I had such an incredible childhood.
When my parents were married, they were the most amazing team—they loved me and my brother so fiercely that it was obvious to everyone around them. My mom used to tell me that when I was a toddler, people would stop her on the street as she rolled me around in my stroller to say how beautiful I was. I find that amazing.
My dad was a fantastic father. There is one particular photo in one of my mother’s albums that shows him carrying me around like a football. I was a tiny baby with gigantic blue eyes, and he always told me that at birth, I came out of the womb “wide-eyed and ready for the world.” He said he fell in love with me at first sight. I find that so endearing; it still makes my heart melt.
Sadly, I lost my beautiful dad to cancer on January 1, 2022—a day I shall not soon forget. He was my entire world. His love for me and my brother was so unconditional that it was evident in everything he did for us.
My dad was like a prophet—when he spoke, you listened intently. Throughout our lives, he taught us some incredibly relevant and important lessons that I will carry with me forever. They are applicable for everyone, at any time, and will never become obsolete.
These are my top eight:
1. Take the best and leave the rest.
This was the mantra that he instilled in me for the majority of my teenage years. This adage is permanently etched in my mind, and frankly, it is universal, and applicable to almost everything in life.
He was so bang on with this one; keep what works in your life, and get rid of what doesn’t.
2. Sh*t or get off the pot.
Need I elaborate? My dad always used to say, “What the hell are you delaying the inevitable for? It doesn’t serve us to let something fester. Nip it in the bud as soon as possible.”
This one’s gold.
3. If you don’t love yourself first, trust me, no one else will.
Without a word of a lie, it took me over three decades to finally absorb this one. Through trial and error and the constant tutelage I received from my father, he truly made me believe in myself. So strongly, in fact, that at almost 50 years of age, the light bulb finally turned on.
Thank you, Daddy, for never giving up on me, even when I was at the bottom of the barrel.
4. If someone makes you upset or angry, do not retaliate. Walk away. Words uttered out loud or in written form can never be taken back.
In other words, watch what comes out of your mouth at all times. If you’re feeling irate, talk to a trusted source and vent. Do not add more fuel to the fire, because anger and rage serve no purpose long-term in the human body.
Get rid of all negativity to the best of your ability, as soon as possible.
5. Take care of your temple.
This one stings. My father disliked going to doctors. He was 77 years old, going on 47, and he was young and vital his entire life. It saddens me that despite his wise words on caring for your temple, he didn’t abide by his own pragmatic advice.
I will always wonder if he had taken extra measures to go to medical professionals early on in his cancer diagnosis, perhaps he could have lived another 10 to 20 years in good health. Now, I’ll never know.
6. Do not take anything or anyone for granted.
My dad was an incredibly generous and selfless man. I used to marvel at his kindness and his ability to get along with virtually anyone he encountered. I would see him interact with all kinds of people—it was a true sight to behold.
He always used to tell me to practice an attitude of gratitude. Everything in life is a gift—if you have a roof over your head, food to eat, clothes to wear, shoes to don, a good education, intelligence, a loving and supportive family, and a handful of good, reliable pals, you’re extremely fortunate. I wholeheartedly agree—and I try hard not to take anyone or anything for granted.
7. Be strong. Don’t let anyone take advantage of you. Ever.
I have a strong personality, so this one fits me to a “T.” I am born under the sign of the bull and Dad called me “Powerhouse.” I really believe in the power of the mind, and if you think you’re strong, you will be strong.
I never let anyone take advantage of me. I learned at a young age that you are either the lion or the prey. If I am pushed, I can be a raging bull—and no one can mess with me for too long.
8. Be reliable. If you say you’re going to be somewhere, be there. If you say you’re going to do something, do it, come hell or high water.
Absolutely right, Daddy. You taught me, even from an early age, to practice what I preach. You made me value human connection because I saw how you treated everyone with respect and admiration. You instinctively knew what to say, and when to say it. You were so gifted.
Consider yourself lucky beyond measure if you have someone in your life who inspires you, who strongly impacts you, and who makes you an all-around better person.
I love you so much, Daddy. You continue to enrich my life. Thank you from the bottom of my soul, for your incredible wisdom, your undying love, and your pure magic.
I will impart these wonderful lessons you’ve taught me to others, for decades to come.