Even though the Carolina winters are mild, I don’t like them. Some winter-hating folks like me get SADD (Seasonal Affective Depression Disorder) when the icy winds and frozen slush set in. Not me. I just get mad—mad that it’s not 78 degrees out and I can’t wear my flip flops.

So now that the weather is starting to turn, you’d think that I would not only be happy to march into spring, but that I would be doing it with a spring in my step, right? After all, is there a better invitation for new intentions, a new mindset, and a new start than spring? I do feel the need to refresh and renew, especially after my winter hibernation. In fact, I’ve got a to-do list the length of the Magna Carta, only I’m struggling with the order and discipline needed to get the “to-do’s” done. And whenever I’m struggling with order and discipline, I think of my father. An Army captain in the 1960s, my dad not only appreciated and thrived on the order and discipline he learned in the military, it was his parenting mission to instill those same qualities in his offspring—a goal that, I admit, was somewhat lost on me.

Lucky for me though, my dad was busy running a business and playing golf much of my childhood, so the hours he had for teaching order and discipline were limited. But when he got the urge to impart to me his wisdom on the subject—usually when there was a home improvement project to be completed and he needed a cheap laborer—he would don his official Army captain’s cap, wave around a broomstick as if it were a military baton, and give me my marching orders for the day. Any complaining was met with a broom handle pointed in the direction of my chore and the retort “March on, soldier.”

The younger me met my dad’s directives with quiet (albeit whiny) insolence, though I desperately needed the order and discipline he was trying to impart. Even now, at 50-something, my first reaction to the mental image of my cap-clad, baton waving, order-shouting dad is an involuntary eyeroll. After all, why do something today when I can curl up under a blanket on the couch and put it off until tomorrow? But then I think about how much better I will feel if I can shake off this winter rut, embrace the creativity and renewal that comes with spring, or at the very least, just get off the couch and do something … anything. And it’s then that I realize that perhaps my father wasn’t simply trying to obtain free labor; perhaps he was trying to teach me a lesson about the importance of moving forward, even when I don’t feel like it. And as annoying as a father in an Army cap shouting marching orders can be, instead of an eyeroll, I’m beginning to realize that I owe my dad a thank you. If he were here, I would tell him. And though he was not a fan of public displays of affection, I might even give him a hug. In response, I have no doubt, he would wave his broomstick in a direction indicating somewhere forward and issue the order “March on, soldier.”