Five Lessons I Learned from my Heroes

February 4, 2014

The life of a freelance writer is similar to fishing. You cast out your line and wait for the fish to bite. In order to catch enough fish to make a living, you have to do a lot of casting. As a work-at-home freelance writer, I’m often casting my line to look for new paid writing opportunities. One such opportunity recently asked me to describe my personal hero in order to get a better picture of my writing style. I knew immediately who I wanted to write about in my essay and my response is below. There is no one I look up to or admire more than these personal heroes.

When most people think about a hero, they envision someone like Mother Teresa, who worked tirelessly as a champion for the poor; Jackie Robinson, who helped break down the color barrier in professional baseball; or US Airways pilot Captain Chesley Sullenberger, who successfully made an emergency landing on the Hudson River in New York City, saving the lives of 155 passengers and crew. While each of these individuals deserves the title of hero, none of them serves as my greatest inspiration.

That position is held by my parents.

Mama Chick and Papa Chick Mama Chick and Papa Chick


If the accomplishments of Mother Teresa, Jackie Robinson, or Captain Sully are the measuring stick by which a hero is assessed, it might be easy to believe that Papa Chick and Mama Chick come up lacking. However, if a person’s worth is measured by the lessons taught, values instilled, and the depth of unconditional love offered, my mom and dad are on a pedestal of their own.

The Value of Independence

Mama Chick taught my sister and I the value of independence. Unlike many women of her era, she pursued a career and lived on her own before getting married and having children. What is commonplace now was not the norm when she was a young woman and her choices required self confidence, personal strength, determination, and perseverance. Through her example, Sister Chick and I learned to be strong, independent women with a well-defined sense of self and a healthy dose of self respect.

Do It Right, or Don’t Do It At All

Papa Chick’s approach to any job is always the same—if you’re going to take the time to do something, you might as well do it right. He employed this philosophy throughout his 50+ years of work at the local steel mill and continues to tackle every project in retirement with the same determination. I often hear my dad’s voice in my head when I’m tempted to cut corners in order to expedite a project.

The Value of Your Word

In our house, a promise given was a promise fulfilled. If you said you were going to do something, you followed through with it or faced the consequences—usually a heavy dose of shame and guilt. I still believe that your word is your worth and you need to stick by it.

Holding Your Tongue

One of my mom’s favorite expressions is about tolerance. “You can hold your tongue for twenty years if you have to,” she said many times in my youth. It took me years, but I finally figured out what she meant—sometimes it’s better to hold your tongue than to rock the boat, i.e. choose your battles wisely. Learning to hold my tongue was a constant battle in childhood and resulted in being grounded many (many) times. Sister Chick did not have this problem as she was not nearly as inclined to talk back to our parents.

The Value of Family

At 5 o’clock, any day of the week, everyone knew where to find us. Like clockwork, our family gathered around the table every evening to eat dinner, share tales about our day, and spend quality time together. Though as a child I often resented the rigid schedule and how it infringed upon my play time with friends, I now cherish the memories created and sense of stability that our dinners created.

We don’t get to choose our parents, but I will forever be grateful that God blessed me with Papa Chick and Mama Chick as mine. I am fortunate, indeed.

Who is your hero?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Lori February 4, 2014 at 6:41 pm

I hope that someday Kate and Harrison will actually appreciate us the way that you appreciate your parents!


Unhip Chick February 10, 2014 at 5:12 pm

I’m sure they will, Lori. I’ve had many years to gain this appreciation for my parents.
Unhip Chick recently posted..Five Lessons I Learned from my Heroes


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