On Sunday, May 24th my dad hit a milestone birthday. 60. I spent the past 5 days on travel with extended family. We gave him a proper birthday celebration, including a roast that allowed us to share some of the funnier and heartfelt nuggets of wisdom he’s imparted onto his family through the years. With his permission, I’m publishing the words I shared. As I’ve re-launched Radiate as an e-book this past week — my path towards self-discovery would not be as rich without my dad’s support and guidance. I hope these words touch you in some way as much as they did me as I was writing them.
As much as it pains me to admit it, my dad and I are a lot alike in a lot of ways.
So it might not come as a surprise when I share that I spent a majority of my formative years trying to distance myself from him as much as possible. I hear this is normal for any teenager, but when you are strong-willed, stubborn, impulsive, and most of all independent, just like your dad, it’s a recipe for always doing the exact opposite of anything he suggests.
We both seem to always have own equally passionate ideas for how a day, week, or an entire life should look.
And of course growing up, those ideas were never ever the same.
I first learned my dad and I didn’t see eye to eye when I was about 9 years old.
He handed me a putter and told me I was going to just LOOOOOOOOOVE…golf. The only thing I really liked about it was getting to drive the cart. That part was the best! Everything else — the bugs, the stillness, the precision, the pace. I couldn’t take it.
That was the first time I learned to distrust anything my dad said was in my best interest.
He must not KNOW me if he thinks I’ll love golf. Who is he kidding?!
Thankfully for him (and for me) he had another child, my younger sister, to share this passion with.
Somewhere around that same time we took an extended family vacation to Williamsburg, VA.
When you’re 10, and your least favorite subject in school is History…Williamsburg isn’t your idea of a dream vacation, but it was one of my family’s favorite places to travel when we were little. One of most vivid memories of that trip, besides the boredom, was when my dad crouched down next to me, pointed to the historic Wren building where the College of William and Mary campus begins and said “one day you’ll go to college here”.
I think my response was an eye roll and an internal dialogue that went something like “I will NEVER go to college here”.
Funny enough, my intuition later led me back to William & Mary and I did go to college there, but it took me awhile to come around to the idea. If you ask me WHY I chose the school I’ll never admit that it had anything to do with that childhood moment my dad and I shared.
At the end of the day, the small campus just ‘felt right’ to me.
Which brings me to my time at college. I had set my heart on majoring in Psychology and Education.
But every semester in true ‘dad’ fashion he would say “you should really take macro economics” “or a business course”. He’d spout off something about how I’d learn crucial life skills, and how much he KNEW I’d enjoy it.
Cue more eye rolling.
I never took a single business class in college.
Joke’s on me since now I own a personal brand. This blog and business where I teach moms and women photography. But of course, that too has nothing to do with my dad. That’s was just me following my heart.
The kicker though was the year after I graduated college.
I had been dating this really handsome, quiet, loyal boy I met working at Target. We planned on moving in together. Dad took me out to dinner for a ‘heart to heart’ which is dad code for “I don’t think you should be dating this deadbeat kid from Target’ He talked about goals, and commitment, and passion and how there was no way this guy could be good enough for his daughter.
I married the ‘deadbeat kid from Target’
I sure showed my dad.
Thankfully for all of us that ‘deadbeat’ is no longer working at Target. I’m not sure my dad will believe me when I tell that this caring, loyal husband of mine had goals, and commitment, and passion all along.
There were a lot of things throughout my upbringing that my dad wanted me to do, or be, or become. And because he’s my dad, he was pretty vocal about them.
But I don’t think he realizes that it’s in the smaller, quieter, and most subtle moments where he influenced me the most.
I have a book I asked my dad to fill out back in 2005. This was after my college years, but before marriage and kids. A journal of sorts, a place to keep a record of family memories. I wanted to learn a bit about his childhood, my childhood, and his hopes and dreams and fears for this life in his own words and in his handwriting.
The last page asks the question: If you felt the need to offer some advice to me what would it be. In it he wrote:
Try to find something in your life that you’re passionate about. That you’ll love to do every day of your life. May you find the wisdom, courage, and strength to find the right equilibrium that yields you the greatest happiness.
As I grew up I got to watch my dad work hard for his dreams, take some big risks, and live a life he was absolutely without a doubt passionate about.
He inspires everyone around him to be more, do more, and evolve into their best selves.
It may have taken my stubborn, independent, strong-willed self awhile to come around, but I think I’m finally grown up enough to admit that his advice was never lost on me. I may never love golf, take a business class, or make the same choices my dad might make for me. But, I am living out my dreams, taking some big risks, and uncovering my passion – that is without a doubt all because of my dad’s unwavering love and support.
When you dig into your past, who is your biggest role model? When was the last time you did a bit of soul searching to come by to yourself? If you’re interested in this idea of self-discovery through photography, I’d like to invite you peek at my new e-book: Radiate. I’m on a mission to inspire you to pick up a camera, slow down, and capture images that make your heart sing. Plus you’ll get access to supplemental videos where I share editing techniques that you can learn with simplicity and ease. Click HERE to learn more.