ROBERTA: I was scrolling through recently sold books in publishers marketplace and came across this entry in the advice/relationships department: Katie Couric's THE BEST ADVICE I EVER GOT: Lessons From Extraordinary Lives, collecting essays, brief comments and poems from over 100 well-known people, inspired by her own commencement address at Case-Western Reserve, to Susan Mercandetti at Random House, for publication April 12, 2011.
Gosh we could have come up with that one! But since we didn't, I thought it would be fun to talk about the best or most memorable advice we Jungle Reds have ever gotten. I'll start with a couple of pearls from my mother, both of which came in my teenage years.
First: Never lie down on a blanket with a boy. Nuff said.
Second: One day you'll feel about a man the way you do about the cat. (My husband is still waiting for that one to materialize!)
So what about you Jungle Reds? Best advice ever? (Can be writing-related or just about life.)
DEB: From my dad--"Smile when you speak to someone on the phone. They can hear it." He was in sales his entire life, and this was one of his mantras. But it works for EVERYTHING and EVERYONE you deal with on the phone. My dad was a self-made man whose bible was Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. He lived by "treating others as you would like to be treated." Can't do much better than that.
JAN: Wow Deb. I'm going to use that one. That's terrific. I do a meditation which involves smiling and the effect is amazing. The best advice I got was also from my father and I repeat it all the time. He used to tell me, if you aren't actively trying to be a better person, you start sliding backwards. I think that's especially true as you age and get set in your ways.
Also, this is the best advice that I give my kids. Don't think about anything important after 9 p.m. at night. All thoughts get distorted as you get tired. And especially don't think of anything important as you are trying to go to sleep. Think about the plot of a movie or TV show -- someone ELSE's life, not yours.
HALLIE: Great advice, Jan - I confess, I churn late at night and it's pointless. I "go" places in my head--wander through the halls of my elementary school or through Robinson's department store near where I used to live. Before I know it I'm asleep.
My mother used to say things like Don't cut off your nose to spite your face. And Don't throw out the baby with the bath water. I rarely knew what she was going on about. But the one piece of advice I've taken to heart: Take notes.
ROSEMARY: Deb...I actually write down the word SMILE when I give a radio interview..dad was right! I like all of these suggestions. I didn't take much advice from my father but I do remember him saying - as my mother dragged me to church and he stayed home - "just be a good person, you don't need all those rules." I try. Interesting that most of these words of wisdom came from our fathers. Maybe that's because our mothers just kept telling how how wonderful we were??
HANK: (RO, not mine....:-)) My mother told me "Thoughtful consideration of others is the sign of a true lady." We used to SNEER! Now I think, oh, I see what she means. Once I had lunch with my Dad, I was oh, about 22. And working at Rolling Stone, and CLUELESS. And I knew I was clueless. I said to dad--gosh, I am so nervous about work! I have no idea what I'm doing,I am just making it up as I go along every day.
And Dad (a foreign service officer) said, Oh, honey, that's what we're all doing. Everyone is making it up as they go along.
I was SHOCKED. And relived. And reassured. And I still think about that all the time.
And Roberta, yeah, we could have thought of it. Absolutamente. But we are not Katie Couric.
ROBERTA: Hank, to us you are definitely in Katie's league!
JULIA: Hank is like Katie Couric with better hair. Roberta, your mother's advice about "never lie on a blanket with a boy" reminds me of what my mom said before I left for college: "Aspirin is a sure-fire birth control method. You just place one between your knees and hold it there." That still makes me laugh, all these years later.
The piece of advice from my dad that still echoes in my head (and in my teenagers', since I regularly pass it on to them) is, "Assume everyone else on the road is an idiot." My dad is the best defensive driver EVER (even if we do tease him about always going five miles below the speed limit.)
For me, though, the best advice I ever got was in premarital couple's counseling, with Ross. The priest who was going to marry us was talking about how love is something you do, not just something you feel, and he said, "There will be times when you don't feel loving toward your spouse. There will be times when you don't even LIKE your spouse. But if you always act in a loving, considerate way toward each other, the feelings will follow your actions." (I add in passing this has also been very useful advice for the times when I feel like strangling my children.)
ROBERTA: Oh I love these suggestions! How about you, Jungle reds, best advice ever?