Diving off with almost no preparation

My careful and under control personality doesn’t do fly by the seat of my pants very well. Though I like to write that way, in life, not having a plan makes me uncomfortable. This week I met the ultimate just-winging-it kid.

I’m standing between starting blocks at the swimming pool as a stroke/turn judge for a swim competition. A young man, decked in a speedo, taps me on the shoulder. I’m in the middle of judging a race so I only slightly turn toward him to let him know I’m listening.

“What’s the stroke order for this race?”

I stood there blinking. “Well…it’s the IM.” Nobody had every asked me what they needed to swim right before a race before. The race finished and I turned to him and listed the order slowly. “Butterfly, back, breast, free.”

“Oh, yeah. Thanks.” The whistle from the referee had called the next race. He hopped up on the block next to me and bent down for his start. In a matter of seconds, he was flinging himself off the block and into the water.

I honestly didn’t think it would end well for him, but he did just fine. I saw no infractions on his part to disqualify him, and his time wasn’t too shabby, ta boot. But man was I stressed out the whole time watching him, and he wasn’t even from my high school.

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A bundle of nerves…

I’m one of those people who get about as nervous as my kids when watching them compete in sports, especially wrestling. I’ve always said that if I could know the outcome it would be so much easier. Well now I know that’s a big, fat lie.

My youngest took first place in the wrestling tournament he went to last weekend. He went alone with a family friend because my husband and I needed to stay and help at the local high school tournament. The friend’s mother made a video of each of his matches and sent us a link so we could watch them.

My husband and I hovered over my phone watching the matches and I couldn’t believe it. My heart pounded and my body tensed at every lock up, takedown, and switch—my nerves wrestling right along with him even though I already knew the outcome. I guess when you’re a nervous-mervous at heart escaping its effects are not possible—no matter what.

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A spa?

My oldest son gave me a spa package for Christmas this year. I looked at the gift card then back at him and could only say one word. “Oh.” In my forty-plus years I’d never been anywhere near a spa. Besides massages, I didn’t even know what you did in a place like that. But my sweet son was so excited to give his mother a special treat of relaxation that I had to go despite my fears of what might happen in this “spa.”

My worst fear was realized when a woman took me to a locker room and told me to undress and put on a robe. I stood there after she left for like five minutes. Holy crap, I have to get naked?

Steeling up my courage, I did as she instructed and found my way back to the meditation room to wait my turn, for whatever they would do to me next. And still not relaxed one bit.

A woman comes and takes me to a room with a large table and a fake waterfall running on the far wall. She tells me to take off my robe and get under the sheet draped over the table. “Your masseuse, Brett, will be in shortly.”

She had already closed the door before the name registered anything. Brett was a man’s name! I was supposed to lay naked under a sheet for a man I’d never met? Yeah, still so not relaxed.

I scurry out of my robe and get under the sheet, my face turned toward the closed door in fear. The dreaded knock finally comes and in walks a man with dark glasses and the white cane of a blind person.

My nerves are unable to stop my loud, audible sigh.

“Are you all right, ma’am?”

“Oh, yes. I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but my forty-year-old body is so glad right now that you are blind.” Yep, this is what nerves do to me, turn me into a blabbing idot. “You see…I’ve never done this before and my son sent me here as a Christmas present.”

The man chuckled. “Ah…I see. I promise to do my best to make this as relaxing of an experience for you as possible.”

And did he deliver? Oh yes he did. I would have no qualms about doing that again. Having my body rubbed into a floppy jello state is an amazing experience. Yeah, I left there relaxed.

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The mama bear got loose

In all my years of watching wrestling I’ve seen some pretty painful moves put on kids. The sport is incredibly hard and brutal on the body. And even though I know this, I did something I’ve never done before this week. I stopped a match.

My youngest son was doing his thing, out on a mat fighting it out with another kid his age. He was up, he was down, back and forth they went striving for dominance. Then the kid caught my son in a weird hold. He didn’t have a cradle with a leg, but he locked onto his other wrist and squeezed. The arm he left under my son prevented him from being able to pin my son, but he just kept squeezing my son’s shoulders together. My son screamed out in pain, and I mean screamed, but the teenager playing referee still didn’t stop the match.

To say I made a scene is probably an understatement, but no way was I going to let this match continue. The boy couldn’t pin my son from the painful hold he had, and he showed no signs of trying to change his hold to one that would pin. To allow him to keep crushing my son’s chest until the third period ran out seemed beyond assinine to me–we had more than thirty seconds still go. So no, you’re not gonna stall there, torturing my son. I’ve never been more fine with a forfeit in my entire life.

I have to give my son kudos though. After taking some time to rub out his aching sternum, he went back out on the mat to face the last competitor he had for the day. I don’t know if I could have been so mentally tough at that age.

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When I’m lucking enough to stand outside the fog

Where I live gets some pretty crazy fog in the valley during the winter time. I live high against the bench of the mountains so our home isn’t ensconced in the thick soup as often as those that live in the valley. This fog can last for days, even weeks sometimes, so for those in the valley it can sometimes feel like the sun never rises.

The heavy fog this week got me thinking about life, and how sometimes when we’re in the thick of a struggle it’s easy to believe we’ll never overcome the darkness surrounding us. But even in our darkest moments, good things are happening around us—they are happening to us. Maybe we have to strain a little harder to see the light filtering through in our lives, but the sunshine is still there. And if at this moment the darkness is threatening to swallow you whole, I hope you have friend to lean on who sees both the struggle and blessings in your life. Nothing improves one’s thoughts and actions more than a balanced perspective.

Below is a picture I took of the valley where I live while driving home.

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Worth the read: Am I Thirty Yet? by Jen Atkinson

Though I love to peruse the Kindle free books out there, because hey they’re free, I often find they lack in the good writing department. But every once and a while I come across a gem.

Am I Thirty Yet? by Jen Atkinson is one of these gems. A real toe-curling romance, with all of the giggles and none of the yuck. The characters are vibratant and so relatable. Even better, you can read the book for free with Kindle Unlimited. If you click on the title name it will take you right to it.

The only thing I ask is that if you like the novel, please leave a review. A book this fun should have way more than two reviews.

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Value beyond 1st place

I have been a judge for swim teams for several years now. It’s a way for me to watch my daughter swim without her having to worry about my competitive side coming out. I can’t say anything while I’m judging a swim meet. She’s happy with the arrangement, so I’ve continued to recertify every year without complaint.

This last week my daughter got into our vehicle after a swim meet and said, “I’m never going to be fast enough to win, right?”

Having spent more than a decade in competitive swimming, the short answer was yes, she would never be the star of her swim team, but the short answer wasn’t the complete truth. You see, just like in most team sports, everyone participating on the team has value. Even if you never take first place, a six place finish still scores points for your team. Yeah, it’s hard to be the six place finisher. Very few cheer you on with as much gusto as they do those first place finishers, but a team of twenty-two first place finishers and nothing else will never will a swim meet competition. Swim teams need depth to win—my daughter is part of that depth. So though I know many of the girls on the team don’t think much of my daughter, I keep telling her that she does have value.

What I wouldn’t give for girls to stop being so mean to one another. Every single one of us knows how much it hurts, since we’ve experienced it first hand, but hurting someone else seems to be the only thing we as woman know how to deal with that pain. It’s asinine and counterproductive, but every day I see the cycle repeat itself.

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