This week sees the start of a new column on the blog: Letters From Our Future Selves. I’m inviting authors and bloggers to share the advice they think their twenty years older self would give them, giving each writer an opportunity to reflect on what they hope to learn and achieve during the next two decades.
I’m delighted that my wonderful friend Kathy Lynn Harris has agreed to share a letter! Kathy is the author of Blue Straggler.
You Young Thang
by Kathy Lynn Harris
Dear Kathy, You Young Thang,
So. Honey, I have 20 years on you now, and there’s been a lot of water under that proverbial bridge. Actually, flood waters OVER that bridge a few of those years. Big, 100-year floods. But here’s the good news. You’ll find a boat. You always do. And it’ll have a well-stocked mini fridge.I do have some advice for you, though. (You knew I would.)
Along the way, I hope you’ll stop a bit more than you do right now to enjoy the little things and the huge things. Remember when your second novel was published last year and you didn’t go out to celebrate? And remember when you won that national literary award and you moved on too quickly, on to the next thing on your list?
I’m here to tell you that there will be more accomplishments in your future, so be ready this time. You’ll finally finish that third novel you’ve been working on for a few years now. You’ll write a memoir about life in South Texas and the kick-ass people you’ve known. You’ll be proud of your work. (But oh, Lordee, you think you’re bombarded with social media marketing now? You just wait. It’s only going to get crazier. That’s probably why vodka martinis are available as gas-station fountain drinks now. But that’s another story.)
What else? Oh yes. Our sweet son. He’s just age 6 right now, and you already know he’s something special, but by age 26, the world is going to find that out, too. So once again, I urge you to grab every opportunity you have now to spend time with him and enjoy his laughter and intelligence and compassion and silliness — before the world makes him grow up, and you have to share him a lot more.
I know, I know. There are some days, although rare, that you feel suffocated from how much he needs you and wants to be with you. But on those days when you can’t even sit on the toilet without a “Mama?” call from beyond the bathroom door, remember to cherish it. After all, he still wants to hold your hand in public, my dear. That won’t always be the case.
By the way, the world IS a better place here in the future. That’s a bit of comfort, right? For instance, marriage equality isn’t even an issue; us old folks can hardly remember what the big fuss was all about. And get this: There will be not one, but TWO, female U.S. presidents. Can you even imagine? I know you can. Good girl. Also, the common-sense gun control you want so badly for your country WILL become a reality. But it’s going to take many years. Keep up the fight.
And that brings us to the more personal struggles you face right now, that so many of you 40-year-old women face. You’re worried that you’re getting older. You’re worried that your chin is sagging, that your hair has a hayload of silver “highlights,” that your wrinkles are deeper, that your weight is inching up. Well, listen, honey. Since you are not going to do anything completely out of your nature and get cosmetic surgery, you need to face the music. You’ve already had your body for 40-some years, and it’s been good to you. Praise it. Take care of it. Thank it.
But the reality is, things are going to continue to head south, your hair (hell, even your eyebrows and pubic hair!) are gonna turn a lovely shade of white, you’re going to earn a few more wrinkles, and you’ll probably have to buy some bigger jeans every year or three.
But it’s okay. It’s really okay. Your spirit will be in tact. Your wisdom will be greater. Your mind will remain sharp (if you lay off the wine). And you’ll still be able to laugh at not only yourself but this insane, harsh, stunning world.
In 20 more years, you’re going to truly understand that beauty has absolutely nothing to do with the outside and everything to do with the inside. You can say it now, but you’ll believe it then.
Finally, I want to leave you with one phrase that I hope you’ll repeat to yourself every time life throws you another hot-damn, out-the-blue, Lord-Have-Mercy curve ball. Write it down. Put it on your wall in red paint.
No matter what happens, just breathe.
About Kathy Lynn Harris
Kathy Lynn Harris is the author of two Amazon bestselling novels: Blue Straggler, published by 30 Day Books and an Amazon #1 bestseller in three categories, and A Good Kind of Knowing, which recently earned the top literary award from the National Federation of Press Women for 2013. In addition, Kathy recently released a children’s ebook, Higgenbloom and the Dancing Grandmas (her third published children’s work). She has also written hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles, an online column on mountain living, short fiction, essays, and award-winning poetry, and her work has appeared in numerous published anthologies.
Kathy grew up in a South Texas ranching family, but made the move from Texas to the Colorado Rockies in 2001 to focus on her writing and soak up All Things Mountain. Kathy’s blog, You Can Take the Girl Out of Texas, But …, can be found on her website. She lives west of Denver in a 1920s cabin with her husband, son and two fairly untrainable golden retriever mixes.
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A Good Kind of Knowing
Sera Taylor’s store is the one place in Lakeville, Texas, where individuals from all walks of life share a universal love for music and a respect for the gypsy-like woman behind the antique glass counter. Readers get a taste of the unorthodox connection between Sera and Mack, a young local cowboy and musician, and Sera’s previously untested devotion to her husband Bill. They learn of her relationship with Ruby D., the vibrant but misguided mother of five; with Louie, the shy high school band director; with Beverly, the religious, upper-class socialite; with Antonio, a local bar owner striving to make a life for himself; with Tommy Lee, a rich and directionless gigolo; and with Wes, the only out-of-the closet gay man for miles. As Sera battles a serious illness, the characters must overcome long-held stereotypes to save Sera’s store, and in the end, large parts of themselves.
Thanks so much for having me on your awesome blog, Terri! I’m always honored.
Terri, this is a great concept for a column, and Kathy, I absolutely loved this post–it nearly made me cry, it was so beautiful, especially where you talk about your son. Very moving piece.