Tuesday, 1 September 2015

90 pearls of wisdom for my daughters

Between my kids and my day job, I'm sad to say haven't had much time for writing this year. The kids are now at an age where they won't go to bed before 9pm and by that time, after a full day at work, I barely have the energy to pack the dishwasher, let alone hammer out a chapter.

The hours I once had to get lost in my WIP seem to have evaporated from my routine. Now, all I have is 10 minutes here or there, and I'm yet to master the art of pounding out paragraphs in short bursts.

Instead, I find myself falling into the void that is the internet.


Unlike writing, I can cruise the net while keeping half an eye on my children and responding to their constant demands. If I have to press pause on a mother-son wedding dance video to make a sandwich, meh, so be it.

Currently, I'm obsessed with letters people write to their younger selves, or to their children, reflecting on what they wish they'd known when they were growing up.

I've been thinking, I'm kinda old now, and I've done a few interesting things, so surely I must have some wisdom to impart.

Rather than a letter, upon which you need to concentrate, I decided to write a list while the kids were taking a bath. It's a combination of things I wish I knew and things I'm glad I did. I hope one day they'll understand what the hell I'm going on about. And well before it's too late.
  1. Throw yourself whole-heartedly into everything you do, even if it is just watching TV.
  2. Don't watch too much TV - it dulls your creativity. 
  3. Creativity comes in a variety of shapes and forms. You don't have to be good at drawing, writing, composing, or playing to be creative. Find your own personal spark and make it burn.
  4. Stay away from candles. They'll set your curtains on fire.
  5. But do spend time in front of a fire. Regularly. A campfire, a fireplace, or at the hearth of a Scottish castle. It doesn't matter where or how, just watch the flames and the red hot coals.
  6. Take care of the planet. 
  7. Use renewable energy.
  8. Drive as little as possible. There are other, more interesting ways to travel.
  9. Fly, my child. Fly. See as much of the world as you can.
  10. Climb mountains, sail across seas, catch a train across Europe to ride a bike in Copenhagen. Do as much of this as you can cram in. But don't worry about riding on buses. Buses suck.
  11. Spend your money on these adventures and experiences, not stuff that will clutter your home.
  12. Spend your money on the people you love. Take them with you on your adventures. See things through their eyes as well as your own.
  13. But do some of it on your own, too. Travel solo through a country in which you can't speak the language.
  14. Don't watch it all through your phone / camera / watch or whatever else we're using by the time you're old enough to do all this.
  15. Though do capture the memories so you can look back on them when you need a reminder of how accomplished you are.
  16. Believe in yourself.
  17. Be your own best friend and love yourself first and foremost.
  18. Enjoy your own company.
  19. As you grow, you will go from thinking I know everything, to thinking I know nothing, to discovering the truth lies somewhere in between,
  20. And that I will learn as much from you as you do from me.
  21. No one knows everything.
  22. And you are only as smart as the people you gather around you and the experiences you accumulate.
  23. Don't work with or for people you don't respect. Especially the ones who think they know everything.
  24. Don't fall in love with someone you don't respect. It's possible, and it usually happens when you've forgotten no.17.
  25. Not every romantic or sexual relationship has to be serious.
  26. Sex should be fun.
  27. Do it safely and with consent. Always. There is no grey area here. You know your own mind.
  28. When (or if) you settle on your forever someone, make sure they're someone who makes you laugh.
  29. Your BFF should be someone who makes you laugh so hard you snort and/or pee your pants.
  30. Make sure this doesn't happen publicly.
  31. You will embarrass yourself publicly, but don't hold on to the shame. You will do and say stupid things, especially when you're drunk. These things will eventually become memories you laugh at. Eventually.
  32. Be careful not to do or say anything publicly to embarrass someone else. You might think it's funny, but they might not. Just be considerate.
  33. Don't compete with other women. Work with them to make things better for both of you.
  34. You deserve to succeed at whatever you do. You are no less worthy than the next person. Or the man who gets promoted over you, if that shit is still happening.
  35. Work for someone who inspires you. If that's you, all the better.
  36. Be sure your role models are worth your admiration.
  37. You don't need to decide on something to be when you grow up. You can be a multitude of things. Simultaneously if you like.
  38. Learn to love science and maths, though. You'll need it in the future we're carving out for ourselves.
  39. The internet is a wonderful place. 
  40. But there are some dark corners. Stay away from them.
  41. Chocolate, coffee and wine are the staples of life. Only consume the best quality of these.
  42. But drink beer in your 20s.
  43. Your 20s are for having fun. Shit can get serious in your 30s.
  44. Have lots of fun before you get serious.
  45. Being a teenager is awful. You'll swear at me and hate me for a time. I can't bear the thought of this but we'll get through it.
  46. Eat ice cream when you're sad. Straight from the tub. I'll be doing this when you're a teenager.
  47. Learn how to play pool.
  48. Learn how to play cards.
  49. Read. Never give up reading. If you don't like the story, choose another, but don't give up the habit.
  50. Dance. Never give up dancing. If you don't like the song, choose another, but don't give up the habit.
  51. Listen to music that gives you all the feels. Joy. Sorrow. Whatever. Just listen to stuff that moves you inside and out. Don't let anyone tell what what you should or shouldn't listen to. Listen to your heart on this.
  52. Own a dog.
  53. Own a cat.
  54. And for a period, own both at the same time.
  55. Let them share your bed.
  56. But never own a guinea pig. We are NEVER getting a guinea pig.
  57. Make time for me when you're an adult. You won't understand how intensely I love you until (unless) you have children of your own. Take me to see a musical every now and then.
  58. Make time for your Dad, too. But don't take him to musicals. Maybe just take him to the pub for a pint of Guinness.
  59. Take care of your sister. Always. If she needs to be picked up in the middle of the night, she's calling you. Be there. Tell her off and chalk it up as one she owes you, but be there.
  60. Spend time in art galleries. See the best ones in the world.
  61. Watch live music.
  62. Watch it at festivals until you can't tolerate them any more.
  63. Keep it classy while you're there.
  64. Be sun-smart. (Are you seeing the connection here?)
  65. Take pride in your appearance. Even if it's not important to you, others will judge you by it. If you want to make a statement, be as bold as you can be. Say it loud and say it proud.
  66. Swim in the ocean as often as you can.
  67. Exercise. It's good for you and will keep you sane. Combine it with either or both no.50 and no.66 if you like.
  68. Try different foods. And for the love of God, try some flavour.
  69. Eat something weird, like balut.
  70. Drink water.
  71. Eat fruit and vegetables.
  72. Grow some in your backyard or on your balcony. 
  73. Say no when you want to. You're allowed.
  74. Don't be afraid to disagree. You must have a mind of you own.
  75. Trust that mind and your intuition. You're a woman.
  76. Ignore most things women are supposed to consume. Fashion magazines, pink pens etc. When you need advice or guidance and I'm no help, get it from the people and pages you relate to on the internet. They will be your tribe.
  77. Stand up for your principles.
  78. Stand up for people who cannot stand up for themselves.
  79. Don't be silent if you see injustice happening around you.
  80. Be that person who calls out racism on public transport.
  81. And sexism at work.
  82. And flip the bird at anyone who catcalls you.
  83. Be sure to have friends of all ages, cultures, genders and sexual orientation. They will enrich your life. 
  84. Be poor for a time. Learn to live with very little so you have perspective on comfort.
  85. Learn how to manage money - when you don't have much and when you have enough. 
  86. Be generous with it if you find you have more than enough.
  87. Dance in the rain and jump in puddles, even when you're an adult.
  88. Always have a bathtub in your home. A good soak will keep you sane. 
  89. Know that I will always love you. So will your Dad.
  90. But that doesn't mean we'll always get it right. Tell us if we get things wrong. We're doing our best but parenting is HARD.