Letter to my Grandchildren
As travelers focused on enacting global change, vulnerability is key for what we hope to accomplish. So why, then, does it often feel so impossibly difficult to do? I’m going to be really honest with you, as my upcoming Table trip to the Middle East inches closer, I am filled with an anxiety that I truly never expected to feel.
The thing is, I’m not even entirely sure where it all comes from. I grew up traveling and none of this is new to me (with the exception of the locations that I’ll be visiting). Even though logic tells me that everything will be okay (I look at statistics like it’s my job), the fear or the unknown shakes me to my core.
Last year, while I was working with a development coach, I was given a homework assignment that encouraged me to really dive in and explore my core values. The task included writing a letter to my future grandchildren outlining things that I wanted them to know about the world that we’re living in. I found that letter yesterday. It’s a great reminder of my “why”.
I’m excited for my futureandto eventually meet my grandchildren one day, despite how much I wish we could freeze time so that I could keep my eight year old little for all time. I’m also excited to live in each moment gratefulfor the life I have been given and the freedom to make a difference in our global community.
My letter, my why, was exactly what I needed to revisit yesterday. I would encourage you to sit down and write a letter to your own grandchildren (or great-grandchildren) and take some time to explore how your words offer you hope for your own future...as well as theirs.
To My Future Grandchildren,
It’s hard to sit down and think about how amazing this world will be with you in it. I feel so tremendously blessed to have your mother in my life and to be tasked with the great privilege of guiding her through childhood. I wanted to take a few moments to share some of my thoughts about life with you. Please understand as you read this that we may not always share the same ideas about the world and those of us who live here (and that’s okay).
Also understand that I am writing this letter to you in a time where we’re facing some transition and difficulties in our global society which has shaped much of my world view. I believe that it’s through open communication that we learn, grow, and understand one another which is why I’m taking the time to write to you today.
Here are some of the things that I have learned so far in life…
1. Put Love First
Respect, kindness, compassion, and just about every other quality that I wish for you to possess are all rooted in one thing: Putting love at the center of all that you do. You see, when we take time to truly love (others, ourselves, the world, nature, etc), all of the other things fall into place.
The world can sometimes seem like a cold, heartless place. It’s easy to let that consume you. Don’t.
Everything isn’t always as it seems. At the very core, this world is a mysterious, amazing, beautiful place absolutely full of love. When we’re constantly faced with stories of the opposite, it can be hard to focus on what a loving place this truly is, but that’s important.
Don’t let that deafening noise distract you from the awesome things that are happening all around you. Take the time to get to know strangers (because you love them). Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable (because you love yourself enough to be honest and open). Truly seethe world around you (because you love this place we’re living in) for what it is - beautiful and full of love.
2. Be The Light
When the world feels dark, which it sometimes will, it’s up to you to help spread light wherever you go. Just as lighthouses help guide ships to safe harbor in the dark of night, so should you help to set an example of light and love for those around you who are struggling. How do you do that?
One of the best ways that I have found to help spread light (also known as love), is to help others in need. I am passionate about volunteering in my community. Find a way to spend your time that serves others and brings you joy - and it will never feel like an obligation.
I joined the Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri when I was 21 years old and brand new to the KC Metro area. Their organization, which strives to empower women while making an impact on our city, partners with several different organizations.
Through my volunteer efforts with Junior League, I was able to get to know about several other places around town that do so many amazing things for others. Seek those places out and help them in their mission - you will never regret doing good things for other people.
Your light, your love, can change someone’s life. Believe that.
3. Be Kind
This lesson is so simple and yet something you will need to constantly remind yourself of in life - Just be kind. When you have a choice, which you always do, be kind. That’s it.
True kindness doesn’t come with expectations for anything in return. True kindness doesn’t come with stipulations or strings attached. True kindness isn’t self-serving, it comes from the heart and is rooted in love.
Seek to be a kind person in all that you say and do and you will make the world a better place as a result.
4. Be Yourself & Accept Others for Who They Are
There are billions of people living in this world and every single one of us is unique. That’s a good thing. Don’t try to be someone else - - be who you are - - who you are is enough, I promise.
Just as you should understand that you are enough, you also need to embrace others as well.
Recognize that other people are also enough and accept them for who they are. Appreciate your world view and recognize that your thoughts, opinions, and beliefs matter. The same applies to other people.
Before I went to college, I was very actively involved in my local church where I regularly attended worship, was a leader in my youth group, helped to support the children’s choir, and considered myself to be a deeply rooted believer.
I attended my undergraduate at a private Methodist college where I studied International Relations. I had no idea at the time that what I learned would change my world forever.
You see, I grew up adhering to what was expected of me. My mother attended church, so I attended church with her. The other kids at the church were involved in the drama program, so I got involved. You can see where it goes from there. I never took the time to really discover what it was that I actually believed.
That is, until I spent years of my life learning about religions and ideas that were different from my own. I started to form my own opinions about my faith, about the world, and about what I believe to be important.
That was a struggle for me. In finding my own identity, I was losing the one that had been created for me. It took me years to discover who I really am and be okay with showing that to the rest of the world - but I am so glad that I did.
At the same time, in learning about what other people believe (there are many, many hundreds and hundreds of differing beliefs about the answers to life’s big questions out there), I learned that in order to truly love someone, in order to truly be kind, and in order to be a shining light in this world it is imperative that you accept them for who they are.
No ifs, no ands, no buts. Accept them as they are - even (especially) when it’s different from your point of view.
5. Don’t Take Things So Seriously
Compared to the infinite measure of time, our lives happen in the blink of an eye. Yes, the situations that happen in life are important but don’t let one bad or stressful moment ruin your day.
When you find yourself feeling stressed about a situation, ask yourself: Will this matter tomorrow? Will it matter next week? In a month? In a year? Chances are, the answer is probably no. No, it won’t matter in the long run.
So stop taking it so seriously.
So you accidentally embarrassed yourself in front of someone that you really liked. Don’t take that so seriously, it’s okay. Try to focus on the things that are actually important and let the rest go. Don’t let one bad moment in a day ruin the rest of it.
I promise, it’s not that serious. Unless it actually is, in which case…
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help.
Here’s a fact: We are all in this together. It’s okay to need help sometimes, don’t ever be afraid to ask for it from me, your parents, or your community. There is an old adage that “Pride Comes Before the Fall”. Don’t ever let your fear of someone else’s judgement get in the way of seeking help when you need it.
7. Don’t Forget About Grandma
I have become known as your great-great-grandmother’s supplier of wine. Guess what?! Someday, it will be your turn to do that for me. I like red wine, typically Merlot. Don’t ever buy it in a box, it will give you a headache. Wine is best served aged and room temperature.
When you’re old enough to enjoy a glass with dinner, I’ll share a bottle of my favorite with you. Don’t forget about me on holidays. I love you.
I hope that these messages speak to your heart and give you an understanding of how I think, feel, and perceive the world. When it’s all said and done, when I am about to leave this world, I want you to know how much I have loved being a part of all of this.
I love living here, spending time with you as you grow, and being part of your life --- even though that hasn’t even happened yet. I know your mom is going to do great things and I have every confidence in the world that, when she chooses to have kids of her own one day, that you guys will be every bit as marvelous as she is.
Even though I don’t like to rush time or think too much that far into the future, I cannot wait to meet you and get to know you. I love you already.
All my heart,
Grandma / Charlotte’s Mommy / Holli