How do you deflect unsolicited advice?

The true secret of giving advice is, after you have honestly given it, to be perfectly indifferent whether it is taken or not, and never persist in trying to set people right. Henry Ward Beecher, American clergyman and social reformer

Advice is one of those things we like to give but, rarely, like to receive. Here are a couple of ideas on how to deflect unwanted advice.

—If the advice is unwanted, there’s no need to explain why their idea won’t work or why you don’t want to do it. Instead, take the focus off yourself and switch it to the person who’s giving the advice. 

—Be genuinely inquisitive. Say something like, “So tell me more about that? Why do you think that’s a good idea for me?” 

—To draw the conversation to a close you might say, “I appreciate that you want to help me. I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet but I’ll consider your advice.” 

—When you approach advice with curiosity, you make the advice-giver feel respected. And, you never know, as you dig deeper, you might find a useful nugget. 

—As you show appreciation, the advice itself becomes less important than the fact that you’ve acknowledged their effort to be helpful out of their concern for you.

Affirmation: I can respectfully deflect unwanted advice. 

Coaching questions: What kind of unwanted advice do you receive? How do you handle it? How might you handle unwanted advice with more respect?

Photo by Sammy Williams on Unsplash 


No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted. Aesop

Three years ago, I spent 9/11 in Halifax, Nova Scotia and learned that forty aircraft carrying 8,000 passengers were diverted to Halifax Stanfield International Airport after the attacks. By evening, all 8,000 had a bed in which to sleep. Halifax accepted the greatest number of aircraft of any airport and was the first major airport to have all diverted flights back in the air. This city of kind Canadians opened their hearts and homes in a time of need. 

In Halifax Narrows, on December 6, 1917, two cargo ships collided causing a massive explosion (the largest prior to the atomic bomb) that killed 2,000 people and injured 9,000. The town was demolished. Our kilt-wearing, Scottish guide told us about the generous response of Americans who sent trains with supplies, building materials, and personnel to help. He said, “On 9/11, we were honored to have the opportunity to return the kindness we had been shown by Americans so many years earlier.” And so it goes…kindness begetting kindness.

Affirmation: I am kind.

Coaching question: In what way are you part of the circle of kindness? 

Photo by Ian Haywood Bacon on Unsplash 

Remembering through service

If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate. Sandy Dahl, wife of Flight 92 pilot, Jason Dahl

Today, we remember the 2,977 people who were killed during the 9/11 coordinated terrorist attacks. The day is also dedicated to community service.

President Obama said, “Even the smallest act of service, the simplest act of kindness, is a way to honor those we lost, a way to reclaim that spirit of unity that followed 9/11.”

Affirmation: I remember and honor through service.

Coaching questions: What is one small act of service or kindness you will provide to help reclaim the spirit of unity? How does your service/kindness enrich your life? 

Photo by Magnus Olsson on Unsplash 

fall — a time to clean out

Fall feels like a good time for cleaning out—closets, gardens, activities. I’m using the check list below to evaluate how I want to spend my life. 

1. Listen to my intuition (if you’re a person of faith, listen to what God has to say).

In the past when I’ve attended meetings or participated in events, did I feel some inner angst? Author and activist, Parker Palmer, writes, “Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.”

2.  Check in with my values.

Do my activities/memberships line up with my values? I’m asking myself, “Is this who I really am? Is this who I want to be?” 

What I’ve scheduled, should bring me a sense of joy and/or accomplishment.

3. Choose things that matter. 

Greg McKeown, author, writes, “If it’s not a clear ‘yes,’ then it’s a clear ‘no’.” He also writes, “If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.”

Ever notice when you don’t have clarity about what you want to do, who you want to be, or how you want to make a difference, someone swoops in and answers those questions for you as they nudge you into their own agenda? I’m going to choose rather than default. 

4. Joy matters.

Two points on my list include—make more time for lunch with girlfriends and develop more couple relationships. Sometimes, making a difference means being a friend and cultivating a joyful spirit.

Affirmation: I’m starting fresh.

Coaching questions: What do you need to clean out? Do your values line up with your activities? What do you want to add/subtract?

Photo by Ethan Hoover on Unsplash 

What’s Keeping You From Pushing the Pause Button?

Labor Day was enacted into federal law in 1894. It’s nice to think of the day as a national pause day. As a nation, we are choosing to take a timeout from our busy work life and making a collective effort to have some fun. Dr. Perry, from his blog MakeItUltra 

It’s Labor Day in the United States. If you’re a working person, I hope you’re enjoying a day off. If you’re a working person without the day off, I hope you get a break soon.

Americans leave 658 million vacation days on the table every year. More than half of American workers leave vacation time unused. The United States is the only developed country in the world without a single, legally required, paid vacation day or holiday. By law, every country in the European Union has at least four work weeks of paid vacation.

Research shows that workers who take time off are more productive, mentally alert, healthier, and have greater work satisfaction. 

Affirmation: It’s ok to hit the pause button.

Coaching questions: What’s keeping you from taking vacation days? Do you see value in making a change?

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

Share Your Scars and Be a Lighthouse For Others

The scars you share become lighthouses for other people who are headed to the same rocks you hit. Unknown

When I was researching, Mom’s Gone Now What?, over fifty women came forward to share their mother loss stories. Truly, their scars have become lighthouses for others. 

They shared their stories through their brave tears and, in doing so, powered their light to reach further “out to sea.” Their light empowered me as well. I will be forever grateful for their willingness to give of themselves.

We are frequently tempted to show up without scars. When asked, “How are you?” we often say, “Just fine.” What if we honestly shared a bit of our true selves? A scar or two? How then might we become a lighthouse for others? 

Affirmation: I am a lighthouse.

Coaching question: How can you be sure your light is keeping others from the rocks?

Photo by Joshua Hibbert on Unsplash 

Give Your Daughter Coping Skills For Her Years Without You

Everyone has inside her a piece of good news. The good news is you don’t know how great you can be. Anne Frank, German diarist

On social media and personal contacts I often read/hear laments by adult daughters who, after the death of their mother (sometimes years after the death), feel helpless, hopeless, identity-less, and floundering without an anchor. 

Their plight brings to mind some tips to help your daughters successfully cope with life after your death.

  1. Encourage your daughter to internalize the reality that she will probably (and hopefully) outlive you. Help her recognize that this is the natural order of things. No one lives forever—not even mothers.
  2. Before she becomes an adult, prepare your daughter to be an independent person, a person who can successfully, confidently, and joyfully live her life and make good decisions without your constant input. 
  3. Help your daughter discover and embrace her own identity apart from you and her role as your daughter.
  4. Help your daughter understand that she will not be responsible for your death (unless, of course, there’s mistreatment).
  5. As you age or draw near to death, help your daughter understand that her death will not mirror your death—not the day, time, or manner. Each death is unique. Daughters generally have anxiety over the anniversary of their mother’s death (especially when they reach the age of their mother when she died). You speaking to your daughter about this may give her peace in the future.

These are the hard truths I’ve learned as I’ve interacted with countless motherless daughters. I hope there’s a take-away for you, Dear Mother.

Affirmation: I will do all I can to help my daughters (sons too) thrive after I’m gone.

Coaching questions: If any of these tips resonate with you, what will you do about it? What action will you take? What conversation will you have?

An independent mother raising an independent daughter.

Respect–the Cornerstone of Relationships

Show respect to all people, but grovel to none. Tecumseh, Native American Shawnee warrior and chief.

As I research Native Americans living in Nebraska in the mid-1800’s for my upcoming book, I’m reminded of the lack of respect shown to our brothers and sisters during that time.

Tecumseh was among the most respected and celebrated Indian leaders in history and was known as a strong and eloquent orator who promoted tribal unity. Unfortunately, he learned about disrespect at the hands of the U.S. government.

Respect is the cornerstone of relationships; friend to friend, colleague to colleague, or country to country. As we respect the life experiences of others, including our differences, we are enriched in our own journey. At all cost, we must hold on to our mutual respect otherwise, as Confucius says, “We are no better than the beasts.”

Affirmation: I respect myself and others.

Coaching questions: In an age when disrespect has become the norm, what can you do to hold on to the power of respect in your life? Where is the line between respect and groveling?

Photo by Boston Public Library on Unsplash 

Learning To Rejoice With Another’s Good Fortune

Let age, not envy, draw wrinkles on thy cheeks. Thomas Browne, English author

My mother would have been 102 today. She’s been dead for sixty-seven years. A friend of mine recently lost her mother—she was 102. I’ll attend her funeral on Saturday and celebrate her long and well-lived life. 

Do I resent my friend for having her mother all these years? Absolutely not! I’m thrilled that this is how life worked out for her and her mother. And yet, so often I read posts from motherless daughters who are resentful of others who still have mothers. If this is your attitude, I challenge you to dig deep and look for the roots of this feeling. Do you wish others pain because you have pain? 

From my experience, this attitude is more common in our society than one might realize—not just with some motherless daughters. Social media only adds to the FOMO (fear of missing out) attitude or envy about another person’s good fortune. We’re all sisters in this life—I beg you to find a way to rejoice with each other as well as expressing empathy for those who are hurting.  

Affirmation: I rejoice in the good fortune of others.

Coaching question: If you’re a motherless daughter, what do you feel when you see a daughter having a good time with her mother? Feelings, of course, are neither good or bad, but if you throw negative energy onto another—that’s something to take a look at. What can you do to shift your attitude?  

Winnifred Martyn Horn – 8/18/1919 – 5/24/1954

What Will Be Your Next Adventure?

Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller. Ibnb Battuta, a Muslim Moroccan scholar and explorer who travelled more than any other explorer in pre-modern history. 

I’ve been “on the road” for six days exploring Nebraska (mostly the North Loup/Sandhills area) and doing research for an upcoming book of historical fiction. I’ve been Facebook (friend me!) posting photos and stories of my travels out of my joy in what I’m seeing and who I’m meeting.

The highlights:

—Walking the paths and entering the buildings of reconstructed Fort Hartsuff where my great grandfather was a boot maker from 1875-1877 and having, Jim, the superintendent of thirty-seven years, who helped rebuild and excavate the fort, as my guide. 

—Experiencing the peace and beauty of the Sandhills and learning about the eco diversity.

—Touring a chalk mine that was discovered just before my great-grandparents arrived in the area and having an 84-year-old-woman with a walker as my expert guide.

—Meeting not one, but four women who personally knew my namesake, Mershon Smith, and learning that she was a “classy lady.”

—Meeting two families who had cabins next to mine on a ranch in the middle of the Sandhills. The fathers/husbands were originally from South Africa and offered me lamb cooked the traditional South African way over a braai (a unique style of barbecue).

—The peace and confidence that traveling alone in unknown territory brings. 

Affirmation: I love the adventure of traveling.

Coaching questions: What does traveling mean to you? What would it be like to travel by yourself? Where do you want to go on your next travel adventure? 

Taken on an eco tour of Switzer Ranch near Burwell, Nebraska