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What Makes a Hero?

You're probably wondering why this adorable laughing baby is featured in my blog about being a hero. Well this little girl, Peyton, is my grand niece. She is about to turn 1-year old.

But just a year ago, little Peyton was born premature at only 26 weeks old. This is what she looked like then. She weighed only 1lb, 3oz.

The lives of both Peyton and her mother, Amanda (my niece), were in danger, which is why Amanda had to deliver the baby so early. While Amanda's health improved after her birth, it was touch-and-go there for a while with Peyton. Her family, who is spread out throughout the United States and Japan, waited on pins and needles for an update on Peyton's health each day.

Amanda and her husband, Simone, were at the hospital every day for many hours holding her and giving her as much love as they could in the time they were allowed to be there. It was an emotional roller-coaster to say the least. The doctors and nurses in the NICU at Swedish Hospital in Seattle never gave up and neither did Peyton or her parents.

Finally, Peyton got to come home 3 months later in early October, which is when she was supposed to be born. Thanks to tons of videos and pictures shared over these last 9 months, her distant families all got to witness this fragile baby turn into a happy, movin'-scootin', strong, healthy bundle of joy.

Peyton is my hero. So are her parents. They represent strength, endurance, power and love. I have come to realize those are qualities I admire most in people.

It revealed itself in a vision board project Tida and I asked our campers to do at our recent

Activate Your Superpower virtual camp. (see pic of my creation)

On the left side of the board shows who we consider to be our heroes. It's who we want to become. On the right side, it's about us as individuals. What makes us Superheroes.

As I collected all of my pictures that I would use on my board, I realized that most of my heroes persevered and overcame some kind of struggle. Some more difficult than others - My dad losing his mother at age 14, divorce, disease, bullying and more. They all suffered and made it through to the other side.

COVID-19 has caused all of us around the world to face new and frightening challenges head-on. Thousands have lost their lives without families able to be there for one last hug. Thousands more have suffered through the illness.

Now we are asked to step outside our comfort zone to protect ourselves and others by wearing masks and social distancing. Seniors in high school and college graduated without the traditional pomp and circumstance. Restaurants, movie theaters, other businesses are half-full, bankrupt or closed.

My heroes are now ever-growing to include healthcare workers, children, teachers and the rest of those who are helping others and following guidelines to protect their community. They all embody strength, endurance, power and love.

I'll be turning 60 years old on July 20th, and my dream of spending by birthday with my closest friends in New York City has evolved into a Zoom party. The good news is I will have friends on the call from England, Israel, Ireland, Georgia, New York and Austin who might otherwise not have been at my original "dream" party in NYC. What a gift!

So, whenever I begin to feel sad, lonely or frustrated, I think of my sweet little hero Peyton and her parents. The strength, endurance, power and love it took for them to not just survive, but thrive, is the model I will choose to follow now and for the rest of my life.

From one ole broad to another...Happy Birthday, Peyton!


Summer Project! Make your own Super Hero Vision Board. Start by answering these questions:

Who do I admire?

Why do I admire them?

What characteristics do they have?

What characteristics do I share with my heroes?

Who do I want to become?

Got student athletes at home? Interested in enhancing their performance, strength, flexibility, balance and mind? Check out our

LFY Virtual Academy for Student Athletes, July 13-16. Click HERE for details.

Author, Phyllis Smith, is the Co-Founder of Live Free Yoga, which offers yoga and other mindfulness programs for youth and those who serve them.


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