Friday, June 21, 2013

Pursue Your Passions and Enjoy the Journey - Lessons Learned from my 5th Grade Daughter

Her freckles slay me.  SO cute!
Our oldest daughter Katie had a pretty incredible couple of weeks as she wrapped up fifth grade.  She'll head to middle school in the fall (pass the Kleenex please), but she's excited about the change and a new challenge.

I've been sorting through pictures from May and June and marveling at how full of life and joy Katie is.  She embodies her name: Pure Joy.  She lives her life with determination, enthusiasm and gusto.  There isn't anything Katie won't try.

Choreograph two different dances and perform them at talent shows?  Why not?

Run the hardest and longest of all the races at the all district 5th grade track meet?  Of course.
finishing the mile
Set a goal to earn a Presidential Award for Academic Excellence and then work hard to obtain it?  You bet.
Daddy took the afternoon off to attend the awards assembly.  What a special treat.

Play softball so intensely that you occasionally get in trouble for being too hard on yourself?  Guilty as charged.
official softball pictures

Last month fifth graders from all five elementary schools in our district converged on the high school track and their PE teachers hosted a track meet.  Each child was required to participate in a minimum of one field and one track event.  The kids look forward to it all year.

Katie chose to run the longest and most difficult races: the mile (four times around the track), the 800 meters (twice around the track), and the 400 meters (once around the track).  Her field event was the long jump.

I positioned myself and my camera at the end of the long jump pit.  I got lucky with the lighting and shadows and ended up getting epic photos of Katie and her friends jumping with all their might.  Katie jumped three times and wore a HUGE smile through the entire process.  Neither of us knew after she finished that she won second place overall, but we all knew Katie loved every second of competing.
look at that huge smile!

the 2nd place jump
with her 2nd place ribbon
When it comes to running, Katie has speed, endurance, and a natural stride.  She looks so graceful gliding around the track.  She ran the mile in 7 minutes and 20 seconds and placed third in her 400 heat.

The 800 was the last individual race of the track meet.  Sprinting for a half-mile is really difficult and not many kids want to run this event, but Katie wanted to try it.  It was also the only event that took place in one overall race instead of several heats.

Katie was completely exhausted before the race.  I gave her a pep talk - "Remember to not go out too fast.  Pace yourself and leave some for a kick at the end.  You can do it!" - and she was off to the start line.
intent and focused at the start
The gun went off and Katie settled at the back of the lead pack.  They were running fast and I was worried the pace would be too much.  She ran the corner and into the straightaway of the first lap and it was obvious she was hurting.  As soon as she saw me she started crying.  "Mom.  I'm too tired.  I can't do this.  Everything hurts."  
Alli chased her around the field offering encouragement
She slowed to a walk and I thought she was going to drop out of the race, and no one would have blamed her.  I wanted to sit down on the track and cry with her.  It was hard to speak around the lump in my throat but I slapped her butt and managed to say, "You can do it.  Just do your best.  I'm so proud of you."
finding another gear
My Katie Girl dug deep into her mental energy store and somehow came up with another gear.  She took off running and I chased her across the field hollering encouragement and trying not to bawl my head off.

One by one Katie slowly picked off the other runners.  When she rounded the last corner she was in second place.  Her face was cloaked in agony, but she ran strong and hard all the way through the finish.

She stumbled into my arms and we both had a good cry.  There is nothing like knowing you couldn't have tried any harder.  It's so satisfying.
after all the races
And then there's softball.  We started running relay races against the other teams at the end of the game as a fun way to build commraderie.  Bella and Katie - our two fastest runners - always anchored the team relay.  No matter what kind of deficit we had leading up to the finish those two combined every time to give us a win.  The Flame Throwers were undefeated in the Softball Relay race.

Coach Heather photographed one of the relays and the pictures tell the story of just how intensely fun Katie is.  From start to finish Katie (at the end of the line) was hooping and hollering, encouraging and giving her all.  I hope you enjoy her expressions as much as we have.

Curt and I have tried to teach our kids that anything worth doing is worth doing well.  Why waste your time if you're not going to give it your all?  Colossians 3:17 says, "Whatever you do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."  

I see Katie living this out in her daily life.  We could care less what place she comes in or what her fastest time is as long as she's giving it all she has for the glory of God.  Katie is pursuing her passions wholeheartedly and clearly enjoying the journey. We could all learn from her.

Thanks Katie Girl for teaching us to embrace our passions and live life with joy.  I am so proud of you!

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