- Guest Post by Kim -
Up until the third grade, I thought I was fluent in a second language. I didn’t know it was a second language, I just thought it was English. But it turns out that I knew about 100 words that weren’t standard English at all, just my father’s creative pidgin mix of good old American English and zany dad-isms. Much to the embarrassment of my third grade self, I discovered a "bouf" is more commonly referred to as a "fart". A bit of dirt was always "gunge", and a zit was a "hinkie". Clearly. The dad-isms went well past simple words and included phrases, sentences and song lyrics. I was pretty convinced that "Mrs. Pink" meant daughter and "Mr. Blue" meant son. My Dad called me his "little flange" (pronounced flan-gee, which is actually an English word but bears no relation to the dad-ism definition). And of course, "Easter time am the time for eggs, Am the time for Eggs am the Easter time". Clearly. To this day my husband will occasionally catch me saying something ludicrous in public and whisper, "Um... that’s not a real word".
When I found out that I was living this strange double life, I didn’t feel misled or betrayed, I felt awesome. My dad was so damn cool; he just made shit up. As I got older, I’m not sure why, but new dad-isms slowed down and petered out. Maybe because it’s harder to be completely silly with your grown-up, married daughter than with your third grader. But the older I get, I realize the dad-isms were replaced by something even more important: a secret set of really good advice. Just like the original dad-isms, I had no idea that everyone else didn’t have access to this playbook of truisms. Because his stuff is so powerful, it’s made me more receptive to hearing and appreciating the advice of others. It turns out my friends and family have an uncanny ability to dole out the cosmic 2x4s that move me and motivate me. It makes me want to call up the people who make inspirational tchotkes and say, "Bust out the kittens - it’s poster time".
I’ve tried to share these oh-so-powerful words of wisdom before, but usually, to my complete shock, they don’t resonate. It’s as if I told someone they had “gunge” on their face. They'd look at me like I was crazy, like I wasn't speaking their language at all. Is this because all advice is inherently personal? Or because you can’t really ever hear something until you want to hear it? Or maybe it’s a wrong place / wrong time problem? Or.... maybe I’m sitting on a gold mine of life-changing mantras and and it would be downright cruel not to share them.
So here goes:
6 Pieces of Advice From People I Love That Have Changed My Life So Drastically That I Cannot Help But Share, Even If It Sounds Like I’m Speaking Another Language:
"Throw money at it" - My Dad
I know after all this hype you probably weren’t expecting my dad’s magical advice to be about something so banal as money, but think about how often money is a stress in life. There comes a time when pinching pennies is doing more damage than good. If money can occasionally buy you a reduction in stress, fork over the cash and don’t look back.
"If you act like you belong, people will think you belong" - My Mom
My mom delivered this one in the car outside of my middle school, when I was all geared up in flannel and angst, about to march angrily across the courtyard to homeroom. I think it was followed with, “If you look like an angry bitch, people will treat you like an angry bitch”. Harsh, maybe, but damn mom. You’re right.
"It’s all about time in the water" - My Father-In-Law
When I was learning to surf I wanted to punch a dolphin. It’s hard. It’s frustrating. But his advice was to just be patient. Sit out the big sets. Enjoy the sun and surf and stop stressing and the skills will come.
"Isn’t that a little insulting to Michelangelo?" - My Mother-In-Law
When I was in grad school for design I was required to 'learn to draw'. It was harrowing. I’d never drawn before. After a full 3 months of daily effort I threw my arms up and said it was impossible. To which she reminded me that Michelangelo spent decades drawing and practicing before creating the masterpieces we see today. Isn’t it a little demeaning to anyone accomplished to assume we can do their caliber of work without putting in the same level of effort?
"Sixty Forty!!" - My Grandmother
At age 94, she yelled this out in the middle of my wedding. Twice. Right after the preacher said that marriage was a compromise: fifty/fifty. At the time I thought she was kidding, but my dad later explained that she’d always said a marriage was only successful when each person felt like they were putting in more effort. Because a marriage takes work. Even if sometimes it means picking up the slack.
"What’s to be ashamed of? Because you have a heart and sometimes that motherfucker hurts? You love big and that’s the risk we take." - Trish
This one needs no explanation. But I can say without exaggeration that I think of this quote from our dear bloggess Tricia about once a week. And it gives me never-ending comfort.
So there’s the list. The things I live by. The words that have radically changed how I think about the world. I collect them and cherish them and I’d love to hear more from you readers. I hope that at least some ring true. Or at least the one from my dad. Because honestly, how can the Captain of Righteousness have been wrong? (Yes, that’s really what I call my dad)