My daughter is graduating from college today. Like I have heard so many others say, I can’t believe this is happening. Where did all the time go? I am bursting with pride, joy, and that bittersweet longing for days gone by. As I consider her life that is just beginning with such sweet promise, I think of all the things I hope I told her. I hope I taught her practical things like how to sew a button on her coat, make her favorite cake, and manage her checkbook. Mostly, I hope I have given her the guidance she needs to navigate life. These are the things I believe empower women to live their best lives. They include the following…

1 – March to your own drum. Your rhythm is the only dance that will come naturally and it is the one that you instinctively know.

2 – You are valuable because you are you. It’s not your size, IQ, weight, who you know, income, blah blah blah. It is who you ARE.

3 – Be kind and gentle with others. We are all in this together and everyone is trying to get it right.

4 – Find something beautiful in the everyday. Life is full of hum-drum routine and tasks, but look for the beauty. It will give your life meaning and spark. It will also feel good, and life is meant to feel good.

5 – Laugh a lot – deep belly laughs. Life is full of humor and it is ok to enjoy and engage with it.

6 – Surround yourself with people who are positive and open-minded. Get to know people who challenge, and still accept, your thoughts and ideas. Please please please keep people who disagree with you in your inner circle. They will provide such an opportunity to learn and discover yourself and other ways of thinking.

7 – Take chances. The really good stuff in life, the stuff your dreams are made of, is in the deep end. The shallow end is safe and often comfortable, but it won’t satisfy your soul.

8 – I promise you there’s no such thing as permanent failure. You won’t hit the mark every time. No one does. Let the experiences that will come teach you and do not own the title “failure”. It’s too painful and will keep you from trying the next time. Be a good student in life school because the learning doesn’t end today.

9 – The “what ifs” in our heads often don’t happen. They are easy to believe, but they rarely happen, and when they do they aren’t as bad as we have imagined. Try to think about “what if it works out”?

10 – Ask for what you need and believe you deserve in life. Don’t expect it to fall in your lap. Claim your space.

11 – The world needs your voice. You bring unique gifts to this world. Don’t cheat yourself or others by playing it small.

12 – Dream. Dream Bigger. And Bigger still. Our dreams keep life exciting and propel us forward. Schedule regular time to dream about your ideal life.

13 – Nurture the creative piece of you. That part often holds answers to the hard questions of life. Don’t let it stagnate.

14 – Place value on the friendships you have with women. Keep a strong tribe of women who know what it means to be authentic, and who love and appreciate the authentic you.

15- Don’t settle. Enough said about that. Just don’t.

16 – Take care of your body. Love all the pieces, no matter what shape, size, or condition they may currently be in. You don’t get another one and the one you have is spectacular.

17 – Spend time outside. Breathe the fresh air, notice the life around you, and let it help center you.

18 – Perfection is overrated, unachievable, and unattractive. Find balance instead and go easy on yourself.

19 – Genuineness is inviting, appealing and brave. Don’t be afraid to be real with people. That’s where legitimate connections happen.

20 – Pray. Meditate. Find your spiritual space. Learn to be still and listen to the voice inside. It is a quiet voice and requires stillness to be heard, but it is worth the effort. Your inner voice knows what to do and when. Let that voice be the strongest one you hear.

21 – And then there is love… It can heal, it can hurt, but it is always beautiful. Some relationships will end, and some loves will leave, and that is ok. Some will last forever and that is ok. Love given and received is always real. Hold it in a sacred place in your heart. Choose someone who understands equality and partnership. See number 14.

My desire for you, and for all women, is to know how stunning you are, right here, right now, just as you are. Enjoy the journey ahead!

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