My dad reminded me of a story the other day when I blurted out that I never liked sports. “Not exactly,” he said. “You loved soccer.” It was true. When I was around nine years old, I was hide-in-my-book shy and reserved. But something happened to me when my feet touched a soccer ball in cleats, squeaking along on a grassy field that brought out a strange (perhaps reckless) courage. It was a feeling that immediately trumped all of my cautionary streaks. A fire inside that was not just about winning but the animated thrill of movement in pursuit of a clear goal through whatever obstacles.

And sometimes the foot-twists and eye-locked running knocked the wind right out of me–and I landed flat on my back. One day both I and another girl completely lost our breath. In a game of chicken we both went down when neither of us relented in our hard run toward the ball and each other. I still remember the terror I felt at not being able to get my breath back. But after a few minutes of recovery, we both got right back up and kept running. Within ten minutes of my hardest fall, I helped my team win and my coach assigned me a better position.

This story hit me as a helpful metaphor the other day. In all of my most meaningful projects, there comes a point where I get the breath knocked out of me. It’s scary. Something vital feels completely inaccessible.

But then it happens. There is the deep relief when your breath floods back in–and you begin to feel a sense of recovery and renewal along with a  deeper confidence.  You got through it! That’s how I remember feeling on the field when suddenly the worst had happened. Why not keep going?

So, how many times this year have you had the breath knocked out you…and then gotten back up?

It’s so easy to forget about our awkward micro-accomplishments but don’t gloss over them as we near the end of the year.  Remind yourself of all the ways you exercised your powerful get-back-up muscle.

girl playing soccer
girl playing soccer