Wednesday, March 16, 2011

On Being Cheerleaders

I love my neighborhood.

One of it's finest features, as in all great neighborhoods, is the people.

I have one across-the-street neighbor in particular who I have loved interacting with over the years. Initially it was just watching her as a smallish person, hearing the well-worn basketball as it would beat against the concrete while she practiced dribbling and shooting in her driveway. Ashley was an awesome little kid who was much more comfortable in tennis shoes, knee-length shorts and a Scooby Doo t-shirt than the other girls her age who wore cute bejeweled sandals and pink everything.

As Ashley grew older her basketball practice paid off - she played in some city leagues and eventually made it on to her high school's varsity basketball team. I don't think it's much of an exaggeration to say that she was the star... and we were all proud of our Ashley.

Well, Ashley grew up. She graduated from high school last year and signed on to continue playing basketball for a college in Colorado. Everyone missed Ashley - but we were in luck. Her team was coming here, to Utah, to play against two of the local universities! The excitement in our neighborhood was palpable. Ashley was coming home!

As my oldest kids and I walked into the game, we were thrilled. There, filling the stands for the away team, was Ashley's own personal cheering squad! There were signs! There were custom-made t-shirts!
Girls who had played basketball with her in high school, neighbors, family and friends all yelled and cheered our hearts out for #4. We talked to each other in excited tones over how amazing Ashley was and what a thrill it was to watch her play college ball. Any time she had the ball in her hands, her cheering section went wild. We jumped to our feet when she threw a pass. We pumped our fists and shouted for joy until our throats were sore when she made a shot. Any time she was on the bench we all screamed to put her back in. The crowd had a fever, and the only cure was MORE ASHLEY!!
The local university's team had never seen anything like it. There were more fans for the away team than there were for the home team. Why? Come what may, we were there for Ashley! She could do no wrong and we loved cheering her on through it all. TEAM ASHLEY!

Wouldn't it be awesome if each one of us had such a cheering squad? Can you imagine what it would be like if no matter where you went there was someone there to encourage you, pumping their fists in excitement and letting you know that they believed in you and knew you were capable of anything you wanted to achieve? I wonder what it would feel like to have such incredible support in everything you chose to do.

Hey! Why wonder? Why imagine? Let's do it!

If we could all offer this kind of acceptance, encouragement and unconditional love to our family, friends and even strangers that we encounter, the possibilities of what each of us could achieve are endless.

I'm the head cheerleader for team YOU.


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