Letting Go

They Coached the Coach

“What better way is there for me to spend quality time with my kids than to be their coach? I have to take them to practice anyhow.” That was my reasoning at the beginning of this season when as a  mother of five and a part-time college student I was already feeling stretched. Little did I know that my kids didn’t need me to be their coach as much as I needed them and their team to be my trainers.

volleyball head

I’ve loved volleyball since I can remember. I played on the JV team in high-school, and quit before I had the chance to reach any braggable level of competetive skill. But for a recreational league I knew I would be “good enough”. When I showed up to coach training they didn’t even warn me that coaching has very little to do with skill and a whole lot to do with modeling and mentoring.  They let me learn the hard way. Best gig ever.  Learning the hard way is my super power.

Let me just start by confessing our season record. 1-7. Yes, that’s one win and seven losses. And, yes, you can stop reading now if you are anything like I was eight weeks ago in believing that the wins are all that’s important.

You see, my lesson #1 was this:
Winners are not those who never fail but those who never quit.

I started with a really inexperienced team. We got our butts kicked over and over again, but I taught them the basics and told them to master them. I promised them if they could just get down their bumping and serving we would be good for the tournament.

These girls never quit. They kept working. And on Saturday we have our last tournament game. We go into it 3-0. Yes, three wins. Zero losses. If we win tomorrow, we will be the league champions. They never quit. And I’m so glad I never did either.

winners

Lesson #2: Actions speak louder than words. Actions are determined by thoughts and beliefs.

One time when we were losing badly, I hurriedly sent the team back on the court without the traditional team cheer. I was distracted, frustrated and worried about how as a coach I was letting my team down. I had just ran on about mechanics and with the impatience of the official raining down on me, I pushed the team along without any encouragment, a sweep of the hands and a, “Just go.” My daughters informed me on the way home that Olivia had looked at them both with anxiety all over her face. She felt bad. Coach was mad and disappointed. My lack of positivity brought the whole team down.

what you say

That brings me nicely to my third lesson:
You can only teach someone who wants to learn. You can only learn when you want to be taught.

My daughter Bella has been struggling with her serving the entire season. Last night before the game I was determined to get her serving perfected before the game started. I took her aside and dug in. “You need to keep your arm straight. Hold the ball steady. Don’t start so far back.” She refused to move up six inches. The more I tried to explain how her balls were falling short that exact length, the more she shut down. She ended up in tears. It’s not a proud moment.  Thankfully my husband came over and asked me, “Alice, is it really worth it?” She didn’t want to learn what I had to offer, yet I still wanted to stuff it down her throat. Both she and I had really fragile feelings for the whole first set. It wasn’t worth it. Unless you call her first two perfect serves from too far back worth it. Like her mama, she is out to prove a point. For the record, I know now I was wrong. I’ll never forget the horrible sinking feeling I had while watching her sit on the bleacher and cry.

learn.jpg

Lesson 4: Change is progression.

I’m the kind of person that holds my ideas and opinions tightly. I feel like if I need change I failed. Volleyball has reminded me that the only thing that defines failure is being too rigid to progress. At the beginning of the season I was using a lot of practice time on cardio and strength building. I realized early on that my team needed more time on the ball. I had to completely change our practice outline.

change

And last:
Always, always, always focus on the positive.

It took me six losses to figure this out, but on a positive note, I guess there are slower coaches to be found somewhere. In the beginning of the season, I kept harping on the girls about what they were doing wrong. They couldn’t  bump the ball for the life of them, and so I determined to force competancy on them.

Meanwhile, the other teams were not just mastering bumping, but also learning new skills too.  Or so it seemed to me. I decided that I had to change my approach. I started finding ways to compliment each player. I dished out praise like Halloween candy. I demonstrated and allowed time for practice and encouragment. I continuously repeated how much I believed in them. I told them the could win. They started to believe it.

accentuate-the-positive

I can’t really explain the beautiful experience it is to jump around a court like a crazy kid with a team full of girls that you know you helped to learn the lessons of champions.  Last night, as I watched them high-give and congratulate each other with joy written in each smile line, my heart swelled. I was so grateful that they coached me way more than I could have ever coached them.

Update (next day)

We won. My favorite part was when we all sang “We are the Champions” in celebration.

champs

 

Blue boobs.

Stuff was heavy on my heart last night. Two things in-particular.

Yesterday I posted on Facebook about two subjects that are extremely annoying to me: breastfeeding in public and BYU. Ha ha. My Mormon friends who know how many babies are born to college students at BYU might find this ironic combination hysterical. I sure do.

breastfeed byu

Now, as you all know from my last post, for some reason, I am extremely emotional this week.  My overabundance of emotion may explain the guilt I was feeling over these two totally random facebook posts. It wasn’t necessarily the posts that made me feel guilty but two of the responses I received.

One of my young friends was really hurt by my “throw a blanket over it” philosophy. It wasn’t the first and won’t be the last time I disagree with a nursing mom on the ease of covering up while breastfeeding, but the love I feel for this mom who will not back down about my “modesty and politeness-to-others over comfort of baby” stance had my heart bleeding. It just didn’t feel worth the argument to me anymore.

Also, a family member had posted a reply to the BYU post, but then deleted it. She had reprimanded me for not being kind (as I had posted something early about kindness being a large tenet of my faith.)  I responded with a comment that stated that I believed that saying I was not a fan of BYU wasn’t unkind…..but as I lay there last night, I was questioning my extreme dislike of BYU. Those of you who really know me, know how deep my hatred goes. Was it unkind? Was I unkind? Isn’t it really all those jerky BYU people that need to come down off their high horses? Doesn’t everyone know that?

I fell asleep with tears rolling down my cheeks and both of these interactions (among a few other things) weighing heavy on my heart. I was an emotional wreck last night and LG’s arm around me was the only thing that calmed me down until my sleeping meds. kicked in. As heavy as the subjects were nagging at my conscience, I am totally shocked I didn’t dream all night of a blue boob-out at the Wilkinson Center, a BYU football game with a stadium full of crying hungry babies covered by blankets, or perhaps Cosmo the Cougar stripping down to nothing to reveal his true identity as a woman with a latched on baby cat.

I then woke up first thing this morning to this video…

This video is so beautiful. The subject of not bullying is important to me. After 12 hours of guilt, yet still not wanting to change, I couldn’t help but feel like a bully with my overheated opinions on BYU and breastfeeding. I wondered if my intolerances (no matter how petty) had really caused someone pain.

This lecture by Dieter F. Uchtdorf continues to effect my life profoundly. It is probably very poignant to me because no matter how kind I profess to be, it exposes some of my biggest weaknesses. I pretty much fail at this 5 question test every time I take it.

  1. Do you harbor a grudge against someone else?
  2. Do you gossip, even when what you say may be true?
  3. Do you exclude, push away, or punish others because of something they have done?
  4. Do you secretly envy another?
  5. Do you wish to cause harm to someone?

O.k. maybe I get a 20% because I can honestly say I don’t really want to cause harm to anyone. Except for the guard on our favorite basketball team. He reminds me of some guys I know personally who are trash talking and arrogant typical hot-headed jerky Mormon basketball players. (The kind that act all nice and righteous in real life but let it all go to pot when on the court. – I admittedly have an open wound because of guys like this.) I totally told my husband on the way out of the game last night that even though he is on “our team” I would love to see him get what is coming to him. I am certain he would run off with his tail between his legs (kind of like he did last night) as his type are prone to do. Dang-it, I’m back to a 0%.

As I pondered further I realized that BYU and breastfeeding would be in the honest answers I would give to several of these 5 probing inquiries. I realized that both subjects are really just surface scapegoats for the bigger causes that are super important to me: being kind and cognizant of those around us.

And then I realized I was a hypocrite. How can I expect others (BYU grads and breast-feeders in-particular) to be kind, humble, and polite to those around them when I am not willing to budge and give them the same benefit-of-the-doubt that I belittle them for not having?

peace with self peace had enough

So, this post is a long way of saying I’ve had a change of heart.

Go Cougars. Breastfeed away.

I offer you my sincerest apologies for being awful and (albeit still with a great amount of hesitance) I promise to try and not just give you the benefit of the doubt but to sincerely LOVE you wherever you are on your journey – even when you are extremely arrogant and especially when you are bare-chested.

Sunday Pin – Letting go

let go

My thirties have been an intense decade of self-improvement for me. Maybe this is the same for most people or maybe it is just me. I have amazed myself with my ability to adapt, change, learn, and grow. You can’t teach a dog new tricks, but I guess the dog can teach herself.

I have been thoroughly delighted that the older I get, the more I have returned to the things that made me happy as girl and teenager. I feel in some ways I have come full circle. I spent the first ten years of motherhood without a thought for myself and I wasn’t happy most of the time. Honestly, I was lost. Really lost. I was floundering, giving everything I had, which wasn’t much because I was an empty well. I feel like now I’m finally found. I still love the same things I did when I was younger: God, my family, running/biking, nature, art, reading and writing, gardening, teaching and sharing, and friendships. I almost had to let go of all these things to understand their role in my happiness and I had to work at knowing and loving myself to get them all back.

For the sake of my happiness I’ve also had to let go of a lot of unhealthy behaviors, attitudes, and habits and work hard continually to keep them from coming back.  I have tried to let go of comparison, self-neglect, competition, perfection, control, living without boundaries for myself and others, needing others and their love and approval to an unhealthy level, and so many more.

Yesterday, as I was looking forward to my upcoming 40th birthday and reviewing my past I felt a great sense of satisfaction. I have come far. I still have a long way to go, but I am pleased with where I am on my journey. It dawned on me that I have made great strides in all the major areas of my life, so I added them into the blog as pages shown above – Emotional Well-Being, Financial Fortitude, Physical Strength, Social Vitality, and Spiritual Power {I hope I can figure out how to automatically categorize future posts under their perspective subjects because if you hit the page links now nothing is showing yet – If you know how to do this and want to save me hours of research, please e-mail me at alice.w.gold@gmail.com – thanks}

So here is where I stand as of now.

Emotional Well-Being – I have learned that if I want to be emotionally healthy it’s all about being honest and loving myself and others in that honest place,  but if I have to choose between myself and others, I will always love ME first because if I can’t love me, I am really not loving others.

Financial Fortitude – I have learned the VERY hard way that I can’t spend more than I earn and fiscal responsibility is a requirement for one’s happiness. The shopping high I used to seek after is curbed as I’ve discovered it doesn’t give me lasting happiness.

Physical Strength – Physical health feels better than any piece of chocolate cake tastes. Running a half marathon trumps being able to fit comfortably into an airplane seat, although the latter is also a nice perk of physical strength.

Social Vitality – I don’t need people as much as I used to, but I also need them more. I need healthy honest people in my life and the kind of people that I associate with as well as the amount of time I spend with them is a tell-tale sign of where I am on the spectrum of social health. I am working at having more honest, close, and lasting relationships.

Spiritual Power – My faith holds power. It has gotten me through some of the most trying experiences. It has helped me love myself. It has helped me to forgive. It has helped me to improve a day at a time. I never want to be without it.

Happy Sunday!

* I just figured out how to do pages and totally revamped my above categories. Hope you don’t mind.

Goodbye Things


things
I want money, lots and lots of money.
I want to be a billionaire so freaking bad.
Money, that’s what I want.
We are living in a material world,
and I am a material girl.

I love it when lyrics paint a good picture. This picture was me. It was me until something happened. Well, not just something, a lot of little things.

Trying to live by God’s standard for me was causing me a lot of heartache. When I quit my job I was stuck for weeks in the “woe is me” mode. Didn’t God understand that I didn’t want to live another year of my long 40 year life being poor? Hadn’t I had enough? For most of my life (except for those few rebellious years in high school) I have tried to be a good girl, and I have never known the freedom we call financial success. Didn’t this girl deserve a break?

The girl left her mom and dad’s house at 17 with nothing but a few suitcases and a deposit on an apartment and forged her way from there with no assistance at all. This girl worked two night jobs (sometimes til 2 am) while pregnant with her third baby to save money for hubby’s college.  This girl lived three decades plus without a dishwasher and almost a decade with a dilapidated bathroom that embarrassed her to shame. This girl rarely had new clothes growing up and still goes without so much to buy her own kids clothes from the thrift-store. Wasn’t it time for this generous, obedient and loving daughter of God to know another way of life: the better way? Why God? Why when I want to work to have the finer things of life do you make me stay home? Why when everyone else seems to get multiple vacations a year, have new cars, big homes, and plenty to go around (even when they too have large families) are we made to suffer? Why do all those other ladies get to work to pay for that stuff and I am told to stay home?

I was D O N E. I felt picked on. I felt dejected. I was abandoned and forsaken. I was mad. I was hurt. I was confused. Why didn’t Got want me to have anything more when he seemed to give to everyone else so abundantly? Why did I always get the table scraps?

And then three things happened. The combination of which had a profound affect on my heart and mind.

First, I was sitting in Sunday School when asked to share a favorite scripture. I went looking in the Doctrine and Covenants for a verse that was extremely influential at a hard time in my life. It says, “Hold on thy way.” While searching, I stumbled upon an answer I needed in the moment. It happened to be another favorite that has stuck out to me many times in my poverty stricken life.

“And verily I say unto thee that thou shalt lay aside the things of this world and seek for the things of a better.”
~Doctrine and Covenants 25:10

For those of you that don’t believe in Mormon scripture, here is the same message from The Holy Bible.

“But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.” ~Luke 12:31

I thought, “Why can’t I seem to let go of riches and seek the kingdom of God?”

Then a few weeks later, in a church meeting, we sang a hymn titled How Firm A Foundation. It has always been one of my favorites. As I sang along, the words stuck in my throat, they turned around and flew on wings straight down to my heart. My eyes filled with tears.

“How firm a foundation, ye Saints of the Lord, Is laid for your faith in his excellent word! What more can he say than to you he hath said, Who unto the Savior, who unto the Savior, who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?”

“In ev’ry condition – in sickness, in health, In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth, At home or abroad, on the land or the sea – As thy days may demand, as thy days may demand, As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be.”

“Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed, For I am thy God and will still give thee aid. I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, Upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.”

I understood something: God didn’t take this trial of poverty away because He doesn’t care. (What? He doesn’t care? – He cares about me infinitely, he just doesn’t care about my financial status.) It isn’t important to him that I have new clothes or a vacation or a dishwasher. The purpose of this life is to prove me faithful. The more I suffer and remain obedient, the more I earn in the next life. He wants me to have mansions in heaven, and is only concerned with giving me the necessities of mortal life while I am on earth.

Still, I didn’t like it. I couldn’t shake it. I was still resentful. I unloaded on the marriage counselor who happens to be amazing at what she does. I thought surely she would back me up and empower me to go back to work. Yet, I sold her short. She shares my faith and my religion. She called me out and gave me the third part of the message,”You can’t compare your life to other people’s lives. You can’t feel less than others because your challenges are different than theirs. If you can’t learn to be happy poor, you will never be happy rich either.” And the clincher, “You don’t have to be poor, you just have to be willing to be poor.”

I went home and sulked for a day and thought it over, and ended my journey in prayer. My heart had changed. “O.k. God, I’m willing to be poor. Well, I want to be completely willing. Change me.”

The next day as I was looking out my front window, something clicked. I got it. In my changed heart, I was happy that my needs were met. Who cares if the house I live in is rented? God has always met my needs. I didn’t care one bit about my beat up mini-van, second hand couches, or the lack of drapes on my curtain rod (for the last 2 years.) It didn’t matter. It didn’t matter that the above saying (the most important things in life aren’t things) was ironically found by me at Abigail’s soccer friend’s mansion (full of everything anyone could ever want) because it was true. It was true for me and it was true for the rich people too. If my heart was turned towards God, and if I could keep it there, the importance of things would be nil, and I could be happy.

Ever since that morning, I have been happy. Truly happy. So happy I hope I am never not poor because I might forget.

I guess I can’t like this song anymore. Dangit. It’s so cute.

If you still need some more convincing, go read the whole chapter of Luke 12. woo-we. Good stuff.