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!

 

 

 

 

 

balance, challenges

Abundance

It was my fourth trip to the grocery store in the past ten days.

Even in that long time, the scene was mostly the same.  Fruits and veggies were pretty well stocked.

But, canned goods were basically empty. Same with the pasta aisle. Fresh meat cases completely bare. Bread was hit or miss. Toilet paper shelves had tumbleweeds on them once again…ten days later.  Ten days!?!

It’s enough to make me anxious.  People walking around the store, shopping with masks and gloves, looks of mistrust.

Where did everything go?  Why is there nothing left?

Early on in this coronavirus crisis, I listened to a podcast by Lewis Howes.  I was still going in to my job at that point, so it was only a week ago (but wow it seems like so much has happened in that week).  I was listening to “8 Ways to be Calm and Prepared During a Crisis.”  It was number 8 that stood out to me the most: Keep giving.  Howes talks about how important it is to stay in an abundant mindset, even when (maybe especially when) things are scarce.

But it’s not just an abundance of things he is talking about.  He talks about time, energy, effort, love for people we know and even people we don’t.  He told a story about an exchange with a stranger in an elevator.  Instead of ignoring the person at this awkward time, he made the effort to talk to them and share just a word or two of general encouragement.  We are all in this mess together (even if we have to stay physically separated from most).

I took his advice this week.  Every morning as I was out riding my bike or running, I made it a point to say a clear “good morning” to everyone I passed.  I looked them in the eye. Many were surprised, but most responded.  During the day, I reached out to colleagues just to check in and say hello.  I tried to text my gym friends, since many of us have stopped going and I want to encourage them to stay active and connected.  I had longer talks with both of my brothers than I have had in months.  I wrote letters and started creating artwork to send to people I can’t see or who might need a lift.

Abundance happens to be a common theme in the book I am reading right now, too: “You Are a Badass” by Jen Sincero.  More on that later, but continuing to work on my inner dialogue about what my purpose is and what is available to me is a big challenge. I do think I happen to be reading this book right now for a reason.  I have never had an abundance mindset, which is reflected in my home, my income, how much I eat, how much I spend, and all kinds of other ways. I have always been worried I will run out of things.  But, as I have been working on for years, I am rewriting my story toward a more magnificent ending. This is one doozy of a chapter for me, and for many of us.

How about you? How can you come from a place of abundance when we are faced with possibly having less, earning less, even trusting less and connecting less?  What do you have to give abundantly? We all have something, even many things.  Who can you lift today?  Share your story in the comments.

 

 

celebrations, coaching

Growing Up Fast

They may not be fully grown but they represent a few of my maturing players. Many team colors over the years but the same great kids and lots and lots of memories.

I have known this group since they were in elementary school. I wasn’t their only coach but I was fortunate to have them with me for a few seasons, reasons, tournaments and so on.

We built strong bonds. We built trust. We giggled. We traveled from state to state many times and boy do we have car stories to tell. They got better in the sport they love. They had their glow up. Now they are in high school. Almost ready for college.

They are now working as volunteers to pass their knowledge on to the younger kids coming up in the ranks. Something they probably didn’t imagine when they first suited up in their lacrosse gear for the first time. This picture was taken in the state of Alabama about 5 years ago.

I have a front row seat in watching them excel as leaders on and off the field. They don’t get paid. They work hard. They are role models. From brace-faced young girls to whistle-blowing officials. These girls have grown up all things lacrosse. They are now choosing to volunteer in the sport that has afforded them so much. This gem of photo was a first 3 v 3 tournament in the Sunshine State back in 2016.

These girls may not see the value of what they are doing today but they are leading by example. Those they are mentoring and will later mentor others. They will springboard off this leadership experience as they head off to college. Their team bonding will crossover into the workplace one day. This keepsake photo was after a hard fought championship game in sunny South Carolina in 2017.

They are tomorrow’s workers. They have a solid foundation. They will be successful. I will enjoy watching them grow into greatness. How can I not include the toy soldier photo from a holiday tournament held in Georgia every year. One that is festive and full of crazy costumes and most notable is the cold temperatures and bad weather that comes with a December tournament.

This is why I coach. I love being a part of these girls’ stories and I love having them a part of mine. From costumes to travel and beyond the sport of lacrosse has bonded these girls for years. They are there for each other when times are challenging and they push each other when the need arises.

As many of my lacrosse girls approach adulthood, this is my big thank you for letting me be a part of your journey. I remember so many of my coaches throughout life and the lessons they taught me. I hope my players remember me one day and the memories we made.

So many hurdles for these girls and other athletes who had their seasons interrupted because of the Coronavirus scare. Uncharted territory. The closest reminder for me was 9/11 however none of these girls even remember 9/11 as they were not born yet. What a crazy reflection in this growing up post.

I now feel old and experienced in life having seen the Gulf War, 9/11 and now Coronavirus. Crazy to think my parents talked about the potato famine and I get to tell stories about the toilet paper famine.

This post is for my three musketeer trio and those junior coaches that paved the way before them. You know who you are.

inspire

Book Buddies

I’m on a small book kick. One that I can read pretty quickly based on the size and of course my attention span! Grateful that I have friends who are avid readers but also like to share books. I guess that makes us book buddies of sorts.

This time around I got Wolfpack by Abby Wambach on a book rotation. My kind of read. Short and sweet but potent at the same time. Pretty soon you will see a short and sweet publication from 2 CHX but we are not quite ready for its unveiling just yet.

A lot of time and planning goes into publishing a book. From the cover design to the binding to the words itself. Even if small, a book designed correctly will pack a punch. I’m putting the Wolfpack book to test as I write this blog and we shall see how it holds up to the 2 chicks test.

I would give this read a two thumbs up. For one it was simple. No big fancy words. Just short, sweet and to the point. I guess that style appeals to me.

Next footnote was the subject matter and the vantage point it mentions. It pretty much dialed into a post I wrote about recently called life’s penalty box. As an athlete, a coach, an author and I mom I could relate on many levels.

I had many takeaways which meant I learned something. It also reinforced my non-apologetic lifestyle I live. I will springboard off this small book and use it as inspiration for the current batch of youth I am working with.

A little book. A quick read. A thought-invoking book. Keep learning. Keep living. Keep challenging yourself. Inspiration is always around. Thank you Abby for sharing your triumphs and failures with the world. I hope my blog lets you know you made an impact today from a far. As March is upon us, I am feeling lucky I had the opportunity to read this little gem of book and share my thumbs up rating with all of my readers.

awareness

Swimming Lessons

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Summer, Jersey Shore. Our family reunion.

At night we had dinners at homes by the bay. Seafood, pizza, pasta, coolers of beer, laughter.

All day was sand, sunscreen, and the mighty Atlantic.

We only came every four years. Each time the ocean seemed drastically different. There was the year when swarms of jellybean-sized-jellyfish crowded us ankle deep day after day.  The year I brought my young children and it was just too cold and rough for them to swim.  And I can’t forget the time I was in my late teens and went swimming with my dad.

My dad was disabled my entire life.  His progressive, severe rheumatoid arthritis took him from hobbling, to cane-dependent, to wheelchair-bound.  His broken body betrayed his wandering, roller-coaster riding spirit many times, but still, he always kept pushing his body as far as it would go.

This day, he had probably taken 20 minutes to carefully shuffle across the scorching sand with the help of a cane and a patient cousin.  Slowly, carefully, taking a break every ten yards or so, but he had to get to the water.

Oh, how my dad loved the water.  It was the one place he felt free.  He could float, glide, swim, and move unencumbered by the lumps, aches, and pains of his joints.  In the water, he would float, belly, toes, nose bobbing above the waves, his smile as wide as the unending coastline.

The beach was its usual crowded and the water its usual choppy.  If there was a yellow flag warning, we didn’t heed it.  Nothing could keep my Dad from his floating freedom in the briny sea. My Dad and I descended the steep wet sand and out we went to swim.

We floated.  We talked.  We dog paddled.  We enjoyed the sun.  Minutes passed, or was it hours?  Time to head back in for a sandy snack. We looked up and the coastline was distant.  Farther away than I had thought it would be.  Much farther. So we tried to swim in, but no matter what we got further and further away from the shore.

The waves, once so joyful to float over, became relentless.  We were tired.  Our arms and legs were no match for the tides dragging us out.  I was staying under a bit longer each time than I should have.  Panic started to set in.  We were running out of solutions.  Fear set in. Fear took over our minds.

My Dad was still floating but he knew we were in trouble, too.  He was struggling to stay afloat himself.  My Dad, a better swimmer than I, was still no match for the undertow.  He wanted to help me so much, I am sure, but he could hardly help himself stay up.  How could he help me when his own life was in trouble? Both of us were running out of energy.  If I grabbed onto him to give my body a break from the effort, even though he was better in the water, we both would surely drown. Our will to live was dwindling by the minute.

Wave to the shore, he said.  So many of our family were watching us.  So I waved, flailed, used every ounce of strength to try to signal.  How can I tell them we are in trouble?  I screamed. Crossed my arms, all kinds of signals. My dad doing the same. Nothing worked.  They all just waved back, likely figuring we were just having fun with my dad’s swimming skills, well-known in our family ranks. My cries of “help us” got lost in the ocean breezes. Our cries were in plain sight but could anyone hear us?  Was anyone even listening? Nobody understood our fear.  No one seemed to care.

It seemed like hours but my dad’s cousin Tom finally figured out we were in over our heads.  He bravely swam out and somehow dragged us in from the riptide.  I still remember an aunt screaming “smile!” and snapping a photo as we slumped out of the water, past exhaustion.  No one knew we had been within an inch of drowning.

Fast forward twenty-something years, this story hits me in new ways in my daily life. Am I now the one on the shore? Are people struggling right in front of me that I pass by, unknowing? Are they at the brink of drowning and I miss their signals?

I think of my father.  The better swimmer.  How much he must have hurt inside, knowing he couldn’t help his daughter without both of us losing the battle against the breakers.  How can you help someone who is drowning when you are are not fully afloat yourself?  When you are pummeled by the endless waves, just trying to stay afloat?  A lesson in this.

I can point and draw attention. Signal to those who might be able to help. But will they hear the silent or distant cries? If I wave my arms will that make a difference? I can keep her company like my Dad did for me…  Keep her calm. Try to set her mind at ease in the middle of the fear I know well…the fear of the ocean getting the best of me and dropping into the unknown. Keep paddling.  Don’t give up. I know you’re tired.  Help is coming.

I can make suggestions, try to guide her toward the shore.  Keep working until someone with the strength comes out and meets us, or we find our way back to steady footing.  There’s no happy ending if we both drown, so I try to be a lifeguard the best I can, in the literal meaning of that word. Even the best swimmers get in trouble sometimes.   Every lifeguard wants to save everyone in distress, but the lifeguard also has to stay afloat herself.

In life we have to swim daily. Sometimes the waters are calm and other times they are dark and stormy.

In life we all need saving at times. Sometimes it’s life saving medical treatment for an ailment. Sometimes it’s saving from a bad relationship. Sometimes it’s saving us from our mind, troubled past, or even financial stresses.

We must all remember life is always worth living. Today, tomorrow, and the next day. If you ever think ending your life is the only choice it’s merely the only perceived solution to an insolvable problem. As somebody who was saved, somebody who is a lifelong helper, I am shouting out to the ocean and the world to say don’t give up. Somebody is coming to save you. Don’t let fear take control. Wait another day. Do the doggie paddle of life. Think of my Dad. He was handicapped, wading in the water and he didn’t give up. I didn’t give up because of his spirit. You don’t need to give up either.

There are always people who care. Some may not see the signs in plain sight. You might need to establish a drowning sign. A key word. A hand signal that is universal. Don’t delay – make sure your tribe knows your drowning symbol whether it’s at the beach or closer to home in daily life.

Suicide is real. It impacts those near and far. It does not discriminate. It’s impacted my life and this is my offering of hope to those I may know in need, those I may never know are struggling and those who already lost the battle. I honor you by sharing my story today.

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dare to be different

Life’s Penalty Box

Growing up I knew about the penalty box. That’s where you got sent in the hockey game when you committed a foul of sorts. Bad behavior I would say in the heat of the moment.

I wanted to go into the penalty box. Maybe not to stay but I wanted to. I told my parents I wanted to play hockey. At the time I was enrolled in figure skating and I was decent and my training partner ended up going to the Olympics years later so I will say I was okay. But in figure skating girls had to wear white skates and sometimes they had fur on them.

I wanted pads, a stick and the black skates like my brothers and the neighborhood boys I played in the street with. My mom was horrified. Where would I dress out? In the hockey room silly…that was my response.

My mother’s response was absolutely not. A locker room is for boys only. They have jock straps and male parts. No way she said. This is the first time I learned about equal opportunity. Despite my mom’s resistance she let me do it. Play hockey that is on the all-boys team.

I’m sure the coach hated getting the token girl but they couldn’t say no because there wasn’t a girls team! Hahaha I thought to myself then and I giggle about it now as well. I had to change in the ticket office season after season. The window office that you pay money at but it had a wood piece covering up the window when I had a game so I could change. Little did I know I was receiving an accommodation because I lacked a penis.

I started on the C line (or the crappy line). I had to show my worth and do everything the boys could do in practice. And oh I sure did. I made it to the B line and then the A line. That’s when I became respected as a contributor. I liked reading my name in the paper each week for goals scored.

I moved on to baseball, not softball. Another no girls allowed club. I tried out for little league team. The powers that be wanted me to play triple-A instead. So I went and whomped on all the little boys and my coach also coached football so he said I’d like her to come play for me. I was excited. Bigger pads and a new sport to conquer.

Only there was a big but. My mom threw down the gauntlet. She said no. No more boy sports. I think she was horrified where my dad was thrilled. It ended up working out okay as high school was approaching and well, I hit my glow up. It worked out better for me to be one of the guys but look good in a dress too so I just went with the flow. How funny is it now that I can be one of the guys but still look good in a dress?!?!

Now as an adult I smile when I see the all-girls hockey teams at the collegiate level, when I see girls crossing over in male dominated sports. Why? Because it prepares the young girls for adulthood.

I fight for a seat at the man’s table more often than I’d like to admit. It sucks but I don’t back down. I have to check the box on applications stating I’m disadvantaged in business meaning I operate a women-owned business. There are so many eyebrows I raise as an adult that are not that different than when I was a kid.

I love my male counterparts, don’t get me wrong. I love their energy, their strength and their abs most days. I do however appreciate a level playing field if we have to compete. That could be a scaled weight in a lifting competition. It could be fair treatment in a business loan application. It could be a fair shot at a head coach position vs. an assistant. I mean you can see this all the way up to the presidency.

The world has come a long way but surely has a long way to go to even out the playing field. Today’s post is all about the modern day sexism that surrounds us all in one way or another.

This post was titled life’s penalty box for a reason. I said I liked to see what it was like to be in the box. The box is full of life lessons. They will be there tomorrow, they are there today and they were there when I was a kid. I embraced the challenge of the box when I was kid and am doing so now as an adult.

Heck I even go in and out of the penalty box within the four walls of my own home. Which gender is expected to cook, clean, do laundry, bring home the bacon, and attend parent conferences? Ahhh the penalty box is somewhat like Pandora’s box.

Since this is a 2 chicks blog site I am entitled to such a rant. Xoxo to any males who read this.

celebrations

What a Craptastic Day

Today was a challenge from start to finish but some how late in the afternoon I made the day my bitch! That’s sort of the irony of headline word craptastic.

The dictionary states the word means remarkably poor quality which is true of my day. However I look at the word a little different. To me it’s a fusion crappy and fantastic which is really what my day was like. It started crappy and then I hit a patch allowing it to elevate to fantastic. The end of day net result is the smushing up of the two words.

Quirky explanation I’m sure but that is me in a nut shell. There were obviously many factors that made the day a trying one. It started with my doggie having an accident at 6am when I was rushing to the gym. One phone call/email after another I seemed to hit obstacles. I wanted to give up, but I didn’t give up. I just kept pushing through. Very much like I pushed through all my burpees this morning!

Boom there it was. The successful piece of the day I needed. It hit a little after 4pm out the blue. That little nugget allowed me to springboard into finishing the day strong. There were times I didn’t think I was gonna get out of the hole I was buried in, but with a little good luck, positive attitude and hard work I escaped the crazy.

Shit happens all day, everyday to lots of people. It’s really up to each individual to react to their individual shit pile or shit mound. Whatever degree of doo doo you have handed to you, you can choose to let the shit pile up or get the shovel and clear the path.

Today I cleared the path. Tomorrow may have a different outcome but I can’t worry about that. I’m too busy celebrating that I slayed the day and cleared the shit. Even if it’s temporary, I won the battle today. The impossible day became my bitch.

As I rise some days the doo doo starts with me knee deep in the muck of it. I’m still here ready today. How about you? Training my mind to deal with the poo pile of life.