Monthly Archives: December 2012

Cross-country Concern

I waited all winter for snow.  I waited, not without trepidation, for the skiing season to begin.  We purchased season passes for the cross-country ski mountain in the fall, when it seemed like a good idea, when it seemed like it would be a normal winter season.       Skis in snow

The longer I had to wait for snow, the more anxious I became.

I am not a cross-country skier.  I am someone who, in the middle of their life, has begun to try new things, do new things, explore life more than ever before.  It doesn’t hurt that I have the time, the energy and the person with the knowledge to back me up in my new endeavors.

I found someone who not only completes the ‘me’ that I already was, but has begun to broaden my horizons, push my limits, and stretch my world.  I have found with him the person I always was, but hadn’t met and never knew was inside me.

I began to kayak over the summer.  I had to.  It’s really one of his biggest things.  I am not talking about the simple leisurely paddle around the lake kind of kayaking.  I am talking about having your heart in your mouth, pulse racing, stomach churning, thrilled with excitement and terror, downriver whitewater kayaking.  As I have always been in love with water, sunshine and the great outdoors, I conceded to his expertise and jumped in as far and as fast as he would let me go.  I fell in love.  I absolutely adore kayaking and cannot wait to do more, bigger, greater things.  His problem will be to rein me in until my skill catches up to my wants.

I just knew I would love kayaking and I did.  I can’t honestly say the same thing about cross-country skiing.  The last time I went skiing was about a million years ago and it was (pun intended) all downhill. Not only was downhill the type of skiing I had done, but it also explains the type of experiences I had doing it.  Ride the lift to the top of the hill and ski down.  Fall, get up, and try again.  I was constantly cold, wet, and discontent.  Wash, rinse, repeat.

He suggested cross-country skiing and I cannot argue that I am enamored with his other interest, kayaking.  Add in the fact that I love spending time with him no matter where we are or what we do so I decided to give it a try.  He already had plans to obtain a season’s pass for himself and adding me on with the ‘couple’ rate seemed a cost effective way to go.  He rightly assumed that I would give it a number of tries to determine my interest level and latent abilities.  I am not the type of person to just immediately give up without sticking something out long enough to really determine whether or not I actually enjoy something.

So I waited.

And then, oh, let me think … I waited some more.  Each day, each week, each month I waited for the snow to fall, for the mountain to open, for there to be both the time and the opportunity to put on my skis and hit the trails.  I probably should have already mentioned that, in addition to the season’s ski pass, I also was outfitted with … um, well … skis.  And ski boots.  And ski poles.  And gloves.  Hats.  Mittens.  Long underwear.  Seasonal outerwear.  The whole shebang.  Everything the intrepid xc ski newbie could possibly want, need, or desire.  Damnme but I had better enjoy skiing, no?

I waited for the perfect opportunity.  We needed the snow, because you cannot ski without snow.  We needed the time, because you cannot ski while you are at work or visiting in another state.  We needed things to come together so I could strap on my skis and hit the trails.

I waited with apprehension.  My anxiety about being on skis rose with every tease of snow.  I worried about whether I would be warm enough, whether I would be the worst skier in the history of the mountain, whether I would be an inept student, whether I would look ungainly and idiotic in his eyes.  I worried about everything you could possibly think to worry about and then probably some more things as well.

I waited and I worried and I agonized.  Finally the Fates of Snow and Timing smiled (or laughed in anticipation) and the day arrived.  I was filled with hope and dread and relief and excitement.  I was dressed in what I deemed warm, appropriate, and stylish.  He assured me that adjustments to my outfit could be made on future excursions depending on what worked for me and what did not.  He soothed my fears and boosted my confidence.

He put me on skis.

Up the trail we went while I began learning how to move.  I was learning how to go uphill as well as how to go downhill.  I learned about differences and similarities.  I learned what parts of my outfit worked well for me and what needed to be changed.  I learned how to fall, how to get up, how to start and how to stop.

I sucked in knowledge like a shop vac after a remodel.  I learned and I tried and I failed and I tried again.  I asked questions and received answers and got frustrated and became exhilarated.

I fell in love.

I spent all the time I could learning what he had to teach until I chafed at the bit and said ‘enough’.  I sent him away and flew on my own.  I learned that a hill cannot best you that only you can best yourself.  I spent the day trudging up and down the same hill over and over and over again, angry beyond words that I could not ski down it without falling.  I tried and failed and tried and tried again.  I conquered the hill and rejoiced in my achievement.

I fell in love.  I fought and I won.

Only later did I find that I was no longer on the easy path, that through a mix-up of direction and the vagaries of Fate that the hill I set out to conquer was beyond my abilities.

Apparently it was not.

I was in love.

Another winter season is upon us and I again wait with trepidation.  I want to ski, to learn, to fly.  I want to feel the cold on my face and revel in the freedom on the trails.  I want to work, to try, to do, to be.  I want to carry my love into the unbroken whiteness of a new fallen snow.  I wish to marvel at the sparkles of the sunlight glinting off the snow.  I wish to inhale the crisp, clear air and smell the piney scent of the evergreens.

I want to challenge myself and emerge victorious.  I wish to have someone by my side, encouraging, smiling, and cheering me on to victory.

But I again wait with trepidation.  Christmas carols inundate the radio waves.  Vacation plans are made, broken, remade.  The end of the year is nigh and still … snow has not fallen.

I do not know if I again have a season pass this year.  I do not wish to ask.  I am afraid.  Have I not explained that I enjoy this frosty sport?  Am I unworthy of a pass?  I do not wish to give up this pleasure that I have found but I cannot help but wonder.

Have I lost my love?

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Poker

Poker is a lot like life … sometimes you just have to go all in on nothing but possibilities … Tuesday DangerGirl wins at poker (and life)

Actually LIFE is a lot like POKER.

And really, I am beginning to know a decent amount about poker.  I began playing poker this past summer.  Okay, let me back up a bit.  I used to play poker when I was younger (early twenties if you really need to know).  I loved playing poker every week with my friends.  We had a standing poker game every Friday night (I think it was Friday night, it very well could have been another night like Saturday).  Yes, every Friday (or Saturday) evening, I would get together with four of my best guy friends and we would have ‘guy’s night out/in’, drink beer, play poker and talk about guy things like girlfriends, sports, and Dungeons and Dragons.

And don’t think for a moment that I don’t see you scratching your head and wondering how the hell I came to be involved in guy’s night.

Yeah, I’m just that awesome.

Actually, it’s probably a fairly long story and involves lots of little side stories and what not, so why don’t you just go with it for a moment, believe in my absolute awesomeness, remember that I’m the trainwreck extraordinaire who does pretty much everything backwards (and this qualifies, na?) and just let me get on with my poker story.  Okay?  Okay.

So anyway, here we are playing poker, solving the world’s problems, discussing cars, and having a great time every week and then BOOM!  All of a sudden, through a convoluted set of happenstances, weekly poker is no more.

Flash forward to this past year.

I’m learning new things, enjoying life, reconnecting with myself and generally open to experiences.  I’m happy, I’m healthy, and I’m ready to conquer the world.  One night, we drive past a place that is rather prominently advertising ‘free poker’ on Thursday nights.

“Hey, look!  They have free poker on Thursday nights” I ever so eloquently announce.  “I used to play poker all the time.  I miss poker.”

“Would you like to try it out?” he rejoins.

And this is where I begin to backpedal just a little bit.

“Ummmmm …. Uhhh … I don’t know.  I don’t know how to play Texas Hold ‘em.”

Absolutely, ridiculously open to new things am I.

Bottom line here is that, yes, we *do* end up going to poker night at the quasi-local establishment.  We make a date of it, having a drink and dinner before the game begins.  We play, I learn, I’m hooked.

Now we play in two separate leagues.  And by that I don’t mean that he plays in one league and I play in another.  We play in two separate leagues – together – two nights out of most every week.

It happens to be fun, it’s free (if you don’t count the cost of any drinks and/or food that we buy) and to top it all off, we rawk.  Or is that rock?  I’m probably going to have to do research on that word now.  Can’t be looking like an oldie, here.  You know I’m 29, right?!??  *wink*

Anyway, since this past summer, we have qualified for the regional championships in both leagues.  Last night I ended up in the final 5% out of 1174 players.  I won an actual prize and had I not had the wrong card turn up on the river, I would have been in the top 1% and maybe I would’ve won the big money prize.  Eh.  It’s gambling.  YOU DON’T PLAY WHAT YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO LOSE.

This really is life lesson number one.  I didn’t have any major stake in the whole thing because I don’t put any actual money into the game.  Winning the prize is great, winning the prize is fun but I’m not losing anything I can’t afford to lose if I …if I … (wait for it) … lose.

You don’t gamble your rent or your mortgage money.  You don’t spend the money you have set aside for lunches, haircuts, shoes or clothing for the kids.  You don’t gamble your car on a chance, even if it seems like a ‘sure thing’.  You don’t toss your wedding ring into the pot, you don’t ‘borrow’ your wife’s diamonds, you just don’t do it.

You don’t gamble what you can’t afford to lose.

And now, I am going to say some things that directly follow this rule and then I’m going to add in what appears to be the direct opposite, but in reality is exactly the same.  You just have to have the correct perspective.

You don’t gamble your relationship.  You don’t lie or cheat while thinking that whatever you have done or want to do or are currently doing won’t be discovered.  If you made a promise, keep it.  If you are monogamous, act like it.  If you don’t wish to keep your promises, if you don’t wish to keep your fidelity then you don’t deserve to have that relationship.  You don’t believe in it, you don’t care enough about it and you should get out of the relationship or renegotiate the terms before you do anything that you promised not to do.  Period.  End of story.  You made a promise, you asked for trust and if you cannot afford to lose the relationship (or you don’t want to) or if you cannot afford to lose the faith and trust and belief that your partner has been investing in you, then you shouldn’t be doing whatever the hell it is that you are doing or contemplating doing.  If you do, don’t come crying to me when the other person no longer believes in you and/or no longer stays with you.  You gambled your relationship.

Gamble your heart, go all in, remain pot committed and have the fortitude and the guts to see it through.

While this seems a contradiction, what it is, really, is an investment.  You cannot waffle around and put a toe in the water.  If you say the words ‘I love you’ then your partner deserves your complete and utter devotion.  You cannot speak of love while reserving any part of yourself … just in case.  It seems like a gamble but what it is, truly, is a commitment.  Bank hard on the fact that you know yourself and bank on the fact that you have gotten to know the other person well enough to be in love.  You have something precious, something amazing and it deserves you becoming ‘pot committed’ to going ‘all in’ day after day after day.  Sounds easy, doesn’t it?  It will be the hardest thing you ever do.

Some days it is going to seem like you bet on the wrong hand.  Some days you are going to feel like you hit the jackpot and are flying high on the score that you have made.  There are days when it will feel like your partner has stacked the deck against you and all you can do is turn is a lousy unsuited 5-3.  What do you do?  You gamble.  You retain your idea that you are ‘all in’ and you play out the hand that you were dealt.  That 5-3 has won more times than I can count.  What you are doing here is going ‘all in’ on possibilities.  You are making an investment in your future, you are building a foundation, you are banking on the here, the now, the yesterday and the infinite tomorrows.  You deserve to win but you cannot if you are willing to fold.  A folded hand never wins.  Ever.  Believe in yourself, believe in your partner and believe that ‘precious’ is a state of mind that complements the absolutely wonderful hand that you have been dealt and that YOU have control over that state of mind.  Do you want to gamble away what you felt was the best thing in your life because you are having a spot of trouble or doubt?  I’d like to reference lessons number three and six here but you should still read them all.  In order, even.  Because it would make me happy – which again references lesson three *big grin*

On a side note, and perhaps lesson number two – being ‘pot committed’ and ‘all in’ doesn’t mean that there are never reasons to walk away from the table.  Even if you are all in, an abusive situation should be abandoned – even if you need to walk away from every last chip you have.  There are people at your table, or the next table over, or running the room, who will be happy to share or offer you a leg up, or direct you to somewhere where you can get help.  Walk away if you have a gambling problem.  Walk away if you experience abuse.  Walk away from danger.  Walk away, drive away, run away.  Do. It. Now.  And if you see someone else with a problem, take the time to see if you can help them out.  Which leads me to lesson number three.

Poker lesson number three.  It isn’t always your turn.  Just like in poker, sometimes it’s his turn, sometimes it’s your turn and quite often it’s someone else’s turn entirely.  Just like in poker, this doesn’t always turn out to be fair.  Sometimes you change tables only to find that some of the baggage from the previous table has followed you.  Sometimes you end up sitting in as the big blind, regardless of the fact that you just were big blind and you aren’t supposed to be again.  Yep, it isn’t fair.  Sometimes it just is what it is and you have to play with what you have and what you were given.  You don’t always get to make the rules, you don’t always get to make it fair, and you certainly don’t always get to make any kind of issue out of the unfairness of whatever is happening.  Lesson here?  Suck it up, Cupcake.  *shrug*

Poker lesson number four.  If you don’t show up on time, don’t expect the game to wait for you.  This isn’t rocket science and it shouldn’t be unexpected.  Life, just like poker, goes on whether you show up (physically, mentally, and/or emotionally) or not.  If you want to be a part of it, you need to show up with all your faculties intact, you need to engage in it, and you need to try.  You really will get the most out of it (poker or life) if you try.

Poker lesson number five.  Don’t cheat.  Errrrrr …. duh?  Yes, I know plenty of people that cheat.  Some of them cheat at poker, some of them cheat at life but yes, they cheat.  And most of the time, it seems to work for them.  All I can say is that I really believe sooner or later the cheating will catch up to you.  It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow, it may not be a month or a year from now.  What you have to remember is that the short term solution and enjoyment of cheating, although it gets you what you want, isn’t worth the price you are going to pay if and when you get caught.  Cheating is kind of like eating potato chips.  You do it once, innocently have one chip and before you know it, your mouth is watering, your hand is back inside the bag, and you’re searching around for the next chip.  Someday eating all those chips will clog up your arteries, or increase your waistline, or cause high blood pressure.  Just keep your hand out of the bag, don’t even think about stacking the deck and never, ever cheat.  The temporary rush of winning isn’t worth the heartache of the eventual discovery and loss.  And, yes!!  It can happen to you.  You can be discovered.  You aren’t the smartest card in the deck.   There will always be someone smarter than you in ways you might not even imagine.

Lesson six.  If you want to have fun, you will have fun.  If you want to look at everything that is wrong, every bad choice that was made, every wrong turn of the cards and be miserable then you will be miserable.  If you want to play the game, have fun, enjoy the moment in each win, lose, or draw and generally be a happy person … well, then … be one.  Experience the moments.  Enjoy the little things.  Make an effort to be the happiest person you can be and you will find that you are having more fun, seeing more beautiful, unique things, enjoying each moment and not simply waiting for the next rush, the next win, the next perfect hand.

Because in life, just like in poker, there is no perfect hand.  It is what you make it.

Make it count.


Breathe

I can’t write.

I never can’t write.  I can always write.  I write when I’m sad.  I write when I’m miserable.  I even write when I’m happy.

Yeah, maybe that doesn’t make sense to you?  Seems backwards, doesn’t it?  I guess it is backwards in a way.  A lot of people can’t write when they are upset about something.  I’m generally the opposite.  I have more trouble finding the writing place when I’m happy and carefree and content.

Of course, perhaps that puts me in good company.  I understand that the best artists compose, write, sculpt, or work however better when they have some kind of emotional turmoil.

Here’s the thing, though.  If I can always write and in fact usually write better when I’m emotional, why can I not, now, write?  I’m torn up, beaten down, shocked and just generally thrown for a loop.

The only explanation is that I am numb.  I am having trouble feeling anything right now.  I feel unsettled and unsure but I think the shock just hasn’t really set in yet.  You cannot be an artist and be numb.  You can write or compose or paint by the numbers, follow the rules, adhere to the plan but there isn’t a lot of room for artistic expression when you cannot conjure up any expressions at all.

I feel empty.  Not quite broken, not entirely uncaring but … close.

I feel dangerously on the edge.  “Throw it at me”, my mind is screaming.  “Go on, do your worst, let me see what you have.  I’ve made it this far, you bastard, if you think you can take me down now, go on and give it your best shot.”

I’m in the kind of mood it takes to be dangerous.  I know things can be worse but from where I’m sitting it seems kinda bad already.

“Whatever”, my mind is saying.  “Just … whatever.”  I’ll deal with it, make it through, get to the other side, the light side of the tunnel, break the surface, get my head above water and … breathe.

Yeah, I’m a huge proponent of saying things like “breathing is overrated” but in reality, both you and I know that sometimes you really just need to step back and do nothing but breathe.  Breathe in, breathe out.  A couple of seconds go by, you breathe again, in, out, in, out, and before you know it, a minute has passed.  Keep on breathing and a minute turns into two, turns into three, turns into ten and the breathing becomes more routine, easier, less to think about and suddenly an hour has passed.  Concentrate on the moment to moment.  Think about now, not about yesterday, not about tomorrow, not about what to do five minutes from now.  Simply be, for this moment, simply be.

You can do it.  I can do it.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel.  The only constant in life is change.  Sometimes the change is good, sometimes the change is bad but there is always, always change.  You can do it, you can hang on, do what must be done, take it moment by moment and just breathe.

I’ll meet you on the other side of the tunnel, darling.  In the meantime, just farkin’ breathe.