What would your younger self have to say about where you ended up in life? I had a Lake House experience and exchanged letters with my 26-year-old self. As I wrote, I revealed the truth about motherhood. I gave up my past notions of what an ideal life would be like and adopted a new way of thinking.

26-year-old self: Dear future self: I can’t believe I am moving to the Cayman Islands! I applied to the television reporter position on a whim when I saw the job posting online. I said to myself, “Self, I’m a certified scuba diver. The Cayman Islands looks a lot better than Memphis, where a TV station reached out to me.” I hit send on the email, and surprisingly, the news director replied and asked me to overnight a résumé tape. Not long after, I was packing my bags and my new laptop. I could finish my New York Times bestselling book on a beautiful beach sipping a piña colada and watching suntanned men with alluring accents ride jet skis. Years from now, I’ll tour the country, autographing novels and donating a percentage of the profits to charity, including my own nonprofit that raises the self-esteem levels of young girls.

42-year-old self: Dear 26-year-old self: I had an amazing international experience! I traveled to Thailand and took a picture in front of the Golden Buddha–same place dad escaped Vietnam for much-needed R&R before returning to the war. I went wild water rafting (using my body as a raft!) down the winding rivers of Honduras, and I survived a weekend-long party at Jamaica’s carnival–still picking the paint out of my hair from J’ouvert! I lived on a beach and became closer to nature and God, and guess what? I finished that novel! Everyone said unpublished authors would never land an agent. I landed a dozen! I lost count of the people who asked to read my manuscript. One agent sent me a book by my favorite fiction writer and said I reminded her of her client! Never signed a contract, but was asked to make some edits. My boyfriend at the time even pitched in to cover the cost. I later moved in with that boyfriend and became a certified teacher at a high-needs school outside of Washington, DC. I planned to revise my novel and reach out to the interested agents. Then, I got busy–busy with work. Tried to close the achievement gap, which is a lot harder than I thought! My boyfriend and I broke up and made up again and again. We took a trip to Florida. I didn’t come back with a tee shirt or a key chain. I came back with stomach pains and nausea. I knew instantly that I was pregnant. I was later dumped–over the telephone–during my second trimester. My child’s father married someone else the weekend of our daughter’s first birthday. I found out he was engaged on Facebook. Fast forward, I healed from heartache, mostly because someone took up my whole heart–my beautiful and bright little girl. I can’t wait for you to meet her! She’ll be the love of your life. So, I’m sorry to tell you that I put my book on the shelf. It’s still sitting there, collecting dust. I apologize for disappointing you. Not where you thought you would be, huh? You never really wanted to get married or have kids.

26-year-old self: Dear 42-year-old self: I’m going to be a mother!?!?! Get out of here! I need to pause and get a box of tissues. I wonder if I named her Caitlynn. That’s my favorite name. I hope her father is actively involved in her life. I’m extremely close to dad–don’t know where I would be without him. At any rate, I can not wait to meet her! What is she like? Is she a motor mouth? Is she sassy? Mom always says that she hopes I have a daughter just like me, so I know what it was like to be in her shoes. A baby wasn’t in my plan. At all. But now that I know she’s there, in the future, I can’t believe I didn’t put being a mom on my things to do in my thirties list! Deepak Chopra once said, Even when you think you have your life all mapped out, things happen that shape your destiny in ways you might never have imagined. I’m glad you took a detour! But wait! Am I dying? I don’t understand why I can’t dust off my manuscript. I mean, I wrote more than 350 pages! The most popular character according to my best friends got dumped while pregnant. Wow! Am I psychic? Please know that just because your dream was deferred doesn’t mean it can’t be fulfilled. Before I go (have a date! He has an accent. I better not drink too many mojitos or else Caitlynn might come much sooner than planned! hahaha), what’s going on in the man department? I mean, Cait’s dad isn’t the only fish in the sea. Here in the Caymans, we have a Catch of the Day on the menu every day! What happened to, yeah, you know the one I always say I will end up with.

42-year-old self: Dear 26-year-old self: Whew! I’m so glad you aren’t upset! You know what, come to think of it, Caitlynn–yep, still love that name, is the best part of God’s plan for my life. I couldn’t imagine having a child but now that she’s here, I can’t imagine not having one! I tear up thinking about how absolutely incredible she is! And yes, “the one” I say will always be in my life is still in my heart! I don’t want to share everything. I want you to experience life–whether your heartaches or skips a beat. Oh, almost forgot! I’m not dying. Therefore, the project isn’t dead! I promise to breathe life back into the book this year. I’m no longer on my timeline. I’m trusting in God to lead me into my divine destiny when he thinks I’m ready. He once asked me, Why are you so afraid to give something up when it will be replaced with so much more? That’s why I’m giving past hurts and receiving my purpose in life. I won’t write again. I want you to enjoy the journey! Know that everything will be OK. God has an amazing ability to turn your burdens into blessings! Gotta go dust off my dreams!

Hey mamas–You have an assignment! Write a letter to your younger self. Be share to share it here, or in our private Facebook group! Think about a time when you could have used advice from an older, wiser you. Share what you learned about life since then.