#volleyball

Empathy, Strength & Forgiveness

One of the most common and yet most rewarding parts of parenting is to take note and celebrate the amazing traits that God gives our children.  Seeing your child have something amazing in her personality that she can offer to the world…a world that often seems to be in need of strength, compassion, love, forgiveness, patience, understanding…the list could go on and on, gives us reason to hope and believe, which I am always in favor of despite the odds and statistics.  I know that human beings have all of these qualities in abundance to offer the world, especially if we can keep clear minds and hearts, but as the years go by and life happens, it can be hard to keep our best qualities shining. 

Last night, as I drove home after taking in Moonlight Yoga under the full blood moon at Terranea Resort (simply amazing!) with Lauren, who turns 18 today, I was thinking about how I could honor the amazing kid that she has been from day one to the adult (legally) that she becomes today with my words.  It’s become a tradition for me to write something to each of the four of them on their birthday's that they can hang on to in the years to come.  

One of my standard lines to someone when their jaw drops that I have four kids (because frankly, by modern day standards, it just sounds like a lot!) is that there are so many of them because I thought raising kids was like raising Lauren.  I’ve often joked that she has raised herself, while helping to raise the other three at the same time, setting the bar high with her example, and the physical work she puts in.  She inspires with her drive and work ethic, and sets an unparalleled model for her younger siblings that they have the fortune to think is normal. While all of these traits have made our family a richer, more blessed place to be because of the kid that she is, last night, I arrived at the three traits, as I listened to her talk about real world issues that weigh on her heart on the way home from yoga, that I admire in her most.

EMPATHY - It’s so much different than sympathy, and yet difficult for a deep soul to absorb without letting your energy to be depleted.  Lauren, you feel so sincerely what other people need, and yet seem to intuitively know how to retreat to protect yourself and not become jaded.  This is such a hard lesson to learn for most empaths, but you have wisely figured out that a long drive with your music or a nap on the beach by yourself can restore you in ways that heal your soul and continue to let you be a light to the people around you.  You feel, you give, and you let go of control of things that are not yours to hold in ways that make such a mark on the people that cross your path. As your mom, I couldn’t be more proud, but hope I have protected you enough from all you take in.  This vision comes naturally to you ,and your soul is ever so much older than 18 today because of that.  

STRENGTH - Because of the empathetic gene that you have and life circumstances, you have been challenged, as we all are at some point, to handle situations that as a parent, I would rather have you not have to wrestle.  One of the greatest challenges of parenting though is to sit back and observe and support, rather than swoop in and try to fix.  I have watched you take in situations in the world where extreme pain and human imperfections are at the forefront, all without losing your optimism and zest for life.  You know how to balance what keeps you strong, taking care of your body, mind and spirit in a way that not only benefits you but the people who are in your life.  You have a knack for seeking out what fulfills you, setting goals based on that and using your strength to make your own dreams come true. Because of this strength, you ask so little of me, and reward me with so much…but know, no matter how strong, everyone needs a soft place to land, I will always be that for you, don’t ever be afraid to ask or think you will disappoint. It’s simply not possible.

FORGIVENESS - Although it’s hard to rank these qualities, and the abundance of other wonderful traits you possess, your ability to forgive others and love with a full heart is amazing. You seem to take life like you would a volleyball game, point by point, never getting down and always believing that you and the people you love will win in the end, even if not in the moment.  You are quick to forgive a slight and yet always wiser in your words and actions for what you have experienced.  I am always amazed at what that kind of life can be attained with that attitude and resilience that you have learned from a young age.  In the words of my new favorite Dierks Bentley song "You Can't Bring Me Down"

“But its true what they say about forgiveness, once you find it man, there ain’t nothing that can hold you back…” this couldn’t be more true in my book and you exemplify this every day. 

LT -  I could write a novel on all the things there are to celebrate about you, maybe someday I will.  For today, know that you are more loved and respected that even you could ever imagine.  I hope you feel it, covering you in every step of your day.  You are and incredible creature and you are  never alone…we are here for you always, you don’t always have to strengthen us, we are here to do the same for you. 

 I love you forever! Love, Mom

 

Wisdom Works Both Ways

One of the first times I experienced the feeling of knowing that being a mom is the best experience anyone can ever have was when the nurse took a crying, freshly bathed and swaddled, not so little 9lb 12oz baby boy and laid him on my chest. Instantly, he stopped crying. I had never experienced anything so magical, soothing and empowering in one moment of life before.  

Luke, you are my calm, kindhearted, hilariously funny, March Madness baby.  Although I love having a boy named after a Gospel, if I’m honest, you were named largely because of Luke Walton and the basketball I loved watching with my swollen belly in 2002. I’m having a hard time comprehending how 16 years went by so fast, as March Madness again plays in the background as I write this. How are you closer to the age I was when I had you than I am today? It was yesterday when you were walking with that little blue cast when you broke your foot (you were 17months old!). Then a few days later you were naming every Thomas and Friends train that was ever invented and building tracks for hours, in between Lauren dressing you up like a princess and you having to learn why boys don’t get their toenails painted too (although, we did paint them a few times anyway). Then i tossed a volleyball at you and you just seemed to get it. No matter where you go from here, you have already given me so much joy with all of these memories that my life is blessed more than i could have ever imagined. 

Your calm and fun loving approach to life has taught me so much because even with that calm, when you do something you love whether it’s laughing with your friends or winning a game (be it Fortnite or volleyball) I can see such a fire burning inside you.  I will always have you in my ear with your question “how is stressing about it going to help mom?” Wise words from my boy that I have absolutely taken to heart.

Then one day you walked out of your bedroom, towering over me and even though that face (and thankfully, again that haircut) is the same...my little tan man was a man-child.

You are going to do great things, and great things are both big and small. Don’t be afraid to dig deep and ask the big questions, it’s what leads you to finding your purpose, the why of your life, and it is what gives us the deepest sense of joy.  When you hit a rough patch along the way, don’t smooth it over, but dive deep to find the calm water below where you can find the real answers and then come to the surface again wiser and stronger for having done the hard work. Remember that how we do the small things is how we do the big things...practice that daily. Don’t do (or overdo) things just because you think they are expected, but also know that nothing gives you more satisfaction in life than working hard and seeing success because of what you have invested. Know that you don’t have to make things ok immediately, pain happens in life for a reason, and ironically it is the greatest chance we have as people to grow into the best version of ourselves. Have confidence always. Confidence is the key to having the courage for your thoughts, words and actions to align and when they do, it’s the key to leadership and deep contentment. I want nothing more than for you to than to leave the places you go a little better than you found them. I am beyond confident that you will do that.  You are so blessed in life, honor those blessings with hard work and honest goodness that is such a natural part of who you are and your life will be a beautiful place.

Happy 16th Birthday Lukey B. I love you more than you will ever know.

 

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.