Friday, April 24, 2020

Flash NON-Fiction (not a) contest

Hey Janet,

Because I am one of the elderly people with underlying health conditions which pushes me to the top of the list of the coronavirus vulnerable I’ve been contemplating my place in the world. As lives are tragically lost in unimaginable numbers I find myself often pondering the inspiration, influence and love of other human beings lost in a plume of breath last taken.

After my brush with eternity last year I thought - what if I could go back. What would I say to my struggling younger self that would assure her then, that she would experience a life well lived now?

And suppose I did that in 100 words or less.
You know where I’m going here. Yes, a non-fiction contest.

Encouragement, assurance, sympathy what would you say to your younger self regarding your journey? Flatten life’s speed bumps or pedal to the metal?

The prize? No prize. No judging. Simply a chance to share with reiders a personal moment during crazy tines while visiting the safety of the reif. (Perhaps you could join in).

Stay well stay safe,


This seems like an interesting twist on our flash fiction contests!
 A day to write/revise.

Comments open at 5am Saturday (4/25), close Sunday at 9am(4/26).

100 words of advice to your younger self.

Post your entry in the comment column below. POST ONLY the entry (no comments on the entries yet)

Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid

Not yet!

Sorry, deadline passed!


Kitty said...

Dear Younger Me,

I’m not doing what I thought I’d be doing when I was your age. I’ve piled up some mistakes along the way and more than a few regrets. But I’ve learned from my mistakes, and I’ve reconciled my regrets. If I had the opportunity to know then what I know now, I wouldn’t want to know. I value my life’s lessons. I’m older and wiser now and doing just fine. You should find your own way in life. Live by the golden rule and you’ll do just fine, too.


The Older and Wiser Me

Nelly Mosstaghimi said...

Dear Nelly: Mom gets meningitis in the fall of 2015 (telltale symptom: stiff neck). It went undiagnosed for too long and she almost died. You and your sister still blame yourselves. It started as a bladder infection. You visited and noticed she wasn’t herself. You tucked her into bed and left. She should have been taken to the hospital. This is one of the few things you wish you could change. Here’s your chance. Proof it’s me: Mike Castellano is your best friend who you secretly think you’ll marry one day. P.S. I’m 36 and really happy. Keep studying.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

I thought about this quite a bit yesterday. I'm still thinking about it and I'm still not really sure what I would say to my younger self (I'm 62). I know what I wouldn't say - it wouldn't be about coping better with life events or having no regrets over missed opportunities or avoiding dumb mistakes (well, except maybe that particularly unfortunate incident down at the lake the summer of 1972 - it would've been nice to avoid that).

For me, I would want to impress upon my younger self just how fast life goes by. Really, really grasp that it is the blink of an eye. Don't ever say, "I'll be happy when this or that happens." No. Be present and mindful right now. Grab life with everything you have, give it everything you have. Expect highs and lows, failure and soaring success, tears, laughter, sorrow and joy...and don't take any of it for granted.

The purpose of life is to live a life of purpose.

Mallory Love said...

Live in the moment. Because that’s all it is: a moment. Those people you’re surrounded by right now? Some will be gone in the next few years. Hug them. Memorize their laugh. Chisel this scene, this feeling, in your soul. There will be a time later that this moment will see you through the depression, the silence, the despair. Go to the places you want to see today. Someday soon, one of them will collapse; another will burn. Enjoy the memories while you can make them. In the end, despite everything, they will be the most valuable thing you own.

Timothy Lowe said...

Ten Lessons for a Past Self, at Ten Words or Less:

1) Your story matters more than your words.
2) Tough situations showcase character.
3) You will remember every important conversation — not the fights.
4) Letting people in is faster than getting people out.
5) Remember how you feel right now, at this moment.
6) Stop worrying about what anybody else thinks.
7) The people right next to you are all you have.
8) Throw out every mirror in the house; you’ll be happier.
9) Nothing is harder than writing lessons for a past self.
10) You have to have one eleven word lesson. Fuck the rules.

french sojourn said...

Hey; it’s me, you.

I am sending this letter to read on December 6th, 1996.

Congrats!! It’s a girl. You / me and Cindy have named her Caleigh… and yes, she grows into that name wonderfully. She’ll get a degree from a University in Bordeaux…see we all moved to France in 2010.

Listen… lighten up, she’s incredible. Take Mom’s overbearing parenting skills to your grave, don’t pass them on to Caleigh.

I almost told you to buy stock in Apple in 1978, but you might have fucked up the chance of having Caleigh as your daughter.

Actually, yes… you would have.

Stephen G Parks said...

The path is long and with sadness starts
Don’t chase the dark tower,
but abide by your arts

The road is strange, only as wide as your soul
You’ll lose hostages to fortune
Your heart won’t be whole

Soulful expressions deeply felt
need embracing, freedom,
to be dealt

Repent and repair
Do and dare

Such a desperate fool, yet
Angels watch over you

Finally, it’s true:
My friend, you’ll be happy in the end.

Barbara Etlin said...

Dear Younger Barb,

Keep your diary. You'll be a writer eventually and you'll regret throwing it away.

Your father is wrong about the Beatles but he is right about almost everything else.

You can do math despite your grades. You just find it boring.

Even the worst experience and the meanest people can be writing material.

Travel as much as you can now while you still have your health.

Take more photos of family and friends. Keep printed photos. Don't put important memories exclusively onto technology that will disappear.

Keep paper copies of all your writing. One day floppy discs will be unusable.

You'll go on a lot of blind dates. Most will be okay, a few good, one horrid-but-hilarious (good material!), and you'll hit the jackpot with one.

Keep up your fitness routine. But avoid the high-impact aerobics (jogging, skipping, step aerobics) and protect your knees.



Carolynnwith2Ns said...

I would tell my twenty-three year old self that loneliness is all encompassing and deadly. I would say you will be loved, you will marry, have children, and grandchildren. You will share via words your amazing life. Get up, I’d say, and look for wonder.

I rose. I looked at the sky through tears and saw a shooting star.
That perfectly timed phenomenon was an exclamation point ending my despair.

And then I thought: when I am old I will go back and be a flash across the sky that changes my life.
And so I did.

Colin Smith said...

Spoiler: You make it to fifty. But don’t get complacent. You’ve got curveballs coming, so some words of advice:

Do well the things you can. Don’t sweat over the things you can’t.

This mortal life is important, but never forget that it’s just preparation—your three minutes in the green room before eternity.

It doesn’t matter if you’re popular. It doesn’t matter if you’re successful. It doesn’t matter if you’re loved. These things are nice, but they can become idols. The only thing that really matters is being faithful.

Oh, and about the hair... wait till you see your brothers!

Ilka said...

- There is no need to be ashamed. You don't need judgmental people anyway.
- Don't judge. We all do our best. Even if our best stinks sometimes.
- If you have to fight for it, it is not love.
- Don't try to be cool. You're not.
- Be curious and passionate. That is way more fun.
- Call grandma.
- Wear sunscreen.
- Besides that, wear anything you like.
- Dance as often as you can.
- I don't know yet what will happen afterwards, but at 38 you will be pretty happy.

Mary said...

Hey you wild thing,
I'm supposed to tell you to stay out of the sun. To get a real job and stop traveling across the country like a nomad. I should warn you not to fall in love with a smoke jumper, and for the love of God stay off the ocean when there are big swells.
But the hell with it. Live your messy complicated life, because later, when it is more like a calm sea, you'll be glad you almost died more than once. You'll look at the scars on your skin and your heart and know you never held back, not even one time.

Craig F said...

CHS Grad 1974

Your first economic road block. Don’t worry too much, you will meet four others by the time you reach me. The world never stops, the sun always rises.

You can’t bypass these troubles, but do try the detours and tilt at windmills when possible, it’s the missed chances that will haunt you most.

Exercise and brush your teeth. Get a hand truck because you will accumulate baggage. Keep it near you. Some assholes will try to steal it, others will call it trash and some think you a mad bomber. The perspective gained is priceless,

CynthiaMc said...

Hey Kiddo,

I know you have your life perfectly planned - a degree in music performance with theatre on the side, Broadway, maybe Hollywood. In between shows you'll write books and screenplays. It's a good plan.

But you're about to meet a supercute trumpet player and he'll offer you a grand adventure that will take you all over the world.

I know you're a thinker and a planner, but don't be afraid to follow your heart.

It'll work out.

I promise.

Fearless Reider said...

You will not fail.
When you fail, it will be OK.
When it’s not OK, it will still, somehow, be OK.

You’ll lose people. I’m not going to tell you who, or when. Treat them all as if this moment is all you’ll get. Except when you don’t, because you won’t. You'll get impatient and irritable and bored. You’ll feel aggrieved and entitled and put upon.
You’ll be forgiven.

And that farm boy down the hall? The one who wore his shit-kickers to the winter ball? He’ll get you through it all. His sartorial choices will not improve. Oh, well.

Jenn Griffin said...

Lift your head high and cast your senses wide.

Speak so that your soul shows;
Observe and respect, no matter what, who.
Create so that your spirit glows;
Honor your instinct, all golden and true.

Kelly said...

Go ahead and eat the gluten. I know you worry about sh*tting yourself. When it finally happens, it won’t be nearly as humiliating as you think it will. The first time is because of beets and the second time is food poisoning. And it won’t make you wholly undesirable. On the contrary, by the time it happens, you have a husband who loves you. And, most importantly, who sh*t his pants first, in Las Vegas, multiple times, in exponential and explosive ways during your first month of marriage. Four years later, you’re still laughing about it. Together.

John Davis Frain said...

Soon as I figure out this grand experiment, young John, I’ll pass along my conclusions.

Meantime, I bestow upon you 22 leftover words.

Until you meet Janet Reid, you’ll never understand their value.

After, you’ll never find a way to repay me.

Meet her sooner than later.

And for the love of all that is good, between those novels, read a how-to book on parenting.

P.S. I’ll never figure out this grand experiment. You’re on your own. Enjoy!

Steve Forti said...

Yeah yeah, hang in there, things will be fine and all. I don't have any words of wisdom for you. Just please, if you're reading this in late 2011, DO NOT pick up that old snowblower by yourself. Just. Do. Not.

Beth Carpenter said...

Don’t be afraid to try. You’re smart, you can learn, and embarrassment’s seldom fatal. Big secret: nobody else knows what they’re doing, either. When someone says it MUST be done this way, even if they’re right, they’re wrong. Build on their experience. But be kind; they’re feeling their way, too.

charlogo said...

Dear Young Self,
When I think about your future, I desperately want to make a spreadsheet. I know you don’t like surprises. Instead, I simply say trust your instincts, especially after it becomes obvious that you can’t control everything. Too many variables. Would I love to save you from hard times? Yes. And they’re coming. But changing the details might alter your future happiness. And you will end up happier than you can imagine. Remember: relationships are everything. The only thing.
P.S. Please be gentle with yourself. And in 2019, use your tax refund to buy a chest freezer.

Katja said...

Me in 10, 20 years or whatever time from now might say to now-me:

You know you want to do it. You know you want to phone him. But you realise you are scared of him - that powerful, overbearing man. After more than ten years of not seeing him, not even speaking to him, you're scared of hearing his voice. Still.

And one thing makes it worse: Your OCD. It tells you not to make contact, because your own roots are putrid - they make you dirty. Even NOT thinking about it is compulsive.

But you also know that he is the 'key'. I know, you've tried before. Again and again. And we BOTH know he isn't going to change.

Now you remember that woman, back in Paris, in 2013: "You will have to forgive him one day! Write him a letter, don't send it off but flush it down the toilet."
You've written a book, and you want to tell him.

But be careful: anger is not the answer. It is eating you up. You are flirting with that woman's wise words now, because you're starting to understand.
You will find a way; you will be stronger than your fears. Because you know that one day, it could be too late. For both of you.

There is light, defined by darkness.

You will need to give your heart a kick and open it up to be able to forgive.

Let it go... that anger... it is time for YOU to take that 'key' and get ready to phone your ageing father.

(Should I, Reef?)

theblondepi said...

You don’t actually have all the time in the world. It seems like that when you’re out in Hollywood and it’s Saturday night and anything can happen; get up the next morning and get to work.

Yes, you’re a better actress than the person eventually cast in the part; but they worked harder on their audition, and it showed.

All of this stuff you’re doing¬—the parties, the laughs, the good times—is you being afraid of being successful. Stop that.

Oh—and he isn’t worth it. But someone else is; give him a chance, or you’ll end up alone.

Laura Stegman said...

1. "There is no age limit to my dreams." – Twitter post
2. "My imperfections and failures are as much a blessing from God as my success and my talents..." Ghandi
3. "What it's about is not giving up. If you have a dream, fight for it. There's a discipline for passion. And it's not about how many times you get rejected or you fall down or you're beaten up. It's about how many times you stand up and are brave and you keep going." Lady Gaga
4. "In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity." Albert Einstein

Stay strong, work hard and believe. Miracles happen.

LynnRodz said...

The beginning was rough (daily bullying) but thank God for a loving family and in the end it's made you stronger. You worry that you'll never be loved and your dreams of travel will only be dreams. Let me reassure you, you have nothing to fear. Loves and travels will far exceed your own expectations.

When you look back upon your life you'll be able to best describe it as one big party. Not many people can say that. You'll live for today and not worry about tomorrow, therefore regrets will be few - only two, okay three.

In 1973 stay home with dad, spend those last months with him as you use to talking about music, literature, art, the guitar together instead of partying in Paris.

Don't make the mistake of not saying the words, I love you when your emotions are there and you want nothing more than to say them, but hold them back.

The third I'll let you make that choice with the hopes you'll make the right one.

Finally, if you don't want to stare death in the face, don't hitchhike in 1969 from L.A. to San Francisco for the Rolling Stone concert and in 2009 don't let friends talk you into going sailing on the Atlantic, always listen to your intuition.

Otherwise, be happy knowing you'll have an incredible life this far.

Just Jan said...


1. Take a writing course (or two) in college.
2. Be compassionate to your siblings. They’re still trying to process all the stuff that happened before you were born. (Don’t ask. You’ll find out eventually.)
3. Trust your intuition. It won’t let you down.
4. ALWAYS take the cannolis.

nightsmusic said...

You knew at the altar you should have run. In ten days the truth to come out, that he never loved you.

Cars have been your life. Keep building and racing them. Don, Shirley, Phil all encouraged you, but life intervened.

Take that large inheritance and move to the country.

Continue to sing. It was a good paying gig and you loved it. You might have gone somewhere with it.

Forgive yourself and quit tripping over the mountains behind you.

Grab your dreams and follow them. You’ll get one wrinkle in time and then the opportunity will be gone.

Megan V said...

Dear younger me,

You are going to make decisions because that’s life. Big decisions, small decisions—so many decisions that will affect that day and every day after for the rest of your life. I know there are some decisions that you are going to want to change. But I’m not going to help you do that. Because all those decisions—good, bad, and really bad—they are the things that you learn from, the things that make you a better person, even if they don’t always make you a happier one. This is true for pretty much everyone. we are always learning always changing and growing. We all make mistakes. So don’t be afraid to cut people some slack sometimes. Including yourself. You don’t need to worry as much as you are.

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...

Young me,

Embrace your weird sense of humor. That's what will get you through the hard times.

Protect yourself from your fears. You are stronger than you think.

Forgive yourself. You are only human.

Don't worry too much about your kids, they will turn out great.

Don't worry too much about your husband. He really likes you. Inspite know.

You wouldn't believe this, but yeah, you and your family will live in Canada. I know, right?

And this one will blow your mind. Ready? You'll write that book you've been keeping inside you. Yep.

Just don't weaken, okay? Happiness will find you.

Panda in Chief said...

To younger me:

Take chances.
Listen to the voice in your head that says “YES! …What if…”
Don’t listen to voices that say what you want is impossible.
Don’t wait for permission.
The cost of a trip to Italy is the same whether or not you worry about the cost.

Walk away from toxic people; you won’t change them, but they’ll try to change you,
and not for the better.
Hang out with people who appreciate you.
Pay attention to what and who makes you happy.
Stay connected to those you love.
Watch panda videos.
Take chances.

Ly Kesse said...

Dear Ly:

Do NOT move the horse to the Washburn barn in 2015. Abused, the horse will throw you and cause an arterial head trauma, susceptible to an aneurysm later when you lock down that great job at Gunlocke for two whole weeks in 2016.

Not only will the aneurysm screw everything up physically (and career-wise too), your son will abandon you because he can't handle 'the non-responsive mother.' Never mind that he abandons you after the shunt is inserted and you return to a more normal version of yourself.

You were winning then.

Karen McCoy said...

I see you

Chasing boys from afar

They transform into phantoms

Without giving you the acceptance you crave

Or explaining the disconnect you feel

Reshaped into boxes that aren’t yours

Afraid to crack a smile

Even though cracks

Are what let the light in

Coloring within the lines is safer

But that makes for flattened trees

And shrunken dreams

Linear isn’t you.

ADHD equals possibilities,

Not detriments.

You have the freedom

To color outside the lines at last

Surpass imaginary boundaries

And forgive the self

You once were

I see you

Michael Seese said...

The vaguely familiar, unetched face in the mirror stared back, smirking.

"Well, we sure turned out boring."

"Not today. We have a lot going on. Big presentation, parent-teacher conferences..."

"Exactly. What happened to our grand plan of rock stardom?"

"Like John Cougar said, 'Those crazy dreams kinda came and went.' "

"We could be making records."

"We could be saying, 'You want fries with that?' for eight greasy hours a day."

"And that Great American novel we were going to write?"

"Enough. We own a home. Published four books. Raised three great kids. So shut up. Our life turned out fine."

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Refuse the dress. You were winning that battle.

Do not get on that plane. You were already home.

Pretending to be someone you are not will not win you the love you crave, and will make you miserable.

Keep the baby but don’t marry a man that berates and beats you. It won’t fix anything. A gilded cage is still a cage.

Don’t wait for your dreams. Yesterday is gone and no one can predict the future. Today is all that matters.

Keep your triumphs. Forgive your mistakes.

There is no such thing as a failure who keeps trying.

Linda Shantz said...

I know you don’t think you’ll live beyond 30, but the women in your family are proving ridiculously long-lived, so you’re stuck on this planet for a while. Good news, though. In 2020 there will be a pandemic, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the Spanish Flu, and it will suddenly be socially responsible to be a recluse. While the world freaks out around you, you’ll find yourself silently wishing it will never end.

KDJames said...

OK, listen, if some disturbingly familiar-looking frumpy old woman approaches you and claims to be from the future and says she has advice for you . . . you should know that she is, even at an age when she should know better, still making magnificent mistakes and screwing things up royally and is not to be trusted. Just nod and back away slowly.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Don’t be so judgmental of yourself. Regardless of your hearing impairment or your insecurity, regardless of how you feel about your looks or your intelligence, you are loved.

Do not strive after perfection. Strive after excellence. Be the best you that you can be.

Human life is so short, so precious. Treasure time with loved people, beloved pets. Yet also seek the stranger, the adventures, the vocations that call to your heart. Everyone else’s expectations? Sift through opinions. Test them out, what may be false, what may be true, for you.

Above all, be generous. Be a blessing.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Let yourself hurt.

When your mother sobs on the floor, let it hurt.
When your boyfriend goes a step too far, let it hurt.
When your father’s slips out the door, let it hurt.
When your brother mocks you, let it hurt.

You’ll try to bury your heart. It will take decades to dig it up again.
Don’t blot out the pain. Let it scab over.
Scar tissue is thicker than skin.

A kiss is never just a kiss.

And never forget:
All shall be well,
and all shall be well,
and all manner of thing shall be well.

Brigid said...

Give yourself a lot of grace. Your mistakes get you here, a good place to be.

Remember Mom said you never get to the "easy part"? There are no Right Answers and no Real Grownups, we all just get really competent at winging it.

I can't protect you from what's coming. You are resilient and your wounds will help others heal. Be fully present; take your time. You'll never regret being kind. You'll always regret not listening to yourself. Keep striving towards your best self. Don't compromise choosing a spouse. Trust yourself.

Keep dreaming of that cottage full of babies and lilacs. Here is worth waiting for.

Brenda said...

Boys aren’t as important as you think they are. Except that one.

Shaunna said...

Dear younger self,

1) Keep your eyes on the road. It’s easier to roll an 18-passenger van than you might think.

2) That guy following you up the steps to the Sacré Cœur is up to no good. Be careful. By contrast, the hostel in Rome is safe, even if you don’t trust the Italian man leading you across the dark plaza at the train station to get you there. Be careful of the subway, though. Pickpockets come in all shapes and sizes.

3) About law school...well, never mind. Some things you just have to see for yourself.

4) Even though it will take longer than usual, you will fall in love with someone who loves you back. And your children will bring you more joy than sorrow. So don’t waste any more weekends feeling lonely. Solitude is also a gift.

RosannaM said...

Hey you! Yes, you. You rock. You are so strong and fearless. Stay that way. Don’t let the doubt creep in. Don’t let the things that go bump in the night frighten you. They are all an illusion anyway.

You are forever the captain of your ship. Passengers are for people who don’t set a course. Stay vigilant for you are not meant to be a passenger. Keep an eye on your back (the past) and an eye forward (the future) but please remember that life happens in the right now. So love, breathe, dance and savor.


K.L. Howard said...

Trust your gut. You don't know where the road goes until you set upon it. Stay open to spur-of-the-moment decisions. Know that you deserve to take up space. Give yourself the love your friends would give you. Always make time for art. If your creative efforts never embarrass you, try harder. There is no such thing as bad art when creating (editing is separate and happens later). Find ways to be yourself, regardless of how alone you may feel. Don't worry about what people say you should be; you're a writer. You are enough. Strength, love, and paradoxes, The Future.

Theda said...

These joys you lost will not come back. But you will learn to find them for an hour. For two.

There is a girl as far from me as you are and she will tell us - she must - they are not lost; we just need the time we're spending now.

And the one after that will bring her ribbons, her trophies, and tell us of the things we will do. Because we will do.

And if there is another after that, she will tell you: if those ribbons never bind themselves about our fingers, if their knots are loose, if they unwind, we were still worth something.

Sherryl said...

Listen, young me, don't become a writer. Or if you do, start earlier. Don't listen to the doom and gloom brigade. And keep reading, oh yes, do. Already you're reading heaps of books that will serve you really well later on. Go with your gut more. Don't hitchhike. Save more money and travel more safely. Those experiences might be useful in your writing but you might not have survived as well.
Don't marry. If you want to seriously write, don't marry. Have lovers and get some cool cats, the kind that purr and cuddle up at night.
And don't ever give up. Try everything once.Believe in yourself because you're the only one who will.

Marie McKay said...

I don't know whether to give you advice or not. I'd hate for it to change the parts that we got right. It's not really that we got anything too wrong, but there are things I know now we could have done with back then.
There is something sad that will happen that you won't be prepared for. And I know how hard it's going to hurt. And right now telling you this I feel like I am your parent. I want to hug you and be there for you in those terrible moments. I want to shield you from the despair and loneliness.
But then that's not how this works. It will be you who will make me what I am. And it's fine. We do fine.