For my sweet Olivia …
1. Your thoughts matter. Your feelings matter. You matter. If someone tries to treat you otherwise, it’s time to walk away.
2. Don’t be beholden to technology. It’s great, it’s convenient, it’s fun, but it will also prevent you from actually living your life.
3. When you’re old enough, read the book The Help. It’s a powerful reminder that we are all human beings and we are all important.
4. You are beautiful exactly the way you are.
5. Sometimes, you just need to say you’re sorry.
6. Be honest … with other people and with yourself, but most of all with yourself.
7. If you want to dance, dance. If you want to play soccer, play soccer. If you want to take piano lessons, take piano lessons. Do what makes YOU happy and not what you think Dad or I expect you to do.
8. Remember the Golden Rule and treat others as you would like to be treated. It will never steer you wrong.
9. Don’t be a jerk when driving. You never know if the person you’re honking at and giving a rude hand gesture to is really someone you know. It’s embarrassing. Just don’t do it.
10. Read, read, read, read, read, and read some more.
11. There will be mean girls and there will be bullies. Make sure you are never one of them.
12. Think before you speak. You will never regret it. But I can promise you that there will be times when you will regret NOT doing this.
13. Daddy and I love you more fully and completely that you can ever imagine. Keep that with you always.
14. Be kind. Contrary to belief, words can hurt just as bad as sticks and stones … and sometimes those injuries last much longer.
15. If a boy doesn’t treat you the way Daddy does, he’s not worth your time.
16. You are smart. Do not ever be ashamed of that or try to make yourself less to make someone else feel like more.
17. Love is love is love—and everyone deserves the right to love whomever they choose.
18. Do not be ashamed of your low points. They give you the strength to climb to the high points.
19. Remember this quote by Thomas Jefferson: “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.” Know what you stand for.
20. If you don’t know what a word means, look it up.
21. When someone has to say “trust me,” you probably shouldn’t.
22. Diets do not work. Counting every last calorie is a lot of work and will make you obsessive. If you live a healthy life (eat plenty of fruits, veggies, whole grains), limit the sweets a little, and exercise, you will be the size and shape you are meant to be. And that is perfect.
23. Cooking can be so much fun, but please don’t do it just because you think you are supposed to (and especially not because someone else tells you it’s what you’re supposed to do).
24. “Woman” does not equal “weak.” You have more inner strength than you know. Just trust yourself.
25. It’s okay to cry. But if you are ever embarrassed about crying in public, stick out your bottom jaw. For some reason, it’s a lot harder to cry like that.
26. Don’t ever accept someone else’s expectations of you. You can be and do anything you want to, even if it seems unattainable and unrealistic to some people (even to me and Daddy).
27. I will make mistakes. I am still learning. Please forgive me.
28. There are truly amazing and kind people in this world. Do not let the media’s portrayal of society shake your faith in people.
29. At the same time, be cautious and follow your gut instinct—it is usually right.
30. Don’t ever be afraid to talk to me or to ask or tell me ANYTHING. Nothing you could say could make me love you any less. Chances are, I have been there, done that.
31. Talk to your grandparents and ask them about their lives. If you don’t, I promise there will come a time you will want to know and it will be too late to ask.
32. No matter how much sleep you get, you will have under eye circles. It’s genetic, sorry. Invest in a really good concealer.
33. While money will not make you happy, it can make life less stressful, so be careful and responsible with it.
34. Travel as much as you possibly can.
35. Be your own person. Trying to be someone else is just exhausting.
36. The fact that you can vote, work, speak out, and get an education is a gift, and it didn’t come without a price. Do not squander the opportunity your foremothers have fought for you to have.
37. If you ever need to escape for a while, read Harry Potter.
38. Listen to others. As much as your opinions matter, so do theirs.
39. If you ever feel overwhelmed, like life is going to suffocate you, make a to-do list. Just take things one task at a time. Chances are, you’ll realize things aren’t as daunting as they seemed.
40. If you have a math question, ask Dad.
41. You will make mistakes. Try not to beat yourself up over them; instead, learn from them.
42. There is absolutely nothing wrong with dreaming big.
43. It’s never a good idea to take pictures or video of anything you wouldn’t want to Dad or I to see. And please, for the love, do not send any inappropriate pictures/videos/messages to anyone. That stuff has a way of sticking around.
44. Family is the most important thing you have in this world.
45. If you want good friends, be one.
46. Good things come in small packages—remember that when you don’t make it over 5’3″.
47. Speak up and make yourself heard. Don’t wait for someone else to do it for you.
48. Be grateful for your life, your health, your family. Sadly, there are many people who have less than you; show them compassion.
49. Being pregnant is way more uncomfortable than anyone warns you it will be, but it is TOTALLY worth it.
50. Stand on your own two feet. Don’t expect anyone to do for you what you can do for yourself. But if you ever need help or just a shoulder to cry on, I will be there.