I saw my nearly 18 year-old nephew, TJ in a cheer competition for the first time this weekend.
His team took home first place, but honestly, it was difficult for me to focus on the precision of the team’s routine, because I was so locked in on his joy.
I’ve loved TJ since he was five. Since the first day his Uncle Kenny brought me to his sister’s house to meet his immediate family, and TJ made his way up on the couch, snuggled in and with full confidence informed his uncle that:
“I like her. A lot.”
Watching him and his brother Justin grow-up continues to be one of the great rewards of discovering my place in our family.
Now seeing him flip and toss and jump and land – and lead – with such ease and confidence made me well up for all of the game changing plays his parents, and grandparents, uncles and aunts, and cousins and neighbors and close friends have been making for him since his much loved and anticipated arrival.
This is what winning feels like. Watching a teenager you adore willfully get up in front of everyone, and leap.
I think the leaping might be where the living happens – and the loving to leap is key to letting go of the fear – and the letting go becomes possible when you accept that you will (despite anything and everything) be caught and held and carried even, if that’s what is needed to find your joy.