Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How I Lost and Kept Off 30 Pounds of Fat

It was 1993 or 1994. I remember clearly going to Texas Children's Hospital. I was scared because I knew I was going for tests and it must be serious because I was driving to downtown for said tests. I don't remember much about the day except for the explanation of my results I had high triglycerides and I would suffer from this for the rest of my life I was told. I was considered obese for my age and this was something I would struggle with through adulthood. I'm not 100% sure how I felt about the news at the time, but it probably wasn't like a million bucks.

I remember going home and being limited to two soft drinks a day (wow). Around May of 1994 my parents got a divorce. They fought all the time, and it was hardly amicable. It was really quite sad and painful. One effect of this divorce was that there was little time or attention to meals. I remember getting lots of fast food, which in an odd way was comforting. The turmoil of life around me was balanced out by the consistency of a meal. I can remember around this time getting egg mcmuffins on the way to school frequently. Looking back now I see that food became a sort of emotional crutch. If we were upset we got food, it's just what we did.

In 7th grade (1995) I believe I was somewhere around 5'4 or so and 180 pounds. This would be the largest I would ever be even to this day. It's tough being overweight in school, you get made fun of, girls aren't really attracted to you, and you just don't feel that great. Then things started to change. I started football which I loved with a passion. No matter what was going on at home, I could take it out on the field, and I would go hard. Playing made me start to at least think about athletic endeavors such as weight lifting and nutrition. I didn't make any drastic changes just small ones. Occasionally I would have a salad at lunch and I stopped drinking soft drinks. I recall just cutting out soft drinks made me lose ten pounds. I started to lose weight due to my increased activity and very minor changes in my diet.

By the end of junior high in 1997 I was leaner and more athletic than I had ever been. I had my first date and all that. Even though I was still technically overweight the loss I had already achieved 10-15 pounds gave me a huge boost in confidence. At the start of tenth grade I weighed somewhere in the neighborhood of 160. In highschool I began to increase my lifting due to football. I didn't lose much weight, but slowly started to replace fat mass with muscle. Diet started playing a role and I started to remove things from my diet such as fast food. By the end of highschool I weighed about 155.

When I started freshman year of college in the fall of 2001 I would play rugby for Texas A&M as a wing; which is reserved for the fastest players on the team. I was the third or fourth fastest guy out of about 50. I hadn’t turned into an Abercrombie model, but I was in better than average shape. It took 6 years. I went from one of the most overweight kids in my class to one of the fastest on my college team.

If you fast forward to today I weigh about 160 and have roughly a 12-14% body fat percentage. It took all six years. Diets don't work. I didn't do a fad diet. I made small measured changes over six years that I knew I could sustain for the long term. To this day I have an extremely healthy blood count. I apologize for not knowing my numbers, but my doctor told me they were "excellent". My triglycerides are in the extremely low range. My resting pulse is 72 or so and my blood pressure is around 76/112.

This isn’t unique to me. My brother had his own journey. He got up to 230 and now weighs 170, and he didn't play sports in highschool. You don’t have to copy exactly what I do, everyone’s path is different. He was as committed, and found the slow minor changes he could make to get fit.

Changing your lifestyle is not easy. It takes dedication and a commitment. You can’t 180 your lifestyle and all of a sudden be fit. It’s a commitment to small quantifiable changes. I don't know if anyone is in the midst of this, but if you are I understand. According to what doctors told me in 5th grade I should be extremely overweight (top 5%) for my age group. I should still have high triglycerides and be extremely unhealthy. Instead I chose my own path and changed my life; you can too.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
-Lao Tzu

Quotes- Fearless

When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is one of my favorites. Have you ever done something that you felt would be difficult or feared doing it and did it anyway. Often on the other side we realize the thing we feared wasn't worth fearing at all, and what was standing in our way was merely ourselves.

Quotes- What's Holding You Back?

When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is one of my favorites. Have you ever done something that you felt would be difficult or feared doing it and did it anyway. Often on the other side we realize the thing we feared wasn't worth fearing at all, and what was standing in our way was merely ourselves.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Quotes- The Path with Heart

Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn't, it is of no use. Both paths lead nowhere; but one has a heart the other doesn't. One makes for a joyful journey; as long as you follow it you are one with it. The other will make you curse your life. One makes you strong; the other weakens you.
-Carlos Castaneda

Carlos Castaneda was an interesting individual. Regardless of one's opinion of him or his works his words focus on the simplistic pursuit of morality and happiness. Life is about doing what you love with people you love. Choosing a path with heart. It's that easy, and yet it never seems to work out that wayjavascript:void(0).

Why isn't is so simple? Part of the human experience is focusing on an end goal. Get to x. Inherently, it's what we do and yet life isn't like that. We don't judge a life by when it ends, but rather by the journey that was taken in between. It's very hard to do, but focus on the road. You choose the right road and you will reach the right destination; not the other way around.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Quotes- Thanksgiving

What if you gave someone a gift, and they neglected to thank you for it – would you be likely to give them another? Life is the same way. In order to attract more of the blessings that life has to offer, you must truly appreciate what you already have.
-Ralph Marston

One of my thirty day experiments was to list 10 things I was thankful for everyday in order to remind myself how blessed I truly am. Three weeks in I was overwhelmed at the realization of how fortunate and thankful I should be. To this day I consider myself extremely lucky and fortunate. Don't forget how blessed you are. Honestly, would you really want to be someone else?

Take tomorrow and this weekend to just share in the joy that is your friends and family. We are all connected in this great world and whatever energy we put out comes back to us. For all of you reading I wish you an excellent rest of the week.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How to Start the Job of Your Dreams Today

The first time I posted to this blog was January 28, 2009. This was actually the day I moved all of my posts from myspace over to their current location which you now read. The post on Lou Holtz is from August of 2008. So if we assume that start date I started writing this blog when I was twenty five and going in to my second year in big 4 accounting. Two years ago is a long time.

Looking back now I’m very glad to have recorded my thoughts, because I realize that we rarely remember much and what we do remember is highly distorted. For example, if you asked me to recall for you my trip to Europe last April and tell you everything I could remember, perhaps I could talk for an hour or two. Instead I journaled out the entire experience. Reading through the material I have hours upon hours of recollection. Many lessons I learned or feelings I had became muted by a faded memory, and reading through my thoughts rekindles my experience.

So when I started this blog the purpose of it was to record my journey toward discovering my life’s purpose. What did I want from life? I was coming out of college where I originally thought you were supposed to discover yourself and realized through my search that life is more about creating yourself.

If you had asked me my ideal job two years ago I’m not sure exactly what I would have come up with. It would have been something along the lines of a small business owner. At the end of the day I wasn’t sure. My resolve then was to pursue the things that interested me and to discover new and exciting adventures; which I did and continue to do. So I read quite a few books on small business, I subscribed to blogs by entrepreneurs, and I thought about and discussed these topics. Never knowing if I would ever use the information, nonetheless, I cultivated my interest.

And there is no dramatic montage here. In fact, my pace was slow and arbitrary at best, but I did SOMETHING. And over the course of two years I learned a lot. So yes the point of this post, in September of this year I found myself in a job that I found less and less interesting and more and more monotonous. I decided to check the job market. The market outlook for individuals leaving Big 4 accounting is actually very good. When I was searching I saw the typical jobs and actually got a great offer from a very good company above market price for someone with my experience. Now I must note that the story could have ended here, and it does for many. Get the good job work and succeed. Though occasionally, preparation meets opportunity…

I got a call from a recruiter who doesn’t recruit the standard big 4 market and decided to do one interview more out of courtesy than interest. In the interview I recalled my keen interest and study of small business and entrepreneurship. The recruiter then informed me of a position requiring much more experience (5-7 years) than I had, but perhaps with my background and outside interest I could land it.

I went and interviewed at aforementioned small company with less experience than the other candidates, and I wowed them. I discussed some accounting and finance improvements that could be implemented immediately to help the Company. Additionally, I outlined some financial metrics and spreadsheets that the Company could use to make business decisions based on financial information. This coupled with my self taught knowledge of small business and its problems allowed me to offer some beneficial suggestions. I got offered the job two weeks later.

Two years ago, I couldn’t have predicted I would be sitting in my own office about to give a financial presentation on the direction of a company I may soon have an equity stake in. But I am. And that’s life, we can’t know where it will take us. Instead what we can do is take our natural talents and interests and develop them. That way when the opportunity comes we can seize it.

We all are skilled for some particular job. And what that ideal job is you don’t know or you would be doing it. Instead may I suggest that you pursue your interests and discover what excites you and grows you as a person. Because perhaps one day when you least expect it, preparation will meet opportunity.

Quotes- No Regrets

Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.
-Sydney J. Harris

Have you ever passed up an opportunity only to have it haunt you for a long time? It's happened to me before. To the point that the torment of my inaction was far worse than any possible consequences. So I resolved to change that. I would just go for it. If it didn't happen fine; if it did even better. Don't be the old man talking about what he could have or should have done. Instead do it. Here is how I try to decide in the moment.

What’s the worst possible likely outcome?
What’s the best possible likely outcome?
Is it likely that I will regret doing this?
Is it likely that I will regret not doing this?
When faced with a hard decision (it’s hard because both outcomes are about equal) take the scary one.
Risks work best as a habit
-Tynan’s list of questions

Monday, November 22, 2010

Quotes- Friendship

Are not all lifelong friendships born at the moment when at last you meet another human being who has some inkling (but faint and uncertain even in the best) of that something which you were born desiring, and which, beneath the flux of other desires and in all the momentary silences between the louder passions, night and day, year by year, from childhood to old age, you are looking for, watching for, listening for?
-C.S. Lewis

True wealth is built from friends and family, from experiences and relationships — it is derived from a life filled with meaning.
-J.D., Get Rich Slowly

Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies.

I value the friend who for me finds time on his calendar, but I cherish the friend who for me does not consult his calendar.
-Robert Brault

I had an excellent weekend and it was the result of great times with great friends. If you don't currently have great friends in your life make that a priority; surrounding yourself with great people is probably the easiest and most well trodden road to happiness, if not the only one. To share joy and success with others is one of life's greatest gifts.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Quotes- George Bernard Shaw

Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.
-George Bernard Shaw

A gentleman is one who puts more into the world than he takes out.
-George Bernard Shaw

The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can't find them, make them.
-George Bernard Shaw

All great truths begin as blasphemies.
-George Bernard Shaw

Democracy is a device that insures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.
-George Bernard Shaw

He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.
-George Bernard Shaw

I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.
-George Bernard Shaw

I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation.
-George Bernard Shaw

Life contains but two tragedies. One is not to get your heart's desire; the other is to get it.
-George Bernard Shaw

She had lost the art of conversation but not, unfortunately, the power of speech.
-George Bernard Shaw

Some look at things that are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?
-George Bernard Shaw

Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.
-George Bernard Shaw

A famous playwright, Oscar, and Nobel Prize winner Shaw supported the challenge of status quo. I love quotes that sprinkle truths with clever phrases or thoughts, and Shaw often does that. Most importantly though he buttresses the belief that we are who we want to become and to free ourselves of our social or mental limitations is part of the human experience. Life is about creating yourself; there is no greater project, and when you die leave the world better than you found it. Be remembered through the accomplishments of others. To just change yourself has a limited affect. To change 10 people that change 10 more people etc. can change the world.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Quotes- Never Worry

Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.
—Marcus Aurelius

It will all be ok in the end. If it's not ok then it's not the end.

Don't take life too seriously, you'll never get out alive.
- Leonardo Di Caprio, Catch Me if You Can

Worry isn't fruitful because it assumes a lot. 1) You know what is going to happen and 2) Thinking about it will make it better. Neither one of these assumptions are true. Worry creates anxiousness which leads our fight vs flight response to wake up. This leads to stress which leads to unhappiness which waters down our quality of life. I remember in college I committed to not sweat the small stuff. It's small for a reason. I can't tell you any of the test grades I got in college, because they don't matter now. In fact most of the things we worry about have almost no impact on our future. As Seth Godin says don't give in to the lizard brain. If something needs to be done do it, worrying doesn't change the circumstance it just changes you; and not for the better.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Quotes- Ocho Cinco

Some people say the grass is always greener on the other side. I say be the gardener. Water it. Feed it. Make your own grass grow. I make the grass greener wherever I am. I'm the gardener.
-Chad Johnson

I find it funny that one of the most profound quotes I have read comes from a wilding out NFL receiver more known for his antics than his play. And yet here it is. We can create our own circumstances. Joy, happiness, and contentment are the result of our labors, attitudes, and outlook. Why worry about what's happening in the next yard; you can't control that. Instead take your world and make it the reality you only dreamed of. It's possible we just have to believe.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Quotes- Change Your Perspective

In dwelling, live close to the ground.
In thinking, keep to the simple.
In conflict, be fair and generous.
In governing, don't try to control.
In work, do what you enjoy.
In family life, be completely present.
-Tao Te Chang paragraph 8

Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.
-Tao Te Chang paragraph 44

To live until you die is to live long enough.
-Lao Tzu, Tao Te Chang

Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.
-Lao Tzu, Tao Te Chang

A Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.
-Lao Tzu

The reason why rivers and seas receive the homage of a hundred mountain streams is that they keep below them. Thus they are able to reign over the mountain streams. So the sage, wishing to be above men, putteth himself below them; wishing to be before them, he putteth himself behind them. Thus, though his place be above men, they do not feel his weight; though his place be before them, they do not count it an injury.

After reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance I have determined that exposure to Eastern philosophy should be mandatory. We view the world through the logos of Greek philosophy. This is our reality and thus we accept it because we are not taught the alternatives. IMO we don't have it all right. In Eastern philosophy, peace, contentment and fulfillment lie within us. What we give to the world we receive back. Imagine if humanity felt this way. Beautiful

Friday, November 12, 2010

Quotes- John Wooden

Ability is a poor man's wealth.
-John Wooden

Adversity is the state in which man mostly easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free of admirers then.
-John Wooden

Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.
-John Wooden

Don't measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but what you should have accomplished with your ability.
-John Wooden

If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?
-John Wooden

Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.
-John Wooden

Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.
-John Wooden

Sports do not build character. They reveal it.
-John Wooden

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Quotes- How to Get Rich

There are two goddesses in your head. The Goddess of Wisdom and the Goddess of Wealth. Everyone thinks they need to get wealth first, and wisdom will come. So they concern themselves with chasing money. But they have it backwards. You have to give your heart to the Goddess of Wisdom, giver her all your love and attention, and the Goddess of Wealth will become jealous, and follow you.
— Joe Vigil

A great book by Seth Godin called The Dip outlines what it takes to be great. It's real easy. Well not really. It's a hell of a lot of work crafting and honing your skill set. If it was easy everyone would do it. You have to pursue your craft; do well enough and the money comes.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Quotes- Failure leads to Success

It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood. Who, at best, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
-Theodore Roosevelt

It's easy to criticize it takes 2 minutes and no risk. Many people find it easier to go about finding the fault in the pursuits of others because it hides their inaction. If you are failing then I'm better is their logic. Failing sucks. We've all done it and those that are successful have done it countless times.

Steve Jobs was fired from Apple and invested most of his money in a company called Pixar; he believed that graphic rendering computers had a market. They didn't. The company cost Jobs over 55 million in it's first six years; more than most people make in a lifetime. Many journalists and industry experts called Jobs a wash out. Disney decided to collaborate on a small film with the floundering company hoping to break even with the revenue. The film was Toy Story. It became one of the highest grossing pictures of all time. Fast forward to today and Pixar is the most successful film company in history.

In his book Delivering Happiness Tony Hsieh recalls losing a small fortune keeping the Company afloat. It just wasn't working; he lost everything. Then sales started trickling in. A revolutionary customer service department was generated. Shoes were shipped same day and people were amazed. Now Zappo's is one of the largest online retailers in the world. Great successes are more the result of great persistence through great failures than great ideas.

Success if often achieved by those who don't know that failure is inevitable.
- Coco Chanel

When I was young I observed that nine out of every ten things I did were failures, so I did ten times more work.
-George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Quotes- Life

Man must seek his life in a spirit of furious indifference to it; he must desire life like water and drink death like wine.

What does it take to be happy; to find joy? I spent many years in my twenties trying to figure that out. There isn't a uniform answer. We are all different and special, have our own dreams and desires. Happiness is a commitment to an attitude and a preservation of an ideal. All happiness takes is a furious commitment to living your ideal life and not compromising. Love life it's special, it's beautiful, and you only get one shot.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Quotes- Winston Churchill

Churchill was a man that proved you could daily drink a gallon of scotch a day, smoke 20 cigars by evening, be abrasive and gallish, and still be one of the most beloved leaders, poets, and countryman of all time. He was a man among men and thoroughly entertaining.

You make a living by what you get: you make a life by what you give.
- Winston Churchill

An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile—hoping it will eat him last.
-Winston Churchill

Nancy Astor: Sir, if you were my husband, I would give you poison.
Winston Churchill: If I were your husband I would take it.

A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.
-Winston Churchill

Once in a while you will stumble upon the truth but most of us manage to pick ourselves up and hurry along as if nothing had happened.
-Winston Churchill

If you are going to go through hell, keep going.
-Winston Churchill

It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations.
-Winston Churchill

You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.
-Winston Churchill

History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.
-Winston Churchill

I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the ordeal of meeting me is another matter.
-Winston Churchill

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
-Winston Churchill

To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.
-Winston Churchill

Politics is the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn’t happen.
-Winston Churchill

Success is going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm.
-Winston Churchill

Never give in. Never give in. Never, never never, never- in nothing, great or small, large or petty- never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.
-Winston Churchill

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Quotes- Perspective

Charlie Kaufman: There was this time in high school. I was watching you out the library window. You were talking to Sarah Marsh.
Donald Kaufman: Oh, God. I was so in love with her.
Charlie Kaufman: I know. And you were flirting with her. And she was really sweet to you.
Donald Kaufman: I remember that.
Charlie Kaufman: Then, when you walked away, she started making fun of you with Kim Canetti. It was like they were making fun of *me*. You didn't know at all. You seemed so happy.
Donald Kaufman: I knew. I heard them.
Charlie Kaufman: How come you looked so happy?
Donald Kaufman: I loved Sarah, Charles. It was mine, that love. I owned it. Even Sarah didn't have the right to take it away. I can love whoever I want.
Charlie Kaufman: She thought you were pathetic.
Donald Kaufman: That was her business, not mine. You are what you love, not what loves you. That's what I decided a long time ago.
-Adaptation, 2002

I watched this movie on suggestion from my friend Thomas Heard, who by the way has excellent cinematic taste, and instantly it became one of my favorites. Donald and Charlie are two identical twins (both played by Nick Cage). They are exactly the same and yet one has an amazing life while the other loathes and laments his existence. It reminds me that perspective is everything and this exchange perfectly captures that feeling.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Quotes- Just Do It

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
But, he with a chuckle replied
That "maybe it couldn’t," but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

Somebody scoffed: "Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one has done it";
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle it in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That "couldn’t be done," and you’ll do it.

-It couldn’t be Done; Edgar Guest

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Quotes- How Lucky Are You?

…here is this barrel with 6.5 billion balls, everybody in the world, if you could put your ball back, and they took out a random 100 balls and you had to pick one of those, would you put your ball back in? Now those 100 balls you are going to get out, roughly 5 of them will be American, 95/5. So if you want to be in this country, you will only have 5 balls, half of them will be women and half men--I will let you decide how you will vote on that one. Half of them will be below average in intelligence and half above average in intelligence. Do you want to put your ball in there? Most of you will not want to put your ball back to get 100. So what you are saying is: I am in the luckiest one percent of the world right now sitting in this room-- the top 1% of the world.
-Warren Buffett

I've commented on this before. Feel free to read it.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Quotes- Advice for 20 somethings

Wear Sunscreen
by Mary Schmich

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.


Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.

Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.
Respect your elders.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.