Thursday, July 18, 2013


My sessions with the physical therapist always start with twenty minutes in a darkened room with a compression ice machine attached to my knee.  Other than feeling like I'm in a refrigerator this is a relaxing time to just think before I begin a rigorous physical workout to strengthen my knee and relearn how to walk.  During my last session my thoughts turned to some of the advice my parents and others have given me through the years.  Much of it was in the form of clichés, but over the years I've found truth in some of their advice, sometimes humor, and I've even found myself repeating these cautionary words of advice to my children and grandchildren. Though some of this advice has proved helpful, I've also found some well meaning advice to be completely useless, but memorable. 

More and more I find truth in the advice my dad gave me when he taught me to drive.  "Every other car has a drunk behind the wheel and the one in between is driven by a fool," he advised me as he attempted to teach me caution.  And "Never argue the right of way with a truck; there's no value in being dead right." 

When I used to run and was feeling badly because I'm not a fast runner, my brother gave me this bit of advice, "You don't have to be the fastest runner.  If a bear is chasing you, you only have to be faster than one other runner." 

I overheard a son-in-law giving this advice to a nephew just before his nephew's wedding.  "There are only two rules you have to follow to have a good marriage. Rule one--she's right.  Number two--refer to rule one." 

My mother always cautioned me to like and respect myself.  She said if I didn't I couldn't expect anyone else to. 

Whenever I tried to rush through a task, Mama always asked me, "If you don't have time to do the job right, when will you find time to do it over?" 

My Grandpa Snowball was an interesting man who led an interesting life and built many of the dams and bridges in Idaho and Wyoming.  He was seldom without a thick wad of chewing tobacco in his mouth.  He also had a parrot that knew every swear word ever invented.  He advised me to eat pie and ice cream for breakfast so I'd get the milk, eggs, and fruit I needed to grow strong. Grandma advised him to keep his vulgar-mouthed parrot locked up when the grandkids visited. 

A classmate in high school advised me to take up drinking since I planned to be a writer.  He assured me that only alcoholics who live in unheated attics become successful writers. 

Somewhere I picked up some sound advice against becoming a know-it-all or paying too much attention to opinionated people: "Those who know the least know it the loudest." 

I've been told by more than one person in the writing/publishing field that a writer should pick one genre and stick to it, "establish your brand as one particular type of writer".  I haven't done this and I'm glad.  Writers who follow this advice may achieve more fame and make more money than I have, but I've had a grand time writing for every section of the newspaper, dabbling in magazine articles, delving into short stories, and researching and writing novels in half a dozen different genres. 

When I was a college student someone gave me a little framed motto for my birthday.  It said "Anything worth doing, is worth doing for money."  At the time I thought it was very clever and hung it on my wall.  Now the motto that graces the door to my office is one given to me by Cheri Crane, a fellow writer.  It reads, "I'm a woman of many moods, and they all require chocolate."  How my understanding of great advice has changed over the years! 

There is some advice that seems to be timeless and we're all familiar with "Don't start a trip without clean underwear for in case you're in an accident" and "If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you jump too?"  Cliché, but they still provoke thought.   I've shared a small part of the advice I grew up with.  Now I'd love it if you'd tell me of the memorable advice you've received.

1 comment:

Cheri J. Crane said...

Great post, Jennie. =) And remember, chocolate is always our friend.