by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | Aug 22, 2015

“You may not be a Picasso or Mozart but you don’t have to be. Just create to create. Create to remind yourself you’re still alive. Make stuff to inspire others to make something too. Create to learn a bit more about yourself.”
Frederick Terral

Kevin, our youngest son, introduced us to his neighbor as we arrived in Minnesota from Pennsylvania. Her name is Deena Ebbert. She was standing in front of her house on the sidewalk when we briefly said hello and waved.

Ebbert wrote a book titled "#47ThingsILearned" and since she gave it to Kevin, and I met her (briefly), I decided to read it. The book is a “concise collection of everyday insight” in which she “challenges you to consider the wealth of your learning and ways in which you can spend it to discover valuable and lasting connections.”

Here are a few of them that inspired me:

#5. Tend a Garden. “One of the best summers of my life was spent in the yard, doing my best to live like my G’ma Elvene. She was happy. She grew flowers and cooked jam. She laughed a lot and worried a little. She made the most out of what she had. She was nice. Her garden was bursting with the happy faces of yellow blossoms and hospitality.”

There is something about tending a garden that teaches a gardener. We learn patience. We learn the law of sowing and reaping. We learn that there is only so much we can do; God does the rest. We even learn the value of winter.

#14. Always Wear Sunscreen. And Your Seatbelt. “Two of the four basic promises my mom asked of me when, at 17, I left home for the wide, wide world. Smart. Easy. When someone who loves you asks you to take care of yourself, do it.”

Our loved ones are known for caring advice. Drive carefully. Don’t go swimming right after lunch. Eat your vegetables. My grandmother used to say, “Come safe home.” Do we love enough to share our best advice?

#26. What is YYURYYUBICURYY4ME? “G’ma Alice inscribed this in a cryptic card I received as a kid, my first time away at sleep-away camp. My cabin mates and I spent so much time teaming up to decipher it, enlisting other kids and making friends over the mystery, we forgot entirely about our differences or being homesick.”

We receive great benefits from brain teasers like this. I tried and tried to decipher this until I finally turned to the end of the book where these words were written:

Too wise you are.
Too wise you be.
I see you are, too wise for me.

#27. A Book is a Passport. “Curiosity and a library card can take you anywhere. The bookstore beckons. Breathe in the smell of glue and paper and cardboard and coffee as you walk in. Feast on the bright gleam of a new page. Sway to the music of words playing out in your imagination. Literature brings the rush of undiscovered adventures as you embark on the first paragraph. Read.”

I agree. Books have taken me all over the world without leaving my chair. Books have changed my life. That is why I say that my books are my friends. 

#37. Step Away from the Computer. “Back in the day, we used to gaze at the world through a wonderful low-tech flat thing called a window.” Ebbert suggests that we can open the window, climb outside or simply walk out the front door by leaving our computer behind.

Sometimes it really is a good thing to leave our technology behind. My friend Joe had his computer crash on the way to Israel, causing his next three weeks, to his surprise, to be delightful. 

Thank you, Deena, for this wonderful little book. You can connect with her at  

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of  
University of Valley Forge, Phoenixville, Pa. 
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