I shared my letter to my former self, now Rachel shares hers…
- Older brothers, although loud, sweaty and annoying, will protect your honor, pave the way for you with your parents and one day become the men of whom you are more proud than you can express.
- When your grandparents smother you with kisses and hugs and fawn all over you… When your maternal grandmother crochets sweaters, scarves and blankets for you and your paternal grandmother teaches you to bake coconut cakes and takes you shopping at Bamberger’s… When your grandpa takes you fishing on the Vineyard and your Pop introduces you to the music of Miles Davis, Benny Goodman and Dave Brubeck… When they tell you the stories of your familial history and remind you how important it is to act with integrity and the value of your reputation—CHERISH those moments! You’ll find those moments comforting for the rest of your life and you will be eternally grateful for having had the privilege of knowing such interesting and honorable people.
- Define yourself; don’t let others do it for you. I assure you that in 10, 15, 20 years and beyond, you won’t really care who thinks you aren’t black enough or that you talk too properly or that you must be stuck-up because you don’t want to go to the party. In your 30s, you will not remember their names—until they request to friend you on Facebook and you end up having to de-friend them or put them on privacy lock-down because they are entirely too interested in the minutia of your life.
- Enjoy carefree summers on Fire Island or the Vineyard while you can! Soon, between global warming, UV rays and obnoxious tourists, the summer sanctuary of your childhood will become a very, very different place. Enjoy digging for sand crabs and poking jellyfish with a stick as they will become stories of legend you will tell your children, nieces and nephews.
- Know the difference between friends and acquaintances. Acquaintances are people you know, you speak to regularly and you hang out with occasionally. Friends are people who know you—warts and all. You might speak to them regularly, but even if you don’t, you pick up where you left off as though no time has passed. Every truly great time in your life included or was the result of one of your true friends. Oh—VERY important: relatives can be some of your best friends ever. Continue reading You’ve come a long way baby: Rachel sends a message to her mini me…
20 things you need to know – Hey you, standing over there looking tough and cute the way little girls often do, it’s me, well you – in about 36 years. Some things haven’t changed much. With the exception of the ribbon, your hair looked a lot like that this morning, and that stance, you still got that. You often have that same ‘four parts curiosity, one part ‘what the hell are you looking at” look on your face even at this age – And the legs…well, like I said, some things haven’t changed much.
I wish I could protect you from, and prepare you for all that lies ahead, but I can’t. No one can really. But what I can do is share some things that only I’ll be able to. Some people think the past, present and future are all happening at once, so who knows. I know you won’t understand everything I’m saying, but take notes, you’ll need them.
- Some of the people in your life will disappoint you, lie to you, hurt you. Some of them are just stupid. Others are just evil. Forgive them all, stupid and evil alike, and move on. Remember what they did and learn from it. Don’t hold what they’ve done to you against anyone else.
- That thing you want to do with your hair in the eighties. Don’t. You leave dozens of grease spots up and down the east coast because of it, and Chris Rock will mock it mercilessly in a documentary he releases in 2009.
- Try to get that eating thing under control early – believe me, you’ll be fighting that battle for years. In the meantime, live your life and do the things you want to do, regardless of what the scale says.
- You’re going to have several really great ideas for businesses. Instead of talking yourself out of it, just do it. You are smarter, stronger and more resilient than you know.
- You know how they said it would be too difficult to be a successful, black, female journalist? Oprah’s like the richest person on the planet now. Seriously. Don’t listen to them. Continue reading You’ve come a long way baby: 20 things I’d tell you now
Those words really resonate with me lately. My beloved fiancé celebrated his fortieth birthday in September and it really got me thinking. I recall my younger years when I thought I knew so much and had the nerve to make plans for the life that I would lead.
I was going to marry my high school sweetheart; we had enrolled at the same college after all so that was a no-brainer. While in college I was approached to participate in the Miss America pageant, so that meant I’d use my supermodel earnings to pay off my student loans. After college, I’d work for the U.N. and balance travelling the world with raising 2.3 beautiful and perfectly behaved children. We’d settle in the south of France and tend to our vineyard, then go on holiday in Tuscany.
Ah, the folly of my youth! The sweetheart cheated on me during our freshman year at school. (Left, Rachel with her beloved poodles)
Continue reading Rachel: On the life that’s waiting for you
There’s something about forty
Turning forty represents so many different things to so many women. We’re infinitely better off than we thought we’d be, or not nearly as far along as we imagined. We’re happily single or resigned to being that way. We’re married with kids and wondering how that happened, or traveling the world and wondering how we could have risked missing out on that. Wherever we are in our lives, at forty, most of us pause to take inventory. We look at where we’ve been, imagine where we’re headed and wonder if forty will be all it’s cracked up to be. Continue reading The Women at Forty Project