A letter to my great-grandchildren...

June 15, 2017

I was lucky enough to know my great-grandmother and my sons were also very fortunate to have known their great-grandparents - great grandfather until they were 3 and 6 and great grandmother for another 7 years.


I won't have the pleasure of meeting my own great-grandchildren and they will be born into a very different world to mine.



However, there are some words of advice I would like to give them which I hope will transcend the generations and the years.

So fast forward to the second half of the 21st century, imagine me as a venerable old lady, making highly inappropriate comments, enjoying a daily gin and tonic
and STILL listening to Robbie Williams' music!!

This is what I would say to my great-grandchildren:


...not all the time. I don't understand people who constantly wear a smile - surely you can't be happy ALL the time! Save your smiles for the times when they matter or are needed - when the love of your life enters the room, a new baby is born or you need to get somebody on your side.


There was a meme (ask your grandparents what this is) in the early 2000s of which said:

It takes 37 muscles to frown. And 22 muscles to smile. So Smile. It conserves energy.


A smile will light up your face and forcing a smile when you're feeling down will immediately help you to feel better.


So, whilst they shouldn't be wasted, try to find a reason to smile once a day.

Have no regrets...
...they are a waste of time. I can honestly say I have never regretted anything I have done and have been completely confident of every decision I have ever made.

This doesn't mean I wasn't impulsive because l often was - making snap decisions - but I always knew that those decisions were right at that moment in time. As a result, I had no regrets about the snap decisions or the well-thought out, considered and reasoned decisions.

Be sure of your own convictions and you will live a regret-free life too.

Don't be jealous...
...jealousy it is a futile emotion which consumes you and wastes unnecessary energy.

I have never been jealous or even envious of anyone or anything. Maybe this has something to do with being the oldest child, as well as the first grandchild for both sets of grandparents - I never had to want for anything or compete for anyone's affection or attention.

Maybe it is because I am a realist and thus ensure my wants and needs are within my reach so if I want/need something, I am able to achieve or obtain it.

So there is no possession that someone else has that I could possibly want. And if I do, I find the means to obtain it. Or simply enjoy indulging in a dream, fantasising about the house or pair of shoes but never envying.

I prefer to have original ideas and be a leader rather than a follower. So if a friend has the most beautiful handbag, I don't hanker after that particular handbag, because she has it and I don't want the same as her! I simply admire and compliment my friend on her exquisite taste in accessories.


Reach for the stars, but those which are within your grasp.  Then you'll have no room for jealousy in your life.

Be open and honest...

...and don't shy away from conflict or confrontation.


Keep the lines of communication open, whether in a work or personal situation. However difficult you think that conversation may be, it's always going to be easier if you nip it in the bud, rather than let it fester.


In my experience, little acorns of discontent become huge oaks of resentment very quickly. 

Table manners matter...

...for me, there is nothing worse than sitting across a table from someone who is eating with their mouth open, it actually makes me feel physically sick. I don't need to see the contents of your plate IN YOUR MOUTH! Similarly, eating with ones elbows on the table looks slovenly, as if you're not engaged in the meal and can't be bothered to sit up.

Take it from this old lady, at the table, sit up straight, chew your food with your mouth closed and keep your elbows away from the table!

Thank you goes a long way...
...to acknowledge when someone has done something nice for you.

If a friend has gone out of their way to help you, the least you can do is show them your gratitude in return.

And whilst it is all good and well thanking them verbally at the time the deed was done, a follow-up call, text message, email or even an old-fashioned hand-written letter is always appreciated.

When your grandparents were children, they were always encouraged to write thank-you letters for birthday and Christmas presents. In their teens, these became emails.

Less emphasis is put on this common courtesy and I fear the gesture may have died out by the time you read this letter, but do me a favour, resurrect it. Encourage your own children to send a thank-you - maybe it's possible to do so by means of ESP or virtual reality now!

Try to find positives in negatives...
...it really helps turn around a crappy situation.

If you look carefully, there is usually a glimmer of hope in the worst scenario. If you search for that and focus on it, the situation may not seem nearly as bad.  

Colour co-ordinate...
...it makes getting dressed or decorating a room so much easier.

In my wardrobe and in my home, black and white were my core base colours .

I would wear black and white then would accessorise with a splash of colour - usually deep pink. This also made packing for holiday much less stressful as all my clothes mixed and matched.

In my home, the walls were white, the floor was black (or grey) and each room had a different accent colour for soft furnishings and accessories.


And colour co-ordination goes deeper than the surface, so always ensure your underwear matches too!

See the world...

...experience other cultures, different foods, alternative ways of life and see the world from varied perspectives too, from budget travel on a shoestring to five-star all-inclusive luxury.


Seeing the world, or even just a small bit outside your normal surroundings, is personally enriching and helps you appreciate what you have.


And travel light...
...it is far less stressful then packing your entire wardrobe for a holiday or business trip.


Air travel has probably moved on considerably since the 2010s but in the first couple of decades of the 21st century, I took great advantage of something called budget air travel and would often jump on a plane for a weekend with just with small, cabin-size suitcase thus avoiding the extra charge for hold luggage. On a few occasions, I would take this minimal amount of luggage for a week-long beach holiday!!

I would travel in trainers, jeans or leggings, a loose top and a jacket. In my suitcase, I would have a pair of flat shoes and a pair of heels, a pair of jeans and a pair of smarter trousers,maybe a pair of shorts of a dress, a mix of long and short sleeved tops and a cardigan and/or jumper. Oh and underwear (yes contrary to popular belief, I did wear some!)

As I was an advocate of colour co-ordination (see above), everything could be mixed and matched, which meant less time was spent deciding what to wear and more time exploring whichever city or town I was visiting. On a beach holiday, I would often wear the same outfit for a couple of evenings, as it wasn't worn for more than a few hours and would anyone even notice?

Don't knock something until you've tried it...
...you may be pleasantly surprised! 

How can you say you don't like something when you haven't even tried it! Just because something doesn't sound nice, you are limiting your options and refusing to broaden your horizons.

I was always a foodie so very open to trying new, different, exotic foodstuffs. Many of my friends were not so brave.

Yes, it's about being brave. Brave enough to put yourself into an unfamiliar situation and face the fear of the unknown. What is the worst that can happen? You discover that you didn't enjoy the food or experience and then you can say with absolute conviction that you wouldn't eat/do it again.

However you may just find a new favourite food or activity...

Find balance...

...in everything you do, whether that is spending money, drinking wine or working.  A happy life is one that has a balance of good and bad, right and wrong, ups and downs and ins and outs.


So if there is something  you really want, don't deny yourself the pleasure - you may just need to hold back in another part of your life.


You will work for a large part of your life, but make sure that work doesn't become your life and you don't become defined by it.  Make time for yourself - work hard, play a little harder.  Work to live rather than vice versa.  


Equally, if you work hard, enjoy the fruits of your labour and ensure you spend some of your hard-earned money, whilst at the same time, putting a little aside for unforeseen circumstances.

But at the same token, live life to the full...
...and don't accept half-measures, especially when it comes to gin!


Seriously, life is too bloody short not to follow your dreams, so do what makes you happy, follow your dreams, allow yourself some pleasures and experience as much as you are physically able.


I encourage you occasionally to be selfish and indulge yourself  (but find balance in this too!)


In short, live every day as if it was your last.

Don't be dependent on anyone...

...but don't shut people out of your life either.  It is empowering to accomplish skills but asking for help should not be seen as a weakness.


It is great to be capable and independent, but we all need to lean on people once in a while. Again, it goes back to finding balance in life. 


If you don't ask...
...you don't get.  Or as my wise old grandfather said to me "a no you've always got, but a yes, maybe".  


So don't be afraid to ask the question, just be prepared for the fact the answer may not be what you were hoping for.  As my grandfather also used to say:


"expect the worst and hope for the best".

Love with all your heart...
...throw yourself into love, otherwise there is no point.  Love should be all-consuming to the point you feel you cannot breathe without the other person in your life.


Tell that person how much they mean to you, at least once day.  In fact, never let them forget their significance in your life by giving them little gifts and making bold gestures, just because.  Don't wait for a milestone anniversary - everyday is an anniversary and should be celebrated as such. Crack open a bottle of bubbly and drink it in a candlelit bath together, just for the sheer hell of it. Romance is a key component of loving with all your heart.


Laugh together and don't be afraid to cry together too.  Revel in that person being the last one you see at night and the first you see in the morning.  Tell each other everything but enjoy shared silences too. Confide in each other, share your secrets, dreams, fantasies, ambitions and goals.  


Don't love to the exclusion of others - friends outside the relationship are important - but if one of you has been out with friends, be breathless with the anticipation of seeing each other again.


Be physically demonstrative - hug, kiss, touch, feel and caress - and be in touch with your emotions too - recognise when they're sad, stressed or angry.




I am not a religious person, but these words from the Shema (the Jewish equivalent of the Lord's Prayer) sum it up perfectly for me:


"Love...with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength".




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