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Posts Tagged ‘Support’

“Falling” – Lessons from My Cheer-leading Youth

Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

I spent four years as a cheerleader – from 5th grade through 8th grade. It gave me the chance to use my big mouth and spend time with my best friend, Julie. We would have practices on Tuesday nights and then cheer the boy’s basketball games on Friday nights.

I wasn’t the most athletic or flexible. Some of the cheerleaders could do backflips all the way down the court. Others could flip from the top of our cheering pyramid. I was petite and strong. I loved learning the cheers and wearing my white saddle shoes. I wasn’t as crazy for the skirts and pigtails.

Given my height, I was usually found in the front of the cheering line. And keeping our lines straight and smiles on our face was an important part of being a cheerleader. We also entered tournaments, which included routines and loud cheers. Part of our routine was building a cheering pyramid. By creatively combining lifts, poses and dismounts, you end up with a sort of mega stunt that often impressed the judges. I was frequently at the bottom of the pyramid. I remember my hands and knees on the floor while another girl’s knee would lean into my back as we built a three-layer pyramid.

If anyone felt like they couldn’t hold the pyramid and needed help, they were to shout, “Falling.” During one tournament, as we started to build our pyramid, I felt uncomfortable. I could feel the pressure from another cheerleader’s knee digging into my back. I wanted to hold on and keep smiling. As we continued with building the pyramid, I couldn’t hold on any longer. I shouted, “Falling.” The other cheerleaders didn’t hear me. Perhaps my shout on the inside was a whisper on the outside. Suddenly, I went down bringing the pyramid with me. No one was hurt as everyone started to properly dismantle. I remember after the tournament the coach yelling at me for not shouting “falling” loud enough for our team to hear.

Looking back now, maybe I didn’t realize how much the cheerleaders were leaning on me (literally). Maybe I am still learning the lesson of leaning on people in my life. Maybe we all need a code word when we need support. Maybe when we feel ourselves collapsing, we can shout out, “Falling.”

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Overwhelmed by Love

Friday, April 9th, 2010

Sometimes I hit the “enter” button on the keyboard and wonder how people will respond to one of my writings I post publicly on my blog. I was so excited to write a blog about “coming out” and how we all get a chance to do that every day when we live life as who we are openly and authentically. I spent years being ashamed of who I was, which brought me so much unhappiness. It has taken me some time, but now all parts of my life are integrated – loving relationships, friendships, hobbies, spirituality, work, and dreams.

Many people were moved by my “coming out” blog and have written some amazing responses. I am sharing some of the responses because they were full of so much wisdom. I have been overwhelmed by the love and acceptance that has flowed my way. May each day give us a chance to embrace who we are and allow our full light to shine.

“Here’s to being able to truly be authentic, to openly say ‘this is an important part of who I am’, without shame or fear. I look forward to embracing & welcoming others doing the same, whatever hidden part of themselves that may be.”

“I too blew off the (High School) reunion thinking no one would remember me or care if I was there, and it saddens me to think you felt alone during any part of your life.”

“I am happy to have found all the PC (High School) people here, as well. So many people (girls and guys) that I wish I had gotten to know then…because I’m coming to learn that we can each offer support and friendship to others.”

“In many ways, the most significant ‘coming outs’ for me have been politically and spiritually and those self-realizations might not have happened if it wasn’t for my needing to deal with my sexual orientation. As you said, I needed to live authentically before my light could shine, both in personal relationships and professionally.”

“But then I thought, what would I have done if you shared this with me? Would I have had the maturity and grace and compassion to accept you, to help you? Probably not, back then. It’s a cruel trick of nature that we start to realize who we are, just when our peers are least likely to accept us! But if there is one thing I’ve learned, and something I hope (God I hope) I can impart to my daughters, it’s this: EVERYONE feels alone and different and depressed and disconnected in high school, at some point. Nobody ever feels they are good enough. We need to live a lot of years before we realize, hey, we’re ok after all.”

With gratitude,
Mary Anne

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