If there’s one thing my father has taught me, it’s to be true to yourself.

Growing up in a blended family wasn’t always easy. Sometimes people judged. People didn’t always understand our family makeup, and they wondered how we made it work. 

With the relationships in my family, it’d be hard to believe we’re all so close we have a Zoom chat every week since the coronavirus pandemic hit and we’ve had a group text message, aptly called The Family Channel, since my niece, Riley, was born more than five years ago. There aren’t always deep subjects discussed, but at least once a day — sometimes annoyingly so — my phone will ting with a new message from someone.

So we aren’t a normal family; we’re a happy one, and that’s what matters. That’s what my dad has always taught me.

As many readers know, I struggled with my career choice because I worried about being a woman in a male-dominated field. But my dad always encouraged me and taught me I could be whomever I wanted to be.

Now, after some strife and struggle, my dad has become one of my very best friends. I don’t make life decisions without consulting him first and I talk with him at least once a day.

Throughout the years, he’s taught me a few life lessons I’ll share with you now.

1. Hockey is the best sport. Don’t let anyone tell you any different, even down South. Hockey is fast-paced; goals are difficult to come by without being so impossible it becomes boring; and hey, there’s quite a bit of physicality there too. It’s the best of all worlds.

2. Don’t let fear run your life. Sometimes it’s important to take a risk, even if you’re scared. Those times that are tough typically have the best payoffs. Fear is everywhere — especially these days — so it’s important not to live your life in fear.

3. Even if you’re a Washington fan, you can’t be a Redskins fan. The Washington Redskins are a horrible football team; they’ve always been a horrible football team and they’ll always be a horrible football team. Don’t waste your time.

4. Life is short. Things can happen in the blink of an eye. We all know this, but my dad knows it better than most. He, like me, has had a friend die in a car accident. Here one minute; gone the next. Life’s too short. Enjoy it while you can and don’t take it too seriously.

5. Life is awesome. Everyone has bad days; there’s no denying that. Everyone goes through hard times, but for the most part, life has a lot to offer. It’s important to remember that, especially during the difficult days.

6. The NBA is boring. Y’all know I love basketball. The first day of basketball season is a thing of beauty and March Madness is one of my favorite sporting events of the year. But the NBA is the opposite of hockey. It’s slow; there’s way too much scoring, and I’m sorry, but has anyone ever heard of defense? Dad always says if the Washington Wizards played in his living room, he wouldn’t watch them.

7. Be honest. Be honest with yourself and be honest with the people around you. Sometimes it’s going to be uncomfortable; sometimes you’re not going to have “Christmas dinner conversations,” as my dad likes to call them. But that’s OK. Honesty is always the best policy, and it makes all the difference in finding true happiness.

My dad doesn’t live in this country, so per usual, I won’t spend Father’s Day with him. But we’ll take what we can get with The Family Channel Zoom call, and I’ll continue to soak up the lessons he’s ready to teach me. 

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor The Outlook.

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.