We’ve all been given a piece of advice that has shifted our world on its axis.
Whether it’s a professional nudge in the right direction or a casual word from a friend, the right counsel can change lives.
That said, not all advice is created equal.
The real, true measure of advice to live by is given by people who are doling it out with their best intentions during the quiet moments of life.
I’m not talking about telling someone who is lying face down on the floor, paralytic with grief after a vicious relationship breakup, that the offending person was “clearly not their lobster”.
No, when it comes to advice that is good and true, it is imperative to look to experts in their chosen field, who advise with the kind of authority that only experience brings.
The best advice I was ever given was by my mother when my second son was born. Just as I was about to go down the rabbit hole of extreme exhaustion and self-pity, she took me aside and told me to summon every last piece of energy I had, take a deep breath, and parent my kids.
At the time I wanted to ignore it and hide under my bed, but as the years have gone by, I have summoned that strength every single time I’ve been in the weeds.
With guidance in mind, we have consulted our filofax and asked experts in fields from dentistry to fitness to the legal world for a nugget of their best advice.
This is what they said.
THE FIT BIT
It can be daunting to visit a gym, especially if you are a complete beginner.
The hardest part is not the workout, but the mental strength it takes to take that first step in the door.
Attend a gym where there is a support system in place and guidance from fitness professionals who will go through your first steps with you.
When it comes to keeping fit, it’s essential to do what you love.
If you enjoy group activities, then find a class you love and go with a friend.
People who train with a friend are much more likely to be successful on their fitness journeys as you can help to motivate each other when times get tough!
You can’t go from no exercise to training five times a week and expect it to be sustainable.
Aim for two to three sessions per week initially and you can always add to this as you build up your strength and stamina.
Having poor oral hygiene can lead to a variety of dental and medical problems in the future such as gum disease, infection, bone loss, heart disease, strokes and more.
Regular check ups and cleanings can prevent these problems as well as provide you with good oral hygiene. Mouthwash is not particularly necessary and not all mouthwashes are useful.
Mouthwashes containing Listerine or Chlorhexidine are very helpful because they help to kill harmful bacteria and maintain the healthy bacteria in your mouth.
Everyone understands that you should take care of your teeth to avoid toothaches, maintain your looks and keep dental bills at bay.
Many people, however, don’t understand how crucial oral health is to our total health picture.
AT YOUR SERVICE
TripAdvisor is great to gauge quality when selecting a hotel, but sometimes price and perceived value in a location can give misleading rankings, its best to try and get another source of opinion, preferably an independent online travel review site.
And if still in doubt, many sites, travel publications and guides have online feedback forums that can be tapped into.
To get the best room possible, book directly with the hotel – you’ll always receive a more personal and bespoke service when you call or email the hotel reservations team directly.
Special requests/requirements can be applied at booking and the hotel gets a valued opportunity to get to know more about you, the customer.
Ruairi O’Connor is the General Manager at The River Lee hotel, Cork.
THE RIGHT BITE
I tell my clients to avoid fads — they are just fashions in food and will come and go.
The basics of the nutrients your body needs change very little and you’ll only upset yourself trying to keep up with the latest trend.
The best advice?
Balance your meals.
Half of your lunch and dinner should be vegetables, one quarter protein, and one quarter good-quality carbs.
Two key foods to include are fish and nuts.
Aim to have oil-rich fish like salmon and mackerel at least twice a week.
Add nuts and seeds to meals — they are a powerhouse of minerals.
Remember to only snack if you actually feel hungry and stop clearing your plate.
It’s an outdated concept that we have to finish every meal every time.
If you start to feel full then stop eating.
And stop eating in case you might feel hungry later — you will just store the extra food.
If you do get confused about nutrition then check the qualifications of who is giving the advice: Not all nutrition “experts” are equally expert.
Have fun with food, see what suits you, and talk to a CORU-registered dietician for help and support.
WILL YOU, WON’T YOU
If you die without making a will (intestate), the law will determine how your assets are distributed by reference to your civil status and whether you have left issue (children or grandchildren) in the first instance.
If these criteria do not yield a beneficiary the law will look to surviving parents, siblings, nieces and nephews and more remote relatives in descending order of entitlement.
The problem with intestacy is the missed opportunity to plan properly.
This is especially pertinent where an individual has children under the age of 18 years, or who suffer from a disability or where an individual has availed of the Fair Deal Scheme.
Furthermore, the intestacy rules make no allowance for unmarried cohabitants and there is limited ability for such persons to seek provision out of the estate of a deceased co-habitant.
Neither is there provision under the intestacy rules to acknowledge assistance from good friends or neighbours.
A properly drafted and considered will gives people the opportunity to plan appropriately from a tax perspective and to ensure that appropriate arrangements are made for dependents in a manner which reflects his or her unique circumstances.
Melanie Evans is a solicitor at FitzGerald Solicitors, 6, Lapps Quay, Cork.
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would not be it.
There is much wisdom and poignancy in that late 20th-century meme so successfully commandeered by the Australian film director Baz Lurhmann — a paean for maintaining self-worth, mutual respect and perspective.
These are fundamentals for a contented life.
But for a single slingshot of professional advice, it would be this.
And read voraciously.
There is no substitute for knowing stuff.
Read the classics.
Read pulp fiction.
Read graphic novels.
Read the newspapers.
Extend your knowledge and your judgements and your imagination.
It was communications visionary Marshall McLuhan who said “the medium is the message” and there is much modern-day fretting about the appropriate delivery mechanism for imparting information: print, desktop, mobile, film and imagery.
All of it worthless if you don’t have something interesting to say.
And that comes from the brain, and the heart, not the technology. And save your work every thirty seconds.
You will be happier that way.
THE ARTIST’S WAY
The best advice I can give is be prepared to be a beginner - at all times.
As adults we tend to want to go from ‘zero to hero’, which negates the all-important learning process.
I whole-heartedly subscribe to Arthur Ashe’s mantra “Start where you are, use what you have and do what you can”.
The notion that inspiration and or ideas - be they art works or engineering projects - come fully formed, is a fiction.
Being self-taught (my degree is in New Technology and I couldn’t wire a plug!), I learned by doing and continue to do so.
There is magic in the happy accident. I wouldn’t change it.
In my ‘Adventures in Abstract Art’ and ‘Abstracting the Landscape’ weekend workshops, we demystify the painting process through a series of fun and stimulating exercises (blind-folded painting anyone?).
Participants learn techniques and tools that kick-start their creativity while helping them to tap into and develop their own unique painting style.
If you want to make a living exclusively from your art, craft or creativity, you must realise at the outset, that yours is a business.
The information age has empowered us.
I now release my painting collections exclusively online, directly to my mailing list.
It has been a steep but successful learning curve.
The best advice I could give to any parent is to invest in PRESENCE over PRESENTS.
Time and again children tell us they would give back all of the stuff they receive in exchange for 15 extra minutes a day with their parents.
As always, I advocate a back to basics approach to parenting and family life, not as easy as it sounds in a society evolving and moving at break-neck speed.
I have a 15 minutes of play per day system whereby, no matter how busy you are or how little time you think you have with your children, spending 15 minutes each day, engaging with them at their developmental level through their language, which is play, is good enough.
Your child is an expert in play, let them lead you... but no screens; this should be person-to-person interaction.
I would also advise parents to do less structured activities at the weekend because sometimes sitting next to you doing absolutely nothing, means everything to your child.
Each day over evening meal everyone, adults included, take time to name the best bit of their day along with the bit they wish they could change.
Everyone gets to hear a high and low of each other’s day, teaching we all have these moments and together you can talk through the thing to be changed, supporting solution focused thinking and sharing of difficulties.
A meringue or pavlova is a wonderful recipe for beginner bakers to start off with because it uses whipped egg whites as a base.
Perfectly whipped egg whites are the key to so many recipes like chiffon cakes, tiramisu, and Swiss meringue frosting.
If I could teach every novice baker one skill it would be to fold without knocking air out of cake mixture.
Essentially you are trying to keep as much volume as possible in your mixture while combining lighter ingredients into weightier ingredients and only a light confident touch will do.
You don’t need a huge amount of kit to bake well; a good spatula is essential, and an off-set palette knife makes icing cakes much easier.
A good weighing scales is key — we weigh everything to ensure success… even our eggs!
My ultimate top tip is to always use unbleached flour.
Cheaper flours are loaded with nasties and really affect the rise on your cakes.
When it comes to flour, you get what you pay for.
Linda Mullen runs the Flour House bakery with her sister-in-law Rebecca Mullen, specialising in bespoke cakes, cupcakes and desserts.