The Top 10 Things I Want my 17 Year old to Know.

Kate turned 17 on Thursday. For anyone who hasn't followed her story, she's the one who stopped playing volleyball to […]
Wendy Jones
June 11, 2022

Kate turned 17 on Thursday. For anyone who hasn't followed her story, she's the one who stopped playing volleyball to be a theatre kid. And man does she blow my mind on that stage. It's so fun to see her risk, I would have been terrified of that at her age. Maybe she is, but she does it anyway. Thursday night, I looked around my family room, and they are all so big they fill up the entire space.  Lauren cooked the dinner (Matthew handled the steaks) and all I had to do was do the dishes. What a shift of energy and life.

For the last five years birthday’s had a sad tinge in them, but I think we are coming out of that. I remembered that I had written some words of wisdom on The Optimists Journal on Lauren’s 17th birthday and I thought I would review and see what I have learned or would add with five more years experience.  The things I said still ring true…but I’ve learned to be more direct and succinct. Over the last five years I’ve learned less is more, that it’s ok to let your words sit and be open to others interpretation of them. No more over-explaining. So I took the 17 things and brought them down to a Top 10:

  1. Don’t be afraid to say what you need to say. Your heart is good, so the words will work themselves out. 
  2. Be you, not a version that the world tells you to be. 
  3. Forgive and live free
  4. Measure success by the simple good you do consistently.
  5. Many problems can be solved with solitude, a view, and some good music.
  6. Listen to the lyrics, they connect you to humanity.  
  7. Focus on where you want to go instead of fearing where you don’t.
  8. No amount of praise or adoration will get you through the practice to be great.  Do what you love to practice. 
  9. When you focus on what you love, everything connects and reveals the path. 
  10. When you know yourself, how others want to define you doesn't matter.  

I give these to you Kate on your 17th birthday, but they are for all of you.  I can’t believe I have four that fill up a room.  Birthday’s will always take you back to the first time you held them, and now so often they hold me in ways they don’t even know. Not because I’m not strong enough to hold myself, but because we are connected.  And nothing feels better than that. Time marches on, and life feels normal.  So much different than it did when Lauren turned 17.  Whatever you are moving through, slow down and breathe, and day by day a lighter and wiser version of yourself will be revealed.

With love & optimism,


For my Dancing Queen

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About the author:
Wendy Jones is a mother of four, lifelong athlete, writer, and optimism & resilience coach and speaker. Through 20 years of parenting and relationship struggles, she believes that vulnerability and our willingness to share our stories is a way to heal ourselves

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