To my dear kids,
It’s a one-way trip through life and every day is a blank slate. Some will be glorious. Some will suck. But live big.
Put yourself on the line – socially, professionally, personally – every day.
You will be disappointed and hurt sometimes. You’ll even be embarrassed too. These aren’t problems – they’re feelings and they pass. They pass quickly if you find people who appreciate the risks you take. And laugh with you. Laughter makes everything better. So do hugs. Say a prayer every so often and give thanks for all the goodness in your life, even when you feel bleak. Don't forget, the kiss of a child is a universal cure for everything.
When you live big – you commit deeply to your friendships. You may not have lots of friends, but be a friend that you would like to have. Appreciate the people you have in your life for the people they are. Find people who are honest with you. Find people who help you be your best, most authentic self. If you have to put on a mask to keep their friendship, ditch them. They are not worth the effort. True friends transcend time and place – cultivate them.
Tell your friends how you feel about them. No one tires of hearing that you think they are terrific and you love having them in your life. And when you are upset with them, be upfront and tell them you are hurt. Then move on. Accept apologies. No one can re-write the past, so don’t live in it.
Live big by striving to learn something new every day. Push yourselves to see possibilities and ways to get stuff done rather than all the reasons something will not work. Do this and you’ll be a person others want on their team. Be unreasonable but not obnoxious. Do the right thing especially when it's not the easy thing. Cherish your integrity. Be someone that gets it done and helps other people get it done. If you are paralyzed by the enormity of the task in front of you, breathe. Pause and ask - what can I do first? Make a list of the tasks to do with checkboxes. Savor the checking off of a box. If you are really stuck, ask for help – from a teacher, a friend, anyone. Never, ever be afraid to say you do not know or you need help. Only idiots think they know everything and never need help.
There are no grades at work. Your GPA does not predict your life. But work hard to learn. Grades at school are supposed to show if you’ve mastered the material being taught. Do your best. If you don’t get the grade you hoped – see it as an opportunity to master something you didn’t quite learn. Even if it’s checking your work – because living big isn’t living sloppy.
Live big. Try something new at all stages of your life. Don’t be afraid of failure or looking dumb – fear of looking bad keeps us from soaring. I am a better skier at 44 than I was at 22 – because I took on big mountain runs for 20 years (keeping up with your amazing Dad). I started singing in a rock band when I was 40 and Dad was my biggest fan! Dad and I started to kite board in our 40s and you’ll be chasing us on the waves in our 60s. Pop-pop became a semi-professional photographer in his 60s. Great-grandpa became a sculptor. Great-Grandma published her first book in her 80s. Grandma started a new career in her 40s. Your other Grandma became a golf champion in her 50s.
Love big. Love the people in your life so much that it hurts. So much that their hurts gives you heartache. And the experience of their joy brings you rapture. Love someone the way you want to be loved – without judgment. With understanding and compassion. Love isn’t passion but you can love passionately and I hope you do.
Live big. You cannot avoid failure – learn from it. You cannot avoid embarrassment – laugh at it. You cannot avoid heartbreak – hearts heal. Don’t let fear get the best of you – it’s a one-way trip and every day is a blank slate. Fill it up.
I love seeing how you live.