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AND THEN SHE PUNCHED ME


Do you ever wonder why I do what I do? Why I write books about failure and discouragement and being yourself?


Here's why.


I was 16 years old. Beginning of grade 12.


I remember the hallway behind the gym.


I remember the laughter of the girls as they left the locker room and started practice.


I had been hiding - spying on the new volleyball coach- the lady coaching the team I had decided not to try out for because I wanted to dedicate all my time and effort (heart and soul) to basketball.


I was waiting to hear back from a coach from the states who said he was going to give me a scholarship to play basketball and attend the school I’d been hoping for forever to go to.


I quit volleyball because basketball was everything.


But my friends on the volleyball team kept … um, GUSHING about the new coach.


How awesome she was.


How much better they were getting.


How great of a season it was going to be.


And then she hit me.

(Far left, front row, #12. That's me. Coach is right behind me. PHOTO CRED: MEI 1995 YEARBOOK)



Yeah. The volleyball coach found me in the hallway and punched my arm. She was in my face saying, “I hear you’re good but you’re not trying out for my team? WHY NOT?”


Mennonite Educational Institute might be all I SHOULD need to say, but lady coach was punching me in my arm.


I smiled and rubbed my arm, thinking, "This coach might be worth playing for even though I don’t care about volleyball. She obviously cares about sports!"


It was her first year of teaching and coaching at our school and she was a bit . . . zealous.


I signed up to play. It was everything I hoped it would be. I learned a ton. Our team improved. I improved.


But there was this thing she kept on doing at the beginning of each practice. Instead of practice. At a volleyball practice. She made us sit down and she told us our worth wasn’t based on our performance. And she’d talk on and on about it.


Yeah. Wild. I know.


Some of you will be like, “Yeah, duh!! Of course your worth isn’t based on your performance!” But for me, it was totally new info. I had been 100% committed my whole life to doing well at life in order to feel valuable. I couldn’t remember a time when my worth was NOT based on my performance. In everything.


In sports, you’re only as valuable as your last performance. No one calls your name when you’re not good.


And all my life, I’d been good.


Noticed. Noticeable.


(Different number. Still me.)

And if I wasn’t noticed, I worked my butt off practicing and disciplining myself to be better.


My best days were after games that I’d been the high scorer. During morning announcements, they’d tell the whole school who we beat and how many points I’d scored. The worst days were when we’d lost or someone else had scored more than me.


What did I have to offer on those days?? Who was I even? What was I worth?


And then shin-splints. And a dislocated shoulder. And a recruiting university coach who stopped communicating - after I had declined the other schools.


Man. My life, my future was disappearing.


And that crazy volleyball coach kept preaching “your worth isn’t based on your performance.”


But she was a good coach, so I tolerated her as long as I could until . . . I had enough.


I worked harder than the other players. I helped us win games. This made me significant. Valuable. I was better than them - not just on the court, but in life. . . I thought.


So finally one day after practice I decided to set her straight. “STOP TELLING US OUR WORTH IS NOT BASED ON OUR PERFORMANCE!!” I managed. “Being good at sports is the only reason I’m worth anything at this school!”


But she wouldn’t stop.


She kept right on preaching every day before practice. After practice. She’d write encouraging notes. It was out of control. I had worked so hard to become valuable and she was basically saying everything I had done hadn’t earned me anything.


But on the other hand, on my terrible days, or after a mistake she’d hit me with, “your worth isn’t based on your performance” and my heart would hope and wonder… “Could it be true? Even now, when I hate myself because I’ve failed… am I still worth something?”


Every once in a while I’d argue with her until one day she said, “Heidi, if you got in an accident today and all you could do was blink to say ‘yes’ and drool to say ‘no’, I’d still be your friend. I’d still care for you. I’d still want to spend time with you because you are valuable no matter what.”


Yeah. I’m a slow processor. She really had to break it down for me. But I had a whole life time of belief behind me and I was deeply and firmly convinced that there was a scale of worthiness and we just had to climb the scale. My way of climbing was sports, good grades, and good behavior.


I guess, somewhere really early on, I felt special because I got singled out because I was good at something. I built a belief based on that feeling. If I felt special, I was special. If I DIDN’T have that feeling, well.. I must have lost my worth. My value.


Without words, I had accepted a belief that all people were NOT created equal. We were not ALL valuable.


We did NOT all have infinite, immeasurable value.


DAAAAAANG!!! (and WOW DANGEROUS!)


That grade 12 year my beliefs got interrupted. Thankfully. Mercifully. By a volleyball coach who punched me.


It also started my journey into the power of beliefs. If my value was fixed and infinite, how different, how much more freely could I play basketball and make friends and share who I was with others?


We start creating our core beliefs when we are babies, even in the womb, based on how we experience the world and the people around us. And until those beliefs often go un-challenged, they are our truth, the way we see the world.


I’m still unravelling the beliefs that tie my value to my performance… AND many other ideas that grew and developed - uncontested in my mind as a kid.


The thing is, we ALL do this.


OUR CORE BELIEFS matter.


They determine our choices and behavior.


But what if we can help kids form worthwhile, positive and life giving beliefs?


Why not get to kids while their beliefs are STILL forming. Why wait?


Why not have fun and be silly and present ideas about failure, fear, disappointment, discouragement, self worth . . . ALL THAT STUFF, to kids while they are young and point them in a direction that is constructive and life giving and serve them well their whole lives?


There is nothing to lose.

So I write books to introduce ideas that start conversations between kids and the people who care for them. The book is just the beginning, a kickstarter, a moment where kids can look and say, “Huh. I never thought about that before” and then YOU, the parent, the teacher, grandpa, grandma, friend - YOU are there to have a conversation, to go on a journey of growing together, from the INSIDE out, and to connect with that kid on an amazingly personal and life changing level.


Like my volleyball coach. A punch in the arm. A different perspective.


I’m hoping it will change a few kids’ lives, and a few parent’s lives too.


Now you know. Someone helped me. Now I want to help others.


If you don’t know where to start, I’ve written three books based on beliefs that are life giving and soul strengthening. Sometimes we just need reminders. Sometimes we need a complete belief overhaul. It’s never too late or too early to get started.


Start here:




You can ALSO click here to check out my YOUTUBE channel. FULL of fun FREE songs, stories and encouragement for kids & elementary classrooms.

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