Montano painting Writings

Letter to my niece

From my niece via FB:

I was going through my storage unit today trying to find some more treasures to stock our estate sale with (it’s this Sunday!) and found an amazing letter written to me by my Aunt Jennifer Chenoweth my senior year of high school. Her advice – which as a dumb-stupid teenager I barely listened to – was so incredibly profound and wise. Maybe someone else can benefit from it.

Dated: September 24, 2000

Grace,
When you are planning your future, and don’t yet know about long term consequences, it is hard to imagine how important the planning is. Imagine you are building a several story building and your teens and twenties are your foundation. Each year after that is a new story of the building. If you do not plan for sustainable growth, the building will be unstable – no fire escapes, no stairs between floors, not enough protection from elements when there is a big storm to weather.
So what kind of building do you want to build? What do you need?
You really will live past 25, and 35, and 55. You will want to be stable for yourself and your children. You will want to be someone who is loved uniquely by your chosen mate. You will want to be able to choose your choices, not be led or forced into them. You will not want to make the same mistakes as your parents and their parents.
To do this, your building needs to be strong and sensible, aesthetically interesting and thoughtful to sustain your interest for a long time. Your life is a long time. You will wake up every day in the building that you made – if it is chilly, or cracking, you will spend more years repairing the damage than building and planning carefully the first time.
So as you put together all the parts of your life, make sure you build well because everything else gets built on top.
– Your love relationships
– Your friendships
– Your body
– Your education
– Your financial stability
And everything you choose now will direct the beginning, the foundation of your every day. Take care of yourself for the long run by taking care of yourself now. Take risks, but do yourself no harm on purpose. Troubles will come enough on their own. Your education is *really* important. Ask everyone all kinds of questions in order to find out everything you can. It really matters. *You really matter.*
Love, your Aunt Jen

I wish I had listened better, but looking back, I am proud of the life I have built, regardless of the mistakes I made and the failures and hardships I experienced. Everyone needs an Aunt Jennifer that is looking out for them, but if you don’t have one, you can borrow mine because she’s pretty amazing.