Saturday, March 11, 2017

3/11/17 #sol17 How to Live, to Emma

How To Live

with thanks to Charles Webb
and Tom Romano for introducing me to Mr. Webb

to my daughter, Emma, on the cusp of turning 10

Continue to be brave, sweet girl. And vulnerable. Try to name your feelings, and to feel them deeply. Don't be afraid to cry, but try to figure out what your next steps will be while you're crying. Have a favorite blanket, one that you can crawl under and find peace when the rest of the world feels hard. But crawl back out and face it head on.

Hold hands: with your mom, with your best friends, with your future spouse. Let the touch from the people who love you heal you. Eat your vegetables. And the cupcakes. Wear clothes that make you sparkle. Look in the mirror and tell yourself you're beautiful at least once a day. Develop laugh lines. Always throw your head back and let that laugh rip.

Play basketball and soccer and relish the strength of your legs pumping and your heart beating. Keep flipping. Do it more than just gym class as you get older. Get your nose pierced, or your ears or even your belly button. I'd really prefer you not get a tattoo. So if you do, make it small and secret.

Live on your own. Carry your groceries up a few flight of stairs. Learn how to check your oil and tire pressure. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Have the kinds of friends who will help you move. Go to a beautiful movie by yourself at least once. Eat dinner in a restaurant while reading a book. Be your own best company.

Watch bad tv, read trashy magazines, read smart books. Go to church, wherever that church may be -- the woods, the ocean, the building. Seek out friendships that fill your soul. When relationships feel like too much work, tap out. Except marriage. That work can be the most beautiful work of your life.

Stand up for yourself. Use your words as weapons, and your fists if you have to. Don't ever let anyone make you feel like you don't deserve to take up space. Fill a room with your sparkle and your smarts. Ask questions. Listen. Reflect. Speak out every time.

Stand up for what you know is right. Sometimes that's hard and feels scary. So take a breath and try to figure out your center of gravity. Walk the walk. If you're embarrassed to bring a partner home, let that tell you something, and listen to it. Maybe not at first, but eventually.

Remember from where you came, my girl. Call your mom. Take care of your brothers and let them take care of you. Know that you are known and loved and seen. You take up space in this world, and the universe is better because you exist.


  1. I absolutely love this. You need to save it and give it to her at her wedding. What lovely advice.

  2. This is amazing! I need to do this for my daughter as well. She is only 2, but there is so much I want to share with her. Love the lines that say "eat your vegetables. And the cupcakes."

  3. Stunning, just stunning. I agree with your friend Elana that you should save it for her wedding but don't just give it to her--you need to READ it to her aloud at her wedding. Beautiful words from a beautiful spirit.

  4. So many, many beautiful words. "Know that you are known and loved and seen." What more can we hope for any child? Beautiful.

  5. Well, this brought me to tears. Beautiful...and perfect advice. Emma is so lucky to have you as her mom!