I was sitting outside catching my breath from a jog and watching the world go by. It was a warm mid summer’s eve and the night felt peaceful and reflective… yet my mind lingered on my usual worries. “Am I crazy for trying to act and host still?” “will I ever make it through my bucketlist?” “I miss home.” “I’m not living up to my potential.” “how is time slipping by so fast?” A deep sigh, a lean back on the bench, and I stared up at the star-less sky. Further reminding me just how far from home I am.
I was lost deep in thought when I heard two young girls excitedly chirping back and forth, gossiping about something or other that seemed utterly earth-shattering to the both of them. I couldn’t help but smile.. fondly remembering the years when your biggest worry in the world was cute boys, cool handwriting and Limited Too clothing. I yearned to sit them down over Shirley Temples with extra cherries and tell them my “if I knew at your age what I know now” moments.. tell them to be good to their parents, and even better to their grandparents, stay out of the sun, never participate in bullying, try every sport and club, excel in school, and just enjoy it.. all of it, the ups, the downs, the heartbreaks, the growing pains, the friendships, the innocence, the bliss of a seemingly endless summers that only go by faster and faster as you age.
Their voice faded into the night, and I put a little more thought into it. Advice goes in one ear out the other for kids, it’s all part of the magic. But me? Well, I’d love if someone older and wiser overheard me whining about something trivial, like my 100th parking ticket, and sat me down and told me how it is… gave me the advice and guidance that I so desperately crave.
…I sat there for a bit longer, but no one came. So I decided I’d take matters into my own hands (someone really should advise me to not be so pushy). I reached out to family members that had a few decades on me and close friend’s parents asking them if they had any wisdom, an “if I knew then what I know now” piece of advice they were willing to share. The responses were beautiful and perfect.. and nearly every single one made me feel so grateful to have these people in my life, or in the lives of my dearest friends.
The people below are sprinkled across the United States with vastly differing professions, religions, and life experiences …but there’s a commonality in all of their messages. Let me know if you find it. xo
Valerie Fatehi Mom: “Get rid of negative people in your life. Then enjoy every moment as if is your last.”
Camille Hogan’s dad, “start saving for retirement as early as possible”
Rosalie Guitierrez, “Have patience with men, don’t expect perfection but never settle without true love.”
Jean Correia, Kookoo: “DO NOT MAKE DECISIONS BASED ON THE MINDSET OF: I’ll do this until I do that…. huge mistake. Years fly by before you know it, and all along you weren’t doing what you should have been doing. Many people do that; live somewhere “l’ll live hear till I find a better place” or take a job “I’ll do this till I find a better job” or I’ll marry this ahole till I find someone better’ haha. It’s a bad way to make decisions.” And you can never take back something mean that you said or did.
Carrol HIll: “If I can give you any advice to what is important in life, it is to do your best, laugh when its the proper time and cry when its the time. Life is really too short and wow, I found that out just recently when I had a heart attack. Those things don’t happen to me. Heck I did not think I had a heart. But I was so surprised to get a lovely card, magazines and beautiful flowers from your Mom and Aunt. They are special people. My advice to you is love them and be proud of them..I will love and care for them always.”
Jane Gilson: “Lesson: Listen to your parent(s) your father (or mother) was right. Pop used to say, ‘Someday you’re going to say, Pop was right.’ Pop was right. Life Lesson: Stay out of the sun and quit worrying so much; it causes wrinkes and grey hair. You never know when its going to be the last time you see/talk to somebody. Never take people for granted. You’ll be old before you know it. Start saving 10% of your income now, and don’t touch it till retirement. Vote Republican.
Skippy: “Hi , this is Skippy (Jean and Jane’s). I grew up with them and the only thing I can think of to say is your friends from childhood are e ones to treasure most. They know the good,bad and ugly about you and yet will always stand with you. Even if years go by, they never forget or let you down. Always treasure them for they are family in your heart and soul.”
Nicola Stanley: “I would of lived in a tropical climate by a beach. Also I would of eaten more Twinkies because I can’t do that now. Lol On a more serious note, never tell your personal (marriage) issues to anyone. I never have . Its hard enough sometimes and other peoples opinions aren’t important.”
Ron & Margie Pujalte: “Ron and I talked about it and here it is. If we knew then what we know now we would have kept our Camaro, our Firebird, our Barracuda…….
Suzanne Deboer: “#1 When you figure out what your passions are- find a way to make a career/living out of it. Opportunity will not come knocking at your door. Take a chance on yourself- take a risk- don’t always play it safe and this will force you to find a way to make it happen. **This will mean you will potentially be an animal rights activist, jewelry designing interior decorator who bakes for the staff at J.Crew where you preside as CEO!! Eek- You will have a lot of passions – but none greater than being a mom 🙂 #2 Don’t worry so much – 99% of the things you will spend hour upon hour worrying about will never, every happen. It’s the things you never thought to worry about that will take you by surprise. So save yourself some worry lines and stress and just let things happen. Worrying never stopped a disaster anyway. #3 Don’t be so hard on yourself! Give yourself a break like you do everyone else. Be your own biggest fan–not critic. There are plenty of others out there who will take care of being the critic for you.”
Dot Merianos: I wish I would have trusted in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit a whole lot more. I wish I had realized They have always had my back. I wish I knew more about cat colonies back then. I did not know about trap/neuter/release when I lived in an apartment with a colony of cats (before GM and I moved in together). I’d have had all the girls spayed, the boys neutered, and everyone would have been current on shots.
Clair Reville: “Gather all the joy you can in this life and hold it deep within your heart for sorrow awaits steadfastly in the wings of hell to steal it away.”
Charles Pike: “Well I wish I could have been more assertive growing up, was always kind of shy. I feel I could have had more girlfriends if I were. Good advice to anyone, believe in yourself and have a positive attitude.”
Debbie Coen: “Spend 100x more time with your children…the dirt will ALWAYS BE THERE…. Hug n kiss n love your children way more than you do !! Don’t wish your life away. “”” I can’t wait to be 21…. Turns into I can’t believe I’m going to be 50 in the blink of an eye !!! Forgive those you love. You can choose not to ever forget but don’t let life pass you by…. Respect ur parents. As much as they’ll ANNOY you ….. They are not here forever. Enjoy n treasure Alllll the time you have now.
Kookoo (Jean Correia) P.S.: That thing if I knew then what I know now: if you realized how you might regret being so far away from family while they are still alive, then one day they will be gone and you might have wished you spent the years with them…. (insert giant sad sigh).
Janis Gilson: When I turned 60..ugh..I made a list of top ten things I had learned. So I thought I’d forward it to you. I’m not sure there is anything from it you can use for your blog, but here it is anyway…
- I’ve learned that even though I’m registered as an Independent, I really am a Republican.
- I’ve learned that you really do have to start saving for retirement at age 25!
- I’ve learned that you really do get wiser with age, but still make stupid mistakes.
- I’ve learned that we are only here for a short time, so you might as well make the most of it and dance all night!
- I’ve learned that age is only a number, and as long as you wake up each morning and feel good, it’s a great day!
- I’ve learned that money doesn’t make you happy, but it sure would be nice to win the lottery!
- I’ve learned that 60 doesn’t feel much different 50, except the wrinkles and sagging give it away!
- I’ve learned that no matter what, GOD is there for the long haul!
- I’ve learned that a daughter really can be your best friend!
- And finally, I’ve learned that you can’t choose your extended family, but I’m sure lucky to be part of the Gilson family..
and to that I toast being 60!
Jodi Merianos: “If I knew then I would for sure follow my head and not my heart. Choose men wisely cuz sometimes they end up being your babies daddy. And time is extremely precious…live and love each day with no regrets!!! I could go on and on. Live and love and keep God first!!”
George Merianos: I’ve been trying to think of some life changing, if I knew then what I know now type moments, but I’m glad to say I really can’t think of any big ones. There is one thing I would really like to change, that I still feel sad about every time I think about it. Years ago when we lived in Huntsville, we had a neighbor named Charles Stroman. He was about 80 and we used to chat and became pretty good friends. One day we talking and he mentioned he’d never been to Niagara Falls but really wanted to see it. He felt he was too old to travel alone and needed someone to accompany him. While he didn’t ask me directly, he strongly hinted at it, even mentioned he’d pay someone’s airfare. I was fairly busy with work and traveling a lot, so I didn’t respond. A year or two after that I came back from a trip and he was in a nursing home and passed away a short time later. I immediately regretted ignoring my friend’s wish, and still regret it to this day. I don’t remember what was too busy doing at the time but I sure remember that conversation. I know I could have found a couple of days, used a few of my many airline miles, and I’d feel a lot better about myself today. If only I could go back and revisit that time.
Papa Gilson: “Don’t waste any time, life is too short. And never stop learning.”