Family life, Paleo-ish eating and Coping with Chronic Illness

Holiday Bits

Dang…you got some snu on your collar.

What’s that you say?  What’s SNU?

I don’t know.  What’s snu with you?

I tricked you.

Telling good jokes is one of my New Year’s resolutions.  So, off to a good start, I guess.

Seriously though, what IS new with you?  We haven’t talked in a while.  Did you get the ceramic skillet and sharp knives you’ve always dreamed of for Christmas?  Well, I did.  And, I’m not just saying it to make you jealous.

When I open gifts that I can use in the kitchen, I really have to give myself a good mental scolding. I’m not adequately appreciative.    There’s this little, selfish, adolescent part of my brain that is saying, “I never asked to be in charge of making all you people dinner anyway.”

That’s not very mature. I got to be a kid once. Now I get to make dinner.

And, seriously, ceramic skillets are the way to go.  I like mine a lot.  I might even string it on a gold chain and wear it as jewelry.  But who wants jewelry, anyway?  Shallow people, that’s who.

I did give Scott bath towels for Christmas.  See,  I did this little trick on purpose.  Scott does all our laundry.  I thought he may be overjoyed to open some big, beige towels at Christmas.  I gathered from Scott’s luke warm response, I may have made my point.

Besides being ungrateful, I believe this Christmas was one of my best ever.   Keep in mind, about 90% of my Christmases have been the best ever.   I’m not picky.  Just throw some people I love, good food and a few days off together in a room, and I’m a giddy gal.  Especially when I open my ceramic skillet.

We spent some QT with our parents, most of Scott’s and my siblings,  and our siblings’ families.  I know family stuff doesn’t always turn our right for people. Siblings can be pretty hard on each other.

I should try to figure out why we like our siblings.  Maybe there’s a formula to follow that could help new parents. If I could break it down, I could write a book and help lots of people.

Like, make sure all your kids eat broccoli, brush their teeth and have a newspaper route.  If you do all three of these things, your kids will grow up to be adults who are not overly sensitive, forgive easily, laugh a lot, enjoy hanging out, and won’t fight over Great Grandma’s tea kettle when you’re dead.

I’ll kick it around a bit, and let you know what I find out.

Smith boys xmas 2015

After spending time with both sides of the fam, we went to a ball-busting national wrestling tournament, “The Clash”, to watch the boys.  Oops.  I shouldn’t have said that.  I’m sorry if that hurt your ears.  I may be spending too much time around wrestlers.

The tournament was intense. Your team doesn’t get there without a special invite.  Some of the best wrestlers in the nation were there.  I can’t believe how much fun it was.  We hung out with the other kids’ families, and cheered on our guys, who were often the underdogs.  Watching kids fight like beasts for the good of their team is inspiring.    I love sports.

One time,  a particularly aggressive kid, dumped Zeke on his neck. Eddie jumped out of his chair and yelled, “He can’t do that to him!!!”

The ref pointed at Eddie, and told him to sit down and be quiet.  At which point, Scott stood up, and yelled, “That’s his brother, and that’s his brother’s neck.”

At which point, the ref told Scott to be quiet as well.

I’ve never been more personally entranced by a situation than that one.  I should have stood up after the ref yelled at Scott to keep the chain going.

 

Did you make New Year’s resolutions?  I didn’t.

I kind of glommed on to one of Olivia’s resolutions, but other than that one, I’m without goals this year.

Olivia is 14.  Is that the age were you fluidly move back and forth between  the child you were to the adult you’re becoming?  Because, that’s what I see happening.  I like what I see emerging.

Olivia canned social media for a few days.  I could hardly let my daughter do that alone, right?  I have to save face, and pretend I’m like a real parent.

Olivia was telling me about turning the lights out on social media;  that wasn’t her only goal.  She also plans on being her true authentic self; not persuaded by popular opinion or vanity.  She had some specific steps in mind to move herself further in this direction.

I’m like, “Where do you get this crap, Olivia?”

No.  I’m joshin’ ya. It WAS one of those moments though.  One of those moments when you are just happy to have a front row seat to the “Watching your kids grow up show.”  Sometimes your kids make you want to rip your hair out.  Other times, you think they may just be more mature than you.

Happy New Year

 

 

christmas kids 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Christmas Eve.  I have been up since 4:19 this morning.  That’s about an hour too early.  I could have stayed in bed, pretending my body has a bit of common sense.  That’s futile, in my experience.

I might be too excited to sleep. It’s Christmas Eve, you know.  We’ve got chestnuts to roast, and popcorn to string. Well, maybe I would rather read my book and play some ping pong, but still.  It’s a day to enjoy.

I have this buzz in my head.  It’s persistent.  I stopped this morning to acknowledge the buzz; I’ve been hearing it for a week or so now.   I asked God if He’d translate what I’m hearing.   I hope He answered.

I have been thinking hard about my friends and family carrying grief this Holiday Season.  If that is you, then I think the translation of this buzz is meant for you to hear.

I think I’m supposed to say two things:

  1. Tomorrow won’t look like today.
  2. You’re sad, and it’s okay.

My sister, Gail, posted a picture this week of a past Christmas.  She said it was one of her best Christmases.  That Christmas, Gail’s beautiful son, Ryan, was alive.  Ryan was a fun maker.  He was full of joy.

Gail said that she remembers laughing so hard it hurt that Christmas; she has a picture as evidence.  I enjoyed my family too that year.  But, I look at that picture, and I have a different memory.  That  was another Christmas when I faked it.   There have been more Christmases than I want to count when I generally faked having fun, and faked being present.  Grief and sadness keep your mind occupied.

christmas sisters

That Christmas, like so many others, I was wrestling with thoughts of Eddie’s future; trying to make peace with his health that seemed to be in an eternal downward spiral.

One year, on Christmas, Eddie was too sick to take the trip to Iowa to see Scott’s family.  Scott and I made what felt to us like an excruciating decision.  We left Eddie home with my parents for the day while we made a lightening quick trip to drop off presents, hug Scott’s family, and then turned around to come back home.

This decision felt traumatic for Scott and me.  We just had a hard time accepting that this was our son’s life; missing life, really.  It felt like a grave omen.  As we were getting ready to leave for Iowa, I heard Scott sobbing in a corner of the basement.  Scott was grief stricken too. Those were sad days.

That was yesterday.  That isn’t today.  I thank my precious Savior in heaven for showering mercy on this family of mine, and restoring Eddie’s health.  All good things come from HIM.

The fact that our deepest wounds have been healed, does NOT put me in a position of authority to talk about dealing with grief at Christmas.  You may rightfully be thinking, “You don’t know how I feel, Miki.  Your problem is solved.”

You’re right.

That doesn’t change the fact that my heart feels pain for others who have to fake it this Christmas, or any Christmas.  And, I feel compelled to tell you it is okay. YOU are okay.

I want you to know that you are NOT alone.  You are not forgotten.  I prayed for you this morning.  I care about you.  But, I also want to tell you that the God of the universe cares for you too.  I’m not preaching to you.  I’m not interested in converting you.  I just want you to know today, that if you are sad, and you feel hopeless, there is a supernatural hope that can be found through faith.  My faith in Jesus is not my religion.  This faith I have is practical and supernatural., and sustained me  when grief gripped my heart.  This faith of mine yields hope, and that’s what I know you  need.  Hope.  We all need hope.

Hope that a better outcome is ahead.  Hope that we can survive the present.

 

Romans 5:2-6

2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 

 

 

I want you to have hope.   Today is not tomorrow.  You are not stuck here.

If you’re faking it today, it’s okay.  It’s really okay.  I want to tell you that you are brave.  You got up today.  You showed up.  That is enough.

Be kind to yourself.  Thank yourself for moving along.  That’s all you need to do. You just have to take the next step.

I will keep praying for you today.  I will pray that you know you are not alone.  I will pray that you find supernatural hope.  I will pray that you just take the next step, and congratulate yourself when you do.

You are loved.  This is your time and place on this Earth, and your life has meaning.  I pray you feel God’s love for you this Christmas.

Merry Christmas, my friend.

 

Miki

 

 

 

 

Being You

How are your Christmas preparations going?  Have you hung the oats and ivy yet?  Get at it, yo.  It’s Christmas.  What??

I hope you know what that means.  I haven’t the foggiest.

You remember I’m All ABOUT CHRISTMAS this year right?  I’m making good on my declaration to make up for Christmas past, when illness had us by the…throat.  In honor of  Christmas fun,  Olivia and I posted ridiculous Christmas videos on my FB page over Thanksgiving.  Just some absurd “how to” videos that show you how to do nothing, actually.

I think my friends might sometimes think this:  Does Miki ever stop and ask herself why she’s the ONLY adult she knows participating in public nonsense?  The answer to that, my friend, is, yes.  Miki does ask myself, I mean, herself, (this third person, first person conversation is getting away from me) that question.

I say, “Miki, are you sure you’re okay with your kids remembering you as this crazy parent who participated in juvenile antics?”

I thought long and hard about that question, and while I am a little nervous about me, and I do admire and aspire to be more like people who are more mature, my answer is still this:

Yes.  Yes.  I’m okay with it.

I’m not okay with all of it because I think the way I am is good.  It’s not.  If I had a choice, I think I’d choose to inhabit the life form of some grand lady with tremendous organizational skills, and a knack for getting things right.  But, I’m not that grand lady.  I’m a silly lady.  That’s me. The me that takes no effort to conjure up; I wake up every morning, and there she is again; like a bad habit.  Silliness is my native tongue.

I lamented to Scott recently.  I told him he just has no idea how much of my brain space is dedicated to silliness. It’s astonishing.  He patted me on the head, because he feels sorry for me.  And, for himself.

I guess it isn’t the worst thing.  We know some good people who are getting their heads kicked in by life right now.   Have you noticed that there’s never really a shortage of sorrow in life? So, I say, let’s just have some laughs.  Let’s enjoy feeling lighter for one moment.  The sorrow will be right where we left it.

And there’s this other thing I’ve been thinking about: One of the many things I want our kids to walk away from their childhood lived in the home that Scott and I built together (figuratively),  is the ability to identify the person God made them to be in this world.  I want them to embrace that person.   It is my belief that God stamps us each in a unique way, for a purpose.  Kids (and adults) can waste so much time not liking themselves; trying to rework their hard wiring. That’s not a happy existence.  I want ALL kids to be happy and fulfilled, accepting who they are and using what comes naturally to them to serve others.

THAT’S my Christmas wish for the world, sonny boy.

I’m paving the way for you by posting utter nonsense.  What I won’t do for humanity.

All my Christmas shenanigans are going over in a decent fashion in our house.  Zeke and Olivia are like little Christmas elves. They’re game for anything Christmas.  Most of the time.  We went Black Friday shopping.  On the way home, I thought we could sing a jolly round of Christmas carols. My sister taped this sing-a-long, which I thought went over much better BEFORE I watched the tape.  I see now the kids were not impressed:

 

 

Thanksgiving and a Facelift

Oh, Happy, Happy Thanksgiving.  Are you feeling Thankful this year?  I am.  I don’t know what’s going on here.  Because I got problems.  The WORLD’s got problems.  We all got problems.  But, I am just sitting here feeling light.  Lighter than usual even.

Why?

My memory is worse than ever lately. So, I’ve been trying to remember what put me in such a good mood.  I can’t put my finger on it.  Maybe when you get older, you just forget to worry and care so much.  Certainly makes life more simple.  But, I don’t think that forgetting to worry is the only reason I feel so blissful.

My best guess is I’m happy because Eddie is still going strong.  Usually,  the fall is not our friend.  Things go badly. Then, they get worse. Last year was so much better than previous years.  This year seems better than last.  Sure. Eddie catches about one cold a week, but every time I hear him start to cough or sneeze after the sore throat starts (instead of that eternal/blasted/freaking ridiculous and endless vomiting) I cheer!  Yay!  It’s just another virus.

Now. If we’ve been friends for a while, you’ll know that I’m already worrying about mentioning this health situation.  I’m loathe to administer a jinx to this wonderful state of affairs.  But, Scott has told me many times that the jinx is not a real thing.  He says there is nothing I can say, or not say, that can change circumstances beyond my control.   Sometimes Scott is just so full of crap.  Where does he come up with these fairytales?

I found an essay in the basement that Olivia wrote when she was younger. She explained that her brother was very sick.  She said that she missed her Mom, because her Mom was always at the Doctor with her brother, or doing something else to help her brother.  Then, she scolded herself.  She said she should NOT complain.  She said she was grateful her Mom was helping her brother, and she hoped with all her heart they’d find a way to make her brother better.

I needed a moment after I read that letter. Jeez.  The guilt.  After my moment, I decided to be a big girl and take my own advice.  Just last week I was telling a friend how I could tell her kids were actually even more awesome than they would be otherwise, because of the extreme adversity their family has been given.  It’s true.  Her kids are unusually responsible and caring; I know it is because the option for spoiling and indulging those kids was just never there for my friend.  My friend’s kids turned out extraordinarily well as a result of having to all pitch in, and being made aware that life can be unpredictable, and short.    I hope a bit of that is true for our kids too. A Mom needs to hold on to an idea like that, because the guilt moms feel when we can’t shield our children from suffering is a heavy beast who wants to take us down.

I really have no business being happy.    If I had any sense, I’d be depressed.   I’m not real pleased with what’s been staring back at me in the mirror lately.  I’m quite shocked by it, actually.  It started when Olivia took a picture of me at dinner one night.  We looked at the picture together.  I said, “Delete that.”

I didn’t even need to explain why.  Olivia just said sweetly, “Mom your face just looks wrinkly because you’re chewing.”  Mmm Hmm.  Yeah.  Everyone’s face looks like dimpled dough when they chew?   She’s sweet, even if she does lie sometimes.

I can’t explain exactly what’s happening on my face; it’s like I have a face on top of my face.  You know what I mean?  Like a second set of face skin.  Which a girl should always be thankful for a second set of anything, right?  So, what am I complaining about?

I’m not complaining about ANYTHING!  I’m happy, remember?

My happy state of mind is giving me great hope for the holiday season.  Do you remember that blog I wrote about Olivia really laying me out with her regrets in life?  She was sad because I never did much in the way of Santa and Leprechauns and what not.  I tried making up for all that last year with this whole big “Teenage Elf” thing.  That really couldn’t have gone any worse. Zeke already warned me there’s no need to resurrect “Teenage Elf”.  Thanks, Zeke.  Some things go without saying.

That doesn’t mean we’re not gonna do it up this year.  I FINALLY have the mental capacity to manage holiday memory making.  The kids are a little old for all that, but we’re gonna make up for lost time.  And, by kids, I mean Zeke and Olivia.

There’s something odd about Scott and Eddie.  They’re immune to fun holiday stuff.  Holidays do not raise their excitement meter even a little.  They think decorating and baking are boring.  They don’t understand birthdays either.    I guess that’s what’s it’s like to be  born with a heart of stone.  It’s a dark part of our family.  I don’t want to talk about it any more.

That doesn’t mean Zeke and Olivia and I can holiday ‘er up!  We already started.  I did something I’ve never done.  Zeke, Olivia and I  bought an outdoor Christmas decoration.  A snowman.  And, if you think we waiting until after Thanksgiving to light that guy up,  then I guess you just don’t know how serious I am about creating our very, merry Christmas.

20151124_171500_resized

This is just the beginning.

I also bought Zeke and Olivia an Advent Calendar.  I did this last year too, after Olivia made me feel so guilty about my lack of holiday traditions.  Last year the calendar had chocolate behind the little door each day.  The chocolate tasted like a tiny waxy bar of soap.  I guess that’s what kind of Advent Calendar  5 bucks will buy you. This year, I spent a bit more.   Chocolate  that is edible will improve fun memory making potential of the Advent Calendar, I hope.

I don’t know what else I got up my sleeve.  You’ll find out though.  I’ve never been a crafter, but this could be the year.  This could be the year for homemade pajamas and pickled plums.  This is the year.  We’re stringing popcorn, roasting chestnuts and drinking Yuletide.  Wait.  What?  Just trust me.  I can do this.

I’ve always had this Pinterest inside me.  It’s just been waiting for the right moment to be birthed into existence. The moment has come, baby.

Don’t think I’m leaving YOU behind.  I’ll be sure to share all my whimsy, with a dash of merry ideas on my blog, so you can try to recreate the same Christmas memory in your own home.

Happy THANKSGIVING!!!!!!

Handling Fear

I’ve tried to maintain a healthy mental distance from current events. Some people don’t just take in the day’s news. They absorb it.    A good fright penetrates all their living cells.  They are fear.

I have ALWAYS absorbed bad news. I see my 14-year-old daughter absorbing too.  Is it genetic?  Did I shape her this way? Yes,  to both. I see fear transform my sensitive daughter’s face, then her spirit.  I am committed to finding a better strategy for us.

What am I afraid of?

I am afraid for innocent people who are intending to do a fun thing, and see an interesting place, but lose their limbs or their lives instead.  I’m afraid for moms and dads who just want to go to work and raise their family, but put their belongings on their back, and their children in a tiny boat and head into the raging sea instead.  Hoping to outrun evil.

I’m afraid for people who are afraid.

I’m afraid OF people too.  I’m afraid of people who invite evil to inhabit their souls. I’m afraid of people who offer easy solutions.  I’m afraid of people who spout party lines.  I’m afraid of decision makers who won’t admit more questions than answers.

I’m pausing.  I’m praying. I’m listening.

Let fear go.  Consider all sides.  Look for context.  Don’t react.  Respond slowly.  Question what you hear.  Be selective about what you are watching.  Listen for your Heavenly Father’s voice. Learn His language. He speaks words of love, encouragement, peace, humility and justice.

1 John 4:4 (The Message) My dear children, you come from God and belong to God. You have already won a big victory over those false teachers, for the Spirit in you is far stronger than anything in the world.

1 John 4:18 (NIV) There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

 

courage

 

 

I think I’m posting blogs further apart these days.  It feels like I am.  Quiet moments are not presenting themselves this past month; I’m not good at blogging around noise, or in a crowd.  I prefer no distractions.

Thank the Good Lord for creating Mark Zuckerberg.  Facebook satiates my hunger to express myself.  If you want to bet my Facebook friends that I am their most frequently posting friend,  you’ll win that bet.  I post a lot.

Here’s the alarming part of my Facebook presence.  My FB activity is an example of me exhibiting self control.  What my FB friends don’t realize is all that stuff I’m saying on Facebook is only HALF of what I WANT to say.

What’s wrong with me?

I give myself little lectures.  I say, “Okay Miki, that’s enough.  People have had enough of your shenanigans.  You’re going to resist the urge to post what’s on your mind for the next week. Got it?  Got it.”

Five minutes later.  Reggie is snuggled in the blankets projecting such cuteness, it would be a sin NOT to post a picture of him. Plus, I need to mention how much I love him.  Because, that’s original, right?  I mean I REALLY love my dog; nobody’s thought of that.    Suddenly, slipping back down the slope.

Sometimes I’ll post something on FB, let it sit for a few minutes, then delete it.  Occasionally, I’ve had friends ask me where a post went.  I just tell them I’m sorry.  I had second thoughts.

What’s a girl with an addiction to writing words, and a head full of silly thoughts to do?

Thanks for the therapy sesh.  I’ve missed this between us.

Now, in the interest of time, I’m going to express blog the rest of my way through this. I thought I might highlight a few random tidbits occupying the space between my ears. This might be how I blog until I have time to go old school, long blog again.  Prepare for your life to be changed:

Bragging

When people say, “I don’t mean to brag”, they mean, “I do mean to brag, but I’d like to be excused for it”.  I generally don’t mind when people brag.  They should leave off the, “I don’t mean to brag” part though.   When I hear that I wonder if I SHOULD mind.

Fitbit

The verdict is in; I’m ready to share the results.   I’ve had my Fitbit for almost one year. It works.

I have a routine I follow each day to get my steps.  It is rare for me to change my routine.  I had a couple of extremely busy days last week.  Time did not allow for my normal routine.  I fell quite short of my step goal on those days.  I realized on those days that my default mode is inactive.  I am not your friend who will bustle around you, fluffing pillows and picking lint off your sweater, because I just can’t sit still.   I LOVE being still.  Love it.

For some reason, my mind believes it’s accountable to my Fitbit; I’m not telling my mind otherwise.

The Fitbit works for me.

Walking

Speaking of steps, my super good work friend and I walk at lunch.  We walk the same route each day.  One day, there was a man who was standing off the sidewalk, more towards the street.  The man was smoking, and yelling something.  He seemed angry. At first, I thought the man may be in charge of some construction in the area.  As we walked closer, we realized there was no construction in the area.

That day, my friend and I decided to change our walking route.

On a different day, I was walking alone.    I was startled when I heard a man yell something in my direction from behind me.  I looked, and I saw the same man who was yelling in the street. This time, he was sitting in a lawn chair, outside of an apartment.  He was a big man, with a big belly.  He was wearing tiny shorts.  Nothing else. It wasn’t  warm.

My good walking friend and I have discussed this man at length.  We have agreed that if he should ever pursue us, we will make every effort to push each other in his direction to save ourselves. I thought I might say “Take her.  She’s younger. She’s smart. She can do your taxes.”

Sometimes it’s just good to have your cards on the table with people.

Faith

Zeke and Olivia are in a church group called “Impact”.  The group is an off-shoot of normal youth group.  Impact is for kids who might be asking themselves, “Why are we doing  this again?”

Impact takes an up close look at the Bible. The kids discuss what they read, and ponder how it may apply to their lives right now.  The other day, Zeke happened upon this scripture in the Book of Romans.  He was excited about it:

But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being.  So nobody has a good excuse.

Zeke thought this scripture answered a lot of questions for him.  I agree.  God reveals himself to EVERYONE through creation.

I hear from God every morning.   I see the black sky dotted with white stars first, until the sky turns pink as the sun rises.  My eyes take it in, and I know: man did not create this.   I would know it, If I had never heard a single sermon in my life on Earth.   I see an eagle soaring over the river.  I look at my small hands.  No hands like mine put that eagle in the sky. I feel humble.  My heart knows a God like this should be worshiped.

Rebekkah picture

*Photo credit to my friend, Rebekah Brackett.  She is an artist. She captures beautiful pictures of her world, and shares them on Facebook.

There are two kinds of people in this world.  The first kind of people are the ones who don’t notice they lost.  The second kind of people are the ones who are normal.

Scott likes to say that I am a wolf in sheep’s clothing when it comes to my competitive nature. It’s a well known fact that there is no such thing as a minor competition for Scott.  If it’s a contest, he means to win. I’ve been very outspoken over the years about Scott’s overzealous competitive streak.  I’ve even given him a few lively and convincing lectures on the subject.

It took Scott a while to figure out that I had a competitive streak of my own.  He’s figured it out now.  He’s really figured it out.  He figured out that all my lively lectures were always given after he just beat me at ping pong, or tennis.  I really HATE being beat. Especially by Scott.

Losing burns.

Scott and I have raised competitive children.  I’m not sure there was another possible outcome.

This weekend, I’ve been thinking a lot about our family’s competitive nature.  Our boys and some of their teammates competed in a national wrestling tournament against top wrestlers from states all over the country this past Saturday.  There was some winning.  There was some losing.

The boys have spent a lot of time  improving their wrestling skills over the years.  I’ve improved my skills too.  I’ve improved my fan skills.  Good fan skills take practice.  Good fan skills require denying your primal instincts.  When my boys wrestle, I have learned to resist the urge to draw attention to myself with high pitch screams (mostly).  I don’t offer my boys nonsensical pointers like, “Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle”, “Squeeze!”, or (my personal favorite I heard from a mom sitting in her heavyweight high school son’s corner, while watching her son attempt to pin his opponent), “Come to Mamma!!!”  That one should get you kicked out of the gym.

I’ve learned to avoid these missteps. These missteps are  not easy to avoid when adrenaline is causing your blood to crash through your veins, into your limbs, tricking your primal brain into believing you need to help your baby cub in a fight for his life.

Wrestling has taught me  to master my frantic impulses; I’m becoming quite an impressive fake.

When my boys lost this weekend, I smiled.  I said nice things.  I talked about what we could learn, and how we can’t win them all. Then, I sat quietly,  listening to my pulse beat furiously in my ears, and running through a string of cuss words in my head, while telling myself I couldn’t possibly HATE anything as much as I hated wrestling.

THAT is the beast you don’t let out.

I think the reason I thought I wasn’t competitive all those years, is because even though my brain gets hijacked by the beast, I recover quickly.  I experience mental anguish after a loss, but the anguish is temporary.

At this weekend’s tournament, I was talking to another wrestler’s mom.  This was her son’s first big tournament.  He was excited to be a part of something so large.  He wanted to do his best.  He wasn’t expecting to win the tournament.  This boy’s mom was telling me what she and her husband were observing about her son’s experience with this tournament.

This boy’s mom said she loved watching her son decide on his own to compete at this tournament.  This tournament was not on any school calendar, and participation was voluntary.  She told me that she and her husband took delight in hearing their son pull out of the driveway in the morning while it was still dark. He wanted to get some training in, and meet with more experienced wrestlers in the wrestling room, so those wrestlers could teach him things he didn’t know.

This mom said she felt so grateful that her son was choosing goals for himself, developing a plan for how to reach his goals, and following through with his plan to get there.  This mom also told me she would never get tired of watching her son sit in his teammates’ corners, offering his help, and cheering for them.  This mom’s son went 0 – 2 at the tournament, and then he was done.  But, this mom asked me what more could she want for her son than all the maturity and personal development he was gaining through this experience.

I agreed.

As this mom was talking about her son’s experiences, she was starting to tear up; she was so moved.  I got choked up just listening to her.

After the fiery burn of our  sons’ losses died to a small flame, and then was extinguished completely, I started to think about our own lessons.

Like a lot of other young athletes, our boys have spent hours, days, weeks and years of their lives working towards their goals.  A part of almost every day of their lives is devoted to making them better wrestlers.  Their imaginations and private thoughts are consumed by dreams of what they plan to achieve.  They don’t have what they want yet, but trying to get there fills their lives with meaning.

Losing is part of getting there.

Our boys were disappointed after their losses.  By the following morning, the boys had more plans. They had fresh insight into what adjustments they could make, and an idea about how to make those adjustments.  They have places they want to go.

I’m so grateful that the boys have places they want to go.  I hope when they get there, they’ll think of NEW places they want to go.  Because, I think trying to figure out how to get where you want to go is providing my family with more engagement with a meaningful life than they realize.

But they’re not entirely satisfied. And, I think a little dissatisfaction is good.  I mean,  not the kind of dissatisfaction that deflates our spirit.  The kind of dissatisfaction that gets you up in the morning, making plans for how to be better than you were when you went to bed.

I can’t flip the off switch on our family’s competitive nature, any more than I can change the color of our eyes.  We have to identify our competitiveness, embrace it, tame it, and use it to become our best selves.  And, really, it’s so much fun.  Like my wrestling mom friend,  I don’t know what else I could ask for.

Zeke with dad

He’s 9 feet tall, Dad. Any ideas?

ed's wrestling stance

Wrestling stance.

team at pre season

TEAM!

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