“Grateful is our mindset”

For those of you that have been reading my core value messages for a while you already know I tell a lot of stories and talk about my family a lot. Well, today I’m gonna do both. The person I will be talking about today is Bianca Licari who happens to be my firstborn daughter whom I love very much.

Today’s story is about being grateful for something after the fact that you didn’t realize you were grateful for at the time. This will all make sense in a couple of minutes but first I have to tell a story.

When Bianca was a young girl, she was very competitive. It didn’t matter if she was playing you in a game of basketball or in a game of checkers. It was very obvious that she liked to compete and she liked to win but she didn’t want anybody to let her win, she wanted to “earn” the victory.

I have the pleasure of being her dad and I remember playing checkers with her many times. I also remember that whenever I secretly let her win she always knew it no matter how clever I tried to be. She always somehow knew that she really didn’t win and she was not happy.

Eventually, as she got older and smarter and more competitive, she started beating me all the time. We haven’t played checkers much in a really long time because Bianca found something else to be competitive in.

It was the summer of 2008, and the Summer Olympics were the talk of the country. There was a kid named Michael Phelps that was making history at those Olympics, and everybody was talking about it. Many families were watching him compete every day in the Olympic sport of swimming and there was lots of national pride.

In my family, there was really only one person that was watching every day, and that was Bianca who was 7 at the time. She loved watching the swimming competition every day and would actually watch the competitions again on replay even though she already knew who won. I didn’t really realize until later these Olympic games would impact her the way they did.

Watching this young man compete every day and represent his country really inspired her. I think the fact that he was having so much success also appealed to my competitive little daughter. By the time those Olympic games were over Bianca had a goal and a dream.

She made it a point to tell us both of those things pretty quickly. Her dream was she wanted to represent the United States one day in the Olympics. Her goal was to learn how to swim competitively and she wanted us to help her figure out how to do that.

Several weeks later we found a local competitive swim team for our baby girl to join. She immediately took a liking to it and couldn’t wait to go to practice. She made friends very quickly, she loved her coaches and she really loved competing! I took her to many of those practices in the beginning and I was never the first one in the car I was always the last one!

We spent the next 14 years as a family watching Bianca swim competitively and supporting her in any way we could. During this time Bianca met some very special people and so did our family. The sport blessed us in so many ways and we are grateful for it to this day and always will be. She excelled in our local area as a young girl at the club level and went on to have a very successful high school and college swimming career. There are too many specific accolades to list here but that’s not the point of today’s message.

The point is that during these 14 years, there were thousands of practices that we attended as a family. There were hundreds of swim meets that we traveled to near and far over that time as well. Every single time we went to a practice or a meet we sat in a very hot and humid environment. It seems like it was always 100° in those natatoriums and we were constantly sweating.

Another thing we constantly did as swim parents was complain. We complained about how hot it was, we complained about how often the practices were, and how long they were. We complained about how far away the swim meets were. Now that I think about it we complained a lot!

OK, I’m finally getting to the point, and here’s where it’s all gonna make sense! Most of the last 14 years included some really beautiful moments. My daughter had fun, she won tons of races, won lots of trophies and awards and she made lots of friends. It was a joy to watch, it really was and I was very grateful for it. As I look back though there were a few things that I wasn’t grateful for.

The hot pool areas, the travel, and all of the rest of the stuff that I wrote above were things I complained about but if I could go back to those hot natatoriums and watch my daughter practice one more time or get out of the pool after winning a race with that beautiful smile I would do it all again and appreciate it, even more, this time.

These last 14 years have taught me to be grateful for the great moments but they’ve also taught me to be grateful for ALL the moments. If I had to do it all again I’d make it a point to not complain at all because I got a chance to spend lots of time with my daughter and support her and what she was doing and for that I’m grateful.

I have accomplished a few things personally in my life as well but to this very day, one of my single greatest accomplishments is being mentioned in Bianca’s high school swim team end-of-the-year banquet when she was a senior. She had just finished a great year with her team (her last in high school) and had recently committed to swim at Grand Valley State University.

As she was giving her speech she thanked lots of people. She thanked all of her coaches and her teammates and she expressed her gratitude toward them all. She went on to thank many other friends and family members as well. Then at the end of her speech, she thanked one more person.

I still remember the end of that speech and I always will, and like I said it was one of my greatest accomplishments to this day. Are you wondering what she said? Well here it is:

“Finally I want to thank my Dad, even though he’s a very busy guy he was always there at my practices and at my swim meets supporting me. I don’t really know how he did it but I will always be grateful for him”

I cried when I heard her say that and I’m crying right now as I’m typing. Not only because it was a nice thing to have someone say about me but because all of those times that I was sitting up in those hot stands I didn’t realize the impact I was having on my daughter. I was up there complaining about how hot it was to myself and the other parents and I didn’t even realize what it meant to my daughter for me to be there.

Through all those years she never told me how grateful she was but that doesn’t mean that she wasn’t. Today is about 4 years after that speech and I find myself a few days past my daughter’s last swim competition ever. She did great and ended on a very high note. I’m gonna miss watching and supporting her and I am very grateful to have been there for all those great moments.

If I had a chance to do it all again though I would be grateful for ALL the moments, not just the great ones because now that I think about it they were all great moments! How do I know? Well because Bianca told me so! I am hoping that my message today inspires you to be grateful for every single moment, not just the great ones. After all, not every moment is guaranteed so you might as well be grateful period!

I personally talk about being grateful all the time. I try to inspire people to be grateful and I mentioned the word gratitude in many of my discussions with people. I am basically trying to preach and teach gratitude whenever I can but I just learned over the last 14 years with gratitude really means. Thanks for the lesson Bianca, I love you kid!

I hope you all have a great week! Thank you for reading; I am grateful for you!


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