Beatitudes of my life

Being grateful for everything in my life…. no matter what…

My two greatest blessings April 28, 2014

Filed under: Blessings,Family,Lacrosse,Life Balance,Parenting,Sports — beatitudesofmylife @ 10:48 am

Ten years ago, I never would have imagined the scenes that have been playing out over the past two years.  My boys were 12 and 14 years old and they hardly interacted… at least not voluntarily… it was as if they had nothing in common.  D was in the band and becoming more involved every week, school was “boring”, and he seemed  happier playing video games than going outside to play with ‘the three dimensional people’.  E was starting to play lacrosse (after four years of Association football) and totally rocking the sport, loved being challenged with anything academic, and would bring home friends at the drop of a hat.  They were friendly with each other, but I don’t know that either would have said that they’d go out of their way to spend more time together.  They loved sports and had that in common, but didn’t seem to enjoy one another very much… and they certainly didn’t look for opportunities where they’d spend more time together.  While they didn’t fight, they also didn’t seem to be “friends”… which was our original hope when they were young.

Something started to change when they were both in High School.  D went to our “home” high school, immersed himself in “all things band” (marching, concert, orchestra, pep, stage, and jazz bands), challenged himself academically when absolutely necessary, and did what he needed to do to get into college.  E chose to challenge himself immediately by selecting one of the more difficult (imho) HS opportunities (he chose the Math/Science HS in our county), he tried out for (and MADE) a select lacrosse travel program, and pushed himself academically so he’d be able to have his pick when it came to colleges.  Still… they had their love of sports in common, which proved to be the bond that has drawn them ever closer.

D saw how much lacrosse meant to E… and E saw how much band meant to D.  I’m no psychology major, but I believe that they both started to recognize the same drive in one another… the passion that made their activities so special to them.  While they might have blown off things in the past, they were starting to join us to support one another… it was a great thing to see.

I’m not saying that they became one another’s biggest supporters overnight, but I do believe that they have each learned valuable lessons from the choices made by the other.

When D went away to college, he chose to be a Varsity Athlete (in lacrosse) and then was selected to be a Resident Advisor for three of his four undergrad years.  He dealt with a horrendous coaching situation with more grace than I could possibly muster.  He selected a major that ended up being a mistake but followed through, got his degree, and is now working toward a Masters in Athletic Training.  He’s been assigned to some amazing programs within his Masters program and will be working at USNA this coming fall… to say we are proud of him would be an understatement.  He is creating a life in which he can work and be happy, which is the one thing for which every parent prays.  He’s becoming a man upon whom others rely… he’s becoming his father… which is such a blessing to see.

When E went away to college, he chose a school (6-hours away) that wanted him for his lacrosse skills as well as his academic abilities.  He was initially happy to be one of the “smarter” guys on campus, but he quickly realized that he needed to change his educational direction if he was going to ultimately be successful.  He transferred to a school closer to home and started working on creating that work/life balance by focusing on his academic career while creating his own athletic challenges.  He worked to get accepted into a demanding program and then worked harder to stand out in a sea of qualified applicants to accept an offer for a job after college.  E’s happily taken on roles within his athletic life that have given him consistently greater responsibilities and allowed him to recognize how he wants to live after graduation.  He too, is becoming a man upon others rely… just like his older brother… and just like his father.  How could I feel anything other than blessed?20140428-114800.jpg

My darling husband would argue that *we* are each other’s greatest blessings but, after M, I really must insist that my two greatest blessings are my boys, D and E. Before you delete this post and chalk my message as a simple brag on what a great job M/I did as parents, let me say that I am definitely *not* bragging… I am absolutely astounded at the incredible men we have raised and wanted to share that with you on this post.  They haven’t been “brainwashed” into being each other’s biggest supporters, but they’ve become that on their own.  This past weekend, D drove a round-trip of five+ hours to see his brother play in a two-hour lacrosse game… because it was important to be there to support E.  I can only imagine how E will return the favor when he has graduated from college and has a car of his own.

I started this blog as a way to give credence to the many blessings of my life. I recognize that not everything in my life is seen by others as a blessing, but looking at the young adults pictured here, I cannot help but be reminded of every single reason I have for all the good in the world.

 

 

Making Way for New Traditions April 20, 2014

Filed under: Blessings,Holidays,Life Balance,Moving,Parenting — beatitudesofmylife @ 11:00 am
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Since our move last week, I’ve been thinking about “The way we’ve always done things” and how this will change in the coming year. As we celebrate Easter in our apartment this year, our tradition of sharing this holiday meal with dear friends is going to become a treasured memory. We had a “traditional menu” of spiral ham, scalloped potatoes, Mimi’s peas (a twist on green bean casserole), some sort of fresh vegetable, homemade rolls, and a special dessert made by my best friend, who happens to be an incredible chef. Easter dinner will definitely not be the same this year and, while I will miss the comfort of those dEasterEggear and special people, I have to take heart in knowing that this is part of our new/next path.

Change isn’t easy… it’s a shedding of the familiar and learning to embrace the different. It’s mourning those things you will miss while learning to enjoy those things you hadn’t yet contemplated. While I recognize the benefits that can come about by giving way to new traditions, it’s still a bumpy road to travel. GIving a simple wink-and-a-nod to all that has come before isn’t enough… but going into a full-on-mourning is too much. Where do we find that happy medium when it comes to change?

Our family has relied a great deal on tradition.  Creating new ones and resurrecting others has been a coping mechanism, especially when my boys were younger.  Some, I pray, will always remain important… primarily our Thanksgiving and Christmas menus… while others will either meld to fit our currently family dynamic or fall by the wayside entirely.  I loved hearing E ask if I was making sloppy joes and homemade rolls for Trick-or-Treating night,  “because that’s what you always make for Trick-or-Treating”.   Is “The way we’ve always done things” enough of a reason to keep a certain tradition alive or is there a deeper, cultural reason for maintaining the status quo?

During this time of transition, I’m doing a great deal of questioning the importance of individual family traditions.  I’m learning about my own expectations and those of my family… and finding where they intersect and where they veer off in totally different directions. It’s both difficult and refreshing.  Is it important to make that same Easter holiday meal for just the two of us or is there something specific that’s important enough to salvage and recreate?  Maybe we don’t need a spiral cut ham dinner to make our holiday complete… maybe I really *do* want some sort of special thing that reminds me of the Easters from my childhood.  I’ve chosen to get a simple pink  hard-boiled egg from the grocery store and make something out of that as my Easter touchstone for this year.  Nothing else will be the same (ok… we *do* have jelly beans in the house and M just brought me a few special Creme Eggs) but that’s going to be where our tradition will end today.

We’re making way for new traditions to become our anchor… stripping down all the old ways of celebrating of holidays and coming up with new things that are more us, more true, and more real.  Simply doing things because “that’s the way we’ve always done it” isn’t as good an answer as it has been in the past.  It’s not going to be easy, but I believe that the end result will be a more true reflection on us and on our faith.  Traditions, I believe, aren’t meant to be chains that weigh us back to the past… they’re meant to be links that keep us connected to one another, generation to generation, in whatever way seems best to each family.

My hope is that our traditions become ones that my sons will carry into their adult lives… not as stagnant blueprints, but as ways to create traditions of their own, linking the future with the past.

Isn’t that what we all want from traditions?

Wishing you each a most blessed Easter… and in the traditional Episcopalian way, let me greet you with “The Lord is Risen!  He is Risen indeed!  Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!”

 

How important is it to support kids after HS? April 15, 2013

Filed under: Blessings,Family,Lacrosse,Life Balance,Parenting,Sports — beatitudesofmylife @ 10:17 am

DSC_9639 How important is it to support our kids and their various activities after HS?  I think it’s VERY important!  This idea was really brought home to me this weekend when UVA’s club lacrosse team played in the Beltway Bash in College Park.

There were two tiers of teams from all over the place… there were tons of players on each of these teams… and yet there were an astonishingly small number of fans/parents.  Maybe they felt that this wasn’t a big enough tournament to warrant their attendance.  Maybe they didn’t have enough vacation time to be able to attend.  Maybe their player didn’t let his parents know with enough lead time to be able to make arrangements for other siblings or work events.    Whatever the case, the teams didn’t seem to have a large contingent of fans following them… and that really surprised me.

Am I that much of a 60’s throwback parent that it doesn’t even occur to me not to follow my son’s game schedule?   When both our boys were playing college lacrosse, we would make some unbelievable drives.  One particularly interesting jaunt was traveling to Greensburg PA for a noon lacrosse game for E before getting back in the car to make it to a 7PM lacrosse game for D in Washington DC.  Thankfully, both my boys expressed their appreciation but are there parents who wait for their kids ask for their attendance before they’ll make the effort?

I’ve lately been hearing a lot of people mentioning how excited they are for their child to turn 18 because they’ll be adults and not need their parents anymore… in some cases, parents are joking (at least, I hope they are joking) that their kids are “out” as soon as they turn 18.   Honestly, I would never even think of making this statement… and would never make it in front of my boys.  In my mind, voicing those comments just seem to make them seem that much more “plausible” and I would never want my boys to think that we won’t be there to support them, no matter what they are doing.

So, yes… I’ll always be that parent on the sidelines.  I’ll have my camera in hand, especially since it gives me closer access to the field and helps me keep from yelling during the game, but I’ll always be there.  I’ll be there to congratulate the team after the game and cheer them on before the next one.   I’ll be present in the lives of my children… no matter how old they are… because they are my boys…

I’m planning to shoot at least one game this spring in which D will be the coach… and another in which he’ll be a ref.  Is that weird?  Maybe… but these are activities that command my children’s attention and dedication.  If they warrant their attention, then they also warrant mine.

A young man from one of the rival teams came up to me and, when he saw that I had a camera, asked if I had taken many photos of the previous night’s game.  I gave him one of my business cards, so he’d be able to access whatever I had taken the night before, and his response was one of gratitude… that they “don’t have anyone who takes pictures of their team”.  Seeing this tall young man, looking for all intents and purposes like a huge child, asking about possible photos of him playing his favorite sport just broke my heart.  Do parents think that they don’t matter to their kids once they graduate from HS?

I’m not questioning if parents still love their kids… I’m simply questioning the notion that parents aren’t wanted after their kids graduate from HS.  I have spent the past six years following three lacrosse teams of varying skill levels and each was filled with kids who truly loved the continued attention.   I’ve been blessed to share the sidelines with hundreds of kids who simply want someone to  acknowledge just how much they love their sport… and I thank them every chance I get.

Maybe we all could take a little more time off to just watch our kids as they follow their passion… maybe then, the world would be a better, happier place?

We’re making a life… let’s make it one filled with purpose and love that starts first with our family and friends, no matter how old.

 

It’s almost Halloween…. darn it? October 6, 2012

Filed under: Blessings,Cooking,Family,Holidays,Parenting — beatitudesofmylife @ 1:55 pm
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Let it be known… I am NOT a fan of Halloween.  I try and be a good sport about giving out candy and have, in the past, put on a costume and gone through the motions of trick-or-treating, but I really do NOT like this holiday.  I don’t enjoy buying candy and having it in my house to hand out to strangers.  I don’t like feeling required to participate in handing out treats to kids who, for the most part, are doing the bare minimum needed to look like they’re dressing up in costume.  I don’t like having people with masks ring my doorbell and expect candy in return for their participation in this day in October.  I just don’t like it.  Is that such a crime?

I know there are those of you who will cajole and tease me to try and get me into the “Halloween spirit” but I just don’t enjoy being a part of this holiday.  The masks creep me out and the scary costumes kids wear just keep getting more and more bizarre.   Is it “bad” of me to dislike a specific holiday?  Are there others out there who don’t enjoy Halloween?

I remember a time in college when a friend put on a gorilla mask and chased me around our dorm.  I hated that.  I knew who this person was, yet the mask turned them into something completely sinister and frightening for me.  It wasn’t funny or silly… it was scary.  I think people sometimes underestimate how much a mask can conceal an identity in someone’s mind.

I have the same reaction to clowns… they flip me out and I just don’t find them to be funny or silly at all.   Check out this clown picture I found.  The lip outline is painted into a smile, but it’s one of the creepiest faces when you see the overall look.  I know that’s the point, but I have a hard time finding the fun in these sort of painted faces. The two “true” parts of the individual’s face are the eyes and mouth… and many times the eyes are bloodshot (maybe a reaction to having so much makeup around that area of the face) and the mouth/teeth aren’t in the best condition.  Have you seen many clowns with clear eyes and clean pearly white teeth?  I haven’t.  Maybe that’s why I don’t enjoy clowns… being a dentist’s daughter always has me looking at smiles and teeth.  That would be an interesting study… does a parent’s occupation influence their children’s fears and phobias in later life?  Then again, maybe not.

There are two positive things about Halloween, in my opinion.  The first is that we always have the same dinner on Halloween or whatever night ends up being designated for Trick-or-Treat… I make my Auntie Jean’s BBQ (sloppy joes) and homemade Kaiser rolls.  When E was a senior, he informed me that it just wasn’t Halloween to him without this meal… so how could I resist?  In honor of that tradition, I’ll include this recipe below so you, dear reader, may see if you want to start your own tradition.

The second and MOST positive thing about Halloween is that it signals that Thanksgiving is just around the corner.  Thanksgiving is my very favorite holiday of all time.  It ranks higher than Christmas, Easter and Birthdays for me.  Thanksgiving is the one time of the year when the focus is on appreciating the bounty and blessings in our lives and giving thanks for what we have.  It’s about family and food… it’s about being together with those you love and reaching out to those who need… it’s about the GOOD that is in the world and showing appreciation for what we have been given.

I’ll talk more about Thanksgiving later.  For now, I must share my Aunt’s recipe and let you all get ready for Halloween… after all… if we let Halloween hurry up and get here, we can start planning for Thanksgiving.  Right?

Auntie Jean’s BBQ (Sloppy Joe’s)

2lbs browned hamburger (I use ground turkey)

1 bottle ketchup (the 28oz size – I always use Heinz Ketchup)

2T apple cider vinegar

3T yellow mustard

3T Worcestershire sauce

4tsp sugar

2tsp celery seed

My cousin makes a double recipe and puts this into a crock pot so she has enough to feed whoever might drop by when she makes it.  I typically use two packages of ground turkey and then either make homemade rolls or use packaged potato rolls for my guys.  We love the tang of the spices and much prefer it to the jarred sauce you can purchase from the grocery store.

Wishing you a Happy Halloween… however you choose to celebrate!

 

It’s all relative…really… September 18, 2012

Filed under: Blessings,Family,Football,Life Balance,Parenting,Sports — beatitudesofmylife @ 10:32 am
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This past weekend, we went to State College, PA for the Navy/Penn State game.  While the game was disappointing (to say the least), we both had a fabulous time when we took my niece out for an early dinner on Friday.  We had a fun meal together, got to hear all about her classes, find out how much she loves being at PSU, and talk with her about her friends, job, and family.  It was exactly what I’d wanted to do when we made our original plans to go to this particular game…. visiting with our niece, M.

The interesting about this normal family outing is that our niece, M, is not technically related to us… she’s our niece by love, not by blood.  It may sound weird, but it works for us.

I’m sure there are many others who have familial connections like ours.  I always felt that my first cousins were more like “second sisters”… or “sisters once removed”, if you will.  I spent every significant holiday and family event of my childhood with my cousins and, since they were all just a few years older than me, my sense of identity was formed by these amazing women, much as older sisters do for their younger ones.  These are the women I have called on for support my entire life… the women who taught me life lessons… the women who allowed me to tag along with their friends when I visited.   They helped me weather the storms caused by my parents’ divorce and allowed me to learn how to be graceful, loving, and generous by watching their reactions to everyday life.  These women have been my role models for real life… and they helped me learn how to form my own family structure, apart from the strict “family tree structure” guidelines you can find in Wikipedia.

If you go strictly by the original family tree, the lovely young woman we took to dinner wouldn’t be included.  She’s actually the best friend of my first cousin’s daughter… who is officially my first cousin once removed.  Huh?   Anyone else have people who don’t fit into this stagnant structure?

When I speak of my cousin J and her husband B, I usually refer to them as my sister and BIL.  Their kids, M and J, therefore are my nephew and niece… right?  I do have an amazing sister, BIL, and nephew (J, E, and T) who I love to distraction as well as my brother, SIL and their two kids (T, J, E, and Z) so this is in no way a statement on my relationship with them.  My other cousins’ kids are similarly referred to, in our house, as our nieces and nephews as are the kids of my step-brothers and their families.  We are blessed with many relatives, but I believe that in this day and age the word “relative” can be a confining term.

I love having the freedom to define relationships with people in my life.  One of the definitions of “relative”, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “a person connected with another by blood or affinity”.  If you look up “affinity” on Dictionary.com, you’ll get the following definitions: “1. a natural liking for or attraction to a person, thing, idea, etc. 2. a person, thing, idea, etc., for which such a natural liking or attraction is felt. 3. relationship by marriage or by ties other than those of blood ( distinguished from consanguinity). 4. inherent likeness or agreement; close resemblance or connection”.

I believe this is where my favorite part of having relatives falls.  I have a number of people who have, over the years, called me “mom” and will call or text when they need to reach out to someone they can trust…  I have a select few young men who allow me to call them “son”… I have male friends who I refer to as my brothers… I have long-time friends who are more like sisters… doesn’t everyone have people like this in their lives?

I truly believe these terms of endearment are incredibly important.  While I’m not a fan of the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child”, I thoroughly believe that we are all able to create relatives with whom we have a connection… and affinity… and bring them into our lives.  Maybe it’s someone whose parents are far away and they need a parental “touchstone” of sorts… maybe it’s someone who seems so familiar to you and your own family that they just “fit”… maybe it’s someone who needs you at that moment in their lives.  Whatever the reason, I feel that when that situation presents itself, the universe is telling us that this person needs some support… and I believe it’s our duty to answer that call.

Besides… how could you say no to such a beautiful face… Love my niece Mel!

 

The thing about Friends… June 28, 2012

Filed under: Blessings,Communication,Girlfriends,Life Balance,Navy Life,Parenting — beatitudesofmylife @ 6:52 am

I have truly been blessed with some wonderful friends over the years.  Throughout my life, some amazing people have shown up, stuck around, been there for the best and worst, or simply popped in at the most God-divined moments that I feel the need to write and share with the blogging world.  Maybe you, too, have had some similar situations?

The friends of my youth:  These people met me when my parents’ marriage ripped apart, my world collapsed, and I was learning how to be Humpty Dumpty by putting all the pieces back together again.  I tended to categorize my friends geographically or by activities… those I knew through one HS or another, those I met in marching band, those from Camp Robin Hood, those who knew me through plays and musicals, or those who knew me at church.  Many of these groups of people didn’t coincide, so my opportunities for knowing a large number of people was great… I just wish I had realized that at the time.   I wasn’t a particularly unkind child, but I do wish that I had paid attention more in those formative years.  Having the gift of seeing these people now that we’re adults provides a glimpse into the life I lived then and allows me to use hindsight to foster better and more lasting relationships with some really terrific people.

The friends of my college years:  The people from my college years saw me though the most important and formative years for my personality.  I loved and lost… I triumphed and failed… and I was slowly able to craft myself into someone of whom I could be proud.  Not “proud” like, “look how cool I am”… but more along the lines of taking pride in creating a person on whom others could trust and depend.  I learned to make my word not only matter, but make it meaningful.  I found people who helped me learn self-respect and taught me to expect that from others.  I truly believe that my four years at Hood College, and the friends who meant the most to me, helped form me into the person I wanted to become as an adult.

The friends of my adulthood:  These people have watched me grow as a new wife and mother… new to the transitional life in the military… and learning to be “an adult” instead of a child.  It was the women I met in these years who demonstrated to me the attributes I most wanted to emulate and incorporate into my own life.   Seeing how other couples treated one another in public offered me the insight, however misguided, into how I wanted my own marriage to be seen by others.  Being honest, trustworthy, dependable, loving, caring, and forthright, all those “white knight” characteristics I had so admired in my darling M during our college years, became the  structure from which I endeavored to build my own life.

While the Navy, and subsequent moves, would add and subtract people from my day-to-day life, it has been the friends who stick with me that matter most.  The words of a well-loved poem (of disputed origin) come to mind when I think of friends…  it goes something like this:

People always come into your life for a reason, a season and a lifetime. When you figure out which it is, you know exactly what to do.

When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed outwardly or inwardly. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, or to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or even spiritually. They may seem like a godsend to you, and they are. They are there for a reason,you need them to be. Then, without any wrong doing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die, Sometimes they just walk away. Sometimes they act up or out and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered and it is now time to move on.

When people come into your life for a SEASON, it is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn. They may bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season. And like Spring turns to Summer and Summer to Fall, the season eventually ends.

LIFETIME, relationships teach you a lifetime of lessons; those things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person/people (anyway);, and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas in your life. It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant. Thank you for being part of my life…..

I am grateful for every friend I have ever made.  As Facebook changes and redefines how we term someone as a “friend”, know that I am blessed and forever changed by every person who has ever allowed me to lay claim to the term “friend”.

The thing about friends?  They are what makes the world go on… the sunshine seem brighter… and life seem that much sweeter.  Open yourself up to a friend and you will be forever changed.  Allow yourself to be affected by a friend and your life will be made that much richer because of it.

The fabric of our lives isn’t cotton…. the fabric of our lives is friendship… that’s the thing about Friends.

 

This is the busiest summer ever! June 27, 2012

Filed under: Cooking,Lacrosse,Life Balance,Parenting,Sports,VA Wine — beatitudesofmylife @ 3:31 pm

I have been incredibly busy this summer… more so than any in recent memory… and I really do love it.  I don’t always have the time to cook or bake or create as I have in the past, but it’s ok.  I’m trying to make time for everything that truly matters, and isn’t that what life is all about?

I started working at a winery this past fall.  I help run the Tasting room at James River Cellars Winery in Glen Allen, VA and I truly love my job.  I’ve been given the tasks of our Constant Contact messages, decorating the chalkboards for our in-house special events, updating our business Facebook page (James River Cellars Winery) and our twitter account (JamesRiverWine), and helping my co-workers in their tasks as needed.  I don’t have any specific title or job description… while it’d be fun to have an actual title other than “ABC Manager”, I really don’t need one.  I am learning to look around and find things that I can do to make things run better or be more organized.   I adore taking time with our customers to find wine that makes them happy… I have learned to cook with each of our wines and enjoy sharing this information whenever I have the opportunity.  This job has become a part of me and I am having a fabulous time!  Note:  the photo here was taken by Sarah Haussen of the VTC.

Both my sons are home this summer, which adds another element to our day-to-day activities.  D graduated from Hood in May and, two days later, he began taking classes that will help him in his ultimate goal of becoming a Certified Athletic Trainer.  My heart swells when I think of how far he’s come in the past four years… I even got teary with one of his professors when they proceeded to not only tell me how great he’d be as a trainer but they went into detail on his many attributes.  Proud mama could barely keep from sobbing.  E applied for, and got, an internship in an Anti-Money Laundering program.  He’s earning money, learning how hard it can be to work a full 8 hour day, and more appreciative of his “off time” than ever.  Additionally, both boys are playing in a men’s summer league lacrosse program AND coaching youth lacrosse travel teams – getting to see them each excel in their own ways in similar activities has been a blast.

Lest you think that we don’t have enough going on, M is playing softball again!  Not only was he asked to join a locally sponsored team but he was also talked into playing for a work-sponsored team… it’s been interesting trying to add in all the games of both teams AND try to attend as many of everyone’s games as possible.  Yikes… My camera is getting a great workout!

Busy is great… wish I had more hours in the day so I could get caught up on sleep, but I’ll have enough years later when we’re not following the boys all over hither and yon, so I’ll suck it up for now.  Gotta cut this short cuz we’ve got an RSLL lacrosse game again tonight… and M has a doubleheader softball game… good thing I have tomorrow off, right?

Cheers, all!  Come visit me at the winery sometime… I’ve got some great wines to offer you!

 

 

A story with an unhappy ending… April 28, 2012

Filed under: Lacrosse,Parenting,Sports — beatitudesofmylife @ 7:08 pm
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Be forewarned… this is a story without a happy ending.  As much as I wish for a better ending, this is not possible… and all this disappointment is because of one man.  Let me begin where all stories should begin… at the beginning.

My older son, D, started playing lacrosse in his junior year of HS.  His brother had been playing the sport for a few years and had truly found his sport.  E had always been a natural athlete, but this sport just fit him to a “T”.  As a result, D decided to try his hand at the same sport.  He loved it, but he always had to work harder to pick up and master the skills that seemed to come naturally to his younger brother.  Where this could have created a great deal of jealousy, my boys seemed to use it as a bonding point.  They would discuss different ways of stringing a stick, debate offensive and defensive strategies, and were able to enjoy each another’s achievements without allowing it to create an antagonistic relationship between them.  They have always been each other’s biggest cheerleaders and for that, I will always be incredibly grateful.

When D  was a senior and making his college selection, he had narrowed his choices to two very different schools.  He was making the choice between a large in-state public university where he could be part of the marching band OR he could choose a small private out-of-state college where he had the opportunity to be a Varsity athlete.   He thought long and hard about this choice, but ultimately chose to go to a school where he had the chance to be a varsity athlete.  Having him choose my alma mater (the small, private, out-of-state school) made my heart sing, but the deciding factor for him was the possibility of playing college lacrosse… something he had never thought would be possible.  He was in heaven.

Playing lacrosse at this Division III college was a unique experience.  Since the college had only recently become a co-ed institution, their lacrosse program was very new.  When D attended his accepted students day, Coach D was the head coach; a great guy who was energetic and positive.  By the time D began his freshman year, Coach D had stepped down (he had accepted a new position at his job and it didn’t allow him time to devote to being the head coach) and Coach F had taken over.  Coach F was another positive guy; hard on the guys but fair in terms of discipline and expectations.  Coach F remained for two years and then Coach M took over just before D’s junior year.

From a parent’s perspective, Coach M was a nightmare in many ways.   His behavior embarrassed me, as an alum, but the seniors begged parents not to complain.  They were concerned that if coach found out whose parents complained that there would be repercussions for them on the field or in the amount of game time they might see.  We tried to give him the benefit of the doubt… the college must have seen something positive in him when they hired him, right?  D actually played in a few games during his junior year… making it into 6 games when the score difference was large enough to justify his participation.  He moved to long stick after spring break that year and was as positive as ever.  He asked me to please not say anything negative regarding my impressions of the coach and I tried mightily to honor his request.

D’s senior lacrosse season had a rough start when Coach M didn’t play him in any of the Fall Ball tournament games.  By Spring, we were determined to see as many of his game as possible, since this was his final season, and traveled to a majority of his games, both on campus and off.  I had been the team’s photographer since D’s freshman year, so I made his schedule my priority throughout the spring.  Each time we saw a game, no matter the final score, D was consistently positive, focused, and determined…. even though he never got to play in the game.

Injury plagued D throughout his college lacrosse career.  He had ankle, shin, and knee problems that kept him from being 100% at times, but he never failed to participate to the best of his ability.  His determination to be part of this team, no matter the amount of playing time, was a constant source of awe for us.  He put up with so much and worked so hard to be a contributing part of the team that we, stupidly, were hopeful about seeing him play at some point during his senior season.

As the season came to a close, we were truly hopeful that we’d seen the worst that Coach M could offer… surely he’d recognize the contributions and dedication that D had shown for four years…  but it was not to be.

Senior Night versus Marymount University started out in grand fashion.  The boys played their hearts out and held the lead for the entire game.  Sadly though, Coach M decided not to include THREE of our seniors.  All these three young men had been part of the team for four years, enduring 6AM practices, only two or three days off for Spring Break each year, and then were snubbed on the single day that was to have been dedicated to their contributions.  It was maddeningly offensive to me, but my son’s focus was, as always, on the team.  He was ok with the idea of not having played, because they won the game.  I could only stand on the sideline and fume privately as both hubby and son pleaded with me not to make a scene.  I honored their request… as much as I resented the need to do so… but prayed that honor would prevail for my son and the other seniors on their final game, played this past Friday.

D’s final college game was played on Friday, April 27th… but D did not play.  They lost that game 9-3.   When one of the other seniors, who had made it into the game, asked Coach M to put all the seniors in for the final 2 minutes of the game, he was told to shut up.  D and one other senior never saw the field.    Sadly, the ONLY time D made it onto the field during his entire senior MLAX season had already come and gone; during the Salisbury game on April 7th, when they lost 29-1…. and we weren’t there.

I wish I could say that I was enlightened enough to look at this situation from a more positive vantage point…. however, I truly believe that there was no earthly reason why my son was not included in either his senior night OR his final game in a Hood College uniform.  My son has endured all the elements that God can offer just to play the game he loves… but his coach, who should have had the foresight to realize the lasting impression he was providing my son and his fellow seniors, couldn’t be bothered.

I wish I could say that this story has a happy ending, but it doesn’t.  D’s college lacrosse career ended with nothing more than a tongue lashing at the team by their coach.  What should have been his happiest game, was not to be.

I am filled with pride for my son and his fellow seniors for the class they showed in persevering through four years of hard work to earn college degrees AND participate in four years of varsity lacrosse.

This coach hurt my son… and I will NEVER forget…

 

 

The worst thing about sports can sometimes be the parents… April 1, 2012

Filed under: Blessings,Lacrosse,Parenting,Photography,Sports — beatitudesofmylife @ 6:58 pm

I just came back from a weekend of varying degrees of lacrosse.  It was all “college level” but I’m convinced, more than ever, that the worst thing about sports, and enjoying sporting events, can sometimes be the parents.  I’m all for following your child’s athletic endeavors… cheering their team on to victory… commiserating when referees and officials make calls you deem questionable… but that’s about the ONLY place where I agree.  Our job, as parents, is NOT to coach our children, if we are not the coach.  We are to be supportive… nothing more and nothing less.

Friday night, we were on hand for two club lacrosse games.  The first game was pretty tame… parents complained about calls that were either made or missed, depending on their point of view.  I was spared much of what was said… I’ve learned to plug in a single ear bud and listen to some “head banging tunes” while attempting to shoot the game from a photographer’s point of view.

That being said, the second game was a huge challenge for me.  I had my music going…  Drowning Pool “Bodies”, DMX “Where the Hood at” and “Ruff Ryders Anthem”, along with Fort Minor “Remember the Name”, Kings of Crunk “Get Low”, and Steve Aoki/Laidback Luke “Turbulence” were all shuffling through my playlist.  We were playing a traditionally rough team, but I was unprepared for a MOM to yell “make him sorry” when our goalie left his net to bring the ball into play.  A mom?  Really?  The rest of the game was equally frustrating.  Our parents were primarily cheering generic and positively focused themes of Poke check!… Get the Ball!… Go Hoos!, while the opponent’s fans had reached down and came up with “Hit Him!… Crush Him!… Get Him!  Thankfully, this was a blissfully short game.  Two running halves with the entire game completed in an hour.  I don’t think I could have taken much more that evening.

Sadly, I was in store for much worse the following day. The game I was shooting Saturday was a conference lacrosse game that was not expected to be a win for us.  We were hopeful for a “good game” against a historically tough opponent but I was truly unprepared for how bad things got over the course of the game.  The boys were putting forth, in my opinion, a valiant effort against a team that had blown them out in the past.  To be within a handful of goals by halftime was amazing and I was proud of the work done these young men.

What was most upsetting was when one of our parents decided to personally heckle and single out a player on the other team.  Seeing him sink to this level, in a college game, made me embarrassed to be on the same team.  Clearly, no one had ever stood up to him while his son was in HS to explain that this sort of behavior was neither productive nor helpful.

Youth and college sports are terrific places for our children to learn life lessons… what to do… what NOT to do… how to portray yourself in public… how to make your point without turning into a bully or using inference to try and turn others to your twisted version of reality.   Our children are watching us… they are watching to see how we handle situations and they will mimic what they see, especially if it’s shown to be an acceptable behavior.  If we yell at the ref, scream at players on the other team, or whine when we don’t get our way, doesn’t it stand to reason that our children will repeat this behavior and become our own worst nightmares?

Two weeks ago, I was unhappily invited into one such situation within our High School/youth program.  A disgruntled parent decided to voice their opinion to the coach…something perfectly acceptable within the confines of a private conversation.  The problem came when this parent decided to voice their displeasure to the entire team, coaches, and myself (the athletic director) while insinuating that they were not the only disappointed family within the program.   ” I know I am not the only parent concerned just the parent willing to express my concerns”.  After saying that they “respected what we are trying to do”,  the parent went on to complain that their team was being “set up for failure” and that they “do not have any chemistry as our opposition has pointed out”.   If a parent wants to voice this concern to a coach, I support that right.  When that same parent decides to call an entire program into question by complaining in a blanket email, I take great exception.  I was LIVID…

Over the next few days, there were some terrific messages that were sent out to the entire team… defending the coach, our program, our schedule, and our kids.  No one called this parent out for their message but everyone who took the time to respond did so by sharing the way they try to raise their kids.  Praise in public… reprove in private.  Wasn’t this part of what we were supposed to learn as kids…. so we could teach the same thing to our own kids when we became the adults?

I was blessed to have been placed in a humbling situation just after I got married.  We were watching a HS football game in Michigan and the kicker was having a hard time getting the ball off before being tackled by the other team.  I was feeling “above it all”, since we didn’t know anyone on the team, and thought it was a good idea to yell that they should replace the kicker… get some kid who could get the ball off… when a parent on the team told me to “shut up… he’s doing the best he can”.  Wow.. such a small comment but it had a huge impact on me.  I sat back, embarrassed for having been yelled at in public like a little kid, but I got it.  The kicker was doing the best he could… and if I couldn’t cheer positively, I wasn’t welcome to cheer at all.   After 24 years, the sting of realizing that I was being a verbal bully, even if that kicker couldn’t hear me, still remains in my head and colors how I see things today.

As parents, we have the ability to make their kids into sportsmen (and women) or into bullies.  As parents, we have influence over their kids that can help build or break a program.   As parents, we should all THINK BEFORE WE SPEAK/WRITE and ask ourselves…. is this message helpful or hurtful… am I acting in the best interest of my child… would my child be embarrassed if they knew what I had said/written?

Let’s all do our part to raise the game, whatever the game may be, to a higher standard than is currently in vogue.  Let’s teach our children how to be positive… responsible… respectable.  Free speech isn’t always free…. sometimes there’s a tremendous cost in how it affects our community.  Think, people, before you cheer.   Let’s teach our kids to build one anotherup instead of tearing each other down…

 

I’m a Yellow Lab March 22, 2012

Filed under: Blessings,Parenting,Pets,Photography — beatitudesofmylife @ 7:37 pm
Tags: , , , ,

As weird as it may sound, I’ve been told that I have the personality of a yellow lab puppy and I’m OK with it.  Seriously.  I think it’s a huge compliment that my husband, and a few select friends who understand the analogy, feel that my outlook on life reminds them of a yellow lab.   Happy, ready to play, forgives slights (ok… I’m still working on that one), always seems to look at or for the positive?  Yeah, I’ll take that one.

The first time someone commented on my general outlook on life, I was quick to downplay it.  After all, it’s not “normal” for someone to always look at the positive side of things, is it?  I thought that lots of people looked for the good in others… sought the happy side of things instead of focusing on the negative… but that doesn’t seem to be the case.   It’s easy to see the glass as “half empty” instead of “half full”, but that is definitely not my way of seeing things.  I’ve learned that I actually have to make a concerted effort to see all the negative aspects of a situation instead of making the best of whatever may come my way.   Is that a bad thing?  Is this a character trait or a character flaw?  Why don’t more people automatically lean toward the good in their lives?  Am I really so strange?

I’ll admit that there are times when I actually have to focus my attention on the positive instead of drowning in the negative.  Late at night, when the house is quiet and I’m the only one left awake, my mind starts spinning webs of “bad stuff” that can be pretty negative… dragging me down… keeping me awake and spooked.  It’s only with repeated practice that I can pull myself out of that hole.  I count my blessings… say my prayers… and drag my sorry butt back to the happy side of life.   It’s not always easy, but I much prefer to be happy than sad… to be positive than negative… to be up rather than down.  It’s just in my nature.

This blog has been my way of acknowledging and counting my blessings.  I may look at my life through “rose colored glasses”, but the other option just isn’t palatable to me.   Whining and complaining feel like a slap in the face when I take stock of all that I have in my life.  I have a husband I adore and who makes me strive to be a better person… I have two boys who are happy, healthy, and amazing young men… I am blessed with family and friends who remind me every day that I am loved…  I work with some pretty fabulous and interesting people who I thoroughly enjoy… I really can’t complain about a single thing in my life.   God has blessed me in so many ways… I cannot help but be grateful for every aspect of my life.

It would have been easy to become a whiner when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  My boys were only 3 & 5 years old and I was only 31 years old.  It would have been so easy to complain and gripe, to bitch and moan, but where would that have gotten me?  Would I have infected my sons with my negative attitude and altered who they would become?  I had been blessed with an amazing and supportive husband and family who loved me, no matter what my abilities or limitations.  If these were blessings, couldn’t I also turn this diagnosis into a blessing?

As weird as it may sound, my MS has indeed been a blessing to me.  Because of my MS, I was forced to leave the work force but I was given the gift of time to raise my children and be a stay-at-home mom.  Focusing on what I’m unable to do is unproductive… I choose to see what I am able to do and be grateful for every day.  God made me… and He deserves nothing less than my praise, thanks, and gratitude for THIS life he’s given me.

So, yeah, I’ll be the “Pollyanna” any day.  I’ll look on the bright side…. focus on the positive… see the good in everyone… and plan to take pictures in the rain.  Don’t tell me that being compared to a dog is a bad thing… I’ll always be grateful to have a “happy yellow lab” personality.   This outlook in life has gotten me pretty far and I count it as one of my greatest blessings and strengths.

 

 
Jennifer VanOrman Counseling

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

tawnyajean.wordpress.com/

☕42 Momma of 5 🍍Cali 🍕Eat My Emotions 🦄Unicorn 🤓Nerd Introvert 👻shakomomma 💎Health Coach

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