Connection. It’s a word that lights up my whole being and guides the way I shape my days. It helps me capture such beautiful stories and teaches me everyday that we all have one, and we are actively telling them with every breath. Sports stories have inspired me for as long as I can remember. More than that, it’s the story behind the story…from Brian’s Song to Seabiscuit, the heroes journey wrapped up in the spirit of competition never fails to pull at my heart strings. From some of the greatest sports stories of all time to the ones that we will only know if we take the time to ask, and then sit back and listen, I connect the dots from person to person and universal truth to personal experience and through that learn so much about my own journey, and how to support other people on their path. Kindness, compassion, non judgment and inclusion…this is how we help people rise, have the courage to tell their own stories, and learn to be comfortable in their own skin.
I have so much gratitude for the magic and energy of a moment in time. I love when I get to see the arc of the story playing out, it happens when I stay present, don’t rush it, and just listen. When I’ve done that, I’ve learned to embrace the power of my own story and, as I connect it with the lives around me, my vision becomes clear. We all have this challenge and ability, and when we embrace it, we discover our greatness that doesn’t look like anyone else’s and learn that life is a collaboration, not a competition. Some would think that competitive sports would work against this mentality, but what if we could teach at the youngest ages how to combine fiery competitive natures with compassion, kindness, and inclusivity? What if iron could still sharpen iron while we support each other through life’s trials and tribulations. Those stories are the reason I came to New Orleans this week through the connections I have made with my blog with like minded people working to support young athletes in sport, but more importantly in life.
Since arriving in New Orleans on Monday for Louisiana Beach Week, I’ve had so many awesome conversations and heard so many stories that connect this amazing beach volleyball community. Culture shapes community and that’s why this one is so incredible. It’s so cool to see beach volleyball alive and well and growing at an exponential pace in places outside of California. I’ve heard stories from Mississippi, Tennessee, New York, and Florida to name a few… and even the Californians are venturing out of their usual sandbox to this place called Coconut Beach with its signature style of a little slower pace, more space, and where eye contact and a smile are a regular thing. To see the love of the game at every level, and people who come out with the intention of including everyone at every level who want to play and have fun together has completed my stress cycle in a way that makes me feel at ease and comfortable in my own skin. What a gift. This is how you grow the game.
Sports transcend culture and give us all something to root for no matter where we come from, what our beliefs may be, and remind us that there is always something to work and cheer for. The conversations and stories I have collected this week have shown me that intelligence and authenticity are not scared of the truth, they are curious about it. Stay tuned…The Optimists Journal is about to become part of a bigger venture, my new website is coming soon and the stories I have collected this week will all become a part of it. The mind, body, and spirit of beach volleyball is at the heart of how I live and breathe, and I want to bring it all to you. Stories of healthy athletes, parents & coaches communicating and growing the game but, most importantly, always striving to become better human beings. This is my vision and I’m seeing lived out this week in New Orleans.
With love & optimism,