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  • Writer's pictureLeilani Carrasco

Striving for the Participation Award

Updated: Nov 12, 2023

Guest Writer: Leilani Carrasco; Author Introduction and Closing Reflections by Christine Curtis-Carr.

Participation as the goal? Hmmm…I will not lie; the first time I read the below blog post by Wild Desert Woman, Leilani Carrasco, I felt deeply uncomfortable—usually, a sign I need to do some introspective journaling. I mean, if I don’t show up and give 100%, it doesn’t count, not really, right? As a self-described striver, the idea of (just) participating is kind of a hard pill to swallow. Frankly, it feels lazy. Participation is okay for other people but not for me. WHY?

Leilani Carrasco’s blog prompted me to ask myself three important questions. I note my observations at the end, but as you read this article, I encourage you to ask:

1. When is participation not only enough but also necessary?

2. On the days where my capacity is really at, say, 60%, could a “reframe” mean I

gave 100% because I chose to show up and be present? To engage instead of

checking out?

3. What does participation look like for me?

We are thrilled to feature local blog writer Leilani Carrasco this month. Leilani is a

writer similar to Katherine May or even poet Amber Vittoria. She can see life's

“in-between” spaces – the beauty most of us miss because we are too busy, stressed, and likely too involved in our self-important narrative. Ouch huh? The

world needs more Leilanis and more people willing to live and speak freely. To remind

us we are part of a great cosmos, notice the flower that grows on the sidewalk, look at

the clouds, feel the warmth of the light from the window pane, and see the people

around you.

"We all begin as a bundle of bones lost somewhere in a desert," said Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

Striving for the Participation Award by Leilani Carrasco

Originally published on May 15. 2023

Participation award?! *boo hiss*

No one should be rewarded for the bare-minimum act of showing up!

But I have a confession to make:

Participation is my new goal.

Not: WIN!


Not even: FINISH!

Such pressure. This pressure is the reason why I’ve avoided participating in the dream of becoming a paid writer. For years, I’ve believed:

I’m never going to win.

I’m showing up too late in the game.

I’m not smart enough.

My ideas are stupid.

I don’t have anything new to add.

Nobody cares.

Better to play it safe than play at all, right?

But what’s more pathetic than a Participation Award?

A head full of dreams and empty hands.

In January, I decided empty hands were no longer an option. At this stage, my main goal is to Participate. (I would add the qualifier “simply,” but if showing up is simple, then why do so many of us procrastinate, ghost, quit, make excuses in the fields we long to wear a jersey in?)

There is no shame in Participating. Show up and be counted. Throw your name in the hat. Your presence is the missing piece.

Reflections from Christine:

  • When is participation not only enough but also necessary?

Examples for me included time with my nieces. Lord, I can only imagine the pressure parents must feel because there are times with my nieces when I think of this imaginary pressure to create memorable experiences. Still, all that pressure can take me out of the simple pleasure of being together. So I tried it; I just showed up the last time I was with two of them. And I allowed life to unfold. We played with dolls, laughed, and hugged before I left.

  • On the days where my capacity is really at, say, 60%, could a “reframe” mean I give 100% because I choose to show up and be present? To engage instead of checking out?

This one is harder. A couple of weeks ago, I was physically struggling to instruct. I was putting pressure on myself to create a “mountain-top” experience for our riders, but I didn’t have it. My “mojo” was gone. So I decided to take Leilani’s advice and show up – (just) participate. At the last song, I took out my phone and took a selfie from the stage. The riders laughed. And I confessed I had been struggling a bit, but in that moment, I knew there was nowhere else I wanted to be, so I tried to capture it. And it was true. I’ve looked at that picture repeatedly because I was sweaty and joyful. I was present. Sometimes, when you are the “strong one,” the "calm one,” and the “leader,” you can start to believe your own self-importance. But you are human and have struggles; you have imperfections, which is part of the beauty. It is the human experience. Guess what? The riders lifted me. A few even texted me. My choice to be vulnerable led to greater strength. My choice to participate led to greater joy.

  • What does participation look like for me?

For me, it is choosing to be present as much as possible. It is only sometimes meditative or mountain-top, and I miss the mark too. Sometimes, it is the act of work, a nap, walking the dogs, cooking a meal, getting on that bike to nowhere, holding the hand of someone I cherish, crying with a friend who has had a loss, or laughing so hard it hurts. However it may show up in my daily life, I know this for sure...participation is not a consolation prize but a gift you choose to give yourself. To show up and be counted.

We would love to hear your thoughts on how you participate, either in the comments, on our socials, or IRL. 😊 You got this, and by the way, we got you.

You can find the original blog post at Wild Desert Woman. If you seek copywriting services, you can also find Leilani at

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