Home Community Voices The Best Conversations of My Life were with My Dad

The Best Conversations of My Life were with My Dad

Lisa Long, Partner and Editor in Chief of Local Pulse with her English Cream Golden Retriever, Gracie. Photo: Jordan Burch.

My father was a marriage and family therapist.


He was a lover of nature and land, old guns, reading, people, his family, and especially Jesus.

He was the best human I have ever met.

He went to sleep one night in October 2009 and did not wake up. He was 66 and was living his best life gardening, taking great pride in the overabundance of sweet banana peppers, helping others manage through life heartaches, and loving my Mom.

I am surprised as I write this sentence, at the amount of tears that have welled up and spilled down both cheeks even though it has been fourteen years since I last saw him.

One of my dad’s favorite books was “The Shack”. There is a sentence in the book in the forward written about the main character.

“When we would go our separate ways, it always seemed like I had just had the best conversation of my life, even if I usually did most of the talking.”

It describes exactly how I felt in the presence of my Dad. I did most of the talking, he did most of the listening!

I called him one day and asked for him to fit me into his counseling schedule that week. I needed advice, and I knew no one better to give it.

That one appointment turned into six years of us meeting every other Tuesday.  In the beginning, our sessions were hyper-focused on a new position I had taken in leadership and how to navigate it.  And a relationship that wasn’t working for me and what to do with him.

It soon turned into lunches, and I would bring my list of things to chat with him about like fixing my fence, and when would he come over and remove the lizard I had trapped in my washing machine?

I always took my notebook because I wanted to capture everything. In my closet are four notebooks full of notes that I took when I would complain, explain, or exclaim about something and ask for his opinion.

To this day, I have people who knew my Dad reach out to share what an impact he had on them – how he saved their marriage, how he helped repair relationships with family, how he helped process trauma, and how he always made sure you left his office knowing that someone cared for you.

Here are the BEST things he taught me:

Life Principles:

+Before you ask a question, be okay with the possibility of both answers – yes and no. When you ask a genuine question, yes and no are both good answers.

+Personal power is …. know what you know ….. and make decisions based on what you know.

+When you find something is working, ask why.

+Let go of the power of bad experiences.

+Core dissatisfaction with self creates a sense of drivenness.

+Feelings are not right or wrong; how you express them can be right or wrong.

+You don’t have to give an answer if they don’t ask you a question.

+Nurturing your own agenda leads to division.

+If you do first things first, then second things fall into place. If you do second things first, you lose both first and second. Figuring out the order of things is vital.

+Decide the big stuff first and the little stuff falls into place. If you want to have all your teeth when you are 80, then you make the decision to floss every day.

+Good boundaries eliminate negative energy in your life.

+Sometimes, good boundaries look rude to others.

+Ask “What do you mean by that?” when someone shocks you by saying something unkind. It buys you some time to recover and sometimes eliminates confusion.

+Validate and clarify.

+It’s better to tell someone what you are going to do instead of telling them what to do.

+When you react, they are in control of your emotions. When you respond, you are in control of your emotions.

+Be in touch with your blessings at the moment.

+Ask yourself, “is this how I want to treat others?” Is this really who I want to be?

+When people act out of character, it is about them, not you.

+When you encounter someone and their actions don’t make sense, remember, not everybody plays by your rules.

+Trustworthy is what you are. Trust is what you give.

+Don’t trust the untrustworthy.

+We cannot assume that our past has a bearing on our future. You cannot let your view of the past dictate your view of the future.

+When there is a lack of information, assume the best.

+Everything you do sends a message.

+We are not affected by what people say. We are affected by our interpretation of what they say.

+Process something before you choose to believe it.

+I am not responsible for what someone else says or does.

+If you put someone in a bunch of different settings and they are the same, then they are real. If they are different, then they are playing roles, and you don’t know who the real person is.

+Power is neutral. It is neither positive nor negative; it’s how you use it.

+Power is the ability to have influence. Unless you know how to manage your power, you use it for self-gratification.

+If you don’t invest, you won’t get a result. If you do invest, you may or may not get a result.

+Remember in transition to ask the questions: what is important to me and why is it important?

+The cure to loneliness is to be friends with yourself. It’s about us being disconnected from ourselves more than others.

+Just because a tool works well for me doesn’t mean it’s essential for others’ recovery.

+When you are accused of something you didn’t do, you can’t prove you didn’t do it. They must prove you did it, so you make it their problem.

+People are not addicted to the substance. They are addicted to the effects of the substance.

+Every time you use the word should, follow it up with “Who says?”

+Don’t respond to inappropriate comments.

+If you are doing something good, don’t complain about it.

+I was asking the wrong question, “What’s wrong?” The better question is “what I am doing that isn’t giving me the results I want?”

+Golf is a good illustration of the difference between power and control. What I control is what I do: stance and swing.

When I do this correctly, I influence power over the ball which operates under the laws of physics. When I try to control the ball then I mess up.

+Developing your shadow side, “the opposite side of your personality” is important. I am learning to do intuitive and introverted things, the opposite of what I am, which makes me a more balanced person.

+The message you send when you hang up on someone is “I know you’re upset but what you’re about to say isn’t important.”

+Observe without interpretation.

+Shame is reduced by new experiences.

+To a large extent, everything we do is an educated guess. You do the best you can with what you have and where you are.

+Everyone has baggage. The question is whether they have worked through their baggage.

+We tend to notice the mountain peaks more than the rolling hills.

+Pay more attention to what people do than what they say.

+You are more likely to get what you want if you don’t get into a power struggle about it.

+If you get feedback from one person, that could be more about them. If you get feedback from 10 people, then it probably has some validity to it that might be helpful to know.

+Power over someone evokes a rebellious spirit. Power with someone evokes a cooperative or submissive spirit.

+Respectful behavior reflects you. I will be respectful regardless of your respectability.


+Before you do something, a good question to ask is “Is what I am about to do revealing who God is?”

+We don’t need to know how the Holy Spirit works; we just need to trust that it does.

+Your journey in life, daughter, is to know Him and reveal Him.

+Seek the Kingdom first.

+I am enough because God said so.

+Learn to trust God when you don’t have any resources; that’s when God works.

+You can never measure God’s work by secular benchmarks because they don’t apply.

+How do I know when it’s the Holy Spirit guiding me:

  1. It’s positive energy.
  2. It points to God.
  3. It does not contradict the love principle in any way.
  4. Something about it is nurturing.

+We need to know the voice of Jesus well. Therefore, we need to study it in the Bible.

+Proverbs 4:23 – In all else guard your heart because it is the wellspring of life.

+Do you want to preach or teach? Preaching is telling somebody what they ought to be doing. Teaching is exploring together.

+Do we really need a corporate belief system, or do we just need to love one another?

+Where do you begin when you don’t know what to do? See where God is at work. Start with what you have, not with what you don’t have.

+The stuff you really need in life can only come from a higher power, God.

+We are the object of God’s love, not the cause of it. The cause is his nature. It is his nature to love.

+Don’t take charge of the Holy Spirit’s work.

+We are born into a world at war.

+Satan’s goal is for us to give up on life.

+Satan’s main goal is to separate me from God in whatever way he can do it.

+Have faith that you are having an impact or an influence on people.

+We have 2 issues with God: (1) He is not fair. (2) He is holding out on me. Neither of these is true.

+When a believing person prays, great things happen. James 5:16.


 +Forgiveness cancels the debt.

+Your relationship with your mother taught you about your femininity. Your relationship with me taught you the value of your femininity.

+When you love a person, you love them even when the characteristics you appreciate in them are not evident.

+Relationships are like cooking, sometimes the ingredients don’t mix well, but separately they still taste great. Eggs are good. Ice cream is good. But I wouldn’t put my eggs on top of the ice cream.

+The goal of any relationship is interdependence. Not independence, not dependence.

+You don’t have to be real with everyone.

+Don’t give someone else permission to determine your value.

+Being in a relationship does not determine your value.

+In a good relationship, I shouldn’t have to ask the questions, “Am I enough” or “am I too much?”

+Don’t ever ask a guy what he feels. Ask him what he thinks.

+Worth, significance and belonging are three core needs; and they can only truly come from God. Your challenge, daughter, is to believe it.

Lastly, I remember in 2005 that I was battling depression and I asked him to help me navigate it.

His response was, “Why don’t you try just moving through it …take your time, look around, learn from it.”

It was such an irritating response; I needed a quick fix, not a lesson. Come on, Dad.

It ended up being one of the best things he taught me.

From my journal that day:

“Be in the moment, daughter. Learn from the experience because your journey on this earth is not about the end destination.

You already know you are going to Heaven. it’s about the every day getting there, it’s about glorifying Jesus, and at times Jesus was sad. it’s about your relationship with Him and loving Him.”

I sure miss you, Dad.



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Lisa Long has cultivated the skill set of combining big-picture thinking + research + insights + storytelling; then integrating it all into the platform of good news. Besides being a Partner with the Local Pulse, she also owns a social media agency. She is passionate about the success of small businesses and the role that they play; and the community impact they have on culture, tourism, and the tax base. She lives in Pensacola, Florida with her husband, the Chief Deputy of Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, and their English Cream Golden Retriever named Gracie. In the past year two years, she has been recognized and won Community Leader of the Year in 2021 from the Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce PACE Awards, EntreCon’s John Myslack Servant Leader of the Year Award in November 2021, and selected as a member of the InWeekly’s Power List 2022, 2023 and 2024. You can find her most days with a cup of coffee, thanking Jesus for her blessings, and being amazed at all the intriguing people she gets to meet. Odds are, she considers you one of them.