Lessons From The Couch

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I’m watching the NBA game right now and the commentators keep rehashing a previous play. I actually started to get annoyed as I thought to myself, it’s over already, move on. Then I tasted the hypocrisy on my own lips. Perhaps I should take my own advice. So many thoughts play over and over in my mind about things I cannot go back and change. It’s unimaginable how many times a day I do that exhausting thing. What a waste of time and energy. It’s finally time to stop looking back.

I Got It!

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I can’t say this often enough. It’s the little things that make the biggest moments. Tonight we went to a Thunder basketball game to celebtate my daughters birthday. I watched the surprise and joy on her face as she grabbed the shirt that had flown several feet through the air, and my heart was full. So many games, she tried to catch a shirt but luck was never in her favor. But tonight she held it proudly in the air as she told everyone around her, “It’s my birthday!” What an awesome moment. Tonight she was in the right place at the right time. There’s nothing better than seeing a smile on the face of someone you love.

Left Behind

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How does a school bus leave an entire basketball team behind? I am sitting here tonight after a really crazy day thinking about how far I’ve come. Little things used to send me right over the edge. After experiencing and dealing with so many big things over the years when it comes to my kids and school, I have learned to have a sense of humor. Tonight, as I was pulling into the middle school across town to watch Chases basketball game, my cell phone rang. It was Chase, at game time calling to tell me he was still at the school because the bus had left him and the team behind. Apparently, our 8th grade team also had a game and although the athletic director and 8th grade coach drove and rode the bus, no one discovered the 7th grade team was missing. I know I’ve spent countless blog hours writing posts about school because my experiences have been so very odd but this one may take the cake. So, there I was, turning my car around to help transport these boys across town so they could at least make their second game. I am still scratching my head wondering how on earth the athletic director could make such an enormous mistake, especially when he is in charge of the basketball schedule. I can honestly say nothing that happens in that school could ever really surprise me anymore. At the very least, I thought they would have approached the parents and apologized but I guess that would be expecting way too much. The number one problem in a school that does not have their act together, poor communication and poor organization. Our kids deserve better, don’t you think?

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Winning Isn’t Everything

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Sure, that’s what they tell us when we don’t win. Keep your chin up, hold your head high and know you did your very best. If winning isn’t everything, then what is it exactly?

I have watched my son play basketball for five years. In that five year period, I have watched him lose nearly every single time. I have watched him leave his blood and sweat and every ounce of strength he had out on that court. I have watched him stare at the scoreboard each and every time the score was close. I have watched him fight back tears of disappointment every car ride home while we told him he did a great job. I have watched him question how he could lose every game when he played with his entire heart. As a parent, it ripped at my heart. When the color would drain from his face and I could see the disappointment in his eyes, I could feel my heart break inside my chest. Every year I’d tell him “this is the one” and every year would play out exactly the same disappointing way. He loved playing basketball but was it really worth all the pain? We tell ourselves it’s about the lesson and learning to persevere when the stakes are high. The truth is, nobody wants to lose. It doesn’t feel good ever and the only thing it reinforces is we can give something our very best and our best may never be good enough.

I write a lot about balance. I think when it comes to winning, balance is important too. It can’t be good to win every time or to lose every time. Both teach valuable lessons. Both are important. Tonight my son had his first middle school game. The odds were stacked against us and I must admit it was a miracle that put us one point ahead at the end of that game. Tonight, winning meant everything to my little boy. All his hard work, all his disappointment replaced in a single moment with a winning score. Tonight my heart is full and I will fall asleep with a smile on my face. Yes, winning isn’t everything but it sure feels good.

Sorry, Life is Just Unfair

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The world is unfair they say, that’s just the way it is. Everywhere you look, in every day you live, you can find examples lurking around waiting to break your spirit. We convince ourselves it’s part of life because deep down we are afraid there is nothing we can do about it. We justify it by ignoring it and quietly whispering to ourselves, just deal with it.

Well, after giving this an immense amount of thought I came to a conclusion. The world itself is very innocent. It is people who are unfair. Quite a revelation huh? I hear people all the time say that’s just the way it is. It’s something we should learn early in life and we should hold hands with this pattern that will affect us for the rest of our lives. I can’t help but wonder why. When did we start to buy into something so ludicrous and actually believe it to be true? When did we start to stand by and take it like a passive little girl whose candy was being stolen by some great big bully. In a world full of people who don’t want to make waves, in a world full of fear of consequences mixed so eloquently together with a large tribe of butt kissers, we sadly sit by and believe there is no other option.

I am a warrior for what is right. If I am told something will happen one way, I have no reason to believe otherwise. What I have discovered though is someone’s word doesn’t mean much anymore. I have had people look me in the eye and tell me one thing, then turn around and do something entirely different. If only we were as quick to stand up to these people and demand they explain the discrepancy in their words and actions. Recently, I took this task on. It made me uncomfortable because after all, who actually holds anyone accountable for anything? Look around at what people are getting away with and the answer becomes very clear. This particular example was placed on my plate and I was forced to eat it. It happened at school. We were told the boys going out for basketball had a week of open gym followed by a week of try outs. Low and behold, the Friday of open gym, the boys were told what teams they were on. It made no sense and no-one, especially the boys had any idea it was going to happen. These poor kids didn’t even think try outs started. I wanted an explanation on the matter of principle. I wanted to know how an athletic director could stand in front of a group of people and say one thing and the next week show these boys and parents that his word meant nothing. Imagine how these boys felt being placed on a team after a week they believed was there for them to get back in shape. The crazy part? They didn’t even touch a basketball until Wednesday so what criteria did they even base their decision on anyway? It felt so wrong, so much so that it ate me alive. How could something like this happen? How could it go so wrong and so differently than how we were told it would play out? How could I possibly explain this to the child who was standing there confused with pain in his eyes looking to me to make some kind of sense out of it. I was crushed and his pain became my pain until I took some from him and then I carried more. I was mom. Was I going to stand by and take it? Expose myself by standing there in a line where I knew someone with a baseball bat was waiting to bust me in the head? Was I going to wait there foolishly and take what was coming to me even though it didn’t make sense because well, life just isn’t fair? I was stronger than that and I put on my boxing gloves as I stepped out of line. I made a new line outside the athletic directors door and I asked for an explanation. You won’t believe what happened next.

Yesterday I got an email. They opened practice back up to everyone and were going to reevaluate what teams the boys were on. Even though the lists were posted, even though it seemed like a done deal, this man had the courage to make good on his word. The results may stay the same. The boys may be placed right back on the original teams but those boys will also learn that when that man tells them something, they can count on his word. I have a tremendous amount of respect for someone who tries to make something right in the name of principle. It was a small win for humanity and our promise and trust in each other. There is hope, we just need more people brave enough to bring on the revolution. I can’t fight alone.

An Unexpected Text

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I was out with a friend Thursday evening when I received a lengthy text from my son. He made quite a good argument about how his violin does not feel like a fit for him anymore. He was very mature about it and made several good points that proved to me that he just does not enjoy playing it. I sat there wondering what to do. We payed for the instrument and I looked so forward to watching his growth from year to year during the orchestra concerts. I felt a sadness that I would miss out on that opportunity to sit proudly in the audience and and listen to him play.

I watch friends and people I know push their kids to do things you can tell the kids don’t really want to do. You can tell when a kid really enjoys something because when he does, he will do it with his whole heart. I think kids really want to please their parents so they go along with their parents dream just because they know it will make them happy. That is the part in the text that really tugged at my heart. Chase wrote, “Mom, if you want me to play I will do it for you.”

There comes a time when a parent needs to step away and let the child decide for himself. I don’t want him to do a particular sport or play an instrument because he thinks I want him to. He is old enough now to decide for himself. Sports as well as playing an instrument require a huge commitment. I would never want either one of my kids to put hours of their time as well as their sweat and dedication into something that does not fit with who they are.

I am really sad to see the violin go but I will also be grateful for the wonderful memories I have watching him learn, grow and play. Kids know what their limits are. Do we really have to push them to be so over extended? It wasn’t so long ago that one seasonal sport was enough and now we expect our kids to play two or three so now the whole year is taken up with late nights and long practices.

I am hoping my son finds his fit. He has always really enjoyed basketball and it has shown in his attitude every time I watch him play. I admire his approach to share his feelings. I am grateful he felt comfortable enough to be honest with me. I hope he learns from this experience that seeing him happy is enough to make us happy too and we will never force him or strongly lead him to do anything he truly doesn’t want to do. We had our chance to live out our own dreams and now it is time for him to live out his, even if they are different from what we imagined.

Should I Stay or Should I Go

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There are moments that replay over and over again in my mind because I question whether or not I did the right thing. I’d like to be able to let it float away from me but I truly believe life hands us the same situation in many different forms until we get it right. So there I was sitting with my daughter waiting for the Thunder game to start. A man walked in and told me we were in his seats. I told him there was one available in my row and one seat available in the front row. So, to clarify, row A has 7 seats, row B has 5 seats and row C which is behind the glass has 4 high stools. I explained to the man that the seats are usually on a first come basis and he marched out to get a stadium worker. Of course my husband was downstairs with my son getting his face painted so it was just me and my 15 year old daughter. So the man walked in and asked to see my ticket. I was so embarrassed and taken back by the mans sense of entitlement and rudeness that I could not locate my ticket at the time. My daughter bolted because she was humiliated and this man was causing a scene so she sat in the back of the suite out of the way.

I guess it’s important to mention here that no one actually pays for a ticket. Names are drawn at work and the ticket is a gracious perk. Never once had I experienced such a scene. People have always just been grateful for the opportunity to attend such a wonderful event. So, because I couldn’t find my ticket, I had no choice but to get out of the seat. Seriously, I was humiliated and I just wanted to go home. Do you think it’s a coincidence that this very tall, very heavy man picked tiny little five foot me and my teenage daughter to bully and throw his weight around. I felt crushed and bullied and disrespected. Not because my husband is the General Manager but because he chose me, a small woman to spew his wrath.

After I calmed myself down, I discovered that we held tickets B 2-5. That only left 1 seat available in our row so the man didn’t even have two tickets to sit there. We were in the right seats all along so I have to ask myself why an arena worker would insist those seats were that mean mans. Was he too just automatically siding with an aggressive man over a woman who appeared to be clueless? I don’t want to jump to conclusions but I am more than curious.

I am really upset with myself because I remained behind the glass the entire game. What bothers me most is that my moving and allowing that bully to sit there gave the impression to everyone else in the suite that I was indeed wrong. Is that why it is bothering me so much? Because to others it may have appeared that I was the entitled one pulling rank or the fact that I find myself getting dumped on by total strangers frequently. Even my husband felt bad that I am always involved in situations innocently. I ask you, what should I have done? Was it right to not make everyone more uncomfortable than they already were and just move on and enjoy the game or should I have set the situation straight and put everyone in their place? I hate entitlement and I abhor when people are not grateful when they are afforded opportunities. I tried so hard to focus on my gratitude for being present at such an exciting game and after the first quarter I relaxed and let myself enjoy it. There have been many times I have let people walk all over me, even in my own home, and to keep the peace I have remained silent. Each time it happens, the scars become ripped open and the pain comes rushing back. I pray I learn to find balance when I can handle the situation with a cool head and do so respectfully. I am a hot head and it is hard for me to keep my emotions separate from a situation. I have been practicing for 43 years and still I haven’t gotten it right. I am curious though, what would you have done?

Are You A Quitter?

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I learned something very valuable about myself last night. I recognized that when things seem impossible I give up all hope. I roll over in bed, pull the covers up over my head and quit. Just like that. What is it that makes the few, the brave and the proud fight until the end having faith in the hope that things will work out?

I must admit I hang in there quite a long time but slowly over time my attitude worsens and then I’m done. Yes, I am going to write about basketball again and I know the topic is a bit out of my league. Sometime, during the last few minutes of the 4th quarter of the Thunder/Clippers game I became aggravated with how the game was going and decided I wasn’t going to waste anymore of my time watching and suffering. So, I did what I do best. Pulled the covers over my head, turned my back on the tv and tried to sleep. My husband would have none of that so I was secretly listening even though I was complaining about how Thunder had blown the game. Seriously, if you would have told me last night they had any chance of winning, I would have laughed right in your face.

The point is this! regardless of the circumstances, they did win in the end. What if they would have given up when I did? How would they have ever known they were that close to another win? I can only wonder how many times I gave up in the past when I too was so close to achieving my goal. The change must start first with the negative talk and the spiraling downward of my quitting attitude. Changing one part changes the entire whole so changing the negative words into encouraging ones will be the first step in a better direction. How many times have you quit something because you stopped believing anything was possible? What do you do to keep yourself going when all signs point to looming failure?

What I Know About Basketball And Gambling

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I don’t really like to gamble. To me, it is taking hard earned money and tossing it away. However, once in awhile I do accompany my husband to the casino. Our favorite is roulette. We look at the whole underlying concept of betting entirely different ways. Let me explain. If my husband notices red coming up over and over again, he will bet black and he loses almost every time. I however am a girl that believes in flow. If something is flowing naturally in one direction, why on earth would I stand there blocking the current while forcing it to flow the other way? It sounds crazy and exhausting and well, impossible. So I bet with the flow.

Last night I stayed up to watch our local Thunder team play some basketball. I held out hope for a win until the very last second but deep down I knew it wasn’t going to be in the cards. The coaches made a wager to go against the natural flow of the game. When I saw Durant hold that ball in his hands in a last minute attempt to win the game, I knew before he even attempted the three pointer it was not going in. It just wasn’t his best game last night. I would have given that ball to Westbrook and watch him plow through Memphis defense to score two points in a simple lay up. Should I take over as new head coach of the Thunder? Probably not. But I think there is an important lesson behind going with the flow. What do you think?

I’ve Always Rooted For The Underdog

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Do you ever believe that a time exists that has to be YOUR time? That life has thrown you so many curves, that finally a time will come when you actually catch a break? I mean, when you bounce a ball down, that ball must bounce back up, right? You really believe that the pendulum of life has got to swing the other way. Well, here’s a reality check, that’s just not how life works. The guy doesn’t always get the girl, the most dedicated participant doesn’t always win the prize, and the hardest worker doesn’t always achieve his goal. That’s just the the way it goes sometimes and we don’t seem to have any control over any of it. What is it that pulls us through times like these? Is it faith, will, determination, character? It’s so hard to figure out, and an answer I’ve been searching for, for quite some time.

My 10 year old wrapped up his basketball season earlier today. I can’t remember if we actually won any games last year, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that this year we didn’t win one. Today, I watched those boys out on the court with a heavy heart. Of course, I didn’t expect them to win, I mean how could they right, always trying to come from behind? The first game was a disaster and that is actually a compliment. But, that second game…I don’t know what transformed these boys into playing with so much heart. Every kid out there gave it their all. We were up 1st quarter, up second quarter, and up going into the 3rd. It was our time. We deserved that win. It was finally our turn. At least that’s what I thought anyway. If I could have willed a win, or begged God to grant that one win wish, I would have done it. For that matter, I would have done anything. When the buzzard went off at the end of the 4th quarter, the score was 18-17. Why? How could this happen to these poor boys who left everything they had out on that court? That’s just the way life is I guess. Sometimes there is no explanation that could ever make sense. What I do know though, is that in a world that emphasizes winning way more than I think it should, these poor boys truly showed the size of their heart and the enormity of their character in the confines of that small gym. The fact that they walked into today, knowing they had little chance to win, but still gave it their best shot speaks volumes about what this small team of 8 is made of. Isn’t that better than winning anyway?