Yes, I am a Mom, a “Sports Mom” to be exact, which means I have numerous balls throughout my home, my yard and my car. Soccer balls, baseballs, footballs, basketballs, and most recently, lacrosse balls. I feel like Bubba and his shrimp from Forrest Gump!
By the way, interesting that we are called Sport’s Moms, don’t you think? Sports becoming the possessive entity.
Tackling the topic of youth sports in my community is much akin to talking about politics or religion. I wish I could insert that cringe face emoji at this moment! In our community, it has become a religion. You pay homage to it every weekend and most days during the week. I am not sure when the sports craze momentum started, but our family is definitely riding the waves.
“Mom, when I make it to the NFL, I am going to buy you diamond earrings.”
Then, he proceeded to buy me fake diamond earrings for Christmas that same year. Did I dream of the day he would be a grown man and buy me real ones, of course! Did I think it was possible, yes! After all, he and my daughter are great little athletes, whose to say?
Before I go any further, I would like to preface this blog: My intention is never to be a dream crusher for anyone, never mind my own flesh and blood. However, the intensity of youth sports warrants at least once allowing an objective stance.
One article I read on this topic, simply stated parents were “delusional.” This caused me due pause. This is my attempt to find the truth to this proposed epidemic of delusion. Stay with me till the end my friend!
Many families, including my own, have been pacified my accepting that at the least their student athlete could get a scholarship to college. OK, they may not make it big time but the devotion to their sport will pay off financially in this way. For me, this has justified a lot of the concerns I have had in the past. It was my security blanket, a Sport’s Mom raison d’etre. OK, it is all fair in love and basketball. Game on.
What concerns have I had? Enough. My perspective was changed this past year. I read an article in a Scholastic magazine that discussed the relatively recent rise of overuse injuries in young athletes. This concerns me as it has the potential of causing long term pain or limited use of a part of the body. Although I am aware of the contributing factors to this and the call for diversity within youth sports, there is still inconsistencies.
This article also introduced me to a disturbing reality that has developed in youth sports. With this tidal wave of attention to youth sports and parents who believe their child is the “next professional player” (I was one so I am not judging here!), others have capitalized for profit on this dynamic whether they realize it or not. It has become a booming business.
Most recently, at a championship baseball game, I screeched in panic for my son to “get up” after he fell diving for a ball. I became quickly ashamed and shut down, not particularly enjoying the rest of the game. My reaction was not at all to do with how he played, but how I had allowed myself to act. I can only speak for myself, but the belief that one play, one game is the end all be all is flawed. Most parents would deny this, but actions speak louder than words.
For most, witnessing the passion in your child’s eye, the focus and the determination, is enough to throw all caution to the wind. I experience that passion regularly through my young athletes and it can be intoxicating.
But, the schedules, the sacrifices, the demands on all facets of their being, the pressure to excel, the expectations: all factors a young athlete has to manage even before the game starts. Can you imagine if your job everyday was under that sort of microscope? Most adults would snap. But, these athletes would not be still playing unless they were incredibly resilient, which they are! Amen for that.
A definite advantage to dedicating a life to excelling in a sport is nurturing passion and resiliency. Awesome. A disadvantage I propose is parental or another involved caregiver’s expectations. Why else would we be at times resorted to turning crimson, sweating and yelling at young players despite ourselves?
Statistically, of the 541,054 high school basketball players, 3.4% will play in college and a mere 1.2% will be drafted into the NBA.
Of the 1,093,234 high school football payers, 6.5% will play in college and only 1.6% will be drafted into the NFL. And, I have not even mentioned concussions.
Of the 433,344 women’s high school basketball players, 3.8% will play in college and a measly 0.9% will be drafted into the WNBA.
Of these college athletes, 1-2% will receive an athletic scholarship and often times these are far less than anticipated. Ok, the numbers don’t lie.
So, what am I proposing? It is so incredibly simple! Let our young athletes have fun playing a game. Do not link any sport, any game, any play to some perceived success in the future. Do not burden them or their game with our lofty expectations.
Let them live and play with passion, be attentive by providing them the resources they seek, listen to them just as much as you expect them to listen to you, be informed and then…let go.
Relish in their accomplishments and be emotionally present when they struggle. Allow them to enjoy honing their natural abilities without pairing a trophy or a dollar sign to it. After all, the ball is most definitely in their court not ours. Let it be.
I don’t normally write this sort of thing it’s a tad too personal. Obviously it’s not been cured by using a quill. I wouldn’t want you to get the wrong impression either, being dyslexic is not the end of the world. Although it’s classed as a disability it’s a long way from being the worst. I would much rather be dyslexic than say blind or have muscular dystrophy. It hasn’t stopped me doing what I want in life, although I have had to work a lot harder because of it.
Those who are dyslexic can vary a great deal in how it affects them. I can read very well, in fact I read a lot. Occasionally I’ll skip a word and miss the sense of a sentence and have to re-read a few times until I’ve got it right. My biggest problem comes with spelling and hand writing. My hand…
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For over half of my life, my mind was consumed by two major endeavors. I sought to become as knowledgeable in my field of study as I was capable of and I sought to solve problems by critical thinking. My mind was a bustling cosmos of thought and thought processes. I assumed I could think my way out of any situation just by generating enough mind power.
There is no doubt that I was nourishing higher brain functions which is not entirely useless. But, I fixated on an issue and sought to think my way out of it, no kidding! I allowed my mind too much control over my life, over my happiness.
In my late twenties, I read a book about living in the moment. It was in reading this book, my perception of my mind made a drastic shift. Others have asked me about “this book”, seeking to understand what the heck I was talking about. I have come to understand that it is not so much the means by which I came to this realization, but that I was ready and open to it. This “aha”moment may have happened in an entirely different way, with a different book or even without a book.
I had come to that place in my life; the steam trailing from my ears, my head about to internally detonate. I was introduced to the peace and tranquility of a quiet mind and I was hooked. Never before had I experienced the bliss of a still mind. I had not realized it was even possible nor desirable.
Soon after, I began taking yoga classes with a Buddhist Monk. After each session, we sat in meditation for about 15 minutes. After each class, the benefits of this practice became more and more evident. I was less stressed, more focused and more at peace. Although, I had not mastered this practice in my everyday, every second life, I sought to quiet my mind as much as possible. I began to manage my thoughts more consciously and scale back on the control that any thoughts had on my life.
I wish I could blog that I practice mediation at sunrise everyday, but I also do not lie. However, as often as possible I come back to that stillness. My mind sometimes reverts to old habits, but it seems I am swifter to recognize it. Rather than my mind exerting ultimate control over my life, I seek to utilize it as an instrument in my life. I evaluate it objectively as a part of who I am, but not the authentic me.
My passion for writing has evolved into an instrument for this blog, a conscious decision to nurture this particular quality. Yet, when my fingers still on this keyboard, so too do I seek stillness of my mind. I crave a healthy balance of thought and creativity in my life.
I meditated at the beach yesterday. I did not sit in yoga pose to do so and I did not consciously decide, “Today, I will meditate at the beach between 3pm-4pm.” It was not until after some time had passed that I even realized that I had meditated. I recognized the feelings of peace and tranquility within me. This meditation was not a chant I repeated to the crashing waves, nor did I consciously focus my eyes on the skyline. I am grateful that meditating flows in my life spontaneously.
I stood at the water’s edge, the tide slowly going out. The rhythm of the waves embracing my toes, slowly sinking them into the soft sand. The warmth of the sun gestured to my shoulders and a cooling breeze teased the loose strands of my hair. My body only sensing, my mind absolutely quiet as I gazed at my children side by side in the cool water.
With each rolling, cresting wave they smiled at each other as they instinctively dove or body surfed to mother nature’s amusement. Emerging from each crashing wave, swiftly wiping their faces and searching for one another and then the next wave, I lingered in their joy and in their love. They continued in unison to smile, dive, emerge and laugh wave after wave.
After some time, a thought did come to me, “Now, I understand the appeal of surfing. It is meditation in action.” I was enthralled in this routine and the enjoyment they were experiencing together. I allowed myself to just melt into it; I meditated. I did not think, I witnessed and felt for as long as I was given.
The more everyday moments are recognized as gateways to meditation, the less daunting it will seem. Meditation is not solely a way of life for experienced monks, it is a peaceful way through life for the rest of us.
Does loneliness haunt you when all your life being alone is where you settled in best?
Can you breathe when flashbacks find you; images of love now lost?
Too many burdensome bricks painstakingly laid, by just you? No, those walls could not be built alone.
Broken and fragile it may all appear to be.
Yet, as time escapes from nature’s clock, I will never let all that love be lost.
Clipped wings may never discover flight, but by way of the ground, if willing, can be nurtured and coaxed to travel. So too can love be rendered even when all hope is lost.
I sat quietly at the polished round oak table deliberately milking every spoonful of the creamy clam chowder. It was my only indulgence all week, every week, for too many weeks to count. I sat alone, too focused on this unsavory routine to care.
I was a young, vibrant college student with all the potential in the world. Yet, my mind was clouded by this desire to control, even to my own detriment. My personal life had taken an unsolicited track, barreling down with no mercy. At least, my subconscious taunted me as much. I had no control of where this train brimming with precious cargo was going. What I was left with was the unnerving sensation that so much of my cargo was never to be recovered again.
At one point in my escapade to catch this speeding, looming train, I ran six miles a day. Pounding the pavement; heaving and panting, I fought back. Where the heck was I running to or better yet, away from? Everything I had to lose. Everything I could not control.
Every bite of food was a reality I fought to swallow. I found no comfort in a full, satiated belly. It reminded me of what I had lost. Life was denying me the most vital of nourishment, love. Food was irrelevant.
After each runner’s high and with each day I restricted myself, I lingered in a very misguided feeling of control. I would have the last word no matter how much my body and my psyche had to endure.
I was locking the doors to my own lonely, constricted prison cell day after day.
Grace and love came to me one day, at this beautiful table in this magnificent cafeteria. As I sipped on the last spoonfuls of the creamy broth, I felt the warmth of a body sitting next to me. A fellow nursing student, a year older, and a casual friend leaned in. The compassion in her eyes met my heart. She spoke words I was ready to hear. She confronted the elephant in the room with kindness and concern.
After she left, I sat again in silence as the truth of her words settled in my soul. The veil had been lifted. I finally began the process of letting go as I would learn to do time and time again.
There have been times in my life where I have done the same ~stuck my neck out and spoke of the elephant in the room because of this experience. She was brave, caring and wise enough to reach out to me. She helped me be well again physically, spiritually and emotionally by this one simple act of caring. I have at times felt compelled to do the same for others.
I have also learned that this may not always be helpful, but potentially hurtful. A person has to be ready to grab the lifeline and be willing to grab it from you. I continue to learn to navigate the delicate balance of wanting to help but allowing others their journey. My friend was part of my journey but I may not always be part of another’s and I am really OK with that. But, I am very content to pass on running. I think I will go for a walk instead.