When I was 6 years old, I became a competitive swimmer. I had been swimming for awhile, at that point, and I was good. In fact, I was so good, even at 6, that I quickly became the team’s #1 breast stroker.
The thing is, I did love the sport. I loved it very much – even the 2 hour practices two times a day. I was good at what I did because I had a true passion for it.
What I didn’t have was a drive for winning. Winning is just what I did. It was the natural outcome of the marriage between passion and skill. I never questioned or glorified what I could do. I just did it, joyfully.
I know it was a bit confusing and annoying for my coach, team and parents that on days when we had meets, I could never be found when I was needed. A heat would approach that I was in, and someone, usually my mother, would have to go off and find me. I could, most often, be found in a field near the various club pools where our competitions were held. I would be chasing grasshoppers or making necklaces out of clover – totally oblivious that I was supposed to be preparing to compete. My mother would dust me off, snap my swim cap on and off we would go – usually arriving just shy of me getting disqualified for not showing up on time.
The horn would sound. I would dive in, and the moment I hit the water, I was “on.” I would win, time and time again, I would win.
When it came to passing out the awards, I would also need to be found. I just didn’t stick around. I came, I conquered, and I moved on to something else that brought me joy.
No matter what my coach, parents or others threatened me with, I didn’t seem to care. In my mind, I was doing what I needed to do. I was swimming and I was happy. Why did I need to sit around between heats with others waiting for the next opportunity for joy? Why not just go out there and find it?
It wasn’t until I was a bit older that I began to question who I was. I began, like most of us who are acculturated to compare ourselves to others, to lose faith and sight of what I knew to be true about myself. I begin to judge my own actions. I began to choke.
The fear trance is that place we are in, like a dream that we believe to be true. It is what we have been told we are or that we are to believe. It is not our authentic knowledge that we listen to, but a culmination of what we see, hear and think others want from us. What it means to be a “good” kid, a “responsible” teenager, an “accomplished” adult. What it means to be worthy. We must begin to remember who we really are.
In my work with others, we journey to the places where we can tap into the authentic self. We witness what this part of us has to say, and we honor its needs. We begin to step back into that place of self trust, self honor, self worth. We go from living an accidental life to living one of intention.
When my daughter was 6, she brought home a Mother’s Day gift she had made for me at school. It was a flower – about 2 feet tall, made of construction paper. The stem was a tube, and inside was a note to me, written by her.
“I love you, Momma. Thank you for being kind. Thank you for listening to me. Thank you for loving me.”
On the flower’s petals, there were words. The children were instructed to pick 6 words out of a long list that best described their mom. On the petals of my flower, in my daughter’s 6 year old writing, were Helpful, Beautiful, Adventurous, Sweet, Caring and Talented.
I believe others are our sacred mirrors. They reflect for us what is within us.
When I was 6, I didn’t question that I was helpful, beautiful, adventurous, sweet, caring and talented. I have spent a lot of my life questioning it since. It’s wonderful to realize that those things I knew when I was 6 years old, ARE me. I thank my daughter for showing me that they have been here all along. She can see them. It’s important to be aware that I do, as well.