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After thirty-plus years of driving through ice- and snow-filled Erie winters, I’ve learned a thing or two about staying on the road.

It’s hard-earned winter wisdom that I’ve been trying to pass down to Kelly now.

Slow down. Never, ever, ever tailgate. Always tap your brakes to test road conditions, even if you don’t think they are slick. Stay off the interstates in an active storm, but once it’s over, they are the first roads to be cleared. Keep winter boots, gloves, a hat, and granola bars in the trunk. Never let the tank go below half in winter. Brush the snow off your taillights.

But I think the No. 1 lesson to master is this:

When you feel the car sliding, take your foot off the gas, let go of the wheel, and resist the urge to stomp on the brake.

In other words: When you’re losing control, let go. Take your feet off the pedals and hands off the wheel and just give it a few seconds because if you try to stop it or steer out of it, you’re probably going to over correct and that will put you into a tailspin.

It’s a hard lesson to learn and a hard one to teach because it goes against every human instinct to wrest back control….to DO SOMETHING…to fix it….to force the car to do what you want.

But the more you try to fix it once things start skidding, the more trouble you’re in. It’s likely you’ll do much more damage than just putting your hands up and giving the car a few seconds to right itself.  It almost always does. It just takes a few heart-stopping, adrenaline-pumping moments and sheer faith, but then it’s over. And you’re fine. And you’ve learned that doing nothing can sometimes be a good thing.

It seems the same advice applies to raising teenagers. The more gas you give things… the more you try to put the brakes on things…. the more you try to steer them…. the more likely you are to end up sideways in a deep ditch wondering how the hell you got there.

Teenagers lives and emotions change from day to day (hell, hour to hour, minute to minute) and it’s a mother instinct to fix all the problems—grab control and set them back on the right course.  I mean, it’s what we DO.

But, I’ve learned the hard way that I’m better off just sitting back for awhile, taking my hands off the wheel, my feet off the pedals, and just giving it some time to right itself.

It almost always does.

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About Just Write: Just Write is my adaptation of free writing, a technique in which a person writes continuously and quickly without little regard for spelling, grammar, or topic. It helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and explore everything from meaningful topics to mundane observations with the same effort and without the pressure of crafting perfect prose. I just start writing.