Day 17: Ready? Okay.

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Day 17:  Ready?  Okay.

Day 17. Five, four, three, two, one. It’s time, to start the clock. It’s time, to really rock-it team. It’s time for vic-tor-y!  I just spent the last nine hours straight with a cheerleader. Not in person. She’s one of the characters in my documentary. And she’s awesome. It’s tempting to attribute her pep and circumstance to her ripe old age of 17 but I know it’s not that simple. It’s more than just her youth. It’s a part of who she is as a person. I firmly believe being a cheerleader, literally or figuratively, is due to an inherent zest and zeal in the pompom shaker’s make-up.

I’m partial to the cheerleader. I was one from the 7th grade through my senior year in high school. It was a blast. I loved it. Before you ask, no, I can’t still fit into my uniform—not by a 3-pointer—I was a toothpick back in the 1800’s. Gluten and sugar free does not mean low calorie. The outfit may not fit anymore but I’m still a cheerleader. I love to motivate people. Sometimes I think it makes me happier to see those I love succeed more than when I personally succeed. There’s no better thrill than encouraging someone and seeing them light up or hearing the confidence build in their voice or seeing it in their work. Adults are no different than kids. They stand taller when they’re thrown a “keep going” or “you can do it” or “good work.” And I love to witness that.

Don’t get me wrong, I dig knocking it out of the park, crossing the finish line and raising my arms to shout, “victory,” when I complete what I set out to do, but I fancy myself someone who is a self-starter, self-motivated, my own cheerleader. I don’t need no stinkin’ cheering squad on my sidelines. It isn’t until I begin this experiment I discover I am not so strong or special or different than those I root for. I do not expect at all how much I need to be reassured as I venture into the unknown with this exercise. As I get older bravery eludes me. My reactions to the perfectly timed texts, site comments and emails of encouragement and support from friends and family have been so intense I actually levitated a few times. I realize how full of shit I am thinking I don’t need my own pep squad. Oh, I do! And they’re glorious!

Ready? Okay.

The only danger, I can see, for us cheerleaders of the world is when we stay on the sidelines and never get in our own game. I come from a very small town. Last time I remember looking at it, the population sign read 371. I was able to not only be a cheerleader but to also be on the basketball team at the same time in the same season. I would play ball for the girl’s team and then suit up to cheer for the boy’s team while they played the same night. I was in one game and cheering for the players in the other game. That instilled in me the automatic response of cheering for others while I’m playing myself. But, still, it’s so easy to get out of cheering/being cheered balance. We’ve all done it before. Fallen into the trap where we’re only cheering for others and not ourselves.

I recently got a FB message from a friend encouraging me about my new venture. Mind you, I’ve been hounding this incredibly talented singer-writer-actress friend of mine to do a one-woman show since last August. She writes, “Kudos on the 365-day challenge! I hope you stick it out. I should probably do the same, but I’ve become a cheerleader for a lot of other people, offering advice and encouragement and such.” She goes on to write that she knows if she focuses on being the cheerleader she doesn’t have to get in the game herself. At least she’s aware that she’s out of cheer balance. I write back my best, “rah rah rah” because she deserves a cheerleader of her own. We all do. That gets me noodling on how to best think outside the box inside the box on this one. It’s quite simple really. Whoever is in your life, cheer for them and tell them to do the same for you. I’ll be your cheerleader, you be mine. Quid pro quo, cheerers, quid pro quo.

Until tomorrow, create from what you have…the power to cheer and be cheered.

Kelli Joan Bennett is a filmmaker, actress, writer, entrepreneur, advocate for creative thinking and Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Think Outside The Box Inside The Box Media.

3 Comments

  1. K-E-L-L-I. Go, Kelli! You’ve always, always cheered me on, even through 21 hours of labor. Keep at it. I am here in support for the duration!

  2. You are a cheerleader for life, Kelli! You do it effortlessly and it looks great on you. What you give surely will come back to you.

  3. I love that you included what your friend said on FB about cheerleading rather than being in the game. There is something very metaphoric about being on the “sidelines” as a cheerleader but what you illustrated was that you could cheer and then immediately change your “clothes” to be in the game yourself. It’s a good constant reminder or touchstone for being “in” your life rather than being on the sidelines watching it go by or play out without you. And, as long as you’re not hiding behind the cheerleading as a way of not participating, then it’s a good thing. And, you Kelli, are a brilliant cheerleader, one of the best actually! And, your putting the game into practice as well…

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