Monday, May 14, 2012

The Power of Empty Praise

This weekend I was digging through our storage unit looking for long-lost baby toys, and I found a bin of stuff from my own childhood that my mom packed up from her attic and made me take to my attic. I'm not a sentimental person at all, so I'm pretty shocked that I still have this stuff. But, I opened the lid to peek inside and what was lying on top? A trophy from a race I did when I was a kid.

I didn't look like that during the race.
Now, I grew up before the "everyone gets a trophy," mentality of kids' sports kicked in, but I can't say I really earned this one. I remember this day. A friend and I were dead last, as in the policeman that brought up the rear of the race asked us to please get inside his patrol car so he could drive more than 2 miles an hour (we did not). It was a one-mile fun run at my church and I think I finished in about an hour. Since I technically stepped over the finish line before my friend, I "won" my division: 10-12 year old girls.

Now running is one of my passions (that sounds so lame to say but it's true). I smiled when I saw the trophy because even at the time I knew I had not exactly challenged myself that day, but I remembered feeling that the trophy seemed to imply that I could in the future. I felt more athletic just holding it. I had a trophy. For a sport. If you knew me as a kid you would understand the emphasis of that statement. 

Anyway, the trophy symbolized potential to me. The next year, I figured, maybe I would try to beat my time. After all, there might be more than two 10-12 year old girls in the race by then. 

I thought about bringing the trophy home and displaying it somewhere meaningful, but I didn't. I put it back in the bin and closed it up. But, it was a reminder to me that sometimes all we need is a little positive reinforcement to spur a whole revolution of change. I didn't earn that trophy, but it made me feel like I could earn one someday. And now, twenty years later, I have a whole dresser drawer crammed with old race bibs and finisher medals.

Maybe I am more sentimental than I think.

Get out there and get healthy today, and earn it!


'Drea said...

I love it when the parents make you take your stuff back. :)

How many medals do you have now?

Debra said...

What a great moment to remember and even after all these years, a great measuring stick. "Look how far you've come..." :)

Healthy Heather said...

Thanks guys! 'Drea, I think I have at least a half dozen. Four half marathons, one triathlon, and miscellaneous other races! I used to have them on a bulletin board in our office, but since that is now the baby's room, they've been moved. I need to take them back out!