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Letter to My Younger Self ~ A Young Sojourner's Path to Happiness

Updated on November 18, 2016
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Seafarer Mama/Karen enjoys writing about spirituality as it is expressed in our everyday lives.

Light of Hope for the Days to Come

As daylight hours wane and the solstice approaches, I find hope in the warmth of candlelight.
As daylight hours wane and the solstice approaches, I find hope in the warmth of candlelight. | Source


I have been composing a letter to my younger self in my head. There are some things I wish I knew when I was an adolescent ~ greater awareness about the impact of my decisions. I have often entertained the fantasy of traveling back in time to place such a letter under my pillow. What would my life look like now if I could do such a thing? What if I gave myself a gift that would allow me to benefit sooner from the wisdom I have accumulated over the past 36 years? Would my life still look the way it does now, or would things be significantly different?

A new age will dawn upon us on December 12, 2012. This is my way of gently saying goodbye to the chances that have come and gone without my being aware of them. Because I have written this letter to myself, I will face the new age of personal and collective human possibility with hope and peace.

One path to making your dreams come true ~

Dear Karen,

I am your future self and I am writing this letter to you because I believe that if you know about some important information you will make the best decisions for yourself throughout your life. As a result, you will enjoy a happy future with a lovely family and good friends to spend time with. So, here are the things that I want you to know.

Feeding an Adolescent Soul ~

Art Forms in Nature (Dover Pictorial Archive)
Art Forms in Nature (Dover Pictorial Archive)
Surrounding yourself with the art in nature will create an oasis of beauty and hope.

Your Deep Connection with Nature

Your love of being outside has a purpose to it and will thrive throughout the years. Keeping in close touch with that side of you will bring you moments of great peace.

Take many walks. Ride your bicycle to local parks. Study plants, wildlife, and constellations.You will find many books at the Mt. Pleasant Public Library to read further about your discoveries. Play with Snoopy while you are out there, too. He loves you and is delighted when you return that love. He loves when you share your thoughts with him.

In addition to the free time you spend outside, take as many camping trips as you can while you are a member of a girl scout troop. Sing and tell stories around campfires.Those memories will warm your heart on cold winter nights. Being a leader and taking you camping is one of your mother's greatest gifts to you.

Girl Scouts and Leadership

Stay a Girl Scout and lead projects that will improve the quality of life in your immediate community ~ projects that promote responsible stewardship of the earth's resources. Lead letter-writing campaigns that communicate to your Senators and State Representatives how much you care about the health of planet Earth. Reuse things and recycle containers as much as you can. Lead projects that use those recyclables to create something new and useful.

Social Justice is as important to you as environmental justice, so join Amnesty International and write letters that promote human rights for all people. You will make many friends who share your passion for justice.

Path to Peace and Renewal

Waterfall along the Kancamangis Scenic Highway in New Hampshire
Waterfall along the Kancamangis Scenic Highway in New Hampshire | Source

Your Affinity with Water

You love water ~ to spend time by lakes and oceans. Learn to sail as well as to swim. Later on, you will want to find a schooner and join its crew as you travel across the Atlantic Ocean to spend a year studying in Galway, Ireland. Keep a journal of that time. Your notes will be useful to you when you decide to begin writing sea stories for young readers. You will become a beloved author.

While you are sailing across the sea, draw and paint the wonders that you encounter. Develop yourself as an artist as well as a naturalist and seafarer. This will be an important part of who you are throughout your life.

Books, and your Love of Learning

You are a voracious reader. You especially love to read outside. There are books that I have read and know that you would enjoy reading now. They include The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien, the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, and the Earthsea series by Ursula K. LeGuin. You also love to read Shakespeare, which will be sparked by a vibrant high school English teacher named Charles Burkett. You may even want to learn some of the parts in Shakespeare's plays and join a theatre group that performs those plays, such as The Tempest.

Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata

Your Love of Music

Keep practicing the musical instruments that you love to play, such as piano, guitar, flute, and voice. Also learn to play the concertina if you have the chance to. You may even learn to play the cello. When you grow older, you will add mandolin to your list of instruments and attend a music camp in New Hampshire. You will blossom musically if you spend the time practicing now. Though Mozart is your favorite composer, Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata will always be your favorite piece to play on the piano.

In the meantime, practice your scales and chords. Spend at least an hour a day practicing, and exploring sound in new ways. Find a group to play with and learn from. You will grow if you believe in your ability to succeed. You are worth loving yourself enough to give yourself this gift. Make a habit of making music in some way every day, and keep that habit for the rest of your life. You have the potential to be a great musician.


As a complement to your love of music, you love to dance. You took ballet and tap as a young girl, and enjoyed dancing to live piano music. You will want to find a way to keep moving to the beat of various drummers. This will bring you joy and keep you healthy.

Learn tango, folk dancing and belly dancing. You may even have a chance to visit the countries from which these types of dance originate. Love your body and love those who appreciate your unique gifts! You will make lifelong girlfriends and make many fun memories that will sustain you in times of turmoil.

Cooking = Life, Love and Abundance

A recipe book open to the page with a recipe for a baked dish that will feed friends
A recipe book open to the page with a recipe for a baked dish that will feed friends | Source

Culinary Arts

You will become a great cook and develop your own recipes for meals. Keep working with it, and make sure you enjoy a delicious graduation dinner at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, up the street from Marist College.

You were Born a Scientist

Make sure you take AP Science at Good Counsel and do not listen to anyone who attempts to discourage you from it. It may be hard work sometimes, but you will succeed. There are many things you can do with it, including work as a Ranger at a National Park, or another conservation organization. Your time spent as a summer camp counselor is also preparing you for this. You can build a career that will keep you spending time close to nature every day. You are meant to lead an active life.

Second Languages

Learn to speak Spanish, French and German. You will travel around Europe later in your college years and will want to be able to speak with people in their native language. Spanish and French are romantic languages, and it will benefit you to speak them fluently. You will want to read Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes and Les Miserables by Victor Hugo in the languages they were written in. Many philosophers were German and you will want to read what they wrote in their original language.

Listening to the Music of the Sesa

A Zentangle drawing of a boat belonging to a neighbor's brother
A Zentangle drawing of a boat belonging to a neighbor's brother | Source


You will want to hold down a job while you are in high school. Work at the local garden center. You love gardening and your enthusiasm will make you an asset to your employer. You will have money to keep your piano tuned, to buy yourself lovely clothes that make you feel pretty, and to save. When you are in college, become involved in the Work~Study program as a means of financial aid for your classes. You can work at the library.

Personal Growth

Keep attending Ala-Teen meetings. Do not be afraid to call Kitty and ask her to drive you back to the place where she brought you to your first meeting, even though you will be discouraged from it. Your involvement will help you grow in positive ways and help you create a happy life for yourself. It is too important a step toward a happy life to allow anyone to hold you back from taking it.

If you have the courage to take loving steps that may lead to your personal growth, you may have to face the discomfort or displeasure of others. Take those steps anyway, and reach out for support from others who will encourage you be your best self.

Marist College

Marist College is an excellent place to learn. Keep studying Spanish and Latin, and make one of the sciences your Major. You may even have the chance to participate in the college's Science of Man honors program.

Keep involved with the radio station and host a show that involves your favorite music, such as classical and folk, and perhaps include some storytelling. Read your own poetry over the airwaves, and invite guests to share their talents.

Make sure you join the Crew team at Marist College. it will give you time on the water and the chance to work with others as a team. It will keep you in shape and help train you as a leader.

Since you also love to study History, find an opportunity to visit FDR's house in Hyde Park. You will be happy that you did.

There is a folk group that sings at Mass every Sunday, and singing with them will bring you great joy.

A Year Studying Abroad

You will have the chance to study in Galway, Ireland during your junior or senior undergraduate year in college, through the Marist Abroad Program. Travel around Europe with your friend Kathy, whom you will meet there. Study Irish and make sure you visit the Cliffs of Mohr. Join the Chess, Astronomy, and International Student clubs. They will all lead to important friendships. But make sure you return to Marist to attend your graduation ceremony. For this, you can fly on the plane, but when you are finished with your year abroad you can sail home on another schooner.

My Four Seasons photo gallery ~

Spring ~ Fern leaves after a day of rain
Spring ~ Fern leaves after a day of rain | Source
Autumn ~ Our daughter sitting on a wall along the Kankamangis Scenic Highway in NH
Autumn ~ Our daughter sitting on a wall along the Kankamangis Scenic Highway in NH | Source
Winter ~ Dragon kettle and cocoa in snowman mugs
Winter ~ Dragon kettle and cocoa in snowman mugs | Source
Puppet play for all seaons
Puppet play for all seaons | Source


Travel to Southern California to work with Arthur Hoberman as a flute teacher (Chapman College, then Cal State Long Beach), find work as a National Park Ranger, and find an ACOA 12-step group to keep growing. Meditate every day, make music on the beach, sketch and paint, and find labyrinths to walk. Learn as much as you can from friends that you meet out there.

Boston and Beyond

Finally, New England is in your blood, and will eventually call you home. You will want to study toward a M.A. in Music Therapy at Lesley College. You will find the Paulist Center on Park Street and become involved in Stone Soup Poetry, through which you will meet your future husband Edward. You will both find your way to living in a co-housing community, in which you will raise a delightful daughter. Home-schooling will be a vital aspect of your family life. You will be very happy because you have made up your mind to be.

With love and peace,

Karen Szklany Gault, your future self XO

Places in New York that hold fond memories for me ~

Marist College:
3399 North Road, Marist College, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601, USA

get directions

My undergraduate alma mater

Culinary Institute of America:
1946 Campus Drive, Hyde Park, NY 12538, USA

get directions

Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt - NHP:
4097 Albany Post Road, Hyde Park, NY 12538, USA

get directions

Camp Edith Macy Conference Center:
550 Chappaqua Road, Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510, USA

get directions

Owned by the Girl Scouts, this is a place important to Juliet Lowe's early efforts to make scouting global. Site of girl scout day camp I attended.

Camp Ludington:
136 Paine Road, Holmes, NY 12531, USA

get directions

Girl Scout campsite named after Sybil Ludington, a heroine during the Revolutionary War.

Ward Pound Ridge Reservation:
450 Saw Mill River Road, Ardsley, NY 10502, USA

get directions

Visited this place often with the girl scouts. Climbing the fire tower to look at the expanse of foliage was a favorite feature of each visit.

Lake Osceola:
399 East Main Street, Yorktown, NY 10535, USA

get directions

A favorite extended-family summer gathering place when I was young.

Camp Lake Surprise:
382 Lake Surprise Road, Cold Spring, NY 10516, USA

get directions

Camped out in one of the cabins at this camp with my girl scout troop in winter. Enjoyed the taboganning and other winter activities there.

© 2012 Karen A Szklany


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