Letter to Myself, December 28, 1969

Dear Pam,

Believe, believe, believe in yourself. Truly, you’ve got to believe me in this. (Ha, get it? Believe in yourself/believe in me?).

Yes, we’re one and the same, only I’m you more than 35 years later. Strange, huh?

But you believe in strange things, don’t you?

Trust me when I tell you, you’re beautiful. You’re not fat. You’re not awkward-looking. And you’re not uncoordinated. In a couple of decades, you’ll be running 10-mile road races. You’ll be stretching in amazing yoga positions and walking an hour a day.

letter to younger self

Don’t sweat the small stuff. If you wrote a book with that title now, you’d make a fortune! You’re probably puzzled about what that expression means, but basically, continue like you are.

For a teenager, you don’t worry much now except about the large things, like “is something wrong with me because when I look out the window, trees turn gold and white and I feel like I’m flying?” and “am I really an alien who was placed here on Earth to mingle with the creatures from a different planet?”

Keep asking those questions – they’ll entertain you throughout your life. But you’re so right to not worry about whether that red mini-dress is too short, or if Bev is shunning you because her boyfriend Tim pays attention to you. In fact, Tim will leave Bev for you, but that’s another story, and I’m not supposed to tell you your future; I’m just permitted to leave you words of wisdom for that future.

Oh, be nicer to our brother. Chuck is so off your radar now, but pay more attention to him. Decades from now, you two will become good friends, even though you never live near each other, and you’ll fly thousands of miles to vacation together, and go to each other’s kids’ weddings. He’s a good guy. Stop treating him like a door mat.

Here’s another word of advice that will knock your socks off (and by the way, feel those fluffy thick socks you’re wearing now? I’m still wearing the exact same kind of socks while I sit here typing to you, oh so many years later). KEEP ON WRITING. Right now (in 1969), yes, I know you have your diary hidden in our underwear drawer, and those two short stories you wrote are stashed between the third and fourth books on the second shelf of our bedroom bookcase. Guess what? In the future, not only will you stop hiding your writing, you’ll share your stories – personal pieces as well as your fiction –  on a public ‘web’ forum for friends, family, and lots of strangers. Okay, Okay, I lost you here, but I’m not lying. Truly.

Finally, your love for our sweet dog Suzie, and her love for you, teaches you to be a good friend, a warm and loving mother, and a faithful companion to several special dogs in your future. Give her a special hug tonight.

And after mom closes the bedroom door, let Suzie hop up and sleep with you.

Happy New Year!

 Love from your future self, adult letter to teenaged self

December 28, 2012

Searching for Your “People”

searching, people, familyLast night I went to bed early to finish a good book, leaving Henry (the dog) and the other man of the house watching TV in the family room. Suddenly I heard Henry bark. It wasn’t his “I have to go out bark,” or “Where’s my dinner bark,” but his “Help! I can’t find you, Where are you?” bark.

I laughed and called for him, and he came bouncing to me happily, tail wagging as if I’d been lost and finally found.

His reaction reminded me of how important we are to each other – “we” meaning our family members, our good friends, our “people.”

dog, traveling, golden retrieverAlmost two years ago Henry, my man, and I moved cross country, driving in our SUV over 8 hours a day, Henry sprawled out in the back seat happier than a clam in mud. After all, he had us, “his people,” alone in a small moving box for hours at a time. For once, he always knew where we were. He’d lift his head up from the little cave we’d built him with blankets, his water bowl, and a ball, and he’d smile so wide I realized that he’d be happy if we all lived in the car forever.

But within 6 days we arrived at Truckee, our last stop before reaching the S.F. bay area. Reservations had been made at the ‘dogs allowed’ hotel, and we were relieved to find our room on the first floor near the exit door and a good walking path.

Henry sniffed at his new spot for the night, a bit anxious that it smelled differently than the night before. My man took several trips to carry luggage and laptop and dog essentials from the car to the room, and then we unpacked the necessities, as had become our routine.

Until we heard an anxious bark outside our room from far away, and then another, and another.

“It is a dog-friendly hotel,” we both remarked to each other, smiling and looking for Henry’s perked ears and curious eyes.

But Henry was not there. He was gone! We searched the corners of the room, the bathroom, the closet.

The outside barks became more insistent. “Where are you?” the bark said. “Where are you?”

“Oh my God!”  I exclaimed. “That’s Henry’s bark!”

We yanked open our hotel door.  Way down the lengthy hotel hallway, we saw a yellow blur. Our 9-year-old golden was running up and down the long corridor, barking past each door, shouting “Where are you?”

“Henry, here!” I shouted. He flew toward us like a happy puppy, like a child who’s momentarily lost a parent, like a person who has been reunited with his loved ones.

We had a sweet reunion with hugs and licks and a tail wagging so hard it hit the other side of the hallway, causing a couple of doors to open with inquisitive expressions from the rooms’ residents.

“Our dog was lost in the hallway,” we explained.

“Ah,” the dog owners responded. “Now he’s found his people.”


Happiness is time spent with some of my "people."




My Dog Is a Zen Master

I arrive home at lunchtime with a 30-minute break from work.  I am hassled and frazzled and tired.  I dump some leftovers in a saucepan while washing the breakfast dishes, starting a load of laundry, and cleaning up the newspapers scattered on the dining room table.

That’s when I see the patch of sunlight, and the yogi.

He can’t cross his legs as human meditators do, but instead sits like a Sphinx, front legs straight ahead, beautiful gold and white furry chest held straight and proud.  His neck rises a bit as he faces me and holds my green eyes into his chocolate brown ones. The expression is wise and all-knowing, and I can hear his thoughts immediately:

Why don’t you calm down, for heaven’s sake? 

The sun is basking his body in heat and light, and his mouth opens to pant.  But actually he is trying to say something to me, like:

Stop.   Look.  Listen.  Life is only this.  Stop.  Look.  Listen.

The timer buzzes, but I ignore it and sit down next to my dog, stroking the warm fur.  I feel the sun melt my tense muscles, my frayed nerves, and my buzzing brain.  I breathe deeply and . . .




Slowly, I also become one with the day.

At least for a few minutes.