When I heard him say it, my first words out loud were, “who is this?”
I was on the phone with my Dad last week and he asked how the fish were biting up North. My husband and I had been eyeball deep in a building project for a few weekends, working full time during the week, so there had been NO fishing.
“Dad, we haven’t had time to go fishing, we’re working on the cabin,” I said.
“Well, you can work later, there should always be time for fishing” He said.
I was dumbfounded.
I was raised by a hard working German descendant, Stearns county dairy farmer. I grew up on a small family farm, everyone worked, everyone pitched in; cattle, milking, chickens, chores, gardening and all that went with supporting a family of seven off of the land. Work came first. Always. There were no exceptions. I clearly remember my Dad saying time and time again, “work comes first, you can play later” in his very stern tone. Working hard was an incredibly high value to my parents. People who didn’t work, or were lazy about their trade, or how they kept their homes/yards were viewed with a certain judgment about their lack of motivation and pride. Never ever did I hear my Dad promote taking it easy, not taking yourself too seriously, it’s “good enough”. In all of my 51 years I don’t think i’ve ever heard my Dad say, “it’s good enough” and actually mean it.
I was raised by a perfectionist. My parents took great pride in everything they did, and honestly believed people were paying attention. I grew up right outside of a very small town, so honestly, people did pay attention.
As I got older, life demanded that I take a look at some of the values and beliefs I was raised with. Constant hard work and my expectations of others were starting to cause some “discomfort” let’s say in some of my relationships, and none more blatant than my relationship with myself. I was always extremely critical of myself, and never did I feel like I was doing well enough, working hard enough, smart enough, etc. Time and time again I would have a moment of inspiration only to talk myself out of it before I started because I had already convinced myself it wouldn’t be good enough. I was adventurous by nature, but “trying” something that I didn’t think I could do, did not tend to happen. I took risks and stepped into options based on what I thought I could accomplish before I started. Chance was not something I was comfortable with.
My work hard roots served me well in many, many areas of my life. And, my intention was never to convince myself to do otherwise, I just realized that life didn’t have to be so hard. I recognized there were no extra credit points for having something be grueling, as opposed to simple and easy. I came to realize struggle was a lot of work that didn’t necessarily yield better results. So, I set about changing my mind. Literally.
One thing that has stayed with me is the “work before play” mentality. Work comes first, still, almost always. I am married to a man who believes the same way, but here is the interesting part. My husband made me aware of how much I had changed over time and focus. He still has a strong internal habitual value for the hard work story, and by listening to him, I became very aware of how mine had changed. I find myself willing to let things be simple, operate or happen with ease. I recognize how much more I can get done with clear intention and clear focus. I am more than willing to allow Spirit to help me, in fact I see my entire life as being executed by a team, and not by myself alone. It may just be a perception, but I find it a comforting one.
Things change. People change. And, it is wonderful.
Somewhere along the pathway of my life, while I was working, running a practice, paying a mortgage, raising a child, searching for the one, my Dad changed. I never noticed.
My leftover hard work story was keeping my Dad in his old story. He had changed but in my mind, he was still the same “work first, play after” man. Except, he isn’t anymore.
Don’t get me wrong, my Dad still values hard work, he values people who work hard and take pride in their craft or trade. That won’t change ever, I’m quite sure of it. But, he also has shifted and grown. His beliefs and values have evolved over time.
It felt like I was meeting him again as the man he has become, instead of the one I had him confined as being in my memory.
I love this. I love that no matter our age or circumstance, no matter where we start or aim to finish, we are constantly evolving. Maybe age comes wisdom, or maybe it’s just wisdom. I love recognizing my own growth, certainly, but I also love to witness the growth of the people around me. I love that without even trying, we are constantly growing, changing, evolving at our own perfect rate and direction.
I am absolutely enamored with how Spirit moves us throughout this life. The magic of it never ceases to amaze me.
I’ll leave you with these two closing things to ponder:
- Recognize what has shifted in you as your life has evolved. What old stories have you chosen to give up in exchange for a version that fit you better?
- Where are you keeping others in their place of old, by only seeing them as you have, and perhaps not as they are now?
Forever the journey,