Dear Susan circa 1958,
You have just landed at Earlton Airport after a long journey from Hong Kong – 18 years old and 1,000,000 away from your Mom and brothers in rural China.  It’s cold, much colder than what you are used to, and you can’t speak to anyone because you don’t know one word of the local language.  Despite your bravery and courage, you have every reason to be scared and sad.
But don’t be.  Your soon-to-be new husband is an amazing man, one who cares about family more than anything and who will be your loving partner for 50+ years.  You will be an equally amazing wife and mother, and your own family will be a big one: you will be blessed first with four daughters and finally a son.  You will learn that your new country is the best in the world, and your tiny northern Ontario hometown of Virginiatown is full of people who treat you kindly, take you in, teach you the language, and show you how to do things.  It will be a wonderful place for you to raise your family. 
Your kids will grow up and find wonderful partners and provide you 11 beautiful grandkids, and you will be very proud of all of them.  And you know what?  They will be more proud of you and your story and what you have accomplished.
So my only advice…  Get your driver’s license – you will need it in the future!  Don’t be shy to buy-and-hold all of those Toronto-area properties you will be interested in!  And no need to hold on to everything in your basement – you won’t use it all! 
You are a bright, curious, strong woman, Susan, one I admire and am proud of.  Your life in Canada will be a good and happy one.
Best wishes,
Susan circa 2015


Dearest little one,

Breathe….that’s it…..

…when your heart is fluttering like a hummingbird’s, because you’re nervous.  You’re wondering how you’re possibly going to get hired for that job you want so badly, but don’t know if you can do it.  Be yourself. That’s the only way.…when you’re off to Europe and your friend changes her mind, go anyway, you’ll be  a brave traveller on your own.

…when you’re not sure you’ll be a good Mom….you’ll be the best one you can be.…when your marriage is broken, your heart knows best…

…when you’re lonely and want a partner, the perfect one will show up at just the right time…

…when you want to run Boston and the Sahara, you’ll surprise yourself.  Ta Da!

…keep breathing….and inhale…  it’s going to be fine.  yes, even better than fine. …


Dear Shelby,

You’re likely reading this with anticipation – excited to take in all that grown-up-you has to offer. Perhaps you’re hoping for a tidbit, a kernel of wisdom or some insightful hindsight that will save you from heartache,  frustration or stress. But I am not going to tell you. It’s not that I don’t love you (because I do! A lot! You’re a keeper!) but because the journey in which you will discover those insights are what will shape you and make you Shelby. There will be many, many times that you’ll wish “why didn’t anyone tell me that?!” I could tell you now but trust me, it’ll be better when you discover it on your own. You wouldn’t have believed me anyway. 


Stephanie (You're not Steph yet, but you will be soon. I promise.):

You are a beautiful weirdo. At this moment, you are completely free in your strangeness, at peace with your eccentricities, and blissfully unaware of anyone's opinion save your own. 

I wish you could cling to that through the coming years. I wish you could embrace the bizarre – your bizarre –  throughout adolescence and into early adulthood. Instead, you will turn down that flame ever so slightly, hiding it in a misguided (but understandable) effort to fit it. So-called normalcy will feel a bit like playing dress up in your mother's old wedding gown: beautiful, but poorly tailored for your body. You will live in your head a bit more, laugh a bit quieter, withhold that weird for fear of being labelled as the other. 

Until you realize one day, many years from now, your weird is wonderful. Your weird is welcomed. Your weird is wanted. You will surround yourself with other beautiful weirdos, and you will want them too.


The afternoon light
On the young boy’s face,
That other me from long ago.

I’m holding his image with middle-aged hands,
Shaped by the passage of accumulated instants.

I see myself reflected in that young boy’s eyes,
Or perhaps it’s the other way around.
It may even be the case, that there is no
Continuity, no fluid narrative that exists,
That we are two separate beings.

Still, If I could, in an instant, enter his heart,
My heart,
I would tell him the story of who we are,
Of the potential, buried deep, which must not be squandered.
Of having to pursue his passions and beliefs
And never just follow,
Like some automaton, a prescribed path,
An expected narrative,

Look carefully I would say, 
And don’t miss the simple joys,
Of ordinary days,
Of heartfelt connections,
Of being in the moment.


Dear Renata

You will face some hard times earlier in life, but years later you will be able to look back, see the lessons that have taught you and laugh about it. 

You will learn to be a happy person. Your life will really start after forty, so please make very good use of it.  Be happy, be nice to others and never stop chasing your dreams.


It is very easy to look back on life and say “I wish I had done this” or I wish I hadn’t done that” but you cannot learn from mistakes that you haven’t made. Take risks. Regret things you have done rather than things you haven’t.  Remember that life is short and you have plenty of time ahead of you to settle down.  Experience the dysfunctional relationships so you can truly understand when you have found the right one. See the world and keep your sense of wonder.  

You will be working for a long time so find something you love to do and figure out how to make a career out of it.  Don’t let others define your path for you. Don’t listen to the well-meaning advice that chemistry will be more useful than a foreign language. Trust me, you will never need chemistry again!

Above all, be happy and see the positives in everything that you do.  Never forget how fortunate you are and always compare yourself with those less fortunate rather than those more fortunate.


Dear Priscilla,

I want to share some things with you. Beware; my words will not be filled with sunshine and roses, but with practical, real advice. Words of wisdom if you will. I want you to enjoy life and not be so serious. Take risks!  I want you to not spend so much of your time and energy worrying or harbouring negative feelings about things that may or may not end up happening, because in the end, none of it will matter.  What will matter is your kind heart, your resilience, your innate ability to see the good, the positive in things and people, even when everything and everyone around you tries to show you something different. Your annoying little sister will become one of your closest friends. You will also come to appreciate that although your parents are not perfect, they love you and will support you unconditionally. You will grow up to be a helper (of course!) and a mother. Your son will be an incredible little person who will share your personality, your quirks.  He will adore you and you him.  And through that bond, you will begin to truly appreciate yourself for the person you are.  A beautiful soul.


Dear Pat,

How are you?  Are your parents giving you a hard time?  I know that life may seem tough at times, but you will realize how good you have it when you're older.  Listen to your parents and follow their example:  work hard, be honest and fair in your dealings with others, pay your debts, treat people kindly, listen and choose your words carefully, take care of your family and don't complain.  When you are an adult you will understand and appreciate everything they did for you.


Dear Pat,

How are you?  Are your parents giving you a hard time?  I know that life may seem tough at times, but you will realize how good you have it when you're older.  Listen to your parents and follow their example:  work hard, be honest and fair in your dealings with others, pay your debts, treat people kindly, listen and choose your words carefully, take care of your family and don't complain.  When you are an adult you will understand and appreciate everything they did for you.


Dear Younger Me:

In 35 years you will be 47 years old.  40-somethings and 50-somethings to you seem ancient.  When you get there you’ll find it’s a pretty good place to be. You will move to Canada at age 20, fully intending to return to your home country of New Zealand.  However, you will end up staying in Canada.  You are a Kiwi at heart, but Canada is where you will come into your own and feel comfortable. Your life will be full of ups and downs – high points and low points.  After your two years at Raroa Intermediate School, you will attend Wellington Girl’s College and then proceed to post secondary education,  that will take place both in New Zealand and in Canada.  Learning never stops: Living life and discovering yourself will be the biggest, most challenging educational experience.One thing you will do for yourself in the future each New Year, you will choose a word for that year in order to provide you with inner strength and to maintain focus.  

In 2015 you will choose a theme:  CHOICES
This will be a big life lesson for you….you will always have a choice.  Not only from the clothes you pick out to wear each day, or what food you decide to eat, but also your emotions and how you can choose to react to situations. Perhaps this might seem obvious to you now, but it’s something you will have to learn.
When you get to 2015, please take a minute and read this:



It is kind of easy for me to think right away the type of advice I would give you for the years to come. However, I can’t help but wonder whether it would be you who could give me one piece of advice or two. Looking at you I think that my advice about being assertive and confident is redundant at the time of this picture.  You look so tranquil and at the same time so secure and ready for whatever life is going to throw at you. Seems like you had it all, but your world is about to change big time in the next few years and I just want to tell you that you will need all that assertiveness and confidence but more importantly, your self-esteem. It isn’t about what people want you to do, It is about what you want to do and you should act according to your values and principles. Listen to your mom - now I know she is the person who loves you the most, the one and only that will give you honest and disinterested advice and love. Listen to your heart, I know your dreams about the future will soon become clear. Pursue them right away. They are noble and big - don’t wait!  You will know what you want to do with your life at a very early age. Pursue your dream with no fear! Don’t wait for others’ approval and reassurance. It will save you time and disappointment. Waiting, wondering and wandering would make the difference in your life.


Dear Past Matt,

If, by some miracle, this note were to make it back through the fabric of time into your miniaturized hands, I suppose there’s one thing I’m able to tell you (without upsetting the balance of time and space). 

It’s going to be OK.

You will have your heart broken, but it will be OK.
You will have friends come and go, but it will be OK.
You will have some big financial struggles, but it will be OK.
You will question your self-worth, but it will be OK.
You will have to work to find what makes you happy, but it will be OK.
You will laugh and cry and rant and rave, and it will be OK.
You will be terrible at math, but it will be OK…I’m still terrible at math.

Through everything you encounter, things will always have a way of working themselves out to be exactly the way they should. You don’t have to change who you are, or who you want to be. When the time comes, just continue being the smiling, hopeful kid you are in this picture. 


Future Matt


Dear Maria,

Turn to God and always trust in Him. He will never leave your side and will always guide you down the right path.  That intuition you will learn to eventually trust and listen to is Him and only Him.  Life is precious so continue to enjoy it day by day.  Don’t worry too much about the future because God will provide.

Never stop smiling because that is what brings joy and hope to people and the reason people are drawn to you.  It is a special gift from God.  Don’t ever let anyone try to stop your smiles because unfortunately they will but the love from God is stronger than any of them and that will triumph in the end.    

Don’t stop praying and going to Sunday mass.  This weekly ritual brings you joy and sharing it with your mother is priceless!   Family will always be there through thick and thin and they will always want the best for you so keep them first always.   Nature brings you peace and clarity so make sure to stay close to nature despite the attraction to the bright city lights.  Lights fade but never will the peace that nature brings to you.  

Continue to write in your journal.  Your letters to God will be your comfort and will teach you so much about yourself and what areas you need to heal.  As humans we tend to block events in our lives that affect us.  Through your writing you will remember and let go of where your fear comes from because God always wants you to be the BEST version of yourself!  The closer you are to God, the more you are learning what your purpose in life is.  You are a strong and loving woman that always wants the best for others.  Always fix your gaze on Him and anything is possible! 

Love Always, 


Knowledge is power, so use your resources to get as educated as possible. It brings confidence which will become your greatest attribute throughout your life - as a child and an adult.
Be considerate of others - kindness will follow once you do!

Become the voice of encouragement. It is OK to fail. Learn and move on.

Be independent. Don’t shy away from voicing your opinion. Others will react. Accept that everyone is different.

Outer beauty is what you are born with, but inner beauty is solely your own responsibility.

Control your anger. Forgive even if you can’t forget. It brings peace of mind and frees your soul.

Enjoy life. Experience everything - the good and the bad.

Live well!


I remember when our first daughter Samantha was born, I received a lot of advice on how to raise her.  This advice was wasted because I wasn't yet ready to hear and implement it.  It's for that reason that I'm going to forgo giving you wide sweeping words of wisdom and give you some more practical advice.

In Grade 2, one of your hockey gloves will go missing.  Jonathan took it.  In Grade 3, steer clear of Victor and pencils.  Get your eyes tested in Grade 4, you weren’t a weak student, you just couldn’t see the board.  Don’t write the same comment on your high-school mid-term feedback sheets, Rick will be really mad.  Do the victory lap in high-school, you need to mature.  Don’t be upset about not getting into university the first time around, it all works out.  After that, it’s all up to you.