Life in the Promotional Marketing Biz

“What do you do?” We all face this question on a regular basis. Though I spend the majority of my week doing more typical marketing work (I was a freelance copywriter), I have the most fun telling people about my work on the weekends. Friday through Sunday I work for a promotional marketing company as a trainer, an event coordinator and, when needed, a product demonstrator.

“You know those people who hand out samples in the grocery store? I train them.” That’s usually the answer that I give. It almost always sparks a conversation about the experience that person has had with a product demonstrator. For me, it’s a thrilling conversation because I love hearing these stories and I love educating people about the promotional marketing industry. Even though we live in a technologically rich world, nothing beats the experience of trying a new product with a friendly engaging brand ambassador there to answer your questions or banter with you. Let’s be honest, it is the surest way to convert a follower into a customer.

I was first introduced to promotional marketing by my friend Saundra who recruited me to join her on a Cholula hot sauce mobile tour around the east coast soon after I got out of grad school. She had been in the promotions industry for a couple of years by that time and already had a hefty number of mobile tours under her belt. Her partner Vito had been in the industry for even longer. I learned a lot from both of them as they told me about past tours and gave me tips on how to be an exceptional brand ambassador. They infected me with their enthusiasm for this industry and re-enforced that I have a natural ability to quickly connect with people (which is a prerequisite for excelling in promotions). It wasn’t a surprise to me when they told me this fall that they were founding their own promotional marketing company VIP Talent & Events. While I worked with them I saw that they have the vision to conceptualize a tour, a knack for choosing good people and a smart, efficient approach to event planning and management. Though I loved working with them, life on the road full-time is not for me. That is what led me to my current role for Elite Marketing Interactions as a Regional Trainer & Event Coordinator (to put a title to my description).

Working for a company that primarily does in-store promotions instead of mobile tours allows me to be more grounded than Saundra and Vito who live on the road for a majority of the year. While I do travel for my job, I am able to come home every night.

It might seem like a big leap that I went from studying philosophy and earning an entirely academic master’s degree to marketing –to those of you who know that part of my story. I should mention that I brought with me 4 ½ years of translatable experience. I planned and executed my first campus wide event during my first semester of college and by the end of that semester I founded a student organization.  That organization became one of the largest on campus by the time I graduated in part because I wasn’t afraid to shamelessly and constantly promote it for four years. My experience leading that organization and then overseeing all of the student organizations at my college led me to a graduate internship in Programming & Leadership at Fordham (which was more like a staff role as opposed to those internships where you’re mostly an errand runner). Since each of those positions involved print and online marketing, face-to-face promotion, managing and training staff/ leaders and event planning and execution it wasn’t that much of a leap to enter the marketing industry.

A large part of what I love about promotions is its diversity. Every tour that Vito and Saundra tell me about is incredibly different just as each week for Elite is different for me. Some weekends I train new staff. Some weekends I set-up and run a booth at community events and tradeshows. Some weekends I organize and orchestrate high-profile in-store events. Some weekends I perform product demonstrations (often wine/beer – which are my favorite) at understaffed stores. What is always consistent in this business is that you are challenged to make a positive first impression on hundreds of people in just 5 – 20 seconds with them. Yes, there are people who will hang out with you for much longer than 20 seconds. You can have some incredible conversations but these people are the exceptions. Most people will only give you just a few seconds of their time. The challenging of figuring out just the right hook to bring people in and make them feel at ease and engaged is part of what makes every day in the promotions industry exciting.

I want to share this passion with you because I love this industry and because I want you to understand that I’m not exaggerating when I bring up how I can to anybody.

The Language of the Heart: In Memory of Nelson Mandela


If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

“Without language, one cannot talk to people and understand them; one cannot share their hopes and aspirations, grasp their history, appreciate their poetry, or savor their songs.” ~ Nelson Mandela

I don’t often write on current events but I think this is a worthwhile exception. Like many people around the world, last night I heard the news of Nelson Mandela’s passing and reflected on his legacy. I spent time perusing memorial articles and reading his famous quotes. Of all of his powerful and compelling statements, none resonate with me as deeply as those two quotes.  His words remind me of the most powerful scene in Bryce Courtney’s novel The Power of One: the evening of the “Concerto of the Southlands.” I believe they illustrate why he was able to unite his nation and facilitate reconciliation.

In The Power of One the “Concerto of the Southlands” blends together the tribal songs of five African tribes. Doc, an old German professor who is interned at a local prison during World War II, composes it as a farewell to the prisoners. On the night of the concert, all of the tribes—the Zulus, the Swazis, the Ndebele, the Sotho and the Shangaans—unite their voices with Doc’s Steinway. Peekay, the main character who has become a symbol of hope, orchestrates the concert.

Peekay reminds me of Mandela (though he is a white African). He has a natural ability to cross racial barriers.  The reason why he is able to do this is because he learns the languages of South Africa. He speaks Afrikaans like a native, though his first language is English. He speaks and understands many tribal African languages. It is not only his ability to speak these languages that makes him singular, it is that he speaks to their hearts when he speaks their language. He embraces the poetry of tribal languages and follows the etiquette of Afrikaans. What he is to young to realize is that when he addresses others in their language he is affirming their dignity, their humanity.

I do not know how many languages Mandela literally spoke, besides his native Xhosa and English, but there are other ways to speak to the heart of your audience and affirm their humanity and dignity. That is what Mandela did. It is what made him singular. He stands out from other humanitarians and motivational speakers because he created unity by respecting difference. He was able to bring his nation together because he sought to understand and appreciate their uniqueness while also seeing their shared humanity and genuinely believing that they were all worth fighting for, even those who were his enemies.

Feature image from the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

What it Means to Belong to Your Family

“Belonging. I think it’s a large part of what family is all about.” – Jonathan David Michael

I have been in pursuit of belonging since I was a child.

Growing up in a happy, functional family it seems irrational, or maybe a little ungrateful, to say that. But it is true. I felt out of place. Even though my family members can be experts at predicting me (especially Christa and my mom), they often aren’t that great at understanding me. I’ve found it hard to feel like I belong with people who don’t get me.

In elementary school, I decided that I was going to go live with one of my friends and her family because I felt like they understood me so much better. I packed up a little suitcase and planned out what I would say to my parents when they realized I’d moved out. As I walked down our lawn, it hit me that my “rational” argument would be crushing to my parents. I turned around and went back inside without them ever knowing the “sacrifice” I was making for their sake.

It’s a funny story now, remembering how serious and silly I was (my friend’s family was deeply dysfunctional so it really would have been a terrible swap). Even though I never physically ran away, I still didn’t accept that I belonged with them. From elementary school through grad school, I kept my parents at an emotional distance and treated my friends more like family. I rarely talked to my parents or sisters more than once a month and less than that during my final semester of grad school.  I wasn’t fully aware of the space I’d created between us until I moved back home (about two years ago now).

One of the things I hear often from my family members, even my brother-in-law, is that it’s ironic that I’m the one who moved back home: “You do the best on your own.” I think that’s why I had to come home. I needed to learn that I do not belong with my family, I belong to them. Even when they completely misread my actions, even when they seem like mysteries to me, we belong to each other.

In Jonathan David Michael’s blog post about being an involved Dad, he ends by telling a little story about a time when his son asked why he loved him. He said, “Because you’re mine… and that’s all there is to it.”

If he said that to his wife, I could see someone arguing that he is objectifying her, treating her like a possession. Since he said it to his son, I think more people probably understand that what he’s talking about is mutual. His son could just as easily say that he loves his father because he is his and the statement would be equally true. What they possess is a shared bond that can’t be rationally explained. I think it would be just as beautiful for he and his wife to say those words to each other. All of us want those we love to claim us. We want them to say that we are theirs and we want the freedom to say that they are ours.

I’ve spent too many years annoyed with God that He hasn’t given me a man that will claim me and who I can claim. All the while, I’ve been dismissing my family’s claim on me. Spending this year utterly single has helped me to appreciate and accept that we belong to each other. Reflecting on the value of family this season, I am incredible grateful for the belonging that I have. Even though it is not what I have looked for.

Feature image by Nathan Anderson.

Loving through Gifting

I’m thrilled that we’re finally into December because I can publicly come out of the closet and celebrate the approach of Christmas! The truth is that my Christmas season started early in November when my hunt for meaningful/whimsical Christmas presents got serious.

I haven’t gotten really into the Christmas spirit very much over the last few years. I was too poor and too busy in grad school. Last year I was too worried about my mother, who spent the whole month in and out of the hospital due to complications from having her gallbladder taken out.

This year, my family is well and I’ve got some extra cash along with a more flexible schedule. Though my Christmas budget isn’t especially large, since I started my Christmas preparations early, I have had more time to stretch out my spending and start making meaningful homemade gifts.

Something I’ve been reminded of in the process is how hunting for good Christmas presents gets me in the holiday spirit.

It is no surprise to me that gifting is considered a love language. When you’re actively hunting for meaningful gifts, the people you love are frequently on your mind. You spend more time musing over what they enjoy, what they are passionate about. When you’re browsing in stores, instead of just thinking about if this or that suits your taste, you mull over if it reflects the style or personality of one of your friends. If you’re a crafter or artists, you find yourself thinking about ways that you can bring beauty into the world, even if in the simplest way, for their benefit. In other words, gifting becomes a way of actively loving other people both in thought and in deed.

Love is what Christmas is all about (okay, and hope but that’s for another post). It makes perfect sense that giving gifts is an integral part of Christmas.

I will admit that giving gifts is my natural love language. The gifts I love giving and receiving are those that display the thought that went into their selection/creation. This Christmas season, I am embracing my passion for meaningful gifting and inviting you to join me.

Feature image by Kari Shea.

Counting My Blessings

The buttery-scent of baking pumpkin pie is reminding me that Thanksgiving is just a day away. Following tradition, I’ve been thinking about what I’m grateful for. One of the biggest blessings this year has been becoming an aunt.

At the beginning of August, I shared with you the bittersweet arrival of my niece, Anya. I admitted my fear that my sister and I would grow apart when she became a mother. Friends had predicted that the reverse would happen, that my niece would actually bring us closer together. I wanted to believe them but I wasn’t able to until I held her in my arms and stayed up late talking to my sister the week after Anya was born.

In the four months since she’s become a part of our lives, I’ve made two trips down to Alabama to see them. Even though I worked with children in my church’s nursery in high school, I didn’t grasp until now how much having a baby in the family helps you to regain a sense of wonder as you watch her discover herself and the world.

For the first two months, my sister and her husband sent us a picture or short video almost everyday. We were able to feel like we were with them as she discovered the joy of making faces, started cooing and began engaging with toys on her own.

While I’m disappointed that I won’t be seeing any of them tomorrow, I’m looking forward to their visit in a few short weeks.

 These are some pictures from both of my visits that I’d been meaning to share with you.

Feature image by Gabriel Garcia Marengo

A Bittersweet Arrival

My little sister Christa brought her first child into the world last night. Hundreds of miles away, and having only seen her in person during her pregnancy when her baby-bump was hardly that, it wasn’t entirely real to me until I was sent the first picture of baby Anya. It’s still incredible to me. I remember, months ago, when Christa texted me: “I dreamt of Anya last night. And she was beautiful! I can’t wait to meet her!”  Now, she is in her arms.

Christa & baby Anya

Among the reasons I haven’t mentioned, until now, that I was soon be an aunt is that I haven’t been as thrilled as I’m supposed to be. I know that Christa and her husband Jon will love their daughter deeply. They will be the best possible parents. Even just seeing her in photos, my heart swells with love for little Anya. (How could I not love my niece?) My apprehension has had nothing to do with that. It’s been much more selfish. I’ve been worried about Christa and my relationship once she’s a mother.

Christa is incredibly dear to me. Last summer, when I was helping she and her husband prepare their house to be put on the market, she remarked how lucky we are to be both best friends and sisters. I agreed. No matter how much we can and have hurt each other over the years, there are few people I love or know so well. Blessed as we are to be so close, our relationship isn’t entirely easy.

We’ve always been pretty different. She’s mathematically minded, I’m romantically minded. She’s naturally thin, I’m naturally inclined to be larger. She’s more conservative, I lean towards the liberal/libertarian side. Etc. Since she got married, after her first year of college, our lives have been moving in different directions. We never seem to be at the same stage of life (excepting the closeness of our ages -we’re only 14 months apart so once I’m done with an age she’s moving into it).

For her first couple years of marriage, we had a hard time relating to each other. What could I know about how lonely and awkward it was to have gotten married so young? How could she understand my frustration being perpetually single and stuck in a cycle of pseudo-relationships?

Though we’ve learned how to connect despite all that separates us, could it be the same when she’s a mother? Parenthood is kind of a big deal.

Okay. Lumped in with that was the fear that she won’t have any time for me now. That we won’t ever get enough time to catch up on the phone and, when we see each other, we won’t be able to have real conversations because her baby will absorb all of the attention (like babies do). No matter how cute a baby is, I can only fawn for so long. To gain a niece but, practically, lose my sister seemed like an awful exchange.

What has helped to allay these fears has been becoming friends with a mom who lives in my neighborhood. My parents have known her for the last couple of years because they go to the same church group. We only met last year. Our friendship didn’t begin until I moved into my new house.

One afternoon, as I was laying in my front yard reading and sunning, she came by with her kids. She said, “You know, Lindsey, you could tan beside our pool instead of awkwardly on your lawn?”

To which I replied, “You know, I don’t know exactly where you live.”

“You don’t? We can fix that.” She convinced me to walk back with them to their house. We sat beside her pool talking for hours. Our friendship has continued to grow since then.

Her children aren’t babies but one is pretty young. The fact that she’s a mother and I’m not hasn’t hindered our friendship at all. (Though I have to watch what I say more because even words like crap are “bad” words right now for her kids). Watching her kids and talking to her about them has reminded me both how much I enjoy kids and how quickly they grow up. That has set me much more at ease (I’ll be honest, I’m not great with babies. Once my niece and first godchild can talk, I’m sure we’ll both enjoy each other more).

Now that Anya is here, I’m not worried about Christa and my relationship. I believe it will continue to deepen and grow as it has through the last six years.

Still, becoming an aunt is bittersweet. Just as it was bittersweet when Christa got married.

Being so close in age, I unconsciously assumed Christa and I would get married and raise our children around the same time. She is now six years into marriage and I’m no closer to being married myself. If I have children, they will most likely be much younger than hers. For that reason, it is impossible not to feel a little grief mixed in with my joy today.

Proud Parents & Happy Doc

Let’s Catch Up!

It’s been way too long since we really chatted! There are lots of questions I feel like I need to answer for you. Like, Why the heck have I only been posting like two blogs a month?! And whatever happened with my career hunt?! How it is that we’re over half way through Lent and I haven’t even written about it once?!  And, for those of you who also follow me on facebook, Why do I keep posting statuses about online dating?! It’s about time that I gave you some answers.

I tend to scapegoat a lot of things when I’m being uncommunicative: boredom, laziness, writer’s block, etc. Usually, the truth is that it comes down to one thing: I’m keeping something BIG from you (because I’m not ready to share it yet). Since that thing is typically eating up a lot of my time and energy, I just don’t have much leftover to share with you. That BIG thing through the last few months has been my developing career.

Back in January, I let you know that I was searching for a career job that would challenge me and get me out of my apartment more. I let some of my thrill at the hunt come out near the end of that month, after getting home from a good interview. Overall, I tried to shield you from experiencing the rollercoaster of my emotions.

Career hunting for me is a lot like crushing. One week I’m be totally convinced that some job is THE ONE. I come up with a bunch of reasons why we’re perfect for each other. I envision myself in the position and imagine our future together. Then, before I even hear back, I’m over it. I brush off rejections like I was completely complacent from the start. My close friends and family have a hard enough time dealing with all of these ups-and-downs. I thought it was best to spare you.

That hunt has now come to an end.

In the midst of looking elsewhere for a career, I was invited to interview for the position of Event Coordinator within the company that I have been doing demos. My supervisor, who I began filling in for in January when she left on a medical leave, had recommended me. Though I wasn’t sure I wanted to stay within this company, or industry, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity. I went to the interview.

Lightning didn’t exactly strike but it went undeniably well. During the interview, I began to realize how much I wanted this job over all of the opportunities in higher education that I’d been pursuing. That weekend, I also had the chance to coordinate a large event at my store. After that, I knew this was what I wanted. (You all may not know this but, back in college, I planned and ran many events as a student organization president. During my masters, I had an internship in programming and leadership. In other words, I have a lot of experience coordinating events and acting as a supervising. I forgot just how much I love pulling off a successful event until that weekend.)

During the weeks following that interview, as I waited to hear back, I felt like a love-sick teenager. I tried to continuing hunting, just encase I didn’t get it, but it was impossible to get my heart back into the game. Thankfully, I was offered the job around the middle of February. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops but I was asked to keep it quiet until an official announcement was made to my staff (which they finally did yesterday).

One of the appealing aspects of this job is that it’s just 30 hours a week. Leaving me time to continue my freelance writing (something I’m really not willing to entirely give up-though I haven’t been focusing much on it lately). Training for this new job, taking on new responsibilities, and being much too hard on myself for not already being absolutely perfect, has been pretty consuming for the last few weeks. On my time off, I’ve been pretty useless (during that first week of training I may or may not have watched all 4 seasons of BBC’s “Being Human” on Netflix). I’m beginning to feel more like I can breathe this week. While I’ve still got a lot going on, I’m planning to pencil in more time for us.

So there you have it. Finally, some answers for you! Now you know why I’ve been so quiet and what became of my career hunt. This is also why I haven’t commented on Lent. Lent is a season of contemplation. For me, this season is about doing more than thinking. That last question…I’ll save the answer for another day. It’s worth its own post. Until then…

Crushing Like a Teenager

I’ve been meaning to write a post for you that’s as serious as the last. There are a number of different topics that I’ve been mentally composing my thoughts on. None have materialized because I’ve been a little too absorbed in my latest crush. It’s a job crush.

Last Wednesday, just before heading off to the Detroit Auto Show, I had a phone interview for a job in higher education that went remarkably well. Before that conversation, my feelings about the position had been lukewarm. The more I learned about the details of the job and the university I’d be working for, the more enamored I became. My interviewer seemed to be similarly enamored with my potential for the position. She very eagerly invited me in for a face-to-face interview this Monday.

I spent the time leading up to my second interview like a teenager in the throws of an intense crush. Thursday, when I had a nice chunk of time that I’d intended to use to write you, I played dress up instead. I planned out outfits I could wear to work and dreamed up how I’d like my style to evolve. Of course, I also picked out the outfit for my face-to-face. I kept losing time daydreaming about this job.

I know that you aren’t supposes to get this attached to a prospective job. There is such a high potential of rejection at this point that you should curb your enthusiasm. That’s not especially easy for me with any job (unless I don’t really want the position).

After an equally positive face-to-face interview yesterday, I’m absolutely radiating with anticipation. It’ll be another week or so until I know one way or the other. While I left the campus even more excited than I’d arrived, I also left inspired and encouraged. Much like a positive dating experience, it left me feeling desirable and confident I have a lot to offer. That alone is worth all of the emotional energy I’ve been burning, even if I don’t happen to get this particular position.

I am going to try harder to focus my energy back towards you and share more thoughtful musings soon.

A Couple Of Presents for You

This week I discovered Astrid Tasks. It’s a good app to keep you on top of your to-do list. It pops up these adorable little reminders for you. Like: “Quit snoozing! Blog!” That one’s been coming up a lot lately. So, that’s what I’m going to do.

Apologies for my negligence over the last week! (Obviously, I’m already failing in my resolve to post daily–I’m sure you’re not surprised). A few things have kept us apart: I had some loose ends to tie up from last year. I was given a leadership role at my demo job, for which I had to go through some training. Plus, I had to care for my mother, being that it was her first week home from the hospital and she was still getting up her strength, which included running her up to her doctor at the end of the week for a checkup. What’s mostly at fault is that I’ve been too stuck in my own head.

All endings and beginnings create a lot of mental noise for me. I’d prefer not to expose you to that cacophony, at least not quite yet. Instead, I’m going to take the simpler and saner route of sharing some of my Christmas presents with you.

We all know that catching up with a friend after the holidays includes hearing a list of both what they’ve received and what they’ve given. I won’t force you to hear my whole list, modest as it was. There are two things I’ve got to share with you.

The Sketchbook


The first is this sketchbook that my older sister, Noel, got me. I’m accustomed to getting journals but this may be the first sketchbook I’ve been given. You can probably tell from the cover that it was made from an old book. She told me that it was re-imagined by a local Pittsburg artist. This gift is the inspiration for my only real new year’s resolution: to draw once a day.


A while back my friend Shayna told me that her new year’s resolution for 2012 had been to quit biting her nails so that she could paint them. Her Instagram has lots of images of her nails cutely done up. Knowing her, I was sure that self-improvement wasn’t her primary purpose. She, instead, wanted to motivate herself to be more creative and do something she’d thought about for years. I like that idea.

Considering how I feel about the calendar new year, and how I feel about winter in general, I rarely make solid resolutions at the turn of the new year. While I sometimes come up with a list of goals to work towards, I always have a rather relaxed attitude about them. (Seriously, who is that motivated in January when it’s 30 degrees outside or colder? I prefer to be realistic.) But I like the idea of having a new year’s resolution that isn’t about achievement or self-improvement, that’s simply about enjoyment and encouraging creativity. That’s something I knew I could be resolute about. I began musing over what mine could be.

The first idea I toyed around with was starting a private fashion blog for kicks. (I know. I know. I’m so vain! But it’s been an idle daydream of mine since the last semester of my senior year of college when I would blow off working on homework to browse and I had to be honest with myself that I’m not that great at self-portraits, nor do I have a large enough wardrobe for it to be anything but depressing.

After giving up on that idea and a few others, I forgot about it for a while. As Heather shared her new year’s resolutions with me, just as the clock was approaching midnight, I remembered that I’d wanted to choose a creative resolution. It wasn’t until midway through the 1st that it became immediately obvious that my resolution should be to draw daily. Saundra gave me a great set of drawing pencils last Christmas to compliment Noel’s sketchbook. I’d been longing to get my drawing hand back in shape throughout the last year. So my resolution was set.

If you’ve been wondering why I’m foisting my sketches upon you via Instagram, it’s because I’m trying to hold myself accountable (though I abstain from sharing the ones that I really hate). You might notice that I’m trying to master more of a fashion illustration type style, which is far from my usually realist drawings. Please, have patience with me.

The Fortune-Telling Book of Love


This little treasure was given me by Saundra. My utterly ridiculous, pseudo-superstitious self fell in love with it immediately. It’s full of charming old wisdom about love. It has childish spells, astrological charts, and romantic explanations for everything from interpreting dreams to knowing what it means for your love life if you see different kinds of birds. It explains how to divine your lover’s nature from the shape of his face and his different facial features. It’s quite incredible.

In general, I’m a lover of books that can entertain a crowd (in high school, I used to lug around a book of virtues that my Grandpa Jacobs gave me with Hilaire Belloc’s outrageous moral poems such as “Jim: who ran away from his nurse and was eaten by a lion”). It’s even better when they’re miniature, as this one is. If you run into me anytime within the year, I’ll most likely have it on my person. If you ask nicely, I’m sure I’ll be more than happy to share some of its wisdom with you. Here’s a taste:



Recycling the Past for More Than It’s Worth

Something about dating a guy, who was born in the early 1990s, left me nostalgic for that decade. It’s probably because I kept trying to wrap my mind around the fact that he was only a one year old when No Doubt came out with their hit song “Don’t Speak” and he was two when Baz Luhrmann blew me away with “Romeo+Juliet.” It struck me that he couldn’t have had a chance to play the original Oregon Trail or Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?. Most likely, he can’t remember what computers used to be like back then. Our age difference wasn’t exactly a deal-breaker but I felt like he missed out on a golden era of pop culture (it’s tragic enough to me that I wasn’t old enough to appreciate the 80s before they were over).

A particular gem of the 90s is Baz Luhrmann’s graduation speech that he gave to the class of 1999 and set to music for the rest of us to appreciate. I was only graduating from middle school when it first came out but it resurfaced when I finished high school. Thanks to pinterest, I rediscovered it just before the new year. Listening to his words again, I thought about how my own meandering experience has been teaching me many of the same things.

He says at the end that “advice is a form of nostalgia.Dispensing it is a way of wishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.” If that is true than it seems fitting to pass on the advice from him that struck me most during this listening. Still at the start of a new year, it is a perfect time to dispense with the past before moving forward into the future:

“Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.”

“Don’t worry about the future. Or worry but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind. The kind that blindside you at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday.”

“Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.”

“Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.

“Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone.”

“Be nice to your siblings. They are your best link to the past and the most likely to stick with you in the future.”

“Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on.”

“Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because, the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.”

What advice would you like to dispense with before we go further into 2013?