To my incredible sister, Grace,

It  feels like forever ago when we got our faces painted at Halloween and you turned me in to a zombie by wrapping me in toilet paper. Now here you are, sixteen and nearly done with high school, dancing the night away at Prom and getting ready for your first job. I’m so grateful that we were brought together over eight years ago and have been watching you in awe, as you tackle each new challenge with grace and courage. So here it is, my advice for you, as your sister, with love.

Make plans in pencil and not permanent marker, then forge ahead. Things will not always work out the way you hope. Pick yourself up. Dust yourself off. Start again.

Be open to change. Change can be painful and a good thing all at once. Adapt and roll with the punches. Trust me on this one, start practicing now and never stop. It will make you better in your career, your relationships and in the ways you interact with the world.

Invent and reinvent yourself.

Approach social media with respect and caution. You are growing up in a world where privacy is pretty much nonexistent. Everything you do is posted, recorded, snapped. Don’t get me wrong, I love it–this is the way we live now, there’s no going back. But understand that people are watching. What you post on the internet doesn’t go away. It’s really hard to undo social media mistakes. Not everything is worth posting.

Another thing about social media–don’t let it make you feel bad. People post their best selves online. They show the happy, romantic, sexy, beautiful moments, full of filters and staged poses. Not many people share the ugly moments, the mistakes, the failures and embarrassments and the tough lessons. Just remember, we all have them. We All Have Them.

Believe in love. It’s real and the world is full of it. Don’t be afraid of a broken heart. It gives you character.

Give yourself permission to be sensitive. You’ll hear that sensitivity is a bad thing. You’ll be told not to let people see you cry and to not let your guard down or you’ll get hurt. This is nonsense. It takes courage to be sensitive and guts to let your guard down. Only the bravest of people can do these things. You are brave.

Read a lot of books. It’s okay to rip the dust covers off of them–there’s often something beautiful underneath. Underline the words that touch you, the phrases that make sense, the paragraphs that shape you. Don’t just stop at books. Read everything. Everything you can.

Have many points of view. I have to relearn this every day. It’s easy to get stuck seeing the world one way. But good things come from perspective.

Try not to let people down but don’t sacrifice your own well-being. Trust your intuition and you’ll continue to get better at it. Have high standards and resist the urge to compromise your core beliefs. You have every right to say yes, to say no, to quit, to be seen, to be heard, to take your time, to change your mind. Life meets you where you honour yourself.

Home is not a place, it’s a feeling. You’re going to make new friends and have new experiences in the years ahead. Stay close to your family and love them unconditionally. You and I have a special understanding of what family truly is, remember that.

You’re going to screw up. I have made many mistakes, some bigger than others. It hurts, but perfection is not an option, so prepare yourself. “They” say that it’s not the mistakes you make that define you, but the way you deal with them. Embrace your failures and don’t regret them. The toughest moments, not the easy ones, will propel you to be incredible.

Love yourself. Don’t let the bad hair day, the “huge” pimple, the bad grade, or the criticizing boyfriend make you think anything less of the incredible person you are. And as you do this, remember not to put others down either. Be kind and generous, and never assume you know what someone else is going through.

Trust your intuition. Fight for the good things in this world. Forgive people. Choose happiness. Don’t grow up too fast. Be proud of who you are. Shine. Shine big. Take chances and do good things for those around you. And remember, dear Grace, I will always be on your side; you are never alone.





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