Me and my much better behaved cousin

Sixty years ago today, at nine in the morning, in a US army hospital in Munich, I arrived in this world. Since then, I’ve lived in countless homes in seven states–we left Germany when I was 18 months old–gotten a few degrees, raised four children, spent 35 years in the company of my spouse, had a series of careers and, overall, have had a reasonably wonderful life.

I’ve always been a know it all, the oldest of four and nerdy little girl who learned early on that one way to deal with bullies–we moved every few years when I was growing up–was to disarm them with big words and obscure facts. (This somehow worked in the 60s and early 70s.) Over time, I’ve also turned into someone who adores to give and, occasionally, get advice.

I’m especially fond of pithy blunt advice. When my children were growing up, every day when I dropped them off at school, I’d say “Make good choices. Don’t take any wooden nickels. Always respect your body.” (One of the highlights of my middle son’s young life was finding a place that sold actual wooden nickels for a quarter each. He bought me four.)

I come by the advice thing naturally. My sainted mother is full of helpful hints, often unasked for. When I was a whiny teen, she’d say, “Life is not fair. Which is fine.” and “Do unto others….” After I had my first baby, she said “Don’t forget to be a wife.” (She was very serious about this. She made Dr. Feelgood and I go on a date four days after my C-section while she stayed at home with our son.) All of her 12 grandchildren parrot her wisdoms which, honestly, is the best thing ever.

Over the years, I’ve gotten or discovered many excellent pieces of advice. A few of my favorites are:

Focus more on your desire than on your doubt, and the dream will take care of itself.  from Mark Twain

In happy relationships, each person feels as though they’re doing 60% of the work. from the best marriage counselor on the planet

If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, it’s yours. If it doesn’t, it never was. from a poster on my first boyfriend’s bedroom wall

There are only two lasting bequeaths we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots the other wings.  from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The best thing to hold onto in life is each other. from Audrey Hepburn

To whom much is given, much is required. from my grandfather to all of his grandchildren every single time we saw him

You can never judge the interior of someone else’s marriage. from my mom

How about you? What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten? Given?