I was raised by two people who – by nature or active choice, I’ve never been sure – do not tend toward giving advice. They shared wisdom. They told stories. They gave my brother and I unconditional support, and they listened to us powerfully all the time. But advice was not something they dispensed often.
So when they did, I listened. Hard. I still do when Dad says something like, “I’ve been thinking. . . you might consider. . . .”
Thus, I find it challenging sometimes to live in a world where people seem to dispense advice at every turn. When someone has a painful experience, we tend to suggestions rather than sympathy. When someone shares a joy, we offer ways to commemorate rather than joining in the celebration. It seems that somehow we have defaulted to “advice giving” as a way of showing we care. I don’t love this.
I feel confident on giving advice on exactly three things:
- writing. But only in that, “here’s what I try” kind of way.
- the proper use of a hoe. Sharp edge. Damp ground. Work the weeds closest to you and then move away. Dad taught me that just two summers ago.
- how long one can wear a pair of disintegrating jeans before they become indecent. Note – when the seams give way.
Beyond that, I don’t have much advice. I don’t know what YOU should do if you and your partner want to have children but can’t biologically. I don’t know what YOU should do if you struggle with the ruling about same-sex marriage. (I, for one, am dancing with glee.) I don’t know what YOU should do if you want to raise goats. I don’t know what YOU should do if you really want to make creme brulee but don’t have one of those torch things. (My husband does mechanics work, and we use his little butane torch.)
In short, I know very little about what is right for YOUR life. I barely know what to do with mine. (Primary evidence – it took me two tries to put my shirt on frontwards today.)
So I offer these tidbits as only MY personal rules about advice giving, in case they are helpful to you. If they are not, feel free to write your own. (I would REALLY love to read those. Really.)
- I give advice in only two circumstances: when someone asks or when there is a high probability that someone could get really hurt. Otherwise, I keep my trapper shut.
- I think carefully about what I know about the person and tailor the advice to who I know them to be. On Facebook this means, I mostly keep my trapper shut because while all of those folks on there are AWESOME to be my friends, I haven’t seen most of them in many years, and some of them I’ve never met.
- I offer my thoughts (when asked), and then I leave them. I don’t try to prove I’m right. I don’t belittle folks when they don’t take my advice. I only whisper “I told you so” quietly to myself; I never type it up or say it TO someone.
That’s pretty much it for me. My basic tenets of advice-giving. And to be honest, they save me a lot of time. I don’t know how so many people have so many hours to provide insightful wisdom to so many . . . oh wait! 🙂
So with these things in mind, please know that I’m happy to answer questions about hoeing or the reuse of denim when the seams give. I’m also happy to chat with you about writing and offer up book suggestions (if you ask).
But beyond that, everything you will hear on this blog, on the Andilit or God’s Whisper Farm FB pages is just about experience. It’s storytelling. Philip and I will gladly share with you our experiences as new farmers, but please, inform yourselves more deeply than our 12 months of raising farm animals will allow. I am happy to share with you my thoughts about racism and equality, but by all means, go to people – particularly people of color – who are MUCH more informed than I am.
And if I may offer one small tidbit of advice after all – do that for anything anyone tells you about any topic broader than what can be covered in one Pinterest pin. Check your sources. Do your homework.
Or as my mom told me in one of the few pieces of advice she gave me – “You’ve got the ‘innocent as doves’ part down pretty well, Andi, but you also have to be ‘wise as serpents.'” So be wise, beautiful people.
Now, what subjects do you consider yourself expert enough to give advice in? Take note – I’m looking for someone who has the magic solution to pet hair.
Later today, the God’s Whisper Farm newsletter – with exclusive content about the farm and our escapades here – will be going out later today. Plus, exclusive pics from around the farm. Sign up here – http://eepurl.com/bagtuT. This week, I’ll be sharing our garden experience thus far – what worked and what didn’t and what might work better next year.