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  • Writer's pictureSally Kalksma

Life Gets In The Way: A Lesson on Grit

Right now almost all of us are trying to overcome so many obstacles due to COVID-19. I have found that training your brain to be positive and using good old fashion grit can get me through almost anything. Read an excerpt from my upcoming book, Life Get’s in the Way, that is due out later this year:


"Running gave me the attention the youngest child craves. But remember, along with that attention comes rebellion. I swear (and I don’t swear), if I were in high school now and did just one of the things I did when I was younger, I probably would be in juvee. Thank God (and I’m not religious either), it was the seventies and you could get away with a lot as long as your parents didn’t find out. Our generation was probably more afraid of our parents than the police. At one point my parents threatened to pull me out of Glen Ridge High School and send me to Point Pleasant Boro High School, the Jersey shore town where my parents owned a summer home. It’s not a coincidence that I’m sharing some of these stories now that my parents are deceased.

For many growing up is not easy, and I was no exception. Not only was I in the shadow of my four talented sisters, but I was also the daughter of a great football player and coach. My dad was a man who played in the era of leather helmets and coached at a time when an adult had the authority to discipline, and was respected for it, a man who was inducted into the High School Coaches’ Hall of Fame alongside Vince Lombardi.

I can thank my mother, who modeled in her twenties, for my legs, but I thank my father for giving me the grit to use them. That grit gets me through every obstacle I encounter, whether I have chosen that hurdle or it is thrown out before me. Grit is the power to turn the switch in your brain so it puts your body into another gear. Grit is what makes you tough. I trained my brain to be tough. That gave me grit. You can use grit in sports, and you can use grit in any adverse situation you need to get through. In high school I used this grit running races, as well as running from the police once or twice. Now I channel this grit into tower running, health issues, and tough mental situations.

When using grit enough times, it becomes an instinct. At the age of ten, grit got me to pedal my bike home a mile with the bottom of my foot slit wide open and bleeding from the base of my toes to the heel. A year later I instinctively used grit to save my life when I fell off the end of the jetty into the Atlantic Ocean. I just clawed my way back up the slippery algae with the rough waves slamming my body between the rocks. I didn’t say to myself, “It’s time to use grit.” I just made it happen. When your brain is trained, you can turn the switch in your head and your body will obey.

I have to thank my father for not raising any “daddy’s little girls.” In fact, I was an accident, and was my parent’s last hope for a boy. I was even named after my father, Salvatore . No, my real name is not Salvatore, but the closest feminine version to it. It’s no wonder my biggest fantasy was not to be a prima ballerina, but to be a kicker in the NFL. Maybe that’s in part due to the fact I was the only child who wasn’t given dance lessons.”


COVID-19 is getting in the way of life as we knew it, but it doesn’t have to get in the way of our life now. We must readjust our way of thinking and doing. Do not look at the past, do not worry about the future, concentrate on making now better. My book, Life Gets in the Way, is about making any adverse situation better using a positive mindset and grit.

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