Advice Nuggets


Do you have background noise in your brain, I do. It is the constant chatter that happens as I am working on something or pondering a problem. Interestingly, the chatter that talks to me loudest are the words from other people. All of the advice I have gathered over the years collected in the little rolodex in my brain. Sure, there are fabulous and profound quotes from people I admire like Mother Teresa and Benjamin Franklin….but the ones that surface the most are those words from family and friends.

The wisdom that they share becomes imprinted on us. While we think we know everything in our teens and twenties, they are busy offering nuggets of wisdom for us to pull from during our lifetime. Here are a few of the random advice nuggets that pop in my head…

“Honey, don’t worry, it all comes out in the wash.” ~ Grandma Teresa Maraldo

I heard this all the time in my teens and twenties. I think it almost daily now. Life just has a way of working itself out; there is no need to over-think it.

“Don’t worry about s**t  until you step in it.” ~ Tom Phillips

Tom never minced words. This phrase of his is a simple reminder that worrying does not do anything positive for the soul.

“There may be snow on the rooftop, but there is still fire in the furnace.” ~ Grandma Teresa Maraldo

In my teens and twenties this little saying of hers made me wrinkle my nose say “eeewww” and giggle. Now, at my age that will go untold, my perspective is this: the amazing human factor is that during our whole life we can love passionately. Pretty incredible isn’t it?

“Make sure when you find the man you’re gonna marry, he can change the oil in a car and fix a leaky pipe, you never know when hard times might hit and you won’t be able to afford to have someone else fix it.” ~ My Dad

Thanks Dad! Great advice. He also made sure he taught us girls how to do things for ourselves, in case we couldn’t rely on anyone else to fix it. By the way, he was right.

“Is it going to matter 2 weeks from now? Two months from now? Two years from now?” ~ Mitchell

This was shared with me by a work colleague. It is a measuring tool to help leave things in the past. It also helps me weigh out if I need to take action to rectify something.

“You eat a pound of dirt before you die.” ~ Grandma Teresa Maraldo

I kind of hope not, but it does make me feel better when I see my kids eat things off of the floor. (Gross)

“Well, now you know what you don’t want to do.” ~My Mom

Told to me many, many times as I tried different jobs and they didn’t “fit” me.

“Drive a stake and move forward.” ~ Awesome Husband

Decisive. Great advice.

“Offer it up.” Grandma and Dad

As a kid, I didn’t quite understand how this worked, just to pray over things that I found hard or difficult. Recently, it has been presented differently and has evolved into a bigger role in my life. It falls under the Pray Constantly file. No matter what we are doing, easy or challenging we can lift that task up and offer it as an active prayer, possibly for someone else who is sick, struggling or in hard times. As a teenager it was a small nugget of advice, as an adult it is a great evolution of spirit.

“Get ‘er done!” ~ My Mom (and pretty much every person I know)

That is all there is to it. Make no excuses, just get it done! Lots of times your friends will help!

“You don’t go to church for the Priest, you go there for God.” Grandma Teresa Maraldo

Offered to me as a teenager, carried forever. It has helped keep my focus intact while attending Mass.

“Be your own best friend.” ~ Grandma Teresa Maraldo

I use this with my children too. You need to like you first, have confidence and be independent. If you can be your own best friend, you will never be lonely.

These are just a few samples of advice nuggets I have received over the years. There are many, many more and I am sure I will collect more along the way.

What is a piece of advice that you were given that you carry along your journey?

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Remembering My Grandmother (1919-2012)


Teresa Merle Maraldo

December 1919 to January 2012

Grandma December 1919 to January 2012

She wore pink often, but her favorite color was all of them. Sometimes she liked yellow more than green or vice versa and she preferred pastels over bolds and brights. That’s an interesting way to think of her, pastel. She wasn’t bold in her statements or showy in her manner. She wasn’t usually the loudest person or the funniest; what she was …was warm. She was soft and understated, though you always knew where she stood. She didn’t mince words or sugar-coat her statements. She loved you true, through and through.

She laughed easily and played practical jokes. She listened carefully and always had a hug to share. Her arms were always open and her kitchen too. She truly loved you through and through.

Not long ago at a Mass Homily, the priest asked, “Who was your John the Baptist?” You know, the one that brought you to Jesus. The one that increased your faith and led you to know him. That was an easy question to answer, my Grandma. She told us stories of her conversion. She related real messages of journeys and awakenings in her own spirit. She prayed the Rosary daily and taught us how to pray it as well. Still, I hear her voice when I clasp each bead. A blessing in itself, a gift forever.

Not a day goes by that I don’t ask myself, “What would Grandma do?”

My kitchen is designed by such inspiration; I cook with her guidance (just with less butter, bacon and salt!) Even well into my adult years, I would call her to ask how to make a dish and I still cannot seem to make anything quite as “Grandma Good.” Our favorites from childhood are treats now. In her honor, I still make fried chicken, “Grandma Style” once a year. It has turned into a feast with as many as 20 people arriving to revel in the experience. So many of the guests have said with greasy fingers and a look of bliss, “Oh, this is just how my Grandma used to make chicken, you cannot find this anywhere.” Thank you, Grandma. Another gift.

Her lessons were taught with stories and questions. Sometimes without a word. She would often remind me that, “It all comes out in the wash” and you know, she was right. She talked of things like jealousy and grudges and how it is a waste of energy and hurts no one but oneself. She talked of love and marriage and how you have to work at it. She talked of forgiveness and how you have to give it. And she talked of simple things and ordinary life and that was just fine with her.

She never minded being by herself because she was her own best friend. She would tell me, “Its okay honey, I like myself pretty good.”

Her home was a place of sanctuary. The best compliment I have ever received was from my sister who said, “Your house is just like Grandma’s house, it makes me want to take a nap.” If that means it is peaceful and warm and loving, then life cannot get much better.

She was quick to laugh and she had a sparkle in her eye. And you had to watch her because she liked a good practical joke every now and then. She prided herself in her ability to scare us kids! From letting her dentures loose when we grabbed her teeth or pulling our toes when we slept – she got a chuckle and we got a screech!

There are a lot of things about her that made her so. She was born Jesse Muriel. She was named after her grandfather who was named after Jesse James. She never really liked that name because she thought it was a boy’s name. Instead, she went by Muriel. In her grade school years, one of her teachers did not pronounce “Muriel” properly and instead called her Merle. The name many still call her today. Her name, Teresa, was introduced when she converted to Catholicism and that became her Confirmed name, and by all accounts, her favorite.

She lived through the Great Depression, was a ship welder during WWII, and she watched Houston grow by leaps and bounds. Her stories and memories consisted of the horse hitches in front of Rice Hotel, cotton trucks making their way to Galveston to be shipped, dancing on the Pier in Galveston and crab fishing with chicken bones. She would talk about taking the trolley to town and watching movies. She told stories of how she fell in love with her first husband when she saw his picture while cleaning his room. She liked to dance and most of all, she loved her family.

My life is forever blessed by having had such a Grandmother. She was a gift to the world for 92 years. Her spirit molded mine, her love, encouragement and strength defined a family. While she is home with Jesus, she will not be forgotten here. She cast a wide net and her love will last lifetimes. Forever imprinted on my heart.

I love you Grandma.

Rest in Peace.

Guestbook for Teresa Maraldo