Saturday, June 15, 2019

Celebrating Goals and the USWNT

My daughter and I are here in France to see women's World Cup soccer, and were at the epic 13-0, record breaking US victory against Thailand. It was incredible to be there.

My mom was watching from home and texted about some of the commentators saying that the US team was celebrating too much and "running up the score." The social media backlash/support started before the game ended and was pretty epic. Of course "we" can't be happy, even in victory. I have thoughts on this (of course).

At the game, my daughter and I cheered wildly for every US goal but completely commiserated with the Thai team. Vicariously through my daughter I have been on both sides of a game like this. She's played on teams that were state champs. She's also played a rugby game that ended 0-154. That's not a typo - one hundred and fifty four points scored against them. When the team that is killing you scores yet again and celebrates, it can feel like they are really rubbing your nose in it. I get that, but...

Setting aside the vagaries of FIFA-level soccer (goal differential as tie breaker, limit of 3 subs, distribution of bids among regions), I don't think the US teams' celebration and epic number of goals was ever meant to be hurtful. I think it was more about relief.

Yes, relief. Can you imagine the pressure the US team is under? Returning champions. Leaders in their field, a very male dominated field. Fighting publicly and with great risk to their standing with US Soccer and FIFA for equal pay. A fight that is being watched very carefully by women's teams around the world (see this great commentary by Sally Jenkins of WaPo). The team is a mix of veteran players but also rookies stepping on to the first World Cup field - how did they keep the nerves at bay? 

I can easily equate this to the women who were the firsts in the military - first to attend academies, fly fighters, graduate from Ranger school - under a microscope while also wanting to just be treated like everyone else. I can imagine that the fist pumps and smiles as they got their commissions, got their wings, got their tab, were exactly like the USWNT.  Phew!

We have one more chance to see the US team before we head home, back to the real world. I can't think of a better way to spend our last night in Paris.

Note: If you need a tutorial to better understand soccer, please watch this, you will not regret it.

Extra special note: Buckets full of love and appreciation to my awesome husband who unconditionally supports our travel adventures. He is the best!

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Wolfpack Motivation

I am a longtime fan of all things US Women's National Team, especially the OG of GOATs, Abby Wombach. She's the ALL TIME leading scorer in international soccer, men and women. So it was a no brainer to pick up her book, Wolfpack, her "empowering rally cry for women to unleash their individual power, unite with their pack, and emerge victorious together." Ker-pow! Was it ever!

I've seen a lot of posts lately asking about gifts and good advice to give to new graduates, and this is it. But it also is great for any women at any season of their life. Here are a just a few highlights (of many):

"A champion never allows a short-term failure to take her out of the long-term game. A women who doesn't give up can never lose."

"Real leaders don't mimic a cultural construct of what a leader looks, sounds, and acts like. They understand that there are as many authentic ways to lead as there are people."

"The most important thing I've learned is what you do will never define you for long. Who you are always will."

It's a pretty quick read, actually an expansion of this speech she gave at Barnard College.  I highly, HIGHLY, recommend it.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The No-Prep Tri Plan

My friend Patty invited me to join her at the 2019 Peasant Man Triathlon, "not a race, a charity event" that supports the High Cloud Foundation. The High Cloud Foundation's mission is to provide humanitarian assistance and support to orphanages, foundations and rural schools through educational programs, sports and additional extracurricular activities. The triathlon is unsanctioned (meaning way laid back) and is meant to be a fun way to kick off the outdoor sports season.

I had one small problem - no time to really train! It's partly a lame excuse, and partly true. I had spent most of April wrapped up in OWLS, a spring break trip to New Orleans (those beignets weren't going to eat themselves!), and my son's recent theater production. 

I was too proud to back out, though, and happy to accompany Patty to the event at the beautiful Lake Anna State Park. I decided the goal of the day was completion, not speed. Also: do not drown, crash my bike, or kill myself running. A fast hike would work thank you very much. 

Finish I did, and was able to walk away uninjured. Thankfully they had quite a few folks doing the Olympic distance (take our sprint distance tri, and double it) so I didn't have to feel like the last person across the finish line.

What are the takeaways? For me, fitness needs to be consistent, and I need to kick start (again, sigh) regular exercise. Also for me, don't let those that are uber into whatever you are attempting dissuade you from giving it a shot. There is room in any activity for beginners :-) Now if only they gave medals for procrastination...

Monday, April 29, 2019

Avengers, Air Force and Cool Points

Marvel movies are big at my house. It's more than just living with a super fan (my son). The Marvel movies came along at just the right time, when my kids were outgrowing typical kid movies but weren't ready for adult fare. We could all enjoy them, which is not really a chore. Marvel heroes are easy to like, and the continual addition of women and minorities in the MCU was very much appreciated. 

What do these super heroes have to do with the Air Force? Besides the Captain Marvel backstory, more than you might think. After seeing Captain Marvel (twice) my son and I were out walking the dogs and chatting about what we liked, where it fit into the time line, what clues there were for the next movie, etc. Then he said, "You know airplanes and stuff, how close is the Quinjet to reality, is it possible?" 

I wasn't sure how to answer at first - I am neither a pilot nor an engineer - but I do have many years around Air Force airfields. We talked about the CV-22 Osprey, the AV-8 Harrier, the challenges of helicopters vs airplanes, and some of the hard lessons learned when the Air Force and Marine Corps developed these aircraft.

All of that aviation that got baked into me while in the Air Force came to the surface again, and resulted in such a great conversation with my 16 year old. He didn't grow up with a "usual" mom (not that he ever said anything about it) and it makes me happy my Air Force time gets me a little "cred" with him.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Why oh why?

I know there are many, many groups of people in our country and around the world that hate the stereotype they are lumped in to. At best it's a way to get teased (see above), at worst it's a way to discriminate. But the one that gets under my skin lately is one I saw repeated in a Washington Post article:

The military is a hierarchical, disciplined, top-down organization populated by an awful lot of conservatives.

The article is about outgoing Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson's announced move to President of University of Texas El Paso.

Yes, the military is hierarchical, disciplined and top-down. It has to be. We deal with dangerous situations and lethal weapons. My issue is the "populated by an awful lot of conservatives." The best case inference is traditional, cautious, reluctant to embrace change or innovation. The usual (negative) inference is homogeneous, unable to understand nuances of issues and situations, accepting the status quo and avoiding outside the box solutions. This is so, so wrong.

First of all, a good leader is a good leader. Teaching and practicing leadership is the focus of all of our professional military education. We are not handed a template to apply to all organizations and all followers. We are trained to be critical thinkers, because external and internal challenges are constantly in flux. It's insulting to say that Secretary Wilson will have difficulty leading a university because it's a very different environment (to quote the article, "a decentralized, chaotic, freewheeling institution populated by an awful lot of liberals.")

Secondly, there are 1,316,090 on active duty in the US Military (as of January 2019). How likely is it that every single member shares the same opinion? Has the same thought process? Was educated and trained in the exact same way? The US Military is made up of Americans of all backgrounds and all ideologies.  In fact, this article by The Council for Foreign Relations on Demographics in the US Military shows that the military is often more diverse than the civilian workforce.

If tempted to say, "They must think/act/vote like XXX, because they were in the military..." please don't.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Desperate Housewives Go From Full House to Big House

My friend Susan came up with that headline and it's a beaut, isn't it?

It's kind of delicious isn't it, hearing about the famous actresses and wealthy families that paid bribes to get their kids into the best schools. But as a parent I can totally understand how easy it would be to fall down that rabbit hole. What parent doesn't want the best for their kids?  I am not making excuses, a crime is a crime. And I know that hiring tutors and coaches for my kids are a far cry from bribing college coaches and test center proctors, but still...

I've been thinking about the entire apply-for-college ordeal quite a bit (after writing the first draft of this post last night) and am coming around to the idea that the entire process is fraught - from applications, to finding an edge to get in (like sports) to the outlandish price of a degree from one of the "top" schools. Good gracious, how did we get here? 

Here are some (more) thoughtful takes on it:

Pantsuit Politics Show (podcast): Beto, Manafort, the College Admissions Scandal and Understanding Antisemitism. The College Admissions portion starts at 14:50.

And on the downside of student loans and a parents role to guide kids towards sensible financial decisions, some tough love from Dave Ramsey, DAVE RANT: We're Making Stupid Education Decisions. Emmit's story starts at 4:30, the actual rant starts at 10:25.

Here's to the kids and parents that got through the process with morals and bank accounts intact :-)

Monday, March 11, 2019

Rage Clean: A Kondo Alternative

Clean /klēn/ verb: make (something or someone) free of dirt, marks, or mess, especially by washing, wiping, or brushing.

Rage clean /rāj klēn / noun: an instance of aggressive or violent cleaning caused by a stressful or messy situation.

It's a term coined by my son. A few months ago I sent him downstairs to get something from the basement pantry - the place where all the extra Costco purchases go. It was for something quick, like, "Go grab me paper towels." But this 90 second errand began to take much longer than I deemed acceptable. Had the lure of legos or something way more fun than a mom errand distracted him?

"Hey, where'd you go?" "I'm rage cleaning, the closet was crazy and I couldn't take it anymore." Thus a term was born. I was going to show you pictures of me cleaning up my craft/project/room that collects everything, but I was taking too long (talk about distracted). 

"That doesn't count as rage cleaning, it has to be right now and done fast."

To prove his point he attacked the vanity in the bathroom he shares with his sister. 

This is before: 

This is after:

Not shown: The very full trashcan next to the vanity.

The result is not zen, it's not Pinterest worthy, discarded items are not thanked. It's simply returning the space to functionality. I get the allure of Marie Kondo and her methods of decluttering, but I'll take a rage clean any day. Productive and emotionally satisfying.

P.S. - Rage cleaning your desk is a GREAT way to procrastinate
P.P.S. - this picture of my son is about 10 years old. He's still a cutie, just much, much taller :-)