Frisbee-tossing students, performance artists and cherry blossoms aren’t the only things that herald spring in Washington Square Park. Add to that list the return of the Free Advice Girl.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with her, Lisa Podell settles herself on a bench next to her “Free Advice” sign for a few hours every other day and lends an ear–and non-judgmental wisdom when requested. And from the looks of her Facebook page, this Dear Abby in a tank top and flip flops seems to help an awful lot of people. (Sometimes just having an impartial ear listen helps a ton, doesn’t it?)
On Lisa’s website, she describes her services as such:
“What if there were an opportunity to offer and/or receive free advice in public spaces throughout New York City, or even better, in a neighborhood near you? Imagine the possibilities when people break down their barriers to hold authentic, positive conversations with other people they would have otherwise passed by.
The second component is to help people see an additional point of view. Many of us fixate on a personal issue and continue to look at it from the same vantage point. Then we wonder why we’re not seeing improvement or change. This can lead to frustration and stress, which can then affect the way we connect or disconnect with others in our daily lives. To verbally explore a topic with someone whom you have no history and may never see again is quite liberating. There is no past between Free Advice Girl and the participant so it allows for a clear conversation. This is why a typical conversation often lasts just 5-10 minutes. It’s easy to see a new point of view when you’re ready to receive it and there’s no history or baggage standing in the way.”
Leave it to the good citizens of NYC to offer free therapy at no cost. Welcome back, Lisa!