Posts Tagged ‘advice’

There is nothing you can fix.
The only thing to do is love her.
Tomorrow, next week,
there might be laundry.
Or mail. Or a meal.
Or a phone call
when she will need for you
to be near her
when she tells the other person
her child is dead.
Hold her hand, or,
if she needs space,
don’t hold it.
Say her name.
Say the name of her child.
Walk with her, or sit still.
Pray for her when you’re not with her,
even if she doesn’t pray,
even if you don’t know how,
even if the words
feel like foreign objects in your mouth.
Light a candle.
Give her your heart.
it’s the only thing that matters,
though it will not ease her
nor help her sleep
nor solve a damn thing.
Though there is no hope
you can make things right.
Though she may push you away.
Though anything you do
will be woefully insufficient, love her.
With your whole being, love her.
It will not be enough.
It is the only thing.  
Tell her, if you can, you love her.
But if you can’t,
just love her.
Just love her.

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            with thanks to Joi Sharp

When my teacher told me
Everything we love can
and will be taken from us,

I did not know how she
was preparing in me
a synaptic path.

I understood her words
in the way one understands a journey
by reading a map.

Now, ten years later, with every breath
I travel this path of loss
as so many others have before me,

and yet there is no trail, no signposts,
no destination, and the path changes direction
from moment to moment.

But the path does not feel foreign.
Every turn of it is paved with truth—
Everything we love can and will be taken from us.

Those words now offer
the strange comfort of prophecy
as I wander these trails of impermanence,

stunned with gratitude even as I weep,
alive with loving what doesn’t last,
astonished by the enormity of love—

how love is the red thread that pulls us through,
not a thread to follow,
but a guide that never, ever leaves the path.

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That was the day

I asked everyone I met,

Have you had a teenager?
Do you have advice for me?

And the woman in line

in the store told me,

You survive. And the cashier

said almost the same.

Sometimes we search

for what we want to know

in the strangest places.

At the gas station,

I hesitated to ask

the gruff old man

scraping paint, but

I asked my question again.

He looked at me

and shook his head,

you love ’em.

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What was the best advice you got as a teenager?

Question asked in the Positive Youth Development Training



Sitting in the old one-room schoolhouse

and trying to remember any piece of advice,

I come up blank, which makes me think brain scientists

are right: the prefrontal cortex had not yet kicked in.

Makes me think, why give a teen advice?

They won’t listen now. They won’t remember it later.


But then, clear as a clap, I am standing on stage

in my pedal pushers and my fake Izod shirt, and I hear

John Klug’s voice howl from the theater’s back row,

“I can’t means I won’t.” That is right before

he strides to the front of the stage, picks up the easel

and throws it into the empty audience,


where it lands in the training I attend thirty years later,

and I stare at it beside me, astonished he threw it,

but even more astonished at how simple it was,

the way he changed my life, how that afternoon

he guaranteed that every time I hear the phrase I can’t,

I see the chance to say instead, I can do it. I’ll try.

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They used to say,
Drink wine, and then
they said only red,
and then they said
none. They used
to say, Two eggs a day,
and then they said
don’t. And now
eggs are in vogue
again and next year,
you know they won’t.
Yes cholesterol,
no cholesterol. Yes
to wheat, no.
No to baby oil.
Yes to sunscreen, now
they say go bare.
There’s just one place
where all the theys
seem to agree:
drink water. Lots
of water.
I don’t know
who they are,
but take it
(or leave it)
from me.

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