Dear Olivia

Dear Olivia,

You are my one of a kind. When I think of the things you have endured, it makes me proud that you have overcome everything to be a very unique individual. I know that because of your struggles you will be a strong adult.

Mentally, emotionally, physically I don’t know that there is a person in the world that is more like me. That comes with its consequences and its rewards. Some of those you will learn on your own. Since I see a lot of me in you, I wanted to share some things that I would tell my 18 year old self:

  1. Don’t be afraid to fail. It sounds like a cliché but it is very true. Trying things that you are not good at enriches your life in countless ways. It makes your brain grow, it makes you more confident, and it increases your ability to handle setbacks and frustration.
  2. Be yourself. I’m still learning this and you could probably teach me a few things in this area. Swim against the current with confidence that you know where you are going.
  3. Believe in your power to figure things out. I think this is where public education fails us as adults. No one ever expects us to think through problems so we never gain that ability. As I have gotten older I have learned a lot by making the decision that I am going to figure things out on my own.
  4. Bring the Joy! I have to be reminded to do this at times. Being happy is a conscience choice that we have to make every day. Sometimes it is easy and sometimes it is not. It is possible not only to be happy but also to spread happiness every day.
  5. Tip generously! Nothing says more about your character than the way you treat people when you have nothing to gain.
  6. Possibilities are everywhere! Your life from now on is all about possibilities. Anything is possible if you aren’t afraid to go after it.
  7. Relationships are everything! Good, true relationships are what connects the world. Not just close relationships but positive connections that you make can make the difference in achieving your dreams.

Today marks the beginning of your future. Grab onto it with both hands and don’t let go. While there will be tears today, know that this is a stepping stone in your life to bigger and better things. I know that you have a ton of untapped potential. I have seen you grow incredibly in the last couple of years but I truly believe that you have inside you great possibilities.

In the years to come you will become a more independent woman. You will begin to need me less and less. That is what I hope for. That is what I want for you. You are a strong, independent person who will fly as far as she sees fit. Remember that but also always remember that your dad is only a phone call away.

Love,

Dad

 

“When we walk to the edge of all the light we have and take a step into the darkness of the unknown, we must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for us to stand on or we will be taught to fly.”
― Patrick Overton

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For Hattie on Graduation

When I think about everything that has happened over the last 18 years, I am amused, honored and amazed. I know it is cliche but it really does go fast. If I only had one piece of advice for you it would be this:  Live in the moment! Don’t forget that this is the only life that you have and probably the most important thing is to suck the joy, pain, fun, sadness out of every moment. All of those things are what makes us who we are and they all have a purpose. One of the few regrets in life is that I worried about important moments and never really sat back and felt them. Living the moment is important.

 

I also want to say that you have come a long way, from a student who experienced some early difficulties to an honor student and a member of the National Honor Society – I never would have guessed it. That is the thing that I am most proud of today. Your athletic ability was a gift to me that made my life more enjoyable over the past several years but truly your hard work academically impresses me so much more. No one gets to have everything but you went out and worked to get what you needed; what you wanted. Being gritty is important.

 

One thing that I want you to know about today: This is your graduation from high school. It is a great thing to celebrate but remember it is only an interval of where you are going. For some kids today may be the apex of their lives. For you, my hope is that you will understand that this is but one major event in your life and the greatness will continue. Mackenzie’s Nono, Mr. B, once told our class that if he saw us in ten years walking down the sidewalk with our varsity jackets on he would know that he had failed. He wanted high school to be our springboard into great futures. All the high school accomplishments are considerable but they don’t amount to anything in the real world if you don’t continue to grow. Growing is important!

I love you and like any parent I want you to have it all. Over the next few years you will grow more and more independent. You will continue to live every moment, you will continue to be gritty and you will continue to grow. Through all of that remember that I am always here for you but not as a crutch. Your life from now on will be what you choose to make of it. Make good choices, make good friends, and make good connections. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, don’t be afraid to take chances, don’t be afraid to live out loud but always remember that your dad is only a phone call away and he will always be your biggest fan.