Life, Personal Development

Hand-Me-Down (A Past Manifesto)

I’m here for the hard times
The straight-to-your-heart times…
Matchbox 20, Hand Me Down

I was digging through my boxes of writing over the weekend, searching for my poetry and old short stories that I had written in my creative writing workshops in college. When I came across this, I couldn’t help but think it was my very own “Time in a bottle” — or, rather, Time in a ragged cardboard box. I sat down on the edge of the guest-bed, writing portfolio opened in my lap, all of the other words forgotten as I read these few over and again.

How could it have been so simple then, these lessons that I find myself repeating now? Or maybe it’s just that I make it all so hard, that I never learned the first go-round.

I’m not sure what it was meant to be —  a poem, perhaps? A self-manifesto? A guide for a future that seemed so uncertain and so full of challenges? Could I have known then what I’d go through a year, two years, five years down that line?

Could I have known then that I needed this now?

And can I keep it now…so I remember it forever?

Let me keep it now, so I remember it always.




December 2005


  1. Remember your best friends from childhood.
    Remember the carnivals you created, the games of flashlight tag on summer eves, the sleepovers and dinners and hours of make-believe. 

    Keep in your heart these memories; they’re your past, your beginning.

  2. Never hesitate to offer a shoulder to cry on or to lend a hand to help lift someone up.
    This is your strength. Own it.
  3. Never let the fear of failure stop you from trying.
    Never let the fear of rejection stop you from loving. 

    Never let fear stop you. 

    Never fear.

  4. Trust your family — they are the meaning of love…
    They are your past, present, and future support.
  5. Visit Grandma as often as you can.
    Let her reminisce — this is her life. 

    Pay attention to her stories — they are your history.

  6. Help Dad garden in the spring and Mom cook in the winter.
    This is how you build a family — planting your roots and finding your ingredients for happiness.


  7. Fight with your brothers.
    But don’t ever forget to tell them “I love you” before they walk away.
  8. Love your pets as much as they love you — unconditionally.
    Find joy as they find joy — take a nap, greet loved ones at the door

    and always be ready for a walk or play.

  9. If you don’t have a pet, beg and plead for one.
  10. If you get one, make sure it’s from a shelter.
  11. Let the wind blow tangles through your hair.
    Let your hair grow long enough to sweep the ground as you lean back on the swings. 


  12. Dance through rain puddles in your brand new shoes.
  13. Get the hems of your pants dirty playing kickball in the mud.
  14. Fall in love with the idea of love and never, under any circumstances, let anyone convince you that romance is lost…
    …that fairytales are purely fiction… 

    …that love is nothing but a waking dream… 

    …that it’s anything less than anything you want.

  15. Remain friends with your exes — they were a part of your life for a reason…
    …just as you were a part of theirs.
  16. Remember what it felt like to be in love…
    Now remember to love yourself at least that much in return.
  17. Never let anyone convince you you’re anything less than beautiful or special.
    Never believe that you deserve less than those two titles.
  18. Let Mom help you with your hair.
    Don’t scream bloody murder when she pulls too hard. 

    At least, wait until she actually touches your hair.
  19. When Mom takes you shopping, appreciate her sense of style and try not to cringe.
    If you can’t appreciate her fashion, appreciate the moment. 

    But trust her on the fashion. Unless she asks you to try on culottes. 

    Speaking of…Learn how to say no.

  20. Always let Dad have the TV remote.
    It will be a losing battle, anyway.
  21. Read your favorite books time and again.
    Read before bedtime. 

    Read between the lines.

  22. Let time stray, believe the impossible, get lost in a story…
    …the story in a book… 

    …the story of your dreams… 

    …the story of this life…
  23. Make your bed your haven, full of soft pillows and down comforters
    …and let your bare feet slide along cotton sheets.
  24. When invited out to dinner, always go.
    When invited anywhere, never second-guess yourself. 

    Don’t back out; take that step, cross that threshold. 

    Don’t think; just have fun.

  25. Remember that hope is something you always have within you.
    Even if it feels like there’s none left… 

    …Find something to hold onto. 

    There’s always something to hold onto. 

    Even if it’s only hope itself.

  26. Understand that a first love doesn’t mean the last love.
  27. Never believe that you’re too young or too old for love.
    You know what love is. 

    You feel it surround you with every heartbeat, every single day.
  28. When someone says you look like your mom, take it as a compliment, for she is your soulmate, the greatest woman you have ever known.
    And when you think real beauty, you think of her.
  29. Remember, always, the little girl of your younger years.
  30. Be proud, always, of the woman you have become.

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