With Nana and Papa

With Nana and Papa
Family Times at Flathead Lake

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Thanksgiving

Laughter. Shouts, snickers, bellows and hoots of laughter punctuated the Thanksgiving table we shared with our family of friends. Memories from decades ago, weeks ago, from yesterday, reared their pointy little heads and tickled funny bones around the arc of couples and kids with whom we have shared fourteen years of child-raising and growing up.

Before the meal we stood in a circle in the kitchen, revealing one by one the things we felt most grateful for. There were some chuckles as the six-foot-plus boys put food at the top of the list, but the sentiments of "family," "friend," "my Mom," "my chosen family," were so heartfelt I had to blink away sudden tears. 

It's been too long since we sat together and laughed. Though family life is less physically stressful with teenagers, the pace of our calendars has accelerated and left fewer moments for bonding. Sharing a meal and swapping stories, feeling the ache of smiling cheeks and held-back tears - that's a Thanksgiving to be grateful for and to remember always.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

A Kindness to be Thankful For

An old friend posted a heartwarming story on Facebook. She relayed that a girls high school volleyball team from Paradise, CA - the town that burned to the ground in the Camp Fire - received new uniforms and equipment from their opponent in the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) playoffs because their own equipment had been lot to the fire.  Crossing my fingers that the story wasn't fabricated, I visited Snopes.com, and found that it is, in fact, true.

Here is the story in greater detail as reported online. May we all be thankful for acts of kindness in this week of Thanksgiving and every week.  And may we all be inspired to act in similar fashion:

As the Grass Valley Union newspaper and other news outlets reported, the Paradise Adventist Academy girls’ volleyball team arrived to compete in a California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) playoff game on 10 November 2018 to find that their opponents at Forest Lake Christian High School had provided them with both material and financial support.
After the game, Forest Lake athletic director LaRon Gordon announced that local parents and students had donated around $16,000 as well as shoes, clothes, and toiletries to their opponents as well as gift cards for each individual player. Gordon’s team also gave Paradise Adventist new jerseys, shorts, and knee pads to use for the contest, which was a semifinal match in the Northern California Division VI regional tournament.
Forest Lake also received permission from the CIF to forego charging admission to the game in favor of donating all tickets sales to help victims of the fire.
“I’ve never been so overwhelmed by so many things I would have never thought possible, and this is one of the most amazing things I could ever have thought would happen,” Paradise Adventist head coach Jason Eyer said following the announcement. “Your community is awesome. We will be forever grateful.”

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Altruistic Swimming

It's no secret that I love the sport of swimming: the camaraderie of teammates, the way a body moves through the water, the envelope of silence that descends when I dive in. It's a joy when swimming converges with altruism and people who work on behalf of others, as with my friend Nicole Vanderpoel and her committee working on Swim Across America - Denver, which raises money for cancer research and trials with Children's Hospital.  Another example springs from my Masters' teammate Liz Herr, who works with a swim team in a poor area of Nicaragua, sponsoring children on the Nica Nadadores, who would otherwise not be able to train and travel.

In her latest email update, Liz writes:
"As you know, the Nica Nadadores swimmers live in one of the most impoverished areas in Nicaragua, the second poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. In communities where most people don’t bother to dream anymore these kids do have dreams and they work very hard in the hope they can make those dreams come true. "

Our CAC Masters team sponsors five Nica swimmers and Liz and her husband sponsor another individual. The support helps pay for pool time, supplies, and travel expenses. The kids have even been able to come to the United States to compete, and their world has opened far beyond Nicaragua. We share a bond with them -- our love of the sport -- and it's a joy to pave the road as they follow their dreams.

I also belong to a Swim Coaches Idea Exchange on Facebook (each time I want to quit Facebook, a group like this pops up and makes me hold on for another week). Yesterday a coach posted to ask if we could help swimmers and coaches in the area affected by the Camp Fire in northern California. A Chico coach responded that they were OK, the fire had not invaded Chico, but the summer team in Paradise was probably affected. No one can get into that area yet to determine the status or need, but he will keep us posted.

My swim community provides vital connections to the world, to swimmers, coaches, and problems / solutions crucial to other teams in other places. I tell Aden and William that community is the reason for swimming, that working hard and getting results are secondary to bonds formed from shared experience and passion for a common effort. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of other ways to connect but this is mine, and the greatest joy of all is that swimming has become theirs, too.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

A Representative Democracy

As promised, this blog entry contains good news. Last night, as election results poured in, election watchers detailed a number of epic firsts for our democracy (from NPR):

With women making up only 20 percent of Congress, there are many types of women — especially women of color — who have never been represented on Capitol Hill. The record-breaking wave of female candidates in 2018 comes with a list of firsts among those women. Here's a list of some of those firsts, which we will keep updating as results come in.
Youngest woman: Twenty-nine-year-old Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman elected to Congress, in New York's 14th District. First Muslim women: Democrat Rashida Tlaib, in Michigan's 13th District, and Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar, from that state's 5th District, both became the first Muslim women elected to Congress tonight. Tlaib will also be the first Palestinian-American to serve in Congress.First Native American women: Democrat Sharice Davids won the House seat from Kansas' 3rd District, unseating incumbent Republican Kevin Yoder, and Democrat Deb Haaland won the seat in an open race in New Mexico's 1st District. That makes both of them the first Native American women elected to Congress. Republican Yvette Herrell in New Mexico's 2nd District could become the third member of this group, but the Associated Press has not yet called her race.First black woman from Massachusetts: Democrat Ayanna Pressley became the first black woman elected to Congress from Massachusetts, in that state's 7th District. She unseated incumbent Democrat Mike Capuano in a surprise upset in SeptemberFirst women House members from Iowa: Democrat Abby Finkenauer in Iowa's 1st District defeated Republican incumbent Rod Blum, and Democrat Cindy Axne in the state's 3rd District defeated Republican incumbent David Young to become the Hawkeye state's first two women elected to the House. Iowa elected its first woman to the Senate in 2014 — Republican Joni Ernst. First Latina Congress members from Texas: Democrat Veronica Escobar, in the state's 16th District, and Democrat Sylvia Garcia, in the state's 29th District, will be the first Latinas to represent the state in Congress, according to the Texas TribuneFirst woman elected governor of Iowa: Republican incumbent Kim Reynolds became the first woman elected governor of Iowa. She served as lieutenant governor of the state from 2011 through 2017, then became governor when then-Gov. Terry Branstad was appointed ambassador to China for the Trump administration in 2017. (https://www.npr.org/2018/11/06/664951794/a-list-of-firsts-for-women-in-this-years-midterm-elections)
Here in Colorado we elected the first openly gay governor in the United States with Jared Polis. Guam elected their first female governor. It's important to note the first lines from the NPR story - that there are many women (and men) who have never been represented by one of their own in Congress. This year's midterm election marked a number of historical firsts in the United States' ongoing experiment in representative democracy. I have great hope that we will see more action for the people, by the people who have been elected to represent us.