To my 12-year-old self
  • Get a couple of mentors to help you build self-confidence and develop social skills
  • Get contact lenses ASAP (you did this at age 13, but 12 would have spared you the turmoils of 7th grade to a large degree…such as having the thickest glasses in Holly Hill Junior High, and being the quintessential Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dork)
  • Ask your dad more questions about his life
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously
  • Befriend people who aren’t like you
  • Insist that your parents get you help with your speech impediment
  • Practice at the batting cage a lot more, and get some off-season coaching on your stance and swing
To my 16-year-old self
  • Invest in a few quality friends who can be friends for life, including people who aren’t like you
  • Get involved in some kind of school extra-curricular activity, and stick with it; spend more time doing things like this than drinking in the woods with acquaintances
  • Persist in your book writing
  • Get another mentor or two, especially regarding the on-ramp to college (because you were clueless)
  • Take a look at your depression, anger, control, and anti-authority issues, with the help of a mental health professional
  • Accept that any girl you fall in love with is not likely to be “the one,” and ask out a lot more girls
  • Prioritize school work over your part-time job and car payments
  • Don’t blow off time with your dad
  • Don’t listen to so much classic rock all the time; diversify into more genres
To my 20-year-old self
  • Study abroad
  • Keep writing books; in fact, commit to the writing life now and don’t get psyched out by fear or comparisons
  • Get another mentor or two who can help you evaluate your options for college majors
  • Build on what you learned in your freshman interdisciplinary honors program, especially Joseph Campbell’s ideas
  • Date other people besides just one girl
  • Open your mind more toward diversity
  • Don’t rush the college experience
  • Practice getting better at taking standardized tests
  • Invest in a few additional quality friends who can be friends for life, including people who aren’t like you
  • Explore spiritual growth with careful study and practice
To my 24-year-old self
  • Travel; especially to Europe and to Oregon
  • Keep writing books
  • You’ve had three back-to-back serious relationships without a break; make a valid effort at being single
  • Take more chances on career options and where you choose to live
  • Get your own apartment, even if you think you can’t afford it, instead of living back home in Ormond Beach with your parents
  • Don’t just work all of the time
  • Invest in a few more quality friends who can be friends for life, including people who aren’t like you
  • Get a dog
  • Put as much as possible into savings
  • Continue to explore spiritual growth with an open mind
To my 29-year-old self
  • Travel more
  • Keep writing books
  • Keep cultivating the friendships you’ve already made while always remaining open to new ones
  • Spend extra time thinking through longer-term career ambitions (i.e., are seminary and ministry really the best calling for you?)
  • Invest in some property and hang onto it
To my 35-year-old self
  • Think carefully about your next career option, and don’t make decisions in isolation because of fear of what others will think
  • Keep investing in friendships
  • Travel even more!
  • Keep writing books (you start doing this again at age 37, so why not start at 35 instead?)
  • See your dad more, since you only have two years left with him
To my 40-year-old self
  • Yes, keep investing in friendships
  • Yes, travel
  • Yes, keep writing books (you’re doing this consistently now, so keep at it)
To my 47-year-old (current) self
  • Don’t linger too much in the past or hoped-for future; just live the moment to its fullest
  • Above all things, be compassionate, honest, loving, and patient with others; those close to you, and those who happen to cross your path
  • Continue to eat well and exercise a lot
  • Continue to learn
  • Continue to strengthen your professional knowledge and skills
  • Continue to travel (more Europe, get to Hawaii, Vermont, and Maine, and see a lot more of Oregon)
  • Continue to write (you’re polishing up your fifth book in less than 10 years)
  • Continue to save money and spend it wisely, and embrace a mindset of plenty vs. scarcity