perspective

New Year, New Song

It’s back to school, which means back to work for me. Summer was gone in a flash.

Each member of our school leadership team was asked to choose a theme song for the year. We got some examples to spur our thinking.

Music is one of my love languages – not just love, it’s any emotion, really. The lyrics, the melody of a song can convey meaning I can’t seem to put into words. Playlists can transport me into different eras, remembrances, states of mind. Songs mean much.

So a theme song for the year was a big decision. I tried thinking about it and came up with some possibilities, but nothing seemed to fit. As a singer, it was all about the lyrics. I’d think of a song that had a great chorus, but then there would be some lyric about drinking or broken hearts or something else completely unrelated to school. In that case, it’s a no go.

What was the message I wanted to capture? Resilience. Flexibility. Hope. All things that speak to me in this transition time. In addition, I wanted something upbeat and catchy to keep the mood light.

And then it came to me. The theme song from the classic 70s sitcom, One Day at a Time. Upbeat, catchy, short, sweet, with all the right feelings.

Here are the lyrics:

This is it.
This is life, the one you get
So go and have a ball.

This is it.
Straight ahead and rest assured
You can’t be sure at all.

So while you’re here enjoy the view
Keep on doing what you do
So hold on tight we’ll muddle through
One day at a time.

So up on your feet.
Somewhere there’s music playing.
Don’t you worry none
We’ll just take it like it comes.

One day at a time, one day at a time.

Many of the people in that room didn’t even remember that sitcom, much less the song. So, a chance for them to learn something new.

Even in the very first week of planning, this year has already thrown us some curve balls. We’ve gone from masks are recommended to masks are required no matter who you are and if you’ve had a shot. I’ll admit my chest and shoulders slumped when I heard we were masking again, but I had already seen it coming and brought my laundered masks to work. Life goes on. It does.

We will get through it. We will have to help each other. We will have to approach each morning with a fresh perspective. We will do the best we can. If we trip and fall, it’s up on our feet and at it again. Somewhere there’s music playing…

One day at a time. One hundred and eighty five to go.

fitness and nutrition

Taking the Plunge

One of 2020 goals was to complete a triathlon. I registered and started training and then, you guessed it, COVID. Postponed until 2021.

A lot of life changed between mid-2020 and now. Still, I kept that race on my calendar and wondered at times if I should still give it a go. The swim was the weakest of my weak spots and I had not really done anything to train it. I happened to be at a lake the week before the race and swam for 20 minutes without touching bottom. It was slow, but I did it. I also completed a 10K successfully the week before the triathlon was scheduled. With those things in mind, I decided to give it a go.

A triathlon is a strange race. So much different than a show-up-and-lace-up-and-get-running 10K. There’s so much equipment, so many rules (a 24-page rule book!) There’s transitions to think about and plan for. There are referees, penalties, even disqualification. All this made me incredibly nervous. I read, made lists, planned, packed, and off I went. Brought my precious facebook marketplace bike in from my car and tucked it in. I was up half the night wondering if my decades-old helmet would meet the standards. Finally, 5:00 am came.

I double checked my list, had some hotel room coffee and off I went. Transition is such a madhouse. By the time I arrived there were already hundreds of bikes hung from racks. A lady saw me in my confusion, forcefully grabbed my bike and told me where to put my towel and transition setup. Everything was tight. You get about 12 x 18 inches to lay out your running shoes, socks, running belt, clothes, and anything else you need. If your space is too big or you block someone else it’s a penalty. Nerve wracking. Timing chip on my left ankle. Race number in permanent ink on both my biceps. My race age on the back of my leg. Now the long wait to start.

One of the reasons I chose this race was the waterslide start. Yes, you waterslide one at a time into a river then start the swim. This made for about a 30 minute wait after the first person started. But, it is better than the scary start-in-a-pack situations I have read about. There were maybe 50 people behind me. I met a couple of other first-time-tri-ers as we waited. We shared out nerves, our whys, and our training for the race. Finally, it was time for me to jump in and hit the course.

I confess, I can move in the water but I only kinda know how to swim in any systematic stroke. I can’t freestyle so I alternated between a sort of breaststroke and backstroke. People passed me many times as I made my way down the course, passing one buoy then another. Just keep going. I finally got out of the water and made my way to transition, being careful not to get hit by bikes on their way out.

I was one of the last to pick up my bike, so it wasn’t very crazy. The first people were already returning from the 14 mile bike. Helmet on almost first thing (that’s a disqualification if you get on your bike with no helmet.) Shirt, shoes, race belt with energy chews, water bottle, etc. etc. Finally I cross the mount line and I am off.

Bike riding is a peace place for me. Just gliding along. Had some energy blocks and hydration. Tried to keep it around 12 miles an hour which is a good pace for me. Looked around. Thanked police and security. Glide glide glide. I missed having my phone but taking pics would have slowed me down. Playing music or having headphones in is cause for disqualification – this was one of the hardest parts!

Finally, the run. This transition was much simpler. Just hang the bike and helmet, grab a water and go. Seeing people who had already finished was sort of hard but also motivating. Just keep going and it will be me, too.

Well, this second transition was logistically simpler, but physically this transition is rough rough rough. Trading the speed and relative ease of biking for the slow plod of running is a shock to the system. I just had to pace it out and keep going. This was hillier than I had anticipated and I just walked up the hills and didn’t worry over it. I met several people who were just walking the whole 5K. It was an out-and-back so I cheered on every one who was still on the course. I passed my two friends from the start line on my way back to the finish. We were going to do it!

Finally, I came up the hill and saw the finish line, so I broke my rule and jogged in. I jumped and slid down the finish slide and got my medal. After a minute to regroup, I went and waited for my new friends at the finish. I cheered them in. What a great feeling, to be a triathlete!

Did I place? No. Do I care? No. I didn’t specifically train, although I am active…but I was still just thankful to have made it through. Completion was the goal. I cheered for the winners. I gathered my things and slowly made my way back to the car.

I have never smelled as bad after a race as I did after this triathlon. It was a long 4 hour drive to the farm. Everyone who saw me in town and on the road seemed to know what I had done. Was it the medal? The numbers on my arms? (The smell?) Who knows. But lots of congratulations. Lots of reasons to smile and feel accomplished.

I would definitely do another one. I’d even train for it. Maybe even take swimming lessons. I have some people I’d like to do one with so that gives me something to look forward to. It was amazing and strange and memorable all in one. And I’ll always be able to say I have done it.

adventure

Up Up and Away 2.0

It’s 4am. The alarm clock buzzes. It’s not the normal hit snooze. It’s travel day. Vacation time. I spring out of bed. I’m in motion. Excitement in the air but also jitters.

Stressed to get in the car with everyone and everything. Is there traffic? How long is the line at the airport? So many unknowns but I’m on a timeline. Unneeded stress for vacation time, but it happens. Bags checked. Now security. More stress. The aroma is straight marijuana or the pungent smell associated with it. The people in the lines reek. Do those folks even know the smell is lurking? Does the old lady by me recognize the smell? I just shake my head.

Mask on. Babies crying. Chatter in different languages. The cries get louder. Workers moving the trash by me in large bins. Elderly folks getting pushed in wheelchairs. The sounds of every kind of rolling suitcase you could think of. Today I am paying attention to the different sounds wheels make. Rickety wheels. Fast wheels. An annoying beeping sound distracts me. Overhead announcements. So much distraction.

The things you observe while charging your phone in the airport. The line for Chick-fil-A is never ending. It’s not even 7am. Everyone wants their breakfast. I have nothing better to do than count people in the line. Almost 100 people in line. Would you wait? My stomach is growling but I’m not waiting. Starbucks is open as well. Their line is long, too. Maybe 40 people deep. I guess I’ll wait for my on plane snack or maybe I’ll day dream about a yummy breakfast at my destination. I heard a lady talking about a pancake flight at a local place. Sounds intriguing.

Flying is interesting. The airport has great people watching. Today is my first to fly with a Boy Scout troop. All decked out in their finest uniforms. Maybe I will sit by one to ask where they are off to.

Let the adventures begin. Time to unplug for take off. Wonder where I’m going….

mental health, perspective

Dust in the Wind

This past 15 months has been a train wreck on so many levels relating to school work for one of my kids. The train wreck has left carnage of a new kind spewed in or around my vicinity. My home. My email. My car. My inner circle. Just in abundance in my life.

When did it all begin.

Out of school without notice last year. The unknown. That’s when it started. 60 days. We got this. No it’s 90 days really. Or maybe 120 days but who’s counting. Not me because it’s temporary. Pain is temporary, right?

Into a summer semester for two classes to get ahead. Sounded simple pre-pandemic when it was arranged. Of course, in ordinary times taking extra classes is no big deal. Add a pandemic and your world is shaken to the core. Isolation. Digital learning when you need human interaction. Anti-glare glasses are now needed due to extended learning time online.

Back to school in fall of 2020. Out of school again after a few weeks. Rules change. Deal with it! You pull yourself together to get through that semester. Back to school again in the new year. Fresh start you think. Fear, anxiety and so much more as kids drop like flies in your class for being contact traced. A ruler is now a measuring stick. If the ruler says you are quarantined, off you go. No questions asked.

Fear. Shock. Isolation. Anxiety. Back online you go. What other choice do you have. More self-learning. More self-discipline. Is that too much to expect at my age? 

Shut out again. No people. Lack of purpose. Why do I need to do work. Digital sucks the life out of me. Kids are mean on Zooms. I can’t ask questions. Learning is hard. I’m depressed. Learning math remotely. Learning an advanced foreign language online. I feel alone. Lost. Depressed. Anxious. Scared. Failure is not an option. Or is it? Who cares. Who really cares. I was put in this box. This virtual box.

My parents hound me. My teachers hound me. It’s never ending. The counselors are over burdened. Expectations are still high. Everyone cheats. What is right? What is wrong? Is it over yet? Did I even pass? This year really sucked. It sucked for my kid and it sucked for my family.

Summer break. A reset button of sorts. Travel. Fun. No have tos. That’s what the doctor ordered. That’s what mom needs. That’s what I need. 

I need my friends. I need my social connections. I just want to hang out at the mall again. Maybe go to a movie. Maybe just not being trapped in the pandemic bubble. The virtual bubble.

College is in sight. My gpa needs an inflation pump. I need my sanity. I’m not alone. Many have side effects from the pandemic. Everyone has their own story.

Cheers to summer vacation and the shit that is in rear view. All of it. Good riddance. All I see is dust in the wind.

A special shout out to those of our readers from Singapore. We appreciate you visiting.

Bye Felicia!

celebrations

That Time of Year

Graduations. Awards ceremonies. End of year gatherings. Oh how fortunate one feels to be in public this year celebrating others. A gift of sorts. Really it is if you compare it to what others missed in 2020.

For me I’m selfishly excited. First I’m happy to celebrate others. Next to celebrate being able to celebrate at all. And finally to secretly honor those who missed their chance last year. The chance they can’t get back as time has moved on.

As we celebrate in any fashion this year let’s think of those who missed out last year. Some missed graduation. Others missed a normal funeral to honor a loved one lost. Many missed their wedding day. Some missed a big award day they waited many years to be a part of. Maybe even a final season of one’s sports team was missed. 

This year I went to a graduation. It was masked. It was socially distanced. It was different. But I was able to participate and celebrate the graduate. I didn’t take that lightly this year. While waiting I had many thoughts or reflections. It’s was an eye-opening experience in many ways. An awakening.

I went to a college signing event this year. I listened to the stories. The athletes who sustained season ending injuries in 2019 causing pain and rehabilitation to prepare for 2020 seasons only to have a pandemic hit. Only to emerge in 2021 to rise again and overcome. I would have missed these stories as they are not in the headlines yet deserve a spotlight as do the other untold stories. I may cheer in silence but I’m celebrating all who missed that opportunity for whatever reason I’m 2020. 

This experience also gave me a whole new level of understanding for playing like there is no tomorrow. Every game is like your last. Leave it all on the line. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed on or off the field.

Now that we are in 2021 and restrictions are lifted I seem to be on the go. Go here go there. Do I complain about being busy? Yes. Would I want to be in isolation? Heck no! I do however need to be able to pause and make sure I don’t miss celebrating others due to my busy schedule. For the reasons I noted above, others need the chance to celebrate in 2021 because so much was missed in 2020.

I may have too many graduations to make them all but I will send that card. Send that text. Make that call. It’s an important step in 2021. For all those virtually reading this I’m sending you a celebratory high five if you are in need of celebrating. For those of you who have the opportunity to celebrate a milestone in 2021, make it a point to honor others.

It feels good to celebrate others. If you have somebody in your life who missed something big in 2020, send them a follow up this year. A card. A note. A call. A secondary celebration for making it a great year despite the blah of 2020. Why not? We have so many have-tos in life why not just do something different.