gratitude-a-thon day 132: graduation words of wisdom (mine)

In Santa Monica, on the trip that would decide his college choice, USC.

Jake graduates today. Here is a short excerpt from the letter I wrote him. It’s the Mommy List of the essential stuff I think is important. I told him to refer to it often, for best results.

1. You are loved. You are loved beyond reason and convention. You are adored and cherished and revered. Your family will always be there for you. Right there. We will always support your ideas and dreams and help you with your challenges. Our door is wide open 24/7. Come for coffee, come for money, come forever. We want you to take in all you can out there, but we also want you to know, you will always have a place that’s all yours with your family. We hope we will always be part of you, where you began, because you will always be part of us. But it’s not just your family who loves you, it’s also relatives and friends. Remember that, and allow that to sustain you when you’re feeling lonely, or doubtful of yourself. You are loved.

2. Remember that you are absurdly amazing! You possess everything you need to have an exceptional life, Jake. You are super smart and crazy handsome and beautifully sensitive, and divinely curious, plus, for bonus points, you’re warm and loving and when you walk into a room, it lights up like the freaking sun. You can do anything, be anything. You have all the requirements, you lucky boy.

3.Hard work pays off. No, really, it does. Here’s where the rubber meets the road. You have to work hard to get what you want. There’s no shortcut, no back door, no magician’s formula for success. You sometimes have to work harder than anyone else. You will never be sorry for working hard. I mean, don’t work so hard that you lose your joy, and you miss the smell of orange juice or the sea. But go hard if you want it. Even if you don’t get it, you’ll know you gave it every gosh darn thing you had. Sticking with it, pushing through–this is a major component of getting to the exact place you want to go. So, turn off the tv, don’t go out EVERY night, take a nap, but make it short, and WORK hard.

4. Separate what you have and how you look, from who you are. Don’t let your ego convince you that the external is what defines you. What defines you is how you conduct yourself, how you treat people, what you value, what you offer, and give back to the world.

5.Create relationships and Love Big. You’re already pretty good at this. But I think making relationships is the most important thing we can do in our lives. Meet people. All kinds. Everywhere. You never know when someone might become your best friend. You never know what you might learn. Deep connections are what sustain us best. Make relationships. A bunch of them. And while you will get your heart broken in love, go big. Love deeply and intensely. Let yourself go. Also, get a dog. There is nothing quite like the love of a good furry person, I mean puppy.

6. Stop and smell the….well, you know. Remember to be present. Try to be in the moment you’re in and not in the tomorrow you’re thinking about. Don’t wish away your life. Be in it, or you will miss the awesomosity of what’s smack in front of your face.

7. Be resilient. Things will not go your way. Disappointment is inevitable. Heartbreak, impossible to escape. Feel it, embrace it and then send it on it’s merry way. Get up bigger and stronger and go on back out there. You have done this a lot already. Keep it up. This is a crucial component of happiness.

8. Give back. Volunteer. Help. Give. There are many ways to do this, but do it. Do something you love and are good at, you’ll enjoy it, and it will most likely be how you can change the most lives.

9. Stay active. Take care of yourself. Run, jump, lift, pump. Eat well, but not so well that you miss any of the rich tastes of the world. But take care of your body, you’ll need it.

10. Find your passion and get a job in it. If you love what you do, you’ll never feel like you’re working, you’ll just feel like you’re playing but getting paid for doing it. Doing what you love is a great strategy for having a boatload of happiness.

11. Be grateful. Going down the path of what you don’t have, is like going the wrong way on the highway. It will not end well. But if you focus on what you do have, you’ll find you will always have something to be happy about. If you need help here, read the gratitude-a-thon!

There’s more to the letter, but the rest is private. And just for my boy!

13 thoughts on “gratitude-a-thon day 132: graduation words of wisdom (mine)

  1. Since I can’t write for crap, perhaps I’ll tuck these words away for when my kids graduate. Beautiful and inspiring. Jake is so fortunate to have you as a mother, to learn from, to learn with and, best of all, as a friend. Good luck Jake as you take on California!

  2. Well wow, you’ve covered it all-beautifully. May I add my very simple rules (easy to remember as my boys know) “stay alive and don’t ever date anyone who we will see on reality TV” πŸ™‚

  3. Love this toni! Wonderful Jake. I can still see him as that sweet, adorable, chatty & helpful little preschooler with the big saucer eyes playing at Emerson Park πŸ™‚
    When our kids were very young, Steven & I wrote keepsake letters around their birthdays to capture for them & for us, our love & what they did with their little selfs at that particular age.
    Your gorgeous letter is a lovely reminder jolt!
    It is so powerful to not just tell them, but to write down for future repeat reading, that unyielding, unconditional, we are always here, got your back love, and celebrate & cherish the people they are, mmm mmm, it never ever gets old πŸ™‚
    I am grateful for the gift you bring toni :). thanks, m xo

    1. awe, thanks, martha! and thanks for always supporting our boy. it was just perfect to see you at graduation. it takes a village. so lucky to have you in ours! xoxo

    2. thank so much, martha. and thanks for your support of my kids (and of me as a mom) all through my kid’s childhoods. it takes a village and i’m damn lucky to have had you and so many other great people in mine! xo

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