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I'll Drink a Beer to That...life lessons learned from my dad

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I never knew I had one ear that didn't match the other till I was in high school. Maybe my junior year,... when a friend noticed and and acted all horrified. Like I was the bearded lady at the circus. And up until that point I had never - ever - noticed it myself, ...cutie pie short haircut and all. Funny how that happens sometimes - or a lot - when people think they need to say things that really don't need to be said. For our own good, you know.... (And my ear? It's out there now so let's discuss.... It does stick out a bit more than the other, not quite an identical twin, but a good ear just the same.) And I decided back then that it was okay. And I pierced that guy 4 times to accentuate what? The positive, of course.

And several years ago at work a lady started off a conversation by telling me that I am a beautiful young lady.... but I'll want to do something about ......... and she pointed out a flaw that I may or may not had taken note of on my own. But up until that day I stood in front of a hundred or more people every day able to carry my head and my _______ high. And even though I thought her back handed compliment and advice was as mean as anything I had ever heard, I didn't cry. Not then. But later.... and a lot.

And this past week I received a comment on the blog, that if I let it, could've discouraged me. And for me and my delicate sensibilities, criticism - when not so much about the quality and content of my work - but more about me as a person - can for a moment provoke doubt. But a moment is all it got, y'all. And then it got a gracious reply to the sender with well wishes and a sincere hope for a better day tomorrow - and then it got the delete button.

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So I took that comment, along with so many others over the years and piled them all into a growing tower of courage, character and contentment. With a touch of crazy mixed in for good measure. And just like the rest of us, I can look back on days filled with ugly and beautiful, hard and soft, loud and clear messages and lessons learned that have brought me to HERE. To NOW. And to the road leading me to the next OPPORTUNITY. And with it being Fathers' Day, here's a short version of life lessons learned from my dad. Volume 1... or maybe better titled, I'll drink a beer to that.

He showed me that everyone's gonna cry sometimes. But don't do it for long. And go ahead and listen to the wise words of a good country song while you're at it, a cry in your beer song as he called it. Then get back to doing what you do.

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He showed me with 3 fingers on each hand and short arms that it's okay to be different. And different doesn't mean bad. It just means YOU. Just tailor your shirts - and your strengths - to fit, and you'll be standing out in a crowd for all the right reasons.

He showed me that problems are here, there and everywhere. But that it's not okay to make your life about your problems.

And he showed me that leaving a bad situation can be good. And that sometimes sticking with it through tough times can be even better.

He taught me to put all else aside now and then... and just sit. And that a good Willie Nelson song is good company to sit with. Here's my favorite. I can smell the cigar smoke and the steak on the grill in the memory of my mind with this one. I miss my dad.

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And I guess mostly he taught me that being me is okay. I saw all this through a life lived in quiet participation and observation by a man born with certain limitations, and more added as he went about his business. But in the end a man that fished away his troubles and hunted for alternatives and found a good fit in just being who he was.

So to my critics out there, here's what I know as big and powerful as the day is long. It takes more courage to be the one putting yourself in front of the crowd and taking a risk for the chance that it just may turn out to be good - than it does to be the lonely voice of negativity hiding in that crowd. I choose to stand in front.

And I know that I would rather choose contentment with where I am today and keep developing the ability to recognize the sometimes ever so subtle gifts that may be there waiting for me. I choose to look up instead of down. And thankful that I have a choice.

post script... My dad was born with 3 fingers on each hand, short arms, one permanently bent with a non functioning elbow joint, no wrist, and a hand. The other arm was as long as to my elbow and was made of a shoulder and a hand to work with. He also had a tremendous curvature of the spine and for the last 20 years of life, had to maneuver the best he could on crutches or a motorized scooter having lost his pelvic bone, hip and thigh.

...........And was still the best hunter and fisherman these parts ever knew. Just needed a little help getting in the boat.


11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13

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