David Cassidy “I think I love you”

Every Labor Day Weekend, Mom drove us “downtown” for back-to-school shopping at Frederick & Nelson’s — a massive department store with everything from Steuben glass to rows and rows of different colored threads and Simplicity patterns — and to shop at the Bon Marche´ and Nordstrom.  It was a 45-minute drive from our little town Snohomish to the big city of Seattle.

One year, 1970 to be exact, there was a promotion near the Girls’ clothing department to watch the screening of a TV pilot. Mom and I took a break from trying on dresses, and we sat in a dark empty room with a large screen.Soon, I was to watching in complete fascination about a family singing in their garage who recorded a top 40 hit! Yes, it was the Partridge Family with heart-throb David Cassidy! My mom liked the show too, because of Shirley Jones, who starred in the musicals Oklahoma and Carousel.Once school started, I couldn’t wait to tell my friends about the cool new show that was going to be on TV in a few weeks! But, everyone already knew about it. David Cassidy was on the cover of magazines my friends read, but my mom didn’t allow —  like Tiger Beat, and 16. At my best friend’s house, we practiced singing along to “I Think I Love You” for hours on end. (Click on the title, to hear that phenomenal song!) We turned her fireplace hearth into our mini stage, with toy guitars and a tambourine, and we dressed in white blouses, maroon cords or velvet bell bottoms. We were the Partridge Family! Now that was a TV show. Click to listen to the original happy song —
“C’mon Get Happy!”

RIP David Cassidy. You made an impact on an entire generation of young women. I miss those days of innocence and I’ll miss you and the joy you brought so many.

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A Word of Advice for Sports Parents: “Chill”

 

 

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Our gorgeous Palm Springs pool.

I volunteered a couple hours at my swim team’s big November meet. It’s been three years since I’ve had a swimmer at that meet and the distance of time allows me to look at parents and swimmers through a different lens.

Wow. Do parents ever get worked up watching their kids swim! I observed some parents running around the pool deck, yelling and visibly shaking. I was worried a few would have heart attacks. I acted exactly the same way years ago and I still get nervous and worked up. But I don’t show it as much, anymore. I believe it’s newer parents who are the most anxious because it’s all new to them and confusing. Give them a few years, and they’ll probably relax a bit.

One woman frantically came to the admin tent and said in a panicked voice—bordering on hysteria—“I can’t find my son! I don’t know where he is! Help me find my son!”

My friend, who was running things for the parent volunteers under the tent, asked in a very calm voice, “Please, tell me how old is your son?”

“Twelve.”

“Twelve,” my friend repeated. We managed to keep straight faces. If it was a child of say five or six, there might be a reason for a mom to panic. Well, not a real reason to panic, but the anxiety would be more understandable.

“Do you know where he is supposed to be?” my friend, who is also a psychologist, asked. Her calm approach led me to believe she faces many hyped-up parents in her practice. The frantic mom said he was swimming the 200 fly and she couldn’t find him with her coach or warming up. She asked us to have him paged to report to the admin tent.

“Do you want to give him a little time? If we announce for him to come to the admin tent to meet his mother, he’s going to be embarrassed,” she told her.

“Really? Why would he be embarrassed?” the mom asked.

We didn’t have an answer to that. We had a deck marshal assist the mom walking around the pool deck and into the men’s bathroom to help find her son. I never heard a word after that, so I’m assuming her son made it to his event and back to her side.

Another thing I noticed this past weekend was that the space behind the blocks can get really hectic. That sign that says “Swimmers Only” means just that. It doesn’t mean “Swimmers Only and Me the Swimmer’s Parent Because I’m an Exception to the Rule.” It’s amazing how many parents ignore the sign, have to be told to leave the “Swimmers Only” area and a few want to argue about it. Once again, it’s interesting to look at this from a distance, when a few years ago, I was the one trying to stand behind the blocks with a water bottle and towel for my kids.

I’m reminded of advice I received from Ref Paul on more than one occasion, “Relax, have fun. It’s just a swim meet.”

 

 

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The pool deck during a meet with the “Swimmers Only” area behind the blocks.

 

Why do you think we get so worked up over our children’s athletic performances?

 

 

 

 

 

#SistersInSweat tells young women to keep playing

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During my morning walk, I checked out what was trending on Twitter and saw that #SistersInSweat was up there. It turns out it’s a hashtag and video created by Gatorade featuring tennis superstar Serena Williams with her baby girl.

You can find it on twitter under the hashtag, but if you’re not a Twitter fan, here’s a link to the emotionally moving video.

Some of the phrases that caught my attention were:

“Sports will teach you to be strong.”

 

“You’ll discover the power and grace of your body.”

 

“You’ll learn to move and you’ll learn to move others.”

 

“Keep playing.”

 

This is a great video to empower young women, and in my humble opinion, playing sports is helpful for everyone — boys, men and middle-aged women like myself, included.

Since it’s Thanksgiving week, I’ve been thinking about what I’m grateful for in my life. Today I was writing an article for SwimSwam.com about gratitude and came up with a list of all the ways the sport of swimming has impacted our family in a positive way. Then after watching the #SistersInSweat video, it really put in perspective how swimming and participating in a lifelong sport has shaped my daughter. She’s strong, sometimes scary, confident, understands what it is too put in hard work. She appreciates the rewards but also understands that life offers her no guarantees. Yes, all of that was learned and experienced in the pool. My son also learned those lessons in the pool and although he’s not swimming, he has a love of fitness and works out and has developed an interest in “erg.”

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My daughter in her “Girl Power” cap getting ribbons and medals and an attaboy from Coach.

I believe we need to follow our passions and that participating in youth sports can help our kids learn many life lessons. Also, if it’s music, art, theater, writing—whatever they love–can do much of the same, except for the physicality part. There’s something to be said for feeling physically strong, for being fit and carrying on healthy habits throughout your life.

One of the things Serena Williams says is there are many reasons to quit. And there are. I have seen very few kids stick with swimming all the way through four years of college. In fact, I’ve read a study from National Alliance for Youth Sports that 70 percent of kids quit organized sports in the U.S. by age 13. Their number one reason for quitting is that it’s no longer “fun.”

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Why do you think sports empower young women?

Finding balance as a parent in the new age of social media

 

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Before social media was a “thing.”

Today in USA Today, there is an article with practical, sound advice for parents about kids, smartphones and social media. In “When should a kid get their first smartphone? And other parenting questions of the social media age” Brett Molina interviews Scott Steinberg, author of the book Parenting High-Tech Kids: The Ultimate Internet, Web, and Online Safety Guide.”

 

“You really need to help give kids the training and insights they need to make better decisions and to let them know they have safe places to turn when they need assistance, insight or help,” he said.

Meanwhile, kids are getting their first smartphone at younger ages. A 2016 study from research firm Influence Central found the average age for getting a first smartphone is 10.3 years old, down from 12 in 2012.

“We’ve got entire generations of kids who are growing up now with smartphones, online apps, and technology that is second nature to them. But we’ve done preciously little to prepare them for life in an always online and connected world,” Steinberg said.

One of the questions that Sternberg answered was, “If you had one piece of advice for parents about kids and technology, what would it be?” His answer was that we should be just as involved in our kids’ social media lives as all other aspects of their lives. I never thought of that before, but it makes sense because more and more of our children’s communication is done online. They chat with their friends, share thoughts and secrets–all online. They communicate through email with teachers. We should know what they are doing and who they are “hanging out” with.

Should we intrude on their online presence? It’s not their diary, but it’s something they are potentially sharing with the rest of the world. I was surprised to find out that one of my kids had tweeted a few things that were less than appropriate. This fact was pointed out to us by the swim coach. I was furious and embarrassed. At the time, I didn’t know how to use Twitter, or Instagram, or whatever other social media my kids were using. I only knew Facebook. It was a good lesson that my child learned before it was too late and real damage was done. I decided to keep an eye on what they were posting and got up to speed on the various platforms. Even the nicest kids may not understand what won’t look great to a future college coach, admissions or a boss. Sternberg said parents should do their homework and learn what apps their children are using.

My kids didn’t grow up with smartphones and I’m thankful for that. They got their first smartphones as teens. Often, I think our lives would be greatly improved if we tossed the smartphones out and returned to regular old phones that make phone calls and text only.

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I liked it when life was less complicated and smartphones didn’t exist.

 

When do you think kids should get smartphones and how involved do you think parents should be in our children’s social media lives?

 

 

 

How ballet and swimming are eerily the same

 

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My daughter didn’t want to be a ballerina. She wanted to swim!

There was a period of time in my life when I danced. I was as passionate about ballet as my daughter is about swimming. Today I had lunch with a fellow Catholic school mom, who not only was a mentor to me with two older children in our school, but she was one of my ballet instructors, too. I haven’t talked to her for what seems forever–except for a chance meeting at the grocery store.

Her life forever changed when my husband was urging me to put away my computer and go to work with him. I confessed to my mentor/ballet teacher that I wanted to write, not work as a stockbroker. We were sitting across the long tables in the school gym at some parent meeting.

“I’ll do it!” she said. I looked at her in disbelief. She was a former Broadway dancer, a soloist in the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular and a former ballerina. Why would she want to enter into the financial world? But she did it. She went to work in my husband’s office and I went on with writing.

But what a mistake I made. I lost my ballet class. A special time in my life when my kids were both in elementary school, I spent several days a week in the dance studio with Elyssa, my teacher. There weren’t many of us, but it was a wonderful group. I told her today that it reminds me of my Masters swim group.

Here are a few things that ballet and swimming have in common:

• While you’re working out you do keep an eye out to see what everyone else is doing.

• We have great conversations with our instructor and each other (yes, we do in Masters, too, with a firm reminder by our coach to “keep moving” if the chat lasts too long while we linger at the wall.)

• We became a close-knit group in ballet class and were supportive of one another—just like my Masters group. We had a bonding moment at the start of class while we laid on the floor stretching. That’s when we could talk and share what was going on in our lives.

• Like Masters, we had a warm-up, went through some drills (combinations at the barres) and then the main set in the pool, or in ballet class when put the barres away and move to the center.

• In ballet, we ended with jumps, just like we end with a short kick set in the pool. Then the reverence to end the class reminds me of the warm down laps before I push myself out of the pool.

• Both swimming and ballet are very physically demanding and challenging. They both require a lot of inside the brain time, too—and they offer a release and an escape from all the other stuff going on in one’s life.

Interesting that I’ve realized I’m dancing in the pool. I haven’t changed that much after all, except I’ve found swimming is better for my knees.12745503_10209017757384931_7005852646538628157_n

What type of exercise do you find the most rewarding and how does it make a difference in your life?

What is resilience and how do our kids get some?

 

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Resilience can be learned at the pool.

 

re·sil·ience
rəˈzilyəns
noun
1. the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
“the often remarkable resilience of so many British institutions”

2. the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.
“nylon is excellent in wearability and resilience”

I’ve read several articles about resilience in the last few days and it is interesting to learn why some people bounce back after defeat or failure while others collapse. It’s also enlightening to learn how parents can help their kids become more resilient. It reminded me of a conversation with therapist friend, Nicolle Walters, R.N., PH.D., Clinical Psychologist. She said “I know it sounds contrary or strange, but kids who come from dysfunctional families and had to take care of themselves are more equipped to deal with everyday problems, compared to kids who had parents who did everything for them.”
For more of my interview with Nicolle read “The Instant Gratification Generation and Helicopter Parents” here.

That thought process is reflected in a Wall Street Journal article called “The Secrets of Resilience” by Meg Jay. Here’s an excerpt:

“What does it take to conquer life’s adversities? Lessons from successful adults who overcame difficult childhoods

“Does early hardship in life keep children from becoming successful adults? It’s an urgent question for parents and educators, who worry that children growing up in difficult circumstances will fail to reach their full potential, or worse, sink into despair and dysfunction.

“Social scientists have shown that these risks are real, but they also have found a surprising pattern among those whose early lives included tough times: Many draw strength from hardship and see their struggle against it as one of the keys to their later success. A wide range of studies over the past few decades has shed light on how such people overcome life’s adversities—and how we might all cultivate resilience as well.”

I don’t mean to say that we’re failing our kids by caring for them and creating positive, stable environments. No, I think that will help them become positive and caring people. But, if they haven’t faced any problems or adversity, it may be a wake-up call when they do. In “Raising Resilience: Parenting Tips that Go the Distance” a blog by Julie Gowthorpe, PH.D. in Hitched, she writes about “how to better prepare your child for the ups and downs in life, it’s good to let them experience struggle.” She has several practical tips you can read in her article here. In addition, I’ve quoted a bit of her article:

“Every loving parent wants childhood to be a positive experience for their kids. When it comes to parenting however, only focusing on the positive is problematic because it derails children’s ability to develop resilience. Resilience, the ability to bounce back from adversity, is extremely important when teens move off to college and face problems independently.

“Since many young people seem armed with a sense of self-importance and confidence, they present as able to conquer any challenge. Unfortunately, high rates of anxiety, depression and even suicide attempts in college-age students indicate that this is not the case.

“Deluded by the belief that children should be protected from uncomfortable feelings (such as disappointment and sadness), some parents and school systems have completely undermined teaching the importance of work ethic and perseverance. The importance of learning to ‘try and try again’ has been left behind for ‘everyone gets a trophy just for being you.

“The problem with the latter is that it breeds entitled thinking patterns and disrupts learning the natural link between effort, skill and success. Without understanding natural outcomes, later-age teens can be psychologically devastated when they experience failure. With no tolerance for the emotional discomfort, it is no wonder that their mental health spirals and academic success suffers.”

I look at my kids’ lives and they both struggled more in college than I’d expected. They were coddled pretty much at home, by me. But, I do believe they faced challenges in their own ways and weren’t completely without experiencing failure during their formative years. Also, I firmly believe competitive swimming helped them learn the life lessons of hard work, not giving up, shaking it off after a failure and getting back on the blocks to reach their goals. They both have grit, which I think is related to resilience. If they truly want something, they don’t give up in their pursuit.

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My daughter giving it her all in the 1,650 despite having the flu at PAC 12s.

 

How do you view resilience in your own lives?

Puppy Love’s One Year Anniversary

 

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Waffles, our 12-week old pug.

A year ago, we adopted the cutest little boy pug Waffles. He was a Christmas present for our daughter, but I fell totally in love with him. I got the tough few months of potty-training, getting up in the middle of the night to get him outside–plus dealt with the constant chewing. Now he’s living life with my daughter and is loved by her Swim Team, has his own Instagram, Wafflezworldwide, and has gotten more than his fair share of attention on the twitter account WeRateDogs.

Here’s what I wrote last year about our new pup:

I think we bit off more than we can chew! We thought it would be nice for our daughter to have a companion in the form of an animal. She’s out of state in college and busy with academics plus D1 swimming, and for some hair-brained reason, we thought a puppy would bring a lot of joy and fun into her daily life.

She asked permission of her landlord, and even though her lease says “no pets,” he agreed to a small dog. We decided the puppy would be a present for Christmas.

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Waffles turns into a pancake when I try to walk him.

Our daughter wanted a pug and thinks they are so cute. They are. I’ll agree to that. We looked into suitable breeds, and besides the two negatives of snoring and shedding, pugs appear to be an easy going breed requiring very little care.

But the puppy thing. I’m on day five and I think puppy is winning the battle. It’s like having an infant again. I have to watch him constantly. He doesn’t sleep through the night, and when he’s crawling on his belly through the yard, I never know what is going to end up in his mouth. I knew we were in for trouble when we drove Waffles home for an hour and a half drive. He was squirming all the way, nipping and licking my neck and fingers. Finally, as we drove into town he fell asleep. That’s what my son would do in his car seat during long drives.

I’m crate training, potty training and my daily life suddenly got very busy and tiring. Why we think our daughter can handle this is beyond me. Of course, she does have youth on her side. And Waffles is so darn cute!

 

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Olive the cat is not sure about any of this. What did we do???

More recent photos of Waffles:

 

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Waffles on “WeRateDogs @dog_rates”

 

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Waffles and the Women’s Swim and Dive Team.

 

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Waffles first birthday.

 

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Waffles at work.