Advice to my Twenty-Something Self:

I was ‘home’ in Rhode Island for less than 24 hours because my mother’s annual Christmas visit now includes travel escort service on both ends. Once your parents reach a certain age, this is as it should be, but it’s also a reminder of the passage of time and just what that means. As a side benefit my sister visited on the front end of my mother’s stay and I had the opportunity to see some friends and relatives on the back end. This doesn’t happen often now that I live over 400 miles away from ‘home’. I come from a large family and the holidays were always a big deal in more ways than one. Now we are all scattered about the country and at best only get together for weddings and funerals.

 

As the youngest of this large family, I became an aunt at ten-years-old and am now a great aunt. Scary thought. One nephew and two of my nieces now have spouses. Soon there will be more grand nephews and nieces. I often think of my nieces and nephews as being perpetually in their twenties, but now, some are approaching their thirties. Yikes. Twenty years can disappear just like that.

 

One of my nieces just passed the bar exam and is now working at a law practice. I was listening to her talk about her life which is really just beginning and it got me thinking. In my twenties all I wanted was to have ‘life experiences’. Now in my forties, I just want time to slow down or to stop altogether. Sometimes it feels like I sprinted through life, anxious to complete the next thing on some invisible list. I rarely cast a look over my shoulder fearful that was behind me might try to hold me back. It’s OK. This is what we are supposed to do when we are young. Live. Have no regrets. There is plenty of time later to ruminate.

 

But if I could go back and advise my younger self, there are few things I would tell her:

 

  1. Money is a means to an end and nothing more. Learn how to save it. If you are fortunate enough to have a good job, max out your 401K from the start. You’ll need that money later. Trust me.
  2. Live within or below your means. ‘Stuff’ will not make you happy it will only burden you.
  3. Never say never! You will eat those words so often you’ll begin to choke on them.
  4. Love is all that matters. Marry for love. Marry your best friend. You might be poor, but you will be happy and you’ll find a way to survive, together. It still won’t be perfect but you will be happier than many others.
  5. Give to charity. Self explanatory. No matter how little you have, someone else almost always has less and could use some help. Sometimes a little kindness is all a person needs to get back on their feet and moving forward again.
  6. Have children. A career is a wonderful thing, but if you can’t manage to ‘do it all’ and you must choose one or the other, you’ll regret not having children if you really want them. They are our greatest achievements, even when we make mistakes raising them. You will have many jobs in your lifetime and several that you will never lament leaving. If having children is not possible, be the best aunt you can be to the children of your siblings and friends.
  7. Travel. It will expand your mind, teach you compassion, and open your eyes wider than any other experience ever will.
  8. Right now you are taking your young skin for granted, but your forty-something self will thank you for doing this one simple thing: Start wearing sun block every day, especially on your face and neck.
  9. Be worthy of trust. It will make you a good friend.
  10. Stop talking and do. Do something you are passionate about, even if it can only be a hobby at first. You need money to survive but you need fulfillment to be whole.
  11. Take care of your body. We each only get one and the better you treat it now, the better it will carry you later.
  12. Marriage is tough. See #4! Nothing will test your resolve more. Sometimes you will want to quit. You’ll need to decide what is and what isn’t a deal breaker. See the rest of the list, especially #3.

If I could go back and tell my younger self these things and she would likely ignore me and say, “I’ll never be as old as you”. Then I would look back at her and say, “Girl, you have so much to learn!”

Happy New Year all!

 

Like this post? Check out my page turning thriller: “Secret…”

Some Valentine’s Day Advice for Men

This one’s for the guys…and here’s why…

In a few short days, it will be Valentine’s Day. It’s that special day when women’s hearts swoon in anticipation of the thoughtful, romantic, elaborate plans thoughtfully made by their beloved.

Now let’s be honest…despite the fact that the ‘big day’ is less than a week away, most of you men have no idea what to get for your wives or girlfriends.

What? Some of you are offended? I realize there may be that random male freak of nature out there who has a beautiful night of passion planned. You sir, have my sincere apologies. Feel free to move on to other blogs. To the other 99.9%…as it’s generally understood, admit you’re clueless and read on.

These are confusing times. We women send mixed signals. I truly sympathize with the complicated, modern male predicament.

Case in point…of course she wants chocolate! If she could, she would trade you in for your weight in chocolate. However, don’t you dare give her chocolate! Unless your wife/girlfriend has a freakishly high metabolism, this is the kiss of death! If you give her chocolate, you’re not getting any! And I don’t mean chocolate. Of course that won’t be shared either.

www.eileenslovak.com
http://www.eileenslovak.com

Before you judge us, there’s a reason why women love chocolate. It actually creates the same chemical reaction in the body as love. It’s not half bad as a substitute.

You may even escape unscathed, let’s just say, if you were to order chocolate from one of the best chocolatiers in the world…like Maison Du Chocolat in Paris  http://www.lamaisonduchocolat.com.  A tiny, gorgeously wrapped box of minuscule, delectable, French chocolate heaven might impress your heart’s desire. Maybe you’ll be forgiven for the excess calories. Alas, it is getting late, even for express shipments from Paris.

Besides, do you really want to give her the substitute for love? Or do you want to give her love?

Why is Valentine’s Day so freaking important to women? What you have to understand is that this really has less to do with you, than you would think.

It’s a contest among women, the ‘who had the most romantic Valentine’s Day?’ contest. I blame Hollywood, but truly, it begins at work with the office flowers, the love bears, the fruit bouquets and goes downhill from there. Most of us women, don’t even want to participate in the Valentine’s Day office wars, but we have no real choice. If we slink to the back of the pack, they call us out.

“Hey, Sally. What did Jake get you for Valentine’s Day?”

Poor ‘big boned’ Sally, has two options here, to lie…or to tell the truth. Wouldn’t it be great, if just this once dear, sweet Sally had something amazing to tell? Something to make the anorexic Jennifer’s, and the bubbly Brittney’s and the saccharine Susie’s sing in unison, “AWWWWW!!!! That’s so sweet!”

Listen guy, you don’t have to be a super stud to pull this off.

OK, here’s the plan…you take that same box of Parisian or Belgian chocolates and lay them on a pillow…not just any pillow, but a pillow in a smarmy hotel…not just any hotel…but one with a Spa. If you’re broke, use points or make your own bedroom look like a spa. You pre-book Spa treatments for both of you, side by side. Her masseuse is a hot dude named Enrique and (I’m sparing you from a huge V-day fight right here) yours is a zaftig, German woman named Helga.

If you have children, YOU find and vet a suitable babysitter, plan a sleepover for the kids or even better, find a relative or trusted friend to watch the kiddos, because she won’t be able to relax if she’s worried about them.

OK. Honestly, I’m really only equipped to offer advice to the married men. We wives of multiple years, have dangerously low expectations.

Maybe your woman has a favorite singer, a favorite sports team, a favorite museum or a favorite Broadway show, whatever it is! Make it happen! Remember when you were dating? Remember how hard you tried? You know this woman better than anyone else and if you don’t, well, shame on you! Show her that knowledge. What blows her skirt up?

Maybe she really does love to play pool or air hockey and isn’t just faking it. You stage a tournament at ‘your place’. You let her win, but not obviously, so she can bellow, “I am the air hockey queen!” After which, you arrange to have her favorite song play. Better yet, you arrange to have your ‘couple’s song’ play. Even better, you find a decent singer to announce a dedication to her and have him sing the song. Best, you secretly take singing lessons and sing the song yourself. OK, that’s a bit Hollywood.  Then, you sweep her out to the dance floor and whisper something romantic in her ear. WIN, WIN!

You have a ‘light’ dinner DELIVERED and have champagne or her favorite wine, beer or soft drink on ice.

If you’re doing this at home, candles really are romantic. Do it! Just don’t burn the house down.

And…if you didn’t send them to the office, skip the bouquet of flowers, because one red rose or her favorite flower (bonus points!) given at the appropriate time is still really hot.

Most importantly, give her a totally, unique gift. This is where, if you can’t afford diamonds (because diamonds truly are forever!), you can still make a big score. A friend of mine told me her husband had a bracelet handmade for her out of recycled typewriter keys. It spelled out the acronym of their favorite romantic saying, ILUTD, “I love you to death”. Even I was like, “What??? Who does that?”

I know. It’s some tough competition. But, I have faith in you. Man-up and do this thing right.

The bottom line is…surprise her, rock her world! Do all of the planning and the thinking, just for just one night. Because she’s F***ing tired of taking care of everybody and every detail. I promise, you’ll get what we all know you really want and she’ll love you for it!