She generally gave very good advice, (though she very seldom followed it). Lewis Carroll
Good advice is always certain to be ignored, but that’s no reason not to give it. Agatha Christie
Advice gets a lot of bad press. What is the best gift of advice you’ve received? How old were you when you got it? Did you pass it on to anyone else?
Edith: When I was starting ninth grade, and young for my class (that is, still half teen, half kid), one day after school I’d been trying to fly a kite in front of our house. I was sitting on the curb with a hopelessly tangled ball of string. My father’s father, Allan Sr., was living with us at the time for about nine months (until he died suddenly) – and I loved having him with us. He was coming back from his constitutional, as he called his walk and saw my plight. I probably said I was just going to cut it all off and give up. He said, “If you start something, Edie, finish it.” I took it to heart, untangled the string, and have carried that lesson with me ever since. And yes, I tried to pass it on to my sons.
Jessie: Like most writers, there was a point on my road to being published when I was querying agents. Like most other writers, I discovered it was a pretty miserable experience. By the time I had received my seventh rejection letter in six days I was starting to feel a bit discouraged. My husband called me to ask how things were going and I confessed it was starting to be a pretty hard slog. He said something to me I remind myself every time I start to lose heart “Chin up, pen down”. If I ever get a tattoo that will probably be what I choose. There is even an app to try out a tattoo before you commit to anything permanent!
Barb: The day I turned thirty a group of women from work, including Nancy Fohl and Kathy Schiff, took me out to lunch. I have no idea what was going on in my life that day, but I do know as a young mother I often felt completely discombobulated. I’d just get a project at work under control and then my kid would get an ear infection. Or my kid would sleep through the night but then the car wouldn’t start. And so on. It was always something. Anyway, I told my lunchmates this, and said something like, “I just wish things would settle down for awhile.” Nancy Fohl said, “It’s never going to settle down. What you’re describing is life. Now that you’re thirty, it’s time for you to know the truth.” And then Kathy said, “It’s only because you’re a WASP that you ever believed things could be under control in the first place. You need to get over that now.” I admit there are still times when I crave routine, no surprises, everything under control, but now I remind myself life doesn’t work that way for anyone and it gives me what I need to keep going.
Liz: When I was a still pretty young, probably a teenager, someone (I don’t even remember who at this point) told me that you can never please everyone and you shouldn’t waste time trying. That the only person you really needed to make happy is yourself. At the time I thought that was ridiculous, because you know, as a teenager I wanted everyone to like me, be proud of me, etc. I wish I had listened back then. Instead I had to learn it the hard way over the past few years. I think this is probably the most important piece of advice ever.
Sherry: I was in 9th grade and getting ready to enter high school. My mom sat me down and told me if I really wanted to enjoy high school I should participate in a lot of activities. I took that advice to heart and did as much as I could. The two most valuable experiences were being involved in school plays and the yearbook. Plays gave me confidence and the yearbook taught me how to work with a group and how to be organized. I’ve carried that advice about being involved throughout my life and because of that have met many wonderful people. So here is my senior picture and the list of activities that went along with it.
I confess I’m pretty stunned to see intramurals in there because I was not athletic. Someone must have forced me to do something!
Julie: Best piece of advice I’ve gotten? One of them is from Hank Phillippi Ryan, when my first book was about to be published. “Enjoy every step of this. Enjoy every moment.” That’s good life advice too, as it turns out.
Readers: Please share the one piece of good advice that has stuck with you.