Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My first Thanksgiving as an in-law

I’m not sure how many people come from the polar opposite family environment as their spouse, but it sure seems like a lot of us.  My family is at least 65 strong, counting only two generations (aunts/uncles and cousins).  My husband’s family is 3 strong.  People usually ask how in the world my husband survives my side’s events, but honestly he seems to love it.  The noise, activity, competitiveness, lack of attention on one person for too long, and more noise has somehow suited him from day one.  My mom is one of 11 kids who made me 30 first cousins who made their own babies.  My dad is one of four kids who made me 19 first cousins who made a lot of their own babies.  Also, my dad and his siblings grew up in a machine shop and their mother went deaf young so shouting is talking to them.  Again, it’s a lot of noise. 

My husband, mother-in-law and sister-in-law actually speak loudly and passionately most of the time, but the difference is you can actually hear and understand and respond to everything they’re expressing.  It’s exhausting.  Haha!  Who knew three people could be more tiring to mingle with than 50?!  This thanksgiving, after a lifetime of practicing how to stay lightly involved in multiple conversations at once and rallying into as many games as are played in one holiday day lest I might miss something, I experienced down time and the choice to either sit up, eat and watch TV or lie down and sleep.  The strangest part is that I felt slightly uneasy most of the weekend.  Certainly having traveled out of state and sleeping in the living room meant I was out of my comfort space but I didn’t expect to feel claustrophobic.  I really felt watched and I am absolutely positive it was my imagination.  At one of my family’s holiday parties you might have 10+ eyes on you at any given moment and the max there would have been 6!  So clearly, I was feeling overly sensitive and out of touch.

I have been taught (no, I did not know this) that change is hard no matter whether it’s good change or bad change.  The thing is that the trip was overall pretty wonderful.  While I missed my family a lot over the holiday, I made sure I called them to hear their celebration and played a lot of memories through my mind with a smile.  At Thanksgiving dinner, I was able to give thanks with a love-filled heart and experience my new family in a new way.  I got to see more clearly than ever that my husband is the man in his family and both his sister and mother look up to him with complete love, pride and confidence.  It’s an unbelievable thing to watch and a blessing to be a part of.  I realized too how seldom I recognize the strength of his family in our lives.  They are as vital a part of our marriage and its success as my family.  So the score is tied: 3 to 50.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I’m going to be the next…

When I was a little over 4 years old, Mary Lou Retton won the 1984 All-Around Olympic gold medal in gymnastics.  I don’t remember actually watching her win on live TV or anything, but for the next 7 years I relived her moment of glory over and over and over again.  I watched our home taped VHS of that meet hundreds of times.  My sister and I still repeat what the announcers were saying throughout.  Two of our favorite lines, “She runs like Carl Lewis and smiles like Brooke Shields.” and “Mary Lou, how do you do?!”.  We knew her routines.  We knew the other competitors routines.  We knew the back stories. We knew what her coach said and how he lifted her up in celebration.  We were her biggest fans and probably still are.

I used to draw pictures of myself on the victory podium with my 1996 Olympic gold medal.  I would draw the world and a crowd of people and write talk bubbles like “the next Mary Lou”, “world peace”, “dream” and “believe”.  I wanted to inspire the world the way Mary Lou inspired me.  When my gymnastics career ended, my dreams did not.  My sister and I started a collection between ourselves that would one day fund our own gymnastics facility.  We put a quarter a day into the jar.  We talked about what we would have and what kind of coaches we would be.  We saved a good amount for about two years, but eventually stopped the effort.  We still watch gymnastics on TV whenever it’s aired and hope for another Mary Lou Retton, Nadia Comaneci, or Kim Zmeskal. 

While this all might sound silly and childish, I believe that it’s shaped me into who I am today.  I still dream big.  It doesn’t matter what I’m striving for, I look beyond that and believe that more is possible if I want it.  Sometimes I even feel like I’m as good as Carl Lewis and as dynamite as Mary Lou Retton.  I know that passions shared are more inspiring and more fun.  When I love something today, I find someone else who loves it too.  I talk about it with them.  Cheer about it.  Follow it.  I am a coach today and I fight to get the athletes good facilities and the best training possible.  I’m tough and enthusiastic.  I have a passion for diving even more than gymnastics (if you can imagine that) and I let it show.  When I see a kid pop out of the water with their face lit up and brimming with new confidence because they just ‘got it’, I ask them how they feel.  Usually they giggle and say “good”.  What a thrill! 

I thought I was going to be the next Mary Lou Retton but now I’m just the best me.  I don’t know about you but I’m going to keep dreaming and keep believing.  World peace?  Sure, it will happen. J

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Things Awful/Things Awesome

Having just begun this blogging adventure, I’m mentally filing events that might be blog-worthy.  Not having written in a week, I had quite a few blog-worthy bits in the queue.   Upon review, many of my week’s thoughts and experiences caught me with unusual amusement.  Apparently, I really don’t like a lot of things and I have a strong opinion about most everything.  Even the stuff that doesn’t harbor a strong reaction from me has a designation of acceptable/unacceptable, tasteful/insulting, and the like.  I’ll call the items with a positive designation green (green for go/good) and those with a negative designation red (red for stop/bad).  Having a good day used to be dependent on how few reds I encountered.  If too many then forget it- horrible day.  That’s not generally true anymore and while I still have pretty intense reactions to things, my resulting emotion and behavior tends to look more like mood swings than melt downs.  I think I’ll just share some of the highlights from the past week, both red and green.  Here we go…

Reds (in no particular order)
1.  Drivers that stare you down after you make a mistake.  You didn’t think my horror struck face and squealing tires were awareness enough?  Plus now I’m just pissed off at you and your lack of attention to the road!
2.  Cashiers that assume everyone in line is there to make them a social visit.  We’re not.  We want to get to where we want to get ASAP and we want you to do your job well so as not to delay us.
3.  TV shows that cast every character as a complete idiot.  Especially adult cartoons where every character sounds like Bevis, Butthead or Napolean Dynamite.   The voice alone is enough for me to decide they have low self-esteem, social disorders and unresolved childhood issues.  Oh and using the one guy to do all the voiceovers is a total distraction.
4.  Tappers.  My husband is a tapper.  Why!??!!! Why??!!!!!  I can hear that!!!!!!!!!
5.  The mirror that always looks back at you fat.  Who made those mirrors and why did they not just melt it and start over when they looked into it and knew that it was the worst representation of themselves they’d ever seen?!  I vote we all destroy such mirrors and in their spots leave pleading notes that ask the future replacement mirrors be either honest or can improve the truth (just a little).  For the sake of sanity, man!

Greens (also in no particular order)
1.  When you watch someone for just a minute that is completely unaware of being observed, even if they turn out doing something dumb or weird.  I love that outside, anonymous view.  Seems so pure.
2.  Getting the giggles.  No matter where I am or who’s seeing it happen, the giggles are always a good time.  I’ve been so embarrassed by the complete loss of control on many occasions but I’m always better for it.  Plus, it’s a total adrenaline rush and a giggle buddy boosts the fun! 
3.  When kids imitate their parents with that grown up tone and those grown up words but totally work it as their own.  Too funny.  My 2 ¾ year old niece wiggled herself into a seat before a snack this Sunday and asked me, “Should we pray?”  In that moment she was my sister.  Classic.
4.  Being cuddled.  No matter my mood, hugs are the best.  My mom’s are comforting, long and snug.  My husband’s are moving, swinging side to side and strong.  My sister’s are joyous, she hangs off to the side and laughs.  My brother’s are double winners, strong and soft all in one.  My dad’s are classic, always firm with a pat.  Love hugs.
5.  When you wake up thinking it’s Monday and then realize it’s Sunday and you have a whole 24 hours until you have to go to work again.  It feels like a huge time refund and it’s all for fun and relaxation.  At least for a few minutes.   That’s such a great feeling. 

I’m happy to report that while all the reds were a part of my last week, so were the greens.  It’s been a great week and this has been a fun exert.  I hope you enjoyed it too!  

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I still get crazy sometimes

After over two and half years in recovery and over a decade of therapy, the smallest things can throw me back into my old thinking.  What a terrible feeling! 
Yesterday I had a total meltdown.  I was by myself during lunch from jury duty and began to panic about all the money I wasn’t making by serving.  I went to call my husband and found that my phone would not turn on.  That’s when I lost it.  Within seconds I was in tears and yelling that I hated my life.  All while driving recklessly to find a place to get my phone checked out.   I drove around the neighborhood for about fifteen minutes with no direction and then went through a drive thru hoping food would help me calm down.  I got ‘the look’ from the kid working the window when he saw the tears streaming down my face but he didn’t say anything.  I was too upset to eat once he handed me the food.  I threw it into the passenger’s seat and sped away with a new plan.  I drove to a friend’s house knowing that he was at work.  When he wasn’t home, I used that to continue ranting about the terrible luck I had and how awful my life was.  I ended up stopping to use a pay phone a few minutes later and getting a hold of my husband.   After about five minutes of talking to him, the panic and rage had passed and everything seemed completely manageable again.   He suggested I remove the battery from my phone for a couple minutes and then restarting it.  I had thought of that but quit on it when I couldn’t get the back open right away.  Of course, this time it was simple and it worked.  I was back on track and ready to continue my duty. 
That might sound like a painful process to get back to calm and clear-minded, but I did return to the courthouse and sit the rest of the day doing what I was supposed to be doing.  A considerable success for someone like me.  I wish I didn’t react like that to anything, but I know my journey in recovery is just beginning.   I’m really grateful that I don’t take it to the dark places I used to.  From the thought “I hate my life”, I find myself looking for support rather than a fix.  Pretty cool.