The Best Advice I Ever Received: Mom & Dad

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 1.34.31 AM They started off as teenage friends back in the day. My dad said she read a book on their first date [Her argument: “I didn’t read a book, I flipped through it. And it may have been a magazine.”], but today they’re celebrating 27 years of marriage. I decided to ask them the best advice they ever received to kickoff a new feature on the blog. In honor of their special day, I asked them about love and marriage.

“Whenever I used to visit my grandmother with your dad, she was always quick to tell me to get in that kitchen and make him a plate of food. So one time she cornered me and said, ‘Girl, you better take care of that man [laughter]. If you don’t do it, someone else will.’  That was advice I’ve always remembered. I may not have always applied it [laughter], but she always said you better take care of your man. You have to remember she came from a different generation. Back in her day, that’s how they operated. But with my generation, things were just beginning to change for young women. It became ‘I can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan [laughter].’ Thinking about what my grandmother said, I think I thought, ‘Why does it have to be all about pleasing your man? What about me?’ And I think it just had to do with that era. What it comes down to is that a marriage takes two, it can’t be all about one person. It has to be about the wants and needs and desires of the other person as well. You have to try to make each other happy, instead of the focus being on one person. Because if the other person’s dreams aren’t met, they aren’t fulfilled in the relationship. So what it all comes down to is, make each other happy.” — Mom

“It is something I believed I told you some time ago about what a former boss said to me. He said you won’t always feel love for your wife. You may love her or be in love with her, but you won’t always feel love because there will be times of disagreement resulting in hurt feelings or anger. But it is those times that you must operate not on feelings, but commitment. You must remember that you made a commitment to that woman. That is the best advice I have ever received on marriage.” — Dad

Over the years I’ve been given plenty of advice on love from my parents, but what I learned came from from what I saw, not always what I heard.

Sometimes it’s the seemingly little things, like how they still hold each other’s hand as they ride in the car. Or how they enjoy an intense game of Scrabble together (both with their reading glasses on).

Or sometimes it’s the thoughtful things, like how my mom tolerates watching hours of Survivor because of the fan that my dad is.

Those things aside, what I learned most about love is the importance of selflessness. Living as a 20-something year old, I’m expected to be selfish. The world is my oyster and I am to conquer it solo. Though I am a believer that some journeys in life are meant to be taken alone (specifically those that teach self-love and self-confidence), I also learned that life is so much sweeter when you enjoy it with someone else.

They’re like a system of checks and balances. He’s the risk taker, and she’s the pensive one. When she worries, he calms her. And she calls herself “a sedative for him.”

Nowadays being in love seems to have sadly become a sign of weakness. Why? Because it requires vulnerability.

In the day and age where people even try to “win breakups” it can be hard to be totally giving of yourself. But from knowing my parents well, all my life, I’ve come to see that being selfless is not about losing yourself. When two people are equally pouring out into the other, one will never feel empty.

Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad.

Tara Pook

Bittersweet: A Poem


I have come to learn that there are two types of people–  those who God placed in our lives for a lifetime and those only meant to be around for a season. Hanging on to something that once was will either cause you emotional harm or further diminish what you both had shared. It can be quite bittersweet when you think about it.

So when it’s time to let go, let go. Pray for the courage to walk away and most importantly, acceptance so that you never look back.

Tara Pook

A Short Goodbye to 2014

laughable loves quotes

2014, you weren’t always kind.

Many times I felt like the Karate Kid, going through challenges that I initially rendered pointless.

“They” say everything happens for a reason, but I often wondered what any of the hardships I dealt with had to do with my destiny. That is until I realized it had everything to do with my destiny.

The best part of a year ending is not just looking to a new year. It’s seeing how the joy, laughter, tears and pain all fit together for a triumphant story.

2014, you weren’t always kind, but you were so worth it.

- Tara Pook

Say It With Your Actions

Not what you say circle

One of my favorite Chrisette Michele songs begins with, “Say it with your actions. Saying those words to me doesn’t mean anything.”

And though she is singing about a boyfriend who says but does not show that he loves her, I’ve taken this as one of my favorite sayings/lessons on life.

Say it with your actions.

Why? Because sometimes word isn’t bond.

Fearlessly Imperfect

are they flaws

Hi, my name is Tara and I am a recovering perfectionist. For years I sought to be free from flaws, not necessarily in my eyes, but in the view of others. And those who know from experience can attest that pleasing everyone is an impossible feat.

In my pursuit of perfection and approval, I focused on outward appearances and accomplishments while neglecting my emotional being. If there was a problem, I kept it to myself and gathered up what strength I could find to solve it alone.

Back then I could have used these honest words from my sister Jessie,

“No matter how introverted and independent we are, God made us long for meaningful relationships with each other. That’s why we can’t do everything on our own. We need help from time to time. We’re freakin’ human.”

A support system was readily available to me with loving friends and family and yet “Never let ‘em see you sweat,” had somehow become my mantra.

It took a fall from grace and a seat in a therapist’s chair for me to realize that I was chasing a goal that was never obtainable. And perhaps that’s the biggest problem with perfection. From afar it looks so appeasing, but no stairway can get you there and no stretch of the limbs will bring you close.

When You Can’t Take Your Own Advice

I am often asked for advice by loved ones; whether it’s concerning bickering besties, boy drama, or some minor incident. In most cases I am well-equipped with a quick response or a listening ear. That’s just my personality; I love to help. I suppose that’s why I’m depriving myself of sleep in graduate school to become a counselor.

Though it can be effortless at times to speak hope into the lives of others, I find that it can be difficult to do the same for myself. No self-pep talk will help. No “Happy” song will do. Encouraging yourself proves not to be an easy task.

So what happens whejessie quoten you can’t take the same advice that you give? Is it all hoopla? Some may argue that it’s not practicing what you preach, but I have a different perspective.

One word pops into my head: community. We were never created to go through life alone. We just can’t do it. Great music throughout the ages extol the virtues of two, as well as remind us that one is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.

My sister Jessie said it best:

“No matter how introverted and independent we are, God made us long for meaningful relationships with each other. That’s why we can’t do everything on our own. We need help from time to time. We’re freakin’ human.”

Even the strongest of people need someone to confide in. For years I have prided myself in being the one people turn to when in need of a good venting session or piece of advice. I would often pour out so much of myself to those who are distraught and emotionally drained that I neglected to in turn ask someone to pour into me.