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Words to live by

Friends of The Girl's — and a friend or two of mine — are headed back into the classroom over the next two weeks to continue their path toward their career.

I'm excited for them. A new semester is a fresh start. But that means we start measuring the countdown for The Girl's first day of college in months, not years.

The most important job I've ever undertaken will be finished. While I will never stop being her mother, my role will become more of an adviser than guide.

She's definitely up for the challenge. But am I?

I have been trying to pass on tidbits that I think will be useful as she carves her way into a career and place in our society. Sometimes I share them on road trips. But it's more common that an experience we encounter on our daily walk through life offers a pause for what I hope will be a pearl of wisdom.

Here are a few she's heard lately:

Be the one who listens. Lots of people can talk. Lots of people do talk — about their health, their experiences, their cousin who lives in Nashville and works for Dolly Parton's doctor, how much money they have, how much money they don't have, their Aunt Rosie who knew someone who knew someone who knew Elvis. Yadda yadda yadda. But a good listener is almost an endangered species. Work on those skills. You might actually learn something. And along the same vein ...

Cherish silence. Sometimes the best moments are those when nothing is said. Learn how to enjoy the quiet moments. Music and the drone of a television have their place, but nothing sounds better than ... well, nothing.

Know when to say "no." One of my biggest flaws is agreeing to take on tasks or run an extra errand. It's OK to say you don't want to do something — even if it's merely because you don't want to.

Keep an open mind. Being quick to judge is a copout. The world is a kaleidoscope of gray. Don't make a decision before weighing the facts.

Feel free to share your own. After all, the child I'm sending into the world is not only my progeny, she's our future.

• • •

Cheryl Duncan is assistant editor of the Roane County News and mother of The Girl, a 17-year-old high school senior on the cusp of making her mark on the world. She can be reached at cduncan@roanecounty.com or (865) 376-3481, Ext. 316.