When teaching music students was my daily job, the Olympic games held a special allure for me. I was fascinated by these exceptional people; not only physically, but psychologically as well. The most successful athletes could falter yet push through in a way that many cannot. I remember studying Kristi Yamaguchi and her ability to block out the other competitors. In figure skating it seems that when one person falls during their routine, others do the same almost as if it’s contagious. Yamaguchi was different. She was focused in a powerful way that gave her an edge.
I would talk about this with my students. Pay attention to the people that set themselves apart; the ones that are able to overcome despite everything going on around them. The skier that fails on the first two runs and then wins gold on the final run. The runner that trips and falls, but then gets up and finishes the race anyway. In other words, you can’t let a single mistake ruin your entire performance.
This is what I wanted my students to understand and replicate. Looking back, I now realize I was teaching them resilience.
My music teaching days are long behind me, yet this lesson of resilience is just as powerful as ever. As a parent of 3 kids who struggle in a variety of ways, this lesson is perhaps even more important now than it was for me then. When my “middleist” (that’s what she calls herself) experiences any kind of big feelings, she vomits.
Birthday parties? Yep.
Intense smells? Uh-huh.
Grandparents leaving after a visit? Check.
Holidays? Every. Single. Time.
While we could spend a lot of time feeling frustrated and disgusted (and we DID spend a lot of time feeling this way in the past), we would miss out on the good things too. I love holidays, celebrations, visiting family, going on vacations…the list goes on. Each of these situations (and more) are likely to trigger my child. We could stay home and (maybe) live a quiet, drama-free life, but we choose to seek adventure instead. We’ve learned to expect the unexpected (or in this case, the status quo) and enjoy the moment despite the mess. We’ve developed resilience in the face of mishap and learned to laugh at whatever comes our way.
You can too. It just takes some practice, creativity, a sense of humor…and perhaps a change of clothes.