challenges, travel

Southwest Shitshow

Today I am flying across country. From one cold front to another. Snow coverings to celebrate a white Christmas this year and frigid temps that call for warm blankets and toasty fires on the home front with my puppies. A welcome I gladly await but sadly have postponed it thanks to Southwest Airlines and their poor service.

I had been magically flying just above the clouds somewhere on the way to Denver, Colorado. It was a peaceful time of reflection. I was thinking of all the people I have in my life that are amazing yet missing those who aren’t with me this holiday season. As I was flying high I felt the presence of those I miss this year. It was almost like the clouds had names of loved ones gone too soon. At this point in the day there was a calm in the air. Not a worry in the world and I was looking forward to being home.

After landing in Denver, the trip home became a little more complex. Staffing shortages for Southwest Airlines were spiraling out of control for days and today things were supposed to be back on track. That was false. Insanity was lurking everywhere. Crying people everywhere. Cops patrolling gates which is not normal. Emotional outbursts at counters. Lines for days at every Southwest counter yet no supervisors in sight and guess what corporate is closed for the holiday!

The backlog and staff shortages caused rippling effects across the county but Denver was one of the most hard hit. The airline swears it was not poor planning on their part rather storm related issues but I beg to disagree. Plane after plane delayed or cancelled waiting on flight attendants to show up to staff a flight or pilots running out of time due to long delays and federal regulations. I have never seen planes sitting at a gate for hours waiting for staff to load the hundreds of people waiting to get on the plane. Most gates had no attendants either because all those who showed up for work didn’t appreciate the hounding of those waiting for a human to give an update.

Fast forward: many hours sitting and being shuffled gate to gate only to watch planes sit idle or get unloaded due to no staff, incomplete flight crew, or in my case over time limit pilots. It was pure insanity and I was in the midst of it. Then finally we load onto a plane at 8:45 pm and sit for over and hour. Babies crying. People getting anxious of why the plane hasn’t moved. The list goes on and on. Then they take us off the plane because the pilots are under the federal guidelines but their union contracts says they can’t fly. Oh the crowd went wild. Anger was written on many faces while tears well up in the eyes of tired and hungry kids. No hand out of water or blankets for those forced to sleep in the airport. No hotel voucher. Nothing. Just a long line to wait to be rebooked on the computers they kept crashing due to overload of resources. An absolute shit show. The picture above shows the length of every line at every Southwest kiosk. The wait was hours long.

Most rebook options were 2 days out at best, but my case was 12/31 some 6 days later with no access to my bag and no accommodations. Sounds amazing right?

That means you are stranded with no access to bags. Many in tears due to holiday gifts being in their checked bags. No options. Many just stuck. Some elderly couples were in disarray not knowing how to operate the internet swiftly or an app. It was unsettling to watch as folks crumbled around me. A young couple had tickets to Disneyland for first time with young kids and they wouldn’t get that money back or get the experience they had planned. 

I have never experienced such chaos in an airport. Southwest had people stranded for days. My inconvenience seemed minimal in comparison to those traveling with small children or even animals. I heard so many kids crying that just wanted to see Grandma or Grandpa for Christmas. It was awful. Now flip the script to other airlines. They are still flying and the chaos seems mild in comparison despite other airlines taking all the rebooks from Southwest’s incompetence.

In my case it cost me another $1,500 to get home and I had to split up with my child to even make that happen. I had to spent the night in an airport and I had no luggage or hygiene items. By the time I got off my cancelled flight no food places were open. Stores were closed for even water. I will definitely rethink my carryon accessories in the future to prepare for airport Armageddon. When I finally boarded my Delta flight Santa had delivered goodies to all their passengers. Mini stockings full of candy. What a treat and what amazing service. Southwest didn’t even give a bottle a water or blanket to those stranded. What an irony.

Signing off a little sleep deprived. A little annoyed. Most definitely disappointed in Southwest Airlines customer service. 4 hours to wait by phone. An app that crashed. Terminals frozen at the airport. Disconnects on phone and so on. Delta will get my money in the future even if it’s more expensive. Delta even gave out mini stocking goody bags to its passengers on my rebooked flight. So crazy.

I will pick up this with the how to get my bags from Southwest in the coming days.

author moments, awareness, challenges

It’s Been A Week

This week is one for the record books. 

So much to do in my own day-to-day life. The normal tasks. The one-off tasks. The fitness regimen. The community service. The people time. Travel. Life a-z. Then a boom hits. A real shocker nobody could ever plan for. Indirect connection. Direct connection. Neither matters when the boom is so hard the shock wave spirals for miles and miles. That’s what happen when a child dies that is interwoven in communities near and far due to school, church and sports connections.

My community is mourning the loss of a young girl. The day-to-day life seems insignificant yet life continues for our family. A guilt one should not want to feel. As a coach of young girls, I check in on social media. I text. I watch. I have to keep an eye out. I see so much hurt. I check in with other parents to see how grief is setting in on their home front. I see sadness on faces that normally boast bright smiles. I see prayer groups running non stop. Everyone is trying to get by with a little help from……

God

The community

Family

Friends

Loved ones

Many are holding on to cherished memories. Many are wondering why they didn’t get to say goodbye. Others are thinking why did I not do this or maybe why did I say that. When loss hits without warning so many raw emotions are stirred up. Time has become a thief. Time is no longer an option with that person. The loss of not doing is what is so hard.

Healing has begun for this community in some ways. No one will really ever understand the why behind this incident. None of us will really be exactly the same. Some kids will learn lessons and some will sit in the darkness for many reasons. Life is full of experiences and unfortunately death is one of them. Living through loss is where growth can happen even if it’s extremely hard in the moment. I’m learning how to be a better parent for example. I’m learning how to talk more deeply with other parents on how they are handling this type of grief and/or teaching moments.

I am however not passing judgment on the young girl. I am not passing judgment on the others involved. It’s not my place. It’s also not for me to decide who was in the wrong. My job is to be patient. To learn. To love. To be present. That’s it. Just a support role. A support for whomever needs it. When they need it. Today. Tomorrow. A year from now.

I will think of the color blue a little differently now. The baby blue hue that is a memory of her bright light on the world. A soft color to represent an angel in the distance. May her new journey be one that allows her to soar among the powdery blue skies. 

As one is set to be layed to rest. I pause. I reflect on my choices. My guidance to my kids. This could be me. This could be you. This tragedy can happen in your community. Teens are not invincible despite their beliefs. It’s great to feel invincible but we all know as adults how dangerous feeling invincible can be. For now I’m one of the lucky ones. I get to hug my teen. I get to continue the process of looking at colleges. I get to support my teen during this grief.

My heart goes out to the parents who don’t have that ability any longer. My strength goes out to the families whose children’s lives were spared that night. For they feel a different kind of grief and relief and guilt. My resilience is going out to the family of the one who ultimately has to face the legal system for this unfortunate situation. Another angle of this dilemma many may forget about but one that is equally challenging. Families will hurt for years to come. 

As I close my eyes to drift into a peaceful state I say a quiet prayer for all. Everyone needs something. May peace be granted to all in the ways that each needs for healing. I am also praying for healing of all involved in the other teen incidents that just happened to occur close by in the past few weeks as well.

The teen shot leaving school.

The teen stabbed with a box cutter in the school bathroom.

The football player gunned down at the mall.

Signing off as a lucky mom today. Heartbroken for the kids and families impacted by these tragedies. May this be a reminder that we as parents are not invincible. We can all be faced with that uncertainty one day. Stay humble. Be kind. Do what you can to help others. You may need the support one day.

challenges, change

Oh My Aches

Well 50 has been glorious thus far. So many aches creep up after the big 5-0. Today, I thought I would jot a few down.

The tennis ache: I have a love hate relationship with this kind of ache. I love tennis. I hate the ache in my forearm from overuse. A year ago the ache seemed insignificant. Could the big 5-0 really cause aches?

The CrossFit ache: this ache comes and goes depending on the programming of movements and/or the frequency of my attendance on a regular basis. The ache however is the same. It’s a graduating ache. You must move to keep the tightness from settling in any one place, especially the buttocks. Nobody likes a tight ass. Consistency helps with this ache but age does enlighten you when evaluating aches.

The knee ache: this one is ever so annoying. I can walk. I can bend. I can ride a bike. However, if I sit in a plane seat or a car seat for any length of time my knee is locked. The unlocking part leaves a lingering pain deep inside. Could this be old age? I have no idea what a bad knee feels like but now that I’m fifty I think about it.

Although there are physical aches, there are also emotional and social aches. The social aches come and go with time conflicts and scheduling for adults. Those who want to spend time together but then schedules and life gets in the way. The emotional aches can swing from one side to the other.

One side of the emotional ache could be with growth. Watching your child or young adult grow or not grow. The other side could be emotional aches resulting from the loss of loved ones near and far. Add that 5-0 menopausal self and you might get a an emotional wreck, front and center.

Environmental aches sneak up on you too. The annoying neighbor. The boss who is a pain. The co-worker who slacks causing you extra work.  The weather might even throw you off or makes your aches worse if it’s cold or rainy. One seems easily shaken or disturbed as into that crotchety self over fifty.

I never used to notice aches and pains as much as I have this year. Menopause. Aging. Life. It all hits at once. Or so it seems to me. My forty-five year old self was so much more indestructible. My forty-seven year old self was so adventurous. My fifty and challenged self is changing daily. Likes. Dislikes. Wants. Don’t wants. Needs. No’s. Do’s. Dont’s. I can’t even name them all because change is on the horizon, daily. I also think snoring magnifies over 50.

As I write today, I think of how much I enjoy the still of my day today. The fall air. The cool breeze. The comfy sweatpants. As day shifts to night, I will enjoy something different. The outdoors. The giggles. The challenges. The competition. I hit the field tonight with my new team. I will enjoy some fall memories with this group that will surely keep me on my toes and easily make me forget my aches of the ages.

For now I focus on moving as much as I can and as often as I can. I try to stretch my mind to try new things to counter balance my aging. I often remember to giggle. I also disregard those around me who attempt to suck the life out of me. This is a necessary step to keep the other aches at bay.

Nobody wants to add heartache or worse on top of the other aches I listed above. Well not me anyway. Time to throw my frisbees to my dogs and breathe fresh air.

author moments, challenges

Just Because…

Just because I can, doesn’t mean I will.

Just because I want, doesn’t mean I need.

Just because I do, doesn’t mean I should.

Just because.

Every day. Every week. Every month. Every year. We are all faced with should I? Could I? Would I? The decisions of life. Yes. No. Maybe so. I live in the world of yes most days. I don’t like no’s. And maybe so’s should always be yes if I’m asking but mostly no if somebody is asking me.

Just because.

If you want something, do you go for it?

If you need something, do you find a way to get it?

Did you ever get something, just because?

If I wanted a job, I’d find a way to get it. However today I see many who want jobs but have no will to get it.

If I want new shoes, I’ll buy them. Most times I don’t need, I just want. Definitely not practical but sometimes it’s just because. This is funny because the same folks who don’t have the will to get the job are also the same folks who will wait until their shoes are falling apart before getting new ones. I find the irony in this is I plan to have a backup in life. Whether it’s my shoes, my car or my job. Others fly by the seat of their pants. They have no plan, just because.

My just because is more about because I can, I will, I do. Others just because is more about because I can’t, I won’t or I missed out. Goals. Dreams. Desires. These are words in my wheelhouse. Limitless opportunities is what I always see.

Others see speed bumps, road blocks, and find excuses. Reasons not to drive forward. Reasons to sit in the parking lot today with no plan for tomorrow. No umbrella for the rainy day. No extra money for that special day. The longer you sit in this stage the longer you dread the future. All you will see is things you can’t have. You can’t do. You can’t achieve.

Just because.

Just because you need mental strength to battle the game of life. My opportunist self won’t let my mind loan out my precious head space to the I can’t of life. Will you let others invade your head space? Will you let your asshole boss dictate your long term worth? Will you wallow in self pity when life deals you a bad hand? Will you sit in status quo mode while those around you grow and prosper?

Just because you are at some unfavorable stage in life today, doesn’t mean you are stuck there. You just need will power, a little hope and a strong desire to change your circumstances. This all starts with your mind.

The I can do it mentality.

Just because you can.

Just because you will.

Just because you want to. 

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.