Dear Boomer: Lost touch

Jan. 29, 2024, 1:50 a.m.

Fifty years ago, I rode my Kawasaki from Portola Valley onto campus, usually squeaking into class just on time. While much has changed since then, one thing has remained constant: our humanness. We still search for meaning and need connection. We still have dreams and we still screw up. In the last 50 years, as I’ve changed careers and locations, I’ve never stopped appreciating and observing my fellow companions. So, “Ask Boomer” anything. Surprise me. Life is short. Let’s add on to it.

— Helen Hudson ’74

Want your question to be featured in the next column? Ask Helen here!


“This whole quarter, I’ve been feeling super stressed about maintaining my GPA at a reasonable level (I know that sounds like a very Stanford thing to say), and I find myself struggling to do even that! I’m extremely worried about failing classes, and feel like I’ve lost touch with the focused high school student I used to be … what can I do?”

Dear “Lost Touch,”

I feel your pain. Right now, I’m stressing over maintaining my A in my online class. My friends are like, “Who cares?” I’m like, “Me! I care!” In the 50 years since I graduated, not one single person has ever asked to see my grades!  No one cares. No one, of course, but me. I’m telling you this because we both have the “over-achieving gene” in our DNA.  It will likely follow you, as it has me, into your old age.

Meanwhile, you can do a couple of things for your sanity: Stay in the present. Worrying about the future is fruitless. Learn a little something each day. By the end of the week, you’ll be seven days smarter.  Remember that struggle is both healthy and necessary. Without it we’d starve. Don’t believe me? Spend a few minutes watching earthworms. Be glad you’ve lost touch with who you used to be. Now you have a chance to be someone even better. If you got in to Stanford, you’ll get something out of it. But it won’t be your grades. It will be the things you learned and the friends you made. That’s it.


“How do I get over regret?

Dear Regretful,

That’s a heavy question. My immediate impulse is to say, “Don’t do anything you’re going to regret in the first place.” However, life doesn’t always work like that, does it? I don’t know what you are regretting but it really doesn’t matter. Living with regret is like swimming with an anchor tied around your neck and feet. 

Some thoughts:

  1. If the regret can be solved with an apology, apologize.
  2. If the regret is still fixable, fix it.
  3. If what you regret is undoable and untenable, consider it a lesson learned.
  4. Resolve not to do it again.
  5. Forgive yourself. Otherwise, you’re no good to anyone.


“What advice do you have to manage money successfully?

Ha Ha! No one has ever asked me this! I just might be the last person one should ask for money advice. I’m one of those crazy people who really does keep money under the mattress. Heck, I even have some stashed under the floor mat in my car. I still pick up pennies from the street! Yup, pennies.

Seriously, if you’re loaded, you might want to hire a money manager. They’re big on “diversifying your assets.” (Just saying that sentence out loud makes me snicker.) However, I can’t afford to give mine to someone who’s going to take a piece of it in the process.  Shakespeare’s advice was, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.” My grandmother always said, “Never spend more than you make.” I think the two of them make ‘cents.’  It’s worked for me.

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