Happy Father’s Day to all the Dad’s out there! My “gift” to my Dad (and you) today is an excerpt from my new book “One Good Life.” Even though this section of the book is called “Important Lessons My PARENTS Taught Me”…my parents have always been a team, so the advice can really be credited to either one of them.
There is something very special about a girl and her Dad. My Mom is my role model, greatest woman I know, but my Dad is my hero! From the way he treats my mother and their interactions as a married couple, to his work ethic and spirit of entrepreneurship, my Father has provided me with a blueprint for me to build my own responsible, happy life!
In honor of my “first love,” my Dad, here are 15 of the valuable lessons he (and my Mom) taught me that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
Excerpt from “One Good Life” by Jill Nystul:
No book about my life would be complete without a section devoted solely to my parents who I happen to think are the most wonderful parents in the entire universe. I don’t say that lightly, because I know there are many, many people who don’t enjoy the same feelings and relationship with their parents. I am very blessed in this area of my life. They are both amazing role models and continue to inspire me as I try to pattern my life after theirs. I have been the recipient of their pure, unconditional love and acceptance — which made all the difference during some of my darkest hours.
I sincerely wish I could share my parents’ gift with the whole world. It is the gift of knowing that no matter how far you fall from grace, those who you love and who love you will stick by you through it all. Since I don’t have the power to grant that wish, allow me to share some of the things I have learned from my parents that have made my life rich and sweet.
Life is too short to spend it being vengeful or bitter. My parents taught me that however hard it feels, forgiveness is imperative: to free ourselves from the pain and darkness we carry when we have hurt someone or hurt ourselves.
My father is a self-made man who achieved great success in business without a college degree. My mother attained her college degree and then raised six children while married to a man who worked long hours. They also devoted many hours to volunteer church work each week. Their example taught me that hard work is its own reward.
My parents are strong believers in the motto: where much is given, much is required. We were given opportunities to do service often, with our parents right there by our side leading by example. They set an example that began when we were small and continued throughout our lives that life is about giving not receiving.
My parents were consistent in both their discipline and their love. Knowing where my parents stood on the important things in life was a great comfort to me as a child.
My fiercely independent streak largely results from the fact that my parents encouraged me to try new things with a sense of adventure. Looking back, particularly as a parent myself now, I’m sure it was hard on my parents when I went to New York City for a summer internship after I graduated from college. But they never made me doubt my decision or hinted at their own angst. When I first moved to North Dakota for my first job, I cried on the phone to them for hours because I was homesick. They listened, but never suggested I pack my bags and come home.
Despite the fact that my parents both come from small towns and very traditional upbringings, they have always been accepting and inclusive of everyone with whom they meet and interact. There was never even a whisper of prejudice or judgment. Not to mention helping me through my addiction.
My parents were products of The Great Depression, and even though they achieved financial success over the years, they never forgot their roots and taught me to be a wise steward of resources.
The summer that my youngest sister turned eight, my parents flew us to San Francisco for dinner. One summer when I was about sixteen, we explored parts of Canada in an R.V. In my teens, my older sister and I accompanied my parents on trips to Spain, England and Morocco. My parents traveled to many other places on their own, as well. They instilled a desire in me to see the world. There was always another adventure waiting around the corner that kept us on our toes and made life exciting and sweet. It is important to note that adventure can also take place in your own backyard. Consider a tent and campfire, complete with s’mores and ghost stories!
Every Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember my parents would load all the kids into the station wagon for a late night “Secret Santa” run to the home of a family less fortunate than ours. We’d “doorbell ditch” the house, leaving the box that my Mom filled with presents, food and an envelope of cash. It was great fun and a tradition I carry on in my own family today. Giving of your time and resources to others less fortunate is something we all need to learn and teach.
My mother has also been known to invite strangers to dinner. There was always room for one more at our Thanksgiving table. One day, my Mom went out of her way to be kind to a foul-tempered lady who worked at the post office and made a life-long friend.
My parents have strong, unshakeable faith that has pulled our family through many trials and provided a lifetime of peace and blessings. Worship has always been important to us. Then and now.
My mother always told me I could do anything I wanted to do and be anything I wanted to be. She said that my gifts and abilities were unique. Now that I am a mother myself, I try to do the same for my kids and hope that they believe me as I believed my mom and subsequently believe in themselves.
The Importance of the Arts.
My siblings and I were all given opportunities to take piano, dance, and singing lessons. We often attended theater – both plays and musicals – and even the occasional opera and ballet.
The Flour Game, The Birthday Treasure Hunt, Strawberry Waffles on Thanksgiving and Christmas morning, Secret Santa, Easter Sunrise Service, Family Talent Shows. I could go on and on. These traditions reinforced our values and beliefs, and provided us with colorful family memories.
My mom is a wonderful cook! With a few rare exceptions, I always loved everything she made. She took pride in cooking and baking for her family and loved listening to cooking shows on the radio.
I cannot thank my parents enough for all their good lessons, which taught me how to find fulfillment. Despite the pain and challenges I’ve endured, and how far my life veered off-course, I believe that the knowledge and tools instilled in me by my parents truly saved me.
“One Good Life” is available through these retailers: