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Archive for the ‘Inspiration and Motivation’ Category

Boston Bruins Fans Deliver Greatest Rendition of National Anthem Ever

In Inspiration and Motivation, Life, Sports on April 18, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Boston Bruins Fans

The National Anthem is played before every professional sporting event and many amateur events as well.  For the most part, it is a largely ceremonial tradition that goes relatively unnoticed unless it is badly butchered by a celebrity or delivered in a memorable way at events like the Super Bowl, or Jimi Hendrix’s Woodstock performance.  Before last night, no one would have ever imagined that the greatest rendition of the National Anthem would take place at a regular season NHL game.  Boston Bruin fans made sure that the first major sporting event following the terrorist attack on the city will be remembered for many years to come.

Boston is a city that is steeped in tradition, particularly when it comes to sports.  The tradition of having Rene Rancourt perform the National Anthem at Bruins home games dates back to 1976.  With 37 years of experience, you would think that Rancourt would be immune to nerves, but for the first time ever, the powerful opera singer was nervous.

Last night, more than any other performance in Rancourt’s career, the meaning behind the National Anthem was front and center.  Every time that he had practiced singing the National Anthem since the bombing of the Boston Marathon, he burst into tears.  He didn’t think that he could get through the performance without breaking down because his city had just suffered through a terrorist attack.

With tears glistening in his eyes, Rancourt took to the ice and began to sing the National Anthem as he has done so many times before.  “Oh say can you see, by the dawn’s early light, what so…” is as far as he got before 17,565 Bruins fans joined in and sang in unison “proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming.”  The fans would flawlessly finish the entire National Anthem with Rancourt acting as a conductor, singing along for brief moments, but overpowered by Boston fans showing their resolve in the face of tragedy.

Years from now, no one will ever remember that the Bruins lost the game in a shootout to the Buffalo Sabres, but the world will never forget the greatest, most emotional rendition of the National Anthem ever…

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Testing the Resolve of New Year’s Resolutions

In Inspiration and Motivation, Life on January 7, 2013 at 12:59 pm

2013 Resolutions

It’s been nearly a week since the ball dropped on New Year’s Eve ringing in 2013.  Many people made New Year’s resolutions swearing that things would be different, and that they would see them through this year.  It happens every year.  Today begins the first full week of the New Year, where everyone starts getting back to normal, and the resolutions that seemed so important a week ago start to fade as life gets in the way.

By the time that February rolls around, most people will resume life as it was before getting wrapped up in the holiday season.  The chance for the fresh start that comes along each year as the calendar changes from December to January will be nothing more than a fading memory.  It’s the nature of the beast.

Today might as well be the first day of the New Year because things are finally back to normal.  The holiday decorations have been stored away, the kids are back to their regular school schedule and the working world will begin counting the days until the weekend, just like they did before the spirit of the season allowed them to embrace every day of the week.

As usual, I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions this year, at least not in the formal sense.  In my mind, I know that there are things that I want to accomplish in 2013, but I haven’t gone so far as to declare them “resolutions.”  Like most people, I would like to get into better shape and have a more successful year financially, but those are goals that should be pursued regardless of what the calendar says.

Today began with a healthy breakfast, exercise and getting caught up on phone calls that I fell behind on during the holidays.  I’d call that a good start, but it will only make a difference in my life if my good days are strung together to make good weeks, and my good weeks are strung together to make good months, which will ultimately lead to a successful year.  But, as the saying goes…“a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

When I launched Waldo’s Life on January 1, 2010, it was done with a specific goal in mind, inspired by a life-changing event to a friend.  Over the past three years, it has evolved into something entirely different.  I’m proud to say that Waldo’s Life is read in over 100 countries, and that some articles have stood the test of time beyond my wildest expectations with daily views long after they were originally posted.

The one regret that I have with Waldo’s Life is allowing life to get in the way of posting new articles from time to time.  But this year is going to be different!

So, for the first time in a very long time, I am going to make an actual New Year’s resolution and share it with the world so that I am accountable to seeing it through.

In 2013, I plan on posting at least 13 articles each month to Waldo’s Life, and I resolve to not let life get in the way of making it happen.  I decided not to post this on New Year’s Day because I knew that the real test for everyone’s resolutions begins today.

Adrian Peterson’s MVP Season: Best Ever by a Running Back

In Inspiration and Motivation, Sports on December 31, 2012 at 8:59 am

Adrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson entered the final game of the season needing 208 rushing yards to break Eric Dickerson’s record of 2105 rushing yards which was set in 1984.  The odds against any running back rushing for over 200 yards on any given Sunday are not great, but Adrian Peterson is not any running back and defying the odds is something that he has done every game this season.

After suffering a torn ACL in the second-to-last game of the 2011 season, no one expected much from Peterson this season.  Although the recovery time can be shorter, for most athletes, it takes 12 months to fully recover from a torn ACL.  Most running backs will be able to play the following year, but it usually takes two years to get back to their pre-injury playing level.  Peterson is not most running backs, but if he follows the recovery route of other running backs, he should be even better next season, which should send shivers down the spines of defensive coordinators around the league.

Many people want to reward Peterson’s incredible season with the Comeback Player of the Year Award, but he doesn’t deserve it because, miraculously, he only missed one game with his injury.  That award should go to Peyton Manning for coming back from a serious neck injury that sidelined him for the 2011 season, and resulted in his departure from the Indianapolis Colts.

Ironically, Peterson and Manning are also the two names that top the list for the NFL MVP Award.  While many think that Manning is deserving of the award because of his incredible season with the Denver Broncos, Peterson absolutely deserves to be the MVP.

Even though he fell nine yards short of breaking Dickerson’s long-standing rushing record, Peterson’s season was the best ever by an NFL running back.

In 2002, New York Jets head coach, Herman Edwards, famously stated…“you play to win the game!”

Because of Peterson’s unbelievable season, the Minnesota Vikings were in position to beat the rival Green Bay Packers and secure a spot in the playoffs.  They were put in the position to kick the game winning field goal because of Peterson’s 28-yard run that put him within 9 yards of the rushing title.  If the Vikings had no shot at the playoffs, they may very well have called a timeout and given Peterson the ball again to try and get the record.  They may have been content to have the game end in a tie so that they could give Peterson the ball again in overtime to try and break the record.  But that 28-yard run would be the last time that Peterson would touch the ball in the regular season.  When Blair Walsh’s kick squeezed inside the left upright, Peterson’s chance at the record was gone, but his team was in the playoffs.

What makes Peterson’s season the best ever by a running back is the fact that everyone knew that he was getting the ball because the Vikings have a very limited passing attack, and yet, no one was able to contain him.  The fact that he was tearing apart opposing defenses on a knee that was torn apart at the end of the 2011 season only adds to allure of his incredible season.

The record books will show Peterson rushing for 2097 yards in the 2012 season, 9 yards short of breaking Dickerson’s record, but the numbers don’t tell the whole story.  Peterson carried an entire team on his surgically repaired knee to a surprising playoff berth. Without him, the Vikings most certainly would not have made the playoffs, and quite likely would have been picking near the top of the draft in April.  With all due respect to Peyton Manning, who had an incredible season, Adrian Peterson is the clear-cut choice for MVP of the 2012 season.

9/11 – Always Remember and Never Forget: A Nation United

In Inspiration and Motivation, Life, Life Lessons on September 11, 2012 at 9:03 am

When the second tower was hit on 9/11/01, every citizen of the United States was affected. At that moment, our age of innocence was gone, replaced by an everlasting threat of terrorism. And though we have since eliminated Bin Laden and many other terrorist leaders, the fact remains that we are not immune to future attacks.

Having personally experienced 9/11 from a very close vantage point (My 9/11 Experience), my perspective may be different than that of other people. But there is one thing that cannot be disputed…we were never closer as a nation than we were in the days, weeks and months following the 9/11 attacks. During that time period, we weren’t defined by our politics, our religion, our race or any other factor that has contributed to the divisive nation that we are living in now.

We were simply Americans!

Though tragic beyond words, the 9/11 attacks, in my opinion, made us all better Americans. It saddens me that it took a tragedy of epic proportions to strengthen our bond, and saddens me even more that the passage of time has allowed those bonds to be shattered because we cannot agree upon what is best for the country going forward.

Perhaps the divide was always greater than I realized, but it wasn’t as apparent before the 24/7 news cycle became so prevalent, and virtual soapboxes became so easily accessible through the use of social media.

On the anniversary of 9/11, we throw around phrases like “Always Remember” and“Never Forget” as our way of honoring the innocent people who lost their lives on that tragic day 11 years ago. Our appreciation for the heroes of 9/11 comes to the forefront, as does our military pride. We fly the American flag proudly, albeit at half-mast, to show just how patriotic we are. But with less than two months to go until the presidential election, the red and blue colors on the flag are more representative of our differences than our similarities.

Barring any vote-counting controversy, we will know who our President is going to be no later than November 7th. On that day many Americans will celebrate, while many others share in their disappointment. Some Americans will be disenchanted no matter who wins the election, while others who have given up hope will just continue to live their lives the best that they can.

On the anniversary of 9/11, we “always remember” to grieve for the innocent Americans who lost their lives, and for their families as well.

On the anniversary of 9/11, we “never forget” that many other military lives have been lost in the wars that we have fought since that day to defend our freedom.

Imagine what America would be like if we “always remembered” the bonds that were formed in the wake of 9/11.

Imagine what America would be like if we “never forgot” that there are people suffering to this day from 9/11 and its aftermath.

Imagine what America would be like if we “always remembered” that we are all Americans, regardless of who we vote for in this election.

Imagine what America would be like if we “never forgot” that a nation united is much stronger than a nation divided.

On this, the 11th anniversary of 9/11, I reflect on my memories of that day as I have for the past 10 years, while hoping that we can find a way to bind together once again as a nation because it is the right thing to do, and not because we have suffered yet another unspeakable tragedy.

Man in the Arena

In Inspiration and Motivation, Life, Life Lessons, Pursuit of Happiness on April 5, 2011 at 9:14 am

What would the world be like without social media?  It’s been less than a decade since social media wove its way into the fabric of society, and yet it’s hard to remember life before Facebook, Twitter and the like.  Because of social media and the Internet, anyone who has an idea has the power to share it with the masses with little to no monetary investment required.  However, no investment does not mean that there is no cost.

Ironically, the blessing of social media is also a curse.  The tradeoff for being able to deliver your message to the masses with relative ease is that critics and naysayers have an equal opportunity to dismiss or mock your vision instantaneously.  There is no rule that says that they need to take the time to understand your idea before passing judgment, and even if there was, it wouldn’t necessarily stop them from sharing their negative opinions with the world.

As an entrepreneur, I am always interested to read about other like-minded people.

This past week, I was reading an interview with an entrepreneur who is trying to launch an interesting concept using the power of the Internet.  When asked for a favorite quote at the end of the interview, the entrepreneur shared a short speech entitled “Man in the Arena,” which was delivered by Theodore Roosevelt on April 23, 1910…

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

The world has changed drastically in the 101 years since Roosevelt delivered his “Man in the Arena” speech, but his message clearly stands the test of time.  It is just as inspirational to the modern-day entrepreneur as it must have been to the men who entered the arena over a hundred years ago.

“Ever tried.  Ever failed.  No matter. Try again.  Fail again.  Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett

Being the “Man in the Arena” is usually difficult and often times frustrating.  No one likes to fail, but those who choose to enter the arena realize that failure is nothing more than an opportunity to make improvements.

Given the choice between being “a cold and timid soul who knows neither victory nor defeat” or the “Man in the Arena” who fails while daring greatly, I will choose the latter 100% of the time.

“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall.” – Confuscius

It is much easier to wonder what would have happened if I had done things differently than it is to look back with regret for failing to even make an attempt.  It may not always be easy being the “Man in the Arena,” but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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A Healthy Dose of Perspective

In Inspiration and Motivation, Life, Life Lessons, Pursuit of Happiness on January 28, 2011 at 9:46 am

Things have been a bit chaotic lately.  There never seems to be enough hours in the day to get everything done that I intend to when the day begins.  Such is the nature of life for many people these days I suppose.

Sometimes, when it feels like all of the balls being juggled in the air are going to come crashing down under the weight of the pressures of the day, a healthy dose of perspective goes a long way.

Yesterday, I met a man named Vincent who reminded me what is really important in life.

Vincent was wearing a device unlike anything that I have ever seen.  We got to talking and he explained everything that was going on.  It was kind of personal, but not only was he at ease telling me his story, he was actually grateful to be sharing it with me.

A trucker since the age of 18, Vincent has worked hard his whole life to provide for his family.  He is one of the rare truckers who has never smoked so much as one cigarette in his entire life.  Yet, at the age of 47, Vincent had three heart attacks…in one day.

It’s been years since that day that had Vincent knocking on death’s door.  But he is not out of the woods yet.  The device that he wears is an intricate system that pumps all of his blood.  In fact, he doesn’t even have a pulse.

Vincent’s heart is barely functional at this point, so the device does all of the work for him.  If he had been wearing a coat when we met, I would have never known that anything was wrong with him at all.  He looks healthy – much healthier than one would expect of a man who has been waiting for a heart transplant for nearly two years.

Because of his condition, Vincent can no longer work.  He never expected to be forced into retirement in his mid 50’s, but it happened.

As most of us have learned in life, things don’t always go as planned.  Some things are beyond our control.  This is something that Vincent is keenly aware of, but his wife hasn’t dealt with the situation as calmly as he has.  Understandably, she is worried about her husband, and the financial implication of their situation has taken its toll on her.

Despite all of the challenges that Vincent and his wife are facing, he is grateful for what he has.  And when his wife worries about things that are out of their control, he points out to her that there are people in the world who are much worse off than they are.

In light of what has gone on with the economy in recent years, many people are struggling.  Vincent pointed out that there are people living in the area who no longer have a roof over their heads or know where their next meal is coming from.

Vincent is grateful for his loving family.  He is grateful to have what he needs to survive, and spends no time bemoaning his lot in life.  His spirit is something that should be admired.

Of course, Vincent is human and does feel deprived of certain things, but none of them are materialistic.  He misses being able to swim with his grandchildren and the ability to go out fishing on a boat.  But these are sacrifices that he is happy to make if it means that he gets to live and be there with those who are closest to him.

Time flew by during our conversation, and before I knew it, I had spent nearly an hour talking to Vincent and his wife as if they were friends and not strangers who I had just met.

When they found out that I was originally from New York, we got into a conversation about 9/11.

After everything that they shared with me, I felt very comfortable sharing my up-close-and-personal account of the events of that tragic day with them.

As I walked away, I couldn’t help but think about how grateful Vincent is for the things that he has in life.  He cherishes every day, and doesn’t waste time worrying about the things that he can’t control.

Life can be challenging at times, especially in the current economic environment, but as Vincent pointed out, there are a lot of people who have things far worse than he does.  His outlook on life definitely gave me a healthy dose of perspective.

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The Year That Was and a Look Ahead

In Inspiration and Motivation, Pursuit of Happiness on January 1, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Exactly one year ago today, I launched the Waldo2010 blog.  The intention was to share my journey in the pursuit of health, wealth and happiness throughout the year.  For a while, I was posting to the blog with regularity, but as life got in the way, I started posting with much less frequency.  In retrospect, I think that the limited scope of the blog caused me to pause before posting some things because they didn’t fit neatly into the categories that I created.

As 2010 started to wind down, I started to think about what the blog was going to be going forward.  Since I was no longer solely pursuing the 2010 goals, or reporting on my progress, I thought that a change needed to be made.  Besides, having 2010 in the name of the blog kind of makes it feel outdated.

The journey that I started last year continues to this day.  While progress was made in 2010, there is still a lot more that needs to be done in my pursuit of health, wealth and happiness.  However, one thing that I learned in 2010 is that those subjects alone do not provide enough opportunity to maintain a blog with regular postings.

In 2011, I do not want the thoughts that I share on the blog to be limited, so I decided to freshen it up and make it into what I want it to be going forward.  To keep the blog’s archive of posts, I had to retain the address (www.Waldo2010.wordpress.com), but as of today, I have officially changed the name of the blog to Waldo’s Life.  The old address will still work, but you can also get there by simply typing in www.WaldosLife.com.

With a more generalized blog title, I will now have the freedom to post to the blog without worrying that it might not fit into the overall theme.  However, I will not try and crowbar posts into the blog that are of personal interest to me, but are not necessarily about my life.  This is why I have recently launched other more niche-oriented blogs.

Many people who read my blog do so after a link to a specific post appears on my wall on Facebook.  Some of you may have already noticed that I have started posting links from my other blogs that do not bear my name in any way (www.Sports2Day.wordpress.com and www.GenerationXRockMusic.com).

In the near future, I will also be posting links to Facebook from other blogs that I am launching (www.Television2Day.wordpress.com) and (www.TheMusic2Day.wordpress.com). This will allow me to write about topics that I am passionate about, while also reaching an audience of people who are interested in the subject matter, but not necessarily in my personal life.  Of course, it stands to reason that there will be a lot of overlap amongst the various blogs.

In addition to these other blogs, I will also be posting links to articles that I write for the sports website, BleacherReport.com. My personal profile, with links to all of my articles can be found here: (http://bleacherreport.com/users/440432-adam-waldman).

This year, I will not be making resolutions that I am likely to break as we drift further and further away from New Year’s Day.  However, I am going to do everything within my power to write as much as possible for each of the sites.  So, while it is not a resolution in the traditional sense of the word, I do resolve to make 2011 the year that I make meaningful strides towards writing for a living.

I hope that 2011 is a great year for each of you, and that you do whatever you can to make your dreams come true!

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A Year Ago Today…A Little Angel Earned Her Wings

In Family, Giving Back, Inspiration and Motivation, Life Lessons on December 11, 2010 at 3:11 am

The text message simply read…..“She’s gone.”

As my heart sank into my stomach, I stared at the message in disbelief, wanting it to be a mistake, wishing that I could somehow turn back the hands of time and make things right with the world again.  With tears streaming down my face, I dialed the phone to reach out to my good friend, Trish.  It was a call that I knew that I would have to make someday, but I wasn’t ready to make it yet.  And surely, Trish was nowhere near ready to receive it.  Not before her sweet Olivia got the chance to celebrate her 5th birthday.  Not before Olivia’s wish was granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  And not when things seemed to be looking up.

But ready or not, Olivia Grace Armand earned her wings a year ago today (just 10 days before her 5th birthday).

When I made the call, I didn’t expect Trish to answer, but I felt like I had to leave a message, even though nothing could possibly lessen the blow of this tragedy.  To my surprise, Trish answered.  She was in the room getting ready to give “Cookie” one last bath.  As she told me what she was doing, I broke down…crying uncontrollably.  We both did.  No words can accurately capture the pain that we shared in that moment.

I don’t remember everything that was said.  I just remember telling Trish over and over again that I was so sorry.  And I’ll never forget that somewhere in the middle of our conversation, Trish seemed to be the one comforting me.  There are no words to describe the incredible strength of this woman who has been dealt the cruelest hand that one can possibly be dealt…the pain of losing a child.

Trish knew that this day was coming years ago when her daughter, Olivia, and her son, Mikey, were diagnosed with a rare metabolic storage disorder called Mucolipidosis II (or “I Cell”).  Children with this disorder are born without the Lysosomal enzyme which is responsible for breaking down complex carbohydrates in the cells.  Although both Olivia, and her brother, Mikey, were given bone marrow transplants to obtain the missing enzyme, it does not cure the disease…it merely slows down the progression.  Children with “I Cell” rarely survive beyond ten years.

Many people (including me) were in constant contact with Trish when Olivia went into the hospital last November.  We were all elated when the news was good, and saddened and worried when things took a turn for the worse.  We all fell in love with Olivia through the photos, videos and stories that Trish shared on Facebook.

Even though I never got to meet her in person, I feel a very strong connection to this amazing little girl.  My kids feel that same connection to her.  They love watching the videos of Olivia and Mikey.  My son is old enough to understand what is going on…my daughter is not.  At 4 years old, she cannot grasp the gravity of the situation.  She just adores these kids, and cannot get enough of watching their videos or seeing their pictures.  There is an excitement in her voice and on her face that is simply indescribable.

The video that always comes to my mind is the one of Olivia eating pancakes during her final days.  She seemed so happy and full of life, and as adorable and lovable as usual.  I remember smiling while watching it last December, and thinking that things were going to be okay.  After watching it again today, it is still so hard to believe that this little angel earned her wings five days after this video was taken.  It just makes no sense.

Trish has done amazing things since her daughter’s passing.  She has shown strength and courage that many may dream of, but very few achieve.  Less than a month after ^^Olivia^^ earned her wings, Trish established the Olivia Grace Armand Foundation (www.OliviaGraceArmandFoundation.org) to “pay it forward” in her daughter’s name.

Because of their disorder, Trish’s children have spent many days in hospitals.  Aside from the support of her friends and family, the one thing that helps Trish during these trying times is the incredible nurses who dedicate their lives to pediatrics.  They are truly unsung heroes who help to ease the pain for families whose children are hospitalized.  But there aren’t enough of them, and Trish is doing her part to change that.

Today, on the one-year anniversary of ^^Olivia^^ earning her wings, the first pediatric nursing scholarship is being awarded by the Olivia Grace Armand Foundation to a very worthy candidate named Susie Kustad.  Once again, in her darkest hour, Trish will be the one giving support.  Simply amazing!

The presentation of the first scholarship today will surely be a very bittersweet time for Trish.  The fact that she chose to present it today speaks volumes about who she is as a person.  If only there were more people like her in the world.

The greatest gift would be to bring ^^Olivia^^ back into her mother’s loving arms.  Sadly, that is not possible.  But it is possible for others to help Trish in her quest to increase the number of pediatric nurses in this country.

Despite a tough economy, we can all find a way to contribute something…a few dollars or whatever you can afford.  Think about the good that can be done if each person decided to give one less gift this year and put that money towards this incredibly noble cause.  Please visit www.OliviasCookieJar.org to donate whatever you can.

During this holiday season, remember that the greatest gift that you can give cannot be found in a store.  It cannot be gift-wrapped, and it can NEVER be returned.  It is the gift of time, and being there in the moment with your loved ones.

This holiday season, think about the little angel who earned her wings (a year ago today) as a reminder of what is truly important in life!

Olivia’s life was short, but her impact will last a lifetime!

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A Season to Remember

In Family, Inspiration and Motivation, Life Lessons, Pursuit of Happiness on May 23, 2010 at 8:58 pm

As we walked off of the field after our Super Bowl, I looked up into the stands, saw all of the parents giving our team a standing ovation, and it got me a little choked up.  I couldn’t help but think how lucky these kids were to have experienced such an amazing season together.   The only thing that could have made it better was if we had actually won the game and the league championship.

Despite a hard-fought battle, it was a case of too little, too late.  We lost by one touchdown to the defending champions.  The team that most feared.  The team that dominated every team that they have played for the last two years (except for us).  I wrote about how we beat them earlier in the year in a post entitled “David vs. Goliath.” And though we came out on the losing side of this battle, this was anything but an easy victory for our opponents.

After the game, I sought out one of the dads from the other team.  Our sons played together in the fall, and I wanted to congratulate him on his son winning the championship.  He shook my hand and said…“I’m just glad that this isn’t a best of three series.” I imagine that most of the parents on the winning team felt the same way.

Long before the game was played, we planned for our team to have the year-end pool party right afterwards.  Part of me thought that this was a great idea because it would give the kids a chance to extend their celebration if they won.  But another part of me knew that we were in for a battle, and that victory was no sure thing.  I feared that the well-deserved celebration of this season would be tainted if the kids were sitting around bemoaning the loss of the game, rather than enjoying one final moment together as a team.  I’m happy to say that I was 100% wrong!  The team party was just what the kids needed to get past the disappointment of losing the championship game.

We arrived at the party a little bit later than most because we had to stop home to pick up a few things.  By the time that we arrived, the kids were all playing together in the pool and on a gigantic inflatable water slide.  There was a smile on EVERY kid’s face.  It probably shouldn’t surprise me any longer, but I still tend to marvel at the resiliency that kids show in the face of trying times or disappointment.  Clearly, the kids had already put the loss in proper perspective and had moved on to living in the moment and enjoying the party.

For the first time since my son started playing organized sports, I was disappointed to see the season come to an end.  I looked forward to each practice and each game because we were a part of something that reminded me of my little league baseball team that stayed together for four years.  Like my little league team, this football team featured a great group of kids that worked hard to be their best while truly enjoying being around each other.  It was, by far, the best coaching staff that I have been a part of, and the parents were all very supportive and friendly (just like my little league team).

At the party, the parents all sat around socializing while the kids played in and around the pool.  For a while, I sat on the edge of the pool as the boys roughhoused in a spirited game of water basketball.  Before long, I ended up being the only adult in the pool, playing alongside the kids.  They all wanted me on their team…the first time that has happened to me in any sort of basketball game.  I guess it made sense, being that I was the tallest “kid”.  I participated for a while, and then eased back towards the middle of the pool as I watched the game, just trying to soak in the moment of our last time together as a team.

I played along and ducked for cover under a pool toy as some of the kids nailed me with their super soaker water guns.  I happily watched as the kids showed me their flips and dives into the pool.  You could hear the excitement in each of their voices as they yelled… “hey coach, watch me!” Truth be told, I didn’t want the party to end because I was having as much fun as the kids were.

After the kids were presented with their trophies, each of the coaches was presented with a gift from the parents.  In my past coaching experiences, the gifts were usually a gift card to a store or restaurant (which I greatly appreciated).  However, this year’s gift was even better.  It was a photo album featuring highlights from the season, including candid shots of me working with the kids that I didn’t even know existed, largely because I was always living in the moment at the time.

In fact, living in each moment with this team is exactly what made it so special for me.  It never mattered if I was having a good day or a bad day.  Whatever happened during the day left my mind the minute that our practice or game started, and didn’t return until I had returned home.

I can honestly say that almost every kid on the team showed a great deal of improvement by the end of the season.  Since it was my first time coaching any of them, I can’t tell if the progress that they made was similar to what they had made before with previous coaches.  However, this was my son’s fourth season, and I can say (without hesitation) that this was his best one yet.  He worked as hard as any kid on the team, and developed his skills more than I’ve ever seen him do in the past.

Words cannot describe the pride that I have for my son for what he has accomplished this season, especially since he is one of the youngest and smallest kids on the team.  While he may not be the biggest, the strongest or the fastest one on the team, his heart is as big as any kid that I’ve ever seen.  And for the first time since he started playing sports, he developed real friendships that go beyond the field and the game.  What more could any parent ask for?

We may not have won the championship, but I would not trade this season or this team in for anything, and I’m sure that my son feels the exact same way.  Given the choice between just winning a championship or being on a team filled with great kids, parents and coaches and not winning the championship, I’ll take the latter every day of the week.

As I reflect back upon my own little league days, I can only remember a handful of actual game memories.  But I will never forget what it was like to be a part of something special with that team.  It was what I have wanted most for my son ever since he started playing organized sports.  Thankfully, I got to see that dream become a reality for him this season.  It truly was a season to remember!

Fighting Through the Pain

In Family, Inspiration and Motivation, Life Lessons, Pursuit of Happiness on May 7, 2010 at 10:22 pm

It is said that “when the going gets tough…the tough get going.” Whenever I hear that line, I can’t help but be reminded of John Belushi delivering this message with brilliance in one of my all-time favorite movies, “Animal House.”  And though it was meant to induce laughter, in actuality, it was also a life lesson about what a determined mind can accomplish.

When I started on my journey in pursuit of health, wealth and “happyness,” I did so by taking small steps.  After a fairly dormant period of physical activity, I started walking nearly every day to get exercise.  And while it was better than doing nothing, the reality is that it was never very challenging physically.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but in retrospect, I think that the walks were more effective as a way to clear my mind and get lost in thought than they were to help me to get into shape.

Over the past few weeks, I started a very demanding exercise program.  The workouts only last about 20 minutes, but they are much more taxing than walking for two straight hours.  When I am finished with the workout, I am physically spent, and need some time to recover before continuing my day.  I was told by the person who designed the workouts that they will be easier to complete once I am in better shape, and I believe that will be the case.  However, it does not mean that it will always be easier from one workout to the next.

The first few times that I did the workout, I seemed to be making progress.  However, the last workout seemed more difficult, and it felt like I was regressing.  I don’t think that I am actually regressing.  I just had one of those days where it is hard to get going.  During the workout, I was getting down on myself for not doing as well as I had been previously, but I fought through the pain and kept going.  At some point, I must have gotten a boost of adrenaline, because I finished the workout stronger than I began (even though I was already exhausted).

As adults, we tend to make excuses and find ways to avoid fighting through the pain (at least that has been the case for me in the past).  Although I’m sure that it is partially physical, I think that a lot of it has to do with our mindset.  I’ve witnessed first-hand how different it can be with kids.

In recent weeks, as the weather has gotten warmer, my son has been getting stomach cramps during football games and practices.  We finally figured out (through one of the parents who is a nurse) that it was most likely due to the fact that he had dairy products right before football.  Apparently, the dairy starts to curdle in your stomach as it heats up, causing stomach cramps.  My son took himself out for a while when the cramps came on, but quickly returned to action.  Ultimately, he ended up having one of his best games while playing through the pain.

It would be understandable if a 7-year old succumbed to pain while playing sports and chose to stay on the bench.  After all, playing sports at this age is supposed to be about fun.  And it is.  But there is also a sense of team, and no one wants to be the one that lets their team down.  It has been very inspiring to watch him fight through the pain and give his best effort.

Even though I would only be letting myself down if quit during a workout, I realize that it is important to stay the course because it is a slippery slope back to inactivity if I start making excuses instead of fighting through the pain.  As the saying goes…“No pain, no gain…no guts, no glory!”

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