Sport is what we make it. Last weekend in Farmington, New Mexico, the Special Olympics athletes who competed in our 2017 State Poly Hockey Championships made sport one of the best experiences anyone could have dreamed of having. The athletes competed with so much effort, determination, and passion that the spirit of their performance set the tone for everything and everyone. It was a State Competition that will be etched in SONM’s memory as one for the books. The athletes played REALLY well.
The past couple weeks I have become acutely aware of some things I do that I’m really not very good at. Being not very good at something should be okay, but it seems to get in the way. Whether we put pressure on ourselves or other people do it for us – I would bet the majority of us think we’re supposed to be good at everything we do.
Special Olympics taught me how not being very good at everything is okay. I remember vividly my first Special Olympics track meet. I stood in the infield watching hundreds of athletes race and made a quick observation that moved me to tears – with every race, the people in the stands cheered the loudest for the athlete who came in last.
I wonder if each one of us decided to encourage and celebrate the people in our every day life who may “come in last” or who aren’t very good at something – what a difference might be made. I wonder how many fewer people would choose to not give up on things so quickly, or how many of those things in life we consider “impossible” would in fact over time end up being “possible.” (Think about it – I could be speaking fluent Spanish right now.)
Might I encourage all of us to see what we don’t do well today as simply good enough for now. It just may lead us into a happier tomorrow.
Two weekends ago Special Olympics New Mexico and Special Olympics athlete Tim Harris embarked on their first Hug-A-Thon together. When Tim heard that SONM lost $155,000 of its state funding this year, he decided to do something to help. Tim has been working at The Range Café in Albuquerque. He spoke with the owner of The Range, Matt DiGregory, and they decided to host a Hug-A-Thon at all four Range locations, as well as The Standard Diner and The Freight House. The goal – give hugs and raise money for Special Olympics New Mexico.
With the help of 35 volunteers and 52 Special Olympics athlete “Tim huggers” – it was quite the weekend. The final tally is still out there, but it’s pretty safe to say that over the three days and almost 10,000 hugs later, the Hug-A-Thon raised over $20,000 and showed us this. A hug can take many forms and can last a second or seconds. Hugs teach us not only how to give, but also how to receive. Hugs connect us, and it was my observation over the three days that connecting turned out to be a very good thing.
One of our many group “hug shots”
(L-R): Mark Wiggins, Randy Mascorella, Ryan Danoff, Craig Amundson, Karen Hudson, Bob Scanlon, Sarah McMahon, Ryan Garcia, Dub Girand, Jack Eichorn, Jeffrey Ramirez, Tom Padilla, Consuelo Bolagh-Cowder, Warren Ellis, Steve Pino, Cathy Tingstrom. Not pictured: Brad Hutchins, Trish Stuart, and Chief Michael Geier
“It’s not for the magic of what happens, but for the hope of what might.”
I first heard those words from a sports announcer, who was actually describing the Rose Bowl, but as what happens often in my mind, I took those words out of context and applied them to something totally different – yet fitting.
In my opinion, those words did a great job of describing the work of the Board members of Special Olympics New Mexico. Let me start by saying, our organization is truly blessed to have the Board we do. They are passionate, smart, successful – and they care deeply about our athletes and families. They do what nonprofit Boards are supposed to do – taking responsibility for governance; broadening our organizational reach; helping us raise more money; making sure the business of Special Olympics New Mexico is in good order.
When they are all at the table together – it is about “the magic of what happens.” But, because of who they are – when they leave the Board room it is far more about “the hope of what might happen” that always moves our organization forward.
Like usual, approaching this Holiday season requires strength, stamina, and endurance, just to get done all of the things that need to get done. If you aren’t feeling pulled in a million different directions, you are indeed one of the very few. All of the preparation isn’t necessarily a bad thing – in fact, decorating, finding gifts to give, sending cards, meeting with friends – these are all part of what makes this time of year fun. However, if you are like me – one of the things that rarely happens but should happen – is carving out a bit of time to be alone. It is with that thought in mind, might I suggest this exercise.
Late one night or very early one morning – go to where the skies are dark and it is quiet. Still your mind from all distractions and find the brightest star in the sky.
“Star of wonder, star of night, star with royal beauty bright. Westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to thy perfect light.”
Long ago, the bright light of one star led three wise men to what they were seeking. Those three men have come and gone, but that bright star still shines. It is when we are alone in the quiet of those moments that the perfect light of that star can lead us to a place of peace, joy, and love – God’s gift to each and every one of us. Merry Christmas, everyone.
With the Thanksgiving Holiday right around the corner, the thought that has stayed with me the past few days is this – we can never be too thankful. Regardless of what situation we may find ourselves in – what the circumstances are – if we are willing to look beyond ourselves, there are always things to be thankful for.
Choosing to give thought to what those are can be a double blessing. To make your own heart a little happier the next few days and at the same time, to make someone else’s heart happier – DO THIS:
Think about someone in your life, past or present, who remains special to you. Could be a family member, a teacher, a neighbor, a friend, a co-worker, a teammate, a coach – someone who has made your life better or touched something in you just by being who they are. When you have identified that person – think about how they have affected you and the qualities about them that you are so grateful they have.
Now comes the most important part. Write and tell them. Sharing your gratitude by writing a card or a letter will not only make you happier – it will make the person receiving it happier, as well.
The end result of gratitude is that it inspires us to share it with others. To pass it along this Thanksgiving Holiday may just mean more than ever.
This is my Mom. For decades she prepared a Sunday afternoon meal for her kids, her grandkids, and her great grandkids. We gathered each week to escape from daily life, eat well, and feel loved. Thanks, Mom. Your family adores you.
The Man in the Arena.
“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, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; 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 fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt April 23, 1910