Advice & Features Articles

Witty & Wise

By Sheryl Lilly Pidgeon

Turns out older just may be wiser. (But don’t tell your kids; they think they are WAY smarter than us.)

If you are like me, you’ll find yourself doling out advice to your kids, family or friends using old expressions your parents – or grandparents – would use.  Often these expressions didn’t resonate at the time, but now they make (almost) perfect sense. 

Good Life Family is meant for us – parents like myself who are teetering on the edge between ‘having it all’ and ‘dropping the ball.’  Sometimes we just need a bit of old-time wisdom and a little levity to get us through the day. 

Here are some of my favorites:

Up to my eyeballs in alligators 
Overscheduled and out of time?  This one works wonders when you get the request to do just one more thing that you can’t fit into your schedule.

Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it 
Today is jam-packed (see above!). Let’s not concern ourselves with that particular task right now. (Okay, yes, give me 10 minutes…)

The straw that broke the camel’s back 
You are strong and capable, but we all have our limitations. There are just some situations when one more time has to be the last time. 

Put that in your pipe and smoke it
This one was often used by my great-uncle (who did indeed smoke a pipe – perhaps why it didn’t resonate with me until many years later). This special quip is just what you need when punctuating a very important point. Disclaimer: Not suggested for use on your spouse.

You wear your heart on your sleeve
This one seems to work quite nicely when feelings are hurt or you are feeling misunderstood, and is best when paired with a cup of hot cocoa.   

Caught between a rock and a hard place
How perfect is this one when literally NEITHER decision will work?  This one pairs best with a glass of chardonnay.

Birds of a feather flock together
C’mon, with the last name Pidgeon, this one had to be on my list. This oldy-but-goody is a no-brainer for communicating the importance of finding people who share your value system and are loyal to the flock.  

Bite the bullet
Time to tough it out!  Turns out this saying comes from the days before anesthetics were available to treat wounded soldiers and they literally were given a bullet to bite.  I find this one poetic when dealing with times we don’t want to do something we know we have to do.  If the soldiers could tough out a war wound, we can make it through (fill in your own blank).

Two wrongs don’t make a right
I say (or think) this pretty much daily.  Just because she did that doesn’t mean you get to do that.  Do the right thing. Teach and lead by example. 

Through thick and thin 
This is one our spouse/children/parents/friends can never hear enough.  “I love you no matter what comes our way.”

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth
Hey, someone is giving you something.  It might not be exactly what you need, but it’s something more than you had the moment prior.  Be grateful. 

Don’t rest on your laurels 
Great accomplishment.  But don’t stop there! There is so much left to do.

Never Give Up. Never Surrender.
No explanation needed.  This one pairs best with a good night’s sleep.

We’re living in a society here, people!
Yes, that was George Costanza’s line, but by far my favorite of all the memorable Seinfeld wisecracks.  I say it ALL THE TIME.  Perfect when someone cuts you off in traffic, when someone jumps the line, or in any scenario where we realize it’s a big world and we are all in this together.

Strike while the iron is hot 
Time’s a wasting. Do it NOW! 

Worth your weight in gold
How does one compensate someone who is priceless? This saying goes a long way in communicating gratitude in more than dollars and cents.

Icing on the cake 
I tell anyone who will listen that when looking for the right friends and the right spouse, it’s the CAKE that is the foundation.  Know someone’s core values, integrity, honesty, generosity of heart and soul.  The fun-factor is the icing on life’s cake.  And, what’s a cake without icing? But if you eat only icing, you’re gonna feel sick.

Up the creek without a paddle 
When I’m having a particularly rough day, the image of this one makes me laugh just enough.

Which brings me to…

Oy Vey
Or just “Oy” for short.  It’s a Yiddish phrase expressing exasperation or dismay, and it is by far my most used expression. It works in nearly EVERY situation. And, when said with the correct inflection, it adds a bit of levity.  

Now, put that in your pipe and smoke it. 

Live. Laugh. Learn. Say What? Repeat.

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