Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Does Counting Work for You?

I have had reason in the last 43 minutes to evaluate the efficacy of the "counting to 10" strategy.

It doesn't work.

I hear your *gasps,* but I feel confident in making this assertion and publishing these results. I think that you will agree that my research has been rigorous. I have performed in-depth studies in a variety of trying situations - with teenagers. Particularly teenage girls who tell their teachers that they "have sticks up their butts" and query as to why they need to do the assignment because they "know all this stuff already." Need I say more?

My conclusions? We adults should not feel locked into the professional educator stances of "count to 10" or "love them through it." Oh no. We need to avail ourselves of several strategies.

My strategy of the day? Bug out your eyes in obvious incredulity, sigh, shake your head sadly, and just walk away. It feels oh-so-satisfying.

Recommendations: Try it. You'll like it. Much better than counting to 10.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Brick Done Wisconsin Style

There aren't many days in the year where you could do this brick, but yesterday was one of them. Oh, fortuitous yesterday!

Part I: Cross-Country Ski - 31 minutes.
I laid around until 1PM - a nice lazy start to a sunny Sunday. Once I got off my a$$ though, things happened... My skis snapped on, I hit the trails, criss-crossing the paths of the snowmobilers who were out in force. Amidst the blaring motors, I managed to preserve my life and limbs - and prevent my two dogs from getting their pelts labeled with snowmobile treads. No small feat, I assure you.

Transition: As I was driving home... well, let me paint the scene: the windows are open, dog tongues are flapping saliva all over the sides of the car, and my tunes are blaring. Who wouldn't get the notion that maybe... today... would be... a good day... to .... ride my bike?

Once the idea occured to me, it was a short trip to exchanging my ski boots for bike shoes, pumping up the tires, and hitting the road. Just. Like. That.

Part II: The Bike - 43 minutes, 10.3 miles
The side streets were tetchy. We have pockmarked layers of ice that were half-melted and slushy. But once I reached the main roads, it was smooth sailing to my country roads. Which were divine. I scoped out the first five miles of my commute route, wearing a high-beam smile because I was clipping along at 18-19 MPH.

And then I turned around. Into a fierce, cold HEADWIND. Eeks. Where'd that blame warmth go anyways? I switched to the low-beam smile, tucked my head, pulled my turtle fur neck scarf up over my nose and dug in. You can see the results in my overall average speed. Um, do I confess to this?? ----- 14.3 MPH. *Wince.*

But I will take it. This was my first ride since December.

Aside: My bike trainer remains in the back of the closet still in its original plastic. I purchased it last May. Hmm... think I'll EVER use it? I answer my own question: Not if there's snow on the ground, water in the pool, YakTrax on my running shoes... you get the picture.

The side effect of this brick? I have spring fever! I am positively itching to start my bike commute again. - With or without the ski beforehand.

Tears in Her Mascara

An adolescent girl walks into my classroom.

She is positively devastated. Her eyes are red and puffy, her nose is running. She dabs carefully at her eyes with her Kleenex so as not to smudge her mascara.

I pull her aside and quietly ask her what's wrong.

She can barely speak, and when she finally does, the tears begin again. "First... at lunch... Alison spilled her chocolate milk on my mashed potatoes. But she paid for it and I got a new one so that's all right." *Sniff* Sniff*

"But then just now in the computer lab, I failed my reading test. And everyone was laughing at me."

TT: "What did they say?"

Tears: "They said I should just relax. That I could take it again in three days."

Oh, for the grown-up, makeup wearing, crying-over-spilt-milk, sweet ones...

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Cría Cuervos

Cría cuervos y te pecan los ojos.

You raise crows and they peck out your eyes. - (Uplifting) Spanish proverb

We sit around the kitchen table, warm and toasty, full and satisfied. And deadly serious. The cribbage board is between us, a double elimination tournament is in progress, and I want to win. To eliminate my opponent. I bury my two cards in the crib and lift up my eyes, studying her through narrowed slits.

My mom is still weighing her options. I catch her eye and say what's on my mind, "Mom, I love you, but I want to beat you. I'm competitive."

Her blue eyes twinkle right back at mine, "So am I."

Flashback to July 2007: Paradise Valley Tri

I'm out on the course, grinding up hills, fishtailing through loose gravel, an atheist praying hail marys on the way down. I'm sucking in a vertigo and nausea cocktail. My mouth is wide open, my brow furrowed in concentration, my breathing comes in wheezes. But I will not quit. No, it's not even that I won't quit; I will not give an inch. I will not slow down. I will push.

I know that the second place person is 10 minutes behind me. This is a family and friends triathlon. It would actually be nice of me to slow down and hang with my siblings, cousins, and family friends - some of whom haven't trained a lick, yet come and just gut out the tri. The "competition" is not chasing me.

In fact, I've been intending to let someone else win for two years now.

But I can't slow down. I need to get to that finish line and know that I have not let up for even a second. The world could be empty right now. My vision of what I need to do is crystalline. Fight, tough it out, find my limits. I need to define this triathlete-teacher. Not only by what I do, but how I do it.

I don't slow down. I don't let anyone else win - or even tie with me this year. (DO NOT tell her, but I let Strong Sister tie in 2006.)

Nope, I don't slow down. In fact I PR by three minutes. I have the graciousness to not crow. (Or maybe I just have the brains to figure out that my family will take a scythe to me if I do.)

Flash forward:

Our cribbage game has come to an end. My dad waltzes in to the room. "Well, who's the big winner?"

I open my beak and answer... "Caw! Caw!"

Friday, February 01, 2008

Inner Peace Lives at the Pool

I rotate my shoulder
lay on my side
slip my hand into the water
smoother than a glove
snugger than mittens
sweeter than warmth

I am swimming fast
catching Coach's bubbles
right in the goggles
Amidst all this motion
I am calm

- Almost timeless -

With swimming you have to be
I cannot be reaching
Thrashfests are counterproductive
Swimming speed is counterintuitive

It is in letting go that you move faster.

It is this idea
this centeredness
that I want to remember
to take with me
to apply in all areas of my life.

No matter the furies and flurries
that may surround you,
Inner Peace lives.