“Know that you will most likely never receive an award or recognition for the most important things you do in life. ”
June 25th will mark the start of the World Summer Games for the Special Olympics. Close to 7,500 athletes from 180 countries will gather this year in Athens, Greece to not only display their talents and achievements but to also raise awareness to the needs of the intellectually disabled. The upcoming events left my husband and I pondering over a cup of coffee one morning about the level of dedication any Olympic athlete must have. It’s not just about investing in long hours of practice and training. Involvement also requires devoting time and energy to a goal that becomes a huge part of your life. However, it takes more than just the dedication of these athletes to be successful. It also requires an extraordinary amount of commitment from their parents.
As the Mom of a budding soccer star, I have only had a small taste of what it must be like for the parents of Olympic hopefuls. It’s not easy fitting in extra practices into an already full schedule or spending hours sitting through tournaments cheering for your children. No medals or trophies are offered for giving up an extra couple hours of sleep to get your children to their meets, games or tournaments. There is often little to no acknowledgement for the times you have completely rearranged your schedule because the coach wants to get just one more practice in before the big game. You remain content with the occasional hug and “Thanks Mom/Dad“ from your child. The excitement of seeing them win their first game or the thrill of watching them beam with self-pride is the reward that carries most of us through the endless hours we devote to their success.
Separated and divorced parents are not all that different than those parents of Olympic athletes. A lot of the work you put into your children’s success is often invisible to the rest of the world. There is no one cheering you on because you bit your tongue instead of telling your ex what you really thought. It is doubtful that anyone will ever acknowledge the countless times you resisted the temptation to tell children your side of the story and instead took a higher road. In all likelihood, your children will never know the energy you have put into making their success your top priority. Like the parents of all those Olympic hopefuls, you will probably never see a gold medal for your efforts or get recognized for your dedication and hard work. However, that unacknowledged dedication and willingness to put your children’s needs first, time and time again, truly makes all the difference in their future success.
So thank you to all those parents (biological and bonus) who have committed themselves to the long haul, not the short game. Kudos to those of you who have never heard thank you from the other parent and yet continue to separate your feelings from the needs of your children. While your “behind the scenes” work may go unnoticed, know that the effort you put in every day brings your child closer to being a gold medalist in life.
Next time you are facing a difficult situation, whether it’s a disagreement with the other parent or an issue involving your kids, remember to keep your eyes on the gold.
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“If we all did the things we are capable of,
we would astound ourselves.”
An “attitude of gratitude” has been a value that my husband and I have tried to instill in all of four of our children from the word go. We do our best to lead by example. Not only are we gracious with one another but we also put energy into recognizing people outside of our family who have touched our lives in some way. As a result, the remnants of homemade cards, thank-you notes and gifts of the heart are frequently found scattered throughout our home. Although I like a tidy house, expressions of appreciation are messes I can live with most days.
One evening while I was cleaning up the kitchen after supper, our two youngest daughters were busily discussing what kind of special thank-you cards they were going to make for their Grandma. Early on, Madison, our very precocious six-year old, had gained a reputation in our family for being exceptionally creative and artistic. Often her advanced abilities for drawing and crafting left her 4-year-old sister, Emmalee, feeling artistically inferior. Emmalee would frequently defer to her big sister for advice or help in creating what she deemed an acceptable card.
As I finished up the dishes, I listened to the two of them exchange ideas. Not surprisingly, Emmalee was struggling with what to do and once again was trying to talk Madison into drawing her card.
“Madison, would you draw my card for me?” she asked.
“Oh, Emmalee” replied Madison, “I can’t draw your card for you.”
“Why not?” Emmalee inquired.
“Because,” said Madison, “If I make your card for you then you might miss your chance to make your masterpiece.”
Somewhat puzzled by her sister’s reply, Emmalee asked, “Madison, what’s a masterpiece?”
“A masterpiece, ” Madison explained, “is when you make something you’ve been waiting for in your dreams.”
For a brief moment, a quiet hush lingered as Emmalee took in her sister’s words and I soaked up the magic in that one small moment.
“Will you help me?” Emmalee asked rather timidly.
“Sure,” replied Madison.
And off they went with an assortment of markers, crayons, scissors and construction paper tucked under their arms. I took a deep breath and offered my own prayers of thanks for the wisdom that resided in my daughter’s young untarnished soul.
In the depth of our dreams, I believe we all harbor a masterpiece that is patiently waiting for us to give it life. Listen to it calling, your masterpiece is waiting.
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Recently I came across an amazing new community movement called the “Noticer Project” hosted by Andy Andrews’s. Andy is an inspirational bestselling author who has initiated a worldwide movement encouraging people to “notice the five most influential people in your life.” If you haven’t seen his work you can check it out at thenoticerproject.com.
Touched by Andy’s movement I decide to post an article I wrote in 2007 about a dear friend and colleague who significantly impacted my life. Richard, also a writer, was one of my greatest supporters always encouraging me to follow my dream. As I continue work on my latest book project I can often hear his voice inside my head offering words of wisdom and encouragement.
Written in loving memory of Dr. Richard B. Austin
This past month my dear friend and colleague, Dr. Richard Austin, died from health related complications due to cancer. He was someone whom I greatly respected professionally but I also admired his unbridled passion for life. To me, Richard exemplified what it means to live a full and rich life. He was someone who faced challenge with integrity and seemed to handle problems Continue reading