When I was fifteen I played spring “club” soccer. I was by far the worst player on the team, and since this wasn’t a school sport, I pretty much sat on the bench for the whole game, every game.

After a few games, my fate became clear, and I couldn’t just sit on the bench any more. I was sick of telling the coach I was ready to go in whenever he needed; I was sick his eye rolling after I told him this multiple times per game. I wanted to be a part of the team.

So I began participating. No, I didn’t run out on the field, but good idea.

I cheered. I encouraged.

No, I didn’t suddenly become the screaming Mom in the stands who always brought apples and orange slices for our snack even through we explicitly said we would take fruit roll-ups and chocolate chip granola bars and nothing else.

I just took over the screaming part for her. I yelled a lot: “Good job! Way to run! You are trying so hard, and you’re only getting better!”

I even invented a name for the team’s mojo. Each time we were doing really well I shouted, “Reign of Fire!” It became a bit of a favorite around the field complex. (Did it have something to do with 2002 classic? More than probably so.)

This new cheering changed the team and my place on it. We became more positive. The girls didn’t sulk so much after missed shots. It’s hard to be mad when someone yells, “You took the shot! You’re so brave!”

The players started to like me. I was more than just the bench warmer. I was the bench caretaker. That’s right. I still didn’t ever get to play. (Although, I did get my coach back at the end of the season, in a game of “butts up.” I was the only player to hit him square on the rear. Take that!)

But I learned something from that Spring on the bench (and every other season I was placed firmly on that aluminum seat). I didn’t learn how to play soccer, but it was far more important. In fact, it was huge. It was encouragement.

Encouragement builds us up. It’s positive. It gives us confidence and warm fuzzies. It makes the day better. It makes life better, and we need more of it around.

That’s why I’d like to give encouragement to you.

I’ve set up an email for this blog: hillymillerblog@gmail.com

If you send me an email (as short as your first name or as long as your entire memoir), I’d love to send you some words of positive encouragement back. Chances are that you haven’t heard how wonderful you are nearly enough.

And you are, you know. You are wonderful and capable and individually special, and you have to email me if you want a more personalized approach to these encouragements. (I should mention that this was Jill‘s idea.)

Make today great!