The day was June 10, 1999. 21 years ago. My mom was at work and my dad was somewhere in the yard doing yardwork things. I was standing in the center of the living room floor watching the women’s World Cup. While I don’t remember the logistics of Brandi Chastain’s goal or even the score, the image of her yanking off her jersey and throwing her arms in the air are etched into my mind forever. What I did never is also forever engraved in my memory bank:
“I need a soccer ball,” I told my dad. After the celebrations played out on the TV I went outside to give my dad a play-by-play and explained that I needed the ball if I was going to become the next Mia Hamm. She did have that ultra-cool commercial with MJ at the time.
We ended up at Wal-Mart that day. I got a soccer ball and I kicked it endlessly back and forth across the yard.
I, somehow, still have that ball. Needless to say, I did NOT end up playing soccer (contact sports are too conflictual for me). I did end up at Mia’s alma mater so maybe I wasn’t too far off my dreams.
What strikes me as important when I see this ball is what it symbolizes: attention. Encouragement.
We really don’t know what we will become or do. That small moment that my dad paid attention and encouraged my curiosity, did wonders for my development. It did a year later when I got ice skates for my birthday so I could be like Sarah Hughes and when I begged for tap lessons.
It reinforced my hunger for activity and my willingness to try new things, even if I sucked at it.
Not all of us have an immediate support system. In fact, some of us have come from some pretty tough situations–where attention was scarce, encouragement just a dream and wishes went granted. It might even be hard to get your mind around the concept. But something that we can do as individuals–as adults–is something called re-parenting.
It’s a method of establishing new modes of thinking, unpacking unhealthy ideals and replacing them with new ones. So, if you’re watching this, I dare you to give yourself attention. To encourage all the random, quirky things you want to do.
You are under no obligation to continue them. To be good at them. To explain why it’s important to you. Just listen to that inner desire and go for it. Be that doting parent to yourself that makes even the smaller dreams possible, that shares a kind word from across the room. Who thinks you’re the best.
Try it out. Let me know what joy it brings to your life. And remember, GOOD THINGS BELONG TO YOU.