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June 10, 2062

Heather Shaff

6035 Evolution Drive

Naples, FL 34112

Department of Reincarnation

Homo Sapiens Division

2235 Resurrection Way

HEAVEN 00000

Dear Admissions Committee:

I would like to recommend myself, Heather Shaff, for admission to the next level of reincarnation. Having lived a full and moral life, I believe I have mastered and internalized all the lessons I was placed here on Earth to learn in this current life as a human in the 20th and 21st Century.

I spent the first decade of my life trying to curb my caustic, impulsive tongue and avoid saying and doing things I’d later regret.

Tact was not something that came easily to me, though telling the truth did; an unfortunate combination it took me some time to master. I know I slipped up in 10th grade when I snapped and punched my roommate for being an absolute $#%&! to me the entire year we were roommates. Afterwards, I tried even harder to control myself, and have not snapped like that again.

Although… I do need to apologize to that girl I clocked with my lacrosse stick during that game in 1987. She wound up with stitches in her face, and I felt terrible. But she just wouldn’t let me check her, and I felt I was running out of options. (Frustration, of course, is no excuse.)

Anyway. I have certainly learned from those events, moved on, and tried to do better.

As an adult I was much more in control of myself. In fact, I found that control actually made me feel pretty good about myself.

I made a point of finding as many ways to be in control as I possibly could: I got a job in project management, where I controlled all sorts of things and micromanaged them into success and earned promotion after promotion (I got pretty good at this control thing.)

I controlled people’s perceptions of me by achieving every kind of success I could think of, both professionally and academically, earning a degree from a prestigious university. The more I manipulated my existence, the more I thought I would “win” this thing called life. And I was doing pretty well, for a while.

Until I had kids.

The thing about kids is, they show you where all your weak spots are.

I controlled every aspect of our family life for many years, doing most of the housework and cooking, the planning, managing the kids’ activities and education. I was a control master! I was so productive and so effective, everything ran incredibly smoothly. I was, or so I thought, an excellent role model of productivity and success to my children. Everything was going swimmingly.

Until, as life has a way of doing, everything blew up spectacularly.

I burned out and my children burned out. A pandemic emerged, which splintered everything further. As my world and the greater world around me began to crumble, I realized that not only could I not manage everything I was trying to manage, my kids were beginning to collapse under the weight of expectations they’d set for themselves; expectations which I had personally modeled for them.

Something had to change.

I did a lot of self-examination, and my family did, too. We all discovered this thing called LETTING GO, which is how one remembers to return to the lessons we are tasked with when we enter this life. We are not here to control what happens to us; we are here to surrender to the beauty, joy, pain, grief, and process of life, and be the best people we can be. We cannot control what happens to us, but we can control how we react to it, and how we treat others.

My kids and I eventually healed, put ourselves back together, and integrated these lessons.

We created new lives for ourselves that did not revolve around managing circumstances or people to make ourselves more comfortable. Instead, we resolved to become comfortable with the discomfort of not knowing what was ahead, embracing the ever-changing nature of life, and trying to be as flexible and resilient as possible.

In my later years I have tried to live by these principles and model them for others. I’ve embraced yoga and meditation; I mentor parents of struggling teens; and I enjoy volunteering in schools where I help students remember the joy of learning rather than being overly focused on goals .

Humanity is a constant work in progress; the process, not the outcome, is where the growth is.

And the joy we are searching for is always found in the growth process.

These were some hard lessons to learn, but I feel I’ve done my best and have tried to integrate them into my life as fully as possible. I hope you will consider the progress I’ve made as you determine my next life assignment. I’ve been through several of these lives already, and I really think I’m getting the hang of this life lesson thing.

And, finally: whatever you decide, please, please don’t make me come back as a bug. I HATE bugs.

Kind regards,

Heather Shaff

Heather Shaff

Heather is a book designer based in Boston who, when she’s not writing or taking care of the fam, can be found racing her bike, enjoying nature, or just daydreaming.

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