“Variation on a Theme by Rilke”

“I have a real tricky time hearing folks who don’t believe in themselves.”

Ted Lasso, Season 1: episode 3

If you haven’t watched Ted Lasso, the Apple TV+ series that swept the 2021 Emmy Awards, you might want to give it a try. Ted is a folksy American football coach who’s hired to coach a professional English soccer team despite knowing very little about the sport. The show is well-written, warm-hearted, and exactly the dose of optimism, hope, and inspiration we need right now. Here’s a poem for today about believing in yourself. I think Ted would approve.

Variation on a Theme by Rilke

A certain day became a presence to me;
there it was, confronting me — a sky, air, light:
a being. And before it started to descend
from the height of noon, it leaned over
and struck my shoulder as if with
the flat of a sword, granting me
honor and a task. The day’s blow
rang out, metallic — or it was I, a bell awakened,
and what I heard was my whole self
saying and singing what it knew: I can.

Denise Levertov

Years ago, I carried this poem in my pocket while I ran a very cold and rainy marathon. I probably forgot it was with me during the race, but, looking back, I like to think it helped me get to the finish line.


  • What helps you believe in yourself and push through tough times? Do you have a mantra or prayer you say, or a practice you follow?
  • Is there a dream you have but self-doubt is keeping you from pursuing it?
  • Who is the Ted Lasso figure in your life — the person who keeps you hopeful and optimistic?


“Variation on a Theme by Rilke (The Book of Hours, Book 1, Poem 1, Stanza 1)” by Denise Levertov from Breathing the Water, 1987. Copyrighted material used for educational or therapeutic purposes.

Photo: teepublic.com


  1. The other day I was reading a message from a friend, who recently gave birth to a baby girl. The self-doubt she experienced for a month prior magically transformed into a “Yes, I CAN” when the moment finally arrived. It was a beautiful reminder of how resilient we are – bodies, minds, and spirits – in overcoming fear, physical pain, sadness, frustration, challenge. “Be your own best friend” is a reminder I sometimes tell myself. Though I feel lucky to have a network of amazing “Ted Lassos” who lift me up when I really need that! I gathered some quotes from closest friends that I read in hard times.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for writing, Z. I love the idea of collecting quotes for tough days. I hope you will always have lots of Lassos in your life — I know you are a Ted Lasso for many. xo


  2. Thank you for this. Just the pick me up I needed on this dark November day, having just had a meeting with the care home about my mum 😞. It’s funny you should mention Ted Lasso – we had a zoom call with the Bakewells on Saturday and they were saying we should watch it – we’ve never heard of it! 🤗x

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

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