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Maria Gutzeit: Notes to my daughter ... and myself

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Posted: February 27, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 27, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Dear Emma,
You are 14 months old, but probably won’t care to read this for more than 20 years. My grand plan is to write updates to you every year but, as you can see, I’m already off track.

Nevertheless, here are some things that I think will be helpful to you. I need to remind myself of them frequently as well.

First – just do it. I was hoping this would be eloquent, but rather than not doing it at all, I figured I’d better just start writing.

When I was 20 I moved across the country to a state where I knew no one. It seems a lot scarier when you’re older and set in your ways.

Whatever you want to try — just do it. Grandpa tried to talk me out of bike racing, but I got to travel the country and see places I would have never gone. It was worth it.

On the flip side — pay attention to details. Paperwork. Receipts. Trends that will affect you, your job, your finances. It can make you a little hyper, but being detail-oriented hasn’t seemed to have a significant downside yet.

Ask me about the dishwasher I bought without researching it because it looked good. I hated that dishwasher and it bugged me to no end.

Distinguish between news and people frothing at the mouth. Right now there is some debate about balanced reporting vs. reporting the facts.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but that doesn’t mean all opinions represent reality. People will offer up selective facts to justify completely opposite things.

Take the time to figure out who is telling the truth and is trustworthy. You will know in your gut and in your head, my smart little girl. Don’t trust people who say “trust me” a lot.

Even better, keep the TV off and get out in the real world. Someone told me once that very few people are evil, just uninformed about things. Most are really trying to do the right thing and probably want the same things as you, but have different ideas on how to get there.

Learn to work with all kinds. Nevertheless, also use the three strikes law. Once people start to mess with you, give ‘em a few chances, then move on. It’s not worth your time, my dear.

Get your education. I shouldn’t say this, but I pretty much use nothing I learned in school. Nothing I was tested on, anyway. Education gets you in the door and teaches you how to think effectively.

It teaches you where to look to find out what you need to know, and you learn that there are great people doing wonderful things to help the world. This is worth far more than the price of college, and will help you your entire life.

Go away to school, please. Again ... I shouldn’t be saying this but — you will learn that it isn’t worth it, long term, to go out to bars every night of the week, even though you can. And you’ll learn how to carry a week’s worth of groceries several miles on a bike in the snow. Very important stuff.

When you get your first real job, you will notice that the real world is way different than academia. As my favorite very important and dignified professor told me, your first job is the last time anyone will care about your grades. Good internships and career choices will benefit you immensely.

That said, please ask us to go to Europe or somewhere exciting just after college. We’ll trade you that for a commitment to going to grad school. This is my biggest woulda-coulda-shoulda. I hope you have a little adventure ... as long as you don’t bounce any checks!

Be a “do-er,” rather than a “big talker.” The talkers do seem to get more than their share of the limelight. But if people you admire respect you back, that is a much more important reward.

Take a few notes from the big-talkers, though, so you can promote your ideas or get a promotion yourself. The world needs people who do their jobs well — whether it is being a surgeon or being a front desk clerk.

Doing a bad job brings everyone around you down, and the converse is true. Finding someone who is helpful, polite, and smart really makes peoples’ days brighter and smoother all around.

Whatever you pursue, your attitude will carry you far. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. People are happy to help, and by teaming up you can achieve more ... usually, anyway.

Dad put a sticker over your crib that says “Dream Big, Little Girl.” We all should remember that. I’ll teach you some things and you teach me some things, OK?

‘Till next year. ... Love, Mom.

Maria Gutzeit is a Santa Clarita resident, elected official, and business owner. Her column reflects her own views, not necessarily those of The Signal.


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