It's my birthday month, and last week I celebrated my 48th trip around the sun! Whoohoo!
I'm late in writing about it because I've been busy actually enjoying it~ which is kind of the whole point!
The beauty of the day, this year, and this stage in my life is that for the first time in my life, I pretty much just focused on following joy.
I mean, it's not like I've been chasing money or power up until this point or anything~
I've always been pretty keen on pointing towards what makes me happy,
BUT, there's this expansive sense of freedom now in knowing that I'm not actually responsible for anyone else.
I know I never actually was, but having kids can give one the illusion that you're supposed to somehow be in control~
We all know the reality is you're only in control of yourself, and in all honesty, that's a struggle in itself sometimes.
Still, the delusions of misplaced responsibility sometimes spread and you start thinking you're somehow responsible for all kinds of things, which can be frustrating, depressing and downright futile.
While my logical mind has understood that I can't control everything for years, the depths of my psyche still continued to fill with countless hours of stressing over things that I had zero control over.
Now that the kiddos have flown the coop, there's this much bigger and more obvious understanding of it on a cellular level that I can feel in my bones.
I'm Only in Charge of ME!
Coupling that with having fewer effs than ever to give about what other people think (another amazing bonus of growing) can leave a Grown Arse Woman feeling downright giddy!
I literally spent the day walking around with relieved sighs and a full toothy smile just following the joy.
I took the day off work and headed to the mountains with my SweetHeart to avoid the oppressive heat.
We browsed cute shops, and when trying on clothes, I had an epiphany-
Even though I'm physically bigger than I've ever been in my life,
I'm happier with myself and care more about my body now than I ever have in the past.
In other words, I was nice to myself as I grabbed a bigger size!!!
This is revolutionary stuff, folks!
Next, we went for not one but two hikes, and spotted dozens of late blooming wildflowers.
We not only ate cheese and chocolate, but we delighted in them.
We lounged on a beach and read and I had wine and we would have gone kayaking, but thunderstorms closed the rental shop.
I was OK avoiding electrocution, and besides, we realized the beautiful snowy mountain on the horizon was less than 20 minutes away.
So, we went up there to play too.
I've never had a beach and snow in the same birthday before, so that was pretty awesome!
As the day wound down, I realized I didn't actually want to go out to dinner, even if it was my birthday.
I wanted to watch the sun go down over water and go home to eat lobster ravioli made by my Love and with my furry friends at my feet.
And so, I did.
And it was wonderful.
Within a few days of me feeling all free from worrying about other people though, both of my kiddos texted about navigating upcoming housing changes and issues they'll be dealing with.
And I pretty much forgot that I was no longer stressing about things I couldn't control.
The good news is, I only came up with less than a half dozen "Oh NOOOOO!" scenarios before I remembered that I'm supposed to be in my new chill phase, and realized they were already asking for what they needed and figuring out the rest.
I'm definitely learning all the time, and the best I can strive for is progress, not perfection, right?
Anyhoo...Back to my Birthday~
I'm only 2 years from 50 and there's so much I'm scheming.
Society acts like growing older is supposed to suck, but for me, it's been pretty freaking awesome!
Life is Great at 48!
Here's to another year of living and learning, growing and loving, and exploring this big beautiful world!
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And wherever you are, I hope you're chasing Joy, too!
Last week, a good man was buried.
I suppose that around the world as a whole, many people were probably buried, but the one that my heart is thinking of spent more years than I know coaching kids, including my Boy Child for 4 years of basketball.
We didn’t even know Coach was sick until we found out that he’d died.
From what I understand, he didn’t have much warning either. He was diagnosed with cancer, started treatment and was dead in just a little over a month.
JUST OVER A MONTH.
And he’s gone.
Just like that.
I still haven’t really wrapped my mind around the brutal speed and sudden ending, but I can easily share how much I appreciated that man’s influence on my Boy Child.
I never would have guessed that I would have a kid who liked sports.
We’re not in the least bit athletic or sporty people. We don’t watch, play or really give the smallest bit of care towards any of them.
Except, of course, if my kids are playing. Both of my kids participated in low key community leagues as little kids, mostly so they could burn off some of their crazy wild child energy, or because a friend was playing, but by the time he reached junior high, my son wanted to play in competitive ways with the big boys.
I don’t know why or what happened. Maybe my kid got some long lost recessive genes involving muscle and speed along with some inexplicable desire to compete? I don't think it came from me, that's for sure.
I never figured it out, but like a good deal of parenting, I just tried to point them in the right direction.
We were free ranging homeschoolers at the time, and while local charters could help with classes and books and such, none offered competitive sports.
Spending life energy and time equivalent to a full-time job in a classroom for a chance to play ball didn’t seem like a worthwhile proposition when we had an otherwise good thing going.
Thankfully, through our homeschool community, we came across a small private school that opened the door by allowing other homeschoolers to participate in their team sports program.
My Boy spent the next 4 years - spanning 9th through 12th grade - as a part of the basketball team. I was continually amazed by the dedication of the other parents, but most of all, the Coach.
We went to countless games, many of them hours away on winding mountain roads to towns in the middle of nowhere on long and stormy winter nights. Coach never made a big deal or made me feel like a loser if I couldn’t drive because of work and had to send my kid with him or another family.
I found out that Coach actually lived over an hour from where the kids practiced, and in the mountains where it snowed, so he was doing many times as much driving as any of the rest of us and often in unpleasant conditions.
But he was always there. Even in the offseason, he had open gym nights so the kids could still gather and work on their skills.
I can’t imagine he was getting rich off of this endeavor, as our fees were really reasonable, even for a single mom. All I could figure was that kids getting to play sports really mattered to him.
He apparently had been doing it for decades, and from what I saw, he was unique and different from a lot of other coaches out there.
He yelled, of course, but not in a berating way like I saw other coaches do.
He was actually a good sport, which I noticed is often missing in organized athletics. I never saw him throw a giant man fit or encourage dirty play, which I witnessed more than once from other men coaching other teams.
I sometimes took the opportunity to mom-style shame those bad sport / awful role model coaches because it seemed like someone needed to point out their awful behavior, and I’m OK being that person. But, that’s another story.
Our coach treated the kids, refs, and parents with respect. He called the boys out on nonsense, had high expectations and consistently pointed them towards the importance of having a positive character. I guess those are all the things you'd want in a coach.
While he also wanted to win, you could feel the focus on the boys growing into good men.
And, grow they did- both as players who won enough of the time to make it entertaining and as young men who were refreshingly nice to be around.
We watched the team develop from being so polite they practically handed the ball to the other team and moved out the way so they could shoot, to becoming a competitive force that went a ways into the finals by my son’s Senior year.
The first season was bizarre. I’d spent 13 years telling my son to be gentle, and I suddenly found myself screaming, “Take the freaking ball!!!!”
The time when the Coach came into our lives was right around the time of my divorce. My son was in full-on early teen boy mode, and his dad was out of the country, so I was especially grateful for the male role models we had.
The private school that sponsored the team was a really conservative religious one, and I wondered in the beginning if we'd be accepted at all or be deemed unworthy sinners and my son cast out because his mother is an “unmarried woman with children” who also happens to enjoy margaritas, occasional drops and F bomb and even though I consider my self a Christian, (or perhaps because) I had to alter the statement of faith before I could sign it so that it matched my actual beliefs.
While my personal understanding of Jesus is that he hung out with, supported and defended a lot of diverse people, encouraging us to be nice to each other, rather than judgey like Pharisees, I’m well aware that not everyone sees it that way. In some circles, not everyone is welcome.
For the first couple of years, in the back of my head, I felt maybe we’d somehow slipped through the cracks and would be outed from the team for not being appropriately religious (because that thing seems to happen) but my worry was for nothing.
The wonderful thing is that we never had any issues. The other families were kind and Coach seemed to stay focused on the thing at hand- playing basketball, with character.
Despite 4 years of games, I never really grasped all the rules and was often confused about what actually constituted a foul or why the refs were or were not blowing whistles, which often felt inconsistent to my untrained eyes.
I did learn that I was very wrong in thinking basketball is a non-contact sport, and that gangly boys will grow into giant-sized young men full of testosterone and bravado who smash into each other at high speeds.
I had to pop homeopathic calming tablets whenever I remembered to bring them and was thankful that I have naturally low blood pressure, because I may have otherwise had a heart attack watching the intensity of some games.
During the last game of the finals, a sweet old grandmother sitting next to me in the stands suggested that I might do better with Valium, which I found hilarious for several reasons. One, you can never tell who might recommend prescription sedatives, and two- maybe my relaxation methods weren’t working as well as I’d hoped.
Anyhoo, the main thing for me was that it was always a safe place where I felt like my kid could go and be with other young men being mentored by older men, and that’s something that’s missing for a lot of kids.
He got discipline in working his body and his character.
What Coach offered was something that I could not have provided for my son in other ways, and for that, I’ll always be grateful.
I only knew him in the capacity of coach, so that's all I can really speak for, but he sure seemed to be the kind of man who actually acted like the Jesus he worshipped.
That in and of itself felt kind of revolutionary to me.
I don’t know what will happen with the sports program now, whether someone else will step up, or whether it will end with him.
I do know that we were really lucky to have had those 4 years with him.
Coach showed me a nice side of both sports and conservative religion.
I tried and can only hope I was able to express it while he was alive, but thanks, Coach! Your steadiness, dedication, and commitment to the kids made more of a difference than you could probably imagine and you will be missed.
Aside from the kids, you helped make my intro into being a sporty team mom as smooth as it could be for a rogue non-player like myself.
I can only hope more people get the kind of positive experience with sports and adolescence that we did.
I know your family and community have expressed their faith in what comes after death, and my wish is just that your heart is happy and that maybe you can play ball again.
Thanks Again Coach. You were a true mentor and a good man. I hope you know that the world is a better place for the work you did here.
For those of you who are alive to read this, if you happen to coach kids, thank you so much for that! Please be nice and focus on character too.
And, if you're a parent whose kids have a coach, please thank them. No matter what you do for your day job, coaching kids is work that matters.
Thank God for people like you!
Rest in Peace Coach Rust.
Writer, Artist, Empowered Living Advocate, Wanna-be Organic Gardening Foodie, Travel Loving Life Explorer, FunSchooling Facilitator / Former Goat-Herding HeadMistress for our Mostly Happy Homeschool, Semi-Crazy Chicken Lady and Mamacita Extraordinaire to a couple of Cage Free Kids.