Thursday, August 7, 2014

A To-Do List for 2020...from 1992

Sifting through my belongings, I found writing from my elementary school days. In the fifth grade, I received a writing prompt that asked where I would be in the year 2020, which was 28 years away.  The following is what I chose to write: 
"In the year 2020 a.d., I will be married with 5 children. Their ages will be 10, 12, 14, 16, 18. I will probably have 2 boys 3 girls.
I will be a very busy person. I will be a Girl Scout leader Mondays from 5:00 - 6:00 p.m. and I'm a 4-H leader on Fridays also. I teach piano lessons Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Wednesdays I'm an assistant coach for the girls' high school basketball team. Like I said, I'm a very busy person.
I also work for a very famous company. I am secretary and work from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. week-days I make $255,000 a year. I will be living in Omaha, Nebraska by the Missouri river.
Since I don't work on week-ends, that is when we have family outings. Occasionally, we might go down to the river and take a dip. And sometimes in the winter, we'll go down to Colorado for a ski week-end.
Some people think I am free-spirited and young for 39. The also think I look young for 39, also.
I would like to add that around my home, the air is fresh, the sky is blue and the grass is green.
This may not happen to me, but this is what I hope will happen to me in the year 2020 a.d."

First of all, the five kids? With specific ages and genders? Those five ships have pretty much sailed. Secondly, you can guess my childhood activities: Girl Scouts (yes, they were on Mondays), piano lessons (Tuesdays), 4-H and basketball. I'd love to find a company that can afford $255K for a secretary - which I think might be a bit steep, even if inflation balloons in the next few years. I have no idea why I decided to locate myself in Omaha, Nebraska, unless I had recently researched it prior to the prompt. I'm not sure about taking dips in the Missouri, but I like the idea of occasional trips to Colorado, even if I've never skied. 

I love the fact that I'll be a "free-spirited" and youthful-looking 39.  

On a more serious note,  I'm not as far off from what my 11-year-old self envisioned. My environment is beautiful - fresh air, blue sky, and green grass. Occasionally, I wade into the Sebasticook River, I'm involved in a few agricultural organizations and I help coach the softball team. I worked as a secretary once, at about a tenth of the salary. I learned it wasn't for me, though.

I knew when I grew up that I wanted to be involved in my community and surround myself with loved ones while living a balanced life. As an adult, I'd almost start with the free-spirited part, because right now my success is defined internally, with minimal measurement on the outside.

So today, in 2014, where do I see myself in 2020?

In 2020, I see myself as a confident young woman, looking to improve herself a little more each and everyday. Professionally, I plan to be a published writer, with possible income supplementation from working as a teacher. I see myself in a much healthier body, physically and emotionally.  Maybe I am married or in a committed relationship with a man who has kids, or we adopt kids, or maybe we decide not to be parents ourselves.  Regardless, I expect to be involved in the community, especially with youth sports.  I see myself participating in numerous 5K walks/races to raise funds for a variety of causes. If I'm incredibly lucky, I'll still be butting heads with my mother about the cows, or worrying that she is doing far too much manual labor. Finally, I want to be maintaining friendships with my lifelong friends, sharing joys with them and helping heal during the sorrowful times, too. If finances allow, I'll travel and enjoy new experiences. If finances aren't so bountiful, I will stay put...and find new experiences to enjoy.

I suppose I could write a more detailed outline of where I will be and how I will get there, yet that has never been my style and I am pretty happy with the person I am and most of my style. It's the free-spirited part that I can work on, and I'm happy 11-year-old Me reminded the 33-year-old me of that.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Savoring Softball Success

The conclusion of the 2014 softball season was a bit surreal from my perspective as an assistant coach - and maybe for the players as well. For the first time since 1993 (before any of the players were born), our team won the state championship.  I wish I could write a play-by-play recap of one of the two greatest games in school history. Alas, I was in Texas for a family event I committed to before the season started.

Could I write that we knew from the beginning the team would be hoisting the gold glove trophy in June? No.  The most encouraging part of our pre-season round robin scrimmages was being able to take the entire team to Olive Garden without incident. The coaching staff approached the scrimmages with the hope of answering questions about our defense, but instead we walked away with even more unanswered. Looking at the first four games of our schedule, our head coach said he'd be elated if we had a record of 2-2.

Yet the pieces came together, and quicker than most of us anticipated. Apparently the repetitions at the dreaded drills (one player really, really wanted to throw the pitching machine into the river) paid off for the lineup, as the girls pounded the ball consistently and outscored their first two opponents 35 to 2. Defensively, the team responded well to changes and accepted the roles given to them.

Ultimately, our two "secrets of success" were our seniors and our coach.  Our group of six seniors played with and for each other better than any group of seniors I have seen before. Their junior year molded them for their playoff run this year after an unexpected run to the state final last year. After winning the eastern regional championship this year, one player remarked, "I'm not satisfied."  It was clear they were ready to win the state title and weren't just grateful for the opportunity to play.

As for our head coach, he is simply one of the greatest Maine high school softball coaches of all time. I could list statistics to back that statement up (and okay, I'm biased), but there is more to Lee Johnson than winning games, championships, and implementing a program that's seen multiple players compete beyond high school. He is not satisfied with finding one approach that works and sticking with it. He attends clinics and watches hours of video to find different drills and strategies to help his team and the entire program. He's been called a class act, which is an understatement. When he reported conference all-star voting results to the squad, he didn't say "I was selected Coach of the Year."  Instead, he thanked the girls for helping "us" get "coaches of the year" because the team made us look good.

Most importantly, Lee is a coach who believes in his players and staff, treating them with respect and providing them with a sense of value and importance regardless of their roles.  His approach may not seem "intense" enough to some outsiders, but he tailors it to the players on his squad, pushing when he needs to push but also giving free rein when necessary.

Despite the elation at seeing the girls reach their goal, there is a sadness that lingers within me as the seniors graduate and move on. The state championship was not accomplished in merely one season with this team. Years of preparation and dedication contributed to the team dynamic that allowed them to be successful. Their hard work yielded results that in turn will sow another seed for area youth, as ten- and twelve-year-old girls begin their journey together.  The road may not be the same, but hopefully they will reach the same destination.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I am a camel...

I try not to complain about the weather, but this winter has been rough. The storm we just had in Maine is the straw that literally broke my back. Okay, so "broken" may be a slight exaggeration of the intense knee-buckling pain that fires across my back when I stand up, sit down, turn, attempt to walk, breathe, or use any part of my lower back.  It will heal, almost certainly before the first crocus pops up in the early spring sun. Still, I don't know if I can handle another storm, physically or mentally, until 2015.

Normally, with a pulled back muscle I deal with the pain and after a few days, things are back to normal. In addition to the pain this time, however, is the fact that I am primary caregiver for my grandfather, my mother as she recovers from shoulder surgery, a hyper dog, a finicky cat, one temperamental house rabbit and 17 Simmental beef cows. Timing could not be worse - there is an awful lot of snow that needs to be moved.

Although I am begging Mother Nature for mercy, and feeling miserable for not being able to perform the tasks that I should, I try to see the positive in my situation. I hate the feeling of being dependent on others; I wish my cousin didn't have to put out round bales for the cattle and the neighbor didn't have to navigate treacherous roadways late in the evening to feed our bull and steer in the barn. Yet, I'm sure the opportunity will arise when I will be able to help them. It's the cycle of community, through good weather and bad.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Facebook Rehab

I recently decided to "take a break" from Facebook, and deactivate my account. Deactivating one's account is perfect for commitment-phobes like myself since it retains information so when I decide to return (and I'm fairly certain I will) I will still have photos, friends, etc.

So yet again, I have begun the Facebook detox cycle. First, I became frustrated/disillusioned/bored/accomplished the highest level of my game-of-the-week and felt it would be a good time to detach myself from Facebook and spend my time more...intelligently.

Step 1: I deactivated my account on Sunday evening. I know myself well enough to realize this is likely a phase, so deleting my account would be obnoxious. Simply deactivating the account made more sense. I chose not to post a "warning" to friends since that seems melodramatic and narcissistic.

Step 2: Life without Facebook requires some adjustment.

1 hour Facebook-free: I just opened up my web browser and had to stop myself from automatically going to Facebook.

3 hours FF: I am ready for bed, and only feel slightly tempted to check the site.

12 hours FF: To make it easier to *not* log back in and reactivate my computer, I don't start my computer until later in the morning - and then I am making a conscious effort to focus solely on my email.

Throughout the day, I find myself thinking in "status update" mode...basically, what I would post to Twitter if I had access.

24 hours FF: My mother relays a message that someone thinks I have unfriended her. That was how my mother found out I was "off Facebook."

26 hours FF: Apparently feeling some sort of need to communicate with the outside world, I take to Twitter and tweet three times in an hour. It is the first time I have been on that site in about a month.

38 hours FF: I find myself wondering about the "need" to be on Facebook: like the page I was co-admin for, getting addresses, communicating to family about an upcoming gathering. Yet, I still feel I need to stay off the network.

43 hours FF: My mother asks, "Are you back on yet?!" She posts updates daily...and usually more than one.

47 hours FF: I have weeded through and "read" all of my email in my Gmail inbox. I still need to go through the "Promotions" box, and could clean up the "Social" section, but I've spent a big chunk of time on that today.

48 hours FF: Blogging for the first time in five months!

I'm curious to see how long I can go without logging on to Facebook, and if I do log on, can I limit the frequency and usage of it? We'll see what the next few days have in store.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Hit one mark!

10% down, 90% to go on my Camp NaNoWriMo novel.  I've enjoyed writing so far because I haven't planned out my plot so I look forward to see what my protagonist does today. Now, the key will be for me to stay on track or recover from the change in schedule that will occur over the next few days.

I'll have to take a similar approach with the weight loss plan. I'm down one pound from last week (success!) but I still struggle at the beginning of the week since I feel like I can eat ANYTHING and EVERYTHING rather than trying to pace myself and space out my "bonus points" throughout the week, or towards the end of my week. Needless to say, I get frustrated when I have to stay strictly within my points from Friday through Tuesday!

Overall, I have to say I'm pleased to make forward progress in the priority areas of my life. Now if I could just find a more regular way to pay the bill thingies...

Monday, July 1, 2013

If anyone needs me, I'll be at camp...Camp NaNoWriMo!

I will be hanging out at Camp NaNoWriMo for the next month.  If you are not familiar with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I highly recommend checking it out.  It is a lot of fun to challenge yourself to write 50,000 words in a month. I attempted it in November of November 2011 and achieved a 37,000 word manuscript which I have since built up to 40,000 words and am currently revising. I briefly attempted it in November of 2012, but it didn't take at all.  I am excited about Camp NaNoWriMo because I have a different type of idea and so far I'm interested to see where it can go.

And as for the weight loss struggle, it may still be a struggle, but I have some attainable goals that I hope to accomplish to help me get healthier and accomplish what I want.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Random ramblings...wait, is that redundant?

I have completely regressed to high school.  I told myself I would blog today and I just sat down to start with 47 minutes left in the day. I have no plan, no outline, not even a single thought as to what I could blog about - just completely winging it. 

This method of writing is one I have employed since I was about nine years old.  Homework assignments were always completed at the last minute - up until my last homework assignment in college. It's amazing that my GPA hovered around the 3.15 mark, given the incredible lack of effort I contributed. Of course, it could also be considered disappointing if you look at it from the perspective of unrealized potential. 

Anyway, tomorrow is Monday, and I'll be starting Camp NaNoWriMo - basically attempting a 50,000-word novel in 31 days.  I'm also hoping my latest attempt at WeightWatchers starts to sink in, too, because I haven't regularly tracked my food in almost two weeks, since I joined. Eesh.