N4L 139: "Never Sit If You Can Dance" by Jo Giese


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By Janet Perry, Janet Perry: blogger, and Nonfiction book lover. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.


For our special Mother’s Day episode, award-winning journalist Jo Giese shares her delightful memoir, Never Sit If You Can Dance: Lessons from My Mother. Late in life, Giese realized what a treasure she had in her mother (nicknamed “Babe”). So, she began collecting her mother’s life stories and instructions that she had internalized, including “Never sit if you can dance.” Babe’s joie de vivre inspired everyone around her, friends and family alike, to take chances and live life fully. The book inspires us to appreciate our mothers right now rather than wait until we and our mothers grow old.


  • “We all need someone waiting for us in the parking lot.”
  • “Never show up empty-handed.”
  • “Thank-you notes are never too plentiful.”
  • “Sharing fun is the whole thing.” (AKA “Celebrate everything!”)
  • “People don’t like to be around depressed people.”
  • “Don’t be drab.”


  • “Today, in an era that stresses individual self-fulfillment and achievement, hardly anyone is willing to be the one sitting in the car, stitching. But the simple truth is that maybe we all need someone waiting for us in the parking lot.”
  • “Babe had a rare ability to really make the best of it.”
  • “My parents would always arrive at a friend’s house with their arms loaded. ‘It’s a nice way of welcoming yourself into someone’s home,’ Babe explained. ‘Be sure and bring something you’ve made, too.’”
  • “When you write a thank-you, you don’t need to drool or get all touchy-feely. Just a few nicely worded one-liners will do the job.”
  • “Later in life, Babe had evolved. I looked around: Where was the depressed mother I’d spent so much time complaining about in therapy? Babe had outgrown the mental mom I carried with me, and it had taken me a while to catch up.”
  • “In spite of what’s happening, it’s okay to be happy today.”
  • “Because I know how it hurts not to receive a positive comment, I’ve adopted a different behavior: I try never to let a compliment go unsaid. If I ever think something positive about someone or something—even the most fleeting thought—I share it before it vanishes.”
  • “The beauty of learning a lesson and incorporating it so fully that it becomes part of you, as if it were your original chromosomal material, is that you can casually pass it on without even noticing.”

BUY Never Sit If You Can Dance: Lessons from My Mother


Enjoy watching Jo Giese in the book trailer video talking about some of the lessons from her mother.

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