Things I’d Tell My 17-Year-Old Self

1. I know you’re more worried about what’s going on at school right now than spending time with your family, but one day, you’ll enjoy being with your Mom so much you’ll take road trips to some really pretty places together.

(1a. Pay more attention to the things she writes to you in those cards she leaves on your bed.)

2. When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Take half the clothes and twice the money. (Heller)

3. Start each day by looking up. It’ll widen your horizon.

4. The human spirit needs places where nature hasn’t been rearranged by the hand of man. Take more walks in the woods!

5. You know all that weird “old stuff” your Mom thinks is so cool right now? (screen doors, stone chimneys, old windows) You’ll be crazy about it all one day, too.

(5a. You’ll love that kind of stuff so much you’ll even start a blog about it.) (PS- I know you don’t know what a blog is right now, but trust me, you’ll be crazy about those too one day.)

6. Those architectural drawings your Mom works on in her office may not intrigue you now, but one day, you’ll be passionate about drawing rooms to scale for people too. Ask her questions about what she’s working on and take notes!

7. This may be hard to believe, but weeding the garden isn’t going to kill you.

(7a. one day, you’ll wish you had enough time, talent and space to grow all the amazing things your Mom does!)

8. Life is like riding a bicycle – in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. (Einstein) Follow your heart and fight for your dreams!

9. Riding bike might not seem like a very “cool” thing to do right now, but one day you’ll see a grass green Schwinn cruiser that’ll take your breath away.

10. Buy a bike now and ride it whenever you can! There are awesome bike trails all over the place, just ask your Mom.

(PS- I know you get cold easily and worry about your bullet-proof bangs getting messed up, but most of the trails in your area are sheltered by woods. )

11. In late September, spend less time looking at Tiger Beat magazine, and more time looking at the trees explode with color.

(PS- You aren’t going to meet and marry Jon Knight from NKOTB. Don’t worry- there’s another music man out there whose heart has your name written all over it.)

12. Pay more attention in photography class. There’s a road from the eye to the heart that doesn’t go through the intellect, (Chesterton) and one day you’ll slam on the brakes to take pictures of things you don’t even notice are beautiful right now.

13. Ask your Mom to teach you how to cook. If you don’t take the time to learn how to do it now, you’ll be eating cereal, sandwiches and Stouffer’s when you’re 37. I’m not kidding.

14. Cherish the sky-blue painted wood floor in your bedroom. One day, you’ll want to paint the wood floors in your own home, but you’ll be too scared to do it!

15. Do not, I repeat, do not try to use a fire escape ladder to sneak out your second floor bedroom window. You will regret it. I promise.

16. Being grounded isn’t the worst thing in the world. When you get older, you’ll actually enjoy sitting still.

17. I hate to break it to you, but you will always be afraid of the dark. Invest in a good nightlight and take it with you wherever you go!

18. The 3’s of life are choices, chances, and changes. You’ve gotta make a choice to take a chance in order to change. (unknown)

(18a. The 4th C is Chex mix. Not only will you carry a bag of it wherever you go when you’re 37 years old, but you’ll also use it to king your checkers on one of the road trips you take with your Mom that year.)

19. Your Mom is totally right about that whole water thing. Sweat, tears, and the sea can cure anything.

20. At different points throughout your adult life, your inner fire will go out. Don’t worry. Spend time with people who can rekindle your inner spirit and don’t ever forget to tell them how much they mean to you.

21. When it comes to solving problems, dig at the roots. Don’t just hack at the leaves. (D’Angelo)

22. Sometimes, the most important thing in a whole day is the rest you take between two deep breaths. (Hillesum)

23. You might not ever figure out exactly what you want to be when you grow up, but that’s okay.

Your parents are totally cool with your artsy-fartsyness, and life is more about the journey than the destination.

24. Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine. (D’Angelo)

25. Be like the color yellow as much as possible. Optimistic and cheerful!

26. Read more books. Someday you’ll want to write one.

27. Blog about your road trips with your Mom and include lots of pictures so you can relive the memories you shared with her for years to come.

Some of them will instantly transport you back to the day Mother Nature seemed to be celebrating her presence by showering her with crunchy “leaf confetti” every time the wind blew extra hard. (Remember how she had to guard her coffee from the celebration!)

Some of them will bring back memories of exploring interesting places, sipping wine out of tiny juice glasses, and making up your own rules because neither of you knew how to really play…

And fortunately, some of them will be there for you to witness over and over again…

Camping In Wisconsin
Ranch Potatoes

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  1. Helen says

    Thanks so much for the wonderful tribute to the time spent and love shared with your mom. I know you realize how blessed you are to have one another!

  2. says

    Layla, that was truly beautiful… brought a tear to my eye. Wish I had that relationship with my Mom that you so cherish with your Mom… but I will be sure to have it with my two daughters (and my son if he’ll let me!)

  3. says

    Oh Layla, you never cease to inspire. Never has a blog post brought me to tears – but that one sure did!
    Probably because I’m about to hit the flea market with my mom and I know days like this won’t be here forever! Memories are such precious gifts! Thank you for reminding us all of this – it makes today SO special!
    -Emily Knotts

  4. laura says


    You are so talented and soulful! You are lucky to have your Mom! I lost mine almost 6 years ago… Sounds like you appreciate her and enjoy each other! Lucky you!

  5. says

    I came here to find the original source of the tree house photo. What a pleasant surprise to find myself absorbed in this incredibly sweet post. I pinned the tree house photo (which is amazing), but I think the post itself is even more amazing. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Pam says

    I keep re-reading your blog about your Minnesota road trip…I grew up there, and have been inspired to purchase our childhood home there, to be used for a summer home, and re-do it.

  7. Sunny Beamish says

    How heart drenching was your blog a cool drink of water for a thirsty heart..I always fall in love with fall..God’s nature displays her beauty before she goes to sleep.
    I like the pumpkins best for the giveaway esp the white, rust. and green ones..the acorns remind me of the squirrels who caused us too much grief.

  8. Heather says

    What a beautiful post Layla. This is was the second stop for me on your blog. I’m sure I will be coming back to this one again and again. And, I will be sending it along to my own mother, with whom I’ve just begun making road-trip memories with. Thanks so much and keep posting

  9. Nichole says

    A wonderful mother is such a beautiful blessing. I love this blog & will visit often. Enchanting!
    Does anyone have recomendations for old kitchen remodels on a tight budget?

  10. Danielle says

    This post is beautiful. I’m in the process of losing my mom (terminal lung cancer) and celebrating our last Easter has been hard. Cherish the time you have with your mom and all the memories you are making!

  11. says

    Love this…I think it is time I grab my mother, grandmother, and daughter and take a road trip. Oh how you really become much wiser with age. God has blessed us with so much and that post was what I needed. Thank you!

  12. Linda says

    I love your posts, and your choice of quotations has really touched me and inspired me. Thank you!