what are your bubbles today?

Yesterday, I had a valuable interaction with a colleague. She initially approached me because she wanted to share an observation regarding my expression of frustration in an team meeting earlier in the week. I appreciated her feedback, as I know that no matter where we are in our career, we always have the opportunity to learn and grow. Often, our colleagues can be the most valuable source of that lesson. It was a very good conversation and I appreciated that she had “called me out,” if you will.

In the course of discussion, I brought up one of those things that most of us at least subconsciously realize on some level but isn’t always acknowledged, which is that I had come to that meeting with a series of “bubbles” surrounding me. You know – these are the silent thoughts swirling in your head that often aren’t spoken; the ones that can affect outward behavior – or maybe they don’t. In this particular situation, my bubbles ranged from stress over looming, unrelated project deadlines to a level of disagreement around some of the concepts being discussed that I felt were out of my control to change to the always-present literal pain in my neck.

In sharing this, I reminded my colleague of this video that we are shown during New Employee Orientation. It was produced by the Cleveland Clinic; KP shows it to help illustrate the compassion we must always demonstrate for our members/patients (particularly staff who work in care delivery) and for one another. I affectionately refer to it as the “the bubble video” and think about it fairly often: when there’s that person who is tailgating me on the freeway, the person who “steals” my parking spot, or the coworker who shows up to a meeting with something other than their best self. It made an impression on me, and maybe it will on you too. Of course, it also means that I cried on my very first day of work.

Advertisements

summer rules

Last weekend marked one of two weekends this summer that found us with no commitments and I was determined to make it count. Especially because, as promised, we woke up to a gorgeous morning. The one catch was that, as happens every now and then, I woke up feeling like I had been run over by a Mac truck. Though I’ve been “diagnosed” with fibromyalgia twice in the past five years, I’m not buying it. But on this morning I felt like a classic fibromyalgia patient, at least from what I’ve read. Every ounce of me wanted to crawl back into bed and let my body lay there for the rest of the day. But mentally, I was having none of it.

I was having that familiar feeling of summer when you are suddenly free from the commitments of regular life and enticed to take advantage of the Pacific Northwest summer before it disappears as quickly as it came. Following some calls and exploration of an impromptu afternoon and overnight at the coast, we decided that an afternoon drive out to the Gorge best suited our situation. So off we went. First stop was lunch at Shirley’s Tippy Canoe, which offers casual outdoor seating along the Sandy River, and surprisingly kind of awesome lunch. By the time we got to Shirley’s, I was feeling better already.

After Shirley’s we headed up to Larch Mountain with the iPod sharing our favorite tunes. As a colleague later asked, “Oh, can’t you hike up there?” Um yeah, you can, but you can also drive to a parking lot and then venture out on the shortest “hike” known to mankind. And that’s how we roll, I don’t mind saying.

So here we are, on our “hike” to Larch Mountain and reminded of how awesome summer is here:

IMG_6716 IMG_6693 IMG_6682 IMG_6683 IMG_6677 IMG_6670 IMG_2898 IMG_6662 IMG_6658 IMG_6652 IMG_2897 IMG_6648 IMG_6644 IMG_2894 IMG_6640 IMG_6633 IMG_6628 IMG_6622

Life’s lessons in action

IMG_2754

I’ve often heard that the value of being a part of sports when you are growing up isn’t really about whether or not you are going to be in the Olympics, World Series, World Cup, etc. of whatever sport you choose – it’s about what that sport teaches you about life along the way.

I wouldn’t change my experience as a competitive figure skater growing up for that very reason. Was I bound for the Olympics? Absolutely not! Did it teach me the importance of working hard? Making mistakes with grace? Time management? Many other things that have stuck with me through my adult life? Absolutely! It’s this that makes me feel so proud about Ian’s first year in AAA baseball for Raleigh Hills Little League – and really – all kids who take on this challenge at a relatively young age.

The journey for Ian started in early 2015 when he enthusiastically committed to Sunday evenings at clinics in a dark-ish indoor facility at an office park in Tigard. While the rain came down, he and so many others were inside practicing their hitting & fielding so that they would be at their best when tryouts arrived. It seems like a long time ago now that I watched him standing in line to go in and show his stuff for those who would evaluate his skills and later, if he made it, assign him to a team.

Soon, we got that email from his new coach, and assistant coach, that he would be on the AAA Diamond Backs. At first, I must say that I was a little taken back by the level of seriousness that these people seemed to take with regard to a team of 9 to 11 year olds. Being on time for practices, dressing correctly for games… All I was thinking was how Jeff and I are doing the best we can to get him there when we can with that whole work thing and all.

From Game 1, his coaches were so into – and passionate – about these kids and this game. There was a lot of loud voices, but in a good way. He pushed them to try their hardest and best. And in practices, they spent time showing them how they could be their best. What good plays looked like; how to act like a team and work together. They didn’t let those kids do anything but try their best.

IMG_2757The Raleigh Hills AAA Diamondbacks finished the regular season in second place. And silly us, just over a week ago, we thought that was it. But alas, enter the playoffs, which began this past Monday. We did our parental duty and got him there by 5:15 for the 6pm start against the Cardinals, maybe with a little help from some friends. By mid-game, surely this was going to be an easy win. Dinner was soon within our sights. Until the 5th (of 6) innings when pitching went south and the Cards made a comeback. One Dback mistake led to another. You could see the mental game take over and our team began to spiral downhill, even at this young age. And parents on both sides, began to become more involved and anxious for those kids, who are all part of the same community and many of whom are even friends at the same school. In the end, the Dbacks endured a hearbreaking loss by one run.

The good news, we learned? We had another game Tuesday night! “Yay!?” thought us parents. It was another rival of friends – the Rangers. An easy win? Absolutely not. Into an extra inning with a 20-20 score and 2 outs, the Dbacks brought in a run to guarantee them another game Wednesday night AND a battle for third place on Friday night. Yay!!?? But those kids fought so hard for that win – I never saw one of them give up fighting, so how could you help but be supportive?

IMG_2771Wednesday eve came with wine boxes for some of us parents. I mean, who could handle one more night of this stress w/o alcohol??? It may have been at the very dusty home field of Raleigh Park (note: NOT pictured to the right), but it was against the all-mighty, nearly-unstoppable White Sox. True to their reputation, they pounced the Dbacks. But did those kids ever stop fighting even when they appeared down and out? They didn’t.

As we packed up, Ian commented, “At least we have Friday night.” It was then that, after giving it much thought, we reminded him that Friday night, at the same time the game started, was his sister’s preschool graduation event – the school we had been at as a family for the past 7.5 years. So, he would not be able to play Friday night. This is when he did something that I was so proud of him for: he began crying and then stopped and said that he understood that Elena’s graduation was more important than him playing in a baseball game and that he wanted to be there with her. This was a boy who would not have said this a year – or maybe even six months ago.

IMG_6535Friday night we celebrated our, and of course Elena’s, finale at St. Andrews and then headed over to cheer on Ian’s team for the second half of the game. The Cards again gave them a run for their money and beat them in the last inning by one run. In the end, it was not the Dbacks week, despite their overall awesome season record. But those kids, at ages 9, 10, 11, poured their heart into that season, and congratulated and smiled when their competitors and some, friends, took the third place photo when the game ended. They gathered for their fourth place medals and talked about what a great effort they made and season they had. And I’m pretty sure they all felt proud.

And really, what more can you ask for than that? As a parent, you quickly learn how many hard lessons your kids are going to face in life, and to see them take one, or more, with grace, the right spirit and most importantly, to keep trying their best, is just the most you can hope for.

Three cheers for Raleigh Hills AAA Dbacks 2015!

IMG_2804

Farewell, Tumble Bus

I came home from work tonight to find a letter sitting on our dining table. It had come home with Elena from preschool. Jeff saw me looking at it and said, “Sad news.” Indeed.

IMG_2462

It was in reading this heartbreaking letter that I realized that the Tumble Bus has been a part of both Ian and Elena’s young lives in Portland. The Tumble Bus and Ike have been visiting the Vermont Hills’ St. Andrews’ site since Ian was in daycare and preschool there. Once a week the bus, this hollowed out yellow school bus with tumbling equipment for little kids, would visit and kids who signed up could get out some little kid energy.

IMG_8872

But it wasn’t until we gave Ian his first party when he turned 5 that we learned of Ike’s true talent with kids. Parked alongside our house, Ike and his partner hosted the greatest little bus party you can imagine. The kids had a blast, laughing and jumping around while he hosted them through silly games. It was an all-around great experience and the perfect first birthday party for Ian. IMG_8865IMG_8871

IMG_8940After Ian moved on and Elena started going to St. Andrews, she too eventually became  interested in the Tumble Bus. Being much more hesitant to participate in activities than Ian had ever been, we jumped at the chance for her to join in a “class” type situation. I remember her teacher telling us that at first she had to go with Elena on the bus to help with her fear of new situations and adults she didn’t know. But it didn’t take long before we’d hear excitement in her voice when it was “Tumble Bus Tuesday” and stories of Ike’s silliness that day after we picked her up. She loved the Tumble Bus…so we kept signing her up.

This November Elena turned 5 and we decided that like with Ian, this was a good year for her first party. She had been so hesitant for so long to be in new situations and around her friends outside of a familiar environment. Though she had been making huge strides in recent months, we really couldn’t think of a better, safer environment for her than to have the Tumble Bus host her party. Plus, it was kind of like 5th birthday party tradition in our house!

So the weekend before Thanksgiving several of her little friends joined us at our home for a Tumble Bus party. I don’t think it would be exaggerating to say that Elena had the time of her life that morning. By then, Ike and his wife Erica had moved to Bend, but Ike had found an amazing replacement in Jeff, who Elena adored just as much as Ike. Jeff and his wife hosted the kids on the bus, and what great fun it was to watch all that giggling, tumbling and preschool happiness. There was also an 8 (almost 9) year old who relived the fun.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So, you can see why my heart felt heavy tonight when I read this letter that such an amazing little business that brought our family – and likely many others – a lot of happiness will not survive. Elena had been telling me that the Tumble Bus had not been coming because it was broken. When she saw me reading the letter she said, very excited, “Mommy, the Tumble Bus was back today! It’s fixed!”

As the letter notes, Ike and Erica would love to find a buyer for the business, so if anyone out there is interested in helping keep the Tumble Bus Portland alive, please contact Ike and Erica at 503-234-1883 or via the website.

counting my blessings

I admit it. I’m the first to complain about the challenges of raising young children. The whining. The feelings of entitlement. The sweet and sour of sibling relationships. The constant demands for…well, seemingly everything. The feeling like your time is rarely your own. It can be overwhelming at times and certainly trigger thoughts about how much we’ve “sacrificed” to raise these two children, as wonderful as they are. It’s so easy to get caught up in your own reality, until you run into something that gives you a different perspective on reality and makes you appreciate what you have.

Continue reading