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Don’t quit your day dream

Swimming has certainly been a great way for my child to develop life skills on a variety of levels. From gaining physical stamina, to developing the fortitude to push through grueling training schedules, exhausting meets (both physically and emotionally) and crushing setbacks, my son has certainly learned his share of life lessons. So this week, I would like to spend time musing over some of these lessons and encouraging all of us to speak greatness into our children’s lives. I do realize that greatness can and does mean vastly different things for many of us; so I am not talking about the greatness that makes millions of dollars and earns our kids gold medals -- although, character may, in the end, do just that -- I am talking about ways we can encourage our children each day. Tell them to find something meaningful, on and off the deck. Show them they can make each day a great one.


I was recently reminded that whatever we do, it serves someone or some purpose. Whether we work for an employer or ourselves, whether we spend some time volunteering or being an activist for a cause -- what we do, whether we like it or not, will benefit someone or something. Ultimately, what we can control is who we choose to serve, or what cause we choose to benefit. Making each day great, then, can be as simple as deciding what cause, or friend, or parent, or coach our actions, reactions, words and deeds will serve. To help our kids navigate through those choices, here are a few quotes we can use.


Things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out…..woah! This is like a 2020 life lesson in itself! Some of you may have seen this circulating meme talking about canceling 2020. Maybe you also saw the one where that Mayhem guy from the insurance commercial is named 2020 man of the year. But you may have also read the social media message that says that maybe, just maybe, 2020 is the year many of us needed to make some life-altering realizations. I think that is what this John Wooden quote is saying. Notwithstanding the fact that John Wooden was a basketball player and coach -- and….well, that’s basketball, no biggie….it’s not like it’s something hard like swimming! -- I think this particular life lesson, this make-lemonade-out-of-lemons allusion, this figure-it-out-and-make-it-work mandate, is such a powerful lesson for our children to learn. The thing is, it is really a double lesson. The first stop is to actually talk about the fact that things can and will be tough. LIFE IS TOUGH, people! So yes, the first thing to discuss with our kids is the fact that in order to make the best out of the way things turn out, they have to recognize that some stuff is just gonna be awful, and messy, and sad and plain rough. So first, we need to be sure our kids understand that life isn’t this beautiful bed of roses with charming butterflies floating around over a rainbow as squishy as marshmallows. Then and only then can we encourage our kids to still carry on and keep pushing, with the right attitude.


Be careful with your words -- Once they are said, they can only be forgiven, not forgotten. This one is kind of scary, isn’t it? Show of hands…..how many of us can think of words we wished we had never spoken? Yes, chances are, if you are honest with yourself and your computer screen, you know you have some stuff you wished had never been released out of your mouth. In fact, now that I think of it, I may need to erase the past decade or so…. Anywho, this is certainly a way to encourage our children to make each day great, and not just in the pool. Realizing the power of our word and understanding how they can tear down or lift up someone’s spirit is an invaluable lesson for a child or teenager to learn. In the end, even if the person who hears those hurtful words forgives us for them, the words have been said. They have been heard. They have been processed, internalized, dwelled-on and taken to heart. This is so tough to even write about because I have been guilty of being careless with my words. So. Many. Times. I am grateful for the forgiveness I was shown. For the graciousness that was extended. For the willingness to move on. But I am still haunted by words I have said to some people; I am also still able to remember words I have forgiven but have not forgotten. So in order for our kids to make each day great, and to do so on deck, at practice, and with the team, let us impress upon them the importance of putting a bridle on their mouths so as not to release words they could be mortified to have been heard uttering.


The past is a place of reference, not a place of residence. Swimming can be a great world in which our children can learn this lesson. Goodness knows some of their past swims, their missed races, the way they flinched, got DQ’d, missed a cut can still weigh heavily on them today. It can cause them to doubt their next race. Moreover, the past can also be a place that holds them back from progressing. Maybe they liked it better when they were in a different swim group. Maybe it was the comfort level they were on then, and aren’t quite finding now. Frankly, we aren’t even sure what the future holds, but at this point, it could be vastly different than the past. So while we must remember certain experiences so as to motivate ourselves not to repeat them, we can use the past to remember, reminisce and muse, we just cannot live in it.


Talking about time and how it passes us by, how ‘bout this one? Never allow waiting to become a habit. Live your dreams and take risks. Life is happening now. So the past can’t hold us, the future is uncertain….but we have the here, and we have the now. A great way for our kids to make each day great, especially in the pool, is to remind them that all they have is now. This is a tough one when you are a teenager, or a younger swimmer, and think of yourself as invincible and indestructible. Achieving dreams, especially in a sport like swimming, start with daily discipline and an incredible amount of stamina. Our swimmers do not have the luxury of waiting around and in order to live their dreams, they have to understand that life is NOW. The risks can be calculated. They can be directed. They can be supervised. Frankly I am not sure what they are. For some, it could be just to be a friend, risk chatting with someone else. For others, much younger swimmers, it could be to dive off the block rather than off the side of the pool. Whatever that “risk” is, whatever that chance they are taking each day, let us encourage our children in the knowledge that passing on an opportunity may result in a dream deferment. And that, my friends, is such a waste!


There are so many ways, and so many quotes we could look at -- in fact, I would encourage you to comment on this blog and share your own favorite with all of us. The take-home message here is that after weeks of being home and confined, we now have new opportunities to make each day great. Kids are now back, working hard, trying to get back in shape and trying to erase bad technique. They have opportunities, each day, to be great, do great, say great things and make it a great one. Let’s find ways we can support and encourage them; let’s help them turn the tide and change the narrative of 2020. In early March, when social distancing was a new concept, our own coach wrote a pretty kick-butt social media rant (did I say rant? I meant post -- definitely post) and I think his words are probably the best way to end this blog. We all need to figure stuff out and we all probably did a lot of thinking about it over the past few weeks. I know I did and I am on the verge of making some massive changes. Now isn’t the time to stop. Now is the time to be full steam ahead and be great. Every day. So this week, I will leave you with a little C-Mac wisdom about making each day a great one:


“Somewhere, someone great (could be you) will find a new perspective. A new passion. Perhaps, this is all of our “take a deep breath, look inside and figure it out” moment. (...) Stop making excuses. Start a project and finish it. Take a tutorial. Follow your heart. Learn something. Don’t waste the moment. Maybe we won’t all be welcomed back as a professor at Cambridge, but maybe, individually, collectively and unexpectedly, the world will change for the better.


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