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by Jennifer Brown Banks

This Just In:
Your Opinion is Not My Reality

Seems these days everybody’s a critic.

And everybody’s got an opinion that they feel compelled to share with folks who may or may not welcome their input. My mom, for example is one of them. God bless her! Her words of wisdom and caustic comments cover everything from my choice in underwear, to my choice in men. I’ve gotten unsolicited advice on how to manage my money, my weight, and my single life. But she can never seem to provide useful how-tos when it comes to managing my sanity when she visits!

In all fairness, she’s extremely wise and wonderful in many regards! And she has a great sense of humor. We just don’t see eye to eye on everything. Who does? But what about the other intruders on our well-being and peaceful state?


Commercials try to tell us that we’d be happier if we went to Jenny Craig’s, look younger if we use Oil of Olay, and have a better social life if we took care of our smiles.

Don’t get me wrong. As a creative artist, I’m a pretty open-minded gal. Not to mention, giving advice is a part of my livelihood. So I do recognize the usefulness of being open to a little constructive criticism and direction. But I don’t necessarily need or value advice from everyone equally. And you shouldn’t either!

Here’s a case in point. Simon Cowell, of the popular hit TV show. American Idol, didn’t view contestant Jennifer Hudson as a singer with much “star potential” and landed some pretty harsh words her way. Instead of allowing his perception to limit her, she went on to star in a hit movie and win several awards for her debut acting and singing performance. So much for “Simon Says!”

This is how I operate... When I’m having a decorating dilemma, I seek the advice of my younger sister, or my brother’s fiancé’. They are decorating divas! In matters of the heart, I call on my musician friend in California, or my confidante Clara. For business matters, I consult professionals who have been successful on paths I’m trying to travel. My wardrobe and image consultant would definitely be my mom.

With that being said… If you are not reflected on the list above, until further notice, please refrain from offering up your “two cents”, particularly if you fall into the following categories:

» Unless you are a certified psychic, please do not predict my romantic future based upon any past losers.

» If you’ve been married more than twice, and you are not Dr. Barbara De Angelis, do not dole out marital advice. It would probably lack credence

» If you’ve never had kids, please don’t tell me how to raise the one that I have. I get enough feedback from him.

» If you’ve filed bankruptcy more than once, I can probably live without your financial management tips.

» If you’re not a professional writer, please don’t instruct me as to how to become a better one. Though I do welcome audience comments.

» If you’ve not walked in my shoes, please don’t direct my path.

And here are a few things I could use help with, fron anyone willing:

» How/where to find fitting jeans for women with small waistlines and big bottoms.

» Energy conservation tips for my electric service.

» Understanding why men change after you marry them.

» Exercising patience with irrational people. I seem to draw them like a magnet!

» How to convince my mom that writing is “a real job.”

» How to make a good stuffed pork chop recipe.

» Where to find some good aromatherapy candles.

» How to get clients to pay me in a more timely fashion.

» How to cultivate a green thumb.

» How to have a better relationship with my bankers.

» Recommendations on a good hair care product line.

» How to understand sports better, (football mostly).

Now that we’ve had this exchange, I feel lighter already! But just in case anyone reading this column still feels the need to let me know how they feel, just know…I’ve probably heard it already. The moral of the story? In life and love, never let someone else’s opinion be your reality!

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Jennifer's Gems is a weekly column written by award-winning poet and writer, Jennifer Brown Banks. It is published every Wednesday. Click here to read her welcome letter.

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