by Simone Biles
There is so much that I want to say about this book. First, the experience of reading her first hand account of events, then going on YouTube to watch a video of that same event, was awesome. It felt very futuristic to be able to meld the old and new forms of biography available to us now in the digital era. Very satisfying, fun, and a little mind-blowing. It was a whole new dimension of a reading experience.
Second, it was serendipitous how right this book was for this exact moment of my life. On the surface, a 36 year old mom and a young gymnast might not seem to have much in common, but I too am competing in an endurance sport: Christianity. A while ago my aunt referred to me as "an Olympic waiter" and it summed up how I have felt most of my life, waiting for one thing or another to happen as I walk with God, learn about His son, Jesus, and try to listen to His Spirit. A lifetime of Christianity is not for the faint of heart, but the rewards, too, are so very, very great.
Finally, I cannot mention her book, and my admiration for her, without bringing up the current event of the 150+ courageous women who spoke out against the abuse they suffered as gymnasts and women. Simone Biles was one of them, but it does not define her, nor any of them. I am proud of all of them, and pray that something like this will never happen again. The horror of their private suffering makes their public achievements all that more remarkable. And that is all I have to say about that. Except for one more thing. Simone did not choose to speak of this in her book, and I like that, because to me, it shows that we are still in control of our stories, no matter what has happened to us. As in the difference between Kings and Chronicles, it's okay to have a "good parts" version.
The struggles that most resonated with me were some of the big choices she faced, and her ultimate decision (twice!) to give up something she wanted - high school first, then college sports - for something greater, an Olympic career. She felt a responsibility to develop the talent God gave her and she stayed the course. She agonized over high school or homeschooling, and I have also been at that crossroads this year with Raccoon. His balance tipped towards school, but it wasn't an avalanche and he is only in second grade, so we'll see what the future holds. The balance is equal at this point for Kitty going into kindergarten in the fall. Their schooling next year is still mostly a question mark. It made me feel better that Simone wanted to endlessly discuss her options, as I also like to do that, to the dismay of my family.
I am sure that more lessons have stuck in my head and will trickle in, joining the flow of all things past and present. Sometimes the things that I remember as I sit at my computer are not always the things that pop up and encourage me in my daily life. The structure of gymnastics appeals to me, a daily rhythm, levels, and a series of goals leading up to one final, huge goal. I think of her just doing the work, day in, day out, good attitude and bad. But most of all, I hope to remember Simone's pluck, love of fun, and humility. She inspires me to give praise to the God who created us both. If she's doing life this way, under tremendous pressure, and still smiling, maybe, just maybe, so can I.
My Favorite Moment
My favorite moment in the story was when she finally gets paid for doing what she loves and her parents make her meet with a financial adviser. "She wanted me to tell her something that I've always wanted," (Simone) said. "She told me to think of something really big."
My Favorite Quotes
(I knew I was going to love this book because she starts every chapter with a quote!)
"...don't be too hard on yourself. But you do need to own up to your own talent a little bit more. Yes, you are very good, and so there will be expectations on your. But that is not for you to worry about..."
- Martha Karolyi
"Change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous at the end." (I want to stamp this on my forehead! Not really. Okay, maybe.)
- Robin Sharma
"You will not always be strong, but you can always be brave."
- Beau Taplin
"Love... arrive(s) at its destination full of hope."
- Maya Angelou
"The unexpected is usually what brings the unbelievable."
- Mandy Kellogg Rye
"We make each other stronger. That ain't ever gonna change."
- from the film, The Cheetah Girls
"Love begins by taking care of the closest ones - the ones at home."
- Mother Teresa
"Dreams come in a size too big so we can grow into them."
- Josie Bissett
"Sometimes not getting what you want is a brilliant stroke of luck."
- Lorii Myers
"To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage." (I love that he says "an" end instead of "the end," because it's so true that a story can go many different ways.)
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"The fears are paper tigers."
- Amelia Earhart
"It is not enough to take steps which may some day lead to a goal; each step must itself be a goal..."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
"The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses - behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights."
- Muhammad Ali