The Inspiration of Number 22

It’s amazing how inspiration can be found in the strangest places. Last week was my first week of healthy eating in months. It felt strange, and my body was like “heeyyyy!” but I was feeling pretty proud of myself. My 23-year-old daughter was on this quest with me. I had to slap brownie bites out of my daughter’s hand, but she was thankful and has been feeling better. Here’s the rundown of benefits, my foot pain has diminished, my energy is better, I sleep like a baby at night because my body is not trying to digest tons of food, and I’m more rested when I wake up. I used to sleep and still feel tired after waking up, and I was waking up all weird hours of the night. Because of my recent fall, I’m having trouble with my knee, but that’ll work itself out.

This is a pic of a snack I had this weekend, I can remember a time it would have been an Arizona tea (filled with sugars) and a bag of chips.

img_20190105_200023 (1)

Overall, I’m feeling good about this change, and I’m getting back to my sugar abstinent self.  I try to think about sugar like an allergy, to trick my mind.

It is hard especially the mental fast food triggers I’ve created as a habit. When I’m out and around driving, in my head, it’s like a smorgasbord: Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Jensen’s Drive-In, that favorite corner bakery that sells those awesome cinnamon donuts and I’m thinking “why are there no good Deli’s by my house?” The list of temptations goes on.

How Number 22 Inspired Me

Well, my food challenge this weekend was centered around my son’s volleyball tournament last weekend. First, he tells me he doesn’t know where the tournament is, he’s got to text “Joe”. He has the name of the facility, but no address. We google the name and 2 different sports complexes come up with the same name, but possibly different companies and both have addresses in townships that he swears are “not it.” “That’s not the one” he keeps telling me. We finally find the right one.

We arrive at the place at 7 AM on a SATURDAY. We made it a few minutes late, but hey, we’re here in one piece. Mind you, this tournament is not for his school! This is a club that will HELP him with his upcoming season FOR his school. It’s at this moment I’m kicking myself for letting him get involved in the first place, but then I remember all the trouble he stayed out of being busy with sports.  He loves competition but OMG am I tired. Most of the time, he and his buddies ride each other around to these things but not this weekend.  He’s one month shy of getting his driver’s license, and neither one of us can wait.

“Mom, I’m literally the only kid at my school with no driver’s license.”
My response, “no your not, that’s impossible”.
His response “but I AM!”
“And you know this because….?”
“I just AM!”
Well suck it up buddy ‘cause you can’t drive anywhere without me, your dad or your sister for another month, which to him is dragging on like a Puritan’s sermon– he’s trapped with no end in sight.

He played really well in the tournament but his team overall was not playing their best, so I kept wondering …why are they still playing? Lose already.  The tournament was lasting so long I was praying for a loss. Mind you my son was not going to cry about it. I know it’s terrible, but I almost started to clap when the other team scored. I just wanted it to end. It just would have looked so bad to applaud, though I might have had some company. The other parents looked just as miserable at trying to look interested as I did. The parents out in the lounge area watching TV seemed so happy.

These volleyball tournaments literally last from sun up to sundown. By 4 o’clock pm it’s starting to get dark around here.  You look up in tears realizing how you spent the entire day glued to a bench or wandering around an area of the Chicago suburbs you know nothing about. So you have to find things to entertain yourself. Usually, for me, it was eating. That’s entertaining! Ooh, look at the cute BabyRuth bars at the concession stand! I usually ate out of boredom. Wrong reason but there it is. However, this time I did great! I went to Panera Bread and got a salad and soup. I’m not going down like this!

One bright spot though. My husband came later, and we had the most entertaining time watching the eighth graders in the other court next to my son’s, hairy legged high school team. Mike’s vertical leap is fantastic by the way.photo0

It was fascinating to watch. It was a boy against girls tournament, but it looked like a bet between two teachers at an elementary school. The boys were tiny. I mean thin, wispy small and the girls looked like Amazons next to them. “ Alright, my science class against your cheerleaders.”

My son told me later that they were freshmen girls and those were freshmen teams. Wow, fresh off the eighth-grade press, and they looked every bit the part. The boys were so small, they looked like they were in actually in 6th grade, but the girls were much taller and mature looking. It looked like a total mismatch.  But the size difference was about right. I had forgotten how much boys grow during their high school years. My son, who used to be eye to eye with his 5’2″sister is now 5’11 and still growing. My daughter topped out at 5’ 2” in her Sophmore year of high school and the doctor told her, “Well Sydney, that‘s it. You’re not getting any taller.” She was so upset.

My husband was laughing at the visual, and I pointed out one boy who kept missing the ball and said, “I think he’s the shortest one.”  But my husband insisted he was not. We went back and forth about it during their huddle. He said, “wait ’till that guy gets out of the way you’ll see.”

From the crowd of barely, 5 footers came Number 22. He was so short he could have walked under the net without bending his head down. When I first noticed him near the bench, I actually thought he was sitting down.  He was short, but he had a lot of spunk. He was ready to play, and I loved it. No one had told this little fella that he was too short, and with his attitude, no one would dare tell him he couldn’t play.  He missed a few plays, but I loved that he stayed in the game. Every time he was in, he was shifting from side to side, hiking up his shorts, bent down in a crouch, he even made a beckoning motion for the ball.  I was so inspired by this little guy.  He was not intimidated.  He served pretty good and got the ball back over the net but it was not his skill that won me over. Nobody was going to laugh at him or look down on him (even if they had to physically), he was going to show the world that he was just as good as anyone else.  Confidence.

I’ll never forget that young boy’s look of determination.

I got a lesson from that. We are what we believe we are and even if we’re not the best, we should have confidence like we’re at the top of our game. If we think we’re too short or too dumb, too shy or too — anything, we won’t have the confidence to even try. Seeing yourself through other people’s eyes will only hurt your self-esteem. Our success is in our perception of ourselves.  Its all in the mind.   At the very least, this little guy was trying, and he wasn’t doing half bad. I imagine that’s how we should live our lives.  If we try, we won’t do half bad, and maybe, just maybe, we’ll be our best.

Author: Renee

I am an author and a retired minister. My passion is helping others find their sense of self and identity after so many years of losing my own. So often we go to church and are still not aware of our disconnection with our true selves. The person inside that God deeply values. My husband and I have been married for over 30 years and have 3 children. I love gourmet cooking, swimming, all kinds of music, and political and religious discussion- the two things my mom said never to talk about at the dinner table.