Category Archives: Just because

Day 365: 67-year-old me

My colleague Jake gave me the idea to write the last letter to my future self – not like Matthew McConaughey style where I basically thank myself for being perfect, but a letter to perhaps remind myself of things that I may have lost sight of over time.

Day 365-3Today may be the last blog post of Year of Letters as the project comes to a close. I’ve written 365 letters, albeit not one every day like I hoped to. That proved to be a bigger challenge some days, but I kept mostly to it. I did fall seriously behind on the blogging aspect of the project, but I’d like to think that the absence of some posts were as a result of me spending real time with the people around me that I love rather than in front of my computer screen.

People have asked me what I will do next year. I’ve decided to do a year of writing – but instead of writing so many letters (don’t worry, I’ll still be writing letters too), I’ll focus on finishing my book on the Year of Giving that I have more or less abandoned this year as a result of a lack of time.

If you can be in Washington, D.C. next Tuesday, January 5th, I hope you’ll join me at McClellan’s Retreat for a little celebration of another project in the books. Until then, I hope this project has inspired you to get some stationery and write some letters by hand. Trust me, the people who receive them will appreciate it more than you will know. Or as writer Ross McCammon put it, “A handwritten note is worth more than a $100 gift card but probably not more than a $200 gift card.”

Happy New Year everyone! Thanks for the letters.

Day 365-2

Dear 67-year-old me,

Congratulations on living 67 years – a quarter of a century more than when you (me) wrote this letter.

I wonder what the biggest changes in your life have been? Maybe you’re married now and have a family? You would be a great best friend and life-partner for someone and an even better father. I hope you have the opportunity to do both. If you do, here are a few things to remember:

  • Show your wife how thankful you are to be navigating this world together
  • Think each day how you can make her day a little better, don’t keep score
  • Be careful when teasing her – sometimes you go too far
  • Say you’re sorry first
  • Your parents allowed you to do a lot, they didn’t care how you cut your hair or what kind of clothes you wore (that’s obvious by some school pictures) Let your kids do the same.
  • Neither one of your parents were vocally judgmental about the decisions that you made
  • Mom and Dad sacrificed a tremendous amount and as a result you and Ryan turned out pretty good. Accept that you too will do this. It’s not about you.
  • Spend time following your children’s interests even if those interests are of no interest to you
  • Avoid pursuing perfection in your children or in you as a father and a husband
  • Always tell them “I love you” even if you’re in public surrounded by their friends.

 How is your health? I’d be foolish not to wonder about that. Mom didn’t even make it to 67. You need to continue to exercise regularly and watch your diet. How is your LDL? I just had it checked and it was 127 mg/dl which is too high. Oh, and I’m currently 5’9” and weigh 170lbs. I bet you’ve shrunk and put on a few pounds. While we’re on the subject of health, I should ask how your right shoulder is holding up. I get it operated on next Thursday so hopefully it goes well and you’ve got an arm as strong as Stephen Strasburg. Are you even still a Nationals fan? Did you go see them when they won the World Series?

Day 365I have so many other questions for you. Like where have you traveled to? When did you finally finish writing your book? Who has influenced your life the most? What other year-long projects have you done? What have been the happiest moments of these last 25 years? Notice I didn’t ask any questions about what TV shows you may have watched or the amount of time you spent at the office. It doesn’t matter and you should limit the time you spend on both.

I hope that you have a good relationship with your children and you trust them. Take time to consider the advice they give you. Their mind is probably sharper than yours and they can see when your ideas are no longer current with the faster pace of society.

Work hard to build a strong community of friends. Embrace people until they give you a reason not to. If you’re not sure if you should take part in something, err on the side of saying yes. Social isolation is the harbinger of death. Volunteer; help a neighbor or friend with an important project. Serve as a mentor to someone, you certainly benefited from the kindness of others as a younger man.

Finally, lighten up a little. You used to be more fun and carefree. You worried less about the small things and poured your energy into large canvasses of inspiring work. You chose being happy over being right. It’s a better, and healthier, way to live.

Laugh, love and hold tightly the people and things that really matter – let everything else slip away.

Me (You)

P.S. And keep writing letters – they convey a meaning unlike other forms of communication. I just hope your handwriting has improved!

Day 360: Kendra and Travis

A handmade card and envelope .

A handmade card and envelope .

Kendra and Travis are a wonderful couple who live just a few blocks away from me. As you’ll read in my letter, I met them back in 2011 when I was doing my Year of Volunteering. I signed up to volunteer at the Our City Film Festival – now called simply Our City Festival. The backstory about the joke in the letter about the volunteer named Roy is that he turned out to be Kendra’s father. She was giving him a hard time and I thought, poor guy just came out to volunteer! It turns out he is a world-renowned eye surgeon and successfully performed my LASIK surgery two years later.

Day 360

Kendra and Travis,

Another year goes by and I sit down and reflect on it. I often think about those who I wish I had spent more time with – you two certainly fit that category.

I still remember first meeting you back in 2011 at the Our City Film Festival – and how you (this is directed at Kendra) were so hard on that one volunteer – Roy! He was way overqualified. So much so that I trusted him to do my eye surgery!

I always enjoy spending time with you, sharing food, enjoying beers and talking about how to solve the city’s, or even the world’s, problems. Somebody once told our friend Kim Perry that they liked the “way she moved in this world.” I think I’ll adopt that phrase and it use it for the two of you.

If you’re free on Jan. 5th I hope you’ll join me at McClellan’s Retreat in Dupont to celebrate my Year of Letters – speaking of which, you are Day 360!

Happy New Year!

Day 269: Postmaster Roane

Photo: NBC News

Photo: NBC News

So last week I wrote the U.S. Postmaster General (again), today I’m writing the Postmaster of Washington, DC to let him know how great my letter carrier is. Leo has been delivering my mail for years – he’s terrific and one of the friendliest people you’ll meet.

Day 269

Postmaster Roane,

I am writing to you today about my letter carrier. Leo Thomas has been delivering my mail for many years and not only does he carefully make sure that I receive all of my mail and no one else’s, but his warm personality and welcoming smile regularly greet me when I see him in my neighborhood. My day is better when I see Leo – he adds value to the community in a way that is difficult to measure. Anyway, I know you started as a letter carrier down in Richmond and I thought you’d appreciate knowing about one of your exceptional employees.

Warm regards,
Reed Sandridge

Day 260: Gary Minter

In a recent issue of Street Sense, I came across an open letter to the U.S. Post Office from a man named Gary Minter. He’s struggled with housing and doesn’t have a permanent address. Even using shelters and other agencies to receive mail for him causes challenges. Gary decided to write the post office and ask for their help to fix problems that anyone dealing with homelessness faces.

He has a “general delivery” address in Las Vegas where he is living right now – he used to be here in Washington, DC. I hope my letter gets to him.


Dear Gary,

I read your open letter in Street Sense about the unique challenges that you and other men and women experiencing homelessness face. In essence you are being discriminated against because you don’t have a permanent address.

I’m sure a solution to these issues exists, but will take time. Thank you for speaking out and trying to improve the system. Your letter has inspired me to cut your letter out of the paper and mail it to Megan Brennan, the Postmaster General.

I hope that Las Vegas is treating you well.

Good luck to you,
Reed Sandridge

P.S. Here are a few dollars – hopefully it helps.


Day 247: Glenn

I grew up in Mechanicsburg, PA. It’s a quiet suburb of Harrisburg. My family was strong and provided great role models. But sometimes you’re fortunate to have outside role models who take time to help you find your way through life. It could be a teacher, a coach or in my case, a boy scout leader.

To my knowledge Glenn was actually never an official leader while I was involved with Scouting. He was something like a scout leader emeritus. Anyway, he lived a few short blocks from my childhood home and was a great role model and friend to me.

I grew up, moved away and rarely visit Mechanicsburg now. We’ve sort of lost touch, but I thought he should know how much I appreciate that he took time to care about me and so many other young people in the community.

Thirty years later, he still answers the phone with the same familiar greeting, “Good evening, Glenn.”

Day 247

Dear Glenn,

I hope this note finds you well. I was thinking about people who have been and still are mentors in my life today and thought of you. You always led by example on how to be a friend, a husband, a father. I just wanted you to know how much you mean to me – despite how lousy I am at staying in touch. I will be in Mechanicsburg the weekend of Sept. 25th and would love to find time to visit. I’ll call/email as we get a little closer.