Monday, March 27, 2017

Off the Balance Beam and Onto the Soccer Field

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[Look at that form!]

In December, Lorelai retired from gymnastics.

This was a heart wrenching decision, one that she anguished over. For a long time she put off making the call, "I just can't walk away," she would say. And I understood. At this level of competition, she was training 16 hours a week. The gym was a second home and her teammates were like family.

But she was struggling as a gymnast. After getting hurt on the beam, she was having a mental block against doing the back hand spring. Instead of progressing she was regressing.  We would have long conversations and I would say something just like this:

"Lorelai, it doesn't make sense to invest this kind of time into something when you are moving backwards. This is your childhood, this time is invaluable to you. If you are truly hitting a wall as you say, then you need to find the courage to move on. This is the time of your life to develop talents, it would be irresponsible to keep going at something where there is no future."

Finally, she found that courage. She said,

"I know that if I don't quit now I will regret it when I am older."

The transition has not been easy. She was used to a rigorous and disciplined schedule. It was how she functioned. Suddenly she felt a bit lost (and that is her exact word). I spoke to her about balance, how with gymnastics she was not living a balanced life. It was all school and gymnastics. I explained that life is meant to be many things: work, exploration, relaxation, recreation. She has a passion for baking and I told her that she should start developing her skills in the kitchen. And her open schedule would also allow her time to train and enjoy her dog. Not to mention the fact that track season was around the corner (her ultimate goal is to do track and field and WSU).

So slowly but surely she learned to function without gymnastics.

"But I need to be on a team," she would say. We would go through all the options; all the potential sports and activities that she might want to try so she felt she was being productive and active. "No, no, no," was always the response we got. "Nothing with a ball," she would say. Then Elsa's basketball coach learned that she had quit gymnastics and suggested she join his friends soccer team. That was met with an absolute NO. But he kept persisting, kept asking...until finally she agreed to try it.

Saturday was her first game.

I was so proud of her.

To join a group of girls that has been playing soccer since they were toddlers - and have been playing together for years as well - that takes courage. To try something new, to become vulnerable, to meet new people, to accept that there will be a learning curve - you must be brave. And so she is. Lorelai is courageous and brave.

For the record, they won their first game of the season, 3-2!

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After the games (they played two), Lorelai went bowling with her friends.

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It was a wonderful day.

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