MIAMI — On tour with her new book Stay in Your Lane, television show judge Karen Mills-Francis is doling out advice on life and taking advantage of second chances.
“The book is about staying focused on what you need to do in your life,” Mills-Francis said during a Sept. 2 book discussion held at the Model City Branch Library, 2211 NW 54th St., in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood. “There would be less drama, less conflict and fewer family issues if people would stay in their lane and pay attention to what they need to do.”
The former Miami-Dade judge cited an example from her life when advising the audience of about 20 to be “careful about the things we say to our children.”
Mills-Francis, who was born in Brownsville west of Miami, said she and six other people lived in a one-bedroom apartment, with a maid living downstairs. One day, when she was about 8 years old, she and the woman went riding through the wealthy neighborhood of Bal Harbour and she pointed out where she worked.
“I said, ‘Wow! One day I want to live over there.’ She turned to me and said, ‘Oh, baby, you’ll never be able to afford to live over there.’ But because my parents told me that I can be anything I wanted to be, I’ve lived over there and have since moved on,” Mills-Francis said.
Asked about her inspiration to write the book, Mills-Francis said people have always come to her for advice. “So many people today are lost. There was more guidance for my generation. You
couldn’t do anything without somebody telling your mother about it,” she said. “We have simply stopped being the village when it comes to raising children. We need to get back to that.”
Stay in Your Lane contains stories on family drama, relationships, being surrounded by bitter friends and how to untangle yourself from life’s entanglements, she said.
Being A Renaissance Woman — the title of the book’s final chapter — is close to her life, Mills-Francis said. Because she is a judge, it is often assumed that she was born with the proverbial silver spoon in her mouth. “I wasn’t,” she said. “The spoon was wooden. I have had a lot of challenges, overcome a lot of things. I have been down in the gutter. But you have to lift yourself up. You have to have someone to tell you that you can.”
The chapter also sums up Mills-Francis’ journey through life: “I believe that we can all fill in the blanks [and] do the things we have wanted to do for a long time. You must live the life you’ve got right now — no excuses.”
After the discussion, Mills-Francis said she is hoping people will read the book and get into the stories. “I hope that it will help them live a better life,” she said.
Sabrina Moton, 51, of Liberty City, who said she always watched the Judge Karen show on TV, was pleased the judge and author came to visit her neighborhood library.
“There’s so much to learn about different situations and I have learned a lot from her,” Moton said. “For someone as large as she is to take the time to come and visit and speak, I am really inspired, especially to start filling in the blanks in my own life.”
Cynthia Roby may be reached at CynthiaRoby@bellsouth.net
Photo: KHARY BRUYNING/FOR SOUTH FLORIDA TIMES
BOOK SIGNING: TV star Karen Mills-Francis of ‘Judge Karen’ autographs her book for Liberty City resident Sabrina Moton Sept. 2 at the Model City Branch Library in Miami.