In the summer of 1988, I was in awe of how beautiful and FAST Florence Griffith-Joyner was. She broke her second World Record and won three gold medals during the Seoul Olympics. She was strong, beautiful, fashionable, and untouchable on the track. It was such an inspiration to see hard work manifest into excellence and be able to celebrate that with her along with the rest of the country. I dreamt of being just like Flo Jo, and as a 9-year-old in the 80s, I thought it would be the raddest to call myself “Flo-Jen”. And although my dream of becoming a track star never came to fruition, my love for the sport did manifest into a profession and my admiration of the Olympic Games is even stronger.
The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi begin February 6th and, with it, comes the opportunity to enjoy and celebrate the hard work of our fellow Americans. As a mother of a 4-year-old girl, I see a once-every-two-years opportunity to celebrate women for their hard work, talents, fearlessness, dedication, and success. I want my daughter to know that she is more than a pretty face. She can do and be whatever she wants to be and shouldn’t be afraid to dream big.
Every Olympics’ broadcast is filled with great background stories of what these amazing athletes have had to overcome to get there. The commentators are very good at explaining basic rules of each sport and often walk the audience through what needs to be done by the athletes to succeed. So, even if you’re not a sports fan, you become a fan of the individuals, you know what to watch as they’re competing, and you cheer them on as their stories unfold before your eyes.
What an amazing opportunity to spend time with my daughter and show her the endless opportunities and possibilities that she has in her future if she works hard. Outside of the typical “You can be in the Olympics too!” there are so many lessons within the Olympics to be taught this winter:
- It’s a Big Small World: The Olympics is the greatest equalizer. What a perfect example that despite our different cultures, countries, or beliefs, we are all very much alike. There are so many different “roads” to the Olympics that one can drive. They all deserve our respect, because on any given day, one of those roads will lead to the podium.
- Use Your Talents: God gave us talents and abilities, be thankful for that and DO something with them. If you never even try, then you waste the talents that God gave you.
- Fearlessness: Don’t be afraid to fail. If we look at mistakes and failures as opportunities to learn, then we will never lose. John Wooden said “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.” Don’t let fear stop you. When you fail, learn from it and make the appropriate adjustments.
- Perseverance: Never give up; never stop fighting; because you are worth the fight. Goals may change and you may have to change direction, but never give up on yourself. Lolo Jones was just made an official member of the US Women’s Bobsled team. She has a famous history of failure in the Summer Olympics, as she competed in both 2008 and 2012 for a place on the podium in the 100m hurdles. She failed to accomplish this goal in both Olympics. This year, she’s making history as one of only 10 Americans to ever make Team USA in both the Winter and Summer Olympics. Your trip may not lead you down the road you think is meant for you, but if you never give up on yourself, keep fighting, and continue to set personal goals, you will accomplish big things and may inspire someone along the way.
- Strength is Beautiful: The Olympics is filled with physically, emotionally, and mentally strong women. I love to remind my daughter, as often as possible, that it is her heart that truly makes her beautiful. I will use this opportunity to highlight how admirable and beautiful inner-strength can be when we notice the physical beauty of one of the Olympians; we will talk about all of the ways that she is more than a pretty face.
It’s a perfect opportunity to show your kids that no matter your background or the circumstances that life may present, use the talents God gave you, never give up and stay strong. It’s a great reminder for Mommy too.