Just after I turned 12, I began spending part of my summers at professional ballet training programs that took me far away from home. It was hard. I enjoyed every single minute of my time in my dance classes, but the moments in between and the evenings especially, could be lonely and sad. I had my goal set: become a professional ballerina, dance with The New York City Ballet, and travel the world. But sometimes I needed encouragement from my family, many miles away.
My mom made me a ‘magic’ box.
It was really just an old shoe box, decorated on the outside, and had the lid taped down for no peeking. The box had an opening cut into the top so there was just enough room to slip my hand inside and fish around til it landed on something inside. Wriggling the item out was like finding your prize in Crackerjacks, but these presents were much more personalized.
I found small things like a packet of chewing gum or a pretty nail polish, or some new lambswool for my pointe shoes. But there were also bigger ticket items, like a graceful gold chain necklace or a beautiful new hair clasp. The rule was that I could only claim one prize at a time, and only when I really needed it. I kept the box safely stored under my bed in my dorm room.
Making my own ‘magic’ box.
After having a particularly challenging day this week, I could feel my resolve start to weaken. I grabbed my keys and headed out the door to make myself a magic box. When I returned home, already feeling more calm and in control, I poured out my items on my big work table. Many of the items lying there were quite similar to the ones that had made me happy when I was 12, and in no small part because they remind me of my mom and her boxes.
I also realized that many of the items I chose were meant to remind me that the challenges I’ve chosen are hard, and I need to honor myself for even making the attempt to meet these goals
Just knowing it was there made me feel stronger and able to tackle my big challenges.
Do it for yourself.
Sometimes others can be your cheerleader, and that’s great, but sometimes you have to show up with your own pompoms, at the ready for just when you need them. So I encourage you to make your own magic box to be ready when you need a lift or a reward, or some self care and a reminder that you’re going to do GREAT things this year.