My dad and me – Halloween 1988
“A father is neither an anchor to hold us back, nor a sail to take us there, but a guiding light whose love shows us the way.”
I came across this quote a few days ago and it sticks out to me for many reasons. It’s exactly what my dad has done for me and continues to do for me every single day.
A few months back I wrote a post for Mother’s Day about all that my momma has taught me. Many of you commented (thank you by the way) and I hope you gained something from it as well. But, my dad has also given me many life lessons. He probably thought I wasn’t listening, but I was. I’ve shared them with my friends when they’re having a hard day at work, dealing with some trouble in their relationships or just feeling crumby altogether. These little life lessons have helped me, and I thought the best Father’s Day gift I could give is to share with all of you the may words of wisdom my dad has taught me over the years. So, from the witty to the wise, here is what my dad has taught me…
Hanging out in the front yard back in Pittsburgh. My nickname when I was younger was “Lucy” because when I cried I wailed like Lucille Ball. My dad also called me “Lindsey the Lizard” because I was constantly licking my lips and they were chapped for probably a year. Now I’m know as “Geeg” because my sister couldn’t say my name when she was little. I guess you can say he’s big on nicknames. 😉
Everyone has an off day once in awhile.
I remember gymnastics meets, softball games and soccer games when I would sulk in the car ride home because I didn’t do well. Instead of coming down on me, he would say that everyone has an off day once in awhile. I’m sure he knew how helpful he was being, but what he probably didn’t know is how these words have stuck with me still to this day. Everyone has an off day at work. Maybe you had a bad interview. Maybe you went to a networking event and just felt “off”. My dad taught me not to stress about it and to just do better tomorrow. Also – ice cream always helps.
My dad was always into sports, and even made the Hall of Fame at Penn State for baseball. I can’t remember him missing any of my softball, soccer, basketball games or gymnastics meets. When I became a cheerleader in high school he was there cheering ME on in the sidelines.
You can do anything you want to do and be anything you want to be, but you’ll have to work at it.
You’ve heard the phrase “Daddy’s little Princess.” Well, my dad never raised me to be a Princess. I wasn’t raised expecting things to be handed to me. I wasn’t raised feeling like I was entitled to anything. He raised me to work for what I wanted. I wasn’t raised to be a Princess. I was raised to be the Queen of my own life. I was raised having my dad tell me again and again that I was smart. He made me feel like what I had to say was important. And most of all, he always had faith in me, no matter what crazy new goal I set for myself. He made me feel empowered and confident, and I will do the same for my future children. If more fathers treated their daughters this way, just imagine what the world would be like!
Training wheels were still on at this point, but he also taught me how to ride my “big girl” bike too. After crashing into the bushes (and crying like Lucy) he helped me whip my tears, dust off my knees and get back on.
It’s OK to make a mess sometimes.
This is one of the funnier life lessons, and really it’s more about just enjoying the moment. There was a time when we were all younger and stuck inside because the temperature was so low that all the schools were forced to close for a couple of days ( I lived in Pittsburgh at the time). While most of the dads in the neighborhood aggravatingly shoveled the snow and chucked the ice off their driveways, my dad decided to make an ice rink in the driveway for us to skate on. At the time we all had our own little ice skates (or at least my brother Michael did because he was in hockey and I had a cutesy patootsey white pair because I thought I was going to be a figure skater. Again… always supporting any crazy dream I had). We had a blast. At ten years old, the day your dad created an ice rink in your driveway was pretty much the best day of your life. I will never forget that.
I loved it when he let me put makeup on him! He’d also let me take all my mom’s shoes out of her closet and put them on his feet. Of course, they didn’t fit… so I’d just hang them off his tootsies.
Money isn’t everything.
Sadly, some fathers just aren’t around for their children. Instead of offering them love and affection they would be offered toys and trips. My dad ALWAYS made time for me. We were part of a father-daughter camping group where we’d sit by bonfires and go sledding. I would be allowed to blast my Spice Girls CD as loud and as late as I wanted while I created a dance for the rest of our group ( Oh yeah – I also wanted to be a choreographer for a hot minute. He was also supportive of that too.) We went to a college gymnastics meet when I wanted to be an Olympic gymnast. When I wanted to get into singing and acting he took me to the “Guys and Dolls” musical. Later, I fell in love with playing guitar and we went to see Willy Nelson in concert. He taught me money isn’t everything… but the time you spend together is. I will carry this on to my children as well.
Just bein’ bros on Vacation in Virginia Beach. Ya know… solving the worlds problems.
Everyone should know the electric slide:
Did I mention he’s got moves too? My dad taught me the electric slide when I was young, and I still request it at every single wedding, party, get together… or I just play it in the living room when we have people over. He also taught me how to moonwalk, which I found out is best done in socks and on a slick floor.
The family at Christmas time. Five kids and he looks after all of us. (My husband is on the far right). And yes… we did the electric slide.
Another shot from Christmastime. Ever year my dad gets together with the other dads in the neighborhood and they make hundreds of pizzelle cookies. By the way – this wasn’t even all of them!
Your job should give you energy, not suck the energy out of you:
There was a time when day after day I would come home so exhausted from work I could barely do anything more than pass out on the couch. It got to a point where I didn’t feel passionate about anything anymore and was constantly stressed. I stopped working out, I stopped calling friends and family and I stopped… well… being me! Everyone has those days where it’s all doom and gloom… but if you really feel like you’re continuously being brought down it’s time to speak up or make a change.
My dad sent me these photos just a few months ago while I was out to eat. Same pose more than 20 years later. He said the back of his head hasn’t changed a bit.
Marry your best friend:
This is one of the best pieces of advice my dad has given me. There was a time when I thought I would never get married and that it was an old school thing people did because society told us we were suppose to. I was having the conversation at the kitchen table (where almost all great conversations are had) and my dad told me that marriage is nice because you get to share your life with another person. He said the most important thing to do is marry your best friend. I did just that. It was probably only a few months later that I met the love of my life. We’ve been together eight years now and I love waking up every morning with my best bud by my side.
As we were getting ready to walk down the isle I started to tear up, so my dad lightened the mood. He told me I can’t pull a stunt like I did when I was eight and fall into the lake (there was one close by) because he can’t jump in and save me this time… his tux was a rental.
I think a lot of times we talk about the importance of the father-son bond. Dad’s act like a role model to their sons. They offer advice, rough-house with them and act as the disciplinarian. But, in my opinion, the relationship between a father and daughter goes far beyond that. My dad served as an example for what I looked for in a husband – the measuring stick for what a good and decent man should be. He offered security, stability and unconditional love. When I made the decision to move across the country he was supportive and never once tried to hold me back. I’m sure it was tough on him because I know it was on me, but he let me create my own story and spread my wings. His unwavering belief in my potential is what helps push me to be the best person I can be every single day.
Dad, thank you for being a father and a friend. I love you so much and will always be your little girl.
Love, Geeg / Lucy / Lindsey the Lizard