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Saturday, September 14, 2019

Take My Advice by Bea Tifton

Yesterday I was repotting a plant I’d just bought. I gently massaged the roots before I put them in the dirt. The thought flickered through my mind that I wasn’t sure who had first told me to do this. I thought about all the things I knew how to do and where I had learned them. The practical living things. And that led me to advice. 

Advice comes from so many sources, people we love, people we hate, strangers, advertisers. Do this. Don’t do that. Buy this. Avoid that. We’re bombarded. And, I am willing to admit, I’ve given my fair share as well, both solicited and unsolicited. 

I had a friend who lost her mother. She said the thing she missed most was picking up the phone and asking for advice. Her mother just seemed to know so much about so many things. My mother and I are very close. I hope we have many years left, but I know I will bitterly miss her when the time comes to say goodbye. And one of the reasons is her no nonsense advice and her exhaustive realm of knowledge. How do I get this stain out? What do you think I should plant in that corner of the yard? The purple shirt or the burgundy one? 

When I started teaching my mentor gave me the best teaching advice I ever received. “Say yes whenever you can, but mean it when you say no.” That’s good advice for any area of life. 
I’ve gotten great advice that I didn’t follow. When I was in my 20s I worked as a clerk in a medical library.  The librarians thought I had an affinity for the work and tried to convince me to go to library school. Nope. I was sure I wouldn’t like it and I didn’t want to go to grad school. Fifteen years later? Yep. Masters in Library Science and a profession I love.

Sometimes good advice comes from complete strangers. Here’s a sampling of some words of wisdom that have helped me.

Don’t overstay your welcome:
“Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.”  Benjamin Franklin

Be who you really are:
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” Oscar Wilde

And the most important advice of all:
“Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction.” – Cowboy Proverb.

Have you ever gotten some great advice? Spectacularly poor advice? Given some? Leave a comment below.