challenges

Just a Square

Just a square.

A microscopicly thin square. 

A square that is made of such a sheer consistency that it is somewhat see through.

One square at a time.

The damn toilet paper comes off one square at a time. One shred of microscopically thin toilet paper is pretty much useless. When you need to accumulate 10 squares to make what one would consider it single ply you have a problem. 

In the lonely stall frustration mounts. Why is this so hard? What do they call it a roll of toilet paper if it comes off in useless squares. Why is it so hard to get the much needed toilet paper? Do guys even know what women deal with in the restroom?

This is what budget constraints look like at the airport. My toilet paper was almost non existent. One square at a time. Just one square comes off the roll. I think I will pack my own toilet paper on my next trip to the airport. 

The thin consistency makes it almost purposeless. Who decides this is the best option? Does anyone consider the labor of sweeping up the sheds of paper on the floor that people disregard when frustrated? The stress of wet paper that linger in the stalls, by the sinks, on the way to door? Does anyone making these purchasing decisions think about the end user?

This is just a rant about toilet paper. I am normally a Charmin girl so I like the denser consistency but I can deal with the off brand when needed. I however can’t deal with sheer toilet paper as it seems to defeat the purpose entirely of the product’s use. In this case the packing around the toilet paper probably cost more than the product. 

Shaking my head on this trip. A leaf would have been more purposeful In this situation. 

nature

Storm Watching

I spent a few hours storm watching on a recent trip. It wasn’t planned but I ended up enjoying it enough to write about it.

It all started when I was at the beach. Friends and I were bickering back and forth on whether the rain was coming or not. One side was super clear skies while the other side looked like a nasty storm was brewing. The weather app was not showing either view throwing logic out the window.

Back at the vacation spot we sat and watched the clouds in the distance. We heard sounds of thunder near and far. We felt the breeze pick up then die down. We saw single lightning strikes in the distance then flashes that lit up the sky. It was almost like fireworks in the late afternoon but not a drop of rain.

We moved on to a stroll in town before heading back to the beach for sunset views. More strange clouds appeared and almost looked fake. The heavens were about to open up. Our stroll was cut short. Ice cream may have fallen on the ground in the scurry to the car. A sad face appeared after getting wet and dropping the freshly scooped favorite ice cream. Somehow the frown turned upside down.

Back again to the vacation spot to see the sky and a glimpse of sunset. It ended up being amazing. The sunset was different and reflected perfectly off the water. The reflection along with my burning candle made the moment a view to remember with the sweet aroma of my candle floating in the background.

A short distance away on the pier there was another view to admire. As the darkness of night fell the glow of the lights under the dock shined green. The water had a glow. The sky was full of random clouds by now. The sky was painting its own Picasso image tonight. Just breathtaking.

The sky lit up in the distance again. I had tried so hard earlier to capture the flickering lights in the sky or the single bolts of lightening to no avail. Then finally the perfect moment appeared in the distance. The strike was finally captured in the perfect setting.

When you see the beauty of the photos and hear the story I wrote, it is my hope that you feel the experience the same way I did.

Nature is amazing. The sights. The sounds. The smells. When you can immerse yourself in a moment or day outdoors you can feel a different kind of being alive. A true immersion therapy of sorts. Refreshing the soul. The mind. 

balance

Road Bike Ramblings

Checked the tires. Helmet on. Out before dawn.

A pre-sunrise neighborhood bike ride was on the docket. Thirty minutes. Easy peasy. Just cruising to get the blood flowing early on a Sunday.

I live at the top of a hill. So the very first thing I get to do is fly. Fly down the hill, wind in my face, breathing deep. Yes, all you Safety Susies, I left my Airpods at home so I could pay closer attention to any traffic at the early hour. As a side benefit I also enjoyed the sounds of the crickets. The frogs. The quiet of morning. A line from a poem came to mind…”to be the only one awake in a house wrapped in sleep.” There is a special peace in that (and maybe a few giggles thinking how many safety cameras I was tripping off.)

Once the wind hit my face on that downhill I remembered how much I love my road bike. Just getting going on it makes me smile but flying down a hill is such a special feeling of freedom. So it makes no sense that I don’t ride more often. I only get out once a month or so. I keep saying I am going to do a triathlon this year. But I realized I am in a mode where the distance between what I say I want to do and what I actually do is great. I want to slim down to feel better but I don’t adjust my nutrition to achieve that. I want to write more but don’t take the time. I want to express gratitude to people who have helped me but the thank you cards still sit in their wrapper. Something I thought about as I rolled under the streetlamps.

Back to biking…I have been doing an endurance program at the gym once a week on a stationary bike. It’s been good for my pacing and endurance control. I tell myself it’s triathlon training. But it doesn’t replace time on an actual road on a bike.

When it comes to the road bike, I hate the uphills. I fumble with the gears trying to make my legs hurt less. My neighborhood is basically all hills of various lengths and gradients. (This is one reason why I sometimes don’t get on my road bike. It takes time and effort to transport it to a flat course.) But as I was riding this morning, I embraced the hills. I took my time getting up them. I sat with the pain instead of resisting it. And then, I enjoyed the coast down the other side. The reward for the work. The time to breathe.

I thought about many friends who I know are facing that big hill in their lives. With a job. With a family member. With a relationship. With themselves. They don’t want to climb it. They would rather go around or just stay put. (This is me, too! In more areas than I’ve even shared.) The only way to get that feeling of freedom is to do the work of getting up the hill. Some times of life are just smooth effort, puttering along on the flats, enjoying the scenery. But exhilaration, the relief, the satisfaction of wind at my face comes after I’ve pushed myself through a challenge. Time to summit the hills I’ve just been staring down, hoping they will disappear. I have been given these mountains to show they can be moved, as they say. Or, so that I can enjoy the beauty and freedom of the other side.

anonymous letters, awareness

Crazy Train

Whoot! Whoot!

The crazy train has arrived. 

This special little train has arrived in your community. Who is on the train? Who is talking about this? Who isn’t talking about it?

Is this scenario real or is it fake news? This story simulates a real life drama you see on television but you are starring in the grand show. What on earth am I about to share with you? I am talking about a helicopter parent dropping her bat shit craziness literally on your door step. Yes this happens more than people want to admit. I don’t have any idea why either nor do I want to speculate.

My story is based on events this week in a suburb of a major metropolitan city. A mom literally lost her marbles and went rogue when her child didn’t win a coveted county athletic award. I kid you not, she lost her ability to see how silly her actions were and how her negative behavior could scar those connected to her, including her child. 

I was in shock. I was awe struck. My mouth might have been left wide open at one point. A helicopter parent actually created a fictitious award for her high school athlete who did NOT earn her own award. That’s right folks. A parent created a phony award. The woman went to the highest extent to recognize and celebrate her child in the most bizarre fashion. Colored graphics, high resolution photos, prior coach recommendations, prior teammate validation from across town, fancy words describing her athletic prowess, good sportsmanship, and so on. So much effort was put into this award that wasn’t earned. The award was a parental masterpiece in their mind. A mere joke to others. Of course I can’t post the actual award as it would be insensitive to the child.

The helicopter mom even went as far as posting online on the day peers received awards at an actual banquet where athletes received their own merit award as voted upon by other area coaches. The helicopter parent posted this self-proclaimed award on social media for the community to see. For the entire community to see her overshadow those who actually won an award fair and square. And if that wasn’t enough she blamed the coach for overlooking her child publicly. The helicopter parent didn’t care who’s reputation she tarnished.

This was funny since it’s other coaches who vote, not the actual coach of the home team the kid plays on. Can anyone say meddling helicopter parent? Have you ever encountered this kind of crazy train in your local community? I wish I could go back to my childhood and see if such behavior ever existed around me. I don’t recall.

In the good old days, I played sports for fun. I spent many hours a day outside playing. I spent my summers at the park learning fundamentals in many sports as part of the youth recreation program. We had pick up games. We won and lost but nobody ever complained. Never once would a parent pick a fight with a kid or cause a ruckus over child’s play. It simply wasn’t important.

High school athletics is more competitive. It was then and it is now. Parents were proud back in the day but they didn’t fight their kids’ battles. College athletics is the same as well. It’s the athletes that put in work not the birth givers. Therefore it’s the athletes that earn their spot on the field or their play time and of course their award. It’s their name on the plaque not the birth givers. No parent should have the ability to influence their child’s place on a team in a competitive sport when one reaches high school. It’s absurd. It’s not fair. It doesn’t teach the athlete to compete. It teaches them how to complain to win. It’s bullying.

Let’s dial back to mental health for a moment. What benefit can a parent receive from their child receiving a coveted award that is not earned? Does it fulfill a void from their childhood? Does it win loyal friendships for their child? Does it gain confidence among coaches and peer athletes? I seriously doubt it. 

What I don’t doubt is that it will create a backlash. A derailed train. The child becomes at risk. Said child can be made fun of. Said child can become depressed and withdrawn. Said child can be angry and retaliate as they learned such a skill from their parent, all of which leads to challenges that may not be able to be reversed. This could also create scars that are not physically visible. This could lead the child to suffer in silence. Was the mock award worth it? I doubt it.

As a parent we need to just do better. Kids today are already under pressure due to today’s social norms. These kids don’t need parents adding strain to their already stressful life that is pretty much available 24/7/365 online.

Twitter, Instagram, facebook, group chats, instant messengers, etc are all outlets young adults use to share information. If you don’t want your story on the front page of the news, don’t post it online. It’s that simple.

I know when I post on this blog site not everyone will like what I post. It is okay. There may be some that benefit from my rants. I unfortunately can’t share the outcome of this crazy train as it makes frequent stops in the general community I may or may not call home or homebase. One day it may be your house. Another day it may be a friend’s house. Next week it’s the newbie’s house. Sooner or later the crazy train runs out of stops.

At that point the train parks itself or fixates itself on one poor soul. The train is set for the long haul. Behaviors escalate and those around get scared. What’s next.  A shooting? A fist fight? A shift to private school from public? I don’t have the answers.

What I can say is hard work pays off. Those who fail should work hard to get noticed the next time around. They should ask a coach what should they do in the off season to see success in the future. Display resilience. Be eager to show one’s worth. Don’t run to a birth giver and ask for recognition. An athlete has to be mentally and physically tough. They need to have the ability to push through the hard stuff. Sometimes the hard stuff comes daily.

If one was in the NFL and made a mistake there is a consequence. You get fired, fined or relocated. Your birth giver wouldn’t be able to fight your battles. I could write a whole book on the subject of parents and entitlements. Kids today need to learn to problem solve on their own.

A teacher isn’t going to change the kid’s report card if they fail their class. That’s unheard of. The same principal should apply for awards. If you fail in a season a coach can’t be expected to give an award for less than stellar performance. 

Helicopter parents need to get a hobby. Take up knitting. Buy a coloring book. Find a way to entertain yourself that doesn’t involve living in your kids shoes. It will never work out well for you or your kid. PSA #404.

I would also refer back to “Lessons” post from back in May. It’s one worth rereading a couple times a year.

health

All That Blood

1 hour into vacation. 1 hour.

The teen calls and said we have an emergency. Me: what kind of emergency? Teen: so much blood, come now.

200 feet seemed like 200 miles in the moment. This trail of blood seemed like nothing compared to the flow of blood leading to the injured party. Was it a shark bite? So many things ran through my mind.

First aid began with attempting to stop the blood until we could get out of the sand and germy water. That in itself was a challenge lugging someone with a bloody foot. I didn’t really pay attention at the time but no bystander offered help which now that I think about it seems absurd.

The infamous bloody foot. Eight stitches later. A lot pain and suffering while the cleaning and stitching was done at the local emergency room. So much pride left on that beach for the young invisible teen. Along with the loss of pride was much regret. I could see it in his eyes. Disappointment for the vacation that was yet to be had.

This experience made me think I was happy to have my first aid kit on hand not thinking I would ever need it. After the wound was handled, I definitely went ahead and replenished and added a few more triage items to be sure I’m ready for any future injuries. I would never want to be unprepared for a shark attack at a beach.

Since this accident took place one hour into vacation that meant I had to work hard to keep the wound clean and on its path to healing while beachside. That is no easy task with an active teen. 

Was a lesson learned? Yes. Was I thankful for the outcome? Yes. Did I need to make a dreaded phone call to the parent of the teen I was responsible for? Yes. This is the call nobody would ever want to make. However, the calm voice on the other end of the phone was kind and genuine. No anger. No judgment. Just gratitude for being there to support the injured. What a relief.

What a relief for me. Another day will pass. Count every blessing and every experience you have, but never lose sight of danger that can be feet away. Always have your antennas up and ready to lunge into emergency action whether you need help or another nearby.

If you don’t know basic first aid, take a course. I have had to sling broken bones, now handle a gash and worst of all had to administer CPR. All on kids. Not fun, but humbling.

Be safe and enjoy my bloody story. The ocean can be safe but also dangerous. Always watch your feet for objects like broken glass, fishing hooks, and of course sea life.