Editor Manson asked “Dear Dawn” if anyone has ever given here, and her answer was a resounding “YES!” Here are five of her favorites.
- In 2015 I suffered the loss of a beloved pet. It was a tragic accident that left me sobbing nightly in my armchair for weeks. One night I called my sister during a particularly heartbreaking episode and told her, “I’ll never be able to have a little dog again.” I had two very large dogs that I didn’t think would accept a newcomer. They seemed so much more relaxed now that my tiny dog was gone. It would just be too hard. She listened, and then said, “Since when have you ever taken the easy way out? You never have. Why start now?” The next day I selected two Chihuahuas from PAWS and brought them home. Has it been easy? Not always. Has it been worth it? Absolutely! My sister’s reminder that I’m not an “easy way out” kind of person was great advice. I can’t imagine life without them.
- Back in the ‘80s, I was working with a group of engineers on a big software project. My office mate was about 10 years older than me, and in her free time was a rock climber. She always had a lot of stories to tell about her experiences, which I enjoyed but couldn’t always remember the details of. If she told me she had climbed with “Jim,” for example, I’d have to ask, “Who were you with again?” One day I apologized after asking a series of repeated questions, saying I had a really bad memory. She looked at me for a second and then said, “You don’t have a bad memory. You’re a bad listener.” I thought about that and immediately changed my ways. I learned how to actively listen, focus on the conversation, and ask relevant questions at appropriate times. To this day I thank her for that life-changing advice.
- 3. My father was an amazing handyman. He could build or fix anything. And in his lifetime, he taught me a ton about the “do it yourself” arena. No matter what he was teaching me, though, he always had this to say: “If you’re going to do it, do it right.” We lost him in 2017, but whenever I’m hanging a coat rack, painting a room or building a piece of furniture, I can feel him looking over my shoulder reminding me to do it right. And so I do. If I screw up I take it down, patch up my mistake, and try again. Yes, it may take a few tries, but I’ll eventually get it right. Thank you, Daddy!
- And speaking of parents, let’s not forget my mom. She was born in 1935. When she was in high school, she and a group of girls joined forces and wore jeans to high school one day. Why? Because girls weren’t allowed to wear jeans. They knew they’d all be sent home, but they took a stand anyway. When she was a young adult, she asked her employer for a day off when her fiancée (my dad) was home on leave from the military for the weekend. The employer said no, she didn’t have any kids and didn’t have anything “important” to do. Mom called in sick, and when she returned and they asked her what was wrong with her, she told them she had something “important” to do. She knew she’d be fired, and she was, but she took a stand. There’s more, a lot more, but here’s what I know because of my mother—stand up for yourself and don’t be afraid of the consequences. You’ll look back at your life with pride in doing so.
- And finally, this piece of advice was not given to me personally, but it’s been around a long time. C.S. Lewis said, “Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.” And that is a great piece of advice. Having integrity 100 percent of the time may not always be possible, but it’s certainly something to aim for.
Dawn Bright is an eternal optimist. And that’s pretty much all you need to know about her. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.