Love Letter to My Dad

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Dear Dad,

I’m sitting down to write you a love letter.  I’m sure that sounds strange, but let me explain.  LOVE is my word for this year, it’s the word that will give my life focus and direction for the next 349 days.  I can’t say I chose it, because I didn’t.  It chose me, for a few reasons I understand, and many more that I’m sure I’ll discover as the year unfolds.

So I’m thinking about love, wondering about love, and talking about love.  I’m feeling love, giving love, receiving love.  I’m seeing love, testing love, immersing myself in the meaning of this word love.  In so doing, I’m discovering that it’s everywhere.  I can’t escape it, even if (and when) I want to!

In the grocery store today I saw this most adorable, plush and cuddly stuffed tiger.  He’s got these long dangling arms with velcro on the paws, intended to wrap around your neck and give you a hug.  As much as you LOVE tigers, I’m sure you don’t need one more stuffed feline in your house.  So I walked past him twice,  but just couldn’t resist the urge to pick him up and give him a big squeeze before I added him to my grocery cart!

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The grocery store clerk casually tossed him into the bag with the bread, not realizing that she was being way too rough with my inanimate symbol of you.  He was the first thing I unpacked when I finally carried the last load of groceries in from my car.

This silly little tiger evoked an overwhelming feeling of love for you.  Standing in my pantry unpacking groceries, the thought hit me, do you know how much I love you?

I mean really know!  Not just the “I’m your daughter and I’m supposed to love you” kind of love.  But do you really know, both intellectually and in your heart, the depth of my love for you?

I lost all four of my grandparents suddenly, without an opportunity to say goodbye, without a final hug, without telling them how much I really loved them!

A love letter is not meant to be morbid, but the truth is, regardless of our age, we never know when our final day will be.  The pain of my past, of losing so many that I loved without notice, inspired me to write you this love letter, to tell you NOW, so I know that you know, without question, how much I love you!

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I love you to the moon and back

I love you when I see tigers

I love you as I eat Lay’s potato chips and onion dip…..or a late night bowl of ice cream

I love you when I sit in the same spot on my sofa that you always sit

I love you when I have a hammer in my hand

I love you when I watch the Steelers play

I love you when I think of Grandma

I love you every single time I try something new

I love you when I drink coffee

I love you when I fold the paper grocery store bags with perfection

I love you when I venture into the guest room and see your artwork hanging on the wall

I love you when the boys find a Star Wars movie on tv

I love you when I put my raincoat on

I love you when Ben or Peter speak your name, with a smile on their face

I love you when I hug you, and neither one of us lets go

I love you every day

I love you….

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My love for you is so embedded in my everyday life, I can’t count how many times a day you cross my mind and I am reminded that I love you.

My love for you is pure!  For me, there is nothing unfinished, nothing incomplete in our relationship.  You are simply easy to love and so I do, with all my heart and soul!

with Joy, Gratitude & Love,

The REAL Letter to My Dad

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Dad,
How do I possibly begin to put into words all that you mean to me and what a total and complete difference you have made in my life.  When I think of you,  I am reminded of the book ‘The Giving Tree’ by Shel Silverstein.  The story is about the relationship between a tree and little boy – and their journey together through life.  The tree gives and gives and gives to the boy, never asking for anything in return.  You my dear daddy are my tree!  You have provided me with everything I’ve needed at each stage of my life, whether I’ve asked for it or not.  And not once have you ever asked for anything in return.

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Your ‘giving’ is not in relationship to any materialistic items you have given me.  Rather, you are generous with giving your experience, your wisdom, your opinion (but only when asked), your laughter, your ‘take it with a grain of salt’ attitude and your playfulness!

As with ‘The Giving Tree’, you are a rock solid force in my life.  You are probably the most stable person I know, continuing to put one foot in front of another on your life’s journey, sometimes getting battered and bruised – but NEVER getting knocked down!

By far the greatest gift you have ever given me is the gift of your friendship as I became an adult, a wife and a mother.  Although I will always be your little girl at heart, you allowed us to transition from the typical parent – child  relationship into a mature adult friendship with give and take, unconditional love, disagreement at times, but always a mutual respect!

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More than anything, I want to honor and acknowledge you!  I want you to know how much I LOVE you and how AWESOME you are!  Here are 10 things I love about you:

1.  You talk with your hands – some would think you are Italian, but we know you are just an engineer that explains things both physically and with your words.

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2.  Your have an incredible work ethic – you exhibit a sense of responsibility, follow through and pride in your work.  This certainly holds true in your career, but is also evident in your various home improvement, landscaping, and furniture refinishing projects.  Your attention to detail and ability to bring something to completion is inspiring.

3.  You thrive on trying new things – I could write a whole post about this!  Wait – I did that already – The Thrill of Something New!  My heart bursts with JOY as I watch you pass this most amazing life lesson onto your 4 grandsons.

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4.  You never complain – about anything!  For real!  That is an incredible quality.  There are many times I let a complaint slip (or vomit) out of my mouth and I think ‘Hhhm – my Dad would never have said that!’

5.  You know what you LOVE – and you are intentional about enjoying the things you love.  Just a few of which are cross country skiing, antiques, jazz music, golf, tigers, ice cream after 11:00 pm, dancing, watching football and snorkeling!

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6.   You dress mono-chromatically – this is one of those quirky things that makes you uniquely YOU!  From jacket, shirt, pants, socks and even shoes, you blend various shades of the same color.  The exception to this rule is with your summer attire, in which case you go in the complete opposite direction and mix contrasting bright colors.  I know we tease you, but I really do LOVE this about you!

7.  You live fully in the moment –  you are AWESOME at being present to whatever you are doing in the moment.  If you are unloading groceries, folding laundry or cooking dinner – you are present.  If you are playing ‘hearts’, watching a late night movie or reading a sci-fi book – you are present.  If you are zooming down the water slide, snorkeling with dolphins or kayaking in the river – you are present!

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8.  You exude JOY – when you smile and laugh, JOY spills out of all your pores and makes you contagious!

9.  You believe in me – not once, ever in my entire life,  have you told me that I couldn’t do something!  Even if you may have thought that I shouldn’t do it, you believed in me!  You believed that I would either succeed or would recover from whatever consequences and life lessons I faced.

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10.  You put family first – I felt this as a child, but I began to really distinguish it clearly as I watched your relationship with your mom as she aged.  You were consistent in your commitment, whether you were calling to talk or driving the 8 hours to visit her.  This continues with your children and grandchildren.  Your love towards us and your desire to be in relationship with us is without question!

I sometimes talk with my hands,  I strive to not complain, but I will never dress mono-chromatically.  The rest of what I LOVE about you are part of who you are and how you live your life – and you have been an exceptional role model.

I love and honor you as both my father and my friend!

with Joy & Gratitude,

Writing a Letter to My Dad

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Last week in ‘Writing a Letter to My Mom’  I shared that I was inspired by a friend to write a letter to my mother, not for the purpose of actually sending it to her, but rather in hopes of creating a sense of completion for me in our relationship.  This exercise proved to be very powerful!

With Father’s day upon us, the timing seemed perfect to mimic the practice with a letter to my dad.  However, this letter will be drastically different from my letter to my mother.  My relationship with my dad is authentic, rich in humor, respect, love…..and thankfully not in need of any completion.  My motivating factor in writing this particular letter is to make sure my dad knows the difference he has made in my life.  My only goal is for him to get his AWESOMENESS!  I will most definitely be sharing this letter with him (hard not to since he knows all about my new blogging adventure!)

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When it’s all said and done, the thing that matters most in our lives is our relationships!  I’m sure you’ve heard that before.  But STOP and think about this!  Who are you without your relationships….and what’s the meaning of your life if you are living in solitude?

I’m taking an educated guess that there is at least one relationship in your life where there is ‘junk’ – history, baggage, unresolved issues – a relationship that isn’t complete.  I’m also certain there is at least one person in your life that has impacted you so positively that you would not be who you are today without them.  Who are those two people?  Stop reading – take a deep breath, close your eyes, pause and reflect.  Maybe they are your parents as they were in my case.  But perhaps they are a friend, a teacher, a coach, a sibling, a significant other, a child?

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You can be inspired by what I share, but ‘being inspired’ doesn’t change anything.  Take action and write a letter!  You will feel a sense of freedom by writing to the person that you are incomplete with….and you will feel overwhelming satisfaction by helping someone important in your life get how AWESOME they are!

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I will share my letter to my dad in my next post!  If you accept my challenge I would be honored if you shared your letter(s) with me (confidentially or publicly – your choice).

with Joy & Gratitude,

The Thrill of Something NEW!

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The University of Vermont

It was 1983 and my dad was driving me to the University of Vermont to begin my freshman year as a college student.  Traveling from Connecticut, we had at least 6 hours in the car together, which meant plenty of time for him to share his fatherly wisdom before releasing me to begin my college experience.

Thirty years later I have one clear and distinct memory of the advice he offered me that day.  He said ‘try everything once’!  Of course I looked at him with a huge grin on my face and said ‘everything’?  He didn’t say a word, he just cracked a smile and gently nodded his head.

I’m not so sure I’d be brave enough to offer that same wisdom to my soon to be college freshman son.  But I can say I finally get it – I mean really, really get it!  My dad was passing onto me his life’s motto, his belief that life can only be fully experienced when we seek out that which is NEW to us.  Sometimes it is a simple and inconsequential new thing, while other times it requires taking a risk or facing a fear.

My dad is not one to do the same thing twice.  He is constantly in search of a NEW experience – a new restaurant, new vacation place, new music, new weekend activities.  He thrives on the thrill he gets from doing something NEW.  This probably made it all the more challenging for him to be my father,  since I am the complete opposite.

My comfort zone has typically been to seek out the familiar, the constant, the repetitive, the stable, the consistent, the expected.  Some habits are meant to be broken.  Although I didn’t intentionally set out to break this one, I have recently become addicted to the rush of trying new things.

I can distinguish the moment when my perception of trying new things really shifted.  It was January 2012 and I zip lined for the first time – walking away with an exhilaration I hadn’t felt in years.  This also opened up a whole conversation about FEAR that I will save for another post (probably multiple posts because its such a big concept).

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Zip lining unleashed my desire to really live and experience life to its fullest.  This meant being willing to give up my attachment to knowing and controlling the outcome.  It meant exposing myself to the unknown at a greater frequency than I preferred.  It meant giving up my expectations in exchange for embracing the unexpected.  But the result of repeatedly engaging in new experiences gives us the opportunity to learn and grow at an exponential rate!

Here is a brief list of a few NEW things I’ve tried in the recent past:  IMG_1328

  1. Crossfit
  2. Tuna Sashimi
  3. Stand Up paddle board
  4. Dancing in the grocery store aisle
  5. 30” box jump
  6. Chunky blond highlights
  7. Eating Paleo  IMG_1158
  8. Sky diving
  9. Deep purple toe nail polish
  10. Becoming a blogger

You can test the waters by dipping your toe in or you can say YES and jump, fully clothed into the deep dark waters!  Whichever way you choose is perfect – but CHOOSE!  Choose to try something new, something unexpected, something that will make you feel like you are living full out!

I can’t wait to hear what NEW things you try and how they make you feel!

with Joy & Gratitude,