Since Mother’s Day just passed and we are now getting ready to show our Dads some love, I just want to take a few moments out of our busy day just to acknowledge and maybe humble brag a bit about just how awesome I think my parents are.
Little do they realize that they truly are the backbone for my entire blog.
Even though they may not even read it, or do they? 😉
My mom & dad are a true inspiration to how we live our frugal lifestyle and the real reason for us striving to become debt-free.
Despite the fact that they’ve been imparting their wisdom to us since the very beginning, it really did not click for me until “full-on” adulthood. It wasn’t until after graduating college, getting married, buying our first home, starting our family, and then getting really sick along the way, for me to even realize just how much debt can weigh us down.
Even with a degree and background in Family Financial Management, it wasn’t enough of a wake-up call for me to aspire to become F.I.R.E. (Financially Independent Retire Early) until I had to literally be faced with my own load of debt to carry.
As the first kid in my family to graduate from college, I came from humble beginnings. My mom retired this year was a full-time sewist and my Dad spent 35 years as a high school teacher.
While my Mom taught me how to cook, clean, and sew, it is my Dad who pretty much taught me everything else about life.
It is only natural because he’s been a teacher for the past 30 something years now.
And since my Dad is a teacher, that is exactly what he does best.
He is naturally a great communicator and is well-loved within our community for his gifts and talents too.
Here are just a few of the life lessons that I have learned from my Dad over the years:
When Facing Adversity:
1- Count Your Blessings & Be Grateful
Yes, we may all be struggling with something in our lives at this very moment. Although we do not get a say in what the circumstance may be, we do have a choice in how we handle it and respond accordingly. My Dad always tells us stories from his childhood to try and relate to us how different life was for him growing up in another country versus growing up here in America. Telling us stories about the sacrifices that my parents had to make for us to live a better life than they did. It’s easy to see that Thanksgiving is our favorite holiday because not only do we get to celebrate with a banquet of food, but it also reminds us of stories and happy memories we can pass on to our own kids too. Keep a daily gratitude journal and write down 5 things that you are grateful for each day. This is probably the most important lesson I am still trying to grasp, sometimes as an adult.;)
2- “Take A Sad Song & Make It Better,” (Hey Jude)
My Dad is a huge Beetles’ fan, particularly the song, Hey Jude. For as long as I can remember (in my teen years) he would blast it on the stereo on full force during the weekends. It was his passive aggressive way to keep my siblings and I from oversleeping past noon especially when it was so nice and sunny outside. It does not matter what is happening, that is his friendly (albeit awkward) reminder to us all to keep a positive attitude each and every time.
3- Take it easy: Relax, it’s not as bad as you think
My Dad is a pretty chill guy. He’s got this great gift of level-headed-ness about him that I admire greatly. Whenever the proverbial stuff hits the fan, my Dad is as chill as can be and takes it all in stride. Funny enough, I notice that my husband also possesses this very same quality. The pain can be so incredibly powerful and the anger can be so overwhelming, and all-consuming of our energy in that very moment. But- if we can all just stop, close our eyes, and take in a deep breath, exhale visually, let out all of the anger in that breath, and then begin to realize that life is fleeting. (Note: if you’re anything like me, it may take you quite a bit longer. You see, I’m kinda stubborn in that way. 😉 Would it still matter when you’re gone? Just marinate on that for a while and see where your priorities line up. That’s what I am constantly telling myself…
4- Never complain about your own life because someone else may have it tougher than you do.
Calling all Empaths: this is your superpower. It is hard for any of us to stop and think outside of our current situation when we are knee-deep in the thick of our own woes. However, if you can remember to stop and think before you react and try your best to remember a time from the one the many times in your life where you were faced with adversity of your own, you will be able to sympathize, but better yet empathize with someone else’s pain too. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine how you would feel.
5- When you get nervous, close your eyes and think of your favorite song
See #2 and #4 above. Listen to calming music. Whenever my Dad feels stressed he listens to his oldies albums and plays the same sets of songs over and over again (#2 is his favorite). Thank goodness for music. Oldies music may work well for my Dad, but I do not have a favorite song. If you’re anything like me, you probably prefer mood stations on something like Amazon Music, Spotify, or Pandora. But you get the idea, music is a great way for us to relax and decompress from the stress of life to help us reiterate #4. Which is, however tough you think you’ve got it, someone else is having it much worse than you.
When Choosing Frugality
6- Take time to stop and smell the roses (Enjoy the little things in life)
If you’re lucky enough to get vacation time away from work, take it and relish in doing absolutely nothing. Oftentimes growing up, Winter Break from school in the midwest meant spending a couple of weeks as couch potatoes, slurping up ramen bowls with our eyes being glued to Kung Fu/Martial Arts Sagas. If you’re a fellow introvert too like my family and I, then this is your idea of “smelling the roses.” Legend of The Condor Heroes, anyone? 🙂
7- Quality Over Quantity (in terms of shoes & clothing)
Coming from a military background, my Dad is pretty particular about his grooming habits. He likes to have things done in a certain way, usually the way he was trained as a soldier (as he so-often puts it). He keeps a couple of uniforms for special events, a white short-sleeved one for casual events and a dark long-sleeve blazer one for more formal events. But that’s about it when it comes to his minimalistic style or lack of variety. He wears the same type of crisp white shirts and the same type of khaki or chino pants from his shortlist of 2 designer brands that he really trusts. He is a brand snob and darn proud of it too because he knows what to expect each time he buys a certain piece.
8- Live Within Your Means
Probably like most men, my Dad hates to go shopping. Growing up, I can remember, whenever my Mom asks him to take her to a department store, he’d respond with his usual groan and hang his head in disappointment. Unlike us, my Dad only shops to replace the things that get worn out. He does not understand what shopping therapy is and does not find any pleasure in wasting time at the mall. He finds it frivolous to spend his hard-earned money on something he can care less about, outer appearance and vanity.
9- Try it before you knock it (food)
Dad loves to cook because it reminds him of the food his mother used to make for him as a child. Since my grandmother died before we had a chance to meet her, my Dad often prepares his favorite meals from childhood for my siblings and I to try. It is his way of introducing us to my grandmother, connecting us, and keeping our family traditions alive through taste.
10- “Bloom where you are planted.”
Stop running away from your problems; deal with them head-on. Whenever you are stuck trying to find a solution to your problem, it may be difficult for you to remember that the solution is often found right under your nose. You do not have to go far to find the answers you are seeking, just stop and look from within. This is a hard one if, like me, you hate conflict and try your best to avoid it at all costs. You run away from your problems hoping that if they are out of your sight, they would be out of your mind as well. But hey, we are all trying our best, right?
When Dealing With Difficult People:
11- “Just Fuggedaboutit”
Stop dwelling in the past and move on. As an over-thinker, I tend to get stuck in a never-ending loop of asking, “Why?” As I believe that I am socially inept, my Dad is usually the first person I would go to for advice whenever I have people-related problems. Now that I am married, my Dad has happily passed on the torch to my husband. lol My Dad’s answer to just about everything that I throw at him is usually, “just fuggedaboutit.” And of course that would annoy me to no end because I am stubborn and simply cannot accept open-looped answers. :/
12- Teach What You Know
The best way to learn a subject very well is to teach what you know. As a lifelong educator, this is what my Dad always imparts on my siblings and I. The man is a people whisperer and he just loves to talk and listen to the sound of his own voice, I tell ya. 😉
13- Have Honor In Service
Whatever you do, do it in service for others. It’s no wonder why Dad is always so-like by all. No matter what he has going on, he always makes sure to tell everyone he meets that he is happy and willing to help them any way he can by doing all that he can. But he expects nothing in return because for him, the act of serving is enough of an honor. He is, after all, a soldier and that’s for life. 🙂
14- Be Humble
Treat everyone with respect because they can be your boss one day. This was something my Dad told my sister and she passed it along to me when I asked for her input on this post. But I feel as though, this could also be something along the lines of, “don’t burn your bridges because you never know whether or not you may need to cross that bridge one day.” Again, still a work-in-progress on that lesson too. 😉
15- Make friends with as many people as you can
When I asked my siblings for their input on lessons from our Dad, this is what my Dad told my brother before he went away to college. Life is short and humans (except for me because I am weird) are naturally social creatures who are not meant to go through life alone. Make it your life’s purpose to help as many people as you can because see #13 from above.
16- Laugh away your problems, it’s contagious (comedy is medicine for my soul)
As my daughter likes to say too, “laughter is like candy for the soul,” pretty prolific words from a little squirt. lol Laughter is the universal language of joy. It can cut through any language barrier and goes straight to the heart, soul, and mind when forming connections with people. The ability to find humor in the mundane and be able to laugh at our own follies is important for building resilience and reshaping how we deal with our daily stressors. Not only does it help us relate to one another but it also helps us build stronger relationships through sympathy and quell the unnecessary chaos in the world. That is why we always try to crack each other up with jokes in my family.
17- Trust Your Intuition (Do they creep you out?)
This is what my Dad usually tells my sister and I about meeting strangers. Be cautious, be prepared, and trust your intuition. Do not go anywhere alone at night. Do not walk into a situation without the proper tools. First impressions matter: if it feels wrong, it’s probably not the right decision for you. Whenever you find yourself in a compromising position i.e. alone in a parking garage, anything can be used as a weapon for self-defense. “Die yana, remember you are a ninja soldier, ok?” my Dad would often say. lol
18- Give people the benefit of the doubt
Even though people may say and do things that do not align with your personal code of conduct, try to have an open mind and see it from their point of view. It may surprise you that you are not always right and you might even be glad to be proven wrong too. Be prepared to have your mind blown and see #14 above.
19- Ignore Naysayers, haters, and (your mama)
“Take a number, your Mom drives us all nuts… (ignore her anyway).” Disclaimer: my siblings and I love my Mom, but it is a fact that she is a formidable woman and she can be quite a firecracker to live with growing up. “If she tells you it’s a cat but you know and everyone else around you knows that it’s really just a small dog, you swallow your pride and you agree with her anyway. Says my Dad to my siblings and I, to try to keep the peace at home with my Mom while still pursuing our own personal goals in life even when it does not agree with my Mom. Now that their nest is empty, my Mom is beginning to soften up her tone and wishes that she was more patient with us when we were younger and still lived at home.
20- Be Kind To Yourself Too
Know your limits and know when to say no. Know when to replace FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) with JOMO (Joy Of Missing Out) and allow yourself some time for self-care too. Stop saying yes to everyone else and start saying yes to yourself. Yep, will do. 😉
Simply put, my Dad is my hero, always is always will be.
He has taught me everything I know and continues to do so with pride and joy.
He is a wonderful life-long teacher as well as a life-long learner.
But the most important life lesson of all that I have learned from my Dad is that you must share everything you know in order to help each other grow because that is the true purpose of life.