Starting over: life’s trials and tribulations

Ever have one of those days where you just feel lost and uncertain? Not sure where to go, what to do, or what happens next?  So many possibilities and not sure what direction to turn to.  I am falling in on life’s uncertainty and I am not sure what makes absolute complete sense anymore. Let me back up a bit.

After about two years of living in Honolulu, I thought that I needed to move off the island, more specifically I felt I was ready to move back to the mainland. East coast, west coast, where was not important, but I felt the essence of the mainland calling me back. That was in 2011. It wasn’t for another two years that I would actually take advantage of the opportunity to move back. That was scary. I had a plan, executed that plan, now what?

Whenever I tell anyone I meet in the D.C. area that I spent the last 4 years of my life living in Honolulu, I always get asked why I moved back. Well, my move to Honolulu was never meant to be a permanent home, I never really thought that it would be a home, but for a brief period in my life Honolulu was my home. In some weird way I felt apart of local culture. Everyday I woke up the sun was shining, it was 80 degrees, and from my apartment I had a breathtaking view of the mountains that one could only dream about. I lived that life. For the most part life had minimal stress, I was in optimal health, and I was learning more about myself each day. I was living my best life.

Although it was my best life, it was my best life only for that time. In life things begin, but they also end. The end finally came. Why did I come back? Well although I had created a new life, I very much missed the old one at times. Your past will always be a part of you, and no matter how far you travel, you will never leave the past behind. I never left to run from my past, I left really to understand my present self. I needed to go to a space where I could learn about me. Away from distractions, away from expectations, away from what I once was. I found a me that I loved. I found life. I learned to slow down. To appreciate the simple pleasures of life. I never knew how peaceful life could be at the top of mountain, until I actually climbed to the top of that mountain and just sat. I never knew how much I could enjoy my own company, until my only choice was to enjoy my own company, and I never knew that I could survive so far away from everything and everyone I knew, until I had no other option than to survive. Looking back I did a pretty good job. But I knew it had to end. I miss it. But why do I miss it so much, when I knew it would be over?

I grew up along the way. I built attachments. For the first time in my life I was attached to my job. It was the first time I had ever had the feeling of wanting to cry as I submitted my letter of resignation, and every day after second guessed if I was really ready to go. I met friends who cared for me, friends who were sad to see me go, friends who showed me  Aloha from the day they first met me. I miss it.

Now I am on the mainland. Working in D.C. This is what I wanted. I am surrounded by friends who love me, my family is now only 4 hours away in New York, yet at times I still find myself dreaming and reminiscing of my time on the island.  A time of my life that is never to be forgotten.

Now it is time to start a new chapter. Which leads to that feeling of uncertainty. Where do I start? How do I start this chapter? Life is happening. Am I doing it right? I am on the mainland. The mainland is filled with opportunity. How do I take advantage of that opportunity? How do I continue to live my best life? That is a question I frequently ask. Adjustments take time, and transitions are not easy. I am adjusting. Winter doesn’t help. Its 9 degrees over here and 79 degrees in Honolulu. Those are the times when I want to return to Honolulu. But life goes on, I continue to grow, to learn, and to live. My uncertainty will eventually go away, and I will be back in tune with my purpose. But for now, I will continue to learn, focus, and stay motivated to conquer what is next. To Honolulu: I came, I saw, I conquered, To DC: Ok I’m here, let’s get it!

 

Positive thoughts, positive energy, positive experiences.

No expectations, no regrets, A life worth living

The best things in life are often the most unexpected.

I love moments of self-reflection. Looking back on life’s moments always offers me greater insight into what I am fully capable of accomplishing in life. Life always has a way of working out if we choose to let it work. For that I am eternally grateful. Moments of self-reflection help me to realize how far I have come in my own personal growth, and remind constantly that life is a journey. At times that journey is slow, at times it moves faster than I can ever imagine, but I am always evolving on this journey.

The exciting part; you never know where the journey will take you. The scary part; you never know where the journey will take you. But you feel the need to go. I like to go fast.  In February of 2009 I packed up everything I had, left everything I knew, left everyone I knew, and moved to an island in the middle of the pacific. Having no idea where I was going, and vague plans that I could only hope would work out I began a new journey.  I had no idea of what I would find, no idea who I would meet, and had no expectations. It felt right, so I ran with it. Scary? Well, yes maybe a little. Was it needed? Yes most definitely.

In September of 2013  it was time to close my Hawaiian chapter, a bitter-sweet ending to an unbelievable journey. I arrived on the island emotionally empty. To be honest, I had hit life’s emotional rock bottom. Nothing mattered. To be in a state of going through the motions just because you have to, felt like a state of not living. My life needed more, my challenge was to find it.

I spent the last 4 and a half years of my life on the island of Oahu.  Wow writing this from a Washington DC coffee shop, it’s still hard to believe that it was not all a dream. I arrived with nothing, I left with more than I could have ever imaged. I was happy.  How did that happen? My emotionally empty glass was suddenly full.   I gained a new family or Ohana as they say in Hawaiian. I never thought I would meet people who would overwhelm me with a sense of Aloha. I was embraced by an amazing level of kindness from day one.  Friendships were formed. People cared about me. Strangers grew to love me, and will always have a place in my heart for them. I always thought the only people who would ever care about me lived on the east coast. I was never alone on the island in the middle of the pacific. I had people who loved me. Why is that so hard for me to believe? Even as I sit here and write, it seems like a dream. A false reality that never existed. A made up adventure of my life. But it really happened. I lived it. A  time in my life when I was able to let go and live. To prove to myself that I could live. Living was OK, I gave myself permission to just live.

When I was packing up all my belongings to leave Hawaii, I wondered to myself how did I get here. Seriously, I felt like I was in a fog when I left New York on that cold February morning in 2009. I cried all the way to my first layover in LAX. It was a day I will never forget. That force of knowing that my life needed change, gave me the strength to leave. When I was packing up my apartment in Honolulu, many times I wanted to cry. I had that part of me that wanted to stay. I had built a new life. Fearful that I would have to start over again. Fearing what the east coast would now hold for me. I was leaving different. I wasn’t the same girl who arrived on the rock in 2009. In essence I had changed. That’s what life is about, changing. I could never have lasted as long so far away from familiarity if I had remained the same. Somewhere along the line I grew up. I found hobbies. I fell in love. I fell in love with the island, with adventure, with mountains, with the ocean, with the culture. In my mind, shoot I was local. Even though I could never master the art of speaking pigeon, and still would never attempt to pronounce many of the Hawaiian street names, I still felt a sense of local flavor.

I went with no expectations, and gained more than I could ever imagine. I made new friends. My newfound extended ohana took care of me.  Those friends  pulled me through the bad days, and made good days all the more exciting. It worked. Life worked the way it was supposed to. I learned lessons. Even though I wanted to figure out if I could really cut my own safety net of my family and friends in New York while managing alone, that was impossible. I learned that no matter where I am in the world life can never be done alone. Life is not meant to be lived in isolation. I found friends. Friends that helped me adapt. Friends that cared, friends that loved me, and made me feel at home. Friends that would miss me when I’m gone.

As each day passes here in the east, it all continues to feel like a dream. Was that time a brief intermission in life a time solely for me to recollect myself? Or maybe it serves a greater purpose that I am yet to find out. Not sure what is up next. All I know now is that as I begin to settle in again on the east coast, and embrace winter, God is always at work, and He always has a plan. I just can’t wait to see what happens next, but until then I will continue to live.

Self torture continued, my road to running in a half marathon

inspration

I despise running so I signed up to run a half marathon. I know what your thinking, yes I am a walking oxymoron. Me and running have a hate-hate relationship. There is no room for love in that equation, and I seriously doubt that running has any love for me, so the mutual hate between myself and running is the perfect complement to this relationship.

So why run 13.1 miles for no good reason if you hate running so much?

Ahhh, good question. Why run 13.1 miles. To be honest some days 13. 1 miles seems like an incredibly far distance to drive, let alone run. Why run then? I wish I had one of those overly inspirational stories for you, like an example of how my life will forever be changed, or that I am running to raise money for a good cause, or I almost died and this is my chance to prove that I am alive and better than ever. Well, lucky for me I have not had a near death experience, my life will most likely be exactly the same the first minute after I reach the finish line, and I probably could be raising money for a really good cause, but I’m not. Maybe I should look into that one.

In reality, I am running just to say that I can complete a 13 mile run, and to win this competition that I am having solely with myself to prove that I can finish a half marathon in 2 hours or, at least 2 hours and 5 minutes.

I have never run 13 miles before. I don’t know if I will ever run it again. All I know is that in 25 days, I will be running. And I will finish. Whenever I run I constantly repeat to myself the saying: “finish stronger than you started”. I hope that kicks in around mile 11, because by that time I will just want to finish.

I have no intention of ever running a full marathon. 26.2 miles, now that is wayyyyy too many miles. For all who have completed one or multiple full marathons, much congrats! Today I drove 26 miles. I felt like that was too long. To run that distance, well not in my foreseeable future.

13.1. The magic number. I will take all wishes of luck starting now.

My life is full of surprises. Who knew that at 31 I would be running my first half marathon. At age 15, I hated to run 1 mile. At 15 if someone had told me that I would be running a half marathon in 16 years I would have laughed. At 15 I was the fat kid. I hated exercise because it hurt. I was 15 and nearly 200 pounds, wearing a size 16-18. Yeah I hated shopping, and health was at the bottom of my priority list.  At 15 I thought that I would never be attractive, I thought I would never have a boyfriend, and I had never imagined what life would be like at less than 200 pounds. Plus size was my life.

At age 31, well lets just say that I have lost about 40 pounds along the way, no more plus size clothing, and without running, or yoga, or crossfit,  my day feels incomplete.

Wait! I think I found it. The inspiration!

For that sad 15-year-old girl who is living inside of me, I am going to kick the ass of these 13.1 miles. To prove to her that she can do anything. To prove to her that she has always been pretty no matter what size she is, that she can have any life she so chooses, and  just because she can’t do something now, well it doesn’t mean she won’t be able to demolish it 16 years from now.

I hate running, but I love life’s accomplishments. My 13.1 is about so much more than running. That good cause that I was looking for earlier, well call me selfish but the cause is all about me. It’s about everything that defines living, and taking back my life. To prove that I can do what I thought was severely impossible just a few years ago is truly an accomplishment. Although I will probably never (actually maybe I shouldn’t  say never), but probably never run a 26.2, that 13.1 will still make all the difference. Life is worth living, live it!

Also, as I run, I will remember closely the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. Those individuals who set out to accomplish a goal, and the family members who came out to watch. Sadly tragedy has overtaken their personal accomplishments. Lets always remember Boston, and spread a message of peace on a daily basis.

 

 

positive thoughts, positive energy, positive experiences. 

 

 

My 2013 Theme: “Keeping It Simple” (KIS)

Happy New Year, Day 5

So let’s check in…How are those New Year Resolutions going? Do you still remember what your’s are? If you do, great, If not don’t feel so bad, everyone else will fall off soon.

I didn’t set a resolution for this year (only because I am still working on those from last year), but I have decided to have a theme for this year. My theme for 2013 is “Keep it Simple”(KIS).  I will remember the motto “Keep it Simple”, everything in life will be simple. Personally 2012 was a year full of complications. Pure complications. I take responsibility, I was doing too much. My relationships; extremely complicated. I was dating, then not dating, then dating again, then got tired of dating, then started semi dating but not really, and so on, and so on, until eventually I wanted to scream. I wanted to change my phone number because my life felt like one big complication. From phone calls to random texts, I was overly ready for the phone to just die.

In reality life works so much easier when it is simple. When I can say “no”, and mean it, when I don’t feel guilty for turning down dates, when I don’t feel in a rush to return a text, or when I don’t go out with guys just because I can’t come up with a good enough excuse as to why I don’t really want to go on that date. I found myself overworking my brain, and I was the only one overworking. I went away from me. I went away from what I loved. I stopped writing. I stopped sleeping. I just stopped. In a web a complication a lot was going on around me, along the way I lost control of where I wanted to be. I had a vision, a goal, I forgot what that was.

So in 2013 I need to, I choose to, and I have to, say goodbye to complication. I need simplicity in order to get back on track as to who I am, what I love, and what I am trying to do in life. I have a book to finish writing, I have a story to tell, I want to get a Ph.D. Where were those goals in 2012. I lost them and I didn’t even realize it.

In 2013 I will continue to go on dates, of course I will,But they will be simple. You may not find me at any more awkward match.com events, but I just may attend simple happy hours.  No more developing the quasi what may be one day relationship, I need a real this is what it is going to be relationship. No more will I sit around questioning myself, after countless dates, asking “what is this”? I need to know what exactly “This”is. If we are just dating, cool, lets keep it simple, if it is going to a more exclusive relationship then I need that to be said to. A state of confusion and complication is not a relationship. A state of a definitive knowing that is communicated appropriately is a relationship. I am divorcing complication. Actually I am just tired of complication. Sick and tired of complication. I am forming an eternal marriage with simplicity, a love for simplicity.

My love life, my work life, my personal life, let’s keep it simple. Areas of life become complicated when we start to do too much. I am no longer doing too much. I will still do, but not over do.

Things to remember:

  • I must stay in control, when I lose control in walks complication without me even knowing it.
  • I need to keep tasks to a minimum, that includes dating. Work tasks, just do a few instead of trying to do everything. Dating, well just date one person at a time instead of multiple people at the same time, love, I only want to fall in love once, and my friendships, well I need to stop feeling guilty when I need to say no.
  • Take time for myself. Self care is of the utmost importance. Sleep when needed and remember that there is nothing wrong with alone time.
  • When I feel overwhelmed…STOP! Take a moment to stop and think. Breathe  get it together! By recognizing the complications before they had a chance to enter in, I will be able to maintain an aura of simplicity.

Life is best worked under the mask of simplicity, hopefully I can keep it that way!

Positive thoughts, positive energy, positive experiences

Cadena De Amor , Coral vine, Mexican Creeper, ...
Cadena De Amor , Coral vine, Mexican Creeper, Antigonon leptopus…..Hoa Ti- gôn …#6 (Photo credit: Vietnam Plants & America plants)

I have a confession: I am a black woman, and I work out

 

I’m a black woman and I work out.

Actually I work out a lot, and I am damn proud of it. So yes, black women do work out. I almost killed myself in the midst of my kick ass cross fit workout  this morning, so again, yes black women do work out.

Recently, there was a large stir surrounding a NY Times opinion piece insinuating that black women want to be fat. Black Women and Fat, was written by Alice Randall, a writer who has embraced her own weight loss journey. Randall states “many black women are fat because we want to be.” With that point I would have to disagree. I know many black women who are overweight, but  they do not WANT to be that way. Not to make excuses, but to lose weight and keep the weight off requires a true lifestyle change, many black women are not yet ready for that lifestyle change.

As the article proceeds, I can completely understand what Randall is saying. Though the title may have turned off a few readers, she actually makes good points. As a black woman I embrace my curves and thick figure, black men love that. Black men love that my hips are thick and that my butt is big. It is what makes me sexually attractive as a black woman. I accept that. I have never had a man tell me that I need to lose weight, or I should eat less. In fact since I work out 5 days a week, and 6 days on a really good week,  I am often asked why I work out so much, or I get the “you’re trying to lose weight?”, in a sideways crazy sounding voice.

Obesity truly has been a generational problem in many African-American families. The problem stems from years of unhealthy eating and lack of exercise. My grandmother used to make fried pork chops, butter grits with cheese, and biscuits  when we would visit her at her home in Georgia. When we would go to the south I would drink the sweetest iced tea, and lemonade I have ever tasted in my life. Full of flavor and loaded with sugar, it was delicious.  Subsequently my mom would cook the same way. Food wasn’t good if it wasn’t friend, or soaked in butter. I remember my mother used to put a slab of pork fat into collard greens to add flavor, and yummy it was.

But it also kills you.

My grandmother died from heart disease, both my parents have type  2 diabetes, my father has high blood pressure. I don’t want to die before I have ever had the chance to live.

So yes, I work out a lot.

Eventually my mother did start to change the way that she cooks, no more fried everything (awww I miss those days). No more full sticks of butter used on food, for now on it is baked or steamed, which I have grown to enjoy. With healthy eating, I also feel a hundred times more healthy.

Not only do I work out, I eat healthy. The combination increases overall health and happiness.

No matter how much I work out, I will never be a size 2 or model thin. Actually I don’t ever want to be. Curves are what make me a woman. I have had a personal struggle with weight all my life. Yeah I was the “fat kid” in school. It sucked. When I was in college I lost a lot of weight, nearly 40 pounds, everyone thought I was sick, how ironic. Well I actually did start to look sick, so I gained some weight back. Since then I have felt great.

I truly enjoy working out. It is a lifestyle requirement for me. To kick start my day, I start with a work out. It gets me going. To fight my periods of depression, I turn to working out. I am a true believer that a great consistent workout it better than any anti-depressant.  I get bored easily, so my workouts always change. I recently added cross fit to my regiment. While doing cross fit, I have periods of feeling like I either want to die or vomit. I am still alive, and no, no vomit yet. I get out of breath, winded, my muscles are screaming, but it is great! In a few short weeks I have started to feel stronger, I am eager to go back, ready to do it again. Despite the unbearable soreness, and my screaming quads I always go back for more.

My goal: to go longer, stronger, harder, faster.  I also do spin classes, yoga, running, and when I need a quick filler workout I’ll even hit the gym and run on a treadmill. However when you live in Hawaii, running on a treadmill at the gym can get very old, very quick.

The key to sticking with a workout out routine is to do whatever works for you. Find something you like and grab on tight. It may not be the same as what everyone else likes, or what everyone else is doing. Once you find it, continue with it. Watch yourself improve, the improvement will keep you going.

I suck at cross fit. I have absolutely no upper body strength and can not do 1 pull up. My personal goal is just to do one pull up. Just because it is hard at first doesn’t mean that I won’t get better at it. Each day I return, is one more day of improvement.

Have a vision of what you want to accomplish. Maybe you want to get stronger, maybe you just want to fit into old clothes that you have in your closet. See your vision in real life. Become that vision. Make it a realistic vision. If you dream of looking like a model…well that may not happen. Work with your mind and body on what you want to become. If you see that mental picture, believe it, stick to it, your body will follow.

At 30 I am now in the best physical shape of my life. Who would have thought. I never thought that I would be signing up to run races, and continuously look forward to running the next race. By the way, I still hate running, but I love competing against my own personal best time. Each time I race, I want to beat my time from the previous race. That keeps me motivated. I am excited I have realized what I could really do. I am doing activities that would have been an easy, “no, never, get the hell out of here” a few years ago. So far this year I have ran an 8 mile race, and two 6 mile races, with more to come. Slowly working my way to that half marathon.

I love being able to walk, to move my limbs, to run fast, to hike, to struggle while trying to do pull ups. I am working now to prevent years of having to be on medication for diabetes, or heart disease. I am working now to do my part in staying alive.

So yes, I am a black woman and I work out! And I love it. 🙂

Positive thoughts, positive energy, positive experiences

Self Reflection: A letter to my 7th grade self

I hated Junior High School. It sucked. Even in times where the drama of current life appears to look like  Junior High extended drama, I am so happy that I will never have to return to Junior High.

I am very appreciative that I was able to endure the Intermediate school experience long before the days  Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and You Tube.  What happened in school, had to stay in school, and the past was stuck in the past.  Far before the days of cell phones and text messages, if you didn’t have my home phone number, then there was  no reaching me.  In essence, maybe I did go to Junior High School at the right time. Because,  if I went today I know for sure it would really suck.

I say all that to focus on my present day self-reflection. I reflect on my Intermediate school days because it was a period that encompassed the height of childhood confusion. Particularly 7th Grade.  Why 7th grade? As with most kids who are in Intermediate school you are stuck in between two worlds. In 7th grade I was 11 turning 12. Too old to be considered a true kid, like in elementary school, and too young to be a real teenager. I had responsibility, but not the responsibility I wanted. In my current job I have clients who are 12. At 12 life is rough. Adults don’t understand why it is so hard, and kids wonder if it will ever get easier.  At 12, developmentally you go through a stage where you want to fit in, you want to be liked,  your body is starting to change, life is starting to change, and then you realize you have no idea how to just be 12.

In exactly 3 months from today I will be 30. So as I reflect back on what I have learned from life thus far, I have some very profound advice that I would tell my 12-year-old self. Here is my opportunity in a letter to my 7th grade self:

Dear Jennifer,

Right now seventh grade seems like it is one of the toughest school years of your life. Yeah, up to this point it is. It’s different from the other school years, everyone is growing up and you find yourself struggling to keep up. It was easy when you could just play with dolls and your mom would drive you to school. But now you have to take the city bus, and hanging out watching with friends while watching music videos has become the cool thing to do. It may seem hard now however,  life gets harder after the seventh grade. But, don’t worry you will be just fine you will be prepared for it.

You know that shyness that you have, that makes it difficult for you to speak up in class or talk to new people. Though you will always secretly be shy, you will enjoy talking to new people. Along the way you will discover that you just have an introverted personality, and sometimes shyness is not so bad.  You will be able to express yourself just fine, and you will learn to love that you have an introverted personality with extroverted tendencies.

Although you hate the way you way you look right now, and think you look like a child compared to the other girls in your class, you actually look just fine. You look like a normal 12-year-old. It is not so bad that your parents keep you sheltered and they won’t spend money for you to keep up with clothes that are in fashion. Well, your parents want to protect you from the city streets, and everything else dangerous. Don’t be angry with her mom because she won’t let you take the bus to Jamaica Avenue with your friends, or ride the subway into the city. When you are able to do that you will realize that it is not that fun. Your days of wanting to wear baggy jeans, and stealing your brother’s clothes will be short lived once the style changes. Though it seems impossible now, you will eventually love to wear tight jeans (even if they do stop you from breathing).

Eventually your mother will allow you to relax your hair, you actually may want to keep your hair natural for a while. You don’t realize it now, but your hair is perfect the way it is. It is strong and healthy without chemicals, no need to rush on getting a relaxer. You will also be able to eventually do your own hair without your mother’s help, you will learn it’s not that hard to blow dry and curl.

You hate wearing glasses, and hate being refered to as “the girl with the glasses”. You don’t understand why your mother won’t let you just wear contacts. Well eventually she will let you wear contacts, and despite what she says you wont get an infection in your eyes and you wont go blind just from wearing contacts. However, soon enough you will also appreciate wearing your glasses more too. Glasses will become a fashion statement.  So no matter if you are wearing glasses or contacts it won’t matter,  you will still look like you.

I know some days you can’t stand your own body type, and wish you looked different. You wish your skin was lighter, your hair was straighter, and that you could be a few pounds thinner. Well you look the way you do for a good reason. You look just fine the way you are. You are beautiful, and in a few years you will actually believe that. You feel overdeveloped thinking your breast are too big, and you wish your hips would shrink down over night. In a few years these will be your favorite assets. You will love your body because to have curves is to  be beautiful. Your body will adjust itself, and you will love the result. One day you will feel sexy, so just be you for today.  You walk with your head down now, but you will learn to hold it high.

Currently you have an English teacher who you consider to be a major bitch. You assume that she hates you. You don’t understand why she is always so evil, and why every assignment you turn in you get a C. You constantly wonder what you have to do for this lady to get just one A!  Well let me tell you, she gives you a C because that is the grade you deserve. Your won’t understand her purpose in your life for another 8-10 years but she is teaching you to do better. You need her in your life. This teacher sees the potential in your writing that you can no way possibly see in yourself. She doesn’t let you get by easy because she knows your true ability.  The result of all those C papers you earned; well, you are able to excel at AP English during your senior year of highschool because she secretly taught you how to write with a voice. You breeze through college English with no problem and, you finally earn that A that you didn’t deserve in 7th grade.  When you publish your first novel you should probably send her a personalized thank you note, because she saw ability in you that you were years away from seeing for yourself.  Just think, if she gives you that A, she will set you up to struggle with writing  for the rest of your life.

You’re a smart girl kiddo. Even though some kids may consider you a nerd right now, in adulthood it is actually cool to be a nerd. See when the country goes into a recession, the nerds will be the people who have jobs contacting them to work, while many other people are out looking for work.  Keep studying, you have plenty of time to do everything else. One day you will be able to laugh at your own quirks, and your flaws are what make you different from everyone else. Your sarcastic and witty, keep that. A good sense of humor comes in handy when life gets rough.

Your friendships come and go. Lucky for you, you meet one of your best friends in seventh grade. You have other  friends, but you are not always sure if you should trust them.  The friends that you have now will not be your friends for the rest of your life. However, you will gain some pretty awesome friends along the way. Through high school and college you will meet friends who will change your life. Don’t be afraid to trust them, they are good people, I promise. You will gain friends who care about you more than you sometimes care about yourself. They will be there to catch you when you fall and, when you cry they know exactly how to make you smile. Though some experiences will be crazy to  say the least, it will be well worth it.

Although it seems that boys don’t like you now, and you wonder if you will ever have a boyfriend, don’t worry about that. You are 12! The boys who make fun of you now, will be the same boys who want to date you in 10 years. You have plenty of time to have boyfriends and date. You will even get to date the cute boys! You will go out on more dates than you ever really wanted to in your entire life. Then suddenly you will realize dating is not that fun. There will be plenty of  boys who like you, so you  can be picky about who you date. Never settle, you’re better than that. You will fall in love, fall out of love, and do it all over again. And even though the relationships don’t end in happily ever after, you will be Ok.  There is a reason for that. You will learn that you love being in love. You are emotional, so naturally you love hard. That can be a gift and a curse.  When you do love, you will fall in love with a man who will also be your best friend for the time that he is in your life. You will teach him how to love, he will teach you what it is really like to be in love. When that relationship dies, you will learn to grow into the woman you were meant to be. With maturity and time, you learn more about yourself,   more about life, and so much more about love, than you can ever imagine. When your close to 30, you will suddenly realize that your story is really just beginning.

Finally, Listen to your mother when she talks. Listen hard even when her conversations are long and drawn out. Her fears are only there to protect you. Don’t let her fears become your fears. During the times when you think she is not supportive of you, she is still proud of you. She realizes more than anyone that you march to the beat of your own drum.  When you grow up she will be a friend to you, you will have fun with her, and amazingly be able to laugh and talk with her. She is smart, she has lived,  she only wants to help you avoid making mistakes. You dream of being a doctor, but then you realize you hate college math classes, and those science classes do nothing more than put you to sleep. You will find a career path where you feel you are a true natural . Once you find it, you can’t see yourself doing anything else. You will eventually love your job, and realize that you are an important vessel in changing the lives of others.

You will make mistakes, actually you will make a lot of mistakes. Do not have regrets about anything you do, every mistake comes with a valuable lesson learned, and a new opportunity to grow. Live your best life, leave the past in the past, the future will take care of itself, just  focus on the present.

By the way, you may want to tell your parents to start saving for college, because you are going to go to college. My best advice: Avoid student loans!

At the age of 12 life seems boring, and it is. You can’t do much. One day it will get a whole lot better. You have an imagination that extends far beyond living in Queens for the rest of your life. You have a desire to see more, to do more, and eventually you will find a way. You will walk a path that is personalized just for you. Keep that imagination, use it wisely, it will take you to paces you currently only dream about. One day you will truly be a free spirit, you can go anywhere, anytime you want. The world is your sandbox, go play.

Love,

Jennifer (age 29 going on 30)
What advice would you give to the 7th grade version of you?