Friday, November 23, 2012

Fearless Fridays: The Lessons I Learned From My Dad

In the midst of all the Superstorm Sandy mess, my dad’s 63th birthday crept on me on November 10. I spent so much time trying to prepare for the day and then Sandy happened, which totally turned my life upside down. I had planned to be in Tampa on his birthday, to spread some of his ashes in the ocean from the pier in Clearwater Beach. But of course, life intervened in the form of Superstorm Sandy.

His birthday marked not only his birthday, but 19 months since he passed away. It’s just like my dad to pass away with the dates matching evenly. I always say I got my attention to detail and desire to make sure everything is neat and orderly from him. I spent the day, thinking of him non-stop. So many things have happened in my life in such a short time and it caused me to really reflect on my life. It has made me see what needs work and what I need to do to move forward.

I always talk about the lessons I have learned from my father. He was one of the smartest men I knew and he prepared me for life. He saw my strength within, even when I didn’t know it existed. And this is why he continually taught me about life and how to handle the ups and downs. He knew I could take it and he knew I would get through it all. He knew I was strong enough.

One lesson he always reminded me of was how life is one continuous test. We will always be presented with forks in the road. Sometimes those forks in the road come disguised as setbacks and disappointments. Sometimes they are disguised as being in a comfortable situation but having that restless feeling in your gut that you need to move on. Your intuition is never wrong and listening to your intuition is making a decision when you come to that fork in the road, on which path to take.

Daddy used to always tell me that opportunities will always be presented along your journey but we make the decision on how we receive those opportunities. We can choose to seize them or we can choose to ignore them. Either way, you are choosing which path to take. Many times, we encounter setbacks and disappointments and the pain from that halts us on our journey because we are too emotional to see the lesson. That lesson shows us what path we need to stay on. So we may take the wrong path on the road because we let our emotions rule our decision.

With everything that has happened in the last two years, from my dad’s sudden passing to my relationship failing to even Superstorm Sandy, I have made the choice to not let my emotions affect my steps going forward. I think of Daddy and what he would do. It’s hard for me because I am an emotional person. I take things to heart. I’m still grieving 19 months later for my father like it was yesterday when I got the call that he was gone. I’m still hurt over that failed relationship because I gave this man my all and did nothing wrong, yet he still broke my heart. And then Sandy just thrust me into this space where I didn’t feel safe. I felt out of control and thrown out of my familiar routine and life. Which leads to another key lesson I learned from my father…

I have to live my life the best way I can and not have regrets. When you have regrets, it’s just like you’re holding onto the past. It is what it is. It happened and there is nothing you can do to change that. You can never change the past. However, you can rewrite your story going forward and have a different ending. Instead of having regret and looking back, start to look forward. Be excited at the possibilities that await you. Accept that those past mistakes and regrets are just that…in the past.

In order to fully live life, we have to keep looking forward. If you keep looking back, you won’t see what is awaits you on your journey. My dad admitted to me that he made plenty of mistakes in his life but his life was such a great story and he died with no regrets. He did the best he could with what he had. It’s as simple as that.

I go back home this weekend, back to my life post-Sandy. The power is back on and the rebuild has begun. I am so lucky and fortunate to have a home to go back to.  So many lost their homes and belongings.  And out of this whole thing, I have to say, it has really made me discover another facet to my calling in this world. It has made me realize that it is okay to be nice and want to help others. We live in a world where people are in such a “ME” mode and are suspicious of anyone wanting to offer help. As I said a few weeks ago, all it takes is one person to make a change and start that domino effect in the world. If you have a pure, genuine heart, let it shine through. Be who you are. You are giving the world a great gift when you are true to yourself. 

I have seen so many pure, genuine hearts in the last three weeks and it inspires me to be a better person. The world is not as bad as I thought. I know my dad is looking down at me, proud. He sees his legacy continuing strong as ever and sees that his lessons are being put into full use. Thank you, Daddy, for the lessons you taught me. Happy birthday. I love you infinity.

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