I wrote this post about my Thanksgiving several years ago without our kids. Unfortunately, we hardly ever see the children on Thanksgiving anymore. But we do have plans to be together for a week over Christmas. Here’s what I wrote on my first kidless Thanksgiving:
Our first Thanksgiving without our kids. I’m thankful they are with dear friends and their families since they weren’t able to make the trek home this year. Instead of moping around the house feeling sorry about my empty nest, we’re celebrating with our close friends. It was 30 years to the day that I first met them (my husband met the husband through work) and we spent Thanksgiving weekend sailing with them in Santa Barbara.
Here’s to friends and family and creating memories together.
Who are you sharing your Thanksgiving with? What traditions do you share with friends and family?
People around the world are losing loved ones. Now more than ever, take time to tell them that you love them. Don’t wait. I currently have three close friends who have been diagnosed with breast cancer during the COVID-19 closures. How scary is that for them, their families, and friends like me. While on my walk this morning, I thought about how important people are in our lives and how empty it can be without our usual social encounters. I remembered when my husband wanted to talk with a close friend who had cancer. Here’s what I wrote about that five years ago when it happened:
Twice this year… It’s happened. We knew a friend was sick. One was 92 years old. The other was 57.
We wanted to tell them how much their friendship meant to us. But when they got sick, they didn’t want to see anyone. You have to respect that.
“I’ll call and talk to him on the phone,” my husband said about our 57-year-old friend. He never reached him by phone.
Yesterday, we heard from his family that he was in hospice. My husband said, “I’ll write him a letter. I’ll tell him how much his friendship meant.” He immediately sat down and wrote the letter. The last time we wrote a letter like this was to our 92-year-old friend. Family members told us it arrived in the mail the day she died. She never had the opportunity to read it.
My husband ran this letter over to the family’s house. Literally ran because the house is around the corner from us. The brother said thank you. The brother thought it would make him feel good to read it. But, he said, he’s not seeing anyone outside of family.
My husband and I went for a walk. We walked and talked about our friend. This life thing is so fragile. We take it for granted sometimes. When I was 21 years old, I walked across a street and got hit by a truck. It made me realize how uncertain life is. A car almost hit us when we crossed the street last night. I screamed out loud. I can’t help it. It’s residue from my encounter with the pick up truck.
Life goes on. You get married, raise kids, drive kids to swim practice, sit on PTA boards, help with homework and have your own work to do. Pretty soon you can forget how fragile life is.
We finished our walk and returned to our house. The letter my husband wrote to his friend was stuck in our gate, unopened. It could only mean one thing.
Make sure you tell the ones you love — I love you while you have the chance.
Prior to COVID-19 and the weirdness of today — pre my ski accident and subsequent knee surgery — I wrote about the little things in life that matter the most. These thoughts are important today. What I wouldn’t give to get up and go to practice at 5:30 a.m. or have lunch with a friend. If anything these two months sheltering place have taught me to appreciate what I have and love the most. My family and friends — and pets.
The view from our pool makes me happy.
I’m proud of myself today, because I started off the week with 5:30 a.m. practice. I’ve been trying to get up, half-heartedly I’ll admit, for the past month but the comfort of bed is just too much for me at 5 a.m. An extra hour of sleep usually wins out. But, today I did it. I made it to practice on time, began my workout in the dark and found joy in watching the views of the sunrise and pink-hued mountain change color during my workout.
I find a lot of happiness and excitement in the little things in my days. Our lives are made of small moments strung together and if we spend too much time worrying or focusing on the past or future, we miss the little bits of joy in the present.
Happiness is my daughter with her puppy.
Here’s a list of moments that make me truly happy:
Hearing the birds sing early in the morning.
My fourth flip turn during my second 200 at practice this morning. I nailed it.
Having lunch yesterday with a good friend and spending a few hours catching up with our lives.
Noticing that a family member got their dish off the table, into the sink and miracle of miracles—into the dishwasher.
Olive the cat honoring me with her presence and stretching out for a cat nap while I’m laying on my side. I have to be careful not to move, so she doesn’t fall off.
Olive the cat in our back yard.
My kids calling just to talk. They aren’t asking for anything and there’s nothing big going on.
Sitting under an orange tree in my back yard reading a really good book.
Walking with my husband and marveling at the beauty surrounding us on a weekend morning.
Reading a positive comment on one of my articles.
Checking things off my to-do list and feeling productive.
I received an amazing email from one of our former Piranha head coaches, Tim Hill, who is now coaching in Texas. He has some great words of wisdom that in our heated political midterm elections, I think are important for all of us to read–regardless which “team” you’re rooting or fighting for. He’ll be sharing his thoughts–and a SwimSwam article of mine–with his team. I think his thoughts about gratitude and our common goals are worth posting for more people to read, too.
I’m grateful to swim in a beautiful pool with my team.
Monday, November 5, 2018
Family & Friends,
Last night I stayed awake (probably because I hadn’t worked out physically in three to four days, which is never good for me) thinking about all that is going on in our world/country, and my daily environment of working with a great cross-section of people, and most importantly our young people. Coming back from a 2.5 hour Senior meet where each of the swimmers did something well, I realized it wasn’t perfect, but I saw progress of young people engaged and challenging themselves. (I went with a small group of five before our hosted Shark meet of 600 swimmers & many parents/volunteers.) I walked away feeling good and that we’re all making progress in our daily lives of living and getting better.
Then after a conversation with some neighbor friends on values and our political system struggles, I read this short piece below from a former swim parent/board person that got me thinking along with watching a Train Ugly video on how our brains can change and how we can continue to learn to have a “Growth Mindset” (I’ll post more next week about it). So, I want to share some thoughts, which are at times difficult for me to put in writing, but I thought it can‘t hurt. Then read “5 Ways Parents (people) Can Handle Conflicts” and see how it might fit into our daily living exchanges.
Here are my thoughts:
Think how grateful we can be every day for so much good in our lives. We are truly blessed with so much that’s good that comes our way.
First, I’m grateful for many things in my lifetime journey so far, most importantly my lovely partner for 41+ years, Shayla—whose strong faith and belief in all mankind being equal is so inspiring. Second, our families/siblings who bring so much laughter, love and joy to our lives, even when we don’t always agree on some issues. Also, I’ve had the good fortune to travel the world in my coaching career, experiencing many different people/cultures, plus working/sharing with some great staff, parent groups and yes—young people of all ages. The one common theme is there are more caring, wonderful people in this world and a great deal of positive things going on that happen every day. Our constant news cycle doesn’t seem to cover that as much, but rather the power struggles that are front page news based on he/she said that it make it appear things are horrific (which as history has shown has always existed before our 24-hour news cycle brought it to the forefront daily.)
Yes, we all face different challenges, some that don’t work out the way we’d like or believe in. We have to decide how we’ll respond to these occurrences. As I like to share/believe – “Change is inevitable, growth is optional.” Keep in mind we all come on to this wonderful planet the same way and are made of basically the same substance. At the end of each day, can we realize that we have a lot in common, want peace, security and the love of our family and some friends while sharing our earth and it’s beautiful creatures and resources?
We are truly blessed with so much that good that comes our way and we should take a minute every day to say and share what are we grateful for.
5 Ways Parents (earthlings) Can Help Handle Conflicts Courtesy: Elizabeth Wickham from SwimSwam
One thing I’ve learned through experience is that when there is an issue that involves our children—and I feel like they’ve been wronged—I need to take a deep breath. And, I let a few days pass. I ask how our kids can settle an issue themselves before getting involved. I’m not talking about something serious where they could be in danger, but other issues like being signed up for events they don’t like or not making it into a higher level group.
Here are five tips to use at the pool and in other areas of your life with coaches, teachers and other parents:
Listen to your kids but do some research. It is possible that there are two sides to the story. If you only listen to your child, you may not have the whole picture. Investigate and find out the other point of view. Then you’ll be in a better position to evaluate if you need to get involved. Often, our kids vent to us but may not want our help.
Take some deep breaths, let time go by and walk or exercise before making a phone call or writing that email. Sometimes things that seem so urgent at the moment won’t be so worrisome after a few days. In many cases, a new issue will take its place.
Don’t lose your temper or you’ve lost. Having an issue about our kids can turn a mild-mannered person into a mama or papa grizzly. Staying calm if you do get involved, will help you get the results you’re seeking.
Have a solution in mind. What is the outcome you want? I had a boss once say that anyone can point out problems—it’s the people with solutions who are rare. I learned from serving on our team’s board that people can complain a lot. After every decision our board made, we got complaints from someone. Sometimes, just listening made the person feel better because people like to be heard.
Understand that you can make the situation worse. This is a sad truth that with our best intentions, we can escalate a small incident into something bigger. Also, by problem solving for our children, we are taking away opportunities for them to learn and grow into independent adults.
What is your best advice for parents when kids are facing a problem?
We had a great weekend and I loved every minute of it. We went to one of my favorite places, Carpinteria, to celebrate a dear friend’s birthday. I was asked to bring a veggie platter and was shocked to find out how many people would be attending the party. But, when I think about how wonderful my friend is — and the close call she had in August — it makes sense that everyone in her life would want to be there.
I enjoyed meeting her mom and sister plus reuniting with the sister I’ve known. They flew out from the East coast. I also enjoyed talking with all the people in her life and marveled at how many friends she has and how they’ve known her for years and years. She’s a good friend to have and I’m honored to be in her number of friends.
She made a joke before blowing out her candles that she knew everyone at the party was afraid she wouldn’t make it to her birthday this year. That is so true. She had passed out while at the gym the last time we were in Santa Barbara. She had a blood clot lodge in her carotid artery and a stroke! She was so fortunate to be here to celebrate this birthday a few short months later. And guess what she did for her birthday? She drove to Las Vegas to ride in an 80-mile bike ride! One of her sisters met her there and after the bike ride, they drove back to Santa Barbara in time for the party!
In addition to spending time with friends, I was able to spend a little time doing my most favorite thing which is sitting on the beach reading a book. Also, we found a cute condo we rented on VRBO that was great. I hope to be back for my friend’s birthday next year, too!
Waffles with the beach dogs where my friend had her birthday party. Photo above is of my dear friend and my daughter, sailing in Santa Barbara.
I wrote this article at my daughter’s last PAC 12 swim meet. I was feeling nostalgic and overwhelmed with all the emotions. It’s so important to be in the moment when you’re spending time with family and friends. We need to remember to put the phone down and truly appreciate the time you have together.
Enjoying a moment in Seattle with my son.
I discovered some profound parenting advice in an online publication called the Montgomery Advertiser in a short column called “Parenting: Teach your teen to live for today” by Tom Tozer and Bill Black, Dads2Dads.
“Slow down, the future is always ahead of you
The future isn’t a destination. It’s not like arriving at school or stopping at the gas station. Your future is composed of intangibles — hopes, dreams and possibilities. The future urges you to keep moving, dreaming, changing and growing. Simply put, the future is that part of life that once you arrive, you’re still not there. No wonder it’s hard to look at and to answer that probing question: What are you going to do with your life?
“Young man, young woman, set your goals but keep them flexible. Evaluate them. Discard those you lose interest in and make new ones. Keep your options open. Now’s the time to try new things, to make new discoveries and prepare for sudden forks in the road. Welcome those sharp curves and U-turns. These detours help you evaluate the direction you’re taking. Relax.
“While you certainly want to set your sights ahead, avoid getting so wrapped up in plotting, planning and pursuing the future that you fail to enjoy the present. The future is a great place to think about, but the present is the best place to be.”
With my kids going through transitions in their lives, from childhood to adulthood, and not knowing exactly the path to what they want to be, I will share this article with them. So much of our lives are spent planning and preparing for the future. But what is the is future? (In reality, we go from point A to point B and that B becomes point A.) We never get into the future. We have the moment we are in and should try to make the most of it.
I do spend a lot of time reflecting on the past and anticipating the future, but I also take time each day to enjoy the now. How do I do that? By enjoying a moment out in my backyard, watering my flowers. Walking around my park each morning before I “start my day.” Spending time being with my friends and family—by putting my phone down.
I took a moment to capture the beauty outside the pool at PAC 12s.
With my mom the past few days, I sat with her and we played hand after hand of cards. We whispered together playing Bingo and Laughter Yoga. (Ha ha ha -Ho ho ho. YAY! was the chant we learned and filled the room with belly laughs.) I stopped my life to be with her and be in the moment. With our son, he stopped his busy life last week to be with us and we enjoyed our moments together—whether we were at the pool watching the meet or taking a day trip to Pike Place Market, downtown Seattle.
A wonderful day with my kiddos.
How do you enjoy the moment and get away from the planning and preparing for the future? “
This past week, I experienced so many emotions, from numb to raw. It was the end of an era for us as our daughter experienced another milestone. I reflected on how much swimming has been a part of our lives. Since she was five and our son eight years old, swimming has been a common thread.
One of the biggest emotions I felt was pride. It’s amazing that through some tough times and disappointments, she stuck with it. Through illness and injury, she doesn’t feel she ever reached her full potential in terms of speed and success. In all honesty, she didn’t swim as fast as she potentially could have. But as far as success, she gained it in leadership, grit, friendships, and hard work. She learned that life doesn’t happen in a straight line upwards from one success to success, or joyous occasion to the next. There are tough times in between to make the good ones count.
Swim moms at the PAC 12 Champs.
Our son was with us and he also felt so much pride in his little sister. He said watching the meet made him realize how much swimming meant to him and how much he’d like to be a part of a team once again. He decided to focus on music and academics and gave up on swimming before college. We were blown away by the races which included the greatest athletes in the world. We watched in awe as American and PAC 12 records dropped right and left at my daughter’s last meet. My son kept saying, “This is amazing that my little sister swims in the PAC 12.” He hadn’t been to a conference championship meet before to watch Katie Ledecky, Simone Manuel or Abbey Weitzeil, to name a few of the amazing athletes competing. Having him stay with us in a hotel room for a few days brought back memories of the many meets we traveled to as a family. I’m proud of him and the kind and considerate person he’s become and felt comforted having him by my side.
Getting ready for the final swim.
I steeled myself against getting too teary-eyed—that’s where the numbness feeling crept in. The only time I had to wipe my wet cheeks was during the last 50 of her 1,650. The final race. I was touched beyond belief at the extent the other team parents went to honor the seniors and the parents—especially the moms. One created the most original, personalized necklaces just for us senior moms which lit up with red hearts pulsing with our daughter’s names and photos included. The rawness came in when I’d have moments of being overwhelmed by trying to keep it all bottled in.
A truly special week, which I’ll never forget. Thank you swimming–for giving our family so many memories together as well as giving us amazing friends.
What recent milestones have you experienced with your family?