Outsmarted

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To say I have a problem with barn swallows is a bit of an understatement. I have been at serious war with them since I have moved into this house 6 years ago. Last year I finally found a way to outsmart them. I put duck tape over all my doorways and on top of my fan and light fixtures. Success, no bird nests. A few birds may or may not have accidentally caught themselves on the tape but I am not a savage, I spared their lives.


This year I followed the advice of all my neighbors. Go and buy an owl the said, it will scare the birds away. This is what I found this morning. And no, it is not funny. I am not amused!

What Competition Taught Me About Living

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I had one of those profound moments that moved me to tears yesterday. I mentioned that my daughter had swim states this weekend. It is a tradition here that the first race always leads off with the special olympics. Right before it was time to begin, a woman asked the people in front of us if she could just sit there for a moment because her daughter was in the first race. The music started playing and the kids started to parade out. The boy leading the group was so excited he was jumping up and down. Everyone in the crowd had a smile on their face. The pride and the excitement these kids emitted was energizing for everyone in the room. As the race started, the woman in front of us started cheering for her daughter. The crowd went crazy encouraging them all to finish the race. I watched the excitement and pride on this woman’s face as she watched her own daughter get that first place medal. The tears started to well up in my eyes. Sometimes we forget to count our blessings. Sometimes as parents, we put expectations on our kids that rob us of the joy and pride we should be feeling in a given moment. I realized right then and there that no matter what the result, I would be grateful for the blessings that swimming has brought into Kayleigh’s life. Did I want her to win? You bet I did. But the fact that she was there putting every ounce of effort into the one day she has worked toward all year was enough reason to celebrate. I promised myself I would have no expectations and to just enjoy this moment in time. 

My heart began to race as I watched her march out. I watched the smile and the bounce in her step as she made her way behind the blocks. My body was dripping with sweat and I reminded myself, whatever happened was okay. She was seeded 5th but the most important thing of all was breaking one minute. That was her goal and I wanted her to be able to achieve it. She dove in and was neck and neck with the girls on each side of her. Both girls had beat her in the past and I was tickled pink that she was keeping up. As she approached the third wall, something amazing happened. It was like she received an electric charge that helped her surge forward and separate herself from the rest of the pack. She ended up finishing third. which didn’t seem possible a few minutes earlier. The best part though? She finally broke that minute and ended with a time of 59.76. She did it! Third in the state and achieved her own personal goal. For a moment my mind flashed back to the look on that woman’s face. For that single moment in time, our faces were the same. My smile came from the inside out and my heart was fuller than its been in quite a long time. My emotions were spilling over as I watched them put that medal around my own child’s neck. It was an amazing day.

The lesson here is simple. Celebrate what is. Stop cheating yourself out of happiness because you get caught up in expectations and comparison. Swim your own race and forget about everyone else in the rest of the pool. Celebrate who you are and what you accomplish like you are the only person in your own little world. That is what winning is really about. Just like my earlier post, the only thing you should try and beat is yesterday so get moving!

Beat Yesterday

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“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms.”

Yesterday my daughter had her high school state swim meet. I looked around and saw familiar faces that have been like passing ships these last six years. Our girls have fought it out in the pool so many times it’s hard to imagine. They’ve taken turns being winners and slipping down the ranks to what can seem like defeat. The ebb and flow of life and competition is a steady wave. I believe you either find yourself learning to surf or you get knocked down over and over until finally you drown underneath the comparison. As a parent, I’ve let myself do a bit of both. As I looked around the pool, there was a sign that caught my eye. It said “Beat Yesterday”. All these years, I’ve been caught up in my daughter being the best, the top while I watched her settle someplace in the middle. She did not devote her life to sports. She chose a club where sports could be part of her life but not her entire life. She found that balance, her in between. She made me so proud last night. She held her own against kids who swim almost double the hours. And you know what? She did great. The best part though? Her times were great. She beat her yesterday. She might not have taken first place but she beat her times from the meet before. Sometimes the most important competition one can have is not against other people, it is against oneself. We are all so different and talented in our own unique way. We must strive to beat who we were yesterday and not compare ourselves to the person swimming next to us or in a nearby lane. We all peak at different times. We find success in our own distinct ways. Our goal is to always improve ourselves and be the best version of who we know we can be. So get out there today and swim finals little girl. Beat yesterday and when that buzzer goes off, dive in and bring it home. I will be there watching and silently cheering you on. My mind will probably drift back to when that block made you look so small and the pool seemed way too big. You’ve got this now and somehow you make that pool look small. No matter what you ever decide to do, I will be on the sidelines cheering you on. I will always be your biggest fan. 

What Do YOU Think?

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I went to see Martian again last night. I know you are probably thinking I am a bit obsessive when it comes to seeing movies these days but that seems to be the way I roll. Most things are feast, famine or nonexistent in my life. It is what it is. 

On the way home, I couldn’t help but think how different the world would be if we were not continuously trying to one up one another but rather working for a common purpose. We work  to find the first cure, we compete to send the first astronaut to the latest, most popular area of space. We strive to complete the most destructive weapon but imagine if every country worked together to make the world a better place for everyone? Consider what would happen if we all shared knowledge and technological advances and worked side by side to make amazing things happen. Don’t you think that is the way it was supposed to be? I really think it’s a shame that we are more selfish than selfless. Too bad nobody cares what I think. I can’t help but wonder though. Maybe competition isn’t so great after all.

Do Something Different

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When something’s not working, do something different.

This is the third volleyball game in a roll that this coach is insistent on putting the same 6 girls in the game. Week after week, they make careless mistakes and lose the game. There are 6 other girls who might play really well if given the chance but some people never learn. They continue to make the same mistake over and over. Guess what? They get the same result over and over. Looks like we are going to lose another game.

oh What A Night!

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So, early this morning I did a 5K run. Let me back up a little and start at the beginning. Last night we went to dancing in the park. I actually met my husband country dancing 19 years ago. It will be fun, I said and romantic, dancing under the stars. After the 5th time he stepped on my foot and I reacted in a less than favorable way, we mutually agreed the dancing part of our night was over, done. That was the end of it. We headed back toward home but needed to swing by the roller rink and pick up my son. I sent him a text as we were pulling in. Our conversation looked something like this. 

Are you ready?

20 minutes …

I think my wrist is broken

Are you serious?

Yes

Dad is on his way in

I’d like to tell you that it was a quick in and out of the emergency room but they must have been giving something away, it was packed and everytime we turned around we would hear CODE BLUE. Attention, CODE BLUE. After 3 long hours of waiting and my son snapping selfies of himself to get pity from the ladies, the doctor still wasn’t sure if it was broken but put a temporary cast on and told us to come back for more X-rays after the swelling went down. We were finally on our way home when out of nowhere, some maniac in a truck ran a red light, made a left turn into our lane and was headed straight for us. I shudder to think of what would have happened if my husband didn’t stop at the intersection even though we had a green light. I believe it was somewhere around 2:30 in the morning when we finally rolled up the driveway.

Back to the 5K. Do you know what the best part of running any race is? The finish line. At least for me. And how I made it there is pretty pathetic but hey, it did get me there. I am not proud about what I did but I will share it with you anyway. There was a little boy around two and a half feet tall running up ahead of me. I was trailing behind, out of breath, when I saw him look back at me and pick up speed. That little bast!&$ was challenging me to come and try to pass him AND I did. I am ridiculously competitive and there was no way in heaven he was gonna beat me. I didn’t care that he was only 5. It was a competition, game on! I am proud to report that I crossed the finish line at 38 minutes, and him? Lol! 54. I kicked his little butt and that’s all that mattered. I got the best of him. I won! I pushed through as exhausted as I was, the whole time feeling like I could not breathe and dragged myself across that finish line where I collapsed and prayed for a speedy death, which by the way, did not come. I was miserable and hot but at least it was done. On a positive note, we did raise money and awareness for a good cause so we will just end the story there.

Did I mention it’s our anniversary? Wow! What a start. It began at 12:00 in a local ER and it’s still going strong. I’m not real curious about how the rest of the day will play out. Maybe I should just go back to bed and finally get some sleep or maybe not. What do you think?

Oh and one more thing! If you were wondering what my husband was doing at the hospital while I was worried sick…..

  

To Give or Not To Give, That is the Question

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With all the news surrounding whether to give or not to give trophies, I dug up this old post which explains exactly how I feel about competition in general. Just my two cents.

COMPETITION, IS IT REALLY HEALTHY?
Friendly competition. I’m sure you’ve heard that phrase before but I can’t help but ask myself, is competition REALLY friendly? Does it always bring out the best in everyone and make for a great race, or is there more beneath the surface we pretend we do not see? We want to be the best. We want to win, the problem with that is there can only ever be one real winner. When you are part of a team sport that is also individual, and you are competing with the people you consider friends, the reality can be a little disturbing.
“Competition is the spice of sports; but if you make spice the whole meal you’ll get sick.” George Leonard
I believe it’s easy to feel constantly torn between being jealous of the people who are natural born winners and frustrated that your own time, effort, and hard work never seems to be enough to give you that edge to get ahead. What is a person supposed to do with that? Some might say try harder, practice more, give more effort, but sometimes you’re already giving it all you’ve got.
“Winners compare their achievements with their goals, while losers compare their achievements with those of other people” Nido Qubein
Perhaps this is the main difference. I know athletes who are constantly writing down goals. They come up with a plan on how to get from where they are to where they want to be. They are specific and focused and as soon as they cross one goal off the list, they add another one on. For others though, their goal is to always win or to beat a particular athlete that brings out their competitive spirit. There is a big difference in the thinking of both types of athletes.
“The competitor to be feared is the one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time” Henry Ford
I am on my way to my daughters state swim competition, I guess that is what made me think about all of this in the first place. Of course I want her to do well. I guess if I could say anything to her today, it would be this;
“If you can’t win, make the guy ahead of you break the record” Evan Esar
In the end, if you can walk away knowing you gave it your very best with no regrets, then never look back, keep looking ahead. When it comes down to it, friendly competition is possible to a certain degree but the most important person you will ever compete against is yourself.
“Look in the mirror…that’s your competition” Evan Carmichael
Let your goal always be to better yourself. Beat your own times, reach your own goals and always do the best you can. That is what winning is all about.
“Winners build on mistakes. Losers dwell on them” Arnold Mori
Perhaps the previous quote is the most differential factor in which athletes succeed and which athletes don’t. Maybe when it comes down to it, attitude is the most important factor of all. A true winner knows that there will always be someone better, faster. To win big, one must strive to swim a perfect race from start to finish and not get caught up in what place they are in when the race is over. And then, in the morning, drag yourself out of bed and practice harder than you’ve ever practiced before. Then drink some chocolate milk and go back and do it all again.

What Is Your Heart Full Of?

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How do you know your heart is in the right place? What is it that leaves it feeling full or empty? Today I watched a video of a young girl skating. She is the daughter of an old friend and as I watched her doing something she clearly loved, gliding so gracefully over the ice, I could feel my heart start to swell. It dawned on me that when we are in a constant state of seeking winning, looking the best, being the best, paying thousands of dollars for private lessons in five different sports so our kid can be the best, then our happiness will always depend on the belief that we are one step above the people around us. But, when we look for the best in others, when we can step back and appreciate who they are and see the effort and beauty in their personal best, our heart takes a different direction. We are always competing. The jealousy and the envy can near destroy us if our happiness is conditional and depends on how we see ourselves compared to others. Comparison robs us of our happiness and leaves us never feeling good enough. If only we could turn that around and realize we have different abilities and that’s okay. If we could really want the best for everyone around us instead of secretly wanting to hoard it for ourselves, happiness would find a home inside each and every one of us. There is no shortage of talent, or beauty or ability but we convince ourselves there is. No doubt there is an abundance of talent and uniqueness and knowing this simple fact should be enough to bond us together instead of tearing us apart. When you look at everyone from a place of love instead of fear that they have something you don’t have or are better at something than you will ever be then you will cheat yourself from ever truly feeling full. 

When The Point Gets Lost

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Why does everything boil down to competition and having to be the best? Some will argue competition is necessary and improves the performance of most at the end of a season. I beg to differ though as to what is actually better. 

My daughter is part of a fundraising committee for high school. The kids compete against each other to raise the most money. There was one kid actually trying to sneak the online contributions that clearly belonged to other classmates. The sneakiness and the cut throat battle to be the best did result in something but unfortunately not what I was hoping for. Somewhere, in the midst of trying to one up one another, these kids were cheated the beautiful experience of coming together for the greater good. What should and could have been a meaningful bonding together to make a difference in something selfless and important turned into a selfish battle to wear the crown of who brought in the most money. Maybe if the emphasis was really about raising money for the charity while setting an overall goal with no credit to who did less or who did more, maybe then they would discover the real reason behind giving in the first place, to help others and feel good about doing it.  Maybe we should stop patting the best on the back and pat everyone on the back for doing their best. I guess I’m just a dreamer and my ideas are not shared by the norm but giving without getting something in return is a beautiful gift for the whole world. Did the kids raise more money because this was a competition? Maybe, but was it worth the valuable lesson that somehow got skipped over in the blur of going round after round in the center ring? I don’t think so. What do you think? Imagine a contest that encouraged the winner be the most honest or the most altruistic.

Competition, Is it Really Healthy?

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Friendly competition. I’m sure you’ve heard that phrase before but I can’t help but ask myself, is competition REALLY friendly? Does it always bring out the best in everyone and make for a great race, or is there more beneath the surface we pretend we do not see? We want to be the best. We want to win, the problem with that is there can only ever be one real winner. When you are part of a team sport that is also individual, and you are competing with the people you consider friends, the reality can be a little disturbing.

“Competition is the spice of sports; but if you make spice the whole meal you’ll get sick.” George Leonard

I believe it’s easy to feel constantly torn between being jealous of the people who are natural born winners and frustrated that your own time, effort, and hard work never seems to be enough to give you that edge to get ahead. What is a person supposed to do with that? Some might say try harder, practice more, give more effort, but sometimes you’re already giving it all you’ve got.

“Winners compare their achievements with their goals, while losers compare their achievements with those of other people” Nido Qubein

Perhaps this is the main difference. I know athletes who are constantly writing down goals. They come up with a plan on how to get from where they are to where they want to be. They are specific and focused and as soon as they cross one goal off the list, they add another one on. For others though, their goal is to always win or to beat a particular athlete that brings out their competitive spirit. There is a big difference in the thinking of both types of athletes.

“The competitor to be feared is the one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time” Henry Ford

I am on my way to my daughters state swim competition, I guess that is what made me thing about all of this in the first place. Of course I want her to do well. I guess if I could say anything to her today, it would be this;

“If you can’t win, make the guy ahead of you break the record” Evan Esar

In the end, if you can walk away knowing you gave it your very best with no regrets, then never look back, keep looking ahead. When it comes down to it, friendly competition is possible to a certain degree but the most important person you will ever compete against is yourself.

“Look in the mirror…that’s your competition” Evan Carmichael

Let your goal always be to better yourself. Beat your own times, reach your own goals and always do the best you can. That is what winning is all about.

“Winners build on mistakes. Losers dwell on them” Arnold Mori

Perhaps the previous quote is the most differential factor in which athletes succeed and which athletes don’t. Maybe when it comes down to it, attitude is the most important factor of all. A true winner knows that there will always be someone better, faster. To win big, one must strive to swim a perfect race from start to finish and not get caught up in what place they are in when the race is over. And then, in the morning, drag yourself out of bed and practice harder than you’ve ever practiced before. Then drink some chocolate milk and go back and do it all again.