What My Dad Taught Me About Being A Strong Woman

Confused? Some reflection on childhood memories made me realize that my dad actually taught me some good lessons on how to be a strong woman. And, come on, if you really do know my dad then you know that there is always a lesson to be learned in EVERYTHING.

“Walk it off”

My siblings and I joke a lot about my Dad’s usual advice to walk it off. One time my youngest sister didn’t seek his advice and just assumed she’d get the same counsel as usual. Unfortunately, she was wrong and had actually pulled a muscle.

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For the most part, the words of wisdom ring true. Too often we whine and complain. Contrary to popular belief, women are NOT the weaker sex. We are not men but we are strong in our own right. I’ve watched some coddle and pamper (to the extreme and not the sweet way) their daughters to the point that their girls don’t realize it’s okay to toughen up. My dad could never be accused of babying us (may not sound like a compliment but it is).

“Life is tough. It’s tougher if you’re stupid.”

Okay. He stole this one from John Wayne but it still rings true. Let’s face it. We are ALL gonna be stupid from time to time.

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The important thing is to learn from our mistakes and move on. No matter how entertaining it is for everyone else, you’re only truly stupid if you keep repeating them.

“I don’t care if it’s 6 am on Saturday. There’s work to be done.”

My dad taught me the value of hard work. He also taught me to REALLY appreciate sleeping in on Saturday mornings.

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Every Saturday, he would wake us up, feed us breakfast, and put us to work. If we’re being honest, we live in a world where women still don’t quite get equal pay as men. Sometimes we have to work a little harder to prove ourselves. The best way to do that is to work hard and work well.

“Go ahead and cry. Once those tears are gone, move on.”

I have the tendency to hold on to things – to let them fester. We are all going to be hurt (physically or emotionally).There is a good chance that someone is going to do you wrong. It’s okay to get mad, sad, devastated or whatever. Take the moment you need, yell, swear (a lot if necessary), cry but after that, move on. Do not let someone else’s actions dictate how you live the rest of your life.

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“I love you.”

We need the words. We need to hear them and we need to say them. In a world where hate is prevalent, deceit is around every corner, and there are more jerk-wads than you could shake a stick at, we really need to know who loves us. There is something truly powerful about being loved and knowing it. Love doesn’t make you weak.

Oh…and a bit of advice from me. If someone you love tells you that they love you, please don’t pull a Han Solo.

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(If you don’t understand the reference, we need to reevaluate our friendship.)

“You’re a survivor.”

At a very turbulent time in my life, my dad said those words to me. First, I thought he was off his rocker (more than usual). Then I realized something. I am a survivor because I am smart enough to know when to lean on others. Being strong doesn’t mean you don’t ever ask for help. Being strong means knowing it’s okay to need help to go on. We survive because we know how to best utilize our resources.

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My dad is one of my best resources. He always believes in me, pushes me. He is always there when I need advice. Even though I’m well into adulthood (ask me my age and I’ll ask you your weight…), I still need him. He’s my friend…my burly, sarcastic, lovable, forgetful, buzzcut-wearing friend. I know some of my friends have dads who have passed on. I bet every single one of them could tell you lessons their dads taught them about being a strong woman. Some friends never had a dad in their lives. I bet every single one of them had some sort of a father-figure who taught them about being a strong woman. For those of us who still have our dads around, be sure to let them know how awesome they are.

I love you, Dad. You’re pretty awesome. Each night I thank Heavenly Father he placed me in your care. I wish we lived closer and that our conversations were face-to-face and not over the phone, but I will take what I can get. Wear your Father’s Day present proudly and think of me when you do.

If you’re curious what I bought him, see the picture below. (Yep. I’m a pretty awesome daughter.)

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The Ladmo Bag: Proof That It’s Never Too Late

Did someone say Ladmo Bag?! OMG!!! Pick me! Pick me!

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Don’t know what a Ladmo Bag is? Lemme ‘splain.  Growing up, I lived in Arizona. I lived in the “olden times” (as my kids like to put it) when TV had maybe 10 channels. For my sister and I, there really was only one channel that mattered. Well, really it was just one show that mattered: The Wallace and Ladmo Show. It was a local television show filmed in Phoenix, Arizona. Basically, it was a sketch show for kids with cartoons shown within the time slot. That was great and everything, but the real reason to watch the Wallace and Ladmo show? Waiting to find out who was picked for the pinnacle of childhood – The Ladmo Bag.

The coveted Ladmo Bag was full of candy, soda, and other prizes. Along with it came the prestige of being the glorious, chosen one. You didn’t have to be in the audience to win. You could send in a postcard with your name and address. My sister and I probably sent 100s if not 1000s of postcards wishing for a win. At the end of each show, we would sit. And wait. And sweat. And pray. It was anxiety and anticipation like no other. Will they call my name? Will today FINALLY be my day?

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We knew that if our names were ever chosen, we would wear the mantle of the chosen one with pride and dignity…right after we rubbed it in everyone’s faces. We dreamed of that moment. Day after day. Month after month. Year after year. The Ladmo Bag goes to……it was always some other kid who wasn’t me or my sister. Every. Single. Time. We tried to be strong and not show our disappointment but….COME ON! We were good kids. We sorta cleaned our rooms. The dishes were washed most of the time. When we fought with each other, we hardly ever drew blood. Why not us?

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Alas…for all of the postcards written, postage paid, and episodes watched, we never won. Then the show ended. No more chances to get a Ladmo Bag. We were crushed. How could it be over? How could we have NEVER gotten a Ladmo bag? The quest for the coveted Ladmo Bag was done. How were we supposed to go on living knowing there would never be another chance?!

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As things usually are in childhood, we cried for a few days, got yelled at for our whining, and eventually moved on. Well, we moved on the best we could. I don’t think anyone ever got over wanting a Ladmo Bag. Seriously, I still get this little pain in my chest when I think about it. Makes it hard to breathe. What? Shut up! I’m telling you a Ladmo Bag was a big deal.

Fast forward 25+ years (please do not feel the need to do any math to guesstimate how old I may be). The desire for the Ladmo Bag? Still alive and kicking. My sister reminisced, complained, whined, and whatever-else-enough that my awesome brother-in-law decided she needed a Ladmo Bag for her birthday. (Seriously…how awesome is that?!) He researched the legendary Ladmo Bag and recreated it to a T. He gave it to her. She loved it. It was awesome. I still don’t have one. *HINT, HINT*

Anyway, the whole getting a Ladmo Bag 25+ years later got me thinking all philosophical and stuff. If something as epic as a Ladmo Bag could happen decades later (…again…no need for math here…), what else could still be possible? Successful career? Finally being able to perfect the Roger Rabbit (…it’s dance move people…keep up!…)? Being an astronaut for NASA? On second thought, scratch the NASA one. Four kids totally ruined my stomach. I can’t even go on the Ferris Wheel without the urge to hurl now. Of course, NASA might be more feasible than perfecting the Roger Rabbit. Seriously…I look like a turkey walking backwards when I try to do it (…and that’s on a good day…).

Anyhow, I feel like there comes a point in our lives when we look around, shrug our shoulders, and say, “Oh, well. Too late now.” Why do we do that? Don’t worry it’s not just you. I totally do it to…but I’m working on it. I feel like I’ve woken up, looked around, and realized I can do better than this. There is so much we are capable if we would stop talking ourselves out of it. I mean, I totally could still get a Ladmo Bag, right? Right?! (…please say yes, please say yes…)

So, I want you stop what you’re doing and think about something you really want to do. (…don’t stop right this second…I mean, it’s only polite to at least finish reading my post…) Figure your something out. What’s your Ladmo Bag? I’m working on mine. There are going to be moments when you get discouraged. You’re going to start to question yourself. I don’t want to hear any of this, “Well, it’s too late” or “That ship has sailed”. It’s all about you now. What you want. What you dream. It can happen. It is not too late. Who’s got the power?

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Darn straight…now go get that Ladmo Bag.

What’s in a name?

It seems that an embarrassing nickname is a right of passage. Growing up, I had no shortage of such things. I swear my dad had a new one for me each week. There was “Blondie” (not very imaginative but accurate for a tow-headed little girl), “Bootsie” (there’s a story of some fabulous red velvet boots I will share another time), “Sis” (this was – actually still is – his fallback so he didn’t call one of us by the wrong name), and “Dandelion Max” (this one needs some explaining).

I was an adorable little girl (there’s no room for humility when speaking the truth). Perfect amount of chubbiness. Perfect amount of smiles. Unfortunately, my hair (what I had of it) grew in a wild, downy fluff. My poor, poor mother. She tried slicking it down and pinning bows in it. There were desperate moments of her attempting to polish me into a perfect little girl (this was some total foreshadowing…too bad she didn’t catch on). No amount of water, hairspray, spit, you name it, was able to tame my head of so called hair. I flew wild and my hair was my co-pilot. (See picture for visual confirmation.)

774e…see what I mean about adorable?

My family started feeling a tug of deja vu when looking at my gloriously wild hair. Then it hit them – DANDELIONS! That’s exactly what my hair looked like. The creation of a nickname had begun. I have the fortune (?) of looking just like my father (just what every girl wants – to take after her Mr. Clean look-a-like father….love you, Dad 😊). In fact, they considered me a mini-me of my father. Can you guess what his name is? Yep. MAX. If you didn’t guess his name, you really need to evaluate your awareness skills. Thus an epic nickname was born: Dandelion Max. Fortunately, as I got older, my dad stuck with “Blondie” or “Bootsie” (though I don’t know that Bootsie is much better than Dandelion Max). Unfortunately, even though I grew out of the nickname, my hair did not change. It still is a soft, fluffy, wild, downy head of hair. All I know is the creator of hairspray is a GOD. I think my purchases alone keep my favorite brand a float.

So, why use Dandelion Max as a blog name? I’m finally at the point in my life where I’ve realized that I’m weird…awkward…different. No need to pretty it up and call myself unique. I’m okay with weird. Different is good. In a world where everyone is trying to fit in with each other, I’m just trying to fit in with myself. I have embraced (at least I’m working on it) my awkwardness and my nickname seems to sum all of that up.

I guess the only thing left to add is a disclaimer. There will be posts that bore you to death, shock you speechless, leave you confused, cause you irritation, and hopefully a few that make you smile. Here’s the deal: I’m writing for me but sharing it with you. So, read at your own risk.

Dandelion Max…out

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