Turn Around and Swim

Life | Lessons | Laughter | Love


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Little League Moment in Buddha Fashion

In one final rally, the boys tried to hold on to their lead to advance to the next round of the 9u baseball playoffs. It was not in their cards. Not this time. Not this year. Not this season.

I went over to the dugout after Noochie’s last “at bat” and saw the tears welled up in his eyes. He was never going to release them but they were there, they were real and yet he wasn’t going to let them be in charge.

He held his head up high and congratulated every member of the other team. He thanked his coaches and teammates and he looked at me in Mogwai glances and then we headed to the car.

The silence overcame us as we drove off and made our way to get his other brother at football. When we arrived, he said to me, “I’m running to the “restroom”. Which for where we were, translated to the top of the football field hill and into the woods.

As time passed it dawned on me he had not yet returned to the car. I looked up the hill and there he was, in Buddha fashion, sitting cross-legged and reflecting.

I knew exactly what he needed from the moment. I knew exactly what he was reflecting on. I knew he would work it out within himself to regroup and move on. I knew he let the tears, finally take charge.

When he returned to the vehicle he was more at peace with himself. The somber look dissipated and he was humbled. I asked him if he was alright and he replied, “I’m better now, it’s hard, I don’t want the season to end and I wanted my final game to be better than the way I performed. But I looked the other way towards my football practice field and I’m ready to transition to that game. I’m not letting myself down because I learned a lot. I’m just ready to be a better version of me next year.”

Ten years old and so wise beyond his years.

We talk a lot about mindfulness. We talk about communicating with each other and unconditionally supporting our little family of four, the boys and I.  They have seen me at both states. Those were I let the moment take control of me and other times when I stayed grounded and mindful. Yet, of all of us, he can practice this trait the best.

Mindfulness.

He is a constant reminder to me of what’s truly important. When to acknowledge it’s sometimes best to head for the hill. When to engage and when to simply just walk away; sometimes not even turning back.

The field dust will always be there behind us and the emptiness that takes over the bases, mound and plate sometimes is a reality. But what really matters is taking what you learned from every base, every hit and strike out, every walk and every run and make the next time around, a better version of you.

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Samurai Slap Away 

Appearing in the winter dreariness at the top of our upstairs landing was a young boy who appeared to be part samurai warrior and part Aunt Jemima It was utterly confusing and I blinked a few times before wrapping my eyes around the sight of this boy. 


We had just returned from Sunday Mass when my overtired and wildly irritable 9-year old son stepped a boundary and got mouthy with me. It was as if some unholy spirit suddenly invaded his body. He spent the weekend “elsewhere” and spent a good part of it playing video games in “raids” with “grown men”. Something of which I do not allow or condone in our home. 

He was cranky and teetering back and forth from launching a granade at me and being my sweet son I carried in my womb for 9 months and one week. Then it happened, almost in A Christmas Story fashion, he said the unthinkable. Yet, the unthinkable was accompanied by a few more unthinkable(s) and then the unthinkable(s) just wouldn’t stop. 

So, as I was caught between seeing my beautiful, blue-eyed boy and a horned demon, I did the unthinkable. I slapped his sweet little cheek rosy red. We both immediately froze. And then my gentle child reappeared and the tears welled up in his eyes. 

He was instantly slapped back to reality as if an exorcism of sorts had occurred. We had a long talk about video games and saying no to things that seem fun but hurt us in the end. That sometimes making the decision to go to bed early even when no one else is holding you accountable is wisest of choices. We both apologized and I thought we went on our merry ways with a new sense of appreciation for the moment that overcame us both. 

A half hour past, I motioned for him to freshen his face, tidy his clothes and restyle his hair. Big brother’s basketball game was coming up and trek number 11 from home to court was soon to be underway. 

That’s when the samurai warrior appeared. Head and face fully wrapped in a black, dry wick long sleeve Under Armour compression shirt. All I could see were his enormous blue eyes. Just as I was about to lose my cool because we needed to leave, he spoke. 

Under the wick his muffled voice told of the day he spoke harsh words to his mother and she cracked him on his cheek. The shame he said was too much to bear and the redness on one cheek that didn’t match the other was to awkward to explain. The puffiness under his eyes that showed of a child distraught was too obvious to give way that tears had been shed. Such a heart felt muffled theatrical lead, I couldn’t resist. In his quest for sympathy of sorts, I did the unthinkable again. 

I laughed. Hysterically. I had nothing else to offer. Just pure, unfiltered belly laughter. What in the world are you doing my dear son? Like the adorning of the Scarlet Letter, he made his way one foot after another down the staircase, passed me, out the door and into his booster seat with his head and face fully cloaked in black Under Armour dry wick compression shirt.


That episode was a week ago. And although we have both moved on and have forgotten all about the unthinkable(s), I still can’t help from cracking up at the sight of him and his dramatics. You never will know what will come of a good old fashioned slap across the old cheek and usage of Under Armour dry wick long sleeve compression shirts. May the warrior in us all, fight the good fight! 


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Thankfully He Wasn’t REALLY Drowning

(Image Courtesy of Google)

(Image Courtesy of Google)

So the three little monkeys of mine now have swimming lessons. All in one place and for a half an hour every week. For thirty minutes I sit calmly and safely. I sit there and zone out from time to time while cannon balls shatter in the distance. I nod my head every once in a while to acknowledge a water tread, back float or half attempt at a dive. I nod away, they think I’m watching.

Sometimes if I get really animated I yell out, “Great job boys, keep it up.” I feel so free. I know there will be no Sharpie’s upon my walls or gallons of milk dripping from the counters. I know no child has clogged a toilet with a toy screwdriver which would later lead to its demise and removal. I know nobody is putting special bubbly in mommy’s contact case. I know no child is breaking and entering a neighbor’s home for chips in their pantry. I am at peace.

Why in the world didn’t I come up with this sooner? Why? This is the calmest thirty minutes I get each week. I do not care if the instructors pass them. I will pay anything to keep them learning water survival tactics. You’ll see, by the time they are 20, 15 and 13, we will have Olympic hopefuls in the making. I am a perfectionist and I believe, in order to achieve, we must practice, practice, practice. Ah, Namaste.

So by the time Peeno gets out of the pool and I wipe him dry, Noochie is getting out. Then Nickelbass finishes up his last belly flop from the high dive. Now I have regrouped, recharged and didn’t even need alcohol. But as we all know, all good things must come to an end. Now when your children are escorted out of the pool by their instructor, you dry them off and they put their shoes on, you expect them to make their way towards the exit sign. There should be no need to have your guard up or your mommy defense in overdrive. Nobody is getting back into the pool.

But yesterday when I was gathering my belongings, because somehow we always leave with more articles of clothing than we came in with, little Noochie decides to conduct a test. Yes, quite similar to the Emergency Broadcast System. Where it gets your attention until you hear, “This is only a test”. Well I guess over the thirty minutes while I was meditating, when I thought little Noochie was working hard at his breast stroke, he was eyeing up the Lifeguards.

(Image Courtesy of Google)

(Image Courtesy of Google)

Not in the ‘dude scoping out the chicks’ kind of way, but as in, ‘are they really paying attention kind of way’. Oh yes, you guessed it. He “accidentally” falls in. Of course they do nothing. I hurdle the swim team members, resin chairs and water-logged noodles and practically jump in after him. He says, “Mommy just calm down. I got this.” Then he swims to the ladder and in Baywatch fashion climbs out. I am all like in fight or flight mode and this little $h*t walks up to the Lifeguard and goes,”Hey, I just fell in the pool and you weren’t even paying attention.” I wanted to crack him upside his head. Yet, at the same time, he did have a point. Well at least he proved a point, which is exactly what he set out to do.

The Lifeguards are all apologizing to him, a five-year old, and I was still without words due to a potential drowning shock. But last night as I lay in bed with fury critters (more on that to come) I thought to myself, what a sly little guy. He is five and while he was challenging his instructor to push his limits and watching me to make sure I didn’t miss a stroke, he was also eyeing up the fact that the Lifeguards were not life guarding. The fact that teenagers were shaking in their swimmers for fear of job loss as a result of a five-year old’s test, just awed me.

Last year on vacation, when a stranger said to her sister, “That boy. That boy right there is gonna be somebody. He just has that look about him.” Well, she was talking about Noochie. I guess she was on to something. I hope I survive to see his triumphs.

What recent scare did you almost ___________ your pants from? What about you LifeGuards? Do you pay less attention when parents are around?


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Mommy’s Playground

20130329-122846.jpgI’m not a fan of treadmills. First they scare me. Anything with a revolving conveyor belt that can accelerate at extremely fast speeds is just a recipe for disaster. I am way too competitive. Like this one time when I had a great pace going and the chic next to me starting inclining and raising her speed, well of course I had to keep up. I was so inclined it was like I was running up Mt. Everest.

It was all good until a giant boulder made its way towards me. Unbeknownst to me, my water bottle lost its position on the mega incline and went under foot. Needles to say little Ms. Competitive went flying into the elliptical machines. It was just all very bad. It went way too wrong. 20130402-103349.jpg

That was then and now I prefer to let nature provide the incline. When I travel off the beaten path I find gems such as these. 105 to be exact. I will climb and incline. If I fall I only land in the river. No big deal, I will just turn around and swim.

It fares much better then getting catapulted into an elliptical machine while plastic surgery man drops beads of sweat on me. He was so botoxed up he didn’t even realize he had a women entangled around his machine. Don’t blink, you might miss a flying woman. This man gave eyes wide open a whole other meaning. Umm, help me sir!

20130402-103437.jpgReally. I am over that catastrophe. Really, I am. Anyways, the farther in I go the more picturesque the scenery gets. The sun is shining bright, Spring is chirping in the air and the last bits of snow are slowing melting away. It’s a natural obstacle that forces me to hop, jump and skip over the ice. It’s my own rendition of Happy Feet without the penguin waddle. Some might beg to differ but I had the whole playground to myself so no judgments forwarded.

20130402-103413.jpgI love this route. It does present a few obstacles such as the slippery slope and raging river below. But best not just peer what lies beneath as overhead can be majestically dangerous as well. With their stunning beauty they could also cause severe injury. Therefore, I veer closer to the slope than completely beneath these beautifully crafted ice sculptures.

Perhaps by this time of the year we are all a little sick of the cool temps and snow. But having the four seasons never allows my runs to get monotonous. Even if I travel the same path, everyday it looks different. Everyday I notice something different. The sounds are different. The smell is different. The people passing by are different.

20130402-103401.jpgThe variety is the key that a treadmill in a basement or gym could not compete with. Each foot in front of the other creates its own symphony. So much so that I want to trade in the air buds. It is nice to have that iPod strapped tight to my arm while listening to my favorite running music. Yet, my footsteps and Mother Nature provide the most upbeat yet tranquil sounds that soothe my soul and rev my engine. Plus Mother Nature’s downloads are free.

The babbling creek is one of my favorites. It’s powerful but calming all in the same. I seem to run at a faster pace trying to keep up with it. I get lost in the sound and do not even realize I’ve accelerated. At one point on the path, I have to depart with it. Some days I just run through it. Like a farewell defeat. Other days, I carefully use the rocks that hinder its flow.

20130402-103333.jpgIt reminds me of life. How some days we conquer and others days we take it slow, erring on the side of caution. Using the creek’s hinders to relate to our own. One step at a time trying to carefully plan our crossing. Then there are those days we choose to not care. We plow through. Sometimes we arrive sooner and other times later. We may have a cleaner crossing one day and a messy one the next. Yet, when we depart from the rhythm of the flow, we still end up in the same place and continue to move forward.

I venture off the beaten path to gain acceptance of the challenges, conquer my fears of the unknown and relish in the beauty and adventure. It’s my personal playground, void of some responsibilities. The place where I am cradled by Mother Nature. Wrapped tightly in her arms. The place where a mother can regroup and recharge. The place I prefer over any machine. My zone. Mommy’s Playground.

It is wide open out there. The hardest part is starting. But when you finish, you will be renewed. Breathe it in, take it in and stimulate your senses. Break a little sweat, get dirty, run hard and play.

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing” – Benjamin Franklin

So what do you prefer? Do you venture off the beaten path or stay on the guided trail? Do you prefer to get your thrill ride via a machine?

The Art of Losing an Hour

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It is that momentos time of the year; Daylight Savings Time. When we “Spring” forward with the hopes and promises of springtime to arrive. Yesterday might have just been the finest Daylight Savings Day ever by way of weather and WEATHER ONLY!

Just last Thursday it was snowing and yesterday you were not even able to grab a parking spot in the local Metroparks. Kids running, bikers, motorcycles, lovers walking hand in hand and runners galore. Kites flying, birds chirping and layers shedding. It was a balmy 68 give or take a few degrees. Now that is what most would call a “Spring” forward!

Had I gracefully approached the loss of an hour I might have gained full appreciation yesterday for Daylight Savings Time. But I sprung forward and landed right on my face. The trek may have been worth it at the time, but trying to navigate through Daylight Savings Day on three hours and a mild to severe hangover made for a slippery ride.

So, I have compiled a list, mostly to myself, so I do not make the same mistakes next year when I “Spring” forward. So, if you will, please learn from my mistakes and never, ever repeat!

Top 10 Things To Avoid the Day/Eve Before Daylight Savings Time

1. Low to no carbs. You have to carb Load! Yes, that’s right, maximum carb consumption! If you are going to consume wine in Margherita fashion, you best get your starch on. Crispy romaine, a few tomatoes and 3 greasy croutons will not absorb that type of wine consumption you silly rabbit. (Note to self: this is not how to consume wine either)

2. Shots – Just Say No! Shots can never be a good thing. With a lack of starch and wine consumption up the yin yang what was I thinking? Shots are just an evil reminder that I am not 21 anymore.

3. Pulling an all-nighter. Real smart. As if losing an hour isn’t enough, I have to close the house down. Who do I think I am? I don’t wear a cape. Go home fool!

4. An oversized Panini stuffed with turkey, cabbage and french fries. These should be illegal as they are stomach aches, among other things, in the making. Especially when consuming this delectable at 1:45 in the morning. How did I go from a fine food and wine enthusiast to a college student?

5. Thinking you are minus 3 kids. Yep, HELLoooo mommy! My Panini loving shot doing wine guzzling a$$ will need to get up with three kids in oh say less than 4.5 hours. I have to maneuver through Daylight Savings Day with my mommy title. No, there is no abandoning post. Ha, ha, dummy, deal with it now. Once you earn that mommy title, it is yours for life! Hangover or no hangover.

6. Getting home at 2:30 a.m. Oops that is now 3:30 a.m! “Spring” forward has sprung. Now we are down to 3.5 hours, 3 kids, one very dirty stomach and a pounding head.

7. Rounding up a big crew to meet at Starbucks pre-spin class at 8:00 a.m. Can’t bail now as I peel myself off my bed linens, slap some cold water on my face and get my workout gear on. OUCH and why do I look so blurry in the mirror?

8. Getting on a stationary bike for a 15 mile, one hour ride at 9:00 a.m. I already have my spin on…in my head! I was so dehydrated I couldn’t even sweat. How in the world did I make it through that class? The whisper of the fan was hurting my head. You go mommy, pedal now, faster and faster. No pain, no gain.

9. “Playing” mommy. There is no such thing unless you are a little girl. So, sure kids, we can go to the park! Fresh air might do us all some good. Let’s take full advantage of this spring-like day and play. You go ahead now, while I slumber under this tree. Who am I kidding? Swinging, hiking, frisbee throwing and uh oh, hello again Panini.

10. Navigate through Daylight Savings on 3 hours of sleep. Never do this on any given day either. Sleep is crucial, beneficial and very much appreciated. Yah, sweetie, there is no nappy, nap like back in the day. You need to push through this day, non-stop, until the kiddies are tucked into bed. But you go girl, have another shot!

So, with all appreciation for what Daylight Savings promises to bring, is it really necessary to “Spring” forward via loss of an hour? As if time is not limited as it is, you have to go and get all short on me? I need you minutes!

I know now not what to do next year. In fact, I think I am going to settle into a nice Daylight Savings Spa Retreat. The H2O plentiful, non-alcoholic, detoxifying, fresh fruit and veggies type. I would rather lose the hour gracefully than party like it’s 1999. (Although, at the time, it was blast!)