Penny got new pointe shoes last week. For a long time, I thought pointe—which requires strength in both the feet and ankles that I didn’t believe Penny would ever have—would be impossible for her. But for two years, with perseverance, she’s attended a pre-pointe class faithfully every week. It was time to move up to the next level.
Pointe Shoes and Perseverance
I think if I had been Penny, I would have given up long ago. If I wasn’t advancing through the ballet ranks at the same rate as other kids, if I didn’t see sufficient progress, I would have walked away. But Penny kept going. And her feet have gotten stronger. Her technique has been refined.
She has not been passively going through the motions but actively and patiently learning and growing. Unlike what I would have done, she persevered.
Ironman and Perseverance
I read a story in the New York Times today about Chris Nikic, a young man with Down syndrome who also persevered. Chris rode a bike for the first time at age 15. And recently, he completed an Ironman triathlon. (That’s a 2.4-mile swim in open water, a 112-mile bike ride, followed by a full marathon with 26.2 miles of running.)
Fire ants bit him, and his legs swelled up. He crashed his bike. He almost didn’t make it. But he persevered.
As an able-bodied American, I have never needed to develop perseverance. But I am looking to Penny, and to Chris Nikic, as models of perseverance in the midst of a global pandemic. Perseverance is patiently persisting. Continuing to learn and act and grow. Not giving up when obstacles derail the effort. Not giving up when change doesn’t come quickly.
In this season, I want to persevere. To keep reaching out to other people. To keep writing. To keep praying. To keep connecting with our children. To keep date night going, even when it means eating take-out in the living room.
Penny has shown me that I don’t need to move quickly and I don’t need to compare myself to others and I don’t need to achieve big goals. But if I keep going—slowly, patiently, one step at a time—I might find myself in a place of unexpected beauty and grace.
Also, just a reminder that I’ve put together a FREE e-book that describes our family’s experiences while Penny was in middle school, and you’ll hear from me but also from Penny and from her siblings about the challenges and gifts of our life together. Request your free copy of Missing Out on Beautiful, Part Two here.
To learn more with Amy Julia:
- Dreaming and Planning With Our Teenager With Down Syndrome
- Embracing Our Common Humanity
- S3 E16 | Normie: What is Normal Through the Lens of Down Syndrome with Annemarie Carrigan and Kurt Neale
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