The value of hard work: a lifelong lesson

Sometimes in the workplace I have found myself wondering what has become of a good, solid work ethic? Workers who do just do enough to get by, complain about everything, call in sick at the drop of a hat, or won’t pick up a pencil off the floor if isn’t part of their job description.

Sometimes I feel like I’m part of a dying breed.

The photo featured at the top of this post is my Dad.  It shows him here doing one of the things that he did best. No, not balancing a heavy ream of paper on his head, but working hard.

I don’t think Dad ever sat any of us kids down and told us about the value of hard work, commitment to a job, or what can be accomplished with a little elbow grease. He didn’t have to. He demonstrated it EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Maybe more so than most kids, we got see him in his work environment. When he drove a truck here in the US, we often accompanied him. As little kids when we lived in Chattanooga, it was a special treat to get to ride along with Dad as he made deliveries overnight.

When we lived in Mexico, we often went with him to the print shop where most days, he was the boss and the worker and we “helped” out. And for four of those years, we lived right next door to his place of work.

Dad never had to tell us that no job is too insignificant or beneath your notice. If it needs doing, do it. He never had to tell us that if we didn’t know how to do something, we should figure it out – find someone who can show you, read the manual, get it done.

He never had to tell us that we should respect everyone – equally. That wasn’t a lesson, he sat us down to tell us. He DID it. Whether it was the pastor of one of our supporting churches or the local drunk who showed up at our gate once a week or so… he treated them equally with respect.

I think I can speak for my siblings when I say that we all learned those lessons without necessarily articulating them, it was just something that we took for granted. I don’t think any of us are afraid to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty when we need to. We find satisfaction in a job well done, not for the praise or the pay, but because there is an inherent value in the work itself.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad! I love you!

This photo made possible …a tribute to my friend and dog trainer!

When you’ve moved as often as I have, you accept that “goodbyes” are a part of life, but that doesn’t make them any easier.

I met my friend Beth about 8 or 9 years ago when I signed up for a dog obedience class.

You see, I had THREE dogs and it was a bit overwhelming. No one ever starts out saying, “I want three dogs”. It’s one of those things that just sort of happens.

Maddy (a beagle mix) found me via my mother. She turned up out at a rural church where my mom worked as a secretary. I went out to have lunch with my mom one day and, knowing there was a stray dog on the premises, did my absolute best not to look down on my way from the car into the church. I was successful!

But as I was opening my car door to leave, I felt something brush against my leg… and I looked down. And that was that. There were these big, soft brown eyes looking up into mine and – long story short, we belonged to each other.

Maddy started off timid and afraid of everything. She was about 1 year old and had clearly been kicked and mistreated by humans and perhaps attacked and chased by other dogs. When walking her on a leash, I had to carry her past dogs barking from their side of the fence.

That didn’t last very long. Once she realized she now had a “pack”, she turned into a bit of a bully. Of the three I now have, she rules the roost.

It was about five years after Maddy came into my life that I sort of acquired the other two: Dottie and Claire.

My sister and I were walking our two dogs one night at the nearby park when we spotted some strange shapes moving around in the parking lot. On closer inspection, we realized that it was five puppies someone had dumped out and left to fend for themselves. It was January, and temperatures were already dropping to freezing and only getting colder.

So, of course, we rounded them all up and took them home. Again, long story short, two of them ended up becoming permanent members of my family!

At the point this narrative begins, Dottie and Claire were now 2 years old, about 60 pounds each and a whole lot for one person to handle! Claire, little Miss Personality, was boisterous and outgoing. Dottie, the runt of the litter, was so crippled by fear she could barely function outside of the safety of the house and yard.

I needed help. And that’s when I discovered that the local technical college had basic dog training on their current schedule.

I signed up! I chose Claire as my guinea pig. She was the most social and laid back of the bunch, so I was hopeful that she would be the one least likely to make me look like a bad dog parent. I was right. She was a model student.

Beth is a great teacher and Claire not only went through basic, but also manners class and a class for therapy dogs. Beth also helped me in my own home, working with Dottie to build confidence and bring her out of her shell.

And throughout this process Beth and I became more than trainer and client, we became friends!

I’m so grateful for her in both these important roles that she has played in my life. Life with my three dogs improved dramatically with her help. She taught me how to train them and she worked with me and with them and I can never thank her enough!

Over the years, her friendship and encouragement have also meant the world to me.

So, when she told me last week that her house had sold and it was official – she was moving. It hit me hard. I hate “goodbyes”, even though I know they’re necessary… I still hate them.

That’s one of the reasons that I can’t agree when I hear people slamming social media for causing people to become more isolated or for keeping people from having real connections with others.

I love that Facebook has enabled me to stay connected or to reconnect with people that I’ve had to say “goodbye” to over the years. I love that I can watch their kids grow up through pictures, or celebrate joyous moments, or laugh at the mundane, or grieve together over losses.

I love that in many ways it takes those “goodbyes” and makes them a little more like “see ya later”. No, it’s not the same as time spent face to face, but it sure beats losing touch altogether!

*The featured photo for this story was made possible only through the hard work and dedication of an excellent dog trainer and an even better friend! (They are actually all three in a down stay long enough for a photo!) We are all going to miss you, Beth! “See ya later!!!”