Tag Archives: summer

what to say (reprise)

The Best Advice So Far - what to say (reprise)

Back in the spring, I introduced you to my writer-friend Diana by way of a unique book review with a personal twist. (By the way, this four-book series, The Rose Shield, would make a perfect, no-fail gift for any choosy Fantasy readers you may know; and Diana’s also just released a beautifully illustrated children’s book, Grumpy Ana and the Grouchy Monsters, for the little readers on your list.)

Grump Ana and the Grouchy Monsters

Sally Cronin of Smorgasbord revived one of Diana’s previous posts entitled “Write and Change the World.” It was written nearly three years ago, before I came to know Diana. As I read it early this week for the first time, it felt current. It reminded me of important things. And I would have missed it, had Sally not seen the value in shining the spotlight on it again, these years later.


A couple of days ago, I treated myself to a meal out. It’s second nature to me to ask the server’s name and give my own, and then to ask at least one others-centered question that has nothing to do with waiting ts.

Holly told me she was a Christmas baby … well, her due date was Christmas, but she’d been born on the 21st. My light non-server question was this: “What’s one thing you love to do in your life outside of work?” She smiled broadly and talked about spending time with her Long-Haired German Shepherd, including pictures of “her baby.”

You’d have thought I’d given her a $100 bill, the way she responded to that simple moment of exchanging names and showing even that little bit of interest in her as a person, outside of her role — of what she could do for me. She just kept shaking her head in wonder that anyone would think to do such a thing, thanking me at least three times thereafter when she came back to check on my table.

It struck me once again that what feels quite natural to me … isn’t, for many people.

This interaction with Holly, on the heels of having read Diana’s wonderful post from yesteryear, got me thinking. I’ve been blogging now for nearly seven years. When I first started, I was posting daily (how I ever managed it, I really can’t fathom); and yet that first few months was when my readership was new and quite small. In other words, most current visitors to my blog have never read those early posts, though they were the foundation upon which the entire blog since then has been built.

Add to this the slate gray sky and rain that has presided over the last few days, and waking mornings to find the car encrusted in frost, and my mind was made up.

This week, I’m [click below to continue reading this post]

Continue Reading This Post


lemonade: for the ears

The Best Advice So Far - lemonade for the ears

At the end of February, I finished recording the tracks for The Best Advice So FarAnd at that time, I posted one of the audio recordings here on the blog —”Chapter 2: Negativity.”

Well, I had set a goal for myself to have everything mixed and mastered by June 1. It turned out to be far more than I had bargained for — over 100 hours altogether. Wearing headphones for hours on end, listening for “poppy” Ps and “tappy” Ts and “slushy” SHs, all while watching jagged sound waves on a screen. Listening to every facet of my own voice, up close and personal. Let’s just say it was no picnic.

But now I can have a picnic. Because I did meet my goal. At long last — it’s done!

And I am inviting you to my picnic…[audio link on the Main Site; click below to hop over!]

lemonade stand

In response to my post entitled “small kindnesses,” my friend Dibby wrote this comment:

…never, ever pass by a lemonade stand without indulging…

When I read this, I knew exactly what she meant and how she meant it.  She thinks like me.  She gets it.

When either of us sees a kid running a lemonade stand, we get excited.  We remember the thrill of being that kid.

Coloring the sign to announce your wares, sure that your graphic artistry and marketing were going to practically pull the people in, almost against their will. Hearing the satisfying “pah!” as you peeled back the plastic lid on the tub of powdered drink mix and being greeted with that smell. Choosing a pitcher that would make the lemonade look most appealing (always glass for me; never plastic). Cracking the ice from the trays into the finished product (having forgotten to do this first, and thus making quite a mess with the splashing). And sometimes, mom would suggest adding lemon wheels she’d cut for you, in order to make it look more authentic and to up the ante.

The card table and folding chairs would be set up close to the road. The sign was affixed with masking tape:




It was imperative that the sign say “ICE COLD,” because that was part of the sure-fire marketing strategy. The pitcher of lemonade was placed front and center, with two upside-down stacks of plastic cups waiting beside.

The tin can would occupy the corner of the table closest to yourself, so that you could look into it often. The money can. I remember the feeling of anticipation in setting it all up while watching the cars go by on the nearby road. Every one that passed before we were open for business was a missed opportunity to start filling that can.

And you imagined that can full. The night before, and that morning as you prepared, you’d do and re-do the figures. “If this many cars stop, then I’ll make this much, and if THIS many cars stop, I could make THIS much,” and so on. Then, of course, you’d begin to break it all down by the hour.

You felt confident. Important. Grown up somehow.

Show time! OK, world, let’s see those dimes! But then . . .

Much to your confusion, the cars would not stop. There would not be a waiting line that was impossible to keep up with. The can would not be getting full. And then your aunt would stop by. Or your grandmother. Or a neighbor. And your mom would suggest that you make the sign bigger with darker letters. Or that maybe if you smiled and waved and didn’t look quite so dejected, that might do the trick.

You’d inevitably give in and drink some of the profits away as the afternoon wore on. How are all these people not as hot as I am? How are they able to resist my lemonade? you’d think, never quite aware that the ice had all melted by now, and that the lemonade was diluted and warm.

But then — once in a while — someone would stop. A stranger. A real live customer. And you’d get your game face on, and sit up a little straighter, and say “Hello!” instead of “Hi.” And you’d pour him a brimming, shaking cup of your warm, iceless lemonade. And instead of a dime, he’d produce a whole dollar! And you’d thank him and offer him more lemonade, which he’d refuse and tell you that you’d need it for other customers, and that he was sure this was the time of day when most people really got the hankering for lemonade. And you’d wave after him as he drove away. Then you’d grin at your dollar, wide eyed. And you’d refill that pitcher and add some more ice and wipe your brow. By gum, you were back in it!


I’ve made it my goal to be that guy. The guy who always stops, whether he is thirsty or not. The guy who saves the day. Who gives the whole dollar (and sometimes a five) with a wink and tells them how terribly thirsty he was, and that he really didn’t know what he would have done had they not had that lemonade stand.

The ability to take someone else’s perspective goes beyond literature and lemonade stands. It’s a conscious choice to really see the others around us. To value them. To empathize. And to engage.

A me-centered life is a lonely and strangely unsatisfying one. Self is never satisfied. The more we feed it, the hungrier it gets.

lemonade stand: Self is never satisfied. The more we feed it, the hungrier it gets.

On the other hand, choosing to adopt more others-centered attitudes and actions connects us, bringing with it a sense of joy, belonging and purpose.

It’s Memorial Day weekend. Summer is here. Be on the lookout for the lemonade stands near you.

And stop.

Quick Link to Subscribe: Button
Quick Link to Comment: Button

Are you ready for some real change in your life right now?

The Best Advice So Far is about choice. Filled with wit, humor and poignantly real stories, The Best Advice So Far shares collective wisdom through a new lens, as well as practical application for living like it matters (because it does).


(click the image)

The Best Advice So Far in Print: Amazon


(click the image)