My father is the king of lectures and my whole life he has tried hard to instill values in myself and my siblings through sharing his thoughts, stories, and life experiences with us. At the time, we usually just nodded and said something to the effect of, “Yeah, sure, you’re right.” And then we moved on to something else. What I didn’t realize is that my Dad was actually planting little seeds that began to grow and flourish as I got older and my life became watered by experiences and maturity. Soon these seeds began to bloom into a garden of values, wisdom, and ideals that I live my life by. I could write a book on all that I have learned from my father up until this point, but for now, I wanted to share 5 of the most significant lessons that have impacted my life:
- Live in the present- This is something I heard all my life from my father, and it didn’t really start making sense until I was married and pregnant. My father has always talked about how every chapter in his life has had something to look forward to. It did not sadden him when his life shifted and changed, because he knew there was always something wonderful happening in his life, in that moment. Nothing upsets my father more than when instead of enjoying the moment, we are fretting about tasks that need to get done the next day. Time and time again, I have watched my Dad soak in a wonderful moment and internalize it to the point that he is able to recall it in a way that all of his senses are involved in the memory. This is not an easy thing to accomplish, but I know it’s so crucial to stop and enjoy the present before it flies by and becomes the distant past.
- Visualize your dreams- My Dad is a doctor, and one of the ways he kept himself motivated was he visualized himself walking into an exam room, in a white coat saying, “Hello I am Dr. Perez.” It sounds simple, but it wasn’t until I was in college when I truly understood how powerful visualization can be. I too developed a visual motivator. When things would get especially difficult, I would picture myself standing in front of a bright classroom full of smiling faces and I would say, “Hello class, I am your teacher, Ms. Perez.” It always got me through! I also used this when I was pregnant and preparing for childbirth. I wanted to have a natural childbirth, and I developed a visualization of laying on the hospital bed and the doctor placing my daughter on my chest and looking into her eyes. The visualization was so powerful that it would bring me to tears each time I used it, and even though I didn’t have a natural childbirth, it is what helped to keep me calm during my emergency c-section.
- There is always a solution- My father has always said, “There is always a solution to the problem even if the solution is, there is no solution.” Thinking about this saying makes me laugh because it doesn’t really seem logical, but to the Perez kids- it makes perfect sense. What my father meant by this was that if there is a problem that you can solve, you will solve it. If it’s something that is out of your hands, than that is the solution, and we should not worry about it because there is nothing you can do about that problem,other than changing your outlook by making a paradigm shift, which leads me to my next point...
- Make a paradigm shift- as a kid, I rolled my eyes every time I heard my Dad say, “Just make a paradigm shift.” because he said it a lot! I am so glad he did though, because this is one of my greatest strengths, my most favorite lesson to teach my students, and one of the first major values I hope to instill in my daughter. There are so many times in life when you are facing a problem or a challenge and the solution is out of your hands. When this happens instead of becoming a victim, you need to change your outlook on that problem. My dad would explain it as putting on a different set of glasses, or looking at the problem in a different way. Mastering the ability to make a paradigm shift can alter your life and empower you in ways you may never have realized.
- If something scares you, do it anyway- My Dad lost his father when he was just 13 years old. He has always said that after his father died, nothing scared him- the worst had already occurred in his life. I truly think this sorrowful event was a catalyst for some of my father’s achievements in life and is an a major event I can point to when figuring out where his strength derives from. Failure can be scary, but my father has always pushed us to follow our passion even if we were afraid because true failure is when you don’t even try.
I can go on and on sharing things I have learned from my father. I am lucky to say I have a toolbox of values and wisdom that I often turn to when life gets tough. I know that as I continue to get older, more seeds from my father’s words will bloom into understanding. As I venture into adulthood, marriage and parenting, I know that I will continue to seek his help and words of encouragement for some of life’s biggest challenges. I can only hope seeing his children become passionate, confident, and successful adults is remuneration enough for everything he has given us.