I must admit it has been a little bit of work to find a blessing worth blogging about every day this week. I am working on building my “integrity muscle” in my Design Your Life class. That’s why I’m here trying to find a blessing to blog about at 10:45 on a Friday night, before I go to bed.
I looked through the Freshly Pressed for a shot of potential inspiration. What did I see? 10 things I learned from my Father. Sob!!
My Dad died suddenly when I was 25, (which was some time ago now). Before I was married. Before I had kids. Before my first gray hairs and wrinkles. Although once in a while it still feels like yesterday. I was really a baby in so many ways. After the shock, anger and disbelief started to wear off I started to see how lucky I really was. I know my Dad was gone way too soon for my liking, but man he packed a lot into the years he was here. In honor of Dad, here’s 10 of the things I learned from mine:
1. Don’t not try it just because you’re a girl. In my house I am the one who fixes the running toilet, dripping faucet, or squeaky door. I converted the closet downstairs into my sewing area with a reciprocating saw and new drywall. Last summer I even built a 10′ by 10′ shed with shingles and everything. By myself. I couldn’t have done it without my Dad. He is the one who said, “I am teaching you this so you don’t get taken advantage of. I don’t want you paying for something you can do yourself.” He even tried to teach me to change the oil in my car. That one never took, but at least I know I could if I ever wanted to!
2. Jonathan Livingston Seagull. He read us kids this book lying in his bed. He was so earnest that it made a huge impression on me. The story of a seagull who doesn’t believe the hype about how he can only fly so high because he is, after all, just a seagull. Seeing how much this meant to my Dad made me believe deep inside that your limits are your beliefs about yourself. I was probably 6 or 7 at the time.
3. Meet life head on. My Dad used to answer the phone with a loud “Animal” or “Wild Man”. This was way before caller ID. He would have absolutely no idea who was calling and just grab that phone pumped up to find out who was on the other end. I can only guess that he was delighted to surprise the caller and brighten their day. This taught me that whatever it is coming down the pike, you might as well greet it with positivity. It can only help the situation.
4. Give it everything you’ve got. Dad used to prepare like crazy for everything. He was a pilot in the Navy after college and then a commercial pilot. He studied hard for all of it. If you were flying, you would have wanted him to be your pilot. But he prepared for so many areas of his life this way. My mother told me, not that long ago, a story about when I was born. Having a girl, after two boys, my father ran through the hospital asking everybody, “How do I be a Father to a girl?” He wanted to know everything he could so he could do the best job possible. Ask those who have been there before you, sound advice!
5. Reasons or Results. My Dad started saying this phrase probably when I was a teenager and thought I was way smarter than him. The older I get the more it is starting to become a motto for me. Reasons or results. What isn’t working in your life? When something isn’t going your way you can come up with a list of reasons why it wasn’t meant to be, or you can start making it happen. When you realize the power to choose your life lies in your own hands, you start to take a long, hard look at those reasons.
6. Kids are not an excuse to not do things, they are motivation to make them happen. My Dad was a marathon runner. He trained for and ran marathons with my two older brothers when they were still quite young. They were both about 12 when this happened. One brother ran the London marathon and the other in Paris. Who does that? He also tricked out our tiny Datsun pickup truck and took all of us on camping trips all through California. I have a plaque hanging down in my sewing area for being the youngest hiker to climb Mount Whitney in 1977-1978. That was Dad. He really could have worked for Nike. Just Do It was the theme in his life.
7. Make others shine. Dad was an exceptional athlete, talented public speaker, accomplished pilot, and entrepreneur. Yet you would have to work hard to find all of that out if you met him. He was never one to brag, unless it was about someone else’s accomplishments. I learned from my Father that being great at something brings its own reward. If you are too busy beating your own chest, someone fabulous could pass you by. You might miss the opportunity to learn about what someone else is doing if you are too busy talking about yourself.
8. Enjoy yourself. The last several years of my Dad’s life he really started to relax in so many ways. He would smoke cigars with my older brother. He would drink beers he had tried in Germany on his International flights. He would REALLY get into Halloween. He would hang speakers out the windows of the house and pump out scary music. He even rode the sit down mower and cut the grass in a spooky mask for a few years. He had a collection of rubber animal noses that he would wear, a lot. In fact he would throw on a nose as he would say goodbye to the passengers on his flights. He just embraced what the day would bring and the time he had. Did he sense that his days were numbered? I couldn’t say. But I know that even though they weren’t always perfect, he looked forward to what each day would bring.
9. Love your family. Dad loved us beyond just wanting to see us all grow up and do well. I am not trying to trump anybody here in a Best Dad contest. I just mean if my Dad had his way, he would have been with us all the time. His vacations were family vacations. His financial splurges were helping his kids pay for college, buy houses, and go on vacations. He didn’t want any luxuries if it meant that we all couldn’t be a part. This set such an example for me. I know that more important to me than a beach house or fancy car is my children’s future. The time together is worth more than anything I could wear, drive, or brag about at a party.
10. Integrity. Integrity. Integrity. Do what you say and say what you mean. Pretty simple. this one is not always so easy to live, but man it is it important.
Thanks Dad. For sticking with me even now. I see you still in so many ways. You are not just with me but part of me. You’re the best, Animal!