A letter to the little girl I once was…

baby grace cropped

Editor’s note: While I’m struggling to write the sequel to the 10 things I’ve learned in 40 years post, I thought I’d revisit a post I wrote almost 2 years ago. It’s a letter to the little girl I once was. Oh if only we could go back and share our wisdom with the little girls we once were – how might our lives be different?  Some of you are familiar with this exercise but for those who aren’t, I’d encourage you to write your own letter to your former self, and if you’re inclined, share it with your daughters.  It will remind them that before you were “just” their mothers, you were young women, teens and yes, even little girls.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Learn early to worry less about what people think about you. The truth is, people spend a lot less time thinking about you than you know.
  7. Back in college, that cute guy that kinda looked like Tom Hanks liked you. Do NOT look at him like he’s crazy when he wants to work on “the project” at your house. That old dude on the other hand is just a freak. Stay away from him.
  8. Those two annoying, screaming things that invaded your “only child” sanctuary will become your best friends and biggest supporters.
  9. When people show you who they are, please, please, PLEASE believe them. It will save you years of heartache.
  10. Relationships aren’t always easy, but they shouldn’t always be hard. If you spend most of your time wondering if it’s worth it, it’s not.
  11. When you go to light that grill in ‘91, take a couple quick steps back. Blonde eyelashes and eyebrows are not a good look on you.
  12. Credit cards are not free money. Stop using them to make yourself feel better. In the end you’ll only feel worse and be broke.
  13. The stock market crashes on October 19, 1987 and again on September 16, 2008. If you have any more money in the future than I did, move it!
  14. On September 11, 2001 the world changes forever.
  15. Do you know who Barack Obama is? You will in 2008.
  16. That thing you’re crying your eyes out about at ages 14-16, 18, 23 and 25, in a couple of months you won’t even remember what all the drama was about.
  17. He’s not coming back. Don’t wait for him. Don’t wait for that other one either.
  18. Do you even know where Italy is? Well, in about 30 years, you spend two weeks there and it’s even more beautiful than you ever imagined. One day you’re going to live there. (If Three 6 Mafia…)
  19. All that time you spend waiting for Mr. Right, don’t. Instead, use the time to make sure you’re not Ms. Wrong.
  20. You’ve come a long way baby, and you’ve got a long way to go.

If you’d like to share a letter to your former self with the WAF community, email contribute(@)womenatforty.com. 

Dear Twenty-something me

Editor’s note: A couple of weeks ago I asked readers what advice they’d give to today’s 20 and 30 somethings. I got several great responses including advice about having kids and creating and living your bucket list. For one reader in particular, the question sparked an internal dialogue that ended with a letter to her twenty-something self.  In today’s post, Clare shares her letter with the WAF community…

Dear Twenty-something me:

So you’re a junior in college and your head’s screwed on backwards.  Boyfriend troubles, GREs loom on next year, and you don’t have a summer job lined up yet.  Mom and Dad still take care of you: you’re living under their roof when not in school, you have their health-care, they feed and clothe you.  Your auto insurance is only $5.00, which they pay for too.  They bought a car for you when the ol’ big Bertha Wagon died.  You have no idea what monthly payments are.

Lucky you.

Here’s what you have to look forward to:
Getting back together with your boyfriend.  Again.
Breaking up with your boyfriend.  Again.
Summer jobs.
Next year, your last.  Friends from freshman year are room-mates.
Getting back together with your boyfriend.  Again.
Another summer job.
Graduate School.

But even that’s so easy compared to what you have to deal with now.  Are you taking all this for granted, or is it really hard on you?  Do you take it all in stride?

Because wait, there’s more: Continue reading Dear Twenty-something me

Hide your face, make a bucket list and know what you really want: Lessons for the next generation of Women at Forty

Earlier this month Reese Witherspoon, while accepting an MTV Movie Award, shared a few words of wisdom with young women who seem to think that nude cell phone pics and “leaked” home porno movies are now the quickest and best way to make it in Hollywood.

Witherspoon said, “I get it, girls, that it’s cool to be a bad girl. But it is possible to make it in Hollywood without doing a reality show. When I came up in this business, if you made a sex tape, you were embarrassed and you hid it under your bed. And if you took naked pictures of yourself on your cell phone, you hide your face, people! Hide your face!”

Although Witherspoon is a little shy of being 40, I wondered what advice other WAF had for young women in their 20’s. I put the call out on Facebook and of course, the WAF community responded loud and clear. We’ve been there, done that and bought the T-shirt and while you’re out there celebrating your 20’s and 30’s (which you definitely should), take heed to some of what we’ve learned over the years…

“Remember to be respectful to yourself and other women, you to will be our age in 20 very short years.” – Kimberly

“Know what you want before making huge, expensive mistakes: do you REALLY want to go to grad school for that? Consider what that degree might or might not give you. And if someone (a tiger mother-ish person, perhaps) is pressuring you to go to grad school right after college, don’t do it unless it’s something crucial to your career (law school, medical school, CPA, etc).” – Clare

“1)Looks may attract a man, but character and confidence leaves him wanting more. 2)Be honest with yourself… fooling yourself into thinking you can handle certain situations will only leave you with regret. 3)Learn the difference between friends and buddies no one really has LOTS of friends. 4)Sex is meant to be special. It’s one of the most special gifts that you can give. If you were a millionaire, would you give a million dollars to someone just because they asked for it?”  – Tamika

“Make a bucket list in your 20s of all the things you want, places to go, people to see & check it off as the opportunity presents itself. When you get older there are obstacles that will hinder your list (job, small children, finances, etc) until you are older. You might feel like you are getting too old or cram everything in to the point where you don’t enjoy the journey.” – Tanya

“If you are ever on the fence about having or not having kids, babysit or better yet, foster first. Try it out before it’s too late. Also, Google “I hate being a Mom.” Don’t ever let anyone talk you into having kids unless YOU REALLY want to have them. I fostered thinking I wanted kids, and believe me, I’m so glad I was able to get out of taking care of a baby for 18 years. Even with a husband who was willing to share, it still fell on me as the primary caretaker, and I wasn’t the type. If you really want to have kids, that’s great – more power to you. But if you’re on the fence – BE CAREFUL!” – Liza
I got more great responses than I could possibly fit in one post, so there’ll probably be a part two. If you’ve got words of wisdom to share, leave a comment, email us (contribute (@) women at forty.com), or post it on our Facebook fan page.



What doesn’t kill you…

00401561 Editor’s Note: Today’s contribution to our Career section comes from blogger Denise D. She writes for the blog, Really Bad Boss, which has been featured in the Huffington Post and The Sun Times. In this piece she talks about making the best out of a bad job, boss or work situation…advice that can be applied to most anything…

What doesn’t kill you..

…often still hurts a little, or a lot.  But while you’re down there writhing in pain from the abuse, incompetence or just plain stupidity of a bad boss or bad work situation, use the time to learn a thing or two.  That’s what I’m doing…

A One Woman Show

Who would have thought that a couple years after being laid off (again) from a job working for (yet another) bad boss, that I’d be wearing the hats of marketing manager, artistic director, sales woman, PR person and human resources? And that’s just on a Monday.  At times it can be overwhelming and I certainly put in more hours than I’ve ever put in in my life, but the not having to answer to an idiot part and the not having to beg someone for time off part, well that makes it all worth while – even those months when I just squeak by. And I have no one to thank but the string of bad bosses who made me so angry and frustrated that I vowed I’d never work for another one again.

Continue reading What doesn’t kill you…

10 things it’s taken us 40 years to learn

Taking a page from columnist Dave Barry’s famous “Things it took me over 50 years to Learn” , a few of us at Women at Forty have decided to pen our own list of things it’s taken us 40 years to learn. Here are the first tenj0442209:

  1. To our parents, we will always be children. When you need a shoulder to cry on, that can be a good thing.
  2. Most people mean to do well, they really do, but sometimes life gets in the way and they forget about the living.
  3. Take your time arriving at a first impression of someone or something – you’ll never have the chance to do it again.
  4. Even when the grass really is greener on the other side, it doesn’t mean we’re not where we should be.
  5. We’re not as brave as we pretend to be, but we’re stronger than we think.
  6. Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover.
  7. What goes around, really, really, really, comes back around.
  8. Even at 40, you can still feel like a kid sometimes, and that’s ok.
  9. It’s also ok to grow up.
  10. There’s still so much we don’t know.

What has it taken you 40 years to learn? Share your thoughts in the comment section, or on our Facebook Fan page.