Monday, September 12, 2016

Cheerleading at it's finest

So in my last post, I let you in on my approach to blogging - I tend to post when I have to work something out, or I'm feeling particularly sappy.  This one falls into the latter category, and - surprise - it has to do with cheerleading.

So here goes - I'm just back from Ally's cheer practice, and what I witnessed tonight actually made me tear up.  And although I didn't need it, tonight reminded me how much I love cheerleading as a sport, how many lessons they learn, and why I am proud to be part of the Black Widow Cheer Gym family.

Tonight's practice had some challenges.  Some stunt groups had a harder time staying up than others; some girls had to fight hard to get their tumbling passes down.  Don't get me wrong - these girls all still did things that make my jaw drop every time I see them - they are truly incredible and I LOVE watching them do what they do.

What made me tear up tonight was watching the girls in between the stunting and tumbling.  I watched them support their team mates after every stunt or pass - they cheered when it was really good, and they yelled out "you got this" to girls that needed a little more encouragement.  The feeling at the practice tonight was truly one of "we are a team, and we will do great things together".  I watched them stand with their arms around each other, I heard them quietly encourage each other.  As a parent, I watched them do all the things I want them to do as part of a team, and as good people.  It was amazing.

Then I watched the coaches.  I watched the coaches treat them as the athletes they expect them to be.  They pushed the girls when the needed it, and stood back and let them work through things when they needed that.  They shook their heads when it wasn't right (and made them do it again), and yelled praise when the girls hit their skill.  At the end of practice, I watched the girls gather for their end of practice huddle.  While I couldn't hear the whole pep talk, what I did hear made me even more proud to be part of the Black Widow family.  The girls were reminded it was ok to feel stress, to be scared to do something, but that they needed to have a plan to work through that fear and get through the stress.  They were reminded that their goal right now was to show progress at each practice, and to trust the coaches, the team and themselves.  If they can do that, the season will be a successful one.

As a parent, what more could I ask for?  We have found a sport that munchkin loves, and that teaches her the importance of team work, goal setting and determination.  And even better, we have found a place for her to excel at her sport that feels like a family.  The coaches encourage, push, challenge and support their athletes every practice.  They teach them lessons that extend far beyond the gym. It is truly a fantastic thing to witness.

So if you ever see a social media post where I use the hashtag #BWFamily, know that I mean it. And if you follow me on social media, you know that there will be *a few* more posts about cheerleading in coming months.  You have been warned   :-)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Dealing with self-doubt

So first, can I please just start off with a Woo-Hoo!  It's summer break and, while I do not have the luxury of taking the summer off, I officially do not have to make any more lunches.  Girls are on their own to plan and prep for lunch, including when they go to camp.  I could not be happier...well that's not true.  I would be happier if I was lounging by a pool for the summer, but I will take the small win LOL

No on to the reason for the post.  I tend to write when I have things I need to work through, or when I have an a-ha moment, or when I'm feeling super proud and/or sappy.  There is a little bit of all of this in this one...bear with me.

I've written lots about how my munchkin is dedicated, hard working, sets her goals and makes it her mission to achieve them.  I could not be prouder than when I watch her get "that look" - the one she gets when she's about ready to take on the world and smash through whatever target she has set for herself.  I've discovered, though, that there is a flip side.

She comes across as this super confident, ready to take on the world, full of smiles kid - and for the most part she is.  There are moments, however, that I can see this little girl who seems scared; a little girl who is wondering if she is good enough, if she will be able to smash through that target goal.  Those moments - the ones where I know she is battling that little voice we have all lived with that makes us second guess how good we are - those moments are the ones that break my heart.

Here's the thing - right now the doubt that is plaguing her is related to something she loves - cheer - and that is making it worse.  She is working so hard, and is so focussed on being a better tumbler, a more flexible flyer, a stronger base that I think she is wondering if she will ever get to where she wants to be.  Aiming for a perfect tumbling pass, a perfect scorpion, a perfect stunt is a lot to ask of a kid - and it is certainly a lot for her to ask of herself.  And because she has accomplished many of her goals this year (moving to level 3, becoming a flyer) she is worried it will slip away if she doesn't hit that unattainable perfection.  Hard to watch her struggle, but truth is I get it.  It took me a long time to realize that it was ok to doubt yourself, as long as you didn't let it take over.  Here's hoping I can convince her of that.

I wish I had a magic wand and I could silence that voice, or a magic mirror so she could see herself as I see her.  Brave, strong, determined, sassy, caring, talented...but I don't.  I have to stand back and watch her try and work through it, and just be there for hugs and reminders that she is amazing.  Those I can give in abundance.  And, with any luck, that voice she hears will turn into one of "I can do anything.  I believe I can so I will".  Fingers crossed...

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Lessons I Learned from my Daughters

So I've spent years imparting wisdom on my kids - hopefully wisdom that they will carry and that will help them get through life a little smarter than me.  Every once in a while, when I really stop and think about it, I realize they are teaching me every day too.

In the past two week, my girls have each taught me something important - and this morning I took a few minutes to make sure they knew that they did.  I reminded them that even parents can learn from things happening around them - and I vow to remind them more often about I learn from them.  Thought I would share their lessons...

1. From Ally:  Hard work, focus and determination can get you to where you want to be

Often I find that we look around and think others have gotten where they are because they are lucky or because they caught a break.  We forget that, most times, people get places because they have set a goal, focussed on what they want, and put in the work required to get there.  It isn't about being in the right place at the right time - it's about creating the right place and right time by putting in the work.

I watched my girl set her sights on what she wanted, work her tail off to up her skills and she was rewarded with the team placement she wanted at the cheer gym.  Her focus and determination to achieve the goals she set for herself we amazing to watch.  Here is this 11-year old who has figured out that to get to where you want to be, you have to put in the effort.  Reminded me that, as adults, we don't need to have it all figured out...but we do need to know where we want to end up and have our decisions get us closer to that.  Whether it is getting more fit, wanting a promotion, being a better friend - whatever it is, if you put effort towards it you can make it happen.

2.  From Marianna: You should step outside of your comfort zone every once in a while - you may like it!

This year we were trying to find something different for Marianna to do as an extra curricular activity.  We came across an improv class that fit with our schedule and, after some convincing, she decided to give it a shot.  So my introverted, shy girl decided to get up in front of an audience and perform.  She wasn't sure she would be able to do the "thinking on your feet" part of improv, but she decided to give it a shot anyway.  And you know what?  She loved it!! She met a great group of people who supported her and she got really comfortable performing.  So much so, she has decided she wants to more things where she gets to be on a stage (singing, plays and more improv).

During this, her confidence has gone up, she has figured out "who she is" (at least for now) and she has found a passion that she can do outside of school.  All this because she decided to not to stay stuck in her comfort zone - in fact her comfort zone has grown.  It has taught me that in order to grow, we need to put ourselves out there.  We need to try new things and we need to not get bogged down in the fear of failing.  This one is a hard one for me...but if she can do it so can I!

So bottom line - let your kids teach you.  Learn from them, and let them know what you are taking away from the things they are trying.  Shows them life is all about continuous learning - and they get a kick out of realizing parents don't really know everything LOL

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Shout Out to my Friends

I have written a bunch of posts about how great my circle is...I have supportive, funny friends who keep me grounded and remind me of what is really important in life.  Whether I need a shoulder to cry on, someone to laugh with or just someone to listen to me vent, they have me covered.  I've surrounded myself with people who are willing to put up with my craziness and for that I am very grateful.

Lately these friends (and a few new ones) have been encouraging me on my way to getting back my mojo when it comes to working out and getting healthy.  While I truly appreciate it, after 2 days of back to back exercise (legs specifically), I'm wondering if these same friends are grooming me to be the slowest of the pack if there is ever a zombie apocalypse.

I owe a thank you to Sonia who gave me the kick in the butt I needed to get out for a run on Sunday.  And I owe a thank you to Jenn for lending me the 21-day Fix program to try (the first workout I did last night).  What I wasn't counting on was my inability to walk this morning.  I am most certain that if zombies appeared and started chasing me, even my adrenaline would not convince my legs they could run with no pain right now LOL  Not gonna lie...I sort of missed the feeling that comes after knowing you have put your muscles through something strenuous enough that they hurt the next day. Sort of - getting in and out of my chair today is proving challenging!

In all seriousness, thank you to my circle for always being there to encourage me some days, and yell at me to "just do it" on others.  Not sure where I would be without you...and give me a couple of weeks and I won't be the slowest in the pack! 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Cheerleading - Nationals weekend

So if you follow me on social media, you are quite aware that this weekend I was in Niagara Falls for the Nationals Cheerleading competition (quite sure I broke every social media rule with the number of posts per day - not even a little bit sorry!).  I could not let the weekend close without acknowledging how proud I am of my munchkin and her teammates.

Will start out by saying that while this post will have me gushing about Ally and RockNPop, my pride extends to every team from Black Widow Cheer Gym that was there this weekend.  I saw each team overcome obstacles to lay down their best performances to date - and the support that this gym shows their athletes deserves to be recognized.  It was amazing to watch girls and coaches run from one hall to another just to be sure they caught their teammates in action.  Have said it before, and will say it again - I am thrilled to be part of the Black Widow family and look forward to watching the gym continue to support their athletes as they grow.

As for Ally's team, I cannot begin to gush enough.  These girls, who range in age from 8-11, are rock stars.  Imagine having to get up on a huge stage in front of hundreds of people, under glaring lights, and perform heart stopping stunts and tumbling - I am not sure I could stand the pressure.  These girls not only stood up to it...they thrived.  Did I mention they had to do it twice?  Yep...twice.  And they did amazing both times!  They hit every stunt, their tumbling and tosses were on, and they did it all with smiles and sass.

I also have the privilege of accompanying them during warm ups.  It truly gives you a new appreciation for what they go through the minutes leading up to hitting the mat.  This weekend, the girls were nervous on Saturday - you could tell during their warm ups.  Was a tad bit worried - but I can tell you the exact second their nerves calmed and they remembered how amazing they are.  Their coach, Tessa, gave them a pep talk just before they lined up to perform.  As she told them how ready they were, how much she adored them and how much she believed in them, you could visibly see their nerves disappear.  Their shoulders dropped, they stood taller and their smiles returned.  They turned around, grabbed each others hands and walked off with a "we got this" attitude.  Did I mention another reason I adore Black Widow - their coaches know exactly what their athletes need and give it to them.  Tessa knew they just needed a reminder of how prepared they were, and that they needed to do their job but have fun.  After that, they ROCKED their performance.

And Ally made me cry both times.  She focused when she needed to, did her job on the mat, and never stopped smiling - unless of course it was to give a bit of attitude LOL.  I have been humbled as I watch how hard she works - she always wants to go to the gym early and is forever begging me for "just 10 more minutes" after practice is done.  She is determined to meet the goals she has set for herself - and I could not be prouder to watch her tick them off one by one.  And her hard work showed this weekend - she hit all her tumbling and kept her tops up for every stunt.  I also watched her deal with a small disappointment.  One of the girls hurt her ankle earlier in the day.  The coach decided that Ally's group would not do one skill in the second run.  Although she was bummed she would be able to do it, when it came time in the routine she teked it like a pro and smiled through it all.  Love how she handled the last minute change...that's my girl!

I wish I could say they placed where they wanted at the end, but even after 2 superb runs they placed 6th (they had a big deduction on the second run for one skill).  But you know didn't matter.  They walked into the awards ceremony knowing they got a deduction, and still squealed in delight when they found out they placed 6th.  The atmosphere was incredible, and the giggling and squealing was contagious (I pretty much had no voice left by Sunday afternoon).

This was Ally's first trip to Nationals - and I know it is not her last.  I can't wait to see what next year brings, both for her personally as an athlete, and for the gym that we consider a second home.  As for me, I'm looking forward to a small break...before we start back up again for the 2016-17 season.  I say bring it on :-)

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Back to blogging - Hurray for Cheer!!

So Facebook implemented this "See your Memories" feature - and I love it.  I love looking back at old pics and remembering what I was doing at this time in years past.  It also means past blog posts have been showing up in my feed...and it reminded me how much I enjoyed writing.  So I'm going to try my hand at being a more frequent blogger once again - here is hoping my life if interesting enough to spawn a few posts!  So here goes...

Anyone who knows me knows that part of my life has been taken over by cheerleading.  I truly never thought I would be one of those parents to trekked their kids to and from practices frequently, or who travelled on the weekends to competitions or tournaments.  Yet here I am - playing taxi to and from practice at least three times a week (twice for practice and once for munchkin to increase her tumbling skills).

I also signed up to be the team mom this year - means fielding questions, chatting with the coaches and parents, treating the team to little treats before the competitions and corralling the team at competitions (making sure bows are high and in place, glitter is on and uniforms are straight).

It's busy, but I will let you in on a secret - I love every minute of it.  It is so much fun!  The team Ally is on is a great bunch of girls - they support each other, giggle lots and work hard.  And they do it all for the 2 minutes and 30 seconds they spend showing their stuff at each competition.

But I don't just love it because I get to watch the kids push themselves - I love it because twice a week I get to hang out with a bunch of really cool cheer moms who love it as much as I do.  We laugh, we coach from the sidelines, we gasp when any of the girls falls and we cheer when they stick a stunt.  We are the crazies at cheer competitions who scream at the top of our lungs for 2 minutes and 30 seconds, then recoup by the hotel pool (with our red solo cups while the kids swim).  Not sure I would be loving cheer life as much if I didn't have this bunch of crazys to pass the time with. 

So just want to say thanks to all the parents who make sitting there night after night fun - you all know who you are :-)   Is it weird that I'm already hoping next year munchkin is on a team with moms who are just as cool??  In any case, I'm hoping that, like the girls on the team, the friendships will last past the end of the season...pretty sure I need to organize an event for us soon!

As a side note, I have no idea what I would do if Ally ever decided she did not want to cheer anymore.  Good news is I am pretty sure she is in it for life (she is already talking about making the World's team) - wonder if Black Widow would let me be a cheer mom even if I didn't have a cheerleader there? LOL

In case there are any of you who want to venture into the world of cheer, you have to come visit Black Widow Cheer Gym - I promise if you do your child (and you) will be hooked!