1. If you're going to do something wrong, don't get caught.
2. Make things with your hands. Like cement garden faces, and entertainment stands, and your own wine, and short stories, and cinnamon rolls, and little drawings at the end of letters to your family.
3. Try to stay away from gossips and bullies. If you can't stay away from them, don't get involved in their crap.
4. Nobody likes a whiner.
5. Go outside. If the sun is shining, your ass should not be on the couch.
6. There's always an idiot at the party. If you don't know who the idiot was, it was probably you.
7. Ask yourself (and others) the uncomfortable questions. Like do you think the world will end in 2012? And do you believe in aliens? And why do you think we should let you go out with our daughter? And who's the one person you've always been too afraid to apologize too?
8. Always be aware of what's going on around you.
9. Take care of your colon. You feel a whole lot better when you're not full of shit.
10. Sometimes things are scary at first, but if you just try it you'll see you might like it. Like tipping hay bales while you're standing on them, or studying abroad, or eating grilled deer meat.
11. Games make everything more fun. Like the see-who-can-blow-out-the-candle-on-the-table-first-from-their-seat game while waiting for your food to arrive. And the even-though-its-your-seventeenth-birthday-party-we-are-having-an-obstacle-course game. And the try-to-stand-up-in-church-when-I'm-holding-your-leg-in-place-at-the-last-minute game.
12. If someone lets you borrow something, return it in better shape than when you got it.
13. Be open to learn about new things. Like the stock market, and alternative medicine, and self-publishing, and meditation, and moving to Ecuador when you retire, and one-man helicopters, and new cellphone technology.
14. Buy shoes because of how they feel, not because of how they look. And everyone should own a good pair of boots.
15. People can't read your mind; if you want something, you have to ask for it. And if you want them to know how you feel, you have to say it.
When I was working on writing this, I kept thinking about all the times you've had me jump. Like when I was a little girl, say 4 or 5, and you and I used to do our barn trick; the one where I'd go into the hay loft and you'd stand on the ground and when you gave me the 'ok, I'd jump out of the barn and you'd catch me; swinging me to the side of your body. Well the story goes that once when you were getting Gram to watch us, I jumped out before you turned back to look at me. By the grace of God or luck or some kind of weird x-men powers I have, I landed on my feet with my knees spread so that I didn't bite my own tongue off. Lesson learned, don't jump until Dad says its okay.
And then when I was thirteen, and you and I went back to the dam and you told me I had to jump off the rock (thirty feet above the water) like it was some kind of rite of passage you made up for our family. It took a whole lot of coaxing and a whole lot of treading water on your part, but after a solid forty-five minutes, I did it. I walked all the way back home with black & blue leg (from jumping in crooked) but with a proud smile on my face. Lesson learned, just close your eyes and jump if Dad says its okay.
We've had a trampoline since I was in middle school, you've jumped out of an airplane (on more than one occasion), I learned to swim because I "jumped" into the pool (and by jump, I mean you threw me in).
So, Dad, you taught me just about every valuable lesson a girl can learn...but I want you to know I got the big one.
When I think maybe life is too hard or scary or big - I will always hear you saying its okay, Dad. Lesson learned, I shouldn't be afraid to jump into every little bit of my life.
love you more than fish love the sea,
Next thank YOU! Thursday: Someone that loves you just as you are.