joy of sport

i began swimming competitively at the age of six. in high school, i earned all-american honors as the lead in the washington state champion 400 freestyle relay. later, i was voted most inspirational and, as a senior, team captain. i then went on to compete for the university of washington (NCAA division I) and central washington university (NAIA) where i earned academic all-american honors and was voted team captain the year my team won the national championship.

i had some really great coaches along the way, including my big brother, scott, who helped me realize much of my potential at an early age. i wasn't always one of the better swimmers at that level (i trained with and competed against a couple of olympians), but when my heart was in it, and with the right coaching, i did okay, learned a lot about dedication and hard work, and realized how strong i could be.
i put myself through college by life guarding, teaching swim lessons and coaching summer league swimming and waterpolo to some incredible, zany, hardworking, talented kids between the ages of four and eighteen. i helped them go from being nearly last in the league of about thirty teams all the way to second place. i am still in touch with some of them, and they are still amazing.

after college i was chosen second alternate for the USA's northwestern region women's water polo team for the goodwill games.

though i worked for many years in the apparel industry as a designer, i often describe my coaching as the best, most enjoyable and rewarding job of my life.

in the last year i've taken up running in earnest and have done well competing in 5K, 10K and 10-mile races. i hope to one day run a half-marathon event.

well, thursday was my first day as a volunteer assistant coach for the topsham travelers kindergarten through 5th grade cross-country team of about 50 kids. i get to coach thirteen, or so, 5th graders, which thrills me, since i love tweens and teens. they're such rascals.

since calvin is not capable of participating in sports, this opportunity for me to coach, encourage and inspire children and to see their joy of sport is especially welcome. i get weepy just reading that sentence.

thursday was a total blast (thanks mary for taking care of calvin)! i had so much fun in the warm spring sun before some gorgeous, leaden clouds moved in and we got totally soaked just as practice was ending. i got to hang out with a few other great women who are also volunteer coaches. i led the entire group of kids in stretches, gave them high-fives, employed my ear-piercing finger-whistle with great effect, encouraged the fast and slower runners, praised them, gave a few tips on pace and form, taught respect and good listening. i wish somehow i could find the time to get a more regular coaching gig. it fills my heart with joy. maybe some day. for now, i'm simply gushing ... and terribly grateful.

caught in the downpour!


catching a breather

run—away, to, from, for something. feel alive. free. breathe. fly. skate. soar. smile. wave. weep. see—oceans, vistas, trees, owls, ochre leaves. smell hay, clover, salt, goats, sea. anticipate. hope. vibrate. sting. ache. forget. dream.

i've been trying to do all the those essential things, to take my own advice so i can do more than merely survive, but so i can thrive amid caring for someone with so many basic and dire needs as my son calvin.

but in reality, calvin, his caregiving, his advocacy, have always gotten in the way, which is why i haven't written in a while. i'm really sorry! i've been dealing with reams of calvin-related paperwork, a struggle with his school district over the problematic shift and significant cutback of his summer school, his ongoing doctor's appointments, blood draws, and diagnostic imaging meant to follow up on his previously broken hip, his pneumonia, his gallstone(s), and the placement of a stent in his pancreatic duct during an Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) procedure last month. but i finally found the time to catch a breather and write.

since calvin's ERCP, he has been doing pretty well. he hasn't had waves of that excruciating pain that landed us in the hospital on New Year's Eve, nor has he had a seizure in forty-one days—his second-longest stint in what is probably close to a decade! he seems to mostly be in good spirits, and is sleeping fairly well. he takes moderate doses of two newer anti-seizure drugs, xcopri and briviact, and i have cut his thca cannabis oil dose in half without any problems.

so, too, calvin's receptive communication seems to be improving. his ability to "tell" us what he wants (a bath, juice, to go outside, to get on the bus or go for a car ride) is also better. though it's not easy or fun, i'm focusing more on his profound autism, and looking for ways in which we can work on improving his problematic behaviors to make it easier for everyone to take care of him (i'd like to simplify his treatment).

as for my own personal non-calvin-centric endeavors, i've been running a lot and training for my first ten-mile road race, which is this sunday in portland, maine. i'm hoping for good things. i'm hoping it doesn't rain, though that isn't looking very promising. i'm hoping for a fast time. i'm hoping to see friends and meet new people. running has been a savior and helps make my life feel more okay.

and so, since i often feel like i need a break, a respite, a lifesaver, i'll hopefully be able to keep running and smiling and waving and weeping and, as often as possible, dip into nature to soak up all it has to offer, forget all the rest, and continue to hope, vibrate, sting, ache, forget, dream.