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The Matter With Sports

Once, in a college class, I casually — or perhaps not so casually — made the comment that people could afford to get obsessed about sports because the games really don’t matter. It’s something you allow yourself to feel passionately about, knowing it isn’t going to change your life anymore than you allow it.

Sports don’t matter?

That shocked some of my classmates, disgusted others (who didn’t even deign to respond), and amused my professor, who agreed with me.

Let’s look at what I think does matter. Poverty, putting food on the table or the simple ability to pay your bills responsibly. Family and close friends, especially as we grow older. Our health, whether it’s maintaining or regaining it.

sportsCertainly I understand the commitment professional coaches and players are going to have. It’s their livelihood, and a high pressure one at that. Yes, it matters to them. In fact, it’s likely to have a lifelong effect, one way or the other. So for anyone who makes a living in the world of sports, it matters, to varying degrees.

To those of us who just watch, bitch & moan, cheer at the top of our lungs and all the rest, it’s entertainment. It doesn’t matter.

I’m from Minnesota, which means I’m not used to seeing championship teams. In 1987, however, the Twins shocked everyone by winning the World Series. Their fans, and I was one of them, were euphoric. Good memories, fun to relive, but those games didn’t change my life one bit. Okay, I got a sweatshirt.

They won again in 1991, a top-notch World Series, and while the euphoria wasn’t the same (we’d been there before), it felt GOOD. Yet once again, it didn’t change my life, or the lives of too many of its fans. Maybe some won big money from ill-advised betting (a redundant phrase in my book), but no doubt the vast majority of that money was quickly spent, probably not wisely.

trophyStill, there is a certain camaraderie that develops. My mom is friends with her next-door neighbor, a reclusive man who few in her building have gotten to know, because he’s heard her yelling when the Vikings score a touchdown. He’s a bigger fan than she is and loves to talk about the game, what they did wrong and on rare occasions, what they did right (for some reason, Vikings fans never like to talk about their team has done right).

In the end, sports don’t matter, any more than your favorite television show or beloved novel does. Yet…of course they do,  because they’re  an outlet for all that does matter. It gives us a chance to vent our emotions and say what we have to say in a safe environment.

And damn it, it’s fun.


Image Credits: (Football Players) © Bigstock; (Sports Equipment, Trophy) © Graphic Stock

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Mission Accomplished (so stop trying to get it done)

I have a recurring dream…one I hear many people share with me.

Or some variation of it. It’s the “education” dream, the one in which it’s finals weeks and you haven’t been to class all semester. (I think my first time through college, I may have actually lived that dream during my final term.)

Nervous Pop Art Young Woman Biting her Nails. Vector illustrationMy dream is a little different. In it, I have once again returned to college. I’m working toward a second bachelor’s degree (although in what is never clear). Yet try as I might, I continually fail most, if not all, of my classes. I cannot grasp the subject matter, cannot conquer the topic. Sometimes, I wait too long to drop the classes, and I know I’m going to get failing grades.

There is a sense of repeated defeat, a feeling I should just give in to the fact I’m not meant to have a college degree.

Except…I have one, a bachelor’s in journalism. At some point in my dream, I stop worrying about my current failures. I’ve already succeeded. Why am I even putting myself through this mayhem?

I’ve never bothered to determine what is going on in my life that triggers this dream, although the message is pretty clear. Don’t be afraid of the future. You’ve already proven yourself in the past, and you have the tools to do it again.

I like that I resolve this issue so easily while I’m sleeping. I think it’s experience talking.

I was talking to my cousin today. He’s more than 20 years younger than me, which puts him in his mid-30s, old enough to have gained some perspective on life’s trials and tribulations himself.

He recently removed himself from a situation that was leading to trouble, and I’m proud of him. He has not only has lived through some challenging times, he’s put those difficulties to good use in his life. He doesn’t want to relive what is best left in the past.

I’m sure when I was his age, I’d learned a few lessons myself, but when I look back on that era of my life, I typically see repeated failures. How will I view what I’m living through now in the years to come?

Fotolia_120458963_XSHardly the question to fret over, I know. What I should be asking myself is, what are you learning from the past, and how are you applying it to your life today?

There are lessons I should be learning, steps I should be taking to conquer my demons. It’s not always easy to break convenient habits.

But I’m not going to repeat another class if I don’t have to do so. There are better ways I can improve my life.

Onward…


Image Credits: © ivector — Fotolia

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The Pursuit of Passion (and lesser things)

We speak of passion with great enthusiasm, as in “pursue your passion.” I agree, finding joy in life is a good thing, and finding fulfillment and purpose is a treasure. But too much of a good thing has its drawbacks.

I cringe a bit at the word “passion.” It connotes a drive to do something at the expense of other, necessary tasks in life. There can be a lack of balance when you’re passionate about cause, a skill, a person…anything. Of course, sometimes, that lack of balance is part of what gets the job done. For a period of time, letting your passion drive you is a good thing.

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Wild Thing, I think I love you…

Political candidates and those who campaign for them need to be passionate, for example. When you’re in love, you’d better be fully engulfed in your feelings for that other person, or forget about a long-term commitment.

It’s also a term that’s thrown around fairly easily, one that plays on your emotions but isn’t always easy to define in practical terms. I enjoy knitting. I’m an avid knitter, and I always have a project or two in the works. I love to share and compare with other knitters, encourage them in their projects and pursue the next big undertaking with vigor. I have dozens of knitting magazines (including every Vogue Knitting since 1982, which isn’t as many as it might sound like — for years they only published two issues annually). I dabble in design.

Yet I would not say I am passionate about knitting. To me, that would imply some sacrifice, a devotion that goes beyond what is appropriate for my favorite hobby. I have several friends who own yarn shops. I’ve asked them if knitting is their passion, and they laugh and say no. They love it, love their work and are dedicated to the success of their stores. But there is a balance in their lives, and their passion, if they can name one, is more likely their grandchildren.

For years I was also a devout reader. I read as many books as I could get hold of, and while circumstances dampened my enthusiasm for reading (something I never would have thought possible, and I resent those who caused it), that flame likely will never be fully doused. I still enjoy the feel and promise of a new book, and today, when I order one online, I can’t wait to open that box and just hold the book.

So I’m an avid reader as well as knitter. Perhaps there is a little more passion there, for I will firmly say, “you can’t spoil a child with books.” (I know, I know, some of you could provide solid examples contradicting that statement, but look at the heart of what I’m saying. And if a child throws a fit because he or she doesn’t get a new book every time the family goes to Walmart, that has nothing to do with books.)

AdobeStock_144741916 [Converted]

Just let me finish this paragraph…that’s not true, you are important to me!

The one thing I will say I feel compelled to do, even when I have nothing to say (hence the need for a blog haha), is write. That might come close to being a passion. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, if I could write for a living…the jobs I’ve found for writers, however, generally are for someone younger, more entry-level. I’m not sure that’s the kind of writing I want to commit myself to on a daily basis.

I have found a way to make room for all the things I can get lost in doing. If any one of them became a job, would I leave behind my joy and what now brings me peace? Let’s face it, too much of anything is going to hurt you in some way.

That goes for the body as well as the mind. As I grow older, I’m increasingly mindful of the toll everyday activities, no matter how seemingly benign, can take on our bodies. Anything we do for an extended period of time has its price.

I just spent months nursing a thumb injury my doctor and physical therapists believe was caused, at least in part, by knitting. When I posted a story about that, one of my blogging buddies commented how she’d hurt herself reading paperbacks.

Yes, find what you love doing, what re-energizes you. But remember, our bodies and minds need variety to stay healthy. We may not love everything we do with the same fervor, but the balance is what keeps us alive, physically and emotionally.


Images © geosap — Adobe Stock

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The Harsher Penalty

Eight prisoners on death row in my state are scheduled to be executed in the coming days.

There’s been a great deal of controversy over the fate of these men, with legal proceedings already delaying at least two of the scheduled executions. Now it appears a third will be delayed, but one man likely will die within 19 minutes. He may be dead by the time you read this.

Lawmakers supporting the death penalty claim delaying the executions is only prolonging the pain of the families of the victims. I say this: nothing you do is going to alleviate the myriad of emotions that overwhelm each of these individuals. A large number of them, in fact, are opposed to this form of justice.

Hands in jailThey’d rather those men live out their lives imprisoned, stripped of their freedom and dignity, separated from society and suffering the pain of life in a cold, callous environment. In my mind, that is the harsher penalty, and the more appropriate course of action for society to take.

I don’t know why former football hero Aaron Hernandez took his life in his prison cell two nights ago, but I imagine this 27-year-old man looked at the decades stretching out before him as he served his sentence of life without parole  and fell into despair. I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often.

I cannot claim to feel anything but disgust for the men sentenced to death. Their crimes are heinous, and they deserve to be pulled from society. But that doesn’t need to be death. Death is something we all face. It is not a penalty, it is a way out.

I don’t advocate cruelty in our penal system, but it is inherently a cruel lifestyle, even in the best of circumstances. Those convicted of violent crimes are prohibited from taking part in many of the programs that make prison life bearable, in part because of their violent tendencies, and in part because those programs are designed for rehabilitation and re-entry to society, something they’re not seen as needing.

In short, a sentence of life without parole is harsh.

Harsher than death.


Image Credits: © Bigstock

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Aux Champs-Elysees

 

Toujours, avec respect, Paris.


 

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Dear Walter and Mimi,

I treasure you. Hopefully you don’t need to read this to know how much.

That’s why (and I know this is hard for you to understand) I don’t want you going outside. You see, it’s dangerous for kitties out there, and the two of you aren’t street savvy.

kitty-no-bkgd

I’m going to visit my mom in a couple of months, and I’m worried about you. I’m terrified you’ll dash outside while I’m gone and I’ll never see you again. My friend Deb is going to take care of you while I’m gone, so be good for her, okay?

We need to talk about my trip a little, too. I’ll be gone for what will seem like a long time to you, and I decided it was best to let you stay home rather than go to the kitty-cat hotel. They didn’t have any of the big rooms available, and you would’ve been in a teeny-tiny space for way too long.

So you might be a little lonely, but I’ll be coming back, and Deb will stop by everyday to feed you, love you and clean up your litter box. Be sure to talk to her and snuggle with her; she’ll love it. I may come home and find she’s kidnapped you! (Just kidding.)

We have lots of space now, lots of room for you to run around. It’s okay if you knock things around a little. Deb or I will pick it up.

Remember, I treasure you.


Image Credit (drawing of cat) © puckillustrations — fotolia

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Back in the Box

I’ve finally reached the conclusion, after eight months of fighting it, I’m not going to find space for some things I own.

My brother says if I’m not using them I don’t need them, but I’ve already delivered a dozen boxes to Goodwill. I’m not ready to part with anything more. So all these miscellaneous items will go into a box — make that boxes — that will be placed in the corner of the spare bedroom.

The cats are delighted. Boxes! Boxes! Jump in, jump out. Play a little, sleep a little more. I just have to be sure not to tape anything shut with a kitty inside.


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