When I was 21 years old my dad bought me my first digital camera. Back in my day we didn't have those fancy pants touch screen phones that did all the work for you. If you wanted quality pics that you could download to your computer using a cable, digital was the way to go. Long story short, I was shocked that my dad bought me something that I didn't need. I was thankful enough that he got to see my last year of college ball in Myrtle Beach, but for some reason the camera stuck with me. I remember telling my coach how nice my dad was for getting me something so expensive as a "just because" gift and what my coach told me next I have never forgotten. He said, "Jessica, people are going to want to do nice things for you."
For the majority of my life I lived by the rule of "don't let anyone do anything for you, because then you owe them something. I have no idea where that complex came from, but I can take a stab at it. In a nutshell, I didn't like attention on me from peers because for many years of my life it was negative. As long as I could keep attention off of me I could coast through life peacefully. Sadly, when you don't put yourself out there, the universe gives you peanuts in return.
Something incredible happened in my life the other day during jiu jitsu. A woman who I deeply admire. Someone I fight for, and have altered my life path for, gave me a sincere compliment without even knowing what she had done. This person is my teammate now, and if I really think on it, she has always been my teammate. There is a special bond I feel between many of the women in my state, and even moreso in my city. I don't think sisterhood is my word for it, since that word doesn't carry as much weight now that it has become watered down. But it is definitely a bond. A pull toward protecting them as they succeed and fail. Lifting them up and helping them carry themselves, and in return, they help me stand taller and braver.
This woman asked my opinion on what she could do to improve.....and I felt my heart explode. Yes, because a black belt was asking me my opinion. But also yes because I had earned both a mental and emotional trust that I could have insight into her game. What a beautiful gift.
Change of scene to coffee with another teammates' parents. It was a beautiful fall day, and it is always a pleasure to see this particular family together, and in one of my favorite places, the Milwaukee Public Market. If you didn't know, I love my city.
Only about 4 people know about a special project myself and others have worked on over the past couple months. Everything about it gives back to our city. I'd love to provide more details, but you will all see soon.
I must correct myself. Six people know about the project, because we told my teammates parents. We explained how it could benefit the youth in our community, especially those from lower income households, and how there was possibly nothing in it for us besides the satisfaction that some kid, some where in our city, will have a place to go. That a parent, or parents, or guardians can know that their child will be safe for a few hours a day, and gain discipline and a second family.
My teammates parents told us that when it all gets up and running they hope to make a donation to the funds we are raising. When I heard this the world did the vacuum thing and the floor tilted slightly, because I could not believe what I was hearing. Twenty one year old Jess came back into my head and thought, "But why?"
I told that girl what my coach told her 12 years ago, "Because people are going to want to do nice things for you."
For me. For you. For the community.
What I learned is that when you start giving the universe a little bit more of your heart, it returns the favor and helps it overflow. That's some real Grinch Stole Christmas sh*t, right there.