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I haven’t written much about the people I’ve met in the last two years. I have found it much easier to write about those with whom I have just met once. Writing about people you live with everyday is significantly harder. What if you say the wrong thing? What if you offend someone? In dealing with underage gymnasts, how much do you say? What pictures do you post? Rather than trying to secure everyone’s (or their parent’s) permission, I’ve chosen to just avoid the whole conundrum.

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Honestly, I have not been Peace, or at least not the Peace I want to be, or have been in the past. For two years, I wore a blue “Peace” t-shirt with “Peace” written on it. It was not because I thought that I was the incarnation of peace, but rather I wanted peace to be where I was, whether or not I brought it…and often times I did. But I’m human too. I lost my temper a time or two. I got frustrated. I said the wrong thing at the wrong time.

I do not fault others for stumbling while learning to be more peaceful, neither do I heap guilt upon my own head. We are all on the same path. My path is not measured by my past choices, but by my next one. C.S. Lewis wrote, “Discouragement is a far greater evil than the sins that provoke it. For once you become discouraged, you become ineffective for change.”

WE are not our past choices, but our next one. What will WE choose?

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Thankfully, in the last two years while I was learning to be better at being Peace, there were plenty of wonderful people all around me demonstrating how it is done. Their examples stand as testament to what can be accomplished with compassion, kindness, and love.

I’ve never seen or been a part of a great gym that didn’t have an anchor in the desk staff. The three ladies who handled the front desk at this facility functioned as linchpins that kept the gym together. I am grateful for enormous tasks they bore for us all. I’m sure at times they felt like sisyphus, but toil daily they did.

I’m grateful that I got to coach side by side with the great 3 time olympian athlete, 2 time olympic coach, and 2 time olympic judge Linda Mulvihill. Wow…what an honor. She is a great painter too.

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I’m grateful for the overwhelming amount of kindnesses poured out on the kids and myself from parents who drove them, dropped them off, and thankfully picked them back up again everyday, even when there was a foot of snow and ice. I’m thankful for all the starbucks cards, pats on the back, and atta-boy’s I received from those parents as well. I’m thankful for the rides to meets, homemade applesauce, the fruit from their gardens, birthday parties, “thank you” cards, and countless “peace” knickknacks given to me by parents and students.

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I’m grateful for the other coaches who taught me lessons in humility, kindness, patience, technique, and persistence. More than anything, I’m grateful for their friendship, camaraderie, the beers after work, weekend BBQ parties, and guitar jam sessions on the porch.

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I’m grateful for the the gymnasts themselves. I’m grateful for all the little in-jokes we shared. I’m grateful for the girl who told me every single day that it was her birthday…and it was. I’m grateful for the girls who reminded me every time “Bubba’s” song came on the radio. I’m grateful for the girls who put their hands together before and after meets and cried, “Put your peace signs up!” I’m grateful for the boys that constantly made me laugh, and seemed to never have a shortage of gas.

I’m grateful for the little 7 year-old boy that ate and shared snack with me everyday. I’m grateful for the hugs I received from some boys after every practice. I’m grateful for the talent of the young men and women that I had the honor to work with. I’m grateful for the ups and the downs. I’m grateful for the struggle and the lessons in humility. I’m grateful that everyday at the end of practice we shook hands, looked each other in the eye and said “Thank you.”

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Most of all, I’m grateful for the owners who took a chance on a weird guy named “Peace” who wore a blue “peace” t-shirt everyday. I’m grateful that they took me into their confidences and into their home. I’m grateful for the friendship and for the chances to fail, succeed, and learn.

It all begins with gratitude. I’m grateful—grateful that these wonderful people were in my path.

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