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Dear Younger Me

A Letter to My Younger Self

[Introduction will go on page 1. ]

Time. Seems like no one ever has enough of it, and once it’s gone there’s no getting it back. But what if you could somehow reach a younger, less experienced version of yourself and give them a simple message? What would you say? We posed these questions to a group of small-business women from different walks of life. What did they say? Their answers might surprise you.

[Jenn Finley letter will go on page 2.]

Hey Jenn,

Life is like an open book, some chapters are sad, some are happy, and some are life changing. But, if you never turn the page, you will never know what the next chapter has planned for you. Never let your doubts or fears blind your path, there is always light at the end of the road. Always believe in yourself and trust your gut instincts. 

Love and cherish your parents and family unconditionally—time is never promised. 

Choose a career path that makes sense to you, take chances. Set goals. Reach your goals. Make yourself happy first and foremost. Always listen to your heart about love—heartbreaks are inevitable—but always believe in true love. Soulmates are real, trust me. 

Last, love and live your life to the very fullest. Make each chapter of your life count. It's your life.



[Emily Chiles Startz letter will go on page 3.]

Dear Younger Me,

I am sitting in my newly opened art gallery surrounded by paintings I created, listening to Beethoven, contemplating what I would reveal to you about the last 40 or 50 years. So many things I tried—I failed, but I also succeeded.

The most painful failure was my corporate career.  The exhaustive hours I worked, and the seriousness with which I took every assignment did not enable me to be the laid-back team player that seemed to be the key to business success. To acknowledge a company would rather do without my effort and energy, and chance success with an unknown yet-to-be-hired replacement was crushing!

“Me too” was an unknown phrase back then.  I endured that too. Personal relationships were difficult too. Again, despite my best efforts I often failed. Dating was more of a chalk it up and move on experience. Casual encounters rarely led to more than that.

What I learned, finally, was to take the time to become a friend. So at 48, I married.  We lived a life most would envy. Becoming a widow meant success; I was not replaced. Imagine my surprise to report a second marriage. 

And, the biggest news is one I will not reveal because it is just too amazing.  Let me just say, feed your creative bug, and you will find happiness.

So take my advice. Don’t take your job or yourself too seriously. But do find a new job before you quit. 

Good luck!


[Nelia Shehaj letter, layout p. 4.]

Hello Dear, 

I know how much you worry about the future. I feel your fears and see your big dreams. Some days, you don’t know how your future will unfold and who is in it to share it with you. 

Let me tell you that there’s a sweet surprise waiting for you. Everything you dreamed in your heart is here. Maybe not in the exact way you thought it would happen or in the exact time. But it’s here and it’s real. 

It has not been easy to get here. You had to persevere and work hard. You had to pray with all your heart and let your curiosity and passion lead the way. Then, you had to learn to trust in amazing people and be part of a community. 

Your vision is way bigger now. You have accomplished so much but want to do so much more. In fact, you are not even halfway there. But don’t worry, life has been so generous with you and there are beautiful people around you who love you and you love them back. You are enough and you have everything you need to go where you want to go. 

Some days are hard but every day is a beautiful new opportunity. You don't have to worry one bit, my love—you got this! 

What I’ve learned on my journey thus far is that Paulo Coelho was spot on: “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” 

Keep on working, loving and learning. Also, don’t forget to have fun. 

Much love, 

Your future self



  • Emily Chiles Startz, Gallery Owner and Artist, The Woodlands Art Gallery and Studios
  • Jenn Finley, Owner and Operator, Roof Concepts Construction
  • Nelia Shehaj, Founder and Owner, Luliet Creamery and Bake Shop