Sunday, June 21, 2009

Gotta Have Game Time

Gotta Have Game Time

Fundamentals are so important. Basic skills of a sport laying the foundation of good play should be studied and practiced. However, they cannot be perfected unless there is some game time. Little Junior has had somewhere around 14 years of sports experience (and therefore Mom has had 14 years of sitting-in-the-stands-watching experience). I’ve noticed there can be holes in both the foundation of fundamentals and the perfection of skills if there is an imbalance of training and game time. I’ve seen kids thrown in the game without training of fundamentals. They typically emerge with bad habits that either (1) limit their abilities (2) hinder their progress or (3) set them up for injury of themselves or others. Conversely, I have seen kids practice fundamentals over and over, taking lessons, doing drills without being given much game time. They (1) get discouraged and quit every sport they try or (2) get so nervous in the game that they forget their skills and end up out of the game…..again.

Relationships are much the same. You have to have, “game time.” To perfect lessons learned and skills developed, you have to get in the game and allow yourself to play through the stress. The game shows our gaps and the gaps of the opponent. The game is fluid….it’s always changing and causes you to tinker with your skill and style at a second’s notice.

As The Man and I have reached the place where we are thinking of ourselves as a couple and not just “hanging out,” I have been surprised that all of the bad habits I have “gotten over,” start to reappear. This reappearance (much like the reappearance of a once thought dead soap star) has alarmed me and has set the stage of a few tense moments in the past few weeks. Listening skills I knew were perfected seemed to float out the window in the heat of a debate, encouraging words disappear from my vocabulary, once eradicated expressions of, “fine” and “whatever” have reappeared with a vengeance.

What has happened? Why have I reverted to old relational habits? I have been practicing, learning, trying……… why are they back?

After a conversation with The Man about soccer….it hit me. He was talking about kids and sports and the need for game time. The Man spoke of the importance of playing under the stress of a game and how it changes everything. Split decisions have to be made - - last second modifications based upon the other player have to be done. He said that nothing can compare to the lessons learned in the game.


It’s not that I haven’t learned new habits…….it’s not that I haven’t changed my playing style……however, I need “game time” to perfect those skills (as does he). The stress of a relationship - how much time is spent together, unmet or unrealistic expectations, hurt feelings, differences of opinions….all these things put into practice the lessons we have learned. Sometimes we will fail…..sometimes the old habits will come back.....sometimes the game is just hard….. If we take our toys and move on….if we quit playing…if we give up…..our skills will never be perfected. It takes time….but in the words of my horse trainer, Linda Black…..”I take the time now so that I don’t have to the time later.” In other words, if I allow myself extra time now (even if it is inconvenient) to work through issues and not sweep them under the rug, they will not keep reappearing…..getting bigger and bigger and bigger. Quite the converse! If The Man and I take the time now to work through issues that come up in our relationship in a healthy way, those issues will get smaller and smaller and smaller until they are but blips on our radar.

Besides……it’s much more fun to play the game than merely practicing our skills or watching others play!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Stories Like These....

Last weekend, I was in Albuquerque for a wedding….. My girlfriend’s son (who is my daughter’s age by the way) was getting married. Of course, I was feeling quite old as I have watched him grow up since he was a goofy, lanky red-headed 11 year old……

I arrived on Thursday afternoon and the final countdown for the wedding was underway. There were still outfits to buy, presents to wrap, relatives to entertain, and last minute changes to consider.

Of course with that…….their great dane was at the animal hospital (she had gotten bitten by something and had a severe allergic reaction), their oldest son (a groomsman in the wedding) had gotten food poisoning and had to go to the ER, a grandfather fell of the step at the wedding, outfits didn’t fit quite right……and other miscellaneous drama that is too complicated to mention... There were times when I looked over at my friend and admired how much grace and beauty she was showing under all the stress. At one point she looked at me and wondered how she was going to get through the day as crisis after crisis appeared. In a moment of inspiration, I told her, “stories like these make for good memories.”

The second the words fell off my lips, I knew that I was, “onto something.” Perspective…. I love that word…perspective. In the midst of transition, crisis, stress, change, we can decide how the events affect our lives……will they stifle us, make us bitter, cause fear or be seen as an opportunity for the next story to share? Will we cower in fear of the next crisis because we feel like we can’t take ONE MORE THING…or will we play with the hand dealt with grace and joy. Will we add it to the list of “what is wrong with our lives,” or will we learn from our mistakes and move onward.

When I was 12 years old, I lived 4 blocks from our elementary school. My best friend and neighbor, Susan, and I would ride our bikes to the school all summer, play on the playground, learn new bike tricks and generally entertain ourselves for hours. The driveway for the school was a large hill. At 12 years old, the hill grade seemed akin to Pike’s Peak. We would fly down the hill, riding our 10 speed bikes with no hands…no feet…..wind in our hair, laughing…….

On one such ride, I was talking with Susan and laughing - riding no hands and no feet, practicing my steering by leaning one way or the other. I didn’t notice a small ramp placed in the middle of the school drive. My bike hit the ramp and I was launched through the air in slow motion. I landed on the asphalt and skidded for what seemed like miles on my left leg. My wound was atrocious…..I had to walk my bike home and could barely walk. The scars from my wipeout are still visible 28 years later.

This week, while remembering the events that summer, I asked myself, “Did it stop me from riding my bike?”.….No… “Did I get fearful every time I got on my bike?”…..No. “Do I explain to everyone around me while riding my bike that I was a skateboard ramp victim and am working through my fears?” Heck No!!! What did I learn from the accident? I learned to PAY ATTENTION… be more aware of my surroundings….to still throw caution to the wind and ride with joy while understanding that there can be dangers ahead.

Our stories shape us, teach us, impact us……..but they are simply that…..stories. Our collection of life stories are what give our lives color….what makes us unique. To latch on to one story and forget the rest is a grave injustice to the beauty of our lives. Embrace the trials, share your successes, laugh, cry…….and when the rain pours down, let it wash over you……while splashing though the puddles in your pink galoshes.