Last year I wrote a letter to my 16 year old self. It was a wonderful way to recognise the poor decisions I had made in my life and to be kind and forgiving to my younger self.
It didn't do much to help me now though. My life is generally good, but it is not perfect. My husband and I had a state of the nation conversation last week. We talked about how we feel now and about what we would like to change.
We found it useful to look ahead, hoping that the future would hold long life and happiness for us and our children. We imagined ourselves at the end of our lives, with our children beside us and maybe grandchildren too.
We wanted to know what we needed do NOW to enable us to die happy. So we imagined being old and looking back over our lives to this point in time. What did we hope for ourselves, as we lay on our death-beds, and what could we change now to make that happen?
I decided to write this letter to me now, to gain some perspective on what is important and what is not.
Your priorities are your husband and your children, everything else is a distraction.
Remember to make time for you and Andy. Remember why you fell in love with this man, almost at first sight, maybe before. Spend time together as Andy and Sandy (yes, I know, we rhyme). Arrange dates and stick to them, even if the 'date' is a night in front of a DVD with a bottle of wine. Talk.
Appreciate your beautiful children while they are young. Remember that they are children and they will act like children. You can not control them, they are their own people. Try to keep your temper. If they smear yoghurt all over the table for the fiftieth day in a row, screaming and shouting isn't going to make any difference. Just clear it up, it doesn't matter.
Enjoy playing the same games over and over again. Read to them and sing and dance with them. Cuddle them more than you think is necessary now, when they are older they won't be quite so keen.
Allow them to make their own mistakes, but be there to help them pick up the pieces. Keep them safe, but let them flourish and grow. Prepare them for the world by teaching them manners, tolerance and compassion.
Be there for your friends. Nurture those relationships that make you happy. Make the effort to keep in touch with people who enrich your life, no matter how far away you all live.
You can be viciously self-critical. There's no need to be so hard on yourself. Be kind to yourself. You can only do your best. You are loved.
Remember what you once heard: when you're in your twenties you care what people think of you. When you're in your forties you don't care what people think of you. When you're in your sixties you realise no one was thinking about you anyway.
When something or someone makes you unhappy you need to take a step back. Balance is everything. If you want to write fiction, just write. Don't make excuses. Turn off the internet.
Go outside more, walk and breathe in the fresh air. Practice yoga everyday. Smile more. Keep reading every day. Keep learning. Eat to live.
Do things that make you happy.
Love, Sandy x