Dear 16 year old Jacki (1989),

It’s me, 24 years from where you are now, April 2 2013, the day before your 40th birthday. I wanted to write to you today because we always did like numbers with 4 & 2’s in them and I’ve been thinking about you lately. I know you never thought you would reach 40 because you never think about the future but you did make it and I’m happy to let you know life is good!

You’ve lived in three countries, earned a degree, trained as a therapist, have been married and divorced, had a career in media, started a business, travelled to 3 continents, made astonishing life-long friends from the four corners and now live in England with the best, kindest, loving, funny, talented guy you have ever known. And you’re a wicked step-mom to two amazing boys and humom to two lovely kitties.

But back to you… you’re 16, your probably walking through Central Park listening to Hatful of Hollow or a mixed tape on your red walkman, wearing your much loved navy blue pull over from the Gap, cut off Levi shorts, a pair of blue Keds or purple Vans, your hair is mid-length, you’re not wearing glasses anymore, you’ve got two blonde-haired besties, a sweet boyfriend and a cool but critical, scathingly- funny, scarily-smart group of friends. You’re the perfect mix of action-longing-for, small-town-bored, teenage invincibility and soft-centered, naive-vulnerability and insecurity.

Do not be annoyed that everyone you know has got their driving license except you. You will get it eventually and when you do you will be driving on the other side of the road, on the other side of the car, all over Europe. So in your face one…long…boring…highway country!

Tomorrow your friends are going to do something you never thought they cared enough to do – it involves a boob tube, N.W.A. and Nikki’s house.

The friendships you have now are some of the most important relationships you will ever have. These are the people who will just know you, whether you or they like it or not. I will say no more about it except, have fun! You are seriously pretty serious for 16, let your guard down, have some fun.

You won’t know this but you are on the precipice of everything changing; in a few years time, your friends will have moved on, most of your family will have moved out and you will lose who you are before it was rooted.

You will be looking for love, approval and acceptance. In the fridge, the bar, in people who didn’t deserve it. You settled. I’m not going to lie, the next decade and a bit, is going to be rough.

If I could go back and give you some guidance this is it: stop hating, stop judging, stop being upset that you don’t know what you are doing or where you are going or what you want to do with your life. Just stop.

You are in survival mode and you will be for a long time. And even when you come out of survival mode, you still don’t know much for sure, I don’t think anyone really does, but you will learn to trust yourself.

You are doing the best you can with the skills and belief you have. And those times when you didn’t do the best you could? You do change it… or… you run away, which you learn isn’t the best tactic but for now it’s your default mode.

Be easier on yourself, right now you are a product of your nature and environment. And for many reasons it isn’t always the most stable, so go easy…

You won’t understand what your boundaries are until they are crossed, you don’t know what your values are until they are tested and you won’t know what you deserve until you live through what you don’t, that’s just the way it is and trust me, it’s better this way.

You will find your way, these lessons teach you to hear and heed your instincts and you survive with your empathy and heart intact.

Everybody who has lived longer would probably tell you the same thing and maybe they already have and we didn’t listen, please listen – don’t take your family for granted. I know right now Christmas dinner, Thanksgiving, Easter and family get togethers are the required norm but in the not too distant future, more of your family is going to be gone than is fair, natural, or understandable.

Live every single one of these occasions with the exuberance of it being the first time because one of those incidental, seemingly inconsequential, annual visits will be the last time.

Stop worrying about your teeth! You do get braces, (twice actually) and they still stick out but they are straight. You are not fat! Over the next decade you will gain weight, you will also lose weight. This lose/gain thing is in direct correlation to how you are feeling.

Focus on being fit and doing things you like, like snowboarding, yup this is year you learn to snowboard! and it’s pretty dam fun and as we already discussed you need to have more fun. Thank you for following Tam by stopping eating some animals. We eventually become vegan, it’s one of the best things we ever do and it started with you.

I haven’t written us a ‘things to do before I’m 40 list’, it’s kinda late for that anyway. We have lived a full-on-life so far and any regrets we have are around our beliefs, or lack of, but we had to go through that to grow so it’s not really a regret, let’s call it re-grecessary.

What I have been remembering is what you wrote in CALM (Career and Life Management Class). Oh that’s just reminded me; remember that test you did to see what career you are most suited for? Well you do not become a clown or hospital administration executive. The three things you wanted to do in your life? Remember what you wrote?

01 | Live in New York

02 | Meet Morrissey

03 | See humpback whales

You do see humpback whales, very soon you are going to Kauai with Lesley! It is as beautiful and breath-taking as you imagine. Other life-changing events happen there too that teach you about friendship, integrity, honesty and responsibility but that’s all I’m going to say. You will see, you will do, you will be sorry, and you will learn.

There is no way to break this to you gently- we haven’t met Morrissey and the Smiths haven’t gotten back together, not even for a tiny reunion tour.

Don’t be disappointed. I know you really idolize him but it’s not such a life goal anymore, you’ll understand what I mean soon.

And live in New York? Not yet. But we (the boyfriend and I) are meeting Mom and the sisters in a few weeks time to celebrate our 40th birthday in NYC. It’s the first time just the four us have been on holiday together ever! So we are still having first’s at 40…

I think you’ll be very happy with where you are now and who you’ve become. With 24 years of hard-earned wisdom and experience, we are poised-ready to plan and create what’s to come in the next 24, isn’t that exciting?

One last thing when things get rough, this is our new go to song (it replaced Asleep, when we got happier)…Jx


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