Nancy Roman

Know-It-All, Part II

It’s time for another installment of Know-It-All, where I offer you the best of my unsolicited and usually obvious advice –

First – because I am an unapologetic smarty-pants,


Second – because they say that you should stick with what you do best – and I am much better at giving advice than taking it.

So here goes:

– If someone tells you that you look great – go right to a mirror and check it out.  Sometimes it’s very difficult to see yourself clearly, so it’s a very helpful to rely on your friends, family and co-workers. After all, they don’t want you to look bad. So when they say you look nice, they are trying to steer you in the right direction. So take a look. Is it the color you are wearing, the cut or fit, does your hair look particularly nice? Believe them.

– And speaking of compliments, pay some yourself. And I am not talking about being a suck-up. But I have found that every single day there is at least one opportunity (and usually more) to pay someone a sincere compliment. Recognize those occasions – and say so. And not just “great sweater” – although that’s very nice to hear (see above). But think about how nice it is to hear “great question” “I like your enthusiasm” or my favorite: “You make me laugh.”

– If you don’t like the book you are reading, stop reading it. There are so many fabulous books out there, don’t feel guilty about abandoning one that doesn’t move you. School is the exception to this rule. If it’s required reading – then slog through it. And try to figure out what someone else may see in it. It’s good discipline. But by all means – outside of classroom assignments – read what you love. And don’t be embarrassed either if others don’t feel your reading material is classy enough. You are reading. That already puts you ahead of 100% of the folks in front of the TV.

– And if you like TV: Don’t be embarrassed about that either. TV is relaxing. TV is great social currency. And once in a while, TV is even good.

– Back to education. (and back to people trying to steer you in the right direction): Your teachers are not trying to fool you. If you are sitting in class, just looking out the window or doodling (and I spent most of college doing one or the other), and you hear the teacher say, “This is important” – Write it down!  Draw a star in the textbook! If you are under 30, and you only know one way to remember a quote, by all means, get that tattoo!  Because if the teacher thinks it is important, I guarantee you it will be on the test.

– And with regards to tests:  Don’t EVER answer the question, “If I died, would you re-marry?”  There is no right answer. Do not attempt that treacherous minefield.

– Which leads us to death. Go to wakes and funerals. Don’t tell yourself that it doesn’t matter if you don’t go. Your presence is so noticed. And appreciated. You need to care that someone you know has lost someone they love. Pay your respects. And please show your respect too. Dress up. Don’t look like you are on your way to the gym.

– And let’s circle back to reading. Don’t worry so much about bilingual signage. If you speak English, and the sign is in English, does it really matter to you what other language it might be in? Why would you want other people to be confused?  Having as many people as possible understand directions is to your advantage too. I mean, you’re already suffering at the Motor Vehicle Department. Do you really want 20% of everybody else to be in the wrong line?




  1. I like these a lot – thanks for the read. especially the one about not reading a book you don’t like. my mother (now deceased) would frequently say to me, “Well, I finally finished that book. Terrible.” I made up my mind early not to ever waste time on books I hated. Another one I might add to your list – Don’t play mind games. Time is too short. Say what you mean and mean what you say.


    • I DO tend to beat around the bush. But what a relief it is NOT to.


  2. Very sound advice. Unfortunately, I have trouble with the third one. For some reason I just can’t not finish a book no matter how much I may be struggling with it. I wish I could just put it down and forget about it.


    • I used to be the same way. I’d finish the book if it killed me. But it just killed time. I have no more guilt for that at all. Bye-bye boring book.


  3. Al

    You’re wise beyond your not quite old years.


  4. Words of wisdom for sure! I like the first one best about running to the mirror when someone compliments you. I mostly avoid mirrors though. Too shocking.


    • But I need to know what looks good – so that there is some remote chance I can do it again.


  5. I usually finish a book even if I don’t like it. Sometimes because it was sent to me to review, sometimes because everyone else seems to like it, and sometimes I am just stoopid. As for mirrors I look in them as little as possible because I look much younger in my mind than what the mirror reflects. I am happier in my own little world so I spend as much time as I can there..


    • That’s why I draw a lot on my blog instead of using photos. I am much younger in my drawings.


  6. Great advice! I especially liked the one about giving compliments. Too many times I admire something about someone and forget to say it out load. I am going to take your wise advice and look for opportunities every single day.


    • It makes two people feel wonderful – you and the person you complimented. Last week when we had a fairly important meeting, one of our new managers was really on her game. After the meeting, before I could forget, I sent her an email saying “You were awesome!” She was glowing the whole rest of the day.


  7. I have a hard time with the reading one– even if a book is just dragging along or not so well written, I feel I owe it to… the book gods? … to finish it. But I should probably take your advice. Life is too short to read bad literature.


    • I have spent many hours trying to get through something I THINK I should get through. Giving up is a recent habit. I love it.


  8. These are just great! I’m going to take your advice about paying compliments – beginning today!
    I so agree with you about going to wakes/funerals, and about dressing appropriately to attend.


    • I went to a wake this summer where the SON of the DECEASED had shorts on. I wanted to send him home.


  9. These are, every single one, excellent. I have great difficulty with #2.


    • Try it. You will love it. And people will love you.


  10. You make me laugh!


  11. I like the one about giving compliments. I’ve talked to total strangers on the street of standing in a line for something or other. They look at me strange when I give them one, but you know what? They end up smiling anyway.

    All good advice, Nancy.;-)


    • One compliment I always like to give: If I see well-behaved kids in a restaurant, I always like to tell their parents how good the kids are. Both the parents and the kids are happy – and maybe they will behave even better the next time.


  12. “You make me laugh” about boring books and funerals. That’s not easy. Well done!


  13. Boring-book throwdown has been my new aim since post-menopause. Actually, shedding myself of boring people has become a huge bucket-list task, as well. Thanks for the reminder that I need to call Goodwill to pick up all those books that I refused to press through. 🙂


    • There are certainly a few people that I would like to return to the acquaintance store.


  14. I had to laugh as I was reading this, specifically because of your advice about “if you don’t like the book you are reading, stop reading it”. Just last night I forced myself to slog through to the end of a book, even though it had already taken me entirely too long to get to the 3/4’s point in the book. It was dull, not very interesting, and the worst of all — it was completely PREDICTABLE. Nothing kills it for me more than knowing what the author is going to say next, and usually even knowing how they are going to say it. But out of some sense of time invested and hoping the author might surprise me in the end, I just kept pecking away at the dull and lifeless words, allowing my eyes to gobble up the garbage.

    Let’s just say, she didn’t surprise me. In fact, I was already expecting disappointment, but what I hadn’t counted on was that the author not only failed to give the story a satisfactory conclusion, but in some unexplained twist of oddity, she threw an entirely new “voice” into the mix, on the very last page. I suppose she may have thought she was setting the stage for the book that will follow, but sadly, no one will be buying that book. Not if they read the first one.

    I know I sound harsh, and as someone who very much enjoys the craft of writing, my intention is not to slam sideways into poorly-crafted works of fiction. But your sage advice is one I should have taken to heart. Yes, I can say that I finished the book. But why?


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