"Everything will be okay" is a message for young women in a new book from Bush White House press secretary and Fox News commentator Dana Perino. She says it's a lesson she learned long ago from one very fine teacher:
When I trace back the roots of what got me to where I am today, I keep returning to my grandfather, Leo E. Perino of Newcastle, Wyoming.
Grandpa Perino was a World War II Marine veteran, a rancher, devoted husband, father and grandfather. He had strong hands, a gentle soul, and deep blue eyes.
I was his first-born grandchild. He taught me to ride my pony, Sally, and gave me my first pair of red cowboy boots.
I loved helping him get ready for his county commissioner meetings – dressy Wranglers and a bolo tie. He taught me the importance of civic duty and gave me my first piece of networking advice: "Accept the drink they offer, then pour it in the first plant you see."
My grandfather adored my grandmother, Vicki. They became my early model for a successful marriage. Their love was a simple but sweet routine: be present and supportive, take a drive around the ranch just to be together, and top off the bird feeder every night.
My grandfather's way of life - working the land, helping other ranchers, and modeling integrity and intelligence - was like a tale out of a Western storybook.
Grandpa Perino died suddenly of a heart attack while moving cattle the day after Thanksgiving in 2001. I wish he'd lived long enough to see me work in the White House, but I know in my heart that he was smiling down at me as I stepped to the podium as George W. Bush's press secretary.
As I mentor young women in their careers and life choices, I return to my grandfather's wisdom:
Look at the big picture, stay true to your roots, and remember the joys of life.
Begin each day with an open heart and a clear mind.
Respect your commitments, speak gently, and treat others with love.
I know he would have wanted me to go easy on my self-judgment, too. Women of all ages can be very hard on themselves. Sometimes we can forget that to be loved is the greatest gift and the best foundation we can ask for in life.
Today, one year into a pandemic that's impacted our lives in countless ways large and small, we're still navigating uncharted waters. Many of us feel isolated, divided and lost. What has gotten me through the tough times is a steady hand, a little grit, good decision-making, and humility. If we take care of ourselves and do our best, we'll come out of these days stronger.
It's something that came naturally to my grandfather, and with it, an abiding sense that everything will be okay.
For more info:
- "Everything Will Be Okay: Life Lessons for Young Women (From a Former Young Woman)" by Dana Perino (Twelve), in Hardcover, eBook and Audio formats, available March 9 via Amazon and Indiebound
Story produced by Aria Shavelson. Editor: Emanuele Secci.