Her big mouth, that’s what I inherited from my mother

standard May 8, 2009 2 responses

People come to me for advice. A lot. They don’t do it because I’m smart and know what I’m talking about. I mean, for the most part I am and I do, but that’s not why they come to me. No, they come to me because they get exactly what they ask for. I don’t sugar coat the truth. I ask the hard questions. And I make them see what they did or maybe didn’t really want to see.

You’d think people would hate me for it, but they really don’t. Of course I’m not mean about it. I’m not going to tell someone that they’re making a horrendous mistake or anything, but I will help them see the truth for themselves. It’s a gift. The gift of calling things as I see them. And it’s not a gift I can take credit for.

See, I owe it all to my mother, the woman affectionately nicknamed “Big Mouth Maman*.”

My mother has never been one to hold back. As kids we used to cringe at some of her comments. You never knew who would be the target and you never knew if they’d hear what she said. We’d cringe, and then we’d laugh, because sometimes it’s pretty liberating to say whatever crosses your mind.

You’d be surprised at how much I learned from my mother’s “I don’t care what people think” attitude. Clearly, for starters, I learned not to care what other people think. And I learned that the truth doesn’t kill. But most importantly I learned to observe, to notice flaws, to notice attributes. Because after all, if you want to critique, you have to first see things worth critiquing.

I might comment in a slightly more roundabout way than my mother, but I speak the truth just as candidly as she does. And when my friends thank me for my advice and tell me that they come to me because they can trust me to be brutally honest, well that just makes me proud. Proud to have been taught by the best.

This post was written in honor of the Parent Blogger’s Mother’s Day Blog Blast and and Johnson’s second annual Celebrity Hand Me Down charity auction, which runs from 7 pm PT on Thursday May 7 through 7 pm PT on Thursday May 14 and features items donated by celebrity moms Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Alba.

Be sure to visit the Parent Blogger’s Blog to see all the other fun things that have been handed down to bloggers by their moms!

*Maman = Mom in French.

Friday Flashback – Five classes I would have taken

standard April 25, 2009 1 response

Friday Flashback is all about bringing to light some of my favorite posts from my archives to breathe new light into them. This is part of a post that was originally published in April 2008 in response to a meme sent to me by my good friend Mah-meee. If you’d like to see the two paragraph rant about French public education being short on extra curricular classes that preceded this post, by all means click here.

Five classes I wish they had taught in school

1) Self esteem 101: You Rock! And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
A quick course aimed at boosting your self esteem and getting you to believe that, yes, it really is his loss. Darn it! This class will focus on getting you to realize just how awesome you really are.

2) The world is your oyster 104: If you want it you can have it.
Just because you didn’t study the migration patterns of bees in middle school doesn’t mean that you can’t be an apiculturist if you so choose. This course will show you how to keep learning long after high school, college, or even grad school! Bonus classes will teach that choosing one career path doesn’t mean you can’t change later on down the road.

3) Self creation 102: Be who you want to be.
Don’t like who you are? Don’t want to be the shy mousy girl in the corner? Take this class and reinvent yourself. We can show you the secret to shucking off your shyness* and fear of rejection. OK. Maybe not that last one, but the shy thing for sure.

4) A little self love never hurt anyone. No, not that kind of self love, the other kind.
This short course will teach you the importance of being kind to yourself and of taking care of your needs before the needs of those around you. Especially important for anyone intending to eventually become a parent.

5) How to make millions doing exactly what you want.
You want to sit on your couch all day eating bonbons and watching Charmed reruns all day? Fine. 18 holes of golf six days a week? No problem. Marathon shopping excursions? Why the heck not? This class teaches the secret to making money without having to do any work. Nope, no work at all. Pinkie swear.
What? Wouldn’t you have taken this class? Come on now, be honest!

* Don’t want to be shy any more? It’s easy: just pretend you aren’t shy. I know, it’s corny, but it works. Next time you go to a party just pretend you are super self confident. Chanel that cool girl in the corner. I guarantee that in no time you’ll feel less shy. Eventually it’ll become second nature. You may always be shy inside, but no one will ever know. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about.

Giving advice from the bench

standard October 21, 2008 Leave a response

Today I gave advice to someone on something I’ve never done.

It was sound advice, not something I made up off the cuff. As I told him what I thought he should do I knew without a doubt that it was the right thing to do, despite the fact that I’ve never done it myself. It wasn’t the first time I’ve dispensed advice like this. I know a lot about stuff. I read a ton, I retain much of what I learn, and I love to share the knowledge.

I did wonder for a moment if not having actually followed the advice yet myself meant that I shouldn’t dispense it. And then I forged on, because I know I was right and that at the very least, following my proposed path wouldn’t be detrimental to this person’s plans.

Whenever I’m interested in launching a new venture or developing a new skill, before jumping into the deep end, much to M’s dismay, I always need to read everything I can get my hands on about the subject. I’m a firm believer that knowledge is power and that with enough information in hand almost anything is possible. Also, the more I read the less I actually have to do, which is very alluring to a die hard procrastinator and commitment-phobe like me. Along the way, in the many bookstore aisles that I’ll squat during my quest, I tend to learn a lot. And then I like to share what I learned. It’s my way of confirming that what I’ve learned makes sense.

The amount of time I’ve spent delving into the topic is what made me confident that the advice I dispensed was sound. Heck, it’s based on months of research and industrial quantities of reading. In fact, it’s such sound advice that I’m almost tempted to follow it myself. Almost. I might just need to read another book or three on the topic. You know, just to be sure that I’ve covered every avenue.

OK, OK. All joking aside, I know I have a problem. I know that learning is passive, safe. Reading other people’s masterpieces is easy and it doesn’t cost me anything more than the price of the book. There’s no risk of failure, no need to confront my own shortcomings. But I also know that at some point I’m going to need to jump in and do more than just read. You can absorb all the books about heart surgery in the world and become an expert in the subject, but one day you actually need to pick up a scalpel and make the first incision or you can never call yourself a surgeon. Likewise, I can read a million books about writing and publishing novels, but until I finish one and try to sell it I just can’t call myself a novelist.

So really the only solution is that for every book I read on the topic I better be finishing a few chapters. Then, maybe next time I’m dispensing writing advice to an aspiring writer I’ll feel more confident about what I’m preaching. Maybe.

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One last day to enter the great Smashies Apple Sauce giveaway! Free apple sauce! Whoot!