perspective

Every Game is a Gift

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I looked out over the field, early that morning.

It was a beautiful April weekend.  Still a little crisp in the air, but the bright, direct sun warmed your skin enough.

I thought to myself, it is a perfect lacrosse morning. Right now, we are in the heart of lacrosse season, the sport both of my daughters and many of their dearest friends love. I looked out over the field where both of my daughters played their first seasons of the sport. It should have been bustling with warmups and whistles. Instead, it stood completely empty, the “closed” signs warning everyone away. Corona was in town.

When my older daughter was in high school, she told me that lacrosse was the only reason she went to school some days. In those high school seasons, she fought through injuries of all kinds.  From ankle twists and endless bruises to plaguing knee injuries and surgery.  Most notably, as a dynamic and skilled attack player, she also suffered at least three significant concussions. Because of these brain injuries, she watched many games from the sidelines, cheering her teammates on with all her energy and might while she waited for her head to heal.

After making her way through the recruiting process, she earned a spot playing in college.  There were many ups and downs, but she made it to the college playing field.  I was so proud to see her play at that level.  But just a few games in to her freshman season, she took a hit to the head that knocked her out for several minutes.  She lost some of her memories.  She couldn’t stand bright lights our music louder than a whisper.  She was just not her usual sharp self for a while.

Days off the field turned into weeks and months.  Her college freshman season ended and even though there were a few glimmers of hope, she finally got to the point where she realized her playing days were over.  Yes, she could continue coaching and being a referee, but she would never pick up her lacrosse stick competitively again.

God, I loved watching her play.  She was such a competitor on the field.  It was amazing to witness and cheer for her. Seeing that end too soon was devastating for us both.

My younger daughter has taken her own path through lacrosse.  She has great talent and has loved the sport for many years. She was just finding her footing in her first full varsity year when corona came to town. When I ask her these days what she misses most about school, she says lacrosse.

Each of them, in their own ways, now have “lost seasons.” Seasons that should have been played. Goals that should have been scored. Laugh-filled bus rides that should have been ridden. Late night meals with teammates that should have been shared. Wins that should have been celebrated. Defeats that should have been endured. Lessons that should have been learned.

Coronavirus has served many of us lost seasons. Weddings, holidays, so many celebrations shifted, even canceled.  I think especially of high school and college seniors in their final months of school, what should be a time of togetherness, of celebration for them and their supporters. I hurt for them, even though the changed celebration doesn’t change the effort they put in or the elation they should feel. If you know someone who has a lost season because of corona, I encourage you to reach out to acknowledge that loss. Most of us don’t quite know what to say, but just being there to listen and recognize what is lost may be a help.

An unexpected concussion ended my daughter’s lacrosse career too early. From that time I knew, every game is a gift. Every time you get to step on the field or out on the stage or wherever you do what you love…every time you get to do that, it is a gift to be cherished and a challenge to be embraced. When we emerge from this, I hope we are changed in a way where we remember that.

perspective

Passing Time in Class

A short time ago in reality but in my mind it seems like years ago, I was in a multi-day professional training. Attire was casual but attention to learning was expected. I had an open mind as day one began. Seems funny to recap this now since most people are stuck inside 24/7 these days.

Commuter time was long and exhausting for many but some had hotels with no commute. A luxury many of us actually miss today (traffic/people/hotels). Coffee was served until 10 am to spark the day but nothing after lunch. How would this impact the audience? Would limiting caffeine hinder learning or attentiveness? Another reminder of how much I miss coffee dates with friends, sigh.

A couple of the speakers were slow in getting their concept across or ill-prepared at times. Unfortunately that seems to make time move at a turtle’s pace for many, myself included. When time seems to stand still for me my mind wanders. I people watch. When time slows in the afternoon the overall audience aura changes. I especially enjoy people watching during and after the shift. I wonder if people carb loaded at lunch or if the lack of caffeine caused their shift.

As day one ended I noticed a gal using play doh in another row. I thought it was odd then saw another doing it. I was ever so curious so I asked what the significance was and both said stress relief and ability to concentrate is the motivation. Okay I can buy into that I said to myself and moved on.

Next day it was a couple different people this time with coloring books. One had felt tip markers, one colored pencils and another crayons. By the next day the color sheets seemed more elaborate as well. I wasn’t in shock rather I thought if I was the presenter I might reevaluate my performance, that I wasn’t being engaging or there was too much idle time built into the day. Neither seemed apparent to the presenter.

The next day I noticed a woman knitting. Not just knitting a cap for a baby this was a full blown scarf or blanket of sorts. At this point I seem flabbergasted. How would I feel as the presenter? Shocked that the focus was not on the presenter and the content he/she was supposed to present. Then I saw the neon stress ball group in the back row. Then the smackers who used food to soothe their environmental stresses.

Using tools of soothing was normal behavior in this class group. I have doodled in the past in trainings and school in general but have never taken these more extreme measures. Or are they extreme? If my kid used this strategy in high school or middle school would it be an acceptable concentration method? Would a teacher be offended? Would the concession be allowed or would it cause chaos among other students?

Is this a new trend? Am I old? How would this culture affect you as a trainer? I neglected to mention there was also the classic person who nodded off but we had a full-fledged snorer on day 4 after lunch. Might have been my favorite to watch from a distance.

In a world of videos, I wouldn’t envy the person sleeping as it might be sent digitally to their big boss. Just food for thought. For me I will stick to my old school training and try my darnedest to pay attention in this type of formal training. Mostly out of respect to the person conducting the training as the content may be difficult to present at times.

No matter what your perspective is, I applaud bold folks for taking initiative to calm their minds and nerves to enable themselves to focus and realign as needed to be successful in their environment. As a footnote to this paragraph: I wrote this weeks before the corona pandemic. I had no idea how it would totally come full circle as I sit in my own home on lockdown. A time out from life.

This is clearly my observation post. Maybe you are a stress ball person or maybe a coloring book type. Whatever your stress relief I applaud you. Don’t mind the people watchers like me. My tool is observing my environment. Assessing the whos, the whats, the whys and so on.

Thankfully my in service training has come and gone so I can get back to my routines being routine and keep my people watching distractions to a minimum especially while
in isolation. It is again an irony that I initially wrote this post pre-corona yet it’s applicable to life today. No routines, keeping my distance, and of course limiting my
people watching because I’m on lockdown.

It’s also apparent that in these crazy times people of all ages and mindsets need refreshing and new ideas to comfort them and shift their focus. I chose to take a long bike ride today. I enjoyed the crisp fresh air. I listened to the peaceful sounds around me.

Knitting may be your thing or maybe it’s playing cards or playing video games. Find your niche and get your groove on when you need to. This blog post was written sometime during the self-quarantine phase of the great corona virus 2020.

While in quarantine I have resorted to coloring my driveway with sidewalk chalk and chalk paint. I have blown many bubbles with those super size bubble blowers. I planted flowers and even a few trees. I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned more times than I can think. I colored. I sent care packages by mail. I binged watched Netflix more than I should have. I’m sure some of these idea came from my people watching time in the past. And the list continues….

Drop me a note to let me know what you have been up to in isolation.

giving

The Gifts that Keep on Giving

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Since we’ve been at home more in recent days (following social distancing and stay-at-home guidelines), passing the time has presented challenges. Yup, to put it bluntly, at times we are just plain bored.

My daughter had been asking to go shopping for painting supplies for about a month, well before the virus hit our home state. Then, like many other families, we went from extremely busy to having very little to do, but unable to go out and get much of anything that isn’t truly necessary.

So, I started rummaging.

And out came…watercolor paints (metallic, matte, at least 4 sets!), watercolor pads (in 2 sizes!), paintbrushes, pastels.  Voila! Art is possible.

Where did it all come from? When my kids were younger, in addition to the toys and candy-stuffed eggs, I would always put an art supply or two in their Easter baskets. Who knows why?  Just to balance things out.  Most of these art supplies were left on the living room floor along with the torn candy wrappers and cracked plastic eggs.  I’d eventually tuck the artsy stuff in a drawer along with the ones from the year before and all the other art supplies I’d collected through years of teaching, student-ing, and projects galore. Now, it’s all coming out to play.

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In these times of slower pace and waiting, many people are taking up old-fashioned pleasures.

Friends are asking, too…the group chat question about sidewalk chalk…so many people are chalking messages of encouragement or just drawing on the driveway with extra time.  And, lo and behold, of course I have a shiny unopened box of 48 Crayola sidewalk chalks! (I’ve probably had it for 5 years!) Sure, I will share them! Don’t thank me, thank the Easter bunny! (and, okay, my hoarding tendencies…which this whole situation does not help, by the way. But that’s a different post.)

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(Seriously, that big box of sidewalk chalk is in this Easter photo from 2011. Yes, 2011!  Over a decade ago!  Yikes!!!)

Add in a long-ago purchased rolling table from Ikea that I never set up and presto, it’s our own little mobile art station.  And we’re using the portion of the chalk we kept to cheer up outside.

Making stuff and sharing art and time are doing our hearts and minds good.  When I think of Easter coming in a couple of weeks, I am not sure what it will look like.  But for now, we are celebrating and sharing with creativity, with gifts from Easters past that are suddenly gifts all over again.

How are you passing any idle time, in old ways or new? Board games, card games?  Share in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

challenges, dare to be different

5 Words Fast

Find 5 words quick that sum up your identity. Do the exercise quickly. If you are not done yet, you took too long.

Now that you have five words, drop 2. I bet that was hard.

Drop another word off the list. I bet that was harder.

Now you reached the crossroad! You have two words left. You must drop one more word. What did you choose? Is it accurate?

This a great activity for a family, a work group, a group of lifetime friends, or just your spouse.

I did this within a business setting for a work activity. It was interesting. My word was experience. I liked my outcome. My life experience defines me. These same experiences shape me. This activity was a good one and this why I am sharing.

I did this with my daughter who is a teen. It was confirmation of how she views herself in that awkward life time. I did the exercise with a few others and the outcomes were eye opening for some and predictable for others.

No matter what the outcome, I encourage you to try this exercise on yourself. Pass it on to somebody new. You may learn something cool about yourself and others.

Embrace the awkward and go for it. 5 words. Just five words. Now remind yourself on a calendar for one year from now. See if your five words change.

When you are cooped up for a while and the board games get boring try this activity to shake it up. You can also change the five words to five things you can’t live without given the state we live in currently. Be flexible and remember to revisit this exercise in a year. It will be great to see how your mind may shift in time.

Good luck!