Takes A Lickin and Keeps on Tickin or Finding Lila on the Ice

Dear Internet,
Apparently I have sucker written across my forehead in bright red letters because I got roped into playing on a broomball team this season.  For those of you who have no idea what this fine sport entails just go outside and throw yourself down on the pavement a few dozen times.  Then get up and try to hit a ball with a stick while on ice in your regular shoes.

Yeah.  I know.  I can hear your screams from here.

I do it once a week.  And I suck at it.  Seriously.  I'm terrible.  And the worst part is I can't even look cute while playing, like say if it were roller derby, because you know we are outside.  On ice.  In the middle of stupid cold winter.  Fishnets and mini skirts aren't really an option.  But I swear to God they would help.  Seriously, if you are going to routinely fall down you need something to pad your ego.

But I don't have that luxury.  All I got is ripped up snow pants, old rollerblading pads, and my terrible terrible athleticism.

At this point a big glaring, "But why on earth are you doing this Sara you suck at team sports especially ones that require hitting things with other things remember?" might come to mind.  Don't worry I've had that same thought.

And the only rationale I can come up with is I enjoy torturing myself and I must be The Valedictorian of Everything.  Including asinine sports invented by people before there were things you could do to entertain yourself during winter that don't require falling down.  Like say watching New Girl.  Inside.  On your couch.  While wearing footie pajamas and drinking chai.  And possibly doing your nails.

Except there's one major flaw in this rationale.  Unless some miracle happens and my hand eye coordination exponentially improves, I'm not going to be the Valedictorian of this "sport" anytime soon.  This of course drives me mad.  So mad that every Tuesday morning I wake up with a knot in my stomach wondering just how much of a complete fool I'm going to make of myself.  How many times am I going to fall down?  Miss the ball?  Cause our team to lose?  Etc, etc, etc until I've fallen into a shame cycle so deep the only solution is that I am a completely worthless human being undeserving of the very pads that protect my fragile posterior.  My poor performance later in the evening just solidifies it, I'm unworthy of love.  Clearly.  Wash.  Rinse.  Repeat.

I worked myself into such a tizzy this week I almost feigned sickness in order to get out of going to our game.  But I committed and have a team and they are blah blah counting on me blah blah (although they'd probably be happy if I actually did quit).  But being the solider on kinda girl I am, I got in the car and went.  Brian, bless his heart, gave me his best dad taking his kid to a soccer match pep talk, and it made me realize I might need to reevaluate this whole broomball cycle of shame.  I mean the sport was originally played with duct taped brooms.  Why on earth attach my self worth to something as stupid as that?  And since I seriously doubt I'll get that miracle, I need to quit beating myself up.  The ice does a good enough job of that and plus there are lots of other things I am indeed good at.  The Valedictorian of even.  Someone else can have broomball.

So instead of hardening.  Of contracting.  Of getting so worked up about how bad and terrible and awful I am.  I tried to let go and just have fun during our game.  To laugh every time I whacked at the ball and missed.  Or tripped over my own feet.  Or landed spread eagle on the ice for no apparent reason.  Because we all need to play sometimes.  To do something just for the sake of doing it.  To let go.  To open ourselves.  To fling ourselves headlong on the ice.

Because if you can drop your ego.  Forget perfection and winning.  And Valedictorian.   Even if just for a second.  You get an amazing taste of possibility.  Of space and openness and joy and love and laughter and connection.  And that feels so good it doesn't matter that you landed on your butt.  Or that you looked stupid doing it.

But don't take my word for it, "Play energizes us and enlivens us.  It eases our burdens.  It renews our natural sense of optimism and opens us up to new possibilities," Stuart Brown, MD and play expert.

I just hope my next possibilities don't cause so many bruises.


Dye Job

When I was in 7th grade my science teacher called my parents to let them know he was concerned about how I was dressing.  "Did they know my sweaters were too big and that I had a Nirvana T-shirt?"  "And that if I kept it up I'd be banished to hell because heaven only accepts good little girls who wear twinsets and pearls thank you very much."

Ok, so I added that last part.  But I'm sure I'm not too far off, as we all know black lipstick and flannel are gateway drugs that lead to a life of sin and whoredom.  And heaven forbid altering your body in any way.  So, when Brian (also known as the reason I'm now "in a relationship" on Fb, and yes I just threw up in my mouth, and yes Dara I don't have a nickname for him) announced that he was dying his hair blue my breath caught in my throat.

Blue?  Blue hair?

Flashback to 1998.  The night before our annual church play.  Chrissy Walter's bathroom.  One jar of Manic Panic Purple Haze.

You can guess how well that went over.  Earned me a year long spot on the prayer list.  And the silent treatment from my mom for a week, "because what would everyone think?!?"

At the time I remember thinking, "Why is everyone getting their panties in a wad about this?  It's only hair.  It'll grow out.  What's the big deal?"

But last Sunday in Brian's bathroom I had my mother's thoughts, "What will everyone think?  About him?  About me?  About us?"

Because we don't look like the couples I was brought up to admire.  We're not clean shaven and traditional.  Nary a stitch of khaki can be found in our closets.  And I'm fairly certain that man has no idea what a button-up is much less a real tie-it-yourself bow tie (although he does rock the hell out of a fedora).

I teach yoga.  He works at the hill.  We both have tattoos and piercings.  Things I was taught were a fad.  Something kids did and grew out of once they had rebelled enough.

But there we were dying his hair like it was 1998.   As it turned from brown, to blonde, to a shocking shade of blue I thought back to Samson's story about the jacket that just fits.  And I realized I was taught (and not just by my family, so please don't think this is another it's all their fault post, but by society, and culture, and the tiny town I grew up in) that there are more acceptable jackets than others.  That your jacket must look a certain way.  Must cost a specific amount.  Who cares if the thing actually fits.  The important part is that you look good wearing it.

And how pray tell was I going to look good wearing a boyfriend with blue hair?  I may be out West but I'm still just Southern enough to care.  To have images of polos and boat shoes as being what "together forever" wears.  What adult, stable, real relationships look like.

So when he asked me if I liked it, I blurted out something like, "No, I don't, why don't you grow up already are you just going to sit around and work at the hill forever blue hair isn't just blue hair and could you please wear something besides T-shirts all the time you're so immature gah."

Being the solid mountain man he is, he wasn't the least bit fazed by my lengthy response to his simple question.  He sweetly listened to me overanalyze the meaning of Panic Manic.  Reassured me.  Comforted me.  Said my opinion mattered.  That I wasn't crazy.  That I deserved adult, stable, and real whatever that looked like to me.

And in that moment I knew Samson was right in a whole new way.  It's not the color, or the size, or the style of the jacket.  It's the fit.  How it feels.  Because when a jacket fits.  When you love it.  Really love it.  You wear it with everything whether it matches or not.  Whether it's faded or torn or says something stupid (or dyes its hair blue).

You keep it on because it's your favorite jacket and you don't really care how it looks.  And people may make fun of you.  They may judge you.  They may laugh.  You may want to take it off at times because it can be hard, and hot, and annoying, and others look so much more inviting.  But you don't.  Because it fits and it's yours and you love it.

And the rest of that stuff.  That size and shape and color and what will everyone else think and why did you do that.  That's manifestations of ego.  Of lack and concern and worry and separation.  And there's really no room for any of that when your jacket fits.

Plus, I'm living proof that stupid decisions eventually do grow out.


The Perfect Fit

So I finished the find your husband book, flew south for the holidays, and changed my relationship status on Facebook.  None of these things are connected (well at least not like that) so don't get any ideas.  My ring finger is still empty, my yoga dorm room built for one, and my Mrs. degree incomplete.   The only difference?  I'm 100% completely and totally satisfied with that.

Back when I was a lowly counseling intern one of my beloved colleagues decided to ask his girlfriend to marry him.  Being the inquisitive child that I am I couldn't help but ask, "How did you know she was the one?" A question I've posed to most people I know who are married because I am southern and have previously desperately wanted monogramed towels and a big white dress (ok maybe not the towels but most definitely the dress).

He said, "You know that feeling you get when you go buy a jacket and you try a lot on and none are quite right.  Then you put one on that fits.  And you can't really explain why.  And it may not even be the color or style you were originally looking for but it's the one.  It just fits.  Well it's like that."

And since I have an insane love affair for odd metaphors I instantly thought this was the most brilliant and not totally throw up in my mouth sappy way to describe "The One."

Which brings me to the book and that whole idea of "The One."  There's no One.  There are better Ones than others.  Jackets that, like he said, fit.  That are easier to wear.  More versatile.  More apt to weather fads.  To hang in your closet long after their original purchase date.  But ultimately you have to decide.  You can't take them all home.  You have to pick.  To choose either the red one or the blue one.

In the past couple of weeks I've made that decision.  Not about my life partner but about my life.  It finally just fits.  I'm wearing the jacket I'm meant to.  I'm living the life I'm supposed to.  And that feels better than any ring, any relationship, any One ever could.

And the magical thing about it-when you slip on the life you are meant to wear.  The one that feels the best.  Looks the best.  Is the best.  You stop clutching.  Stop lusting after other jackets.  Stop needing people to tell you how amazing you are.  Because you know.  Because you realize you are full and complete and whole just as you are.  You don't need any One because you are One.

And that my friends is what gets your Facebook status changed.  Not a book, not a pretty dress, or the perfect body.  No.  Being the best.  The most authentic you is what does it.  What allows you to find that One-whether that be a husband, a dog, a child, or an amazing life in Driggs.

I hope you all know how perfect you are.  And how much you deserve a life that fits.

Much love,