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Do As I Say, Not As I Do... A Few Important Lessons for My Daughter

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My new novel, Beautiful Day, is about a wedding. The bride-to-be, Jenna Carmichael, lost her mother, Beth, seven years earlier, a source of enormous sadness. But Beth was smart enough to leave behind a notebook, which included all of her thoughts, ideas and preferences for Jenna's wedding, to be read when the time came. Brilliant, Beth!

I myself am the mother of a 7-year-old daughter. I am perfectly healthy and plan on being around to offer my advice, solicited or unsolicited, for a very long time. But as no one knows what the future holds, I here offer the best of what I've learned in my 43 years. Do as I say, sweetie pie. Not as I do.

1. If you find an article of clothing you can't live without, buy two. Especially true for staples. Which is why I own seven pairs of soft, white AG stilts, three of which qualify for HAZMAT day at the dump.

2. You get more bees with honey. A platitude! And yet so true! When you've missed your flight and it's your turn at the airline counter, smile! Apologize! Be charming! Venting your anger on anyone -- especially complete strangers -- is not a winning tactic. Be especially sweet to bartenders and people serving you food. Trust me.

3. Choose ONE vice. I have two: sunshine and good champagne. Do as I say, sweetie pie, not as I do. Sunshine might possibly kill you; champagne probably won't, as long as you always travel with cab fare.

4. Always travel with cab fare. Twenty bucks.

5. Play hard to get. There used to be a book everyone was reading called The Rules. The rules in The Rules were all about perfecting the art of playing hard to get. It works with men (the guy who won't commit, or won't call you back) and with women (the girl who seems to value everyone's friendship more than yours). Let silence be your weapon of choice. Ignore said man or woman, and they will be back around, seeking you out. It always works. It never fails.

6. Develop skills. Do as I say, sweetie pie, not as I do. I have no skills! I can't speak French, I can't ski, I can't play the guitar... I can barely log on to the Internet! All I know how to do is write novels (thank goodness) and run, and anyone who has seen me run knows I'm not very good at that, either. I can cook a good soup from scratch, this is true, and I do know how to drive a stick shift. You, no doubt, will do better. You will be a chess champion and know how to weld.

7. Be kind, be kind, be kind. I hope this needs no explanation, sweetie pie. I would implore you to be kind to everyone you meet and would also remind you that it's often easier to be kinder to strangers than to the people you love the most. But be kind to the people you love the most -- especially me, your doting and eternally flawed mother.

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