Here’s some collected wisdom, and you can quote me


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It’s time for a mid-January check-in. How are you doing on your New Year’s resolutions? I have a perfect track record for the first time in my life. That’s because my 2022 resolution was to no longer make New Year’s resolutions. I outsmarted the system!

All that pressure to promise to do something bums me out. It would be great to just try my best most of the time and accept imperfection, to allow myself some days off from trying and to strive for progress over perfection. 

It sounds like I’ve spent some time in the self-help section of the library. Maybe I have. In addition, I have a couple of close friends who are therapists, a few others who are in therapy and the friends who are therapists also in therapy. They’re like the Holy Grail for me. I grab pearls of wisdom from them any time I can. 

Amy Fenster Brown

In a move that is meant to be a compliment but probably comes off as super weird, I type their quotes in the notes app on my phone. They see me do it. I often ask them to repeat what they said, ask them to talk about where they came up with it or what it means to them, and then I think about it. 

“Wait, Amy! This isn’t very funny,” you say. “You’re supposed to write about funny stuff!” 

Yes, I am.  But mixed into my well of jokes are some gems of information that fill the noncomedic crevices of my soul. 

I’m sure these aren’t all original thoughts and quotes. I’m sure they’ve been passed along from friend to therapist and back again. I don’t care, I’m just glad they landed in my notes app.

“When you act like an ostrich and bury your head in the sand, you end up leaving your backside exposed.”

 I love this one. When you ignore something that’s happening and avoid dealing with it, another issue is very likely to sneak up on you. I know this quote is meant to remind us to deal with the issues head on and that when you choose not to, don’t be surprised when some other issue surprises you.

“Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere. And sometimes in the middle of nowhere you find yourself.” 

This was from some picture book of sloths doing yoga that one girl in my mahjong group gave another girl in my mahjong group. Cute. Sloths are really having a moment right now. The one in this book does tough yoga poses and spews quotes about life. It managed to accomplish a lot in an ironic twist of fate, because sloths are known for being sluggish, slow and adorable. If those traits are what it took to get a book published, I’d be a best-selling author.

“When you’re looking through your rearview mirror, you have new facts to consider.” 

This is a new way of saying hindsight is 20/20, but it sounds so much more meaningful. Like you could justify your mess-up even more by realizing there are new facts you didn’t have when you did whatever that dumb thing was that you’ve been kicking yourself for. It’s a good quote to remember to end all that self-kicking.

“We don’t have crappy desks like this in my home.” 

This was my response to my fifth-grade teacher when she said, “Amy, get your feet off the desk. Do you do this to the furniture in your own home?” Not a big lesson to learn here, I just wanted to throw in something funny to break up all of this deep introspection.

Embrace the mess. That’s where the good stuff lives.” 

This is probably supposed to remind us to enjoy the process and not just the outcome, to enjoy the journey and not just the destination, and also to remember that the mess is usually where you find your keys.

“When the going gets tough, your mom gets tougher.” 

My son’s third-grade teacher totally knows what this quote means based on that time she didn’t think before she spoke to my child in an aggressive way and was greeted by me the next morning saying the exact same sentence back to her and asking her how it made her feel. Don’t mess with moms. Just don’t.

“Good things are hidden in the quiet moments.” 

It’s so true that when you ask people a question and listen to their answers and then stay quiet for a couple of seconds after they’re finished, they most likely will say a bit more and you will hear something terrific, important and/or insightful. Or their story will continue to go nowhere while you listen politely and realize the good thing in the quiet moments is when someone is actually OK just being quiet.

“In life you make decisions. And if they don’t work out you just make a new decision.” 

I heard some actor say this on a podcast. He made it sound so easy, to be able to simply change your focus or direction when your original plan didn’t go the way you hoped it would.

“Take a risk, jump off the cliff and figure it out on the way down.” 

Said by a different actor on a different podcast. These actors really spit out some philosophical words. I don’t know whether they truly mean it or they’re, well, acting. The message is great, if you can actually figure it out before you splat … literally and figuratively.

“If a ship veers off course by even 1 degree it will end up in an entirely different place than it was supposed to go.” 

I take this two ways. If you go off direction even the tiniest bit, you could find yourself in an exciting unplanned adventure, and that could be cool. Or if you go off direction even the tiniest bit, you could end up nowhere close to what you planned and worked for, and that could really suck. Sounds like a glass half empty vs. glass half full scenario.

And finally, a quote from my husband, Jeff Brown, who likes to keep things simple, factual and in perspective.

“They know me at the bank, and they know me at Lion’s Choice … two great places to be known.”

Columnist Amy Fenster Brown is married to Jeff and has two teenage sons, Davis and Leo. She volunteers for several Jewish not-for-profit groups. Fenster Brown is an Emmy Award-winning TV news writer and counts time with family and friends, talking and eating peanut butter among her hobbies.