of the vehicle, before touring the campus, before I even looked in to the English programs, I knew that I was home. I didn’t tell anyone about this conclusion for a month, because I was embarrassed. I wasn’t about to give up my dream of an extravagant lifestyle on the outskirts of the country.

Overlooking the football field on my campus

I kept looking for a sign, something to tell me which direction to follow. And every night that I lay awake staring at the ceiling, the feeling in my chest returned when I thought of the buildings and the dorms and the sidewalks teeming with young life.

I am writing to you from a place that is in the middle of the Midwest, but it’s everything I’ve ever wanted for this time in my life. I have found where I belong, for now at least, and my only hope for you is that you can experience the same feeling of belonging.

I will do whatever it takes to show you the way, always.

Love,

Madeleine

Grandparents: A Letter to My Future Child

Dear Future Child,

I wanted to teach you a lesson about grandparents. A lesson that will make you run into their arms every time you don’t get your way (or when I refuse your dictator requests for more popsicles, like I did often to my mother). Because believe it or not, grandparents can be your closest ally, after your father and I of course.  

You wouldn’t believe that amount of support you already have, my dear child. Between your parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents you are immensely loved and treasured. You will be our greatest joy, and greatest worry. But whenever we begin to worry about something you ate, something you said, something that’s troubling you, our sources of answers (and comfort) lie in what we’ve taught by our parents, and their parents.

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My mom helped me discover the secrets of washing machines, how to dance without shame, and that there’s no limit to how many times a day calling one another is acceptable. She also taught me that beauty is self-created.

My dad helped me get into the college of my dreams, fill out so many confusing forms, paid for every writing and English program that pushed me to the place I am today, and not to mention gave me the best concert tickets (front row to Coldplay!!!!!!)

My grandma taught me how to cook eggs in a microwave, be patient with my brothers (and my grandpa) sew pillowcases and patch jeans, and create the perfect plate of appetizers. She also taught me that there is always a solution to any problem, whether it be a stain or the most difficult project in the world (I’m thinking of the science fair in particular).

My grandpa taught me how to catch the bigger fish than my brothers, how to appreciate going to the movies, how to play ping pong, how to swing a golf club, and how to have persistence in whatever adversity I face (sometimes, so much persistence it’s annoying. In the best ways possible).

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My grandparents celebrating their 50th anniversary

My grandparents taught me the importance of family, as they have never missed a sporting event, concert, speech, or other event of their five grandchildren. No matter how much they felt like staying home or watching Judge Judy, they dedicated all of their time to supporting the family.

I wish I could have shown you a picture of our family calendar, darling, because you wouldn’t believe how busy it was (and still is). Each child was color-coded, and penciled in carefully. As you can imagine, there was bound to be conflicting events, what with baseball, basketball, softball, tennis, dance recitals, plays and musicals, cheerleading competitions, spelling bees, art shows, award shows, the list is endless. And yet, they never grew tired of the dreadfully cluttered calendar.

What I want you to understand is how important it is to tell your grandparents how much you love them. I hope you feel their support in every cell of your body, because besides your father and I, they’re your biggest fans in the whole world.

We are all cheering for you, dear Child.

Love,

Madeleine

 

A Letter To My Future Child: Five Things Money Can’t Buy

Dear Future Child,

What I’m about to share is something I struggle with, but I’m not alone. I’m going to do everything I can to teach you how to overcome this problem, so you don’t have the same struggles that Mom does. Dad will be happy I’m sharing this with you.

Money isn’t everything, even though it often seems like it is. Money buys nice cars, diamond earrings, new dresses, sparkly shoes, healthy food, restaurant food, big houses, and fun trips. It buys important things like education, good health, and professional help when you can’t do something on your own.

But money can’t buy everything in the world, dear Child, no matter how much you want that doll or that trip to Disneyland. I’m going to tell you five things that are more important than money, and when you focus on these five things, everything that you ever worry about will fall away with the abundance and ease.

Passion:

  • I knew in the fourth grade (is that how old you are? Maybe you’re a little older.. but I’m sure you’ve already heard this story since your Mommy likes to talk about herself so much!) that I was destined to be a writer. There was never any choice, and never any reason not to follow this passion of mine. No amount of money can change this (even if people tell me it’s a “brave” career to choose). It’s not about the money, it’s about finding the thing that makes you want to dance and sing and pick flowers. It’s called purpose, and it’s so much more important than our bank account.

 

Beauty:

  • Money buys fancy clothes, makeup, hair products, accessories, jewelry, and shiny shoes, but that’s not what makes you beautiful. The way your eyes light up when you watch the sunset, the way you have the ability to make strangers smile, the way you walk and talk and look at yours of in the mirror? Those are what represents true beauty in this society, and I already know, at age nineteen, that you are the most beautiful child in the world.

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A relationship with God:

  • I hope that I teach you things. How to make scrambled eggs, how to write a story, how to dance to any song, how to talk in front of a crowded room. But above all else, I want to teach you how to speak to God. If I teach you one thing, I want you to know and feel the Higher Power in this universe. There are a lot of questions about the power of our Creator, and a simple way to think about it is that whatever/whoever this God person is, they aren’t you. There is something or someone running everything that is out of your control, and how thankful we all are for that. When you have a connection to this Divine Being, you’ll begin to believe and trust in all the good things in your life, things that money can’t buy. A relationship with God is priceless, Baby.

 

Time:

  • If there’s anything that’s most valuable to me (besides you and your father of course), it’s my time. It’s the one thing that I can never get back if wasted, something that is often out of my control. Time is worth so much more than money, because with just enough time and passion, all the creative happiness will begin flowing in your direction. Be careful with how you spend your time, it’s worth more than the bucks and the bills.  

 

Love:

  • Lastly, love is more important. Love is more important than everything, because love is everything. Time is love. God is love. Beauty is love. Passion is love. Love is what makes the world spin so perfectly, not the amount of toys you scatter around the house. No income, no savings, no funds will fill your heart like love will. When you love yourself, you achieve inner peace. When you love others, you achieve a sense of belonging. And from my understanding in the last nineteen years, that’s what everyone is chasing.

So in conclusion, darling, don’t be fooled. Mother knows best, and even if she doesn’t always take her own advice, maybe if you listen to her she’ll start listening too.

Yours already,

Madeleine

Safety: A Letter to My Future Child

Dear Future Child,

I hope you know how much you deserve.

You deserve to feel happiness, feel peace, feel love, and most of all, you deserve to feel safe. Maybe safety is a combination of all of these feelings. I want you to experience safety the most of all, because if you feel safe, you have a clear mind to manifest joy. If you feel safe, you don’t have to worry about fear. If you feel safe, you’ll be open to giving and receiving love.

However, reaching this so-called paradise of safety isn’t always easy, and I’m writing this to help you. To let you know that I am here, and I hope I am a part of your safe place. What I mean by “safe” is not necessarily physicality. I’m talking about your mental and spiritual well-being. I’m talking about thriving. I’m talking about the protection that is always available to you in this abundant universe, the kind of safety that leads you to grow and dance and pick flowers and sing at the top of your lungs.

This place of safety isn’t always guaranteed, but I’m going to do everything in my power to make it.

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Source: http://annakubel.se/

When I was growing up, your grandparents were my safe place. They provided me with every protection and ease in the world, but when I became more independent, I also sacrificed some of my safety. Diving into the unknown is scary, and the stalkerish-fear followed me everywhere I went, and even invaded my most personal, positive thoughts.

I want you to know that that’s not okay, and won’t last forever.

In order to regain control of my outlook, I turned to a few things. Things like music, poetry, healthy food, unhealthy food, a good outfit, cute shoes, encouraging quotes, the Bible, running, money, my Tiffany necklace, my medicine, my planner. These objects, subjects, and actions helped me feel like I was in a place of safety, like I was protected and surrounded with joy.

And most of all, darling, the feeling of safety is most present in my heart when I’m surrounded by the ones I love. Build a circle of security, encouragement, and relaxation. Life is too short to not feel this way.

So the question to ask yourself is, what makes you feel safe? Safety will feel like bubbly laughter and a warm blanket and a tight hug from your favorite person. Safety will feel like looking into a mirror and seeing the prettiest girl in the world. Safety will feel like dancing with the love of your life in the afternoon, just because.

Dear future child, you will know what safety feels like, and I will do everything to keep it that way.

Yours already,

Madeleine

Letter to My Future Child: A Series

Dear Future Child,

I’m not sure if you’ll ever read this on here. I’m not sure if this blog will still be around by the time you’re able to read, digest, and understand all the ways that your crazy mother expresses herself.

You may ask yourself as your cheeks redden, “Why does my mom have to say this to the whole worldwide audience?” and I’d reply, “Don’t worry, small one, I only have 400 followers.” You may also think, “Mom, this blog and this series is embarrassing,” and I’ll say, “Sorry honey, it’s what I was born to do. And no one is safe when a writer is present.”

Then again, this conversation may never happen. You may love what I do, or you may never get around to reading these. I am okay with all of the above.

Either way, I wanted to publish this series on my blog, because what I must write to you about might be something someone else wants to write to their children about. The thought process behind blogging and writing and simply creating is to share ideas. Finding similarities and connecting.  That’s what I love so much about being an artist.

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Source: alannatalu.tumblr.com

Future child, I want you to know that you don’t have to paint pictures or take photographs of the weeds in the garden to be an artist. All you have to do is create. All truth be told, I want you to be an artist. I’m not sure what your father will have to say about that one, because he might want you to be a doctor or an athlete. We will love you either way (but Mom is always right, and also has the last say. Remember that).

But I want you to be an artist, because I know firsthand the feeling of freedom that comes from letting your thoughts escape the jail cell of your mind. And while I pray that some of my genetics remain within myself so you’ll never be cursed with fear, worry, or sadness, I also pray that you end up somewhat like me. God, if you’re reading this, please give her the artist’s imagination.

I say her, because I feel that I am writing to my daughter at the moment, but then again, God, if you’re reading this, I know that you’re very persistent in everything you do. I guess I’ll have to just trust you on this one.

Future Child, lastly, I want you to know that it’s alright. Whatever you feel is okay. If someday you desire to create, I will support everything you design, build, and utter. This series is a lot for your purpose, to help you grow and develop into the person you were meant to be.

It’s also a teeny bit for my purpose. I am a planner, and I want to be ready someday to be your guidance. And for the ease of my slightly unhinged nineteen-year old mind, I need to be prepared many years in advance. Therefore, for my readers with wide eyes, this is not a declaration of child bearing.

I am simply making sure to document and record my every lesson, piece of advice, and story so that someday, my child may learn from my successes and failures, my trials and tribulations.

This is the beginning of my series to my Future Child, and hopefully somewhere along the way, I teach her (or him?) how terrifyingly glorious life can be.

Yours,

Madeleine