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Casen Askew

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What advice would you give a younger you?

Consider, for a second, your life. Consider all of the life lessons you've learned and the experiences you've undergone during your brief existence here. Consider the trials and tribulations you've faced and the lessons you've learned "the hard way." If you could write a letter to you, at any point in your life, and give yourself as much advice as you saw fit, what would you say? Would you remind yourself that life goes on? Would you promise that things always get better no matter how terrible they might seem? Would you take the philosophy of Frank Sinatra and explain to your younger self that "That's Life"? Would you plead with yourself to turn to God sooner? Would you warn yourself to stay away from soda, salt, and red meat?

Of course, this arouses the argument of "I like my life the way it is now, and everything that happened happened for a reason thus I would not change anything." If that is your stance, then I pose another question: What advice would you give to a younger being? Age, culture, ethnic background, and special circumstances are arbitrary, irrelevant, and up to you.

This is your chance, here and now, to give any and all of the advice you've found so essential to happiness and well being, to a youth that might sincerely need it.

P.S. I created a duplicate post of this question to allow those who have not found this page yet to continue to engage in an exercise that leads them to inspire others, motivate themselves, and allow those who really need your advice to easily receive it.

To answer this question after the expiration date go to:

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    Jul 23 2012: Dear Casen,

    Thank you for posting this question. It challenges to seek deep within for an answer. There are already so many great answers in this thread you could compile them in a book. Lots of wisdom in this TED community. TED where were you in my teens!!! :)
    Although I’m with Mark Meijer on ‘no regrets about my life whatsoever’ here is mine:

    “Hi sweetie, You’re here to have an amazing life. Make gratitude the center of your life. However difficult it may be to understand the ‘why’ at times, learn (as soon as possible) the value of saying ‘thank you’ for everything and everybody that comes your way and ‘I’m sorry’ when you’ve done wrong, even if unintentionally. Your life will then not only be amazing…it will be awesome :)”

    Warm regards,
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      Jul 29 2012: Compiling them in a book was a thought I entertained. :p I thought it would be cool to do and sell then have all of the profits go to some nonprofit organization. The problem is that I am transitioning between high school and college so I have little to no time at all to do this. Plus I honestly wouldn't even know how to go about doing it. Also, I don't exactly know the legality of taking peoples' comments, publishing them, and selling them for a profit.

      :) If any other TEDster has the time, means, and know-how to accomplish this and possibly do with the profits what I had wished to do with them, then power to any person willing to do it!

      -Casen Askew
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    Jul 3 2012: Defend yourself against those bullies, but use your logic, not your anger. You are different, but not less. This is all temporary and you will rise above it all someday. Now go, and don't be afraid to make mistakes, but cherish everyone you meet because they will shape who you are, even if their intentions are negative.
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    Jul 20 2012: It's not the older me that should give the advice to the younger me, but the other way round.
    I realized that me aged 19 was a much better personality than me aged 29. I guess I allowed myself to grow up, and that was a mistake!
    So, the advice to the "old" me would be- remember who you were, remember who you truly are, stop being the person the society prefers, and just go back to being a corageous and adventerous 19yo for the rest of your life :)
    • Jul 20 2012: “You're never too old to become younger”
      Mae West
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    Jul 15 2012: Dear Robin,

    Daddy was wrong about you. Daddy is not well. You are not unworthy. You are not bad. OK, don't draw on the windows with your crayons. You were 3-years-old. But, I agree, don't draw on the windows. Still, you are a good girl! Listen to Mother, not Daddy. School will not be wasted on you. Daddy has problems. You did not kill your mother. She died of breast cancer. Daddy was wrong. Daddy has problems. You are a good girl.

    GET A GOOD, SOLID EDUCATION! Don't quit school. Stick with it. Get a few degrees under your belt. Most importantly, study what you love, study that one thing that you love and can take with you into the world and make a contribution to mankind. It will never feel like work if you do this.

    A good education is your ticket to freedom and a secure life, at least one hopes. If you do anything in this life, make certain that you stay in school. Don't quit, don't stall - stay with it until you have reached your goals. All of them. Don't let money, relationships, partying, and/or drugs put you on a destructive path. You can partake of these silly time wasters once you've finished your education, if you're still bent on doing so. Hopefully, you will have grown up by then.

    I hope and suspect that you will help your neighbors and strangers alike. Give whenever and wherever possible and be a compassionate, kind, patient person. Love, laugh, cry, sing, help, teach, listen, learn and contribute in every way possible.

    Make your mark on the planet in the most positive way imaginable. FIND HAPPINESS. STAY HAPPY.
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      Jul 15 2012: Indubitably compelling.

      Thank you for sharing, Robin.
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      Jul 15 2012: Very good advice for a Young! I wish i'd have been told all this when i was a "Bully"!! But life teaches you in a very hard way. Thanks for sharing Robin!
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        Jul 15 2012: Thank you, Naeem. Very kind of you.
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    Jul 6 2012: My advice to myself would be very very simple. "Everything is going to be okay. Just pay attention."
  • Jul 18 2012: Don't change yourself at all to meet other people's needs. Be happy and proud of who you are, and the best has still yet to come. Life is too short to get upset and angry about silly things, just let it be a lesson and let it build you into a stronger man. Be happy.
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    Gail . 50+

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    Jul 15 2012: Dear 4-year told me: Please do not believe much of what they tell you, and certainly don't take anything to heart. They don't know what you know AND THEY DON'T KNOW THAT THEY DON'T KNOW IT. You can't fix them, but you can remaiin unbroken and not become like them. Do not FEAR - no matter what. Do not fear the spanking or the bad grade in school and especially Mrs. L - your kindergarten Sunday School teacher.

    And no matter how much trouble you MIGHT get for asking questions in school when you are told something that your inner voice says is really stupid - ask the question that your innver voice is asking you to ask. And never stop asking how one body of knowledge relates to the others.

    Oh, and because I didn't learn this until I was in my 30s, you have a really high IQ. You are good at MANY things. Don't let anyone - not a parent, a teacher, or a friend, convince you that you are stupid. You're not! You are an absolutely awesome creature. So trust that inner voice, for it is me urging you on. I believe in you and love you dearly.
  • Jul 9 2012: Don't focus so hard on achieving certain things (life goals, career goals, etc) becuase you may blind yourself from things that are a better fit for you. Keep your eyes and mind open.

    Don't get down about the things that don't work out, you'll be surprised at what opportunities come about once you stop being depressed about your best laid-plans that failed.

    Stay humble, the only thing you can count on in life is that everything is bound to change at one point or another.

    If all the doors of opportunity are closed, break through a wall and create your own passage to opportunities.

    Disconnect yourself from anyone or anything that brings you down.

    It is not your job to fix other people's bad habits. Don't get sucked down a dark road trying to do that. They're perfectly capable of figuring out their own life.

    Don't let negative words get to your head, you know you better than they know you. If they can't see all the great things you are, then find people that do.

    Find a company that matches your personal values.

    Find a company that has a company culture you will enjoy working in.

    Trust your gut, it typically knows what is right or wrong before your heart and head confuses you.

    Take chances when you're young- this is the time you can afford to faill or mess up.

    Don't let anything or anyone take away your optimisim no matter how ridiculous or naive it seems... at least your happy.

    Dont' be scared to believe in something and make things happen, even if you're going in it alone.

    Don't let the hardships of life make you forget your dreams and passions.

    Don't lie to yourself. Stay true and figure out a plan of action based on that.

    Remember that it is a huge world out there and you can find the things you hope for. And if you don't, you have the capabilities to create it.
  • Jul 7 2012: First off, you're gay. You've always been 'different'. You've known this since kindergarten. Embrace it in the face of what others will say. Seek out those who's company you enjoy. Play with the smart [nerdy] boys & girls. Respect you body. Don't drink so much in college. Save & invest your birthday money for a thing called, "Google". Buy low, sell high. Look for a community where you can make a Home and keep good friends close-by. Get a dog. Be nice to others along the way. Kindness is self-generating. People will like you for YOU. Don't be so afraid; cautious yes, afraid, no. Don't go thru the intersection Downtown on your way back from the furniture store in your purple Neon, take a different route. Stay in the West 112th street apartment. Learn Hungarian. LOVE freely and often. You get back what you give out. YOU create your own reality. Your father loved you.
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      Jul 8 2012: I've read all of these, and for some reason, yours is one of my favorites so far. I'm not sure what made it stand out, but I just felt like sharing that with you. lol
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      Jul 31 2012: I second Casen. I really like your comment!

      Best Wishes!
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    Jul 6 2012: - Don't rely on others too often and don't trust people too much.
    - Develop a sense of inner judgment to determine what's right and what's wrong. Don't follow the rules blindly.
    - Time and effort are your building blocks. Have the right plan, choose the right building materials, have the best bricks and do it right from the ground up.
    - Open your eyes as wide as you can. Be as curious as you can be. Find the right answers to your questions. Seek the truth; you won't ever really know it unless you try with all your heart and mind to find it.
  • Jul 3 2012: I'd say "Look at me, and see what you can improve"
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    Jul 30 2012: Seek information, make your own experiment, draw your own conclusions.
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      Jul 30 2012: For me it would be:Stop worrying! Pick the hardest, most interesting thing you can find and keep going!
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        Jul 30 2012: Yea stop worrying is a good one :)
  • Jul 29 2012: As much as you believe you know it all and been through it all, you have. Heed the advice of your mom all she is trying to do is help. She might come across in the worse ways but its because she been through so much in her life that she doesnt know any way else to say it. Forgive your dad, even though it seems impossible to do so. Cherish the moments who have with your grandmothers, they love you so very much and need you for strength. Your friends have feelings too so watch what you say and most of all what you do. Open your heart more and don't be so hard on yourself when you succeed at everything. Continue to find God and make him first in your life. And most of all, be happy. Don't let anyone or anything depress you, with time your pain and suffering shall pass.
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    Jul 28 2012: A credit card is not the answer. Too many college students don't understand what debt is or how to be financially literate.
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    Jul 23 2012: Focus on what you want to do from high school.. and build towards it. Also do'nt date bad boys... you cant fix them.
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    Jul 20 2012: If you want to do something, do it. If you have an idea, show it. Don't be afraid to try new things and let yourself be swallowed into the unknown. That's where you learn more about yourself.

    I wish I could tell my younger self to take control of things more. All the ideals, dreams, and visions of my future life seem altruistic and almost utopian. I would tell myself to don't stop believing in what I can achieve in the world.

    Finally, know that every should be a day worth living; accomplish something and perform a task that will benefit the world in some way.
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    Jul 15 2012: What advice would you give a younger you?

    I'd go back to around 10 years of age and say.
    You're instinct and vision of what the world should and could be are correct.
    You're right now, and you still be right in twenty years.
    Stand your ground and allow nobody to tell you, and never accept that 'its just the way things are'.
    Allow nobody to shoot you down for being idealistic.
    Be as idealistic as you possibly can and ignore all those that try to restrain your spirit.

    Also, never allow anger to dominate your actions. And be kinder to your brothers.
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    Jul 13 2012: At this moment I just turned 38. I am going to write myself a letter from my hopefully alive future self at 76 years old:

    Dear 38,
    You are two years from 40 now. You are now entering the second chapter. By 40 some people have given up on many of their personal goals and dreams. I want you to realize 38, you have only used half of the time you have been given to live, maybe even less! Sit down and think of all the things you have managed to cram into this life so far! You learned to walk, talk, ride a bike, and mathematics (kind of). You have had your first love, your second, a long endearing marriage, you have traveled the world, you have learned a second language, you have had several good career paths that have kept you mentally engaged. You have developed some long term, deep and wonderful relationships, you have pissed your parents of and you have made them proud. You have developed many interests and passions! You have been full of energy and exhausted. Stressed and fancy free. You have had good sex! You have had times in your life when you laughed so hard that you almost peed your pants! Just think 38 of all the wonderful things in life you have done in the last 38 years! Now just think of all the things you can still do in the next 38!!!!!!! Don't spend your time doubting yourself or thinking about "do I still have time to accomplish this"? Just do! Do everything you can! Everything that will make you happy! Make the world a better place, learn yet another language, meet wonderful people who will inspire you to do even more! Just go and when you are filled to the brim of things you can do, then let your life catch up to you!
  • Jul 10 2012: It'll be difficult for a younger me to understand what I have to say to him, but here goes nothing! :)

    -Nothing you do is insignificant. Learn to believe in yourself, but don't let your gifts get you arrogant.

    -You will achieve more with patience. The storms in your head are meant to cause wrecks in your head, not wreck the people around you.

    -You will not understand your parents, and neither will they you. But don't let that keep you from trying.

    -There are people in the world, who are kind, and there are people who are not. Don't let either become your standard of how people should be.

    -Be serious about life. But don't forget to have fun when you can.

    -Great things in life, don't come cheap. Be willing to pay(in hard work, cash, kindness and compassion).

    -Respect people. But don't let them disrespect you.

    -Listen to what someone has to say, the most wasted learning resource that we waste in life, is each other.

    -and most of all, don't forget to run! ;)

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      Jul 10 2012: "There are people in the world, who are kind, and there are people who are not. Don't let either become your standard of how people should be."

      Amazing advice!
  • Jul 9 2012: Enjoy the journey. Don't be in such a hurry to "get there". Know that there is always more than one right move and more than one right time... so don't worry so much about needing to know all the answers and needing to make the right choices.

    Relax more. Have more fun. Travel more. Pursue more experiences rather than things. When things don't go as planned, remember that things always turn out better than you imagined... eventually. So have a little more faith.
  • Jul 9 2012: My advice to a younger me (or you!!)

    -- Learn about and truly appreciate the diversity of thought and experience in people around you, especially the people least like you.
    -- look strangers in the eye and smile
    -- take risks but don't risk your life
    -- share your ideas, and respect those of others even when you don't agree
    -- walk
    -- appreciate your body and honour it's vitality and fragility
    -- seek out and nurture deep, close, meaningful friendships
    -- learn constantly on every topic that interests you, even some that don't!
    -- find the kernel of truth in every statement you hear
    -- make no assumptions
    -- if there is a good bottle of wine in your collection, drink it now and share it
    -- give random gifts
    -- if you are treated poorly, try to understand why the person who wronged you is in pain
    -- listen more than you speak
    -- value quality over quantity
    -- live to your income level
    -- revel in the wonder and success of your kids and partner and parents
    -- love every season
    -- find time to think and reflect
    -- keep a journal, draw a picture
    -- respect yourself, your unique talents and skills, and always use them to help better the world and the lives of others
    -- use sunscreen, never smoke and protect yourself from avoidable injury
    -- revel in the wonder of nature; hike it, swim it, paddle it, climb it, touch it, nurture it, protect it

    Thanks for listening.....
    • Jul 9 2012: That's sound advice!
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      Jul 10 2012: Great advice! Some I already implement in my everyday life, some I know I need to, and some I didn't think was of that much importance until reading it.

      Thank you, Darren.
      • Jul 11 2012: My pleasure Casen
        Wouldn't it be cool to analyze themes based on stage of life?
        Like.... Would my letter now in my mid forties be the same as 20 years ago or 40 years from now (should I be fortunate enough to live to my mid eighties!!))
        Cheers to you .
  • Jul 9 2012: I would have to provide more in the way of words of encouragement to a younger me... I love where I am now, but that doesn't mean I didn't struggle to get here.

    Dear younger Jason, a couple pointers for you:

    - That girl you're going to date, she won't be right for you. In fact, she'll wrong you in a lot of ways, and it's going to hurt. But it's going to teach you much about what you thought you were looking for, so stick it out.

    - Be nicer to your brother. Family is so important growing up, and it doesn't get any less important as time goes by, so take every second you have and cherish it.

    - In your endless pursuit of excellence, don't forget to take time to stop and take in your surroundings. The point of the journey is not to arrive.

    - You will have good managers and bad. The bad ones have as much to teach you as the good ones... they're just different lessons. Pay attention, and take it as a development opportunity.

    - These are nowhere near the best years of your life. Not even close. Life just keeps getting better. When one good thing ends, another is just around the corner, so waste no time being sad for what's gone.

    - Respect the rules your parents set for you. They have poured so much time, energy, money, and love into raising you that it's the very least you owe them. You will never make up this debt, except by being the best you can be so that your parents have stories to tell of how proud they are of you. Those stories are why people have children, and you have no right to deprive them of that joy.

    That's it for now... this was a really interesting exercise. I'm grateful I stumbled upon this thread!
    • Jul 9 2012: Wow Jason, that was moving! I applaud your openness and willing to put something somewhat personal out there for us all to read. Beautiful!
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      Jul 10 2012: Melissa is right. Thanks for sharing, Jason!
      • Jul 10 2012: Thank you both for the kind words! I know that some of what I said was specific to me, but I say it with the hope that it will encourage others to do the same... to think of the specific experiences they've had, and dwell on what it meant to their personal development. It was a powerful moment for me that set a positive tone for my entire day!
      • Jul 10 2012: And thank you Casen for starting this conversation! I suspect you are wise beyond your years. You may never be fully aware of the positive ripples your question created. Stay curious.
  • Jul 7 2012: If I could go back I would say:

    • “ Love God, but take a step back from the church and see the world.” There are so many beautiful things around you that you are going to miss, trying to place life in categories of Right and Wrong.

    • Experience everything, be present in every moment in every situation you find yourself involved in, you’re going to want these memories.

    • Get outside of your comfort zone. Ask more questions, not merely just to know answers, but to share in experiences.

    • Find a way to see the world. Explore the world outside of your culture. There is so much more to be known.

    • Go to Princeton, Forget Rutgers, go somewhere where your mind can be pushed and expanded.

    • Take Latin, you’ll be glad you did.

    • Believe when they constantly tell you that you are greater than this moment, when they tell you that you have a gift, own it.

    • Listen to people. They will always have stories to tell, there is always a journey. Listen to the lessons they share.

    • Give up trying. You will never fit into the world the way you thought you would. Perfect you as you because they people that are drawn to you are the ones you want anyway.

    • Only take a few people into your heart as charities, knowing they will never give back what you give. You will be tempted to love everyone unconditionally. You will be tempted to give and give without getting much in return. And because you believe this, you will give until you are empty. Though, it is a noble jester, it will break you at some point, because you will find yourself surrounded, even in your intercircle with people who will drain but not always give. You must learn balance.

    • Never hold on tightly to someone who wants to go. Though letting go is hard, the pain of struggling to hold on is crippling. It will do lifetime damage. Allow people to come and go with the seasons. Appreciate what they can teach you and then move on.
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    Jul 7 2012: The Beatles had it right, "all you need is love..." Do what you love, surround yourself with those you love, keep only the things you love, take care of what you love. And most importantly, the type of love found in fairy tales really does exist - wait for it and never settle for anyone or anything less...
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      Jul 9 2012: Loved it. On that note ... I'm stealing it and posting it on my FB page for others to benefit from your Beatle inspired wit. :) ... don't worry, I'll give you credit. ;). Ciao bella.
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    Jul 7 2012: I would not write a full letter to my younger self, a text message would be enough, as my advice is just one word : "DARE"
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    Jul 6 2012: What I would tell myself is (18 years, now 23):

    If you don't listen to anything, listen to this: learn how to meditate. A lot of scientific studies have been done already and a lot of them will come and confirm that it will reduce your worrying and sleep behavior. Read up on it. You will become more happy, it's crazy but true. The same thing applies to running and cycling.

    Some advice on being social:
    If you feel like a social outcast, know that it is possible to become anyone you want. If you feel like a popular hipster, it is still possible to become anyone you want ;-)

    Some advice about girls:
    A lot more people are secretely a bit attracted to each other than you assume. You can see this via their eyes, how they smile, their heartbeat and in general if they enjoy talking to you (most situations). If you feel insanely attracted to a girl for no particular reason, she likes you, you're picking up the signal unconsciously.

    Some advice about school:
    If you put your mind to it school is way more easy than you think, in fact you can do two or more years in one. If you want to do this at high school, talk to the director of your school. University is more fun and easy by the way than your curriculum right now.

    Some advice about friends:
    Even the relationships with your best friends will change over time, most of the time it's subtle. Know that relationships are not static.

    Some advice about your current mindset:
    It's good that you have a philosophical mindset and question a lot of things. However, when you're in a conversation, question yourself this: are you seeking for truth at this moment? Or do you want to strenghten the relationship with the one your talking with? If your answer is the latter, then don't be so overly specific/truth seeking. I love your openess!! :)

    Some advice about opinions:
    Some people will say that you're weird and dissapprove of you, but companies will pay you for it. You even get friends because of your 'weirdness' / 'creativity' ;-)
  • Aug 1 2012: Hey Younger Me,

    Try to not take this whole "life" thing so seriously. You are "good enough" .. just as you are. You have a good heart and you will always try your best. (In fact, it is your nature to try too hard!!) Focus less on how to do things the "right" way and follow your heart .. it will lead you .. even to your BLISS .. and yes .. it is okay to feel BLISS ... In fact, you are here to feel some bliss.

    You don't have to be miserable to show that you care about the suffering around you. Think about it .. how can your misery do anything to heal anyone or anything on this planet?? Might it not even contribute to the suffering around you?

    This may be hard for you to believe because you are so young and life has been very hard thus far, but happiness is a part of this human expereince. Believe me ... there will be enough pain in your future (and you have survived enough already) ... So please do not deny yourself the pleasure that you find.

    And remember ... all that love that you are pouring into others is only going to last if you share it generously with yourself. That "smell the roses" philposophy is really a good fit for you .

    So .. it's okay ... take your time kid ... smell the roses and know that you too are a part of this beautiful garden. Just be YOU. Tend the garden .. care for youself .. you will bloom... you are blossoming already.

    And one more thing ... You know all that "life goes fast" talk that older folks are always muttering about?? Well .. it is true ... so very true.

    Start loving yourself now. UNCONDITIONALLY.

    I wish you love, happiness, gentleness that the knowing that you are WORTHY of these good things.

    Much love to you Younger Me,

    Juniper Blue
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    Jul 29 2012: Draw that moral and ethical line in the sand...and then do the very best you can to honor it.

    Be the best human being you can be.
    Observe, listen carefully and walk that mile in the shoes of others before you speak.
    Be honest without being hurtful.
    Be fair without splitting the baby.
    Be respectful to all people and in all things be humble.
    Seek knowledge in all the disciplines you can and never stop learning.
    Love unconditionally.

    You won't always be successful, but always give it your best shot.
  • Jul 28 2012: You are better than you think you are.
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      Jul 31 2012: or...
      You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.
      – Winnie the Pooh
  • Jul 28 2012: Stop looking elsewhere for what you will find much closer to home.