Keeping up with my monthly series in 2020 as a slow farewell to AoS, today I’m sharing another letter to myself in 2010, ten years ago. Each letter focuses on one of the different categories we write about here: relationships, community, work, travel, travel, and in the case of this month’s installment, self-care.

Though these are to myself, my hope is that you find a smidge of truth, beauty, and goodness you can apply to your own life — and perhaps this exercise will inspire you to write your own letters to yourself, ten years younger.

Dear Me in 2010,

This week I turn 43, which means this week you turn 33. This is weird because I’m pretty sure I was your age last week and not ten years ago. I know you feel the same about 23, so let’s just get the clichéd inevitable truth out of the way: time sure flies.

I know you think 43 sounds weirdly older, but I promise you feel just as young as ever on the inside. It jars you to look in the mirror and see the gray hair, tired lines around your eyes, and less muscle definition, and there are days when it bothers you, but there are also many, many days when you just don’t think of it. Be encouraged by that.

Here are six things I’ve learned in the past year.

1. It’s good to end things with a rite of passage when it’s time for them to end.

I ended my long-running podcast this past year, and while it wasn’t any big deal to 99% of my listeners, it was a big deal to me. I celebrated with a special dinner and wine, and that felt good. It gave me the closure I needed, and the chance to rightfully celebrate something I built from scratch and served our family well for many years.

2. It takes a while for some dreams to come to fruition, and that’s okay.

I know you’re already pining for more of a homestead-style life, combining your love for travel with your love for home. It hasn’t been till this year when we were home so much more than we ever have been (let me tell you about a certain pandemic you didn’t see coming) that a certain homesteadiness cultivates.

It’s only been this year that we’ve had an actually successful backyard garden, true plans for chickens underway, and even the possibility of bees. This is 99% Tate’s doing if you can believe it — she’s spearheading these ventures out of a sincere desire to be Ma Ingalls while she’s home and Rick Steves while she’s gone. I wonder where she gets it.

3. Good mattresses are worth the money.

We finally bought another mattress after ten years of our previous one (which means you just bought that, which is weird). It was time, and sleep became good again.

4. I personally enjoy parenting older kids so much more.

This is entirely a matter of preference and opinion, but I feel much more in my wheelhouse raising teens and pre-teens. Talking politics, minutiae of faith doctrine, dumb-but-admittedly-hilarious memes, reading books and watching movies together that I actually enjoy, and yes, even the eye-rolls and door slams — I’ll take these any day over diapers and babyproofing the house.

A few weeks ago we went to a nearby town for an overnighter, and it poured down rain. We hung out in the restaurant for hours, laughing and playing dumb games. (And yes, this was the best pic — they still don’t cooperate for photos.)

I can look back and see the glory of those days, and I do long for some of that sweetness and smallness, but in general, I feel better equipped to parents teens. And contrary to popular belief, it’s fun. Teens are great.

5. Swedish clogs make every outfit more fun.

They just do. Dresses, pants, even shorts — switch out your sandals for clogs and boom. More fun.

6. Life is lived in the daily habits and actions, not in the big-picture goals.

Yes, this is a quote from Annie Dillard that already inspires you: How you spend your days is, of course, how you spend your life. But it hasn’t felt true until recently. Goals are fine and have their place, but I’ve found that focusing on my daily habits has left me more satisfied.

It’s immensely rewarding to hold your published book in your hands, but for me, the real satisfaction is in the sitting down, every day, and spilling words on paper. It’s astounding to raise a child who can eventually do their own laundry and make their own dinner, but the real meaning lies in those nightly conversations about life and relationships and God.

Apparently all the photos on my phone are now garden and veggie harvests…

It’s fun to have a basket of vegetables harvested from your garden, but my memories this year lie more in the weeding, planting, sowing, watering as I listen to an audiobook before the summer heat rears its head.

It’s easy to be future-oriented. It’s been more satisfying, though, to revel in the present.


You in 2020

p.s. – That talkative kindergartner on your hands? You’ll blink and she’ll be in driver’s ed. What?