Two weeks, two graduations, what’s next for me?

Last month we celebrated. First was college graduation for my eldest on the East Coast, then back home for the last rites of high school with my youngest. There were so many parties and official events that I powered through by focusing on logistics. Now I have time to stop and consider the meaning of it all.

 

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There’s no denying middle age

In addition to the festivities, I also underwent that initiation into middle age, the baseline colonoscopy. And recently I’ve spent hours collecting financial documents, as my husband and I worked with an attorney to update our wills. Little wonder that my spinning instructor cautioned me about hunching my shoulders, and my chiropractor told me to come back in just a week.

 

That persistent question

Why can’t I stop and bask in my kids’ graduations — celebrate a job well done? Why do I jump to “what’s next?” Maybe it has to do with the question people were asking me at last month’s functions: “Now you’re going to be an empty nester. What do you think about that, and what do you plan to do with yourself?

 

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I tense up. For twenty years I’ve been a stay-at-home mom, school and sports volunteer, carpool driver and family chef. I don’t know how to translate these skills into something that will give my life meaning for the next twenty years.

I know I’m over-reacting. Folks are just being nice when they ask me “what’s next.” We don’t know each other well, and they’re trying to make conversation. Maybe the woman who asks me this is gathering ideas for her own midlife transition, or maybe she wonders if anyone else dreads an empty nest as much as she does. In fact, the actual number of people asking me “what’s next” has been small — nonetheless, I feel overwhelmed by the question.

 

Not knowing what’s next

For lots of us, it’s a scary transition. We’re left alone as our children go off to new adventures, friends and opportunities. Although it doesn’t hit you when they’re in elementary or middle school, the implication of raising your kids to be independent is that, eventually, they won’t need you anymore. This is good. But it’s also terrible.

I’ve spent the better part of two decades shepherding my children through their activities, helping with homework, doing laundry and cooking, and learning about their friends and interests. Now I’m staying put while they move on to do these things somewhere else, without me. Sure, it’s nice to do less laundry than before, not to always plan ahead what we’ll have for dinner. But there’s a big hole in my day-to-day life where my kids used to be, and I’m not sure how to fill it.

 

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A beginning or an end?

Commencement: for the graduates, it’s a beginning. For me, the graduates’ mother, it feels like more of an end. The end of their childhoods, the end of little people who need me, the end of doing what I know how to do.

I have faith there’ll be more joy ahead — I’ll make my way through this tunnel of sadness, fear and confusion. But I’m not ready to announce “what’s next” for me.

When I figure it out, though, I’ll be sure to let you know.

 

Image credits: Daisy Shih, Nick Harris, Anne Rosales

How to score tennis in Spanish, German and French

The clay court season is well under way, and tennis professionals are playing on courts accross Europe — all culminating in the French Open at Roland Garros, May 26 – June 9, 2013. The men just left Monte Carlo and are in Spain now, and the women are playing in Germany. So watching the Tennis Channel offers an opportunity to learn how to score tennis in Spanish, German and French.

¿Juega usted al tenis?

In Spanish, you start off the match with a saque (serve). Interestingly, the word for “lob” is globo, which also means “balloon.” You can find more Spanish tennis terms here if you’re interested. Here’s how to score a game en español:

  • 15 – Love: quince – cero
  • 15 -15: quince iguales
  • 30 – 15: treinta – quince
  • 40 – 15: cuarenta – quince
  • 40 – 30: cuarenta – treinta
  • deuce: cuarenta iguales (or just “iguales“)
  • advantage: ventaja
  • to win/to lose: ganar/perder

 

How to score tennis_spanish

Sign at Puerto Vallarta hotel

 

Spielen Sie Tennis?

In Germany, the tennis court is called a Spielplatz, or “play place.” German’s use of compound words makes their tennis vocabulary lots of fun — look here for more examples. If you can return your opponent’s Raketenaufschlag (“rocket serve”), here’s how to keep score:

  • 15 – Love: nfzehn – null
  • 15 -15: fünfzehn – beide
  • 30 – 15: dreißig – fünfzehn
  • 40 – 15: vierzig – fünfzehn
  • 40 – 30: vierzig – dreißig
  • deuce: Gleichstand (or Einstand)
  • advantage: Vorteil (or Advantage)
  • to win/to lose: gewinnen/verlieren

 

How to score tennis_spanish_racquet

Tennisschläger – literally, “tennis striker/smasher”

Jouez-vous au tennis?

A clay court, such you’ll find at Roland Garros, is called un court de terre battue.  Somehow the entire sport sounds more beautiful in French — see this link for more examples. Prepare for the French Open by learning how to score en français:

  • 15 – Love: quinze – zéro
  • 15 -15: quinze à (or quinze partout)
  • 30 – 15: trente – quinze
  • 40 – 15: quarante – quinze
  • 40 – 30: quarante – trente
  • deuce: égalité (the first deuce is often referred to as quarante à)
  • advantage: avantage
  • to win/to lose: gagner/perdre

So turn on the TV, watch some European matches, and listen to the umpires as they announce scores first in the native language, then in English. Think of it as a way to improve your foreign language skills while vegging out in front of a sport you enjoy.

Then, when you head out to play your next match, announce the score in a different language — you’ll have fun, and your opponents won’t understand what you’re saying.

Juego, set et partido.

Spiel, Satz und Sieg.

Jeu, set et match.

 

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Courts at the Jardins des Tuileries, Paris

 

Do you know more fun facts about tennis in Spanish, German or French, or do you have a correction for something I’ve said here? Let me know in the comments!

 

 Image credits: Anne Rosales, explainthatstuff via flickr,
 Aaron Rosales

Soulcycle brands spinning and spirituality

Having heard about Soulcycle, a cult-phenomenon among NYC spinners, I tried out one of their classes during a recent trip. Soulcycle’s spin on spinning is to add dumbbells and dance moves to stationary biking. It operates back-to-back 45-minute classes in eleven studios around New York, three in Los Angeles, and soon will have two in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Soulcycle also incorporates watered-down spiritual messages of the type one hears in yoga classes — but unlike the typical yoga class, a Soulcycle workout is shorter, burns way more calories and includes minimal stretching. Think of it as a yoga-alternative for the Type A exerciser.

Are you ready “to soul?”

I went to Soulcycle’s West Side studio after signing up for class online. While online signups are typical for many exercise classes, Soulcycle actually had me choose a specific bike on their website. My registration was confirmed with a “Welcome to Soulcycle” message that listed my assignment to Bike #32. It also offered information about attire, hydration and Soulcycle etiquette.

Soul Etiquette - SoulCycle

Soulcycle packs in the riders

As a fan of good manners, I loved the etiquette rules — especially the part about “laundry,” since Soulcycle places their bikes as close together as possible. It’s a New York thing — people there have learned to tolerate less personal space than those of us who live in California suburbs. All the same, with 50 to 60 bikes crammed into a space about three times the size of an average living room, personal hygiene is key.

Although crowded, Soulcycle finesses their routine so that, even when you’re doing dumbbell raises, you rarely bump into the people on your left and right. For example, arm extensions are performed to the front, the rear and at 45-degree angles — but never out to the sides.

[Read more…]

My life is good; so why am I feeling bad?

Have you ever had one of those days? Maybe not a day worthy of posting to the FML website, but one that reminds you of the children’s book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? Monday was like that for me. By the time the day ended, I couldn’t isolate anything that I’d call “terrible” about my life — I just was feeling bad.

Alexander No Good Very Bad

Feeling bad after the older kids leave

It started Sunday, when my college kids returned to school after being home for a week on spring break. I liked having our whole family together again, enjoyed seeing the older two tease their younger brother. It was just like old times. Then they went back to their “real” homes at college, to their friends and their lives there. While it’s nice to stop sharing my car and go back to my routine in our household of three, I know that next year we’ll be a household of two  — and I’m worried that’s not going to feel so great, at least not initially.

Knowing I wasn’t feeling particularly good, I thought I’d ease into Monday, use the morning to catch up on paperwork, do laundry, change sheets and clean up my older kids’ bedrooms. They left their rooms as if they’d been leaving a hotel — beds unmade, shopping bags on the floor, papers and receipts on the night tables. Straightening up in the quiet, I felt like a housekeeper — not the mother of three well-adjusted children.

Feeling bad about a lost ring

Then I realized one of my rings was missing. Not my wedding ring, but the one my husband gave me for our twenty-fifth anniversary. A little worried, I checked the bathroom, the kitchen counter, my jewelry box. Not there. So I looked harder: I put my hand down the kitchen sink to check the disposal, looked all around the house. Cleaned out my purse, checked the pockets of my clothes.

I called the restaurant where we had dinner last night. No, they hadn’t seen my ring.

 Life Good Feeling Bad_compost

 

Feeling bad and sorting through refuse

So I went through the last three days’ worth of garbage, then turned over the recycling bin and emptied it out to make sure the ring hadn’t slipped off my finger when I tossed out old magazines. Still nothing. I went outside and dug through the compost, running my hands through banana peels, coffee grounds, chicken bones, Saturday’s Indian takeout, and more slime I won’t discuss. But still no ring.

So at least we weren’t about to send it off with the garbage truck. But if the ring wasn’t in the trash, I’d have to look more aggressively inside the house. I cleaned out two bathroom drawers, then dismantled the sink drain. No luck.

Finally, something possessed me to check a closet I had looked in two hours earlier. This time I saw it.

But you know what? I thought I’d feel happy to find the ring, especially after looking all that time. Instead I just felt relieved. And emotionally worn out.

Feeling bad at tennis

I left to play a tennis match I had scheduled for the afternoon. It lasted only an hour. I lost 6-0, 6-0.

I wasn’t sure what was going on with me, but the day wasn’t getting better. I remembered my dad’s response whenever things got tough. He would say, “Want a cup of coffee, honey?”

So I went for a cappuccino and one of those delicious seven-layer cookie bars. I sat and stared out the coffeeshop window while I gathered my strength to go grocery shopping. I wondered whether I should quit playing tennis, spend my time on something I could do well. But wasn’t it okay to like a sport and want to play it, even if I played poorly?

On the other hand, if I couldn’t win, could I honestly say I liked tennis? I realized I was immersed in a conversation with myself, with my own Voice of Judgment. I had made this whole day about me, and I was over-reacting to a poor outcome in a match I supposedly had played “for fun.”

Life Good Feeling Bad_Vortex

 

The feeling-bad vortex

How did I get here, to this place of feeling bad? I have a great life: faith, family, friends, health, financial stability, and more. So why, all too often, do I spin down the woe-is-me vortex?

Sure, I know there are real people with real problems in this world. And I’m not one of them. It’s just a lot easier to stay in my personal vortex, than to get out of it and experience someone else’s.

I bought my groceries, went home and cooked a good dinner. At least that much of my day went okay. Actually, the whole day was fine, if you consider it in relation to the day of someone with real problems.

What drags you down, and how do you pull out of your vortex? Let me know in the comments!

 

Image credits: Amazon, Portland Observer, photoholic1 via flickr

What do you get from three hours of spinning, besides sore legs?

It took a few days, but my legs eventually recuperated from the three-hour spinning extravaganza. While I may have been silly to sign up for such torture in the first place, I gained some valuable lessons.

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Learnings from spinning’s heart rate workshop

  • I can complete a three-hour spin class.
    Similar to the feeling of accomplishment one gains from finishing a race, it feels good to know I did it. There’s a feeling of self-confidence you get just from learning that you can do something hard.
  • My max heart rate is 195.
    This information will help me make my workouts more efficient and precise, as I can now work to different percentages of my “max.” The calculation of max heart rate was, for me, much different than I would have gotten with a standard suggested estimate of 220 minus your age. Now I just need to learn how to work all those fancy buttons on the heart rate monitor arm band!
  • I know more about how to raise and lower my heart rate, as well as how to arrest a “heart rate freefall.”
    For example, I’ve learned that I can raise my heart rate quickly by standing up to pedal, but maintaining it at a certain level is easier when seated, or in biker-speak, when you’re “in the saddle.” I also realized I have to stop slacking off before I reach my “recovery beats per minute,” or else my heart rate will fall too far and I’ll have to work to raise it up again.
  • I need to work harder during “recovery.”
    This is a depressing one. During our three-hour class, we were not supposed to let our heart rates drop below 70% of maximum at any time. Although 70% is nominally an “endurance” or “working recovery” heart rate level, it’s actually hard to maintain when you’re wanting 45 seconds at, say, 60% of your max — so you can drink water, ease up on your legs, wipe away some of the sweat. However, the workshop taught me to push myself more uniformly during my regular classes.

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Spinning and tennis

When I hobbled off the bike that day, the calorie counter read 1493, and I was sweatier than I ever get while playing tennis. To make things worse, I played a singles tennis match the next day — which probably wasn’t the smartest idea, since my legs were so sore I could barely move across the court. But in general, the conditioning and heart rate info I’m gaining from spinning ought to benefit my tennis game — or at least my ability to survive three long sets.

Now I need to incorporate heartbeats per minute variations into my tennis workout — and I’m not referring to the way my heart races after after my opponent makes a poor line call on an important point!

That, however, is a subject for another post.

Do you measure your heart rate? If so, what do you do with the information?

 

Image credits: lemondfitness.comcbdilger via flickr