Three Things I Wish I Knew Before _____

I’m INTRODUCING a New Feature Today

I had so much fun putting together my new subscription giveaway, “Seven Things I Wish I Knew Before I Joined the Peace Corps,” (Have you subscribed yet? It’s easy) I thought I might let you take a spin at it.


THREE THINGS I wish I knew before … will run weekly until my ideas (and yours, feel free to suggest new ones) run out.  I’ll try to keep each post to 250 words or fewer (this one’s a bit longer).   Let’s see what we come up with.


I’m not talking about listing our regrets here.  No “if only” allowed. I’m looking back in acknowledgment. Appreciation. Gratitude.

For one thing, we can see how far we’ve come.  Give ourselves a little pat on the back. Bring a smile to our faces. And, just maybe, if we’re lucky, we can learn a bit too.


Anyway, let’s give it a try. Here’s the first one:


Small print: There are no right wrong answers. But there are prizes! Or at least there should be. Stay tuned; I’ll come up with something. Maybe. Probably not actually. 


THREE THINGS I wish I knew before I left home.

Yup, that’s the first one. I had to decide just what “left home” meant to me. I came up with when I got married.  But “leaving home” may be different for each of us.

For you, it might have been when you went off to college, when you got your first apartment, perhaps even when you went off to summer camp for the first time.  Or had your first sleep over at a friend’s house.  It’s whatever you decide it is. As is your definition of home.

But let’s not over think this.

Let’s have fun.


Thanks to
Thanks to


Here is my list of three things I wish I’d known before I left home:

  1. That I didn’t have a clue how to run a house, but I could still do it.
  2. That I could run a house and have a full-time job, but I couldn’t do both perfectly.
  3. That not doing everything perfectly is OK.


Now it’s your turn. 


Wednesday: I’m still trying to understand the upcoming Goodreads/Facebook Brain to Book Cyber Convention (or B2BCyCon), which I’ve promised to participate in April 8 – 10.  Wednesday’s blog will tell us whether I’ve succeeded or not.


22 Responses

  1. Susan Jackson
    | Reply

    1. That leaving home didn’t mean I was grown up
    2. I left home when I got married–being married was just like living at home–someone to boss me around
    3. How much MONEY it takes to live

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Hi Susan, I so resonate with your third one. I hadn’t a clue either. Thanks for starting us off, once again.

  2. Ian Mathie
    | Reply

    Three things I wish I knew before I bought a camel to cross the Sahara:

    1. I couldn’t hire a ride, so I bought one, despite not having a clue how to look after a camel.

    2. I never realised how belligerent and contrary camels can be.

    3. I never thought that half way across the Sahara I’d end up eating one of the two beasts I bought in the Timbuktu market.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Hi Ian,

      I’m chuckling at the moment, because all I can think of to say is, “Yeah. I hate when that happens.”

      Thanks, as always, for adding to the conversation.

  3. Marianne STamm
    | Reply

    Three things I wish I’d known before leaving home to get married overseas:
    1…. actually, I’m glad I didn’t know them! 🙂

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Hi Marianne, Welcome back. Indeed, sometimes ignorance IS bliss, heh?

  4. Marian Beaman
    | Reply

    1. How much I’d miss the seasons in central PA
    2. How hard it is to move from being single/independent to married at age 26
    3. How taking a chance has led to amazing adventures

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      You’re identifying a real CULTURE shock (girl after my own heart, Marian). Yes indeed; I could well have listed yours too. I’m glad you had those amazing adventures with which to regale us some day. (memoir #2?)

  5. Kathleen Pooler
    | Reply

    What a creative new adventure, Janet! Very thought-provoking. Here’s what comes to mind:

    1. Moving to three different states while my kids were growing up did not damage them or me, rather it helped us to grow in new ways.
    2. Retiring from my nursing career after 44 years was not the end but rather the beginning of a wonderful new adventure.
    3. A lot of the things I thought I did wrong as a parent turned out to be exactly what I needed to be doing. Amazing!

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Oh you got it, Kathy. A great reminder of the power of time to improve our vision.

  6. Merril Smith
    | Reply

    I’m enjoying reading the responses. (Ian’s–poor camel. They probably wished they knew not to go with Ian. ) 🙂

    This is a tough one. I don’t know that I wish I knew any special three things before I first left home–because it’s not knowing these things that created who I am. I could say something like I wish I knew it didn’t really matter what my college major was, but then wouldn’t that have changed my path?
    So can you tell I also have problems answering surveys? Haha.

    • Ian Mathie
      | Reply

      Sadly that old camel wasn’t going to make it all the way across the Sahara. It was a choice of let it die in dignity – and on the way saving about five people’s lives because its skin protected us from a vicious three day sandstorm – or letting it die of exhaustion and being left to shrivel up in the heat by the track.
      If I’d known anything about camels I probably wouldn’t have bought it. My other camel went all the way and sold for a handsome profit when I reached Algeria.

      • Sharon Lippincott
        | Reply

        Okay, Ian. Time to let people know that the camel story is told in full detail in Supper with the President, your third volume, I think. Amazon has it in print and pixels.

        • Ian Mathie
          | Reply

          🙂 How right you are Sharon. I wasn’t going to shout about it, but eating that camel was the only honourable thing to do under the circumstances. Life has some hard choices, but even if I’d known the outcome before I bought her, I’d still have done the same thing. 🙂

          • Janet Givens

            Isn’t that the ideal? That the path we take brings many surprises, but in the end we know we’d still have taken it.

            I’ve been through two of your stories, Ian, (I read them while biking in the basement) and wondered which one would be next. So, thanks to Sharon for answering that question.

            I’ve got Bride Price #1
            Sorcerers & Orange Peels #2
            Dinner with the President #3
            What’s next? I’ve got two more, plus your fiction pieces.

          • Ian Mathie

            If you’ve got Man in a Mud Hut and Dust of the Danakil, you have the current full set Janet, but in a couple of months time you can have a bit more. Man of Passage will be released soon. This is a revised edition of my first book, with mas and photos that were omitted first time round.
            Later in the year there’ll be a book about my childood years in Africa, which is written and now with the publisher for editing and formatting. Both will appear as paperback and e-book, but I’ll shout about them before release on FB and so on. 🙂

      • Sharon Lippincott
        | Reply

        Three things I wish I’d known before I left home:
        1) Going to a college where I knew nobody at all and was too far away to go home for the weekend was brutal.
        2) How to talk to strangers.
        3) More understanding of life choice options.

        • Janet Givens
          | Reply

          Hi Sharon, welcome to our little party. Your #3 is one I can really relate to. So many times throughout my life, … If only I could see the big picture, if only I could tell the future, if only I really understood my options. Gives me a new sense of urgency on mentorship. As always, thanks for dropping in.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      But there were no dates asked for on this survey, Merril! I would like to say that was done specifically with you in mind (but, unfortunately, I can’t).

      Your college major idea reminded me that “I wish I knew that … I didn’t really need the Periodic Table BEFORE I graduated high school.” Actually, I wish my chemistry teacher knew that!

  7. Janet Givens
    | Reply

    I’m so enjoying everyone’s comments today. I’ll be back to reply more personally either later tonight or tomorrow. Today is my DC day.

    Keep ’em coming.

    And I JUST discovered the glaring typo/wrong word. Did you see it?

    It was a take off on a speaker-trick I once heard, where he was trying to encourage questions, so he pulled out a $10 (this was a long time ago) and waved it around saying, “This $10 will go to the first person to ask a stupid question.” Then, of course, he met each following question with, “That’s a great question.” No matter what is asked. Anyway. .. C’est la vie.

    There are no bad questions; there are no wrong answers.

  8. […]  Last week’s Three Things was fun. […]

  9. Ian Mathie
    | Reply

    A bit like the camel I mentioned earlier, I sometimes wish I’d known what I was letting myself in for then I chose to jump the border and take an irregular route through Guinea into south west Mali.

    1. Would I have looked in that stick hut and then interfered with two old peoples’ journey into the next world?
    2. Would I have met Inyati, the guide for the departed? or would I have kept my nose out of other people’s business?
    3. Would I ever have started a project harvesting orange oil from unusable fruit?

    The answer to the first two must be yes, because I’m inveyerately nosey, although I might have had a little trepidation. He wry fellow, Inyati. The answer to the last is probably NO, because it was the product of a linked chain of events.

    You can read about this in Sorcerers and Orange Peel, available from the usual sources.

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