My Son is a Little League Tournament Champ and other Exciting Stories...

After a harrowing couple of weeks of baseball with nightly games this week and a torrential rain-out and a double- header win, my son's little league team pulled it off in both of the two final games of the playoffs against the top team with a final game win of 8-6, earning them the the title of league champs. Yeah, baby!

They came a long way, and I mean a LONG way from that first Bad News Bears practice two months ago. But their journey this past week, with this winning streak of four games, was exciting to join along on, because they really did seem to be grace under fire.

It wasn't all fun 'n games though. Number one son has been in a major batting slump this season, and no amount of apples and sugar cubes and the like could get this horse to drink from the trough. The most discouraging thing was watching him beat himself up in the dugout and watching as the team began to segregate by season's end to the haves (top of the batting order) and have nots (benchwarmers).

He's done remarkably well, considering that this is only his second season of ball and most of the kids in these parts cut their teeth on a baseball bat. But it was still heart-wrenching to sit back as a parent and hear snide comments from his teammates or worse, watch them and their school friend groupies snub him while making sucky with their fellow A-list players instead.

Anyways, it really did come down to the final game of the season. Sixth inning, unlimited runs, one out, fastest pitcher in the wild west throwing Mach 500 strikes consistently, and numero uno son steps up to bat. I was crossing fingers, toes, knees and elbows while simultaneously trying to appear relaxed when he looked over at us.

And then lo and behold, his coach tells him to bunt, something my son loves to do above all else. And so he does. Un.believe.able. He hits the most beautiful, assured bunt - it was perfectomundo. But as luck would have it, the catcher managed to scoop it up quickly and zing it to first for the out. It was a great sacrificial play that kept the runners on base in the game and headed for home with the next batter and it was a great moment for him to finally get back in the game.

It was a great season, in which I learned a tremendous amount about games and the games people play, about myself as a parent and reluctant bystander, about my son and his spirit and tenacity, and about God's amazing providence.

But just when I thought it was over and could finally breath a big sigh of relief, I find out they now have city and regional tournaments to participate in. Why doesn't little league have a beer garden for us Type A parents? Zoiks!


The Fountain of Youth

"We turn not older with years, but newer every day."
Emily Dickinson

Here's a glimpse at my vision poster I crafted this weekend. I've had the magazine cut-outs for quite some time but finally was able to dedicate the time and energy to craft it.

What I love about it is the jazzed feeling I get whenever I look at it ~ it's just very grounding to me. So many eclectic words and images pop and scream at me in their different voices. It is, at once, an image of who I was once upon a time, who I am but often forget to be, and who I happily ever after wish to be. But to be or hope to be ~ that is the question.

The thing in itself I'm referring to here is youth, because so much of the magic (or magical thinking, to coin a prophetic phrase from a very, magical gal I know) alive in this poster has a kind of youthful spirit about it.

I'm reading a book called You're Only Young Twice: 10 Do-Overs to Reawaken Your Spirit by Ronda Beaman. This is not to be confused with the most hilarious, must-read Dr. Seuss book I have bought for all the 70 year olds and other geriatric loved ones in my life, as featured below.

So anyways, I was attracted to it because the cover shows an image of the author leap frogging over a man, presumably her husband. And as I read it, I became intrigued by how she shifts the paradigms and creates fun acronyms out of words we perceive to know well.

Consider how she re-thinks the following words:

Age - Act, Grow, Evolve

- Outlook, Language, Drives

Live - Look, Inquire, Vent, Enjoy

Joy - Just Obey Yourself

The central premise of her book is that there is a science of the soul that enables us to remain youthful, if we so choose. She refers to this process as neoteny ~ the science of growing young. She insists that "we can direct our own evolutionary path" and reprogram our DNA from one of matter to a DNA of spirit, simply by cultivating traits like love, compassion, curiosity and wonder.

Her suggestions aren't rocket science. They range from incorporating more music and dance into one's life, starting a "joy" jar, or learning to play, laugh, sing, smile, learn and fall in love more. And it all begins and ends with thought. You're only as old as you feel, look, act, whatever...you really do choose your own reality on this one.

Aging is getting alot of media attention these days. It always has, but more so lately. Body scans, Botox, "real age" quizzes and anti-aging products abound, as the Boomer age comes of age.

Yet despite the reality that 60s flower children, who quintessentially defined 20th century youth, are our new-age grandparents, our vision hasn't changed much.

Sure, we have Dove campaigns now to help counter that youth is more than an air-brushed picture in a magazine, it's a state of mind. But what's really going on, Beaman claims, is that we've bought into the cultural and aging myths, memes and madness about what it means to age.

Memes are popular in blogging and e-mails. The run the gambit from those lovely 20 fascinating aspects you could care less about me but I'm going to tell you anyways to the ever-popular 43 things to countless other topic questionnaires. Memes in a cultural sense, are defined as "units of behavior, values, and language that evolve and are passed on through imitation and learning.

Tying shoelaces, perfecting family recipes, learning what not to say and do with an explosive personality in your life, understanding the intricacies of non-verbal communication - these are all memes, of sorts. And there's a ton of them alive and well in the arena of aging - not the least of which are the verbal vomit.

You know the one's we tell ourselves - "if I could just bottle little Johnny's energy....(big sigh)...I'd be a millionnaire" or "energy is wasted on the young" or "another gray hair...wow, I really am getting old."

And don't even get me started on modes of behavior. I'm reminded of it every time I hop on the shopping cart and take my daughter for a joy ride through the downslope parking lot, with both of us screaming ~ or in my case, just yelling that nauseating monotone ahhh! so that anytime we hit a bump it makes a vibrating ahhh! sound. The looks I get from fellow shoppers - now that should go in an American Express commercial - it's priceless, really. Come on, people. Lighten up, already!

And last night. I brought my new Wild Thing button (a variation on the Staples Easy button) to the penultimate final game of my son's Little League tournament. Every time one of the boys hit a homer or got someone out or made an otherwise fantastic play, our crowd would hoot and holler and I would hit the Wild Thing button. It was so much fun giving in to my Pavlovian side...and so much cleaner than salivating.

But it was also so funny because the other moms would look at me in horror whenever I offered them the choice to hit the button when their boy did something awesome. You would think I was offering them a hunk of stinky cheese on moldy bread. Which is a visual picture and aroma not altogether dissimilar to the process of becoming old and stodgy and decidedly adult and normative.

It's the cheapest of little thrills that bring the most joy sometimes. And God knows, with stress and bills and demands and deadlines looming for all of us constantly in our myriad work, parenting and home lives, a little joy can be a big thing.

I know people who have allowed their ill health and attitude to shape their perception of aging such that they became decades older than their years, in demeanor and appearance. And I know people who have already given up living, believing all their best years to be behind them or perhaps more telling, ahead of them in their "next" life. And conversely, I know a precious few who continually defy the printed date on their birth certificate, proving that one is only as old as one chooses to be. And that if you keep doing what you've always done (think you're aging), you'll keep getting what you've always got (old).

Anyways, I like the thought of being born again scientifically. Of course, we're continually doing that anyways, on so many levels ~ from the molecular and cellular to the big picture civilization and universal picture. But I like the idea that we can evolve backwards into our process of becoming. It's like being retro and futuristic at the same time without having to do anything except be.

To be or not to be, that is the question. Or is it the answer? If it was a multiple choice questionnaire, I'd choose forever young. I kinda have to. How else am I going to get away with popping wheelies, blowing spit bubbles and singing This Old Gray Mare She Ain't What She Used to Be while cruising erratically on the downslope in the grocery parking lot?

Because if it's gonna be a downward slope, I figure I might as well enjoy the ride. And if Lynn lived here, we could shop together and race each other through the parking lot.

That's what over the hill should mean. Conquering it head-on and head strong. On that note, I'm over and out.


The Vanishing Point

VANISH - 1303, from aphetic form of stem of O.Fr. esvanir "disappear," from V.L. *exvanire, from L. evanescere "disappear, die out," from ex- "out" + vanescere "vanish," from vanus "empty" (see vain). Vanishing point in perspective drawing is recorded from 1797.

Stories like this local one fascinate me.

Here's a guy who seemingly heads for the hills for his regular jog and kinda sorta doesn't return. As the story goes, he fell in a ravine and rolled under a log and covered himself with leaves to stay warm and dry, and then stayed that way for three cold, wet days seemingly unconscious and oblivious to the hordes of helicopters and searchers swarming the park area looking for him. So then he emerges from the woods days later, finds his vehicle towed and so then, walks home the eight miles or whatever. Tired but uninjured and in good health. Yup. That's his story and he's sticking to it. I'm sure as the years go on, it will become a "ten miles, uphill, in the snow with near hypothermia" family legend but for now it remains the city-walk version.

Of course, there's nothing fishy about this tale. Pffffttt... The parallels between his fantastical epic and this gal's famous escapade, which made headlines across Canada and even in Vegas for a time...by golly, they're uncanny.

So OK, in the spirit of "true" confessions, I'll admit once or twice or five million times, I've thought about dropping my kids off at school and then just driving in whatever direction traffic wasn't going on that particular day. It's a fleeting thought though, and is one that is more often linked to the rat race grind and fantasy of carving a new reality in a far away place - preferably a small Utopian mountain town. Hubby dreams of such a place where he can pump gas and channel Socrates from Way of the Peaceful Warrior. It's a dream job I assure him would get old fast. But alas, we do think sometimes of taking a game spinner, plunking it on a road map and seeing which new locale it might point to.

These are more get out of Dodge thoughts and they've crept up more and more since moving to the Pacific Northwest, whereby hubby has worked 90% of every weekend for the past two years and where my kids have been involved in sports, dance or church activities which account for a good 75% of available weekends. This leaves slim to nil weekends to frapper la route.

But the bye honey, gone for my run....back never if I can help it stuff - that's an entirely different matter.

I like this guy's story and from an artistic sense, I like how he has painted an elaborate portrait of his weekend "away" in such a way that he remained hidden at that vanishing point (ie. the point on the horizon where perspective lines converge to), under the log covered by leaves, as it were. Sung to the tune of "Under the Fallen Log...down by the stream....under the fallen log, down by the stream..."

It's an apropos place for a guy who clearly wanted and needed to disappear, whether that be consciously or not. The irony is that rather than vanish, he is now the subject of intense media scrutiny.

And of course, the entire tale is made even that much more surreal by the fact that the dude's last name is Schreck. Now I don't mean to confuse the man for an ogre, but I do think there's more fiction than fact to his crazy weekend ordeal. For his sake, I hope he lives happily ever after and can emerge from his secret hiding spot under the log to a place of truly being the credible hero of his own story.


While my Keyboard Gently Weeps

So if you've been reading my last few posts, you've noticed that I've been kinda fixated on vitality lately as the key driver for fostering my healthier mind, body, spirit.

I've gotten myself back to the gym - not regularly by any stretch - but I've been there, done that, at the very least and I lived to tell of it. And I dared to run this past week, and that was fun...well OK, maybe not fun but it was an accomplishment.

It appears I still know how, if barely. And I've been more consciously aware of my diet as in, which foods are vitality uppers, which ones are downers and most importantly, which ones are emotional numb-ers. And I've been spending an inordinate amount of time lately fixated on the link between healthy mindedness and mindfulness.

To many people, healthy-mindedness, eating and living is a natural state of thinking, doing, being. I admire such people (actually I don't; deep down, I think they're slimy slithery slibes but I pretend to admire them because it would be good for me to do so) but alas, in this process of deconstructing and reconstructing my own bad habits and thoughts over the years, I am discovering that I am not yet one of those healthy creatures. Ya think? Suffice to say, talking and being nice to me is not my natural habitat.

I am one of those creatures who deliberately gives away all her compliments for others (except for slibes) in order not to have any left over for herself. I am also one of those people who is not good at establishing firm boundaries and saying "no" to others. Thus, I tend to agree to tasks to the point of feeling compromised. Failure and disaster ensue and I unravel and then I feel like a failure so then I eat until I'm comfortably numb. Here's where my keyboard gently weeps.

Way, way back in the day before overeating, I used to do drugs or go on a bi-monthly drinking binge. Get home at 4am and ruminate the next day about (a) which letter in the alphabet I got to in my alphabet drinking game and (b) how close I came to blood alcohol poisoning. I'm not sure I see any one addiction as being better, worse, different from the others....I have found them to be, for the most part, interchangeable anesthetizers, varying only in accordance with their social acceptance, legality, cost, next-day effects and/or ability to impregnate or propagate disease.

All this crime and punishment rambling is necessary preamble for those of you who consider the connection between mind, body, spirit to be a bit of a no-brainer. For some of us, it's precisely because of our no-brainer disconnect that we struggle with it. The disconnect I refer to is, of course, feeling.

Any and all addictions are really just methods to quell and bury emotion. I considered myself an addiction adept at one point in time, in a been there, done that kinda way. I now see that there is not only a kind of environmental factor prevalent with addiction, but also a genetics to addiction that I did not consider existed until pondering family issues this past decade. I'm convinced most all families share addiction in some way - certainly every family I know has been touched by it in some way shape or form - be it a propensity towards sport, skort, port or in my case, chocolate torte. Caroline Myss cites Prostitute and Victim as universal archetypes we all share....selling our soul to the something that will make us feel good one minute ~ commiserating over it the next.

Lucky for me, I have been able to control my substance abuses over the years. The drugs were a high-school recreation perfectly suited to the university frat party scene I frequented and were a sport I tried in earnest to have consume me, but alas they were a fleeting fancy. The drinking was great fun through my teens, 20s and 30s; whose frequency and quantity correlated proportionately to my social or on-the-road travel life at any given time. While alcohol and I rarely get together any more, I still consider us good buddies and hope we can always be friends. I remain cautious, however, given my fear of genetic predispositions.

Which brings me last to food. Last but definitely not least. Food has been the one constant. Back in the day, I could overeat to my heart's content. I came of age in my parent's fast food restaurant, and had you asked me to list the four food groups, I would have honestly noted hamburgers, french fries, ice cream and bologna sandwiches. For me, they were the four food groups. I ate a proper balance from each category with zero effect to my slim frame, as luck and a healthy metabolism would have it.

I love food but I've never been especially good with establishing boundaries or keeping things in moderation. It's my Type-A persona. I tend to approach everything with an all-or-nothing zeal. It's a wonder and miracle my body has sustained such constant overeating with so little weight gain, relatively speaking. And even then, it has only been the last five years where the punishment has begun to fit the crimes.

Anyways, it was with this same all-or-nothing outlook that I woke up one day and figured out that my brain had atrophied from all my hedonistic, tourism work. So I decided to switch gears and become a university student. So there I was in pursuit of Mind, at the expense of Body and Spirit. Then a few years later, I began looking at Spirit. I read voraciously and began seeking out church homes for my spirit to reside. And now, four decades plus a year from whence I first began my journey, I have come full circle - awakening to a newfound consciousness that it not the pursuit of one at the expense of others (which so totally sucks, by the way) but the integration of mind, body, spirit that makes for the whole person.

So here I am at Body ~ the final frontier in my quest for health and wellness. Cue the spooky Star Trek music. I'm nothing if not an outer edge gal and don't even get me started on my procrastinator tendencies.

I've arrived at a few epiphanies about my body. One is that I tend to reside most of my time in my mind rather than my body, such that I can look at myself in a mirror in a kind of abstract way and feel very disembodied and disassociated from myself. I don't know if that's normal or not but I do know that such a disconnect no longer serves me. Truth be told, it never did.

Another epiphany I've had is that I'm either way more emotional than I ever realized or I'm becoming extremely hormonal. Or perhaps it's a bit of both. So I'm now trying to figure out ways to release my extreme emotions rather than suppress them. The ones that have me raging and railing against the world like an angry punk rocker or leave me wanting to wail at walls. This, I'm learning, is tricky business for us control freak types. The world around us cries and we're the ones handing them their Kleenex. Not for lack of emotion and empathy - it's just that the damn inner dam is Hoover strong.

So I'm now flirting with the idea of letting these emotions out to play more. I'm going to start with the emotions that move me to tears. Instead of holding back the tears, I'm going to let them flow like a river - I'll call it Denial.

I'm fairly convinced that as pent-up as all these tears have been all these decades, had I just released them at the apropos time, I might have had enough to create my own river. Woulda, coulda, shoulda. Now for fear this sounds like a dangerous case of allowing an intent of drama in my life, post-Law of attraction hype and all that, permit me to clarify. I'm going to focus on cultivating joy but remain open to acknowledging sorrow when it rears its ugly head. If/when the sad face mood arises, I'm going to let my tears out to play ie. crying 'til I laugh. Letting it be, letting it be. So I'll seek ways I can laugh 'til I cry.....like watching this dude on YouTube. Watch him: I dare you not to laugh out loud.

I'm happy, I'm relaxed, when I'm happy, I'm relaxed.

So that's today's wise crack, as in foundation, as in Leonard Cohen's infamous words:

"there's a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in."

Thus spoke the man with extreme drug, alcohol, sex and tobacco addictions (how else does one explain Closing Time?) but heck, he's a Zen Buddhist now so I'll trust he's not only been touched by light near the end of the tunnel, but enlightenment, too. Or maybe he's just touched, in which case, I extend my hand and say, welcome to the club, dude.


They Think, Therefore They Am...

Brenda has just tagged my Holy-Schmidt site with a thinking blogger award. Bless her for this very catholic act, (especially considering my latest limbo rant). In all fairness, I think Brenda would be a very good limbo dancer. She can rex on roller skates and I'd be willing to bet she can do it while blowing a bubble inside a bubble with her Bubblicious, talking on her cell phone and tracking her Bush fitness points.

So in the spirit of paying it forward, I am going to tag team eight other bloggers who always make my gray matter work overtime, for reasons easily apparent if you spend more than 3 seconds on their blogs.

Beast Mom

I know I was supposed to only do five, but I'm nothing if not a non-conformist. And other words best left unmentioned.

So Great Eight Thinkers 'o Mine, if you're reading this, kindly steal the blog award image, post it on your own site and go ahead and tag a few others if you so choose. I'll let you think on that though, and come to your own decision.

Just don't think about it too long....

"I think therefore I am. I think."
George Carlin


The Week-est Link

Long time no post.

I don't even have much to show for my time away from blogging. Except that my real driver's license arrived in the mail.

And I actually showed it as i.d. at the local Safeway. I tried to cover my picture with my thumb but the girlie behind the counter, who isn't old enough to drive incidentally, chided me and said, "Uhhh, Ma'am (you know you're old when), I need to see your picture to verify that it's you." To which I replied, "yeah, well the thing is, that picture is not really me."

Her look of alarm prompted me to further stutter, "I mean like it's me but it's not really me, you know what I mean? I don't really look like that." She studies the picture and then me and matter-of-factly replies, "Yeah you do." Thanks, bleach-blonde kiddo. I wish you a long, happy and prosperous life filled with a bunch of pregnancies, hormonal inconsistencies, decreased metabolism and your fair share of stressors. And then we'll see what your age 41 driver's license picture looks like, hmmm, shall we?

Great big sigh.

So anyways, all else is good. Plans are gearing up for the inaugural Secret Society of Beast Moms (SSBM) blogger mom getaway in Oregon in July. Christina, who is the Beast Mom (BM) herself, along with Becca, Jeri, and the close friend and sister of BM, Christine and Grace respectively, will all be in attendance. Tanya is sitting on the fence, having just moved to da Kota land.

I'm looking forward to hanging with these eclectic ladies - some who I've met and feel like I really click with ~ like the ever-zany Beast Mom, the bright and funny Jeri and the exuberant and real Tanya. And others, like Becca, who I feel like I know, having kept up on her blog for a year now.

My course is going well. And while I don't feel as though I have much in the way of tangible, measurable results (ie. weight loss) to show for this 'wellness' I'm feeling, I do feel like I'm in a much better head space and more healthy-minded as a result of working on my stuff and focusing on my vitality. I've been creating affirmations for myself which is a first, I've been consciously eating for perhaps the first time in my life, and I'm hyper-aware that the key to my success in this arena will remain my steadfast determination to stay focused on the journey rather than the end-result or destination.

Each week we the people (course participants), set goals and strategies for ourselves, which is what I most love about this course experience. Sometimes it's a course corrective strategy (ie. if I did not complete the task I set for myself the week prior), and sometimes it's about setting a huge, scary goal.

This week I committed to two scary steps. The first being that this would be the week we would finally transfer our savings cross-border, given that the exchange rate is at an all-time low. This first step is scary because it involves committing to living here, which we have been quasi-afraid to do so, because we have been feeling a less than positive vibe about how distantly polite local residents here tend to be. Friends and acquaintances have assured us, however, in the spirit of been there, done that - that it takes a good seven years to really settle in and feel a part of the local fabric. I've heard that from enough different people now that I'm resigned to the notion that this is a fact.

But I want a house mucho bad. I miss going to Home Depot and I miss seeing hubby putz in the yard and be Mr. Man about the house. And I think we could easily eek out another decade here without so much as blinking an eye. Time flies when you have kids.

So that's scary step numero uno. The second frightening step I've committed to this week is to run this week on one of my magnificent mile excursions. The kids and I have been heading down to the local high school track these past couple of weeks and doing laps. My daughter runs the entire track with a gusto even Forest Gump couldn't match. I, however, have been walking it. I've always been self-conscious about running because I don't believe I possess a good technique for it and I kinda think I look goofy and clumsy when I run. My son insists I don't look funny when I run but I feel like I do and because I've allowed this inner critic voice to become the expert on said perception, I've expressly avoided running all my life.

I invest a ton of useless energy worrying about what others think, despite 'knowing' that what others think is none of my business and 100% their's. It's what has kept me away from the gym for eleven months (worried about running into my personal trainer) until last week (last week's scary step was showing up at the gym and guess who I avoided but ended up on the treamill two away from me? - zoiks!) and it's what stops me from really, fully participating and 'showing up' in many scenarios and moments in my life.

So this week I'm going to begin running. It will be a cool running. Well, OK so it's probably going to be a rather uncool running but I'm going to turn it into a cool running. I'm going to pretend that it's the final stretch of my Olympic run and the entire world is waiting for me to cross the finish line. I'm going to set my daughter up at the mock finish line how ever many feet ahead that might need to be, and I'm going to have her outfit me with my gold medallion for my efforts. Now this may only be a one minute jog - I'm not sure - at this point I just want to get over my initial fear and resistance.

Anyhoo, that's this week's story and I'm sticking to it. Wish me godspeed, courage and in the case of my run...the grace of a gazelle.