I am turning 40 in 1 week. I am a successful Fitness Professional that graduated with a few associate degrees, a bachelor degree and a Masters. I saved my friends life by donating my kidney. I am engaged and truly happy with my life. My father was fairly nonexistent in my life, I am not bitter and I love my dad very much.

My parents were divorced when I was 1 year old. I’ve learned very valuable lessons and grown immensely emotionally from not having a father in the home. I found work at an early age, babysitting at the age of 14, cleaning house at the age of 15 and the movie store/tanning salon at the age of 16. I started junior college as a senior in high school and had career dreams that kept me in line. My grandmother raised my brothers and I, i’ll share that story at another time. She encouraged and motivated me to follow my dreams and find happiness. She taught me strength, courage, responsibility and selflessness. My uncles Bob and Tom were there for me in fatherly ways, teaching me that you can be anything to anyone. I was surrounded with so much love, I never felt like I was without.

Something I learned from my father, was to never be content. Don’t just let things be, always strive to be better. Things can change, and do. It’s within ourselves that we decide what we can and won’t do. My father loved me and taught me more than he ever imagined. He passed a few years back from COPD. Lessons I learned from this, smoking will kill you, doctors do know what they are talking about and life is short.

I never settled, in any aspect of my life. Go to school, if you don’t like the job it gets you, look for another, or go back to school. Live in different towns/cities. Explore the world and better yet, yourself. Discover the meaning of your life and live it.

As for me, I keep the few photos and memories of my dad in my heart. Knowing I truly am who I am because of him, in a different way than most.

Don’t be a statistic, persevere, inspire growth and live the best version of you possible. Make your father proud.