Choose to Help

Earlier this summer, I was in my car at a stop light when I noticed two people on the corner waiting for the crosswalk light to change. One was an elderly lady with a walker and the other was a young guy, maybe early 20s. He was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt and while he didn’t look dangerous, he also didn’t exactly look like a Boy Scout. My first impression of him was not exactly positive, but for no particular reason that I can recall.

That all changed over the next few minutes. The light changed and he and the woman started across the street. There were cars waiting to turn onto the road after the crosswalk was clear. The guy made it almost all the way across when the red hand started flashing, signaling that the time left to cross safely was ending. He looked back and saw that the woman had made it less than halfway across and was going to be stuck in the middle of the road. What he did next surprised me – he turned around and went back to her and started walking slowly next to her, positioning himself between her and the cars waiting to turn. He accompanied her all the way across the street and made sure she got onto the sidewalk safely before moving on.

I was really touched by this and ashamed of myself for my initial, immediate judgment about the guy. He did a really nice thing and the whole event has stuck with me.

Fast forward a few weeks and we are in downtown Chicago on vacation. We are waiting in a large crowd to cross Michigan Avenue by Millennium Park. The street is wide, I think 3 lanes on each side of a small median strip, and very busy. I notice an elderly gentleman with a cane and a bag from a nearby department store. When the light changes, the throng of people start moving and I, along with my husband and son, head across the street with them. I keep looking back to check on the man, however, because he is moving slowly and I am thinking of the lady and the young guy. I feel like I should walk with him but, for some reason, I don’t. I keep checking, though.

Just as I step onto the curb on the other side of the street, I look back again and see that the man has only made it to the median and, as he gets there, he loses his balance and falls over. Without really thinking about it, I put my hand up to signal the cars that I am crossing (and hope they don’t hit me) and run back across the street. I give him my hand to help him up as a couple of people who were in their cars right next the median get out to come help, too. We get him up and get him his cane and check to see if he hit his head (he did not) and if he was otherwise okay (he said he was). I put his purchases back in his bag as they had fallen out into the street and notice that he had been out buying new boxers. That made me a bit sad for some reason.

I stay with him until the light changes again and then accompany him the rest of the way across. He keeps thanking me and I ask him where he was headed, which was to the bus stop on the other side of the street. I leave him when we get to the sidewalk, but keep an eye on him until I see that he is near the stop. Later, I felt that I should have walked him all the way there, but I realize there is a line between helping and hovering and I didn’t want to offend him.

Fast forward again to yesterday. My son is on his way back from a trip with his grandmother on the train. I text him to see if they got on the train and the following exchange occurs:

text

Turns out, a man brought his mother, who was not well, onto the train and she was unable to walk (and was nearly unresponsive, according to my mother). He was having trouble getting her up and my son tried to help him get her into a seat. At the next stop, the train was delayed as they got an ambulance there to take her off the train, so she really wasn’t in good shape, but my son wasn’t nearby at that point.

What got me the most was his comment in the text, “I chose to help. I didn’t have to.” I haven’t asked him directly, but I’d like to think that, just as I was influenced by the young man helping the woman cross the street, he was influenced by seeing me help the man in Chicago. And maybe someone who saw him step up to help this lady will take the time to help someone else out down the road. We can influence each other by our actions, both positively and negatively. My advice? Keep an eye out for the positive – it is not always as easy to see as the negative, which seems to jump out at us and is broadcast across the TV and Internet all the time, but it is there. And take the time to notice if someone needs help and be willing to step in, if you can.

As the saying goes, “be the change you want to see in the world.”

Confessions of a Klutz

I have been an athlete for most of my life. Running, rowing, playing soccer, and more has helped me develop strength, endurance, balance, flexibility, and the mental toughness to push through, even when it hurts.

But I have a confession to make…

My name is Amy and I am a klutz.

It may seem that the two – athlete and klutz – don’t go together. But, trust me, they can. And, in my case, they mesh together so well that you often don’t know if I am working so hard that I push to the extreme or if I simply tripped myself.

This topic came (painfully) to mind tonight whilst out for a walk. I decided it was a nice night and I should run some bleachers at the high school. Now, I run bleachers there all the time, so this is no big deal. EXCEPT, I decided to change things up tonight. See, I ALWAYS start on the left of the bleacher and run up the left side of the aisle, then down the right. Mostly because that is the way I usually approach them so it makes sense. But tonight I came upon them from the other side and thought, “What the heck? I’ll start on this side.” Famous last words…

Halfway up the FIRST set of stairs, I completely lost my way. It was like I didn’t know where I was and everything was so different. I was feeling off and then a series of things happened (I think, it was all a blur at the time). I think I caught my hand in my iPod cord and then I stumbled and next thing I know I am falling. Never a good thing on a set of metal stairs. All I know is that I have a bruised bump on the front of my left ankle and a cut and bruise on the outside of my right thigh (where I unceremoniously landed on the corner of a metal seat). Ouch!

I sat there and nursed my wounds for a little bit but then sucked it up and kept running. Because that is what you do (unless you’ve actually broken something, in which case, at least my case, you try to wrap it up and keep going, but when it ends up hurting too much you give it up and put ice on it. And then, when that doesn’t work, you reluctantly head to the emergency room. Been there, done that).

broken arm

I can’t blame klutziness on this one – happened during a soccer game – but it certainly was memorable.

The idea for this blog came during that run, as my thigh and ankle throbbed, but not enough to stop me from running. Merely a flesh wound. I have injured myself too many times to count, both during workouts and during other really difficult tasks, such as… walking (ask me sometime about my run in with some dastardly gravel on my way to class one day. A slip, a fall, blood running down my leg during class – such fun!). Or the time I had made it through a long run for crew and just had to make it around the corner, when I tripped and fell and ripped up my leg. More blood. OR, the time I got through an entire mountain bike trail and was simply riding down the gravel path towards the car when my tires slipped and I wiped out. Blood. The list can go on.

Not surprisingly, I have a lot of scars on my body. Sometimes they bother me. But usually I try to see them for what they are – evidence that I have lived in this body. Used it. Put it out there and pushed it to its limits.

Or, I could just admit the truth – I am a klutz. And klutzes have scars. Because… klutziness. Not that I’ll let that stop me.

P.S. When I told my teenage son about my fall, I received this response – “Mom! You are embarrassing me!” I’m touched by his concern.

 

Burpees, Glute Bridges, and Planks, oh my!

My son received the team summer workout the other day. Four days a week of exercises plus conditioning for 12 weeks, designed to build a better, stronger, faster hockey player.

My husband and I have decided to join in the fun and do the workouts ourselves. Maybe we can build a better, stronger, faster mom and dad. It certainly doesn’t feel that way after day 1 – a bunch of jump squats, push ups, chin ups, and planks have me walking around like an old lady today. I blame it on the burpees myself – not an activity I often engage in and one that hurts. If you don’t know what they are, here is a good description:

                     Burpees – throw yourself face down the floor and jump back up! Repeat until you throw up.

Day 2 includes a bunch of exercises that I’ll have to look up to know what to do (cat/camel? quadruped leg raises?). But no burpees. My body appreciates that.

If I keep this up all summer, I expect that I will be in great shape for the hockey season.

tumblr_mxvbac4Xiw1qaoc3do3_250

from 24.media.tumblr.com

Now, if I could only skate…

It’s been a year…

… since I last posted on this blog. I started this blog to write about almost anything, but my “theme” is about life as a hockey family and as the mom of a hockey goalie. To be frank, this past year I just have not felt like writing about hockey.

This past season was traumatic. Without reliving details, I can say that cheering on a team that loses all the time (not having a “losing season”,  which some would say if the team’s record was less than .500. but seriously losing almost every single game) is not fun. And yes, that is an understatement. In the team’s defense, they were playing up an age level and their competition was bigger, stronger, and more experienced. So losing a bunch was not unexpected.

What was unexpected was a series of serious and sad events that resulted in a coaching change mid season. I am not going to discuss it here – for my own sanity and to allow the team to have privacy. I don’t want the blog to turn into a trashy tabloid, after all. Suffice to say, things just unraveled from there and it was difficult to watch.

So why do I mention it at all? I suppose I need to excuse myself for not writing anything for a year. I thought about it a million times but I just couldn’t do it. I have dozens of ideas jumping around my head, but the thought of opening up the site and looking at what was there stopped me. I ventured on today and made a few edits to some other pages, as a way to dip my toe in the water. And that little bit allowed me to hit “new post” and start writing.

I’m feeling good as I sit here and write. And I am feeling much more hopeful about the upcoming year. The dark cloud has lifted and I am looking forward to the new team and new season. I have a feeling that I’ll come up with a few things to write about this year.

Stay tuned…

Germophobes Need Not Apply

Today, we went to the Washington Capitals equipment sale, where the team sells off used equipment and even some new stuff that the team never used the season before.

In other words, heaven to a 13 year old boy who loves the idea of holding something that an NHL player wore in practice and games. He picked up a few used sticks from some favorite players. He also got a glove and blocker, worn by two different goalies, that he already cherishes. I’ll admit, it was cool.

However, what caught my attention, more than the puck marks or the size of the gear, was the fact that when we put them in the car they didn’t smell too bad. Anyone who knows hockey will not be surprised that this was my first thought. Hockey gear is notoriously smelly. Just having gear in the car, particularly on warm days, can leave a stench that takes day to dissipate.

I don’t know what they do at the professional level to keep that smell in check, but here’s my reality – my son stinks. Not all the time. Just the times when he plays hockey or lacrosse. So a lot of the time.

I know that there are gear cleaning machines out there, but they are not easy to come by and can be pricey, so I have not used one. If the result is what I smelled (or didn’t smell) in my car, maybe I’ll have to suck it up sometime.

Thankfully, I am not too freaked out by dirt and grime and germs. Because, if I was, I would not be able to walk into the sports closet we have. Ever.

The 3 most disgusting things out there?

  1. Mouthguard. If left up to my son, he’d pop that thing out of his mouth, put it in the case, throw it in the bag and not think about it again until he popped it in his mouth the next practice. Yuck.

    Imagine wrapping your face (and nose) up in this smelly thing.

    Imagine wrapping your face (and nose) up in this smelly thing.

  2. Helmet. A helpful hint: if your child plays a sport that has a helmet, do yourself a favor and don’t ever put your nose near it and sniff. Really! Repeatedly sweaty heads enclosed in plastic and foam do not smell like roses. I have no idea how he can put his head in that thing.
  3. Gloves (blocker and catcher). See #2 above, but substitute sweaty hands encased in leather for hours on end. God forbid you should wash your hands afterwards, either. Just spread that nastiness everywhere.

    How not to keep your hands clean.

    How not to keep your hands clean.

I could go beyond 3 because, in reality, it is all just nasty. But these are the worst culprits in my mind.

Would be nice to have some professional help with that gear closet. Maybe the Caps can come up with used equipment cleaning day? I’ll have to float that idea to the powers that be.

Until then, I’ll keep airing things out and spraying them down as best I can.

And, after writing this, I feel the need for a shower.

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