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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

A Quick Story of Hope

When I was a senior in high school, there was a particular piano contest I wanted to win. Desperately. I had competed in the contest every year since junior high, but couldn't seem to clinch the title no matter how hard I practiced. 

So that day, as I sat with my mother in the auditorium, listening to my competition, I felt my anxiety rising like a flash flood. It was my last chance. And the competition was good. Darn good. Sara Markussen was the main threat. She had won several times. I was feeling less and less optimistic about my chances.

Just before I went to perform, my mother, in all her maternal hyper-awareness, turned to me and said, "Take a deep breath. And envision yourself on Broadway entertaining the audience. Don't think about the contest. Just perform. Enjoy yourself."

Of course! I knew my pieces well. I loved-loved-loved playing Mozart. I don't know if it was the words she spoke, her calm demeanor, or her unwavering belief of my ability. But it did the trick. My anxiety was immediately replaced by a mega-dose of confidence. 

I won. The judge recruited me to attend Drake where he taught music. I played those same contest pieces for the University of Iowa and received a piano scholarship. All of this fortune befell me because someone believed in me. And didn't fail to tell me me. Thanks, Mom.

I mentor for the Teammates program and a recent newsletter emphasized the importance of hope. The founder of this organization, Coach Tom Osborn once said,

"We find that when a child is made aware of his strengths and thinks about how those strengths can be utilized, the future often appears brighter and possibilities open up which at one time appeared to be beyond reach. Hope is a powerful thing."

It's natural to be a cheerleader for kids. But sometimes, I think, we get caught up on the missteps of our children – especially as parents. How many of you have had conversations with your kid about the B in geometry without mentioning the A in science? How many of you immediately forget the hard work your kid showed on the field when you walk into his or her filthy bedroom smelling of ass, BO, and Burger King? Yeah. Me too.

As we venture into the summer season filled with camps, internships, the ACT, and mowing, I'm challenging myself. Forget the planning and logistics for a second. Show more patience. And most of all, pour hope onto the kids! Any kid! It might take a total of two minutes each day. But, hopefully, the impact will last a lifetime.

Dream big and fly high Kramer kids.