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Let It Out: The Movie

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I arrived at work today before 7:00 a.m. After being out of the office for a few days I wanted to beat the imminent (and, these days, unceasing), torrential rains and morning traffic. Returning to the office after days away is always a little like breaking a piñata. I never know what will land my desk.

I arrived to a stack of mail and a FedEx envelope marked "Extremely Urgent." In the internet business one quickly learns that if you let extremely urgent envelopes sit unopened for too long then there usually is no need to ever open them. These envelopes usually hold contracts or press releases.

Earlier this month, I had been invited to preview a real gem: Let It Out: The Movie, produced by the good folks at Kleenex®, who have been the official suppliers of facial tissue to the U.S. Olympic Team since 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City. In the FedEx envelope was a DVD of the movie.

Despite work deadlines and a pile of unopened mail on my desk, I could not resist popping the hour-long DVD into my computer. For a few moments, as the DVD was loading, I continued to think about the work day ahead. But then the words of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj suddenly popped into my mind: "All desires are bad, but some are worse than others. Pursue any desire, it will always give you trouble." I sat back with my cup of coffee and spent the next 50 minutes thoroughly entertained.

The film premiered on August 11, 2008 in Beijing at US House, headquarters to the USOC during the games. On August 13th, there will be free screenings at 25 selected movies around the country. The next day Olympic fans will be able to watch the movie online by logging on to Kleenex's special website : www.letitout.com.

In the movie, Mia Hamm, Michael Johnson, Mary Lou Retton and dozens of other Olympic legends "let it out" about the life-altering experience of being an Olympic athlete. Mike Eurizione, captain of the 1980 US Men's Hockey "Miracle on Ice" team, puts the experience in perspective. "Winning the gold on the dream team in the 1980 Olympics never felt like a miracle to be," he says. "It felt like a hockey game. I don't look at athletic events as miracles. To me a miracle is children being born. And, things of that nature are miracles."

The movie then transitions from Eurozione's observations to Labor and Delivery nurse, Terry Cotterall-Lagana, from New Rochelle, New York. "I just love the fact that when I go to work, I do miracles all day," she says. "I help women have babies. I have spent the last fifteen years of my life helping other people give birth. And, at the end of it they are holding their little gold medal. Their little victory. Their futures. And, I say to my moms: ‘See what you have done! There is your little victory!' And I say to my mothers, ‘Look down [at your newborn child]. See what you have created; what you have done. Here's your victory. Don't forget this moment. Because, it's all there right in your arms. And, you get to hold on to it for life.'"

That I was right to put aside my work to watch the movie was confirmed near the end of the movie when I heard journalist Paul Hochman asked Maureen Bennett O'Connor of New Jersey, "How can the Games add up to so much more than just a collection of 50 to 60,000 people sitting in the stands? Why is it that a world comes together?"

She answered, "You can never discount desire. And, I think you have the desire to want to see history unfold, in some way. And, I think you can really, really be impacted by somebody else's goals being achieved."

Watching the film gave me the opportunity to pause during one of the most spectacular Olympics of all time to reflect on my own victory. My hat trick. My triple play. My trifecta: My triplet sons.

I hope that all youth sports parents have a chance to watch "Let It Out." It can serve as a reminder of our own "little gold medals." And what is truly the most amazing victory for each of us. It tells us that, as important as sports may be, as thrilling as winning an Olympic medal may be, it can never be as important as the joy of being a parent, of being a mom.

Don't make the same mistake I did. Be prepared. Make sure your box of Kleenex is close by for this one.


On a personal note: One of my childhood desires was to swim or ski in the Olympics. It was not to be. My knee gave out and my desire dwindled after that. However, I was able to fulfill my lifelong desire to attend an Olympics when, in 2002, I had the honor of being an invited guest of three time Olympic Ice Hockey medalist and MomsTeam expert, Angela Ruggiero, at the ATT center for families for the duration of the Salt Lake City Games. The glorious experience was never lost on me during those cold days in Utah. I spent my 50th birthday there with my sons and all of the families of the athletes. There was one particular memento that I brought back from the games that summed up my own experience. It was a bag full of Kleenex commemorative pocket packs. Each was wrapped in blue, green or red paper. Friends and family teased me about my little gifts to them, but to me they were the most useful and significant piece of memorabilia for that tear-filled event for all of us.