Father Knows Best

Some weeks feel like months and this past week was one of those weeks (everything that happened was good, it was just non-stop). We all have mantras, pieces of advice, a TV show, etc. that we turn to when we need a boost. For me, this often means calling my dad. I am incredibly lucky to have a very close relationship with my dad. We share many interests, personality traits, and obviously a lot of DNA and he just “gets me.” In honor of my dad’s birthday today, I wanted to share some of my favorite pieces of “Dad Wisdom.”

 Daddy and me. One of my favorite pictures from this past September.

Daddy and me. One of my favorite pictures from this past September.

Don’t get hung up on the details.

I am definitely guilty of not being able to see the forest for the trees. When this happens, my dad is quick to remind me to pull back and take a broader view. This is not to say that the details aren’t important because they are. However, it’s easy to place too much emphasis on the little things and neglect the overall goal. There may even be a better way to get there; but if you stay at 100x magnification (is that a real setting? I’ve decided yes), you’ll never know.

Respect the ocean.

It was important to my dad that my sister and I learn how to swim and, once we were old enough, that we learn how to swim in the ocean. The ocean has its own rhythm and rules. Waves come in sets. The water won’t wait for you; pick your move and commit. You’re never under for as long as you think. These same lessons apply to life as well. There’s very little around us that we can control. You need to be able to adapt to situations and use the skills you have to navigate them. Sometimes you will misjudge and get pulled under, coming up with a bathing suit full of sand, and sometimes you’ll catch the perfect wave and ride it in like a pro. Both are valuable experiences that we can grow from.

 Swim little Leah, swim!

Swim little Leah, swim!

 Even Roger Federer gets nervous.

The summer between my junior and senior year of college, I took an acting class. (Well really I began it. I never finished because the teacher spent a good portion of each session discussing her husband’s work as a director and telling us that she could go into labor during the course. Not exactly conversations I had signed up for, or was willing to pay for.) Just before the first class started, I felt a rush of nerves and called my dad who unleashed the above gem about Roger (yes, we’re on a first name basis). For all I know Roger actually might not get nervous, but my dad’s point was no less spot on. No matter how good we are, there is still room for error and it is completely natural to feel nervous. As they (and my dad) always say, ‘Any given Sunday.’

Run to daylight.

I learned how to drive from my dad and a private instructor named Rosemary who I couldn’t even begin to describe if I tried. When I turned 17 and traded in my junior license for a senior license, a whole new network of roads known as New York City was now open to me (at least that’s how it worked in the early ’00s). Suburban roads and highways suddenly felt like a piece of cake. The seeming lack of rules, jaywalkers, bike messengers, and the cacophony of horns and sirens pretty much freaked me out. Dad to the rescue. “The rule is,” he said, “there are no rules, just run to daylight.” Say what? Turns out, like a lot of the advice my dad gives, this was a sports reference. In football, “running to daylight” means you see the open space and go for it. I am not saying this is necessarily the best way to approach driving in NYC (and obviously you need to make sure that the open space you’ve spotted will be open for as long as it will take to get there and that you can get there safely) but it really does work. :) 

Time spent thinking about things you have no control over/are in the past is wasted energy.

As with the ocean, there are things in life that we have no say over. Harping on these events is fruitless and does nothing but waste time and energy, not to mention that it won’t change the outcome. Focus on what you can control and let go of the rest.

 That puffy cap and fancy robe mean I have wisdom too.

That puffy cap and fancy robe mean I have wisdom too.

 The game’s not over until it’s over, a lot can happen in the fourth quarter.

In our family, if you had to pick any part of a game to be sure to watch, it is the fourth quarter or final set. (We’re a football/tennis family but 9th inning, 3rd period, etc. work equally well here.) You can’t give up until the end. Don’t defeat yourself or get overconfident; things can change in an instant so keep going until that final buzzer. 

 3:06:01 in pouring rain. My dad was/is a machine. I said I wouldn't post this on Instagram; I said nothing about my blog :)

3:06:01 in pouring rain. My dad was/is a machine. I said I wouldn't post this on Instagram; I said nothing about my blog :)

Who do you turn to for advice? Any memorable pearls of wisdom? Anyone else have a birthday today?