Life Lessons from Dad

Although we lived full-time with my mom following my parent’s separation, both my mom and my dad put aside their differences to ensure that they were both a major part of our lives. It is because of their selflessness that my dad attended every sporting event and many practices, frequently took us camping and fishing, and spent the night in my brother’s room every Christmas Eve so he could wake up with us on Christmas morning. At the time, I didn’t realize how unique our situation was and often took it for granted, but I am so thankful for the choices my parents made.  

Now by no means was I always this appreciative, and often as a temperamental teenager my dad did nothing but embarrass me. However, as I have gotten older I can see how much my dad has always loved the three of us kids and I am grateful for what I have learned from him.  

Here are 5 life lessons my dad has taught me:

1. It’s alright to say no and not everyone is going to like you

My dad has never had an issue with saying no in his life. If a situation arises that he isn’t able to help with or it doesn’t work for him, he can give a firm no without any hesitation. He doesn’t feel bad or provide an excuse. He simply has given himself the permission to say no. My dad also doesn’t lose sleep over another person not liking him. He is who he is and if others don’t like the person he is, he in all honesty would likely tell them to go fly a kite. Now, although I would never speak to a person in such a way, I admire these qualities of my dad. I by no means have mastered saying no, but I often think of my dad in those moments that I do and try my best to emanate his no hesitation, no excuse approach. I also have gotten to a point in my life that I don’t feel this intense desire to ensure every person likes me. I am who I am and I like that person, which is all that matters.

2. Being friendly can brighten another person’s day

My dad has the ability to strike up a conversation with anybody, and I mean anybody. As a moody 13-year-old, this was one of the most embarrassing things about my dad. Being dragged to the grocery store alongside him always ended in a 5-minute conversation with the cashier. He would joke with them, tell a story, or just talk to them about their day. And although my face would turn bright red during these interactions, it always brought a smile to the other person’s face. Now I can see how meaningful these small interactions can be and how much you can brighten a stranger’s day by just being friendly. 

3. You can always negotiate a better deal

Anyone that knows my dad knows just how much he likes a deal. I will never forget the time we went car shopping soon after I had gotten my license. One day, he had come across a 95’ Toyota Celica in the classifieds (yes, in the good ol’ days using the newspaper is how we found things for sale) that sounded like it was in mint condition. I at the time was adamant that I wanted a Toyota Tacoma, but my dad was set on dragging me to look at this vehicle. I can only imagine how much eye rolling I gave him at this insistence. However, as soon as we pulled into the drive of the seller’s home and I spotted the candy apple red sports car, I knew I wanted it. Seeing the eagerness that likely matched the level of a pet getting a treat, my dad gently reminded me that I was previously set on a small pick-up truck and that was the story we were going to go along with. I agreed, however I can only imagine what the man selling the car thought since my acting skills are less than sub par. In the end, my dad was able to negotiate a much better deal than the asking price and the little red sports car became my very first vehicle. Although I have never put on a small act to negotiate a better deal since, my dad has taught me that you can always ask for something more, whether it is a higher salary or a lower price on a purchase. The worst that can happen is you will be told no, but you’ll never know unless you try.

4. It’s good to be strong but it’s also ok to show emotion

When I was little I used to think my dad was a superhero, as many young girls do. His stature alone (he’s 6’4”) made me believe that he was invincible. He also plays up the tough guy persona pretty well riding around on his Harley, bandana and all. But underneath that tough exterior, is a man that still feels deeply. I will never forget the first time I saw my dad cry. We had just said goodbye to my Oma and Opa after visiting them for a week at their home in Montana. I was always a blubbering mess anytime I said goodbye to my grandparents, but on this particular trip soon after we had gotten on the interstate to make the drive back to Seattle, I looked over at my dad and a few single tears were running down his cheeks. It was in that moment that I knew that no matter how tough or strong you are, it is always ok to show how you feel.

5. Consistent routines are conducive for your well being

My dad is a creature of habit, and that is putting it lightly. Even though I have lived a great distance from my dad for the past 7 years, I can still guarantee that soon after he wakes, he makes a pot of coffee (Folgers of course), reads the local newspaper (he’s still a daily subscriber) while sipping his freshly made coffee, and likely nibbling on a pastry or donut that he got ½ price from the grocery store bakery the day before (let’s not forget the man likes a deal!). It is only after this routine of his that he will move onto the rest of the day. Although my dad’s predictable habits drove me crazy as a free-spirited wanderer in my late teens and early 20’s, age and hopefully a bit of wisdom have allowed me to see how essential consistency is for my own well-being. I will always love my adventures and trying new things, but I cannot deny the fact that I operate at my best when I feel grounded and stable. Also, I have come to appreciate consistent habits as my weekend routine with T (comprised of going to Coffee By Design and splitting ½ of a chocolate sea salt donut from The Holy Donut) is probably one of my most favorite things!

What are some of the greatest lessons you've learned from your dad?