Dare to Be Great

Dare to Be Great

"I'm looking for a dare to be great situation." ~ Lloyd Dobler (Say Anything)

25 years ago today (April 14, 1989), one of my all-time favorite movies, Say Anything, was released.

I was in eighth grade and, if I recall correctly, went to see it with a one of my good friends, who I met in middle school. I remember loving the movie and the main characters at first sight and would go on to watch it many times throughout high school, college and to this day, at age 39, the story doesn't ever get old to me. I also couldn't get enough of the soundtrack, especially "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel and that iconic scene in the film, when Lloyd Dobler holds a boom box over his head trying to get Diane Court's attention, while blasting that song.

I have always been a big fan of John Cusack, since he was born and raised in my hometown of Evanston, IL and our families attended the same church (Sheil Catholic Center). I also love most of the films Cameron Crowe has directed, especially those dealing with love and young adult angst.

By the time I was a freshman at the University of Illinois in 1993, I used to say that Lloyd Dobler was my "ideal man." I claimed to want to meet and marry someone who had many of the same characteristics. One of my friends used to quote the line from Sleepless in Seattle to me, "You don't want to be in love, you want to be in love in a movie." In many ways, he was right.

Ironically, not long after Say Anything was released, during the summer after I graduated eighth grade, a friend called to ask me out, in a similar way to how Lloyd calls Diane in the movie. Unfortunately, when I look back on it, I didn't take a leap of faith, like Diane did, and will never know if he could have been my Lloyd. My old friend and I are both happily married (not to each other) with children now. Though I still wonder sometimes what might have happened if I said, "yes," when he called that night, in 1989. My old friend was the daring one, by having the courage to ask me out, and I, not so much, essentially telling him that I was "monumentally busy."

One of the main ideas I take away, every time I have watched Say Anything over the past 25 years, is the importance of "daring to be great." I don't mean this from an egotistical perspective, but by not being afraid to take risks, step in to help those in need, support loved ones, and follow our dreams.

As a wife, mom, group fitness instructor, writer/blogger and spiritual director for the women's retreat program at our parish, among other things, I have come a long way, over the past 25 years, when it comes to daring to be great. If you've never seen Say Anything or haven't watched it in a while, I encourage you to do so. I promise it will be worth your time, entertaining and inspiring.

Diane Court: "Nobody thinks it will work, do they?"
Lloyd Dobler: "No. You just described every great success story."


One year ago tomorrow (April 15, 2013), the prestigious Boston Marathon was held.

There were many people running 26.2 that day, daring to be great. Here is an excerpt from a draft of a blog entry that I wrote that day (and never posted):

How do we wrap our brains around something like this?
Sean was eight years-old when he came with me to follow and cheer for a loved one as she ran the Chicago marathon.
"Hey, (friend), you OK?"
That message flashed across the screen of my phone as I left the doctor's office this afternoon.
Earlier today I was in the waiting room at my doctor's office scanning through my Facebook feed. I saw that an old friend, who is in Boston supporting his sister, who ran (and finished) the marathon (before the bombs exploded), had shared the time in which she finished the first half. We interacted briefly about how he and other loved ones had not been able to connect with her during the race, because there were so many people running. I shared my experience in recent years going to watch and support an extended family member, who runs the Chicago Marathon annually and even leads a pace group through their extensive training process.
Then I went in for my appointment. I noticed a few more updates as I checked my phone waiting for the doctor to come in to the examining room, after the nurse left, including someone sharing they had seen's my friend's sister's finish time and how great it was.
How do we make sense of something that doesn't make sense?
As I left the doctor's office I noticed that someone else had commented on the thread about my friend's sister's time for 13.1 miles, they were asking if my friend was okay? I was confused. Why wouldn't he be okay? His sister had just finished the marathon in an awesome time and surely by now they were celebrating her accomplishment! But I was curious and checked my Facebook app quickly to try to figure out what was going on. That is when I learned what had happened.

So you can imagine my shock, and I know I wasn't alone, when I heard about the explosions near the finish line that afternoon, which had gone off while I was seeing my doctor.

I immediately thought of my friend and his family. I was relieved, thanks to social media, to be able to find out, relatively quickly, that they and other family members were safe and not injured. I soon learned of others I knew who had connections to those who had been there, either running 26.2 or supporting the runners from the sidelines.

I was horrified by what had happened and couldn't help but put myself in their shoes, having been on the sidelines a few times before cheering for my loved ones running marathons. My heart ached when I found out an eight year-old boy, who was there, on the sidelines, to support family friends who were running in the race that day, had died. He was the same age my son was when he attended his first marathon with me and I couldn't get that image out of my head.

I followed the round-the-clock coverage that week and was moved by all those who dared to be great in those moments and days to follow the Boston Marathon bombings. Whether they were caring for the injured, or pursuing the two men who perpetrated this heinous tragedy, there was so much love to be witnessed and inspired by.


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