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.








Haden’s Way Too Early Playoff Bracket Super Bowl 50!!

In the beautiful state of Washington, as flowers open, grass grows green and birds chirp in the trees,  schoolchildren and teachers in every town and city have set aside real and meaningful learning, and taken on stress and expectations, to instead take a new special standardized test. Don’t ask me the name, I will use a sentence with a curse word.  Of my boys, my sixth grader and my third grader have been testing. 

They are a microcosm of the vast differences between learning styles and test taking paces. That is to say that true to character, Liam takes much longer time to a. start looking at the question. b. actually read the question. c. re-read the question because they are written in secret code. d. write out the lengthy answer required.  Sometimes he also likes to doodle his name to add something extra to a paper. Haden, on the other hand, approaches the test as something to conquer, and be done.  In record time.

This is how Haden gave me a surprise (and welcome) blog post today.  He said he finished his test quickly, and so while the other students toiled on, he said his choices were to read, draw or well, just be quiet.  He said he’d been able to write the post because “I was so bored.”  Thus, he saved not only himself from jumping up and running out of the room, he saved me from coming up with and writing something that I even wanted to show anybody.  I’m full of words this week, however, they seem to be jumbled up and joined in a big messy scribble in my head. So, here’s Haden’s fun look into the 2015 NFL season. 

AFC Seeds

  1. Indianapolis Colts
  2. New England Patriots 
  3. Denver Broncos
  4. Baltimore Ravens
  5. Pittsburg Steelers
  6. Houston Texans

NFC Seeds

  1. Green Bay Packers
  2. Arizona Cardinals
  3. Dallas Cardinals
  4. Carolina Panthers
  5. Seattle Seahawks
  6. Detroit Loins

AFC Wild Cards

Texans @ Broncos-January 10th
Steelers @ Ravens-January 9th

NFC Wild Cards

Lions @ Cowboys-January 10th

Seahawks @ Panthers-January 9th
AFC Divisional Round

Raven’s @ Colts-January 16th

Broncos @ Patriots-January 17th

NFC Divisional Round

*Seahawks @ Packers-January 16th

Cowboys @ Cardinals-January 17th

AFC Championship 

Patriots @ Colts-January 24th

NFC Championship

Cardinals @ Packers-January 24th

SUPER BOWL 50 (thank goodness one number I don’t have to decipher)

San Francisco

Colts vs. Cardinals

February 7th

ARIZONA CARDINALS SUPER BOWL CHAMPS!

In related news, Haden has been playing after-school sixth grade flag football, and is having a really great time.  I’ve enjoyed that the games go for less than an hour, and no one really gets hurt. Except for the kid this week who’s nose meet another person’s knee.  Other than that, good, clean competition all around. And even more than that, Haden’s team is exactly why I love sports, because done well, you see kids grow in confidence and friendships and intangibles that pay off over time.  He loves nothing else like football; I’m deeply grateful that this time around, football has loved him back.

*If you’ve read any of my sports related posts, then you know that I am a Seahawks fan, a twelve.  However, I am still going through some relationship struggles with them.  I’ve been sick, then in disbelief, then mad, then sad, and now I’ve transitioned to a sort of acceptance.  But I’m disappointed, and after all we’ve been through, I am hesitant to trust again.  It’s going to take some time before we talk, much less have fun again. I’m done.

                                                       

21 Shades of Purple: Post-NFL Season or Moving on

The NFL season ended in a game that most think was a “good game”. It felt crushing to me (Seahawks fan), and to Haden, (11 3/4), who writes this column (sort of), it was a fitting and just end. (Cardinals fan).

This year, he has decided to embrace all sports; he has recently begun to watch basketball with far more interest, hockey with equally more interest (his uncle and dad love), and even tennis and golf. I will happily attend one out of four of those events with him.

He told me on our trip, when I suggested that he write about his favorite things we saw at the NFL Experience, that he “can’t write and isn’t good at it.” This is false, he has a fantastic imagination and huge vocabulary; I can sum up his desire to write only in lists in four words: Writing takes too long.

So, for now, I will continue to write his before and after pieces to his lists. And he will continue watch all sorts of sporting events and practice shooting baskets and saying he sucks at shooting baskets.

HADEN’S NBA TEAMS (FAV – LEAST)
1. Phoenix Suns (we went to our first NBA together in Phoenix!)
2. Chicago Bulls
3. New Orleans Pelicans
4. Miami Heat
5. Portland Trailblazers (surprised he listed this so low, they’re so close!)
6. Minnesota Timberwolves
7. Houston Rockets
8. Los Angeles Lakers
9. Oklahoma City Thunder
10. Cleveland Cavaliers
11. Toronto Raptors (wait, we can’t have a team in Seattle, but we can in Canada??)
12. Milwaukee Bucks
13. Memphis Grizzlies
14. Utah Jazz (He told me no less than five times that this is Utah’s ONLY professional team; and how could the state stand that?!?!)
15. Denver Nuggets
16. Charlotte Hornets
17. Detroit Pistons
18. Boston Celtics
19. Sacramento Kings
20. Indiana Pacers
21. Brooklyn Nets
22. New York Knicks
23. Orlando Magic
24. Los Angeles Clippers (whoa, didn’t I just type this; there’s two teams in LA?! This must all be about money.)
25. Philadelphia 76ers
26. Washington Wizards
27. Atlanta Hawks
28. San Antonio Spurs
29. Golden State Warriors (that’s four teams in sunny Cali)
30. Dallas Mavericks

HADEN’S NHL TEAMS
1. Chicago Blackhawks (one of the original teams, I know that)
2. Arizona Coyotes (we visited the team shop and saw the outside of the stadium in Phoenix; it’s across the street from the AZ Cardinals stadium)
3. New Jersey Devils (Uncle MIke’s fav team; he’s from Jersey)
4. Pittsburg Penguins
5. Montreal Canadiens (wins least creative team name award from me)
6. Minnesota Wild
7. Tampa Bay Lightning
8. Vancouver Canucks (didn’t find anything Canucks for sale when we were in Vancouver last summer)
9. Colorado Avalanche
10. Boston Bruins
11. Detroit Red Wings
12. Toronto Maple Leafs (those maple leafs are ferocious fighters, ya know)
13. Calgary Flames
14. San Jose Sharks
15. ST. Louis Blues
16. Carolina Hurricanes
17. Florida Panthers
18. Anaheim Ducks
19. Ottowa Senators (seriously, these Canadian teams need better names)
20. Buffalo Sabres
21. Winnipeg Jets
22. Edmonton Oilers (really)
23. Columbus Blue Jackets
24. Nashville Predators (scary)
25. Dallas Stars
26. Los Angeles Kings (what, only one NHL team?)
27. Washington Capitols (ok, that’s as bad as the Canadian team names)
28. New York Islanders (sounds far more exotic a location than it is)
29. New York Rangers
30. Philadelphia Flyers (I give up)

And so, you have it. And I’ve had it with sports for the day.
-Hollie (& Haden)

Super Losers

I really hate losing. It took me awhile into adulthood to realize that I was really a competitive person. It’s part of who I am, and the intensity ebbs and flows with who, what, why, when and where.

Having children has tempered the display of my competitive side, knowing that three sets of little eyes are watching every move.

My boys have changed how I watch team sport events. It poses a challenge at times to keep the ratio of emotion:intellect even. It is a constant swing between who I am as Hollie, woman and Hollie, mom.

Sometimes I give up and go watch the game alone, in my cozy chair, where I can focus and let whatever comes out from my lips during the game come out. It’s been that way much of this season due to my son’s Cardinals team steadily losing in the end of the season, and my Seahawks steadily rising.

I didn’t actually get to watch the entire Super Bowl. Watching with four boys under 12; my sister, bro-in-law, Mark and I were on constant “shhh” patrol as well as redirecting traffic to the basement. Then at half-time, like dominos, the party fell, on a course to epic breakdowns of four tired boys.

I caught pieces of the first and second quarter; my husband and Mike missed part of it too, fixing my flat tire (on my van that had just completed a 2,500+ mile trip with no issues) so that I could drive home. They were selfless and giving, and it made missing that part of the game sweet.

Mark and I drove our crew of three done with the Super Bowl home in separate vehicles, in the falling swirling snow near the end of the half-time extravaganza, slowly winding down an icy road that took longer than usual.

Home, between settling the boys and unloading the van from my road trip, Mark watched pieces and gave me quick updates; when I was done, there were two minutes left in the game.

Only a few feet here or there and the confetti would have been raining blue and green, and we would be having a very different dialogue. I can’t write that ending now.

The time clock hit zero and I turned off the TV, couldn’t bear to see the pain on the faces of our boys. Let the emotional fallout begin.

I had watched the ending in my soft chair, cuddling with my middle guy; when I knew it was over, I told him gently (I think) to please let mom be alone for a bit.

And as soon as I could, wiped from a challenging seven-day road trip and wrecked from the gut wrenching awful moment of the end of SB49, I went to bed and closed my eyes, eventually drifting off to sleep.

The reverberation of that last moment will echo for many years, and every twelve watching will have their own unique version of that story to tell.

What I remember most painfully, is Richard Sherman’s face crumple as he watched the ball fall into the hands of the opponent. Russell, walking off the field, carrying the weight of the Seahawks world with him. And Pete Carroll’s face, with a look I’ve never seen before, and hope I don’t have to again, etched with the knowing it was over, there was no more to be done. They had fought until the end, and finished, but they had not won this battle.

I take defeat and failure hard; one of the gifts of feeling everything intensely means really feeling the pain of grief in every way, from every person. If I’ve been the one who makes a mistake or error or judgement call, I am the hardest on myself. As much as I imagine the players pain, I can’t imagine how it really felt from their angle, their position, their experience.

“I think it’s the nature of competitors that they think about the things they’ve done wrong far more than the things they’ve done right.” Kurt Warner shared in an interview today. And who are some of the strongest, biggest, most proud competitors in the NFL? They have to carry this memory in a far different way than the fans.

My method of Seahawks Post Traumatic Stress recovery yesterday was to engage in avoidance behaviors; no social media, no national media, just listening to 710ESPN Seattle, Brock & Salk. They have framed this painful game so well, and it’s a testament to the fervent love of Seattle teams, the Seahawks, and the power of the twelves that we feel we have an intimate connection with each other, a community to share this pain.

Today I managed to listen to two of the post game interviews from the locker room; and It was painful. We can say whatever we want about people’s behavior on the field, pontificate about the route, the call, the tackle, the missed opportunity, it’s easy from the stands and from our couch.

The thing is, these are real people, in most cases young guys, playing in an excruciating game of physical and mental endurance, under unbelievable expectations.

So if someone cracks at the end of a brutal battle, after hearing trash talk about one of his brothers, I have to say, I don’t blame him. There are always two sides to a story, and until we hear them both, it isn’t our job to pass a guilty verdict. Hearing the pain and shock and grief in these two voices was enough for one day.

I’m a bit of a fan of Pete Carroll, maybe I need his jersey? And I’ve been saying that this year, this team, this season, it’s not just about football, there’s more to this story. Pete spoke today on The Pete Carroll Show on ‘Brock and Salk” about how the team is dealing with the disappointment, and how he wants to go through this pain with the twelves as well. He didn’t disappoint. This losing is all part of Win(ning) Forever.

“I think the resilience of our football team is unmatchable, and the character of the guys that we have, that’s what makes the difference.”Russell Wilson

In this game, we thought we were going to win, but the story happened for the other team. It’s not so great being on the other side of that page. And the Seattle Seahawks are now being defined by a single play call.

When I make a call that fails spectacularly, I’m so thankful it isn’t very often in the presence of a million people.

I still hate losing, especially in this way. After this season, after all of the hard work, and the rebirth, to come to the end where the loss is measured in feet and seconds is simply heartbreaking.

How we deal with defeat, losing, loss is the biggest test of our spirit. I don’t need to see anymore bad losers, sore losers, I’ve done that on my own.

But Super Losers…that’s something I’ve rarely seen.

In the second half of the game, while unloading my baggage, I talked to God (nice to have someone listening). I said, Okay, God, these guys have a story that is unbeatable, please help them win, for their story to end with victory.

After my whispered words evaporated in the snow filled air, the thought immediately followed, (God’s answer), -oh, but sometimes it’s through losing, that the greatest victories are won.

#GoHawks

Why the Seattle Reign in Phoenix(?)

When I pulled this last minute trip together to Super Bowl central, I didn’t really know what to expect, in any way.

Reading about Phoenix, (not the forecast I guess), I saw that typically they experience 325 days of sun a year. That sounded perfect for this fogged in, cabin fevered girl from eastern Washington.

It’s rained two of the full four days we’ve been here, but the days we did get sun, we got sun, and a mild case of heat exhaustion; no joke. 70 degrees is a huge jump to take from 30 degrees in two days!

I’d never been to Phoenix, and the fact that my oldest son, Haden (11-3/4) had wanted to come here as long as he could remember, was a big pull.

I remember early in the season, knowing that my team, the Seattle Seahawks, would be here in January. There was also a chance, at least then, that the Arizona Cardinals, Haden’s team since he began watching football, would be here.

They both couldn’t be there. It was one or the other. But we could.

I’ve written about the struggle Haden has had this football season seeing his team peak, and then tumble and seeing my team start strong, then tank, and then slowly climb to the top of the football heap.

This trip has been more about mom and son than about football.

Yes, it’s been almost entirely about football. Minus the travel days (4 & 1/2) on the road together, (in our minivan, to give us some space), and my one choice of hiking for an afternoon, it’s been football.

And that’s the genius of sports. On the surface, it appears to be just a game. And with football, a brutal sixty minute contest that ends in victory and defeat. All centered around a leather bound Wilson.

It’s always more than meets the eye. Even my years as a mothered/fathered-in 12th fan, I knew I was part of something, something as big as my state, and my geographic area, the Pacific Northwest is best.

I became more of a fan of the game when I picked up where I left off watching the games in my own home. When our boys were born, one, then, two, then three; football became a family event again.

The seasons have come and gone, and Haden is now in sixth grade, on the cusp of becoming a teen. If there was ever a time for me to get Haden away from the noise and chaos of home, school, family and friends, to just spend some time together to clear the air between us, this was going to be it.

And like every good thing in my story, I had a feeling about this for a long time before we arrived.

I thought I had empathy for Haden being a Cardinals fan in a 12th Fan Land. I got a whole new appreciation for his angst the moment we arrived in Phoenix.
A typical exchange has looked something like this:
“Wait, you have Seahawks on, and he has Cardinals on. What’s up with that??” I pull out my polite social laugh to answer, “Ha, ha, ha, yes he’s loved the Cardinals since he was nine, and I’ve been a Seahawks fan my whole life.” “Well,” they will say, “I like you-” pointing to Haden with a smile/fistbump/high-five, “but not you.” glaring my way quickly.

Ok. Well, I get, Arizona is bitter. Just a heads up though, there are more and #twelves descending on your city by the day. I was just an early warning.

Have we had any life changing moments? Maybe. Haden has had experiences in Phoenix and in the NFL pre-Super Bowl festivities that he couldn’t have had in a hundred days at home.

You know, you can’t always see what you are in that will become in retrospect, the fabric of who you are, or a split in the road of your story.

I set into this trip with my eyes wide open looking for God to show up for Haden, and for me. And He has. I have stories and moments I can point to later, when we need a flesh and blood example that things do work together for good.

We also have several bags of NFL and Arizona booty.

Yesterday as we climbed the red rocks at Papago Park, Haden said that we should bring the rest of our family back here sometime. We’ve both fallen a bit for this city and for the Southwest.

In fact, I need a month road trip just to explore all of the spots we drove by on the way.

We leave today to head back North. Super Bowl tickets were never really an option, just a maybe. My husband and sister pulled together to cover my other two guys (9 & 6) schedules for a week, so it’s time to get back home.

My hope is, that as we drive the thousand plus miles home, tires pounding the endless concrete ribbon, this time the scenery flashing by outside our windows changing from desert, to forest, and back to snow in Spokane, that memories and conversations, encounters and adventures sink their way deep into Haden’s heart and soul and memory.

That’s what football and this trip is really about for me. To see played out in front of you, all of the adversity, obstacles, and tricks that a game, and life, will throw to you, and to see that with a switch of perspective, how a problem becomes just another puzzle with a solution.

And that you are never truly alone. That even when you think you are the only one wedged between a rock and an rockier place, there is something bigger than you, just waiting to lend you a hand.

(Shout out to the kind, twenty something Patriot fan guy that caught me on my seemingly short jump/fall on the last part of the climb yesterday; you rock! I ended up with just a sore ankle and a minor flesh wound.)

Haden’s going to miss this place, and traveling. He has that wanderlust in him. He comes by it honestly; I need to get out and go somewhere, anywhere several times a month, a week, a day.

I’m going to miss it too. The truth is, I needed this trip just as much as he did. It won’t be easy to go home. But a trip not long enough is sweet, a trip too long is not.

We leave different people than we came, the great gift of travel is that it never leaves you the same.

About that game on Sunday, I have alot to say, it’s just that I have a tween urging me to get going!!!

I’ll summarize.

The Seahawks will win, but it will be more than that. This season has been a lesson in persevering and being true to who you are if nothing else.

It won’t be in a conventional way, it won’t be at all like last year, but they will triumph. They will make mistakes, fall behind, pull ahead, fight for all they are worth, and play until the very last second.

That’s just the genius of how they do it in Seattle. They aren’t just along for the ride, they are road tripping this journey for all its’ worth, with the guys they want to be on this road with, and while the destination is sweet, it’s the miles that make them who they are.

#gohawks #together

#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….

 

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