family, fitness and nutrition, Uncategorized

A Long Time Coming

The Victory Lap of senior year is marching on.

We are over halfway!

The first big end-of-season celebration recently wrapped. Of course, I’m thinking and looking back at how far she has come.

Over 10 years ago, my little scrapper started flag football in our local church league. The teams were coed. She has always liked playing sports with the boys. She relished the chance to go toe-to-toe with them and loved pulling their flags, dodging their “tackles,” and winning. Football of any kind isn’t usually a girl’s sport, so she may have had one other girl on her teams through those years. When she got to 4th grade or so, that age when bodies and minds start to really realize that girls and boys are different, she was the only girl on those teams. Again, she didn’t care and the boys’ fumbly discomfort around her even made her secretly giggle. She still loved running past them for the touchdown. She just wanted to play.

In high school, things get a little more serious. I remember reading in the paper that flag football would be coming to our county as a grant-funded club sport for girls. How exciting! The transition to high school had been a challenge for her and I thought it would be great. But, the schedule and coaches discouraged her from trying out that first year. She could get injured. She was already playing volleyball. It wouldn’t work.

Thankfully, the sport continued into her sophomore year. Again, a club sport, but after not making the volleyball team, the path was cleared for her to try out for flag football. She made that team and had a ball with a group of (mostly) new friends.

During her junior year, flag football became a varsity-level sport in our state, so she could earn her letter and competition would grow. She was named captain of that team and had a great season (despite COVID quarantine and lots of other ups and downs). And then this year, as a senior captain, she again helped lead her team to the playoffs, and was named to all-county teams on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. She received her 4th scholar athlete award, keeping her grades up all the while.

As she wound down her high school flag football career, she received what is called the Hawk Award from her coaches. Every varsity team at our school has just one of these awards. It is given to the player that excels on and off the field, in the spirit of the Hawks, her school mascot.

Remembering her first year of high school, when I drove her 30 minutes each morning away from home in the icy dark…she would hardly speak. Later she told me she would cry every single day when she arrived at school. I took her from her neighborhood friends, her safe zone, and plopped her into a school that was so different, so huge, so competitive. She had to work hard to achieve. Seek out help when she needed it. It was an honor to be selected for a team, not just a given. But just like my parents had done for me, pulling me from a sinking neighborhood school and taking me across town to a better high school, it has all worked out for the better. She’s grown to appreciate the opportunity and has made the most of it. She’s become a leader, a scholar, and a Hawk. After all those chilly, quiet, traffic-filled mornings, I can look back and know again that the effort was worth it.

And now on to her grande finale, lacrosse season!

perspective

The Rumor Mill

Recently, my name was put through the wringer. I was the subject of the rumor mill. Three different conversations on the same day and they all got back to me.

#1: came in an email “…a group of us were talking about this and…”

It was an unpopular decision I had made. A decision people had known about for weeks that came along with a deadline. Finally, on deadline day, someone decides to let me know that they didn’t like or understand the decision. And, they were speaking on behalf of some unknown group of people as well. Great timing, long after anything can be done about it.

#2 came a couple of hours later…same decision, different group chat, more complaints. Again, I hear about confusion, “I don’t wannas” and so on. Of course, it is all just second hand, so really there’s nothing I can do about it. After the initial complaint, other people in the group chat piled on with things that actually weren’t true. I did go to the adults involved and got an update so I knew what was said. But if a friend hadn’t clued me in in the first place I’d never have known.

Finally, #3… yet another decision I made ruffled some people’s feathers. Feelings got hurt. Actions got misinterpreted. People made assumptions that were wholly untrue. My name kinda got dragged through the mud on this one.

All of these on one day eventually brought me to tears. Most days I can ignore what people think of me. If I find out and it’s negative, I just blow it off it for the most part. I can’t do anything about it.

This day was different. All of these were decisions I made with reasons. I made them with doing the right thing in mind. I wasn’t trying to hurt anyone or take advantage.

I am glad I have friends who look out for me. Who keep an ear open for how my name is being used or misused. And who take the time to tell me if it is important.

I’m also thankful for person number one, even if they did speak on behalf of a bunch of people who did not share her courage. I was able to explain myself and my reasons, which then helped her understand. We happened to run into each other later that night, and she thanked me for taking the time to explain. Overall, a win.

As for the others, since I technically didn’t know about either of these conversations I didn’t have the chance to respond. It makes me sort of sad, but what can I do?

Back to not being bothered by what people think or say.

perspective

The Middle Seat

I was on a flight squished in the middle of two strangers. Like sardine in a can. It was an evening flight making the cabin dark. The exception to the darkness was the glow of phones instead of reading lights. This kind of made me a giggle a bit.

I closed my eyes briefly and reflected on my day. My week. My past few months. It’s been a whirlwind but I didn’t expect anything less as I’m on the road to the big 5-0! Today I woke up to the chilly fall air. I had a tennis match with a new partner: I had no expectation other than don’t freeze to death. 

I layered up my clothes before heading out into the tundra. I mean it was 40 degrees which is cold for me. My new partner was nervous. I was cold. It took us a few volleys to get in unison. The gelling is what I like to master. I’ve been told I need to lead on the court but normally I don’t. For me tennis has been about relaxing. Changing up my routine. Meeting new people. Having fun. What I didn’t realize is others were expecting me to lead. Somehow I missed all the cues.

I scratched my head until my team coach chimed in with, you are strong and lead in every other aspect of your life and the partners you are paired with expect nothing else than the same on the court. I scratch my head again. Can I still do all the things I mentioned above and lead? Why yes I can. Once I modified my attitude we began to play better. Communicate more clearly. Win or in some cases or battle to deuce, deuce, deuce and so on. We hung in there for hours. Ultimately losing in the end but that’s okay because we get mimosas at the end. It’s always a happy ending if you look at it that way!

This little tennis match got me thinking when I sat in the middle seat. How much have I led this week? This month. This year. What is still left for me to conquer before 12/31. I love when I get a chance to shake things up and sit in a middle seat. A chance to be idle and drift into that creative space of thought.

I opted to take out my phone and glow. I figured I already had a night light to my left from a laptop and decided a little glow from my iPhone would be a fine accent. Off I went to type away on my teeny tiny keyboard.

It’s a million dollar year for me. It’s been a bunch of firsts. It’s many many new adventures and beginnings. It’s milestones. It’s new friends mixed with old. It’s another year winding down. Just like that. In the blink of eye, 2021 rolled in and began to fade. 
as I pause my writing in my middle seat, I closed my eyes and focused on some deep breathing. Something I enjoy at the gym but find ways to mix it into my days as well. During those calm moments a weightlessness feeling appears. It allows my mind to relax.

Signing off from my middle seat. The squishy uncomfortable spot that nobody wants to pick. The fear of who you are stuck with as neighbors. Today I had the courage to greet others. A new perspective of flying that you may never experience. Eew! Yuck! Nasty! Who in the world thought that was okay?

I am also thankful for my mask on this flight as it’s somewhat masking the stink of the putrid lingering fart. A nearby passenger just fully unloaded something and they might have left a skid mark in their pants. I am so very thankful I was finishing this note instead of doing deep breathing when he/she chose to glow or blow in their own special way way up high in the sky where fresh air space is so limited. No manners!

fitness and nutrition

Keeping Pace

When I was growing up, July was all about the Tour de France. It was on TV for hours a day at my house. Before TiVO, my Dad would get up in what seemed like the middle of the night to watch. For the most part, I found it completely boring. Hours and hours of rolling along. The scenery was nice…French towns and the occasional sunflower field. I was mainly irritated that the TV was occupied for so many hours a day.

Inevitably, my Dad would try to explain some of the strategy to me. How the teams worked, drafting, and so on. After many years of boredom, I became sort of fascinated with the many roles on these teams. Most of the athletes were not there to win for themselves. No, most of the guys had specific jobs that served to ensure the team’s leading rider came out wearing the maillot jaune.

Imagine it: you’ve been chugging over kilometers by the hundreds, even the thousands. You’ve summited mountains, taken treacherous downhill curves at high speeds. You’ve churned your legs day after day, through training and trials, and it all comes down to the final mile of the day. It’s a sprint finish. Your team sets up, a few of you lurking toward the front of the pack, staying out of trouble and in good position. Watching…watching…as so many other teams are doing the exact same thing….then….

BOOM. Almost imperceptibly, there’s a nod and someone flies off the front of the pack, his trailing teammates sprinting to stay in a cluster. Over a few hundred yards the tip of the spear, then his right hand man eventually peel off, their work done, their legs spent. If all goes as it should, the team leader comes out the winner of the day. Wears the yellow. The leadout men, who did the heavy sprint lifting, are left to come in 18th, 20th, 40th, who cares. Wherever their spent legs will coast them in.

After years and years of watching, I came to appreciate the pacers and their role. The dedication to a leader. The special craft in that support. All the teams working and split second strategy did make it an exciting few seconds of sports.

Sometimes pacing isn’t so hectic. We ran a half marathon a little over a year ago. One of the surprises at the pre-race expo was learning about the pacers. There would be people in the race running while holding up signs with times. Fifteen minute increments…2:00, 2:15, 2:30 and so on. If you were trying to meet one of those finish times for your race, you could hang with that pacer. In my case, I found a pacer and kept them in my sight. She had a flock of people running with her. Interestingly, she would stop and walk every once in a while, I guess to be sure she was hitting her goal on the nose. I passed the pacer a few miles in and in my mind I knew if she was behind me I was doing ok. I later wondered, was she a professional pacer? Her whole job was to make sure people made that goal?

I’ve noticed this in other contexts. Hearing my daughter tell stories of running alongside her teammates to help them make their benchmarks. People in health and fitness challenges jumping in to pace others over their personal finish line. And then there are people I pace off of, in the gym and in other areas of life, who may not even know they’re playing that role for me. People who just work hard naturally and I use their example as a model to keep in my sights.

It’s not really keeping up with the Joneses. There will be people who have habits and lifestyles I admire but pacing off them doesn’t make sense. It’s more about knowing the path I am on…sometimes the path I want to or need to be on, and finding partners or examples to pace off of. They’re moving along that path, ideally a little bit faster than me. Hopefully they’re willing to let me draft off of them for a while to make the path easier. At some point, like in the Tour, it may be my turn to take the headwinds at the front.

I am a helper. Maybe that’s why the idea of pacing people to their goals fascinates and resonates with me. Being a part of them moving along. Helping on the way. I’m not often the leader but I like being on the team that helps a leader succeed.

Who is pacing you out in life? Who is on your team, explicitly or implicitly? Who is on your path, smoothing the way or lighting the direction? Lifting your cadence?

On the flip side, are you pacing someone else out? Maybe without even knowing it? What does that mean for the choices you make? What direction are you leading in?

Another little something to think about.

business, perspective

The Driver’s Seat

What does the driver’s seat look like from the helm/cockpit of a vehicle? What does it look like from the passenger side, also known as the co-pilot seat? What about the view from the back seat or third-row seat?

Do those viewpoints change if you are driving in your best friend’s ride or your spouse’s car, riding with Grandma or maybe you are on a motorcycle? I suppose all passenger seats should look different than the driver’s seat! Maybe the music is different. Maybe the conversation is different. Maybe the aroma in the vehicle is different. Maybe the volume level is different. Maybe the stress level is different. The driver may alter their norm to adjust to the passengers and/or environment. Similarly the view from the passenger vantage point could vary based on occupants or length of time in said seat.

The driver is the captain. The boss. The big cheese. The controlling party. The leader. The responsibility starts and ends with that one person. Making sure one gets from point A to point B responsibly. The critical decisions, the pinpoint turns, the accurate lane changes, and the head-on-a-swivel-at-all-times mentality. I mean if you slack in any of those areas an accident could happen on the roadway. In the blink of an eye.

Could life mirror the driver’s seat if you are the CEO of a company, the branch manager of a bank, the operations manager of a warehouse, and so on? Why yes, it could. Sitting in the passenger side is fun. It comes with no pressure: no gas money needed, no insurance required, and no car payment.  

In business the boss is less likely to call out sick in comparison to a team member or passenger. Anyone can fill the passenger role but in most cases the business driver has a specific skill set. One which is harder to replace in an instant. For instance, the business owner has to make critical decisions that may impact others while a passenger can just provide commentary in most instances. The driver’s decisions must be strategic and sensible.

I know first hand many young adults don’t have their own car because they don’t want the responsibility of a car note, insurance or gas money. It’s far easier in this day and age to ride share with say Uber or bum a ride from a friend who has reliable transportation. Why lead and take responsibility when you can coast as a passenger in life?

In the business world life can be tough for a decision maker. A leader. A driver of any business. The one who has to set the tone. Find the path. Chart the course or route. Engage the resources/passengers. Make decisions on staying open or closed in tough times. This can be hard and a delicate balance at times. Those who never walk in these shoes would find it hard to understand the challenge but be quick to pass a judgement.

A passenger in business could be a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing.  An unassuming threat. A slacker of sorts. A clock watcher for both the beginning and ending of their shift. Waiting to prey on the driver/leader etc. to solve their issues. I know other intertwined scenarios where a passenger could struggle with the driver or vice versa. Or maybe a driver is erroneously in a passenger seat; would they attempt to distract or sabotage the driver? Is that a possible outcome?

Is life about compromise? Do we really want natural leaders to compromise or do we want them to do what they do best, lead? Can a passenger grow to lead? Who do you want to be your driver in the car or in life? Are there risks and rewards to each scenario? So many questions.

Just another food for thought post.