Dear Annalise,

I’ve been thinking a lot about empathy lately.  I never realized that empathy is not something everyone has or desires.  The older I get the more I see it.  Even people close to me and that I love contain their love to their “tribe”.  Like a mother lion circling her children people often focus on doing what is best for themselves or their tribe even at the expensive of other human beings.  This translates across all actions.  Driving a car, pushing to the front of a line, bribing to get a child ahead, and so forth.  Now I am all for doing everything you can for the people in your tribe.  Because if I am not helping my family/friends then who is?  But not at the expense of someone else.

There are two parts to empathy.  One is hurting when others do and helping.  The other is making decisions based off how others will feel by your decision or actions.  Both are important.  I am a very sensitive person and I see that in you too.  If I cry, you cry too.  Even before you know what is wrong.  I want you to know that I love that quality about you.

Side story: When I was a Marketing Manager fresh out of college there was a woman who had a mental breakdown at work.  She refused to talk to anyone but me.  I believe it was because she knew that I really cared.  We weren’t close or anything but people know your heart, dear girl.  And in her moment of crisis I was able to talk to her and get her to a hospital for help.  Looking back, sure, maybe sending a 22 year old in a car with someone having a breakdown may not have been the safest idea.  But that’s what makes us different, Annalise.  It was worth it.  Before I started my car to take her to get help I prayed for her.  Out loud. Holding her hand.  I had no idea if she was religious or had any spiritual relationship but I felt the need to let her know that I was bringing the Big Guy in on the situation and I cared for her.  

If someone else is hurting, we do too.  And there is nothing wrong with that.  A heart for humanity is a heart I want you to keep.  Here are my hopes for building you up and nurturing your empathy to do good for all people.

Young Years

  1. Share your toys.  Yes, your things are yours but man does it feel good to see someone else get excited to play with your things!
  2. Dance with people you love.  A shared experience, especially one that makes you feel happy inside, is a way to show someone you love to be present with them.
  3. Make new friends. Always.  If you don’t know someone, ask their name! I see you eyeballin’ other kids, introduce yourself.  You can create special relationships even at your age.  He or she may love Lego Dimensions too!

School Years

  1. Stand up for others.  This is super important. Never, EVER let someone make another person feel inferior if you are around.  Be bold, be kind and stand up for someone even if it feels uncomfortable at the time.  You will be rewarded 10x over on the inside.
  2. Pay attention.  You are intuitive. You can pick up on things that many can’t.  Look for the signs that people need a pick me up, a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen.  Because when you are older, those people will remember what you did for them.  And when you turn around in need of someone (because you will), there will be a whole team standing behind you ready to keep you afloat.

Teen Years

  1. Discover. These years may be tough to be an individual.  It is okay.  We will navigate it together.  But try and discover the differences in others around you.  Those differences can help mold you into the individual you are growing into.
  2. Stand up.  Oh boy, it gets harder to stand up to mean people in your teens.  But by now everyone knows your heart.  It is kind and strong and you will continue to fight for others.  Your support system is growing.  But don’t do things for someone in exchange for something for yourself.  No way, Jose.  Do it because it is right and makes your heart happy.

Young Adult Years

  1. Be true.  Now it is getting gooooood.  You are figuring out who you are as Annalise.  By being true to yourself you will always instinctively give.  Give your heart, your last dollar, your listening ear and your strong voice.

Embrace your empathy dear girl.  Your tears and heart for others is a gift. A precious one.  Now grab my hand and let’s conquer the world together.

mommy and anna2


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