Game on.

It was a sea of blue. Floating clouds of white. Shades of green. With an occasional glimpse of wolf gray. 

Today was the season opener for the Seattle Seahawks, at home, in Centrylink Field.

It was also 9/11.

I found myself lucky enough to be included in a trip to see the game with my mom, her cousin and daughter. We did this last year, but it was the end of September before the team had a home game, bruised and battered from coming this close to winning a second super bowl. 

It wasn’t pretty football then.

Wasn’t really pretty today either. And today had an undercurrent of loss of its own. 

I’m sure the NFL and all the teams had a pause when recognizing that the first Sunday of the 2016 season was going to fall on 9/11. This year, they had choices to make, more about honoring the memory of those who aren’t here to watch this season unfold than the entertainment value for those who would be filling their stadiums.

I felt uneasy, it all felt uneasy, for a bit this morning. Watching the children of 9/11 victims reading the names, so many names, of loved people who didn’t get to choose to see their kids grow up, or grow old with spouses, hang out with friends, or plan a future, while knowing I was going to something privileged. I felt split in two.

This is what makes life so cataclysmicaly heart rending. 

The tenuous balance of living and dying, joy and sorrow, breaking and mending of minds, hearts, souls, relationships.

The Seahawks have spent the week, and last, and more toiling over deep stuff. Issues of life and death, injustice and liberty. If some lives matter more or less than others.

They took the time to carefully pull apart thoughts and feelings folded into the shape of each teammate, listening to outside voices from all angels of an impossibly complex national debate, and then, made a choice of standing together in unity. 

Not because they all agreed. Because they didn’t.

It’s pretty great to walk among thousands and thousands of others who like, a lot, the team that you buy jerseys and hats and waste of money fingernail tattoos for. 

Makes it easy to feel one of many of a united force, with a common goal, an expected outcome. It can be a relief to just be part of a place where you can go unchallenged for a bit, relax into the social blanket of acceptance, follow the awesome shirt in front of you.

As long as you are wearing the same colors. 

It might be why my teenage son and Cardinals fan, who flew into Seattle for the game, made the decision to let Oma buy him a Seahawks hat, he for whom on any given Sunday finds the Hawks repulsive. He said he liked the hat, even though it is a Seahawks hat. I think he decided to honor his Oma’s favorite team (not so much mine), and at the same time, save the hassel of standing out as not a 12.

We all want to be noticed. We want people to look at us. To see us. To go out of their way to look in our eyes and take the time to show us that we are significant. 

And yet, so many times the shades of our situation, our pain, suffering, loss, hurt, insecurity color how we see those who cross our paths.

We do the very things to others that we would never want another to do to us. And it hurts.

Defense isn’t just played on the football field. It’s so easy to be fooled by the lie that protecting ourselves by being the first to hit will keep us from losing. Yes, sometimes having a strong defense is your best offense. 

But off the gridiron, in our jobs, on the road, at home, in our streets; making schoolyard teams based on who we like best and who can do the most for us just ends up costing us in ways we never bargained for.

What will we do now? Now that the anthem has been sung, the memorials spoken, flags unfurled and the brave honored. 

There are times, like when I dropped a glass bottle of (annoyingly expensive but super delicious) sparkling water on the concrete this morning, when I just want to be done with the people looking, watching, waiting to see how I fix my problem.

In those moments, their is nothing sweeter than a bystander coming forward to help, to empathize and smile and make the clean up process twice as fast, the embarrassment twice as short.

I love football, but I have no idea how it feels to play the game, or to coach a team. Standing on the sideline and watching from a stadium seat or a comfy couch are two completely different experiences. My perspective is formed by what I know of the game and the rules, my history of watching games, who I have watched with.

Our country unified after 9/11, maybe for each other, or maybe we felt had an enemy in common, a battle to fight to try to right the awful wrongs, a defensive line to build. 

It lingers, that fear. When a generation has seen nightmares in real time, there is no going back. 

Football has a season, it always feels too short (unlike baseball and hockey, yeah, I’m looking at you). It can be a brutal physical game, wearing on the strongest and healthiest of us all. We who love the game profit much from it’s intensity, but that always comes at a cost.

I think we have come to a time again in this nation of states united where people are ready and willing to take a deep breath and stand up for and against somethings. There’s only so much of being beaten that a person can take. There is a time when, if it comes to it, you choose.

This will be when we decide what to make a big deal of. What is no longer enough, no longer acceptable. 

This is when the game begins.

What is the measure of a man in America in 2015?

I don’t know. I am not a man.  Let’s start there.

I grew up with two sisters, my mom and my dad.

Now, at 42, my family is composed of my husband, my three boys ages 12, 9 and 6, and our 6 year old black lab, Rudy (also a boy). And I love football.

Listening to the Brock and Salk podcast this morning, I heard them reference a quote by Jim Harbaugh, formerly of the San Fransicso 49ers.  He is now the football coach at the U of Michigan. The gist of what he said was this;

“(Football is) the last bastion of hope for toughness in America in men, in males,” Harbaugh said.

Well. Jim has never been exactly eloquent, but you don’t have to worry about guessing what he thinks.  There is no subtext here; and while exaggerated for effect, this is just his truth. 

So the ESPN radio hosts posed the question, “What does it mean to be a man in America, in 2015?” This was the most interesting conversation I’d heard in some time on my daily podcast, so I flipped open my I-Pad and touched my Dictionary.com app to give me somewhere to start.

tough(ness)

  1. strong and durable; not easily broken or cut. 

This one gets debated almost every day in my life.  Because I have three boys, of which the oldest usually defines tough as “don’t cry when you get hurt”, and refuses to clean up the wounds on his legs and arms because he wears them as badges of honor.

My middle guy feels everything at a much more intense level and so as you can guess, he feels pain strongly and he cries alot.  My youngest has always endured physical pain like it’s a fly to be swatted and move on.  When he cries, we know he’s injured. Except that recently both of these guys have mastered the ‘fake’ cry. Not cool.

Mark works for our living and I’ve been a stay at home mom, so I’ve been the one to wipe away the majority of tears, kiss the boo-boos and inform my oldest that belittling his younger brother(s) for any given hurt and cry does not make him tougher, it makes him weaker and not only chips away at his strength, but at the relationships he has. He may or may not hear me all the time.

On the other hand, I do not run to every cry. Anymore. Sadly, now, as a jaded mom of three boys, I’ve seen far worse injuries than a cut or a scrape.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t check, or don’t care, (that’s an understatement), it just means I’ve learned to wait a heartbeat, listen, and then judge if this time needs my facilitating, or if this time, they can get up and keep on playing. 

capable of great endurance; sturdy; hardy: tough troops.

As for the times I’m not around and they get hurt, I’m generally ok. I know they are going to get hurts and scrapes and bruises and scars. And I value the time they spend without us around, where they work out problems on their own or together. This doesn’t come easily for me.  It’s not the world I grew up in, and because my boys were each born with and developed their own individual challenges, it has been incredibly hard to progressively send them in to a tough world.  

I know they are boys, not men, however that is our goal, to raise boys who know their own worth, can stand in their identity and treat themselves and others with love and acceptance, to possess an ability to perservere through adversity, injury and brokeness.  Life is tough. They need to be their own kind of tough. More than that, they need to know how to use that strength to notice, care about and do what needs to be done for others who are weak or broken.

not easily influenced, as a person; unyielding; stubborn: a tough man to work for.

As my boys have ventured, or been gently pushed, further from our circle of influence, we have faced the reality that we cannot protect them from everyone.  We can set parameters and boundaries, but the truth is, it doesn’t matter how young or old, mature or delayed a person is in any way, there are going to be people in our lives who are harmful.

I hate it.  I’ve felt my heart break in a thousand different ways watching my boys interact with groups or individuals and face rejection, unkindness and indifference. Helping them navigate realtionships and hurts has been the greatest challenge I’ve faced as a parent, as a person. I’m not an expert -far from- in relationships or emotions, and so I have been facing my own lifetime of vicious inner struggles along with with boys.  And in a way, growing up with them. 

In the act of walking with them, my husband and I see that they are “capable of great endurance.” 

The best thing about not ignorning pain is that helps us figure out who we are.  That we are in control of our emotions, reactions, behavior.  In this way, I am grateful for how hard, how tough, it has been and is to watch from the sidelines as my boys play out their own personal stories.  And grateful they still come back to our huddle.

difficult to perform, accomplish, or deal with; hard, trying, or troublesome: a tough problem.

The flipside of having all boys and being a woman is that there are many times when it is essential that I am not around.  I can feel it gathering like a pile of food wrappers and empty Gatorade bottles behind the couch. (My oldest son sponsored this metaphor.)

That is when I get out while the getting’s good.  And I leave my boys in the company and hands of their dad.  

Mark has always been very involved in all ways with our boys.  That was part of the deal, we both need to be all in to do this thing called a family.  I haven’t always made it easy for him, nor he for me, and kids are wired to make it difficult for everyone, but I’ve most definetly come to appreciate his strengths and perspective, and the equal fun and teaching he brings to being a dad.  Boys need their dads.

He is also human, and I give him much credit for being real with our boys about his missteps and mistakes.  I respect him for his willing spirit to do what he needs to do, and for being the living breathing model of a man that our boys need.

vigorous; severe; violent: a tough struggle.

Why are we even talking about what makes a man in 2015? Maybe we’ve come to the natural beginning of a new era. The previous generations definitions of “being a man” are now cumbersome.

Milennials are coming into adulthood now, and so just as when other eras have hit this milestone, fear and tradition yet again emerge and express time honored words from the elders:

“This generation has no idea what it means to be an adult!  They are lazy, selfish, self-absorbed, have no work ethic, don’t care about anyone else and are the most entitled generation ever!”

The danger of painting a portrait (or maybe I need to say posting an Instagram) of a generalization is that you don’t look any further than the examples that verify your beliefs. Fear can easily make it feel like it’s just safer, easier to blame “them.” Because we have never been wrong.  

Are some of the accusations leveled at Millenials factual?  Probably. And they are certainly amplified due to the crazy fast pace of technology. My Generation (X) though, heard much of the same when we entered adulthood, and it effectively managed to anesthetize an entire generation already overwhelmed with the expectations of those who came before us who “gave us the world”.  

This time around, when I see the new generation entering the fray, I’m less worried and far more hopeful.  I see that their openess holds a chance for real change. The broad unrest in our nation, even today, the message that we are tired of being told how it’s done, and by who, is a rallying cry. And Justice is a cause people will get behind.

tough it out, Informal. to endure or resist hardship or adversity.

That’s why in 2015 we are talking about what it means to be a man. Or a woman. Or a community. 

As interesting as is the conversation Jim Harbaugh spurred, it isn’t so much a characteristic that makes “a real man.” 

It’s action and purpose that defines a man. Aggressive and Passive have had their way for decades, centuries. Instead of all the outside signals that used to alert us to “manliness”, it’s time for, past time for, asking the hard questions. 

Not, how much does he make? What are his career goals? What sports does he play? How does he dress? What make and model of vehicle does he drive? How high in the draft did he get picked?

How about, how does he respond to adversity? How does he talk about other people, especially those different than him, or who can do nothing for him? How does he treat his wife, his children, his friends, family? Who does he look to for advice and wisdom as a man? 

hard to bear or endure (often used ironically): tough luck.

The past half a century has been a rapidly swinging pendulum in the defining of “what makes a man”. I think it may be time to take a time-out. Do you know to stop a pendulum?

The way to end the dizzying swinging of back and forth requires two things, friction and resistence.  When those two elements are consistently at play, the pendulum will slow, until it is still, back at center.

Playing at a ‘perfect’ model of a man created by corporations who want to see you buy their version of manhood, or allowing fear to convince you that one person can’t chage anything isn’t what the world needs to see.

Contintuing to perservere despite the imperfections of life and love, to endure while things are hard, standing up and speaking even when fear shakes you, when we see men acting in these ways in our lives and neighborhoods, and passing on the real lessons they’ve learned to others to build a team that can play the game that is life in America, we will begin to see hope for the true measure of a man.


Man Made DIY-I like how they are keeping the conversation going, interesting, fun, timely.

What Makes a Man-I found this article to be enourmously helpful in looking at the conversation that is taking place among Christians. 

The Man-blog post by a man I know.

Nick Offerman aka Ron Swanson-no modern conversation on manliness is complete without a few insights from Ron Swanson, Pawnee, Indiana.








#NoTime2Sleep

I originally posted this pre-season (Aug. 2014) now it’s post season (Jan. 2015) and tomorrow eve at 5:15, the Hawks will play to a packed house bent on causing an earthquake – and I get to be there. My first game at Century Link looks to be an epic one. This season has been as hard fought as any, complete with villains, adversity and hereos. And here in the northwest, we wouldn’t expect it to be any other way. #gohawks!

It’s far past my bedtime, not that I’ve had a consistent one in the past decade.  I just can’t go to sleep.  I’ve got my boys on my mind.  No, not the three that I’ve carried and held through countless nights while they couldn’t sleep. ( I think it’s very possible that the moment I became I mom I gave up my pass to ever have a good nights sleep.  Ever.)  Tonight it’s my boys in blue and green, and/or white and blue, or gray and neon green–all good choices. Tomorrow night is their first pre-season game. In Denver, no less.  Many will say these games don’t count, it’s not the “real” players or the finalized team that will spend sixty brutal minutes on the turf.  My eleven year old son, whose knowledge of football and its’ every minutiae prompted me to suggest he start his own YouTube football show, tells me to relax every pre-season game. More like “Mom, you don’t have to yell at every play!!” However, I tell him every time (-and seeing this pattern I think maybe I need to come up with a new comeback) that this is only his third year as a real, invested fan, and that this is in my DNA.

It was 1976 when Seattle got it’s first pro football team.  I can tell you with full assurance that even though I don’t have memories of that year, being that I was four, that I couldn’t have cared less.  My parents, though?  My dad had played football in high school, at Lewis and Clark in Spokane, and graduated to spend his time at Eastern Washington College (before it became a U) split between playing football, working, and earning his teaching degree.  Once my parents became an item, my mom then spent her time at EWC split between watching football, and earning her teaching degree.  So when 1976 rolled around, their once upon a time became a family past-time.  My first memories of Seahawks football games all revolve around one sense: noise.  You could not have convinced my mom that a large and looming mountain range separated our home in Eastern Washington from the fledgling Seahawks home, the Kingdome.  Her cheers (screams) and coaching points (yells) bounced and echoed through our home like a pinball machine every Sunday, every quarter, every fall,  through my tightly closed bedroom door.  A little secret here, though a Seahawks fan by blood, born into it, sports (of any kind) had no hold on me until I turned 13.  Then I liked basketball, for a long time; the pace, the noise, the excitement, what’s not to like?

The Seahawks of 2014 little resemble the wild west days team of the era of the 80’s.  Ah, the good old days, with heroes like Largent and Zorn, Kreig and Ground Chuck.  That’s when football caught my eye.  It was a combination of the old school tough as nails but heart of gold coach and the no holds barred talented charismatic West Coast underdogs story that had me.  At least at the national level.  The draw of the game at every other level however, including high school, in which my dad coached defense at my alma mater, that eluded me.  Here’s where I may lose some of you, I was a cheerleader from 7th-12th grade. I loved it, and being part of that squad made some of my favorite memories.  The whole concept of team and community and the deeper analogies of fighting through adversity that I embrace as an adult began then, on the sidelines.  So though we didn’t get much R-E-S-P-E-C-T for our work, we rose and fell with our teams just as much as any fervant fan in the crowds.

I chose to go to college on the west side (that’s Washington lingo for Seattle-ish) at PLU.  A treed oasis nestled in urban Parkland (basically Tacoma), Pacific Lutheran U had a (winning) football program unrivaled in the area, due to an iconic coach, Frosty Westering. Those sometimes rainy, sometimes sparkling sunny Saturday afternoon fall games made football personal to me. With EMAL (Every Man A Lute) and ‘attaway’ cheers, Frosty had a way of injecting joy and love and sportsmanship into a collegiate contest, making it- more.  Everyone knew Frosty, and loved Frosty.  In many ways, Pete Carroll and Frosty’s legacy have much in common.  Sunday afternoons if I was in my dorm room, and later in California in my home, newly married, I had the Seahawks on, or whoever was second best in my estimation, simply because the sounds of the game were the sounds of comfort, home and family.  And, yeah, I’m still talking about football.

I get that not everyone is as emotionally invested in football, and that my experiences with the game cast a rather lovely glow around our national pastime.  But that’s the draw, isn’t it?  That in a room of ten Seahawks fans, watching the same game, there will be ten totally unique opinions and feelings and perspectives.  And if you have fans of another team in the same room, it may be worthwhile to watch separate TV’s, depending on the rivalry.  Speaking of which, I cannot convince my son of the fact that growing up in my era forever made the Raiders (big meanies), the 49ers (just because they had Joe Montana doesn’t mean everyone had to pick them as their favorite team in school; where’s the loyalty people?), the Broncos (sorry, John Elway bugged me), and Dolphins (can’t remember why) forever rivals of the Hawks in my estimation.   And yes, I do know that everyone called them the Sea-Chickens behind their(my) back until very recently.  I know who you are.

This is not a very good bedtime story, now I’m all caught up in the glory days of seasons past, reliving the memories of…..well, actually, here’s been the hardest part about being a Seahawks fan.  (Not as hard as being a Mariners fan, someone reminded me last week).  That is the low self-esteem complex that previously shrouded the Northwest national sports teams.  Our state motto:  “Maybe next year.”  Along with: “We started off so strong.”  And:  “I can’t bear to watch.  But I must because I. Am. A. Twelfth. Man.”  So cut me a little slack that I’m excited and nervous about a pre-season game. Bear with the Twelves, fans of the other teams, and non-fans of sports.  We’ve hung in there, stuck around, believed, agonized, had a Super Bowl win within our reach and lost.  So we’ll have our fun, and we’ll have it our way: Pete Carroll, John Schneider and Paul Allen are bonified celebrities. Throwing “LOB”, “Beast Quake”,or “You mad bro?” into a heated football conversation is our way of saying, “who was it that won the SuperBowl this year?”.  And singing “da-da-da-da….”Wilson” to anyone in a #3 jersey, well, we’ve earned this.

Washington people (the state), and Seahawks fans are good people.  Born and bred, or relocated and indoctrinated, this is our team. Win or lose.  Though now that we’ve had a taste of Win, Pete’s “Win Forever” philosophy has a bracing, bold Northwest sort of new motto feel to it.  I’ve heard the way the NFL is structured in modern-day makes it nearly impossible to repeat a Super Bowl win.  But all the stats and charts and polls in the 24 hour a day NFL world cannot account for this: What the Seahawks have done since Pete arrived in 2010, day in and day out, cannot be copied, though many will try.  This is why I just want to hang out at Century Link and the VMAC during the season. Maybe the off-season too.  This is why I clutch the edge of my seat, or pace, watching every game. They’re onto something there in Seattle, onto something big.

“That’s the interesting thing about the philosophy,” Carroll says. “To accomplish the grand, you have to focus on the small. To exist in the eternal perspective, you have to live in the moment.”

Here we go…#GoHawks….

 

2015/01/img_4548.jpg

Thanksgiving: Food Family Football, what’s not to like?

THANKSGIVING.  No matter how you carve it, it’s more American than most any other holiday.  Ok, so it’s actually uniquely American, like it’s buddy Fourth of July and exists because of the “Birth of America”.  Land of the free.  That’s why the Nina, Pinta & Santa Maria came to our bountiful shores, right?  Wait, the Mayflower.  That’s right.  It was the clever joke of my childhood that cemented that ship name. April showers bring May flowers, what did the Mayflower bring? Pilgrims, ha!

The Pilgrims were leaving Europe, in search of a land of freedom when they set sail.  They must have been desperate to leave the only land they knew, for one unknown. But leave they did, to find one different from the squalor, poverty and confining constraints of a country bent on prospering the few at the cost of the many.

It had to require something as strong as hope to sail across a seemingly endless ocean, crowded together with 132 travelers and crew for sixty-six days and nights.

And then they landed, diminished in strength and health but revived in spirit, stood on the rock, and named their new home from a city in their old, Plymouth.  They had been driven there by something bigger than even they knew.  Now, they searched the Wampanoag homeland, “unpeopled” in the eyes of the Pilgrims.  And set up home in a place inhabited by the Pokanoket village of the Wampanoag people for thousands of years.

Was it worth it?  Living on the edge of an unexplored continent, wild and vast? Did they feel free?  What did it cost them, those Pilgrim followers with a mission to live in a place where they could practice their religion freely? Did they share that notion of freedom with the First Peoples they encountered?

What did it cost the Native Americans?  To not only share the land, but to join with the travelers in a new way of life.  We know Samoset and Squanto visited the settlers, which led to sharing their knowlege of the land in order to grow sustenance.  And we know that both groups of Peoples celebrated harvest in the fall.

And we know that, while later the Wampanoag and the Pilgrims signed a formal agreement to protect each other from other tribes, there was still the wary, guarded suspicion of one another at this fragile beginning.

The reason for their joint celebration, the one we call Thanksgiving, happened because Massasoit sent 90 of his warriors to the Plymouth settlement to investigate one day, because of the sound of rifles from the settlers hunting, for their own harvest celebration.  The Wampanoag realized the Pilgrim’s intent, and wholeheartedly joined the party planning; adding generously to the feast.  They threw a party, danced, drank, ate and made merry that First Thanksgiving.  And we have learned this in school while making Pilgrim and Native American hats ever since.

There are not that many Thanksgiving movies.  Of course, Charlie Brown, a rite of passage for every American school kids, and Planes, Trains and Automobiles.  But last year, a flick came out called “Free Birds”.  If you didn’t see it you probably either don’t have kids under the age of 12 in your life, or you chose to steer them elsewhere.

I admit, I had little hope going into the theater, I guessed it would at most be a 90 minute time killer.  The thing is, I loved it. I know it’s animated, and yes, (spoiler alert) I get that there are a race of talking turkeys.  But if you can suspend belief for a brief time, (remember my kid’s movie rule Heidi?), you may find that there is more to this than it first appears.  Full disclosure: I love Owen Wilson, who is the main (turkey) character.  I pretty much enjoy anything he’s in.  And, he’s Lighting McQueen people!!  Also, I like kids movies, almost as much or more as ‘grown-up’ ones.

Free Turkeys is smart, laugh out loud funny and my favorite part; it twists the narrative of Thanksgiving all around so that we can view it from a fresh (admittedly crazy) perspective.  Because where else but in America can you build an entire holiday around food and the bonus package of football (not to mention the new addition of shopping)? #Go Pilgrims!!

So, I wonder, at that feast, where the guest list was composed of two nations still in the new and tentative stage of friendship, what was the atmosphere like?  Who brought more to the table?  Whose relative made everyone think maybe this party was a mistake? Did they share anything in common outside of land-did language or experience create a thread thin bond?

Or, was the usual dynamic of unequal indebtedness that has invited itself to dine at every  bursting table since at play?

In typical American fashion, we have embraced a holiday and built traditions on our version of a story, and in some cases, made its retelling epic in its distortion of the truth.

I’m pro-Thanksgiving, all the way.  I vote stuffing and canned cranberries, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, and pumpkin pie for dessert, like any other American with gravy running in their veins.

It’s just that, well, how do I put this delicately, I’ve always been a bit embarrassed by thing.  Some years more than others, and always at the same time while embracing the basic message and celebrating of the holiday.

I have, over the years, decorated my homes with turkeys and Pilgrims and Native Americans.  Which makes me even less comfortable with things.  Far be it for me to say how one can and cannot adorn their own abode, and I certainly can’t find one ounce of me willing to judge anyone’s interpretation of a “Great American Tradition”.

I’m just asking myself some questions.  Some that have been begging to be asked.

What am I really celebrating?  Why does my family gather as we do? Why God, do the Seahawks have to be playing the 49ers, our arch nemesis, on Cali soil no less, on a day I will already have major heartburn and indigestion?

So here’s what I’m thinking, in my own rather small worldview lens.  I think that what the Pilgrims did, for the reasons they did, was astonishingly brave, especially given the odds of survival, both at sea and on land.  They were convinced the freedom of expressing their faith was worth any cost. And I think that the actions of the Wampanoag were beyond admirable.  More like, selfless, and just as heroic as the Pilgirms.

Their feast of celebration of thanks to the Creator and of giving to each other was hard fought. The best of people thrown together in circumstances and decisions that little resembled their dreams.

Which is why I get confused about exactly what feast we are celebrating sometimes, and why.

What I love about Thanksgiving-the long weekend, the colors of autumn, leaves, pumpkins, football uniforms.  The gathering of family together from near and far, the glowy version in my memories, and the glowy expectations in my head every year.  And I even love the inevitable moment we skid into an uncomfortable conversation.

“Get off your cornucopia!” you say.  “The true meaning of Thanksgiving is in the word itself!” “Thank you,” I say, hopping off of my gorgeously arranged cornucopia centerpiece, “of course it is!”

I’ve had a new favorite “thanks” tradition that started in our house three years ago.  We get a branch from the backyard-always at the last mintue-write our thankful-fors on cut out leaves and hang them on the Thankful Tree in the middle of our table.  We’ve had some pretty notable thankful leaves penned over the years, like Haden’s, the first year of being in our new house and for him a new school at third grade: “I’m thankful for our old house.”  And my brother in law’s heart warming, “I’m thankful for bacon.”  While thinking about this, I started imagining the thankful leaves my word gifted boys (11,9 & 6) in their current stage may scrawl this year.  I may scrap the tree this year.

That leaves the “giving”.  Now we’re talking; speaking my love language!  And do I love giving my family a huge meal, leftovers and food comas.

Giving thanks is really so personal; it’s personal to us, the people and events and things we are thankful for, are the ones that directly hit home. It’s personal to the ones who receive thanks, because it opens and emboldens hearts to believe and receive the spirit of humbleness and grace given. And then, if we are able, we multiply that grace.

My sister Heidi is in Syndey this year.  I told her that I’m just a little overwhelmed with the work of this week.  She replied that she would not miss Thanksgiving at all.  Of course not, I replied, you ate, drank wine and passed out for an extended afternoon nap every year-what’s to miss??  We enjoyed our laugh over face-time, but I can say, I am really going to miss you, Heidi, this year.

Here’s the deal.  We do big in the US of A.  What we do now, or don’t do, bears only a faint resemblance to the First Thanksgiving.  I imagine it looked and felt less like the fourth Thursday in November twenty-first century, and more like the Hunger Games in many ways.

And maybe that’s why the whole forced concept of gorgeous home, fantastic decorations, happy family, and Pinterest worthy food (that was free with all the coupons you used) feels off to me.

I’ve spent more of my life coaxing the spark of hope than in whispering thanks to the Hope Giver.  And truly?  I feel guilt.  And shame.

Too much.  Too much food, not enough I can ever give to those without enough.

Too much health, not enough basic needs to save all the suffering ones.

Too much freedom, never enough keys to unchain prisoners locked in their own personal cells of addiction, mental disorders, fear, abuse.

The older I get, the less I can hide the truth looming behind a painting of a battered ship, with a glowing sunset and a rock.

So it is the very juxtaposition of reality vs. folklore, our country’s, our family’s, our own, that is this holiday in 2014.

Whatever way you and yours are privileged to gather together, whichever version of giving thanks you choose, I pray blessings for you and the people around your table, or on the computer screen, or in your thoughts.

The secret to the meaning of the First Thanksgiving is that all of them were doing the best they could to live out their story, in freedom from fear.  The Pilgrims, the Native Americans, and us.

Freedom is not just rallying cry; true freedom shakes off shackles of despair, poverty, and hatred and lights a spark, a flame of hope.

Do not let hope be confined.  Be dangerous.  Give the traditions that don’t deserve to be passed on a flip, and make a new version of celebrating the freedom to give thanks in your life that means what it needs to mean.

 

 

 

 

21 Shades of Purple: inspired

There are as many NFL Network series that Haden Eastman likes to watch as there are bags of chips on his side of the couch.  I like some, for example NFL AM (especially Eric Davis-like that guy) and to keep up with the current stories of the players.  One of our shared favorites is A Football Life.  While we both draw our own meanings and insight from these, we share a love of stories.

A couple of weeks back Haden watched A Football Life: Sean Taylor.  I heard him run upstairs and rustle around the homework desk.  Soon he brought me the picture above, and said it was his blog post.

I liked the fact that he was inspired so much that he immediately expressed it.  I wondered why, so I demanded on my TV and took in the story.  I hate the ones where the player isn’t around to even be interviewed.  It’s sad and tragic and frustrating.

Haden wrote “He was a motivator” on his art piece.  It took me a bit of thinking and wondering how he gleaned that from Sean’s story.

Sean Taylor was a strong man, his mind just as much as his body.  Driven by love of family so deep, and a responsiblity to those he loved so wide that it encompassed the whole of he was.  Everything he did was because it was either important to his goal of doing everything in his power to care for his loved ones, or he didn’t do because it was completely unimportant to his pursuit.

His was a quiet strength, he didn’t feel the need to talk to the media; he showed his passions in his work on the turf, and his time spent with family and friends in the concrete jungle of his neighborhood.

Haden loves family.  He likes it best when we are all together, the more the better. And his passion, if you asked him, is football.  I do believe that these drive Haden, are at his very core too.

While Haden has decided he doesn’t want to actually play football, he wants to be immersed in it.  He told me that his dream job would be to work at NFL Films, and I have said more than once that he would be a great play-by-play commentator.

The reasons I like football may be different from Haden’s, but we’re not that far apart.  It’s the people who play the game, love the game, talk about the game, and the ones who love them that drive the narrative that is Football.

And I for one am thankful that my son is inspired and motivated by gritty tales of the gridiron.

Lights. Camera. Action.

for more 21 shades of purple

 

A look at Haden’s first blog post

this girl loves football

IMG_4662

Okay, so the first week was a bit bumpy.  A little rusty.  The opponents were out to prove they couldn’t get blown out by the same team two games in a row. We the twelves were there, we had our guy’s backs.  We lost, but it felt more disappointing to the team than the fans.  There were funny Seahawks memes and jokes about Denver’s “super bowl”  win over the Hawks in the preseason game, week 1 on social media.  The thing is, we all knew it wasn’t that big of a deal.  Besides, most of that game, we (Hawks, who else) played the depth chart.  And it’s deep.  In every way that counts.  I said before that preseason IS a big deal (here).  It is.  It’s like dress rehearsal.  You’re just getting to see who really gets which role, and who really fits better here or there, and Pete Carroll is a master at set design, operations, talent acquisition and well, fun.

I have watched all three pre-season Seahawks games in their entirety.  That’s not entirely true, I watched while also pinteresting, listening to my Spotify, and writing.  It’s a nervous thing, not unlike pacing, or my eleven year old Haden’s proclivity to decide he wants to watch any other game-because he (and I) are so invested in our team doing well, that it can hurt when they hurt. Or maybe for him, embarrass him for whatever reason.  I did catch most of the big plays that are now replays, and threw my two cents in here and there, as if they could ever hear me in the Clink among all the other 12’s.

I love that Brock Huard has been commentator on these games. I just love listening to him talk Seahawks, he’s got such an affection for the team (he did play for the green and blue once upon a time too) and for the Northwest.  I’m soaking in the actual pro-Seahawk announcing because I know in a few mere weeks, I will be subjected to every other announcer in the NFL broadcasting department.  It will be interesting to see if the most jaded will be able to see the Hawks for what they are, and have been, a world-class team.  Old school modern and unafraid of what anyone else thinks.  I get it, that’s the way Seattle, Washington, and the Pacific Northwest have always been.  And it scares the hell out of people to see freedom at play, not give up and even more, work.

I think what I love even more than the spectacular plays of constantly changing guys, or being stunned to see even more athletic prowess than I had seen last year, or seeing veteran players coaching, encouraging and cheering for the rookies, even more than seeing the boys dancing on the sidelines, on the field, in the locker room (and this is saying alot because most of the above makes me cry or laugh or both)…I love seeing Pete Carroll’s reactions on the sidelines.  In each and every play he is There. He is present.  He loves the game.  He has someone constantly pulling him back into the sidelines because of his barely restrained excitement during extraordinary plays.  He loves seeing what happens next.  He is with his guys on the field.  He loves his PLAYERS.  The joy on his face when the players play as a team in motion, selfless, pulling off the impossible because each teamate is literally playing to their strengths with all their heart, soul, mind…whew…it’s awesome.  It’s how I want to be in my life.  All in.

Immediately after the Super Bowl last year, I hit Fanatics for my gear, Pinterest for my twelfth-man pinspiration and Amazon (another Seattle phenom) for my reading material.  I had to get my hands on anything Pete Carroll, Seahawks or Twelfth Man related.  My reading list included:  Notes from a Twelfth Man: A Truly Biased History of the Seattle Seahawks , 100 Things Seahawks Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die , Then Zorn said to Largent…The Best Seattle Seahawks Stories Ever Told , the Sports Illustrated Super Bowl XLVII Seattle Seahawks Special Commemorative Issue Single Issue Magazine-2014, Always Compete: An Inside Look at Pete Carroll and the USC Juggernaut and Win Forever; Live, Work and Play Like a Champion .  Yes, intense and thorough research on my guys.  (FYI: I get no kickback from any of the above.  I wish.)

The first one, Notes from a Twelfth Man, I loved.  Love the authors style, it was a fun read, and I picked up some more Seahawks trivia in the bargain.  The second one, 100 Things…, was, well, packed with info.  This guy knows his stuff, and has a huge database of knowledge, he’s also written for Field Gulls, which is itself, a pretty exhaustive site on all things Seattle Seahawks.  I cannot remember what I learned from that book, however, I do visit FieldGulls often to read up.  The Zorn/Largent book was a trip down memory lane, of stories I didn’t actually remember, but of an era that I fondly recall from my youth.  I ate up the SI issue. And I read the two Pete Carroll books in backward order.   I wish I would have read them the other way.  I guess I can pretend.  The USC one was a good history read on Pete’s life before Seattle.  Win Forever, that was a game-changer.  No pun intended.  Really.  So worth the read, and re-read.  I want to implement more of what Win Forever means in my own family; so far, we’re at the 5 yard line in our territory, it’s fourth down, and the chains haven’t moved.  Like Russell Wilson has said, “What’s the next play?”.  I am hopeful that play by play, we’ll get there.

I also check the Seattle Seahawks site when ever I need a fix, listen to a few podcasts from 710 ESPN Seattle ‘Brock and Salk’ (like this one-it’s a really entertaining one) when doing a mind numbing job like folding towels, and I just ordered Seattle Seahawks Super Season: Notes from a 12 on the Best Season in Seahawks History , the ‘sequel’ to the Notes from a Twelfth Man.  

I’m just a girl who likes her football.

I’ve got to pack now for a ‘quick’ 300 mile trip to Seattle (!!!!) to see a Mariners game this week with my two older boys.  I’ll take any excuse to go on a road trip.  And, it’s Seattle.  While I’m at it, I better read up on the M’s, too.

UPDATE:  When I got home from my trip, I grabbed my new book, thanks Amazon for Prime two day delivery!  I finished the above book in twenty four hours.  I didn’t read for twenty four, it just took a day between have-to’s to get to read it.  Loved it.  To relive the season through Mark Tye Turner’s take on it was a great 12 experience.  Go Hawks!

21 Shades of Purple

IMG_2781

Today I’m introducing a regular feature writer:  My eleven year old son, Haden.  He has more than a passing interest in football; he lives, he eats and he breathes Football.  Last year he played junior tackle football, this year he opted out.

Today I told him that since he isn’t playing a sport this fall, then he is going to write a sports column for me to publish on my blog.  He laughed at my “easy” challenge and set out to write his first entry tonight.  (I had to type it though.  And it’s not really in written form, it’s a chart.  First timer.)

(Note:  Opinions of the following author by NO WAY reflect the opinions of the MessyJoyfull staff.  Which is me, his mom.)

2014 NFL

Playoff Predictions

AFC

1. Broncos (home field adv.)

2. Patriots (1st rd. bye)

3. Colts (div)

4. Bengals (div)

5. Chargers (wc)

6. Ravens (wc)

NFC

1.SEAHAWKS!!!!!! (home field adv.) emphasis added by editor

2. Saints (1st. rd. bye)

3. Packers (division)

4. Redskins (division)

5. 49ers (WC)

6. Cardinals (WC)

Playoff Games 2014:

Colts v. Chargers       Bengals v. Ravens                                               Packers v. Cardinals            Redskins v. 49ers

     Wildcard                       Wildcard                                                                Wildcard                             Wildcard

Broncos v. Chargers    Patriots v. Bengals                                              Seahawks v. Cardinals        Saints v. 49ers

      Divisional                      Divisional                                                               Divisional                           Divisional

            Broncos v. Bengals                                                                                               Sehawks v. Saints

             AFC Championship                                                                                               NFC Championship

                                                                  SEATTLE SEAHAWKS v. denver broncos

                                                                     SUPER BOWL 2015  in Phoenix, AZ

                                                                              score: Den 35-Sea 31

Note:  I asked Haden why he picked the super bowl attendees, he said, “Because the Seahawks have a really strong defense and the Broncos improved their defense and have a really strong offense.”  He also said he tried not to make the final SB score a blowout. (Oh, like the last superbowl?…)

While difficult to type his outlook for this year, I fully support his opinions, knowing that I’ve known something all along about football that may not be visible to the 11 year old boy eye; the Seahawks have something no other team in the NFL has.  I’ll stop at that because this is the point where he would roll his eyes and walk away.=)

#Go Hawks!