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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A gamut of experts

My brothers and sisters aren’t like me, and the men and women they married are just as varied in talents and interest as we are. Being different is a blessing. I have an expert to turn to in almost every field, from medical to mechanic, to help me when problems arise. I even got an I.T. guy that has saved my tush on more than one occasion. The only area my family is lacking in, that I can think of, is a lawyer, but I got quite a few nieces and nephews. Maybe one of them will be willing to sacrifice themselves for that horrible profession. Okay, so it’s a profession I would find horrible, but again this is why being different is such a blessing.

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Yep, sticking my neck out

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before—I have a naturally booming voice. It takes very little for my volume to out blast almost anyone—even my version of a whisper carries more than any whisper should. I’ve learned to not just live with it but to accept the good and the bad that come from having such a noticeable trait. It really can be of service in the right settings.

Football is one of those “right settings” where I allow my voice full rein to get as loud as it wants. Yeah, I get parents who look at me like I’m the crazy mom, but trust me, I’m using my full faculties in these moments. I know every word that comes out of my mouth will be heard by all who are there, so I consciously choose to say uplifting words for the entire team rather than just for my son. By doing so, I’m creating a space where other parents who get the urge to shout won’t be stopped by feelings of embarrassment. It works too. It usually takes most of the season games for the other parents to catch on—but by the end everybody’s yelling.

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A field of miracles

The past two weeks have been a revelation for me. My youngest son’s football team have struggled for most of the year to find consistency – no – to find a rooted belief in themselves that come “hell or high water” they would not give up until the game was over, no matter the score. Oh, a few of them fought to the end every game, but football is a team sport, even if one guy stops trying, it’s almost impossible to overcome the deficit.

Well, they finally clicked, every single one of them found the heart to keep pounding away, every down, no matter what happened. And guess what? They won their division, shocking the higher seeded teams. Even more amazing, the team seeded first hadn’t lost a game.

It was inspiring to watch. Our boys had already been beaten by both teams they played in the playoffs, but they swept the past aside and forged together. To believe in oneself is hard enough, but to get twenty-one boys to all believe at the same – it’s a miracle.

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What ruts?

To me, snow is nothing special—I see it every year. Yet, watching my foreign exchange student over the weekend play in the snow for the first time in her life, reminded me just how fun snow can be.

Our lives are full of commonplace occurrences that, overtime, probably don’t excite us anymore. That’s the problem with life in general—there’s lots of ruts. What a blessing it is when someone comes into your life with a fresh perspective on something you consider business as usual. It really does revitalize the spirit of enthusiasm, making those ruts feel like new experiences all over again.

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What matters most…

Sometimes the only way to know what really matters most in our lives is have it taken away.

A few weeks ago my youngest son was hurt on the football field. He was running the ball and ended up being tackled by two defenders. Like a pinball machine, he ricocheted off the impacts, having no control over how his body struck the ground. His right arm took the brunt of the impact and he cried out in a way he never has before—a sound that scared me to death.

I rushed to the sidelines where the trainer and coaches had gathered. All the while he keep saying, “I can’t feel my hand. I can’t feel my hand.”

My heart stopped at that statement. The trainer did a good job of getting him to calm down, and finally figured out it was a “stinger” he had experienced not a broken arm.

“It’s in a weird place,” the trainer said, “but if he keeps trying to move his fingers, the numbness should wear off.”

Another parent who stood close by said, “Oh that’s good, he’ll still be able to play football next week.”

I could have cared less. His fingers weren’t moving. If the feeling never came back, would he still be able to play the piano?

Right then, I knew if it came down to it, I would rather he play the piano than ever play a sport again. Not that I’ll ever be able to convince him to stop. He was thankful that after three days his fingers could grip the ball tight again. I was thankful that after three days of struggling through piano practice, his fingers found their full range of motion on the keys again.

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