Embracing the power of showing up

The slogan was impossible to ignore. It was painted on the field. It was printed on a flag. It was permanently attached to the backstop near the dugout, a constant reminder of the attitude and philosophy of one of the legendary softball coaches in Western New York. I never met Gerry Gentner, the longtime coach at Williamsville South High School who died earlier this year from abdominal cancer. I have no connection to him, his family or the high school. And yet, as I stood there and listened to his daughter (now the head coach) and his players speak about the slogan, it was impossible to keep a dry eye.

Just show up


That’s the slogan that Gentner made popular in his softball and family circles. And the people whose lives he touched took that saying to heart and made it their own. I’ve often talked about what amazing things can happen when you decide to show up. To be honest, I hadn’t thought about that in a while. And there was no better time to be reminded than this week.

Showing up is more than just a physical state. It’s about how you approach each day, each situation. When you show up, you have intention. You have focus. You’re a bit brave. You’re a bit bold. You have a lot of fun, even when fun may not be the popular characterization of the task at hand. Showing up is vital, but it’s not all that difficult. Really. If you show up with that wonderful contradiction of intention and flexibility and you never know what could come your way.

Sunday I take to the streets of Rochester for the Flower City Half Marathon. It is my first race of 2012 as my previous race attempts at the Lockport Y-10 (illness) and Texas 70.3 (travel exhaustion) were thwarted. I’ve thought about what it is I want to accomplish on Sunday. What’s my goal? What’s my intention? I have a race plan which involves a goal pace, one that is moderate taking into consideration (a) my current training paces and (b) the fact that the harder I run, the more recovery time I’ll need and that trail marathon is a month away now. But this race was never about a time.

So what is about?

It wasn’t until I was assigned to cover the softball field dedication ceremony that I understood what my intention truly is for Sunday. It’s about putting all my chips down (on me) instead of hedging my bets. It’s about showing up with strength and courage and joy and love. It’s about having fun (see: glitter and eye black purchases) while being strong and focused.  It’s about being fully present and authentic. In other words, it’s all about showing up.

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