What good advice do you fail to take?

The other day I asked my students, “What good advice do you fail to take?”

The answers ranged from “don’t procrastinate” to “live in the moment” to “eat vegetables” to “don’t sweat the small stuff” to “get more sleep.”

My students, high school seniors, are primed for advice. Fresh-faced, wide-eyed, eager, energetic, and ready to take on the big world.

Remember those days?

Let’s face it—good advice abounds. The supermarket checkout line. Highway billboards. Google. Grandma. The Bible.

And despite its abundance, the actual taking and applying of good advice proves difficult.

When we’re lost, confused, and desperate for answers–the biggest lie we believe is that everyone has the answer but us. Like we forgot to study for the big test and our teacher just instructed us to put our books away and clear our desks.

Remember those days?

Take note, take comfort, find salvation in this truth: no one has the answer.

Not your parents. Not your spouse. Not your best friend. Not Better Homes and Gardens. And certainly not me.

This week I found comfort in the brilliant poem “The Laughing Heart.”

“Dirty realist” poet Charles Bukowski repeats, “your life is you life” and reminds you “the gods will offer you chances” and that you are “marvelous”.

All you have to do is simply, defiantly choose the life we want.

Not in a destructive, selfish way– but to live your life for you. And when you choose your life,  you will see the “light” which is sometimes hard to see.

The Laughing Heart by Charles Bukowski

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

We are born into families, thrust into systems, lead by leaders that believe they know what is best for us. They bludgeon us with their theories and ideologies until we submit and abide.

But the older I get, the more confident I say, “I don’t know.”

In fact, I take comfort in knowing no one really knows what their doing. Sure some of us have refined skills or practices of our craft, some achieved “expert” status but this “everyone-knows-what-to-do-except-me” illusion is causing you to doubt your abilities and ignore your own voice.

Despite the abundance of advice we’re all lost.

We’re all looking outward when we need to turn inward, especially in difficult times. When my brain gets the best of me, I spend foolish hours Googling “living with ataxia”, ” treating cerebellar degeneration”, and “living with a chronic illness”. I spend hours looking for answers and advice on the internet only to close my laptop, take a deep breath, and know the best advice lies within. I just have to be brave enough, patient enough to find it.    

Your life is your life.

Be well,


Checkout the post: The Scary Work of Rewriting Yourself

“The fall and winter of 2013 was the most terrifying stretch in my life. It wasn’t the thought of dying, which did hang heavy in those days, it was a fear of redefining myself. My brain was damaged and the doctors didn’t know why. But the scariest part was digesting the news that parts of me could only now be found in photo albums and in flickering reels of memory.”

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