Monthly Archives: October 2014

Mojo

This past Monday, I played a USTA doubles match and our opponents made the extremely bad choice of pissing off my no-nonsense partner during warm-ups.  Ignoring the usual warm-up etiquette, they tried to rush us; but my partner wasn’t having any of it.  In addition to being a terrific tennis player, she is a stately physician with a proper English accent, reflecting her sophisticated international roots; and she suffers fools with even less patience than I do.  She and I  proceeded to take EXTRA practice serves to reset the pace of an otherwise rushed warm-up.

A little fire in the belly served us well and we won easily.  My partner curtsied when I made a good shot (VERY classy).  While I would like to return the favor,  my bad knee and natural clumsiness do not allow for a graceful curtsy, so I simply applauded her many good shots with my racquet.

There are times in sport and in life when we are ‘in the flow’,  when our mojo is cooking; we are feeling good about what we are doing and are performing well.  Sometimes the mojo disappears and we have no choice but to slog through until it shows up again.  Personally, I think we can make ourselves ‘available’ for those moments, but the more we try to force it, the more elusive it becomes.

May the universe rain good mojo upon you.

 

Standing Up

While wasting time scrolling through Facebook, one does occasionally encounter a pithy saying worth reading.    “Fall down seven times and get up Eight” is one such gem.  Persistence in the face of adversity is an under-rated ability.

I was recently recounting the highlights and lowlights of the last year (or so) to a friend.  As I gave her the Reader’s Digest account, it occurred to me why I might have been feeling a bit overwhelmed and ‘peckish’ at various times throughout the year.

My personal motto is “You can VISIT Pity City, but you cannot LIVE there“; However, this post is a foray to the outskirts of Pity City;  so feel free to move on if you’ve already had enough of my whining.

In one remarkable 13 month period:

I Became a grandma of twin girls (JOY, JOY and more JOY!).   In addition to being absolutely besotted with the little urchins; it has been amazing to watch this new family emerge.  My daughter and her husband are incredible parents.

I had an emergency appendectomy — I can no longer brag that I still have all of my original parts!  Bummer.

My youngest daughter was diagnosed with Anorexia.  She is hospitalized several times and her treatment is all absorbing for roughly 8 months.  (See Eating Disorders SUCK for more details).  The good news is that as of this writing, she is doing very well.

My mother’s Alzheimer’s advances and she is placed into a memory care facility.  Her lucid moments dwindle rapidly; and the  mother we knew only exists in memory. (See ‘Alzheimer’s Sucks’ for more information)   My birth family works together in unison to assist our father in making this decision. What a caring group of people–I love them all.

My Father-in-law passes away.  Ed was 87 and had  not been in good health; however, his passing was unexpected.  The ceremony is beautiful and touching, complete with a 21 gun salute in honor of his service to the country.  I sing a song at the funeral and everyone is very polite about it.

I am downsized from my  job without cause (kind of a weird coincidence that I took extensive FMLA prior to this event… *I’m just sayin*).  The good  news is that I am in a high demand profession and I had another job in three weeks; however, the bitterness lingers.

My husband’s employer has cash flow issues and ceases to pay him on a regular basis.  This poses a bit of a problem.  The good news is that it doesn’t materially affect our lifestyle, although we won’t be going back to Hawaii any time real soon.

As I write this, I can’t help but  notice the silver linings in even the darkest clouds.   The last year has changed me–for the better.  I am ever-so-slightly more patient and less judgmental.  I try a bit harder to enjoy each day /moment as it comes without obsessing over the future.

And – I am standing up … for at least the eight time.

 

Stories of Hope

Oh, the stories.  Stories that break your heart; stories that lift you up.  Stories of lost years, suffering and sacrifice;  but above all:  Stories of Hope and Inspiration.

Breakfast at the National Eating Disorder conference:  A table full of beautiful and compassionate young women from all over the US;  all of whom have recovered from a devastating eating disorder and are commited to sharing their stories and energies to help others.  Stories of misery, hospitalizations, therapies, treatments, interventions.  Continue reading

Home Again and Memories of travels past

I got back home about 1:00 am on Monday morning; although my luggage did not appear until the next day.  Travel days are surprisingly tiring and it wasn’t until today that I felt caught up with my sleep.  One of the joys of travel is the comfort of returning home.

The relative glow of a few days off from work has worn thin, and I’m already fully re-immersed into the busy-ness of it all.  Dan has been working from home quite a bit and tackled several domestic chores while I was gone–there’s nothing sexier than a man fixing a dryer!   (And I can get used to coming home to someone else making supper.)

The last time my luggage was lost was a work trip to do some training several years ago. While I usually traveled to larger cities, this time I went to some inaccessible smallish town several states away requiring 3 different flights.  This particular trip was in August and my final flight arrived late on a Sunday evening.  Class was scheduled to start 10 hours later and my student handouts were still circling the Midwest along with my clothes,  and I was wearing shorts.

Upon arriving at the hotel, I rousted the lone sleepy teenage desk clerk (did I mention this was a small town?) and asked him to make 20 copies of the single student handbook that I had fortunately stuck into my carry-on briefcase.  I had to repeat myself a couple times before he comprehended that I was serious.

Very early the next morning I got in touch with my (thankfully female) contact who had helped arrange the training.  We had never met in person and had a brief awkward discussion about wardrobe and sizes.  She is tall and I am short… which certainly worked out better than the other way around!  I actually looked more stylish than usual in her clothes; but dammit if she didn’t want them back after my baggage actually arrived.

I often hand trinkets during classes to encourage participation and general wakefulness. This time instead of little games and trinkets, the fabulous prizes consisted of airline toothbrushes and hotel soaps.  Overall, it turned into a kind of fun improvisational experience, and made the trip memorable.

 

Road Trip Day 3 – Love Thyself

My brain is absolutely spinning – so much information and so many wonderful people!  The level of dedication and compassion among family members, NEDA staff and practitioners is awe-inspiring.  People are very open with their stories, there have been tears and laughter.

Will share just one insight from an insightful day:  Self-care comes out of Self-Love.   One of the practitioners shared her AHA moment that ED sufferers do  know intellectually what they need to do to get better; however, that knowledge alone does not translate into change.  If you don’t like your body you are not motiviated sufficiently to care for yourself.

Right now I am going to care for myself by taking a stroll in the balmy Texas evening in search of some wine and pasta.

Postscript:   My plans switched to Mexican food with a large, potent margarita.

Road Trip: Day 1 – An Aha moment

This has been an amazing day, I am already fired up from the inspirational people I’ve met this evening at the National Eating Disorder Association Conference.   My brain is already brimming and the conference has barely started.

My first ‘AHA’ moment of the day occured as I was waiting for a flight in the Houston airport.  I have been reading ‘The Children’s Act’ by Ian McEwan.  The narrator is a judge who decides a difficult case wherein a family’s religious beliefs prevent them from agreeing to a life-saving treatment for their 17 year old son.  The hospital appeals to the courts to allow the treatment, and after significant deliberation (SPOILER ALERT), the judge rules that the hospital can administer the treatment.   Tough decision – right?   After his treatment and recovery, the young man writes the judge with the insight that it was actually the best possible outcome;  the family held true to their religious beliefs AND his life was saved, since the decision for treatment was TAKEN OUT OF THEIR HANDS.  Talk about your Win Win situation!  (SPOILER ALERT postscript – the rest of the book isn’t quite so uplifting… but I chose to ignore that for purposes of this specific epiphany.)

When I read that part, I got chills, because that is EXACTLY what it was like to stand up to my daughter’s eating disorder.  ED wouldn’t let my daughter choose to eat, so we took that decision away from her in order to provide the life-saving treatment she needed.  I have read accounts of sufferers expressing relief when their parents ‘made’ them eat;  allowing them to eat without debilitating anxiety and guilt — because they had no choice in the matter, no matter how loudly ED screamed in their ear.    A win, win, lose situation, with ED being the loser.

The conference hotel is in downtown San Antonio – it is absolutely beautiful (and it better be at these prices!)  We had some introductory sessions this evening, and I’ve met several beautiful young ladies that are recovered and helping others in a variety of ways.  I have also met several other parents, including a dad who shared his heart-breaking story about his 17 year old daughter who continues to struggle after several rounds of hospitalization.

There are many exhibitors that are largely treatment providers from around the country.  Next year I want to set up a stand and sell ED punching bags and dart boards.  I think they would sell like hot cakes!

Road Trip Day 0 – Supper Clubs and Reality TV

I am in a hotel room in Milwaukee watching ‘Real 911 Calls”; largely because I can’t figure out the hotel TV,  I am reduced to watching some nimrod call 911 because the neighbor lady won’t return the soccer ball her kids kicked over the fence.  Of course, as much as I disdian reality TV, I appear to be watching it.   Oh wait – here is a commercial for something called “Extreme Cheapskates”… good god. These people are flossing their teeth with their hair.

Earlier tonight Dan and I had a nice dinner together at a fine dining establishment just a few blocks from our house.  It is a real throwback to the type of supper clubs that were extremely popular 40-50 years ago with with dim lights; heavy furniture; tablecloths; and salad bars containing iceburg lettuce, shredded cheddar cheese, cottage cheese and fermented peaches. The chalk board by the door listed the Wednesday night special as (no lie) the Friday night fish fry.  After dinner I dropped Dan back at home and drove to my park-n-fly location in Milwaukee, where I will board a flight to San Antonio in the early morning.

As I scroll through the trashy reality TV options, I am reminded of the controversy awhile ago surrounding the winner of the Biggest Loser (a title that is at least as confusing as the Wednesday night Friday fish fry);  when the winner appeared to be dangerously underweight.

I have always been particularly appalled by this show — it represents an extreme form of fat-shaming that subjects desperate people to eating disordered behavior:  excessive levels of dietary restriction and purging via excessive exercise.  That behavior simply isn’t healthy for anyone, and should not be encouraged or dramatized.

With the exception of severe anorexics; you just cannot tell if someone has an eating disorder or is malnourished by looking at them.  Bulemics (and those afflicted with other disorders) come in all sizes; someone of a normal or above average weight can still be malnourished and/or dangerously ill.  Many people appear fine on the outside, but their health and quality of life have been seriously impaired by disordered eating.

It’s getting late; I’ll be turning in soon. I think I forgot to bring dental floss, but lucky for me I have hair to spare.

 

 

 

Road Trip!

I am heading to San Antonio, Texas later this week for the annual National Eating Disorders Association conference.  This will be my first time, and I am really looking forward to it.   NEDA is a wonderful organization, and I want to leverage the expertise at the conference to learn how I can become an advocate to raise awareness (and funds) in support of those affected by eating disorders within my own community, which has woefully inadequate options for treating EDs in adolescents.    I am also looking forward to meeting many ED moms (and dads) in person.   Online support was such a critical component when my own daughter was very sick; and I anticipate a kinship among the other parents that are able to attend the conference.

I also have some more selfish reasons for attending:  I relish the idea of a few days in a warm climate and a few days away from ‘it all’… my usual hustle and bustle of work and family concerns.  I truly enjoy having a few days off my personal grid doing something out of the ordinary.  It was either this or a tennis camp.   I suspect my husband will also enjoy the relative peace and quiet for a few days… just enough to miss me!

The only other time I went to San Antonio WAS for a tennis camp a few years ago.  John Newcombe has a tennis camp just a few miles out of town — newktennis.    It is run by a couple of high energy Australians, who got me to try Vegemite; (which is truly HIDEOUS stuff).   There I was–a Midwesterner in Texas, at a camp run by Australians, attended by a largely Canadian group of tennis nuts.   Life is funny sometimes -Eh?

Who knew it would be that easy to tie in a tennis story to my pending trip — A two for one!

 

The Year I Held my Breath

My son, Ben, is incredibly smart; which he has demonstrated with two remarkable accomplishments to-date:  Earning a physics degree and marrying Jess; or as we like to call her–Jeff (due to an unfortunate, yet humorous, misspelling on a cake that read “Welcome back Ben and Jeff”).

Being my son, Ben was always a bit on the small side, and was / is a bit of a geek. His talents lay in math and science, versus sports.  Growing up, he wasn’t much of a talker. The fall he was in 6th grade he went out for football, and when I asked how practice went he generally replied “I got squashed” without further elaboration.  Eventually, he gave up football, found his voice and went out for forensics and dramatic endeavors for a few years, before settling into his ultimate recreational calling of playing video games.

Ben was 18 years old on 9/11 – THE 9/11 when our world changed.   As awful as that day was, it took a more personal turn when it occurred to me that my son was a prime age to be drafted into the armed services.  As it turns out, our country did not bring back the draft, and many courageous young (and not so young) men and women stepped forward to serve our country.  My son was not initially among them.

Shortly after his graduation from college, Ben bulked up enough to meet the minimum weight requirement and joined the army.  On leave from basic training, he and Jess got married in a civil ceremony on a Tuesday afternoon.  Shortly thereafter Ben was deployed to Afghanistan, where his unit did route clearance, looking for improvised explosive devices (IEDs).  I still shiver at the term.  (As a side note:  2 weeks after Ben’s arrival, the  military finally found Osama bin Laden. No doubt he heard Ben was in town and just gave up.  At least that is my theory. )

Communication with Ben was difficult, and I took to carrying my cell phone around with me at work, ready to step out of any meeting if he was able to get a call through during my morning–we usually connected about once a month.  I sent a LOT of care packages with cookies, hats, magazines, books, etc.  But mostly, I worried.

To all the men and women of the Armed Forces, past and present, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your service.  Once in the Atlanta airport I bought lunch for a couple of servicemen in uniform.  They came over to thank me and said they were on their way to Afghanistan.  I somewhat tearfully asked them to look out for my son, and without even blinking; they said they would.

After a long year, Ben returned safe in body and mind with many tales to tell (although I assume he had to take a vow of silence pertaining to his role with carrying out the Osama bin Laden raid);  and I resumed breathing.

Ben lookin badass

The Daily News

I was flipping through the daily newspaper recently and ran across a blurb about an elderly woman who was mauled by a pit bull.  What an awful and tragic event!  I pictured a gray-haired, frail little old lady hobbling slowly along with her walker minding her own business when — WHAM !  she was bowled over by a couple nasty snarling dogs.  The owner had been warned several times to control his dogs–but obviously he didn’t, and a tragedy resulted.

I was mildly outraged as I read the article, but I REALLY became outraged when I read that the elderly woman in question was 63 years old.  ARE YOU FLIPPIN’ KIDDING ME!   63 is NOT elderly!  I know 60+ year olds that can whup my ass (and a bunch of younger kids asses too) on or off the tennis court.  They are not ELDERLY for cryin’ out loud.   I will concede that the label of ‘old’ could be appropriate from the perspective of a teenager, a young child, or someone who is clueless.  But the term elderly to me implies a level of fragility that certainly does not apply to most people in their sixties. Continue reading