#championsinlife

The Long Ball

As a parent, there are so many choices that I make where my overarching philosophy about how to raise a strong, compassionate, disciplined kid are directly opposed to my kind hearted, I love my kid too much to do this to them, softness.  In my head, I know that discomfort brings growth, that unconditional love can bridge almost any disagreement over time, and that even if my teenager doesn’t like me today, I’m still pretty sure he’s going to love me when he’s 40 but learning to look for the long ball over the instant gratification of making one of my kids happy in the moment, requires check in multiple times a day with what I am trying to train and inspire in each of them. Training is born in the consistency of my message and their actions in response to that message. Inspiration is what I hope I can provide for them by showing them,  by example, what makes life great…finding a purpose, understanding how ego affects us, both for better and for worse and identifying their unique gifts that are meant to carry them to the outer reaches of their potential. 

I know that the results of my parenting choices don’t usually show up immediately, and many of them not until years later.  I’ve been at this for almost 18 years now and although I’ve learned a lot of things and think that I have always had a pretty good gut instinct, the questions like, “Am I pushing too hard?” “Am I doing this for my own ego?” or flat out, “Am I going to make my child feel neglected and unloved?” still loom large in my mind in big and even small decisions.  On top of that, my decision making relationship with my kids has also had to become, at least from moment to moment, one that will stand on its own...no questions, no backup, no good cop/bad cop. That has been an evolution in itself, testing my resolution and ability to stand firm in what I believe.  Every once in awhile though, one of my kids will say something that reminds me that the principles I believe in, and have adhered to in the past in some uncomfortable moments, do pay off.

Today Luke came home from a USA Beach Volleyball tryout and we were chatting about who his team will play in the CIF State Tournament for indoor boys volleyball next week.  He was explaining how one team gets selected from the North, which includes teams from Fresno where we used to live.  He asked me if I knew who was dominant up there, and started listing teams he knew from the area…

"Buchanan, Clovis North, Clovis…I wish we would play Bullard and Roy Verduzco," he said. “Remember when you guys dropped me off at his beach camp? I was younger than Matthew.” (who is 11)

 “Of course! You were 8, and most of the other boys attending drove themselves there! I remember leaving there thinking, what are we doing?”

 Even though Coach told me it was fine, I remember Luke looking at me like, are you seriously leaving me here? He’ll be fine Coach assured me, so off we went, me with a pit in my stomach.  A few hours later we came back and Luke was playing doubles on the one beach court against boys twice his age, pretty much getting his hat handed to him, but digging and serving and surviving! I was in awe. On top of that, these boys gave him candy and carried him off the court when it was over. And he went back again the for the next session. 

"Yeah, that ended up being fun." he said today. 

These conversations that I get out of almost grown children are priceless. As Luke’s volleyball has progressed and become such a developmental staple in his life, where he learns discipline, leadership, how to keep a clear head under pressure, and countless other lessons that will undoubtably enhance his life, this goes down as one of my favorite stories.  It will always remind me to trust my gut even when it feels scary, keep a close eye on what inspires my kids, and challenge them to use that gift to help build their confidence and make them great, not just at their sport or interest, but great at life.  

 

To Raise a Champion

In April of 2016, as my almost 20 year marriage was falling apart, I turned around to grab a ball to serve as I was playing beach volleyball at 2nd St. in Hermosa Beach. Immediately,  I recognized one of the players on the court behind me and said hello, thinking at the time that she looked familiar from one of the kids schools or teams. We hadn’t lived in Hermosa Beach long and I didn’t know that many people.  As I went to serve though, it dawned on me, that’s not a mom from school, that’s Misty May. So, with my new “seize the day, what have I got to lose attitude”,  I went over and introduced myself telling her about how my two oldest kids (one of them being the only boy in attendance) had participated in a clinic she coached when we still lived in Fresno. Being that I’m older than Misty but still feel like the kid who had the Hovland/Dodd and Stoklos/Smith posters covering her walls, I was happy enough with that quick conversation and got back to my game thinking that was a pretty good story to tell the kids later where they would definitely laugh and chastise me for being a dorky "fan girl".

After the next game, I went over to my towel, grabbed some water and checked my phone for messages and as I scrolled through, I saw a text message from Kerri Walsh Jennings. At that point, I almost decided that I hadn’t really woken up that morning and must still be dreaming. What were the odds that I would have and encounter with the both players on the winningest team in beach volleyball history while I was playing “mom volleyball” on a regular Tuesday morning?  As I read Kerri’s text about Abraham Hickes and the Law of Attraction, the goosebumps rose on my arms and the tears came to my eyes as this champion of a human being recognized the bond that I have and the  energy that I put into my kids. If there is anything I have true confidence in, it's that bond. Kerri and I had only met a few times because our kids were taking jiujitsu at the same place but her instantly thoughtful, caring and beyond empathic nature saw me, and took the time to recognize it, at a time in my life that I was working overtime to keep my optimism and zest for life at its usual heights. She, of course, made a massive impression on me with her humble nature and helpful ways.  I was reminded as I read the text of how I watched her one day at jiujitsu run over to help an older man pick up a bunch of mail he had dropped all over the street. I was amazed at the attentive way she managed conversation with complete strangers and wondered how she could manage the energy she was putting out into the world with so many eyes on her all the time. It’s not that one person’s opinion or relationship defines my view of myself, but her intuition and attentiveness blew me away and provided so much inspiration as to what I am attracted to in this amazing, beautiful life. The real thing that has come out of this ongoing dialogue between the two of us that started way back at jiujitsu over 2 years ago and continues today, is the insight it has provided me in how to raise a champion. What I have learned from Kerri has given me so much perspective on how I want to raise my four to be champions in the game of life. The court is just one place to learn; but the world, full of its adversity, trials and tribulations and matched by its amazing beauty and potential is where the real game is won. True champions aren’t defined by their medals and results but rather by their character, work ethic, and ability to positively impact others every day. Champions leave other people's days a little better for having showed up…and that is exactly what this champion has so selflessly done for me.