Words I Need to Hear by Cheryl Harper

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So, I have this friend, the kind who always says what I need to hear whether I want to hear it or not. I hope you have one of these too. For almost twenty years, she’s listened patiently, encouraged me, and sometimes cut through all the words right to the problem. Her knack is in delivering the truth in a manner that makes it hard to ignore and with enough humor and care that it’s impossible to storm off in a huff.

We braved the crowd on Cinco de Mayo to have a lovely bowl of cheese dip. I will brave many things for cheese dip. We were talking about my worries and upcoming conventions and conferences, and as usual with any new thing, I was certain my hair would be horrible, my clothes all wrong, and I’d be half a step away from social doom at all times. In my head, I’m very dramatic. Most new things bring back the old first-day-of-school worries about finding a place to sit during lunch and remembering my locker combination.

And she said, “But you aren’t in junior high any more, right?”

I think my answer was something like this: “Well, um, okay, yeah, but…”

But she’s so right. I have car keys and enough gumption to make a quick getaway if I have to. Plus, I’m way cooler now.

Sometimes I need someone to say “Things are different today. Don’t get stuck there.” I can try the new story or make the change I'm thinking about or do something I've never done before. Delivering this kind of advice is not my friendship specialty. Mine is either crying alongside you or maybe, on a good day, breaking up worries or tears with a smile. Also, there is always room at my lunch table but you're on your own with combination locks. Maturity is a gift, particularly in friends who share a bowl of cheese dip and the right words to help me get my gumption back on track.

If you’re at the RT Booklover’s Convention in New Orleans or the RWA national conference or literacy signing in San Antonio, stop and say hello (please, please, please). I’ll be the one pretending to be much cooler than I am.


  1. It doesn't take people to drag us down as much as our own voices in our heads. You've achieved great things and you'll achieve many more. Have a great time at RT!

  2. I love that quote, Cheryl. I used to have it posted by my computer, along with one that simply said: This too shall pass. I agree with Mel, the demons in our heads can be our worst enemy. I'm not going to RT--know you'll have a blast. Hope to see you in San Antonio.

  3. Hi Cheryl! Remember, there will be so many of us attending RWA this year, that you can have an entourage around you at all times if you want lol:) My trick/secret for fake confidence at these things is-great shoes! I made more friends at last year's RWA because of my shoes than anything else lol.

  4. Cheryl! You sound pretty cool to me. I'm sure if you dig beneath the surface cool of any selling writer, you'll find someone thinking, "Did that really happen to me? I sold a book?!" I know what you mean about the good fortune of having such a friend - mine has had a lot of awful things happen to her but can still find comfort and love for me. That alone, restores me to balance. I try to be that kind of friend, but she's much better at it than I. Judging by your photo, you have a lovely smile. I'll bet that'll make you friends at both conferences. Have fun for those of us staying home!


  5. I'm looking forward to meeting you, Cheryl. LOL, I'll be at San Antonio, and, yes, great shoes are necessary, especially if you're like me and have a happy of sticking your foot in your mouth LOL

  6. Well, Cheryl....I feel like you tapped right into my brain! You're so lucky to have a friend like this--I have a sister who does that gentle funny honesty thing for me, and I am so grateful. Looking forward to meeting you, and everyone else who will be in San Antonio! I'll miss those who won't be able to make it.


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