I hate hate.

Posted: July 22, 2016 in Rants

I hate my phone.
I hate kale.
I hate Justin Bieber.

What’s with us and carelessly throwing around the word hate? I honestly don’t think I could muster up enough energy to hate an annoying pop star.

I probably notice it more because, in my house, hate is a bad word. I implemented this “mom law” years ago because, frankly, I didn’t want my kids saying “I hate you.” or “I hate her.” or “I hate them.” It was to protect others and to protect them from saying something regretful in a moment of anger.

So when I see the word hate in the context of some mundane thing (like kale), it’s funny. It’s absurd. And, honestly, it’s warranted. Kale is disgusting. Kale is hateworthy.

But kale is a gateway hate subject. Bear with me. When we use hate to describe how we feel about hairy, bitter spinach, it’s easy. It doesn’t hurt anyone. But then we continue to make the word hate part of our vocabulary.

We talk about our phones or our internet. We hate celebrities because they are annoying, or popular, or successful. Still, no one’s getting hurt, right?

But as we get used to saying “hate” all the time, it loses it’s power to us. We turn our hatred from objects and inconveniences and distant figures to real people. That’s when people start getting hurt.

I hate that woman because she thinks she’s so perfect.
I hate that guy because everyone loves him.
I hate you.

This is what goes through my head if I hear kids say, “I hate cleaning the house.” or “I hate that movie.” I worry, that eventually, that hate will hit a person, and it will hurt.

This past weekend I played in a doubles beach volleyball tournament. Amazing right? It’s what I’d always dreamed of! Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved beach volleyball. Unfortunately, I live in the Midwest where there aren’t too many beaches, or low wind days, or beach volleyball players.

I spent so many hours begging, pleading my friends to give the sand a try. “You’ll love it,” I swore. Some tried and continued to play but most quit and went back to the indoor hardcourts, where the game is easier, more predictable and familiar.

gif-keyboard-8870400616303424519Not me though, I still kept trying. Year after year, at the end of every summer, I was upset that I didn’t get to play enough in the sand. Sounds like a child, I know. But it wasn’t the sandcastles I was after, it was the thrill of the game, the squishiness of the sand and let’s face it, I got to hit the ball a lot more.

Then something amazing happened, in December of 2015, an indoor sand volleyball facility was built. Just 25 minutes away from my house!

I created a Facebook group and endlessly promoted events. I’m helping grow the game in the Midwest because it wasn’t available for me in my teens and twenties. It’s an amazing opportunity for young volleyball players today.

We finally got a decent showing and regular crowd ready to play in the sand. One thing was a little off though. This regular crowd is at least 10 years younger than me. Any given day out on that indoor beach, I’m close to the oldest one in the group.

It’s an inner struggle each time I step onto the sandy court. Should I still be playing? Am I too old? How old is too old? I’m 34 and I can still play pretty well. Current AVP players are my age! Kerri Walsh is older than me! But these are just kids. I could be their mom (or a least their mom’s younger sister, the fun aunt?).

I remember playing with the old geezers (I’m sure they were like 30) and thinking that they were either too slow, too committed to old rulebooks or they wouldn’t let me play because I’m a woman.
too old
I think of those geezers when I step out onto the sand and look around. Innocent eyes, acne and french braids. I can’t help but feel like the old geezer.

But things have changed, or my perspective has. I’m not like those old geezers. Age is just a number. To me, it’s all in how you look at it… and how you behave. You’ll never catch me saying, “I’m too old for this or that.” At least not yet.

The moment we start playing, I’m the teacher. I’m the Todd Rogers. Yes. I am old among the crowd of budding volleyball players, but I’m still out there and I’m schooling them.

The time for my generation to rule the sand may have passed, but for now, I’m still Queen of the Beach.

The Ugly Christmas Sweater

Posted: December 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

Every year at Christmastime, I notice the Ugly Sweater tradition. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s cool (not literally). It’s fun to make everyone dress ugly ironically. Whoever has the ugliest sweater wins. And then the one who wins is Aunt Denise who actually didn’t know there would be a contest. If you think about it, it is a little mean.

That didn’t stop my family from hosting its first Ugly Christmas Sweater party several years ago. I went out to Goodwill because that’s where you could find all the really ugly Christmas sweaters. (Conveniently, Old Navy has a line of ugly sweaters now. If you go this route, you better hope Uncle Carl doesn’t pick the same Old Navy ugly sweater. You want to dress ironically ugly, not actually ugly.

Anyway, I found the ugliest, most ill-fitted bags of wool available at Goodwill that year. One for each member in my family. We wore our sweaters proudly and laughed at the horrible looking sweaters my relatives showed up in.

I’m not sure if it was my cousins spiked wassal or the ridiculously effective sweater I was wearing, but I started really sweating. It was soooo hot. Everyone was hot. We were miserable and uncomfortable and sweaty and we couldn’t wait for the contest to be over. We opened the doors and window to let IN the draft. These sweaters were super effective. After the contest, all the sweaters were peeled. The fun was over.

And my family never did Ugly Sweater Christmas again. Every time I hear of someone doing an Ugly Sweater Christmas party, I think, “How fun for them!” and immediately feel an empathic bead of sweat rolling down my forehead.

 

The cool kids don’t get it.

Posted: November 4, 2015 in Family

Last night Anya had her 6th grade music program. I think 6th grade is about the time I stopped doing music programs and started doing choir.

I joined choir because it was “cool” at the time. Yes, in 6th grade, choir is cool. But what wasn’t cool was that I had an alto singing voice. All the “cool” girls were sopranos. You know? That princess-y soprano sound you’d hear in all the 90s Disney movies. Still, I sang in my alto voice. I liked choir. It was nice to belong in a group.

For days, Anya has been swearing to me that she “hates” music and singing. She tells me after this, she’ll never be in choir or anything lame like that. It’s embarrassing and the songs aren’t cool and “We don’t have to go to the concert. It’s not mandatory.”

I know Anya doesn’t hate music and singing because I hear music and singing blaring from her room every day. Even Mozart. I hear her practicing her program’s songs.

Tell me she hates music and singing.

At the concert, I watched Anya walk onto the stage with about a thousand other “cool kids.” When the songs started, I could hear singing but few mouths were moving. Eyes were darting around the risers to see who was “uncool” enough to care.

Then, I noticed. A smile on Anya’s face. She was into it. She was belting out the songs and smiling, and maybe even dancing a little bit. She knew all the Hebrew words to the Haida Song.

Tell me she hates music and singing.

The group received a standing ovation. I was proud of my little 6th grader for letting her vulnerability show at the risk of appearing “uncool.” She was proud of her performance. She had a great time and it showed.

After the concert, Anya comes over to me, “I’m so glad that’s over. How embarrassing.”

The boys side of the gym. 

Posted: July 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

The mostly men side of the weight room is like a boys’ only club. It’s just understood that the men workout here and the women workout over there with all those tiny pink weights and a billion ellipticals. There are reasons for this segregation, men like to grunt and drop 400 lbs. of weight that shakes the entire floor and women prefer to not be gawked at while we’re lifting.

A few months ago, I decided to forget all that. I can hang. I reached back to my roots as a tomboy and decided I really wanted lift at the boys’ club. All the cool equipment is over there! I was done with Bosu balls and the inner thigh machine (you know the one).

Plus, I don’t care if the guys think I’m “not doing that right” or if they gawk or judge (I say to myself, very convincingly). I put my headphones on and queued my music to my Kick Ass Workout Mix.

Now, about 3-4 days a week, I’m 1 of 2-3 women in a gaggle of bulky men.

At first, I was timid to ask about using equipment and took up about 4 square feet of space. If a machine was taken, I would skip that set until the end of my workout. Now I stretch out my arms. I jump in on sets. I feel completely comfortable lifting way less than what most of the guys lift.

After a few months, I’ve realized it’s not so bad over there. There’s a bit of camaraderie among the men and I’m like their mascot now, the token female. I think they respect me for lifting with them. And I’ve gotten used to the earthquaking weight drops.

Journal prompt: “I feel most at peace when…”

The first thing that comes to my mind is “when I’m doing something creative.” I’m lying. Specifically, the first thing that came to my mind was drawing but I didn’t want to admit that because it sounds silly. Or at least, I think it does.

I should probably say something like “writing” or “exercise” or “playing with my kids.” When I asked Anya (11) when she feels most at peace, she said “When I’m sleeping, I’m the most at peace.” And that makes perfect sense to me.

When I’m writing, I feel like I’m in a sudden downpour and I’m running around frantically with my rain barrel trying to catch as much watery goodness as possible. In other words: No peace.

When I’m exercising, I have a goal. It’s solid determination. Does it make me happy? Yes. Does it make me feel more alive? Yes. Peaceful? No way. With all the adrenaline pumping through my veins, I can’t even imagine what peace is like.

When I’m playing with my kids, I should be at peace, right? Not always. I’m Momming. I’m making sure these kids grow up to become responsible adults. I’m the designated responsible adult. Plus, I’m too busy trying to conquer the task of not touching the floor of the playground fort while monkey-swinging it all the way to the other side. Playing with my kids is fun, not peaceful.

When I’m drawing in my private sketchbook that has a lock on it (the lock is invisible, as in it’s understood that this is not for random perusal), I feel the most at peace. I can oft be seen sighing peacefully while sketching flowers from our flower garden or drafting out compositions for some of my favorite quotes.

So without shame (ok, maybe a little shame), I say that drawing is a no pressure, creative outlet that brings me peace.

 

 

My journal prompt for today. “What is calling me right now?”

Right now. As in right this second. My lunch is calling me. I’m so hungry! Be right back.

Ok, I’ve got my Mason Jar Salad and I’ve set my timer for 10 minutes. I’m ready to write about what is calling me now.

In reference to my Mason Jar Salad, I’d say health. I’ve always been a sort of a nut job (I mean health nut, or do I?). But this year, I’ve been forced into really working on my physical and mental health.

 

Forced, you say? Yes. After having my gall bladder removed, I’ve discovered that the common knowledge that you can “live without a gall bladder” is flawed. Can you live? Yes. But is it fun? Depends how you look at it. Life as you know it is over.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. Ok, I am. But… being forced to eat healthy ALL THE TIME, while a nuisance, is good for me. I’m getting really good at saying no to dessert and avoiding donut days. Some days I wish I could inhale a cheeseburger and wash it down with a thick chocolate shake, but then reality hits. I know what I feel like when I splurge and I don’t want that. It causes pain, anxiety, sadness (I wouldn’t say depression, but just the blues).

My lifestyle changes have been strict, to put it lightly. I exercise more. I eat more salads. I purposefully de-stress. It’s boring some days. It’s very very hard some days. But… It makes me feel great! Feeling healthy is worth all the sacrifice. Who knew that I’d have to have a vital organ removed to discover that?

I’m not sure I’m doing this journal prompt right, but if someone asked me what’s calling me at lunch time and I had 10 minute to give them answer, it’d have to be something to do with food.

“If I knew I couldn’t fail, I would…” Man, if that’s not the ultimate open-ended statement. Honestly, if I knew there was absolutely positively no way that I could fail, I would do everything, anything.

I would publish a book.

I would be a freelance copywriter.

I would create more artwork.

I would start a jewelry-making business.

I would become a fashion blogger.

I would become a health expert.

I would become  life coach, therapist.

I would pull off the greatest bank heist in history.

This list could go to the moon and back but I only have 10 minutes to put my thoughts on paper. I know the point of this exercise is that, whether or not the chance of failure exists (it always does), we should go for it anyway. Except for that whole robbing the bank thing. Going for it anyway is very hard. I can’t imagine a world without the chance for failure and I’m not sure I want to. Without failure, what happens to the thrill of success? What is there to hope for if success is guaranteed?

Failure builds character. It creates hope. It is what makes people great.

So how about I try a new exercise and do a few of those things above, knowing full well that I may fall flat on my face?

Girls can play hockey too.

Posted: March 2, 2015 in Family, Rants

I am a tomboy. As a girl, I always ran with the boys. Whatever they were doing, I wanted to do it too, especially if they told me I couldn’t (which they often did).

When I was 12, I asked for an Easton street hockey stick for Christmas. Street hockey was all the rage in my neighborhood and I was determined to join the boys’ little “league”. When I got the stick, I was so excited that I didn’t care that it was the Wal-Mart knock-off version. If I’m going to compete among the boys in street hockey, I had to start somewhere.

I roller-bladed to the street hockey cul-de-sac on the day after Christmas with my hockey stick in tow. I was ready to show them what I was made of. They made fun of my stick because it was “cheap” and “for girls” and consequently, so were my roller blades. I’m not sure how my blue Wal-Mart hockey stick was “for girls” but it didn’t matter, their comments only fueled my desire to prove myself.

Neither team wanted me.

These were my friends. The boys I ran around with. We played kickball. We played foursquare. We went to the drive-in with our families and ate brats on the curbs in front of our houses. It didn’t matter, street hockey was like Fight Club for 12-year-olds and the first rule of Neighborhood Street Hockey was that “Girls were only invited to watch, enamored.”

I begged to play. I demanded. It wasn’t until a kid had to go home, that they let me play (because the teams were now uneven). I was thrilled.

After enduring a hockey lesson from each of the boys, we finally started playing. No one passed to me. No one tried to steal the puck from me. It was like I was just skating back and forth for exercise (which is pretty good exercise if you think about it). I was getting frustrated. I decided I’d just steal the puck (which was extremely difficult with cheap Wal-Mart wheels that barely rolled. It was like gliding on the pavement with ski boots on, you know the ones you put on that attach to your skis? That’s what it was like.).

Breathless but determined; I finally stole the elusive puck from a slower kid. My team was in awe that I actually did something athletic and it had nothing to do with tumbling. The other team said I’d cheated. I didn’t care; I stole that puck fair and square. It’s not my fault the boy fell back and was crying, and maybe broke his ankle.

I like to think that my team was impressed by my courage and skill, but looking back now, I’m guessing they were just relieved I wasn’t being a “total girl”.

It got easier to join the “league” after that. The boys still fought over which team had to have “the girl.” (I have a name, you know). And I’ll be honest, I wasn’t the best player out there but I definitely wasn’t the worst… and they knew it.

It’s that time again. The Your Turn Challenge Time.

I know these topics are merely suggestions but I’m going to use each of them, not matter how incredibly broad they are.

Day 2: Tell us about something that’s important to you.

Breakfast.

Breakfast is super important to me. It shapes the way my entire day pans out. In fact, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Yep, THAT important. So what better to be my “important” blog post than breakfast.

I know I’m not supposed to write about what I had to eat today so I won’t. It was just toast anyway.

What I will tell you is that I AM NOT a morning person, and yet breakfast is my most favorite meal.

Breakfast is important to me.

I am not a morning person.

What a sad coincidence.