They Were Better

I’ve talked about my daughter before, but I’m going to give you a few relevant facts so that everyone is up to speed.

  1. Very hard working and strong work ethic
  2. Wants to be a lawyer
  3. Co-Captain of her high school law team
  4. Very competetive

In the winter/spring, the law team competes in mock trial.  The teams are assigned a case, and the students research the case and act as lawyers and witnesses and compete against other teams.  There is a great deal of work involved in being on a team such as this: she probably puts in a minimum of 20 hours a week when they are prepping. (on top of the other responsibilities she has) So this is a fairly large commitment.

So, a few weeks ago they competed.  And while their defense team won, their prosecution lost.  I knew how much she wanted to win, so I told her that I was sorry that they lost.  And her response was simple:  “It’s Ok.  They were just better than us.”

She didn’t blame her teammates.  She didn’t say the judge was biased.  She didn’t complain about their mentor law firm (who really did let the team down- but that’s a whole other story) She just said that the other team was better.  She said that her team was well prepared, that everyone really performed above expectations, that they gave it their all.  They just weren’t good enough.  She said it didn’t reflect badly on her teammates because they left nothing on the table, but sometimes in life you can do all the right things and still lose.

Now, I’m going to go with nurture again, because I’ll take all the credit because I’m ultra competitive.  So seriously, I don’t take losing lightly- how did I end up with a child so mature about losing?

Here’s the thing:  I have some rules in the house.

  1. If she wanted to join something or take lessons, she must finish out stated commitment- go to all lessons, go to all games and practices
  2. These commitments come first- she wasn’t allowed to not go to something, especially in a team situation, because I stressed that it is a team, and teammates show up
  3. You always give 100% of your effort.  The end result doesn’t matter, but the effort and work do
  4. I made it very clear that sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose, and that’s life
  5. Life is not fair
  6. You can’t win something if you don’t try it (this isn’t really a rule, more of a saying, but I preached it a lot, so I’m including it)

My daughter has a room full of trophies and plaques and certificates.  She has had her fair share of wins.  But she has also had losses.  She has been losing things since she was young.  But I have shown her that if you lose, you get to be sad, or mad or whatever emotion you want.  But then you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get on with it.  Because sulking is not a lifestyle choice that winners have.  Winners keep going- even when they lose.  Winners are always in the game.

So what’s the lesson?  I’m the greatest parent in the world?  Not even close.  But you need to think about the lessons you’re teaching your kids.  Someday they are going to make all their own decisions: they need to be prepared for that.  Make sure you’re stressing the important things.

 

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My Commandments

I have one of those Page A Day calendars on my desk, particularly, The Gretchen Rubin A Happier 2018.  It contains inspirational quotes, tip and just things that help my day get off to a good start.  A few weeks ago, the calendar talked about having a list of personal commandments to live life by.  So, it got me to thinking about what are the rules I want to live by.  So, here goes:

  1. Respect others
  2. Listen to what people are saying instead of spinning my interpretation on it
  3. Don’t hold grudges
  4. When in doubt, forgive
  5. If my instinct says that something doesn’t smell right, listen to that instinct
  6. Be a parent, not a friend
  7. Don’t worry about pleasing others, because someone is always going to have a problem with what I do
  8. The past is a nice place to visit, but I don’t want to live there
  9. Take personal responsibility for my actions (ie don’t blame others)
  10. Prepare for the future, but live in the present
  11. Try not to overthink things
  12. Talk to people, not at them
  13. Accept criticism gracefully
  14. Remember that some people are not as smart as me in some ways, nor as dumb as me in others
  15. Be open minded to new ideas
  16. Don’t worry about what others think of me
  17. Always know both sides of an argument before taking a stand
  18. Always check the weather before I leave the house
  19. If a subway car is empty, there’s probably a good reason
  20. Write things down- memory will only get you so far

There are probably others, but these are the things I really try to do, sometimes with more success than others.  I think it’s a good idea to have some sort of internal code of conduct.  Sometimes we reach a crossroads, and it’s nice to have a little roadmap as to what we value: it helps us choose the next path.

So, it’s homework day:  Think about your personal commandments.  What’s the code you live by?

Regrets, I’ve Had A Few……

I had a friend who wanted to be a professional musician.  He was quite a good guitarist, and focused on getting better.  Along with 3 of his friends he formed a band.  They wrote their own songs and had a decent local following.  They put out a modest album and toured the country.  Not big name locales, but colleges and bars.  This went on for about 8 years, this life on the road.  Another album, some rock festivals.  He had achieved his dream.

Sort of.

He wasn’t sure if he made the right decision.  He went for his dream instead of going to college.

“But” I said to him, “you did it.  You lived your dream.  You were a musician.  You had actual albums and actual fans.  You supported yourself with your music for years.  You were a success.”

“Ahh”  he responded.  “I guess I really wanted to be a rock star.  I wanted all the trappings.  And I didn’t get that.  I wasn’t a rock star.  I went for it and I failed.  I think I would have preferred the ‘what if’.  At least I could still be a rock star in my dreams.  Now my dreams are how I didn’t make it.”

Now, I thought he was crazy.  I thought he was awesome cause he went for it.  He gave it his all.  I couldn’t imagine why he was upset with his decision.  I have always been a firm believer in just go for it.  The only decisions you regret are the ones you don’t follow through on.  That’s my mantra.

Yet….

Last month I talked about contacting an old friend I’d had a falling out with.  I debated whether or not it was worth it, opening up the old wound.  And I reached out to this person.  And I got no response.  Nothing.

Well, on one side, I know that this friendship is definitely over.

On the other side I was a jumble of emotions.  Pissed, hurt, annoyed, sad.

I regretted reaching out.  I thought that maybe I would rather have the thought of not knowing.

I thought that my friend had been right.  Not knowing is better.  (Now I know- his situation was much greater than my situation.  But you know, when you’re in the middle of something you think it is the greatest dilemma ever)

But them after some soul searching, I realized that it was better knowing that our friendship couldn’t be revived.

I was back on the “Just go for it” train.

Now this brings me to last weeks post about my daughter prepping for the SAT.  Most of you thought I was a bit crazy and over analytical about the situation.  But, here’s the thing:  I want my daughter to know she did everything possible to get into the school(s) she wants.  I want her to know that she left nothing on the table, that she did what was needed to achieve her goal/dream.  My job as her parent is to help her reach her goal, whatever that is.  That’s what we do for the people we love.  We help them on their journey.

I supported my Husband when he went back to school.  My Husband and Daughter support me in my dream of writing a novel.  We support her on her quest of the green, leafy walls.

No regrets.

Go for it.

If you fail, you know you tried.

Because if you fail at one thing, you get the opportunity to find another dream.

If you never try, you spend your whole life wondering “What if”.

And “what if” ends up giving you nightmares.  Because you realize you never tried.

So…

Go For It

No regrets.

Ensemble

It’s odd how some things come together.  One blogger friend writes about a word every day, and how it impacts his life.  Another blogger friend wrote about characters in TV shows.  And yet another wrote about the theme music on Good Times.  My friends father died last week.  This past weekend was the birthday of a dear friend of mine who passed away 7 years ago.  A fourth blogger has been posting about the end of his life, as cancer has taken over his body.  Today’s blog is inspired by all these things- it’s an ensemble.

When my daughter was in Pre-k, I met 4 parents.  Our children were all in the same class.  This was our first experience with the New York City public school system- these were our first (and for most) only children.  We had a lot to learn.  Parenting is so hard- we were afraid that we were screwing up at every turn. We needed support, so our little band of five was formed.  Our own personal ensemble cast- there wasn’t really a star (OK it was me….) but a group of great supporting actors.  We began meeting for coffee every morning after drop off.

These friends literally got me through early elementary school.  If I had an issue, a problem, an idea about child rearing- I threw it out to the group.  This was my safe space- where I could ask questions, give advice, laugh and cry.  These were my people.  We were what the best ensembles were- a collaboration of people, who alone were okay, but together could change the world.  Or run a school event.  Same thing.

But we were geeks- specifically about pop culture.  We read, we watched movies, we watched TV.  We all loved sit coms.  We would quote from sit coms as a part of our daily lives.  We would have debates over shows, and characters, and favorite episodes.  We could relate almost any situation on our lives directly to a TV show- this is like the Chinese restaurant in Seinfeld, this is like the Smelly Cat episode on Friends.

Then, when our kids were in third grade- G wasn’t feeling so well.  He went to doctor after doctor- but no one could see anything wrong.  Until they did.  He got the prognosis on the morning of the spring parent teacher conferences.  As we sat in the pizza place with the kids, eating our now traditional half day of school lunch- we could not look at one another.  While the kids still retained their innocence- the adults did not.  Nothing would ever be the same again.  Six weeks later he was gone.

His memorial service- hundreds of people- including his Grandmother- stood around eating mini hot dogs, drinking Dirty Martini’s (his drink)- wondering how this could happen to a 45 year old man, wo had three little kids.  We held each other, cried and laughed, and cried some more.  When I spoke to the crowd, I held back the tears- G would not want be to cry during the eulogy.  He would want me to remember him the way he lived his life- and I did my best.  I told stories about our little band of 5- how we would spend hours talking about nothing- which was really everything.  And I ended my speech with a quote from Frasier, our favorite show.  On the series finale, Niles says to his brother, “I’ll miss the coffees.”  And that was the bet way to sum up an amazing friendship and amazing person.

Last weekend would have been his 53rd birthday- the same age I turned this year.  And I still miss his laugh, his wit, his biting satire, his humanity, and his take on pop culture.  His presence in my life changed me- for the better.  I’m a better person for having known him.

And remember way back in the first paragraph?  All those things?  Our lives, our stories, are made of little bits and pieces of everything around us.  Anything can trigger a memory, or an idea.  And all those things made me think of G, on his birthday.  And made me cry a little, and made me laugh a little.

And thanks to the following, who unknowingly inspired me:

https://www.thisismytruthnow.com/

http://theycallmetater.wordpress.com/

http://www.thatsoulshit.wordpress.com/

http://www.spearfruit.com/-  Courage and honor.

 

“It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas in July……”

I had a mountain of paperwork to slog through last night- my desk was hidden under piles.  True- the piles were labeled- “to be done- June”, “to be done May”….but these mountains needed to be conquered.  And it was going to be a long time till I even reached base camp.  When life gets like this, I need someone special in my corner.  Who you ask? (I’m assuming you’re riveted and can’t wait to find out……..)

Mindless TV.

I love mindless TV.  My choices are either Big Bang reruns, HGTV, or Hallmark Mystery Channel.  The winner last night was Jessica Fletcher.  I love a town where the population counter keeps going down because someone gets murdered every week.  I like to imagine that Jessica’s house contains about a thousand closets, because did you ever notice that she always has the exact right outfit to wear, no matter what the occasion?  Who knew that the lifestyle of Cabot Cove would have a need for about a dozen ball gowns?  I live in NYC, and I currently have 0 ball gowns hanging out in my closet.  Really- we should have the same stuff- we’re both real/faux writers……

Along with tales of murder and mayhem, Hallmark Mystery offers something else.  Commercials.  Have you ever seen the commercials they play during the shows?  My favorite might be the one that points out that I have crepey neck skin.  I already obsess about my not so flat abs, not so tone arms, laugh lines around my lips, and the bags under my eyes.  I didn’t think about my neck.  I’ve lived my entire life thinking that my neck would stay forever youthful…but no.  It turns out that you can tell how old someone is by counting the lines on their neck.  Good thing there is an international super model there to point this out.

As if the trauma of crepey neck skin isn’t enough- I got another shock last night.  Somehow I have missed that it’s Christmas in July.  It’s not on my holiday calendar that I upload to my phone, iPad and laptop.  So how did this happen?

No really.  Why did this happen?  Why are there ads for sales on Christmas merchandise?

Why are they showing Christmas movies?

It’s July.

You know, where Americans celebrate Independence Day.

Where it’s 3000% humidity in NYC.

It’s taken me years to reconcile hearing Christmas music before Halloween.  Am I just days away from hearing carols on the radio?

To be clear- I am no Scrooge.  I love the time of year between American Thanksgiving and the New Year.  I decorate my apartment.  We trim the tree as we light  Hanukah candles (multi cultural household).  I am down for celebrating every religion, every person- I love the holiday season.  I look forward to the holiday season.  When it is between the end of November and January 1.

Am I being too much of an aspiring curmudgeon?  Am I overthinking this? (cause I never overthink anything, ever)

So I did what we all do when faced with deep thoughts on life:  I googled. I googled  Christmas in July.  You know those moments in life that you instantly regret?  Count this as one of them.

Apparently, people throw Christmas in July parties.  There are Pinterest boards about Christmas in July.  An amusement park is having BOGO to celebrate Christmas in July.

And on that note- all I can say is I’m sorry.  I’ve been a bit pre-occupied.  Your holiday greeting cards are going to be late this year.  I won’t be sending them out until December.

 

 

Failure is an Option

The Daughter is trying out to be a ballperson at the US Open.  (you know- the kid that stands at attention at the side of the net, and gets to hold an umbrella over the head of a ranked player)  The following is a conversation I had with someone regarding this.

Friend: What’s up for today?

Me:  I told daughter that I would go to Queens with her.  She has a callback for ballperson.

Friend:  Didn’t she try out last year?

Me: Yes.  Same thing.  She made it to the second round last year, and she made it to the second round this year.

Friend:  But she didn’t get to be a ballperson last year.

Me: I know.  That’s why she’s trying out again.

Friend:  But she didn’t make it.

Me: I know.

Friend: So why is she trying out again?

Me: She wants to be a ballperson.  The only way to be a ballperson is to try out.

Friend:  Wasn’t she devastated last year when she didn’t make it?

Me:  Disappointed?  Yes.  Annoyed at herself? Yes.  Figure out what she could have done better?  Yes.  Devastated?  No.

Friend:  Why are you letting her try out again?  What if she doesn’t make it again?  She will feel so bad about herself.  She will have failed twice.

Me:  OMG you’re so right.  A hole will form in the earth and she will get swallowed up.  She will take to her bed and start wearing a wedding dress because of the man that left her at the alter.  She will put a curse on all those that make ballperson……

OK- you got me.  I really didn’t say that.  But I thought something along those lines.  My actual reply was:

Me:  Do you think the humidity is going to break?

Because how else do you answer that?

Here’s the cold, hard facts: (opinion- I don’t have a degree in cold, hard facts)

  1. Life has winners and losers. (I don’t really need to cite examples do I?)
  2. If you want something, you need to do something to attain it.  No one just hands you something for sitting home on your couch.  I have never met a Publishers Clearing House winner.
  3. There will be things you need to try out for, and you are probably not getting everything you try out for.  Ask any famous actor how many auditions they went on before they landed a role.
  4. When you are rejected (which you will be) you’re allowed to be upset.  You are not allowed to wallow for days, weeks, months, years.  What good is wallowing going to do?  Is it getting you what you want?  If it does, please write about how you wallowed your way to success.  It will be a bestseller.
  5. If you are rejected- learn from your mistakes.  Figure out what you need to do to improve your chances.  Try again.
  6. If you fail again- what’s the worst thing that happens?  Does a monster eat you?  If that is a possibility, I would rethink what your priorities are.  Anything that ends with being eaten by a monster is probably not a good life path.
  7. And after you fail, you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get on with whatever you need to do.  Because that’s what winners do- winners pick themselves up and get on with life. (FYI- there will be a future blog with more examples of failure and it’s benefits)

No one wants to fail.  But guess what?  We all do.  And if we don’t, we haven’t tried for anything- we never went out of our comfort zone.  We played it safe because we were afraid of being devastated.  So great- you were never devastated.  But guess what- you were never anything else either.