A Little Word Therapy

The two most common questions I get asked are, “What happened at your sports club?” and “Why did you leave so abruptly?”

Those are good questions that I can’t say I am removed enough from in order to answer thoroughly.  I have my theories, and my hurt heart guiding me, and that’s not fair, but I need to work through this because I realized this last weekend that people are still talking about it, and that bothers me.  So, here it goes:

What happened?

I know that there were parents that accused my husband and me of using money from the youth team’s registrations to fund the High School teams.  I know that there were parents that thought we also only supported the High School/older teams and not the youth.  I also know that wasn’t true. These same parents decided to lynch us for these rumors.  Do I care to rehash it all? Nope.  It’s a dead horse.  I know we had a family that I thought was managing the youth teams really well, and that I trusted.  Unfortunately, they left over a donation disagreement.  The only other thing I will say is that there is a lot that you have to do differently when you have a sports club that plays for a school district when that sport is not CIF.  You can’t charge money for your players to play because of AB 1575 (This bill prohibits a pupil enrolled in a public school from being required to pay a pupil fee, as defined, for participation in an educational activity, as defined, as specified. At Fallbrook high school, this extends to club sports that are played using the high school name, fields, mascot, etc).  You can request a donation, but it has to be completely voluntary with no repercussions of nonpayment. We never turned a player away. I’ll leave that right there.

The thing is, we were just 2 people that volunteered. What started as making meals for a team turned into managing registration for the entire club. What started as running water for another team, turned into keeping the books for the whole club.   What started as just wanting to help, turned into managing a club, and that club grew way too fast to over 300 members. We were 2 people.  Yes, we asked for help, and yes, we got it for some things.

The club existed before we even moved to town, and while there were coaches leading the players, no one ever really stepped forward to lead the club.  Parents were picking up random responsibilities here and there and doing what they could until one day, my husband and I had a meeting with the coaches and discussed applying for a 501c3 certification with the thought of applying for non-profit grants in the future to help ease the monetary burden.  It was a long journey that my husband and I traveled on our own while maintaining all of the other volunteer duties we had picked up along the way.  We consulted attorneys, we attended webinars, we read, and read again on the correct steps to take, on how to do this for our club.  Then one day, we got this little post card in the mail.  We did it!  We gained a 501c3 status for the club!  It was an awesome day!  We called the coaches and had a little celebration on our back porch! This happened in the middle of a season, so we didn’t make anything formal or official because we weren’t ready.

Then the new season began, and we lost one of our major contributing youth families.  There was an argument earlier the previous season about soliciting vendors to sponsor practice shirts for our youth teams when the club had outstanding bills from previous seasons to pay.  They left on a bad note, and it’s too bad, but it happened.  Unfortunately, the sour taste that it created stuck around.  When the new season began, we had big plans to announce the new status and have board elections and do all this wonderful fundraising.  We were looking forward to working toward buying new jerseys for the entire club from U8 – U18 in a matching design so people knew we all belonged together.  The youth parents had other plans, and refused to participate in a very vocal and hostile manner.

Why did you leave so hastily?

I walked away because I was angry.  I walked away because I was deeply hurt and I was not going to spend another second of my life working so hard for people I didn’t feel appreciated anything I was doing. I walked away because I didn’t enjoy it anymore.  But mostly, I walked away for my family.

We love the sport we were representing.  We love the philosophy, and the family that lives in this sport, and it didn’t exist in the group of people we were working for.

I was accused of things I don’t even want to think about, so I walked away after devoting 5 solid years of my life to this club.  We worked for this club all year long, even in the off season. We planned vacations around game schedules, and club events.  It was engrained in our lives as part of us.

Was there a formal investigation by the new board?  Yes.  Did they find any of the accusations to be true? Nope.  Did they publicly apologize after so publicly smearing us?  Nope.  Do I care?  Not anymore.

I learned a lesson to the extreme, and I will never volunteer again.  My heart was ripped out and stomped on, and it has taken me almost a full year to even feel comfortable going to a game to watch my own child play.

I am happy for the current board members.  I am glad they can be at peace with what it is they are doing.  The eight of them are not doing anything different than the three (including coach) of us did. There are just more of them and the other parents are happier with the fact that it’s not me.  I’m fine with that.  I’m glad it’s not me too.  I hope that they appreciate the work that was put into getting them where they are today, and I wish them nothing but the best.

The only thing I ask is that when someone asks what happened, I hope that they take a good long look at the entire situation and their involvement (or lack thereof), and that they are truthful and don’t let personal feelings interfere when they tell what really happened.  I also wish that those that don’t really know what happened, just stop speculating and perpetuating the beast.  It’s over.  Move on.  I have, now.

Words that affect the rest of your life

With November deadlines fast approaching, we are in the midst of frantically filling in college applications and editing what we hope are killer essays written by our oldest son.  It is stressful.  Stressful might not be a strong enough word.  It is on the verge of being traumatic.  Hopefully we, as parents, will learn from this first experience and be a little better prepared for our middle son to do this in 4 years.

The typical conversation in our house these days goes like this:

Me, “Good morning! Did you finish that (insert college name here) essay?”

Him, “No mom, I’ve only been awake for 10 minutes so far today!”

Me, “Hey kiddo!  Don’t forget to take out the trash!  Hey, have you finished that (insert college name here) essay?”

Him, “No mom, I’ve been at school all day!”

Me, “Good night my love.  Sleep good!  Did you finish that (insert college name here) essay?”

Him, “No mom, I had to study for AP Chem/AP Calc/AP Whatever….”

Me, “Good morning! Hey….”

Him, “No mom.”

Me, “Oh, sorry.”

Him, “No, it’s ok,  I know it’s important.  It just so much.” Then we both cry a little, hug and it starts over again.

Tonight, we finished a big one.  It is scary as hell to think that 1650 words on a screen can decide your fate.  Especially when you are a family of mathematicians.

The perpetual cycle of insomnnniizzz……..

Why does this happen? I’ve been exhausted all day but now that it is time for sleep, my brain is flipped on and those old rusty gears are turning. My body is spent. I can’t even find the energy to walk around. But I can sure imaging walking! Walking in a feathery green field on a slightly slopped hill overlooking a mirrored lake with a pastel pebble shore.

I can imagine what I will wear tomorrow. That royal blue silk dress that has the orange, yellow, and green geometric border at the bottom of the hem that falls right above my very pale knees. I need to put some color on my pasty legs. Sometimes I swear they are so white that they are purple.

Sidetracked.

Sometimes I think that I don’t sleep because I have some sick idea that if I stay up, today won’t end and tomorrow won’t begin. It’s not always on a particularly good day I get this notion either. Sometimes, I just don’t want to face whatever tomorrow has in store for me. Sometimes, I just want to fold inside myself and focus on that little black dot behind my closed eye lids as it dances around in the fluid of my eye. Sometimes, I just don’t want to do this thing – whatever it may be.

But I do. I do it. I do it every day, and I do it with a smile on my face and an incredible amount of hope in my heart. Hope that tonight I won’t want to stay awake. Hope that the little black dot will one day be replaced with a vision of beauty in the darkness. Hope that none of my three kids ever has to fear or resent tomorrow. Then there’s the hope that I wake up.

Good night. I hope.

Then there is that moment where your 16 year old blows your mind

We are filling out college applications in our house.  It’s been a topic of discussion for a year, and now it is happening.  I’ve been a bit of a helicopter parent about it really (sorry son!).

Ian is working on his application to Stanford right now and I am enamored with him even more now than I was before.  If this school doesn’t take him after reading his essays, they are silly.  He is an amazing young man despite the fact that he just can’t seem to remember to take out the garbage.

His grammar is not the best and his sentence structure leaves a lot to be desired, but his thought process…my goodness!  His thought process is mind boggling.  He is banging away at the key board right now and I am anxious to see what he writes next!

I don’t even know how to begin to verbalize how impressed, surprised, and utterly taken aback I am by the intelligence of this child.  It makes me reflect on my own life as a teen and sends a small pang of regret thorough my subconscious for not admitting I was smarter than I acted. I was definitely more talented than I let on to be.  Why didn’t I play to that strength?!?!

I am filled with such hope right now.  Hope that he follows through.  Hope that he is accepted. Hope that he makes it. Not for my benefit, but for his. He has worked so hard and really does live by the philosophy work hard, play hard.  Often times, he is the last one in the house to sleep and the first one awake.  He does this on his own.  We don’t coddle him.  He is usually out the door before I even wake up.  He never forgets to come say goodbye though.  He is amazing.  He is still carrying a 4.0 GPA and is in the top 5% of his class.  He can’t play football because of an injury but he still volunteers his time as a trainer for the team.  He is saving himself for rugby and I know when the season starts, he will leave his heart on that pitch.  He is fun loving, smart, gorgeous, and loves so deeply, that I worry about him a little, but he deserves to be rewarded.

I am so excited to see what happens next.  This boy amazes me.

Ian

The sting of regret so bad it may cause an allergic reaction

Have you ever spent the afternoon redesigning your resume then filling out a multi-question paragraph style on line job application only to click the submit button and watch in slow motion as the dumbest thing you have ever written seems to spiral away on the screen into the lap of the hiring manager. In your heightened state of anxiety, you imagine that the person screening resumes on the other end is just sitting at his or her desk waiting on baited breath as your application instantly pops up on their screen and that they immediately begin to read through your responses. Everything looks great and they are nearing the end and the sound of a halted vinyl record screeches through their head as they read the last entry where you mentioned something about thinking farts are funny.

Yes. I wrote that. Why? Was I having a momentary brain fart (I just cant get away from it)? I don’t know why!!! I was thinking I need to interject some of my non business personality into the application. Why I chose farts, who knows. Farts are funny though. Just sayin.

Angel

What I should have typed was this:
I am the perfect candidate for the position because I am a dedicated service employee. I was recognized by the EPA for outstanding contributions to Storm Water Treatment for planning, and managing a three day conference. Every year for the past three years, I have planed, and managed a one night banquet for three hundred families, and between the months of November and May, every other weekend, I plan, and manage the execution and delivery of meals to over 100 rugby players on a budget of $1.50 per plate. Over the last year, I have been able to streamline the IT hardware procurement process for our nonprofit company, saving ~ $20,000 in returned, damaged, and lost merchandise. I’ve also created a more efficient invoice routing procedure saving the company’s IT department hundreds of dollars in late payments. Instinctively, when I see a system that is not working properly, I begin brainstorming, reorganizing, and experimenting to make it better. I am a list maker and a task master. As part of a larger team of colleagues, I’ve been part of taking over-arching, big picture concepts and breaking them down into workable and manageable parts. My role is as the coordinator, making sure all if the moving parts are working together at the same rate and in the same direction. With a family that is heavily educated in web design, business solutions, and programming, I have resources at my fingertips that most others do not. I am a perpetual smiler and I love to laugh. I don’t find value in assigning blame when things go wrong. My objective is to learn from mistakes and keep moving forward.
Why am I perfect for this job? Because every manager, director, and executive I’ve ever worked with tells me they don’t know what they did before me. I have the ability to make your job simpler and less stressful and I actually enjoy the work. That’s why.

Forgetting my insecurities

I should have said something to the two Marines in Wal-Mart this weekend, but I was scared.  I was insecure about myself and therefore put my daughter at risk.  That is unacceptable.

I am not really sure if they were talking about my daughter when I overheard what they said but even if they weren’t, I should have said something to them.

They were 20 something fairly attractive Marines, if you like the buff, Military look guys, and they seemed to end up in every section of the store we were in.  I was with my husband and daughter; my absolutely gorgeous blonde headed 12 year old daughter who has developed a woman’s body just a little too early for my taste.  She’s also a rugby player, so she is strong and muscular and is mistaken for 15 all the time.

As the two men walked past us for the last time, I overheard one of them say, “If her boobs were a little bigger, she would be perfect.”  They were looking in my daughter’s direction but there were a lot of females in the section, so I couldn’t guarantee they were talking about my daughter.

It doesn’t matter though.  I should have said something.  Instead, I froze.  I froze in disbelief, while stupid things like the fact that I didn’t have make up on and look good enough to yell at them, or that I was too fat and would just be made fun of if I said something.  I was selfish and scared of what their reaction to ME would be instead of defending my daughter.  I looked at my daughter who was happily, and blissfully unaware of the vulgar men that were around her while she helped her dad read the directions in a knitting book to see how much yarn he needed.  I was so glad she didn’t hear them.

By the time I came to my senses, they were gone.  I was so angry.  I was angry at them but more angry at myself.  I couldn’t believe that I had missed an opportunity to correct this wrong and I didn’t take it.

It is scary to confront a stranger and for some women, (me), a male stranger is even more difficult.  I let my insecurities about myself get in the way of protecting my daughter though, and that is what upsets me the most.  I have no answers or no ah-ha moment to give you.  I can only hope that it never happens again, and if it does, that I remember this incident and am strong enough to stand up for my baby girl.

I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t mean it

Someone said something today that made me smile inside.  She said, “I am in awe of your wife all the time.” (She said it to my husband, whom I work with.)At the time, I heard it, but never acknowledged it.  I was busy (as is usual).  Now that I have had an opportunity to unwind though, I am honored.  I hope I remember to tell her thank you tomorrow.It is so important to express to those we admire (for whatever reason) the fact that they inspire us.  It is good for both souls.

It is difficult for women to accept compliments and this year, I am trying very hard to acknowledge compliments and be grateful and appreciative of them and the people giving them.  So many times someone will express how lovely we look and our typical response is “Ugh, I wish I were (insert self depreciating comment here)”, or we feel the need to repay the compliment thereby sounding fake and insincere.  This year, I am trying to change that in myself.

It takes a while to stop the internal recorder and it is very uncomfortable at first, but I am learning to say “Thank you” and mean it.  Eventually, I hope to start to believe the compliments!  Wow!  Imagine that!  Try it!  Take the next week and accept each compliment that comes your way without squirming, counter arguing, or feeling obligated to return a compliment.  It is surprising how you will feel.