The Gift of Perseverance

Saturday morning is a time everyone in my family looks forward to. It has become somewhat of a “fun and fit” time  as each one of us participates in a fitness activity we love.

One or both of the older girls will go to volley ball practice while Cris ventures out on a 70 to 100 mile bike ride. Meanwhile Sabrina and I make our way out to Topanga Canyon for our aerial fitness classes. I don’t mind the 45 minute drive it takes us to get out to Cali Camp as it provides me with some privileged conversation time with my little one. I get such beautiful insight on how she thinks!

And Cali Camp is truly a magical setting in which to practice this awesome art. The pavilion where we train is outdoors, nestled among oak trees in the beautiful Santa Monica mountains, with birds chirping, dogs playfully running around, and most days, a group of parents strumming their guitars.

Big Rock Ranch in Topanga is the home of Cali-Camp.[photo credit: Cali Camp]

What is aerial fitness you might ask?

Think “Cirque du Soleil” and I’m sure you’ll know what I am talking about.

We train on silks and static-trapeze. Sabrina loves them both and never ceases to amaze me with her comfort and creativity on the trapeze. I for one don’t like the trapeze as much for one simple reason: it hurts! Though I have to admit, when you can push past the pain and master a trick it is exhilarating and quite the confidence builder!

The silks are my favorite. A long piece of fabric is folded in two suspended 20 or 30 feet in the air. We climb, wrap, drop and dance a beautiful ballet held up sometimes by nothing more than one foot … It’s an amazing workout that challenges you on so many levels – strength, flexibility, creativity, mindset.

It is humbling and empowering, energizing and relaxing, and touches my very soul!

Our classes are back to back so I enjoy a nice long warm up and stretch while I watch my fearless little girl defy gravity and push herself in ways that are nothing short of awe inspiring.

SabrinaSilks1Sabrina started training a little more than a year ago but after about 5 months we stopped.  It wasn’t really a decision we made but classes were on Saturday afternoons and I found we were missing more and more classes to attend birthday parties or other family events.  Consistency in training is important in any sport but especially in aerial arts.

Time passed and Sabrina asked about getting back to class but somehow we just couldn’t make it happen … Then last October we had “Circus Camp” at school during a one week break and she was bitten by the aerial bug all over again. So I was grateful when my dear friend Kristy Beauvais, the founder of Focus Fish who has brought this awesome camp to our school for 11 years now, invited us to come train in Topanga Canyon on Saturday mornings!

We started just before Thanksgiving and Sabrina was with a group of slightly older girls that were a little more advanced.  Everyone was getting ready for a performance and Sabrina focused on building her strength and stamina back up and reviewing the tricks she had previously learned.  I can not tell you how amazing it was for me to see my little monkey just beaming with joy as she climbed, wrapped and explored her creativity!


In January, Kristy suggested Sabrina switch to a group of girls closer to her age that have all been training for one to two years and are much more advanced. She said she would be challenged and would have to work hard but she would learn a lot faster.  And boy was she right!

Those girls are little rock stars who have absolutely no fear and make it all look so easy!  Kristy knew that one of two things could happen — either Sabrina would get intimidated or she would get inspired.   She was betting on inspired and I am so grateful she was right.  Week after week I find myself in awe as she tirelessly works to master a new tricks.

A couple of weeks ago, the girls were all working on their inverted straddle. This is a challenging trick that Sabrina has wanted to learn for some time so she was really exited. It’s a trick that is as much about timing as it is about strength and agility and as eager as she was Sabrina could not get it. But she refused to quit. She tried over and over and over again, all the time smiling and giggling when she was almost there but could not completely pull it off.  She took little breaks to catch her breath and rest her arms but she was determined to get it no matter what.  By the end of class she was almost there but it looked like she would have to wait until the following week.

She shrugged her shoulders with a hint of disappointment but went on with her cool down.  As the class was being dismissed, she asked her teacher if she could try it just one more time… and she got it!! The joy she felt was palpable and we all cheered her success.  It was a priceless moment indeed!


A little later as we were talking I told her how proud I was that she had committed and worked so hard to get her trick.  That even if it was hard she never gave up.

“I don’t like to quit, mommy, it doesn’t feel good”, she said “But sometimes I have to.  Because I just get too tired.”

Yes I was beaming with pride and grateful to see that, at the tender age of six she not only understands the importance of perseverance, but she also knows that sometimes you just have to take a break and rest. She appreciates the journey, the process of getting to her goal and that is a truly priceless lesson that will carry her far.

Cris and I have always encouraged our girls to try their best but not to be overly focused on the goal and really savor the process, but I do believe that tenacious spirit is a bit of a gift.

Alright so I might have a little bit to do with it…

I was training with Kristy last week and we were working on a variety of knee climbs.  You start by inverting (going up side down) then grasp the silks with the inside of your knee and climb up from there.  Needless to say I was struggling and getting rather frustrated and had to resign myself to end the class without getting  it.  I would have to wait until this week to try again. But as we wrapped class I looked at Kristy and said “one more?”.  And yes you guessed it, I did it!  Now I can’t say that I was particularly graceful, I’ll have to work on that later, but I worked through it and did the climb.  And I was elated!

Kristy chuckled as she said “I wonder where Sabrina gets it from!”  Haha, I guess she has a point!

It’s a simple reminder that the best way to bring out the qualities we want to see in our children is to demonstrate those ourselves. To live those daily and always remember that our children learn from what we do much more than what we say.

What are some your qualities you are proud to see reflected in your children?


  1. That is so cool! I don’t know what I like most, the idea of doing such a neat class, or the inspiration to just keep trying. What a great article, and I especially love what you said about spending time in the car with your daughter, hearing what she thinks about. It’s not wasted time. I LOVE the picture of her where she looks like she’s flying. She reminds me of Tinkerbell. You get the coolest mom of the week award, not only for encouraging your daughter to try this, but for doing it yourself!

  2. That is some little girl you have, Valerie. The solo European traveler; I remember. Are you allowed to take video? It would be fun to see. Such determination – in both of you.

    • Thank you Beth, I am a proud mommy for sure! I love that my kids keep me on my toes and push me to always do my best as well. And yes I am allowed to take a video and will share one shortly 🙂

  3. Awh Sabrina!!! Great article Valerie 🙂 Perseverance is something that I work really hard on with Isla, as it is such a difficult concept for a 6 year old to understand. Definitely giving our children something they love to do where they can grasp and see the outcome of sticking through something is a great way for them to learn firsthand the benefits of perseverance. Great job mama!

    • Thank you my lovely Pia. Perseverance is a quality I see and appreciate in you and your girls reflect that very well. Yes giving them something they love, even if we personally don’t get why they love it so much and supporting them through the challenges, praising their efforts no matter what the outcome, will show them the importance of having that mindset. I think this is especially important in a time where kids crave instant gratification. You and I both know, that some things truly are worth waiting for and nothing is more rewarding than knowing you have pushed past fear and challenge to come out victorious!

  4. WOW, it been a while since I have ridden a bike that far. Does your husband do it often?

    As you said, that one an amazing work out. I do bet you and your daughter have a blast doing it. It’s so cool that your daughter is back at it and is doing so well. Isn’t amazing what can come of desire and perseverance (and talent). The lessons she is learning from all of this is pretty darn powerful. It will hold her in good stead as she grows.

    I would say the same qualities apply to our kids, in a different form but nonetheless perseverance has been something they truly have. 🙂

    • Yes Susan, Cris rides this distance every Saturday! He squeezes in two shorter rides during the week. I’m not complaining — keeps him looking good AND happy 😉 I have no doubt your kids know about perseverance as I see it in you. I do believe the secret to teaching this important lesson to our kids is two-fold: 1) Do what you love 2) modeling what we expect from them. We all encounter difficulty at work, at home, in our relationships… it’s easy to give up but so much more rewarding to work through the hard stuff!!! I am proud of my 3 girls as they all live this in their own special way 🙂

  5. Hello; what a great story. more kids need to find their place to go to learn such lessons. for me it was scouting. and its a hard lesson to learn the difference between quitting and resting so you can try again. thanks for sharing, max

    • Thank you Maxwell. Scouting was a great training ground for me and I will forever be grateful to my mom for starting a tropp in Paris and becoming our leader so that my sister and I could participate. We learned so much together and shared so many meaningful and life changing experiences! Yes parent need to help their children find what they love, by exposing them to different opportunities and listening, truly listening to what resonates with them. 🙂

  6. This is a great post. Perseverance can be so rewarding, as evidenced by your daughter’s tenacity. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that you are offering so much support. Parents should make every attempt, to support their children in their activities. Your presence stimulates, and encourages as well. As an athlete in High School, I competed in track events, baseball, and basketball. My parents were very supportive, as they made every effort, to be present at any one of my activities. Their presence and support, gave me that extra boost, needed to surpass. Good read. Blessings.

    • Thank you Dr. Johnny. I love to observe my girls as they find something they love and pursue it passionately. It is indeed our duty and our privilege to support and nurture our children’s dreams and the greatest reward to see them succeed! Have a blessed day!

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