Aug 14

Ally Chargualaf: An Open Letter To My Daughter On Her 21st Birthday

Every now and then I’m asked, “Doc, why aren’t you writing anymore? I miss your blogs!” Well, to be honest, I have a tendency to write from passion, meaning when I write or share something, I feel strongly about it. Having written probably over 500 blogs, articles, and papers over 30 years, I’m pretty much tapped out. But every now and then something spurs me to blog. Whether it’s someone picking on a competitor, exposing the fitness industry for what it truly is, clearing up misconceptions, half-truths, and flat-out lies, or just finding something that makes me think, “I need to blog this…”, then it’s time to put fingers to keyboard once again. This blog is one of those times.

P1020916Ally Chargualaf, a good friend of mine here in the Pacific Northwest, wrote a letter to her daughter, Mikaela, on Mikaela’s 21st birthday. Nothing special about that, right? I mean, we all write our children a lil sumpin’ sumpin’ on special days. But this letter touched me like few have. It’s a life letter, written with such love, compassion, care, and wisdom, that I read it twice as so much was said that made me think, “WOW!! I sure wish my parents would’ve told me this.” Even more, it made me think, “I wish I would’ve told MY OWN KIDS this!” Well, I probably did, in bits and pieces over their lifetime, just as my parents taught me in bits and pieces. But this letter Ally wrote to Mikaela pretty much summed up everything we, as parents, could possibly teach our children.

I asked for, and received permission to blog this. It’s my hope that parents will take to heart what Ally wrote, and share it when the time is right with their own children in their own way. Sometimes we just can’t find the right words to express ourselves. Ally did. Ally gave me her blessing to share this. I’m giving you mine. Feel free to share it as this is what I’d term a ‘teachable life lesson’. Enjoy…

An Open Letter to My Daughter on Her 21st Birthday

Ally Chargualaf collage

Dear baby girl,

Happy birthday, My Love. And congratulations on making it in one piece to this incredible milestone in your life. That’s not to say there haven’t been some bumps and potholes along the way, but then who in life can say they haven’t experienced the same? Now that you’re an adult, there are some words of wisdom I need to share. Much of it comes from my own experience. And some comes from just paying attention to the world around you. So pay attention.

  • Your siblings are your lifeline.
    Friends will come and go, but your siblings are forever. Lean on one another during the hard times. Cry on each other’s shoulders for comfort. Call them first when good things happen. And never judge their choices, behavior, or decisions harshly, because one day you will need them to be just as non-judgmental when you do something questionable. Never ever take that bond you have for granted. It’s possibly one of the greatest gifts that we as parents can give you…a friend for life.
  • I know that getting up every morning for work isn’t easy and that sometimes dealing with other people and their crappy personalities can be rough. Stress will become an everyday companion as you enter the adult world, but it doesn’t have to control you. Remember that your job is just that…your job. It isn’t your life. Leave work at the door.
  • Do what you love. Love what you do. For goodness sakes, don’t work in a career field you hate for 40 years. Your sanity and happiness are worth more than money. Responsibility sucks. But so does living paycheck to paycheck. Never ever quit one job before having another lined up. Trust me. You’ll never find a new job as quickly as you think you can.
  • Get rid of the toxic people in your life. Being an adult can be tricky, but having the right people at your side can make all the difference in the world. If there are people in your life sucking the happiness out of you, separate yourself from them. For good. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.
  • Never rush into anything important. Rash decisions are usually a bad idea. Buying a home, buying a car, getting married, having children, choosing a daycare…..always take your time.
  • Be spontaneous. I know, I know. I just contradicted myself. But hear me out. Go out for dinner at the last minute with the man you love, even if you aren’t wearing any makeup. Wake up on a Saturday morning and drive for 3 hours just to eat at a burger place in a different county. Have fun. You’re only young once.
  • Find your tribe. A tribe is a group of people who like you and will support you no matter what. They will lift you up and encourage you at every turn. When you fall down and feel like you can’t get up, they’ll be there to help you get back on your feet. I can’t begin to tell you how important this is.
  • Follow your dreams, whatever they are. My entire life was spent trying to fit into a mold of someone else’s design. I was told that I could be anything I wanted to be so long as it was exactly what they wanted me to be. In the end, I spent the majority of my life trying to make other people happy while I was making myself miserable. And being miserable just made those close to me miserable as well. But once I surrounded myself with a supportive tribe of people who truly believed in me, and I started to live my dream, life began to fall into place. And I was happy.
  • Never give up. When you fall down, get up. When you fall down again, get up again. Repeat as necessary. Eventually…you’ll stop falling. [And remember]. if you never try, you’ve already failed. So regardless of how afraid you are of something, give it a shot. You have nothing to lose.
  • Fear is not your enemy. Complacency is.
  • Ally Chargualaf-kidsThe older you get, the faster time flies. Trust me. One day, you’re minding your own business thinking how young you still are and suddenly you’ll look down and realize you have the hands of an old woman. It catches up to you fast. Don’t be in such a hurry to get to Friday each week. Those Fridays add up. Don’t be in such a hurry for your children to talk, walk, and start school, because one day you’ll look up and they’ve left the nest. Time is an unkind mistress. Make every day count.
  • Be grateful for what you have and don’t pine for what you don’t. Let’s face facts. We can’t all be millionaires and live in giant home, drive fast cars, and go on expensive vacations. As much as we’d like to have those things in our lives, it isn’t realistic for 99% of us. Instead, be happy with what you have. And most of all, don’t go into debt trying to attain that perfect life. Perfect is a relative term.
  • Never…and I can’t emphasize this enough…never ever compare yourself to anyone else. It’s exhausting. And the funny thing is this — while you’re comparing yourself to other people, wondering why you fall short of their perfection, someone is looking in your direction thinking they need to compare themselves to you. Figure out who you are and be that with everything you have. Never apologize for being you.
  • When you find THE guy, make date night a priority. Even if it’s only once a month. Make the time to be a couple. Don’t get so consumed in your lives that you forget why you’re together in the first place.
  • Life is full of pain. We all have it in one form or another. But it’s how you deal with that pain that will define you. If you focus on the pain and things that are completely out of your control, that’s all you’ll know. Instead, focus on the things you do have control over. Focus on the good. Place all your energy into making your life and the life of others better.
  • Stay out of debt. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.
  • Trust your gut. As a woman, it will rarely fail you. But you have to listen to it.
  • Write down your goals. Look at them often. Figure out how to achieve them.
  • Never tell yourself you can’t. Always ask yourself how can you.
  • Kindness begets kindness. Being a jackass has repercussions.
  • Get a pet. Stop worrying about the hair. That’s why you own a vacuum. They’ll love you unconditionally. Trust me. After a bad day, they can make it all better.
  • Take care of yourself. Take care of your teeth. Work out. Drink plenty of water. Use moisturizer. Eat a balanced diet. I’m telling you…you don’t want to look back and wish you’d taken better care of yourself. By then, it’s too late.
  • Never buy generic toilet paper.
  • Target and Costco are the most addicting places to shop. Never ever think you can simply go in for one item and leave with just that one item. You’re just kidding yourself.
  • Smile more
    • Cry more
    • Love Hard


Ally Chargualaf-daughter




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