My Future Jo Thanks My Past Jo

I just returned from a visit to New Jersey to spend time with my daughter and her family, and while I learned much about the dynamics of NJ, NY, and Kennan’s connection with the communities there, I also garnered a bit of wisdom from her.

 Past, FutureMy future self thanks my past self.

 We stayed up very late each night, chattering on about different aspects of our lives, sharing new, and often strange moments we’d experienced.  Almost every night the dishes were left stacked on the counter by the dishwasher.  Who wanted to do dishes when such enticing alternatives were available?

One morning I arose before my daughter only to find the kitchen sparkling clean!  What happened, I asked her.  Oh, she explained, I decided my future Kennan would really appreciate waking up to a tidy kitchen, so my past Kennan obliged.

 What a simple and profound principle!

Annie, age 8

Annie, age 8


I immediately saw how the concept could apply to every phase of a person’s life from simple acts to more complicated ethical decisions.

 My future self would really be grateful if my past self didn’t cheat on her income taxes so that Future Jo ended up paying a long string of penalties and interest when the IRS caught up with her.

 My future self would value the time spent rocking and singing a child to sleep rather than cleaning the house at night.

My future self would be grateful to come home from vacation with a clean house, all accomplished by my past self.

My future self appreciates the long hours of study my past self accomplished so that she could become a teacher for the last twenty years of her professional life.

The decisions are not set in concrete, Kennan explains.  She asks herself, “How would my future self feel if my past self did such-and-such?  Sometimes the answer is nah, not so

Annie, age 2 weeks, and Grammy Jo

Annie, age 2 weeks, and Grammy Jo

much; other times her past self thinks, “Oh, yeah, future Kennan would really, really love that!”


What about you?  Has your past self ever completed a project, finished a task, committed an act of kindness or service that your future self was eternally grateful for?  Or conversely has your past self failed to reward your future self in some important way?



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  • Amy Conley says:


  • Amy Conley says:

    My past self has made so many mistakes my future self spends years apologizing.

  • Mozette says:

    My past self did the silly thing and lost her way and around 7 years ago, forgot how to be happy due to an abusive relationship. Past Mozette thought she didn’t deserve to be happy, have nice things, be close to anyone, allow anyone close to her or feel love again.

    However, Future Mozette wanted this all to happen, as she was feeling the stress of keeping up that heavy as hell brick wall she had built all thos years ago to keep people away from her.
    So, Future Mozette asked Past Mozette to show her what made her happy. Fortunately, Past Mozette knew exactly where to take her… where she had wandered from the path. It happened when I was 13 years old and my year 7 teacher turned out to be a child molesterer and nobody believed me. I was damaged then and left my happiness path and became far too serious far too soon in my life.
    I found my way back to 13 year old self and asked her to forgive the past mistakes of my year 7 teacher and we began to heal together… I had to ask her what made her happy. She said books, 80’s music on vinyl and John Hugh’s movies.

    What else would I expect from and X-Gen kid? 🙂

    So, my Future Mozette now thanks my Past Mozette for showing me a different way of living: do what you want to do because it makes you happy, not because it’s something that must be done.

    • Jo Robertson says:

      Oh, Mozette, thanks for sharing that sad, but beautiful concept with us. Forgiveness is a difficult quality to have, whether it’s in forgiving ourselves for past mistakes or others for what they’ve done. It sounds like you found your way back to 13-year-old Mozette. Kudos!

    • Kennan says:

      Mozette thanks for bravely sharing. The concept of future and past self is often a frivilous one, but you explain how it can have lasting meaning in our lives. I also have used it to forgive and the concept is priceless! -(from past Kennan who read mom’s blog instead of doing the lunch dishes…future Kennan will approve)

      • Mozette says:

        Hey Jo and Kennan,

        It’s taken me to almost halfway through my life to realise that holding onto bad things, and horrible things that happened to me when I was young can be really damaging. So, what snapped me out of it was a good Shrink and my Mum… without those people in my life helping (as well as a good older brother who has the patience of Buddah), I wouldn’t be here today. 😀

        And also, you have to be patient with yourself too… there’s nothing worse than pushing yourself into things you’re not ready for. And believe me, you’ll know when you’re ready to move on to your next good thing; it’ll just feel right. 😀

  • Jo, what a simple and profound principle. I love it. I’m going to start using it. And how lovely that you and Kennan had such a lovely time just being together. I looked after my late mother for a bit over a year before she passed away and I still treasure the memories of our long talks in that time.

    • Jo Robertson says:

      There comes a time when we realize that past events need to be put aside and we need to enjoy those who love us and whom we love during whatever time is left us.

      I’m so glad you had those beautiful memories of your mom, Anna.

  • flchen1 says:

    A very intriguing way of regarding the world, Jo! Thanks 🙂

    • Jo Robertson says:

      Thanks, Fedora. I’d never heard of the concept before but Kennan uses it often as she is the mother of 3 children, fostering another, and always having kids from the “hood” hanging out at their NJ apartment, one of the few safe places in their lives. She’s learned to evaluate when and where she puts her time and energy.

  • Helen says:


    Very thought provoking and sounds like you and Kennan had a wonderful time 🙂

    I think my past self has always tried to think of other people before myself so as my future Helen can have the same done to her when needed

    Have Fun

  • Susan Sey says:

    That’s a great way to look at decisions, Jo! I’m going to use that one. But I’m not sure I have the discipline to abide by my future self’s wishes when there’s a bowl of ice cream on the line.

    “Does Future Susan want to run an extra five miles to deal with this bowl of delicious? No, she does not. Does Past Susan want to eat it? Yes, badly.” I can see that debate raging late into the night. 🙂

    But it sounds like you had a wonderful time with your daughter in NY. So glad for you! I’m looking forward to a little family time next month & can’t wait!

  • Anna Sugden says:

    Glad you and Kennan had a wonderful time in my old stomping ground. How nice to be able to have those chats.

    What an interesting way to look at things. I’m like Susan Sey – my past and future selfs would spend too much time debating and not enough time doing! Plus I’m afraid lazy past self might end up winning 😉 Instead I tend to look at things from a ‘what’s the best and worst that can happen’ perspective. As I get older, the worst never seems so bad.

    • Jo Robertson says:

      Oh, I like that idea, too, Anna. I’m always trying to get Dr. Big to think in a worst/best scenario mode.

      My youngest daughter has serious migraines. I think “headache”; he thinks brain tumor.

      I try to think what’s the worst thing that can happen if we have a 3-hour delay in Denver, as we did during this trip. An overnight stay in the airport. Already done that. No problem!

      • Anna Sugden says:

        That’s funny, Jo, about Dr. Big. Doc Cambridge is the laid-back one and I’m the fretter, though I’m getting better as I get older. I’m not as bad as ‘brain tumour’ though *g*. I just need more time work through things!

        • Jo Robertson says:

          As he gets older I find that Dr. Big frets more and I see it as a useless waste of energy.

          I joked that I took a mellow, beta man and turned him into an alpha!

  • Cassondra says:

    Jo, what a great post. Always such fun to see photos of Annie. What a heartbreaker! She’s absolutely beautiful.

    Now the question..

    Yes, I do this. I often will take the time to load the dishwasher and put things away because I know how nice it will feel to come in to a neat kitchen. No sparkling clean around here, but if it’s not piled, my soul really enjoys coming home to that. Other times I procrastinate, but the consequences are never as good. I run because I know my future self will enjoy how my body feels tomorrow when I wake up. Thinner. More toned. More energetic. I mow the yard, all the while thinking how nice it will look when it’s done, and how it’ll be fun to stand in the kitchen and look out at my pretty back yard.

    Nice words to describe this. I use this concept but hadn’t put that verbiage wtih it.

    • Jo Robertson says:

      Thanks, Cassondra! What a disciplined person you are. I’ve become less so as I grow older, but I do like to use that concept in the small things, like dirty dishes, which I HATE!

      • Cassondra says:

        Oh so NOT disciplined. If you saw my house you’d know.

        It may sound that way, but doing that stuff is not the rule for me. More often than not it’s the other way around.

        I hate dirty dishes too, but when I get busy, they pile up. I’ve got a sink full right now.

  • catslady says:

    Oh, I could second guess myself about everything lol. I am always playing the what if game which in itself is an impossibility lol.

    • Jo Robertson says:

      I don’t like the “what if” game either, Catslady. Too many dark shadows lie that way.

      But I do like thinking ahead to contemplate if something I do now will make my life easier or more rewarding in the future.

  • Caren Crane says:

    Wow, Jo, that was some Deep Thinking for a Wednesday! My past self has cleaned the house AND changed the sheets for my future self before vacation. Man, was that a treat when I got hom!

    Last weekend, my past self baked a lasagna so my future self would have dinner many nights this week. Thanks, past self!

    Sadly, my past self neglected to do ANY spring cleaning. Now that we are firmly into spring, my future self is very sad about that. Man, I wish my past self had gotten out and cleaned the windows! 😀

    • Jo Robertson says:

      Sounds like your past self is really on top of things for your future self, Caren! And windows?? OMG that’s such a chore I’d be tempted to hire it out!

  • Shannon says:

    I’ve never encountered this kind of thinking. About the only future thing I do is make lunches and dinners on Sundays for much of the week. Something to ponder on and maybe practice.

  • Becke says:

    I love spending time with my daughter right now. She’s just turned 30 and there’s so many things that “click” between us.

    Loved your story and that wonderful reminder.
    Congrats on the sweet little one.

  • Jo, what a thoughtful post! My future self wishes my past self had wasted less time and emotional energy on what we might call unwise dating choices. But who knows? Maybe the lessons learned played a role in future me recognizing the right person when he came along.

    It would also be nice if past me had gotten serious about writing earlier.

  • Jo Robertson says:

    I believe that, Nancy. I dated enough not-so-good choices in college that by the time I found Dr. Big, I knew he was what I wanted. Good thing he wanted me too!

    And I totally wish I’d been able to write sooner than I did. Too many pulls on my time and energy. I’m just glad I can do it now!