Tag Archives: Family

Norway’s Answer To Youth Sports

I recently watched a show on HBO that explored Norway’s approach to youth sports. It was eyeopening. Anyone who has participated or been associated with youth sports in this country during the past thirty or so years will tell you, if they’re being objective, that the model is out of control. We train, pressure and attempt to develop eight year olds as if they’re pro athletes, so it should surprise no one that a study performed by the National Alliance for Youth Sports found that 70% of American children quit sports by the age of thirteen. One of the main reasons given for dropping out is that sports in no longer fun.

Enter Norway.

They basically take the approach that the United States is using, and do the opposite. Back in 1987, Norway adopted a statement called Children’s Rights In Sports. It governs how kids participate in athletics and all national sports federations are obligated to abide by the rules. The basic premise centers on making sports available for all kids with the goal of having fun. Instead of the pressure for kids to participate in one sport year round at an early age, like we do in the United States, Norway wants kids to play sports because its fun and they enjoy it.
By the way, 93 percent of children grow up playing organized sports in Norway, where there are no economic barriers, travel teams aren’t formed until teenage years and adults don’t begin separating weak from strong until children have grown into their bodies and interests. Leagues don’t keep scores until the age of 13, there are no national championships for teams younger than 13 and no regionals until 11. Once a child reaches thirteen, has begun to grow into their bodies and expressed specific interests, Norway’s sports federation make top coaches available to athletes skilled in those sports, but until then, it’s only about participation and letting kids be kids and have fun. Their belief is that it’s impossible to say at 8 or 10 who is going to be talented in school or sport. All children develop, physically and athletically, at very different ages.

What a concept!! Letting a child have fun, living their lives and playing sports for the pure enjoyment of it.

One would think that a system like this would come up short compared to our system of national championships for seven year olds, parents hiring coaches for nine year olds and families traveling across the country for tournaments. But Norwegian athletes get just as much physical exercise without having to play the same sports day after day, year after year, while they’re young. Their development is all encompassing and they are able to enjoy friendships and family without the stresses and commitments we see in this country.

Their goal is not to develop the best college or professional athlete, but the best well rounded person.

Oh, and if anyone thinks this approach doesn’t breed success, take a look at the last Winter Olympics in 2018. With a population of only 5.3 million people, Norway took home 39 medals, more than any country in the history of the Winter Games. And yes, they also have the best female soccer player in the world.

Is it any wonder that Norway always ranks as one of the happiest countries in the world?

Youth sports in this country is a 16 billion dollar industry bankrolled by parents who just don’t understand the long term impact on their children.

In a country where money speaks first, parents dictate direction and children have become a secondary priority, there is little chance that we will ever see the type of youth sports revolution Norway adopted.

And once again, children lose.

 

 

When A Couple Of Days Becomes A Couple Of Months

Sooooo…..how’s it going out there?

Been a while for me. Not that anyone is counting days but my last post was two months ago. That’s a long time without a sound in the blogosphere, especially when there is no justifiable reason. I’m fine, family is fine, (thankfully), weather is getting warmer, another Idol has been crowned, it’s lighter longer, politics is still an embarrassment and Thrones has finished.

And I’ve been gone.

Some people I know were celebrating that fact. Sorry to disappoint you.

It’s one thing to take a planned hiatus, understanding that you need to step away for any number of reasons. But I never planned to take a break. Two days suddenly became two months and I feel like I’ve missed a lot. So why the disappearing act? ( I’ll explain, in case you’re interested, of course.)

Well, March through July is usually a pretty busy time for our immediate family. We celebrate ten birthdays in a very short period of time, all of which have some sort of party. Throw in Mother’s Day, Easter, Fathers’ Day and our wedding anniversary and the days and weekends are pretty full. But then this year came along and we added two communions, two dance recitals, a kickboxing tournament and a college graduation to the mix.

But I’m just getting started.

In March decided to begin two projects around the house, both of which involves contacting contractors, waiting for them to possibly show up, getting quotes and scheduling the work. Two major projects. Call seven people and you’re lucky if three show up. For each project.
Oh, then there was that separate problem with water in the basement around the sump pump and contacting a half dozen people, each of whom had their own ideas and cost on how to fix it. Yeah, that was fun. This last ten months of constant rain has been a blast. Noah’s never around when you need him most

There’s more but I don’t want to wear out my dubious welcome.

Now, I don’t know about you but for me to write anything or string two sentences together, the stars pretty much have to align, and by that I mean, it has to be quiet, not only in the room I’m in, but in my head as well. Crowded mind, cluttered mind.  I’m not from the Stephen King school of writing.
You know those times when you’re moving through the day and you come up with an idea or two for a blog and you write it down so you won’t forget? I was never able to get to a pencil or paper or phone fast enough. And at my age, if I don’t record it at that moment it becomes like the leaves of an oak tree during a nor’easter in the fall.

Now I’m not complaining at all. I know I’m blessed. All the things I’ve mentioned are good things, except the water/weather problem, of course, but the Man upstairs seems to have a different opinion of that than I do. We’ve differed before. That’s okay. We always seem to make up.

We’re only halfway through the party/celebration season but at least the projects are now completed so I feel theres been a little more quiet in my head. A little more focus. Or at least as much focus as I’m capable of. Don’t expect too much.

So, that’s my explanation/excuse. It’s not much but it’s all I have. I know I’ve missed a lot and I’m sorry about that. If you want to break up, it’s understandable, You can even keep the ring. We’ll call it even.

 

Living With Dreams

 

“Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” 
James 4:14

Thirty-nine years ago today my father passed away suddenly, less than a day after we buried my thirty-two year old brother-in-law who died of cancer. When you spend a week and half sitting in a funeral home making final arrangements for two people of your immediate family, life has a way of changing you. Not immediately, and sometimes not even in ways you can understand or explain. But it does change you.

It’s hard to believe so much time has gone by and even more difficult to think about everything they missed and everything we missed sharing with them. We lost a part of our future and past in a matter of days. I don’t know if we ever really recover from loss or just throw a blanket over it to allow us to function each day. We carry on, we laugh, we welcome new family members, we enjoy life because there is no other choice. We live for the living and for ourselves. Still, there’s always a hole, always moment in days where we stop and maybe smile at a memory or what they might have done or said about a family situation. Or the way life has changed so much over the years.

Here’s the strange part of the story…

A couple of weeks before my Dad died, I had a dream. In my dream, I saw him in a coffin at the funeral home, exactly as he appeared after he passed away.
Ten years earlier, my grandfather, (my father’s father), died unexpectedly. A couple of weeks before he died, I had a dream. In that dream, I saw him as he appeared in the coffin. My grandfather lived in Brooklyn so I had never been to that funeral parlor. And yet, when I walked in, everything was as I had seen it. In detail. I remember it very clearly.

A couple of days after my father was buried, I told my mother about both dreams. For obvious reasons, I had never told anyone about them before. She wanted to know why I didn’t tell her. She wondered if there might have been something we could have done if she had known. But as soon as she said the words, she understood.

You can’t alter your life chasing those types of dreams, just like you can’t alter your life chasing what might have been. There’s no time for that, no secret recipe for the secrets of life.

So hold the ones you love close. Those that are here and those who are not. And if the ones who are here don’t understand, hold them closer.

 

 

 

 

Scattering Love

                   It’s not what you gather but what you scatter that tells what kind of life you’ve lived.
Helen Walton

I was thinking about my childhood the other day and trying to remember how far back my memories went. I settled on somewhere between four and five years old but there were only a handful that were clear to me. That bothered me, especially when I took what was then and applied it to now.

Making memories with the people you love or care about is one of life’s greatest gifts. Some of the times we’ve laughed most were with our children and grandchildren, especially during their early years, when everything is on the table, learning is a daily adventure, innocent words  are a sound byte and your sense of wonder sometimes equals theirs. Those are memories that we’ll keep with us forever. Unfortunately, it’s all one-sided. Because in those early years it’s not anything they’ll remember. Influenced, yes. But all the things that were said or laughed about until there were tears in our eyes will not be a definitive memory for them.

That shouldn’t bother me because it’s just another cycle of life, but it does. I remember things that we did with our children and now our grandchildren that were special moments, and though we can relay the stories, it’s not the same as being there in our mutual minds. I sit and have conversations now with our grandchildren, play games, tell stories, laugh at the silliest things, hold them if they cry and sit back and wonder if they’ll remember any of it.

I’ve always understood this but I suppose as I’ve gotten older, Helen Walton’s quote has taken on a different meaning. You want those you love to remember every last laugh and cuddle and hand holding because you know that time of innocence, like life, is so short. Eight or nine comes too quick and soon they’re moving on. Parents will always be more invested in the lives of their children/grandchildren than the other way around. That’s just the way it is. It’s not a matter of loving or caring, it’s just the emotional investment that begins long before they open their eyes and never goes away.

So selfishly you want them to remember it all. Every amazing moment. Big and small. Hoping that you’ve scattered enough love and joy into their lives that one day they may laugh at something silly for no reason at all. You may not know it or even be there. But if it brought them happiness, then maybe something in their two year old lives stuck, and you’ve scattered enough.

And maybe, just maybe, the shade of a memory will not only be yours.

 

On Loneliness

I’ve always associated loneliness with people who don’t have anyone. Older people. Those whose spouse has died or who live alone without any real friends or family for support. That can be a difficult and depressing way to get through each day.

But I read an article recently which surprised me a bit. It said that loneliness peaks at three key ages in our lives. According to their research, people reported feeling moderate to severe loneliness in the late 20’s, mid 50’s and late 80’s. The 80’s didn’t surprise me but the other two age groups did to varying degrees.
The article explained that loneliness doesn’t mean being alone, nor does it mean not having friends. Loneliness is defined as “subjective distress, ” or the discrepancy between the social relationships you want and the social relationships you have.

I never thought of loneliness that way.

Apparently, people in the late 20’s feel a sense of stress or guilt about their life paths and how it measures up against their peers. This added stress increases feelings of loneliness or isolation.
People in their mid-50’s sometimes go through a mid-life crisis. Health sometimes becomes an issue, friends may have died and you realize that your life span is not forever.
The 80’s is where I always felt loneliness manifests itself more. Sometimes the older you get the more alone or detached you become and it never seems to get any better.

There were two other things about the report that surprised me. The first is that the reduced life span linked to loneliness, is similar to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. The other is that there is an inverse association between loneliness and wisdom. People who have high levels of wisdom don’t feel lonely and vice versa. Wisdom should not be confused with intelligence. More times than not, they are mutually exclusive.

I don’t know if it’s always been this way or if it’s a reflection of todays society, but while we all know people who we believe are lonely, there are many more who are having difficulty dealing with life. People we see each day.

The holidays are a happy time of year for many of us. We get together with family and friends to celebrate love and share our lives in a meaningful way. But there are many who will be alone, either physically or emotionally. If we can help one person this holiday season with a phone call or visit, maybe that will extend into the new year and beyond. Then maybe another.

For all in life that is beyond our control, this is something we can affect. One hand at a time.

I pray you all have a Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday and healthy New Year.

 

Side Roads

Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast…you miss the sense of where you are going.
Eddie Cantor

Most of us live, or have lived, busy lives. When we were younger, we’d get up each morning and move through the day almost robotically at times. Driving the same route to work, performing the same tasks, seeing the same people, driving home, running the same errands, keeping the same commitments, sometimes rushing through dinner to get to the next appointment with or without children, maybe an hour or so to relax before we go to bed and start it all over again the next day. Sometimes even weekends call us. Work, games, obligations. It’s a cycle. More for some than for others. It’s just how things seem to be these days. There is no real down time. The opportunity to relax on a regular basis doesn’t seem to exist any more, at least for many.

There are roads I have travelled for years, and until recently, I never slowed down enough to really see what was around me. There are side roads I never took. I always wondered where they led and what I would find if I traveled them but there was always someplace to be. Always another time. Always.

Not long ago, as we were traveling to an appointment, I chose to take a detour. Soon after, I took another, and then another, until I found myself finding different, more beautiful ways, to get to the same place. It just took a little more time.

Life is like that for so many of us. We pursue a career, lifestyle, family, home and any additional extras  we may have envisioned for ourselves as we move through life. But we rarely, if ever, take a side road. Life sometimes moves too fast for us to pursue a different dream, to learn a new skill, to find enjoyment in different places. Only when we get a little older do we have the time to reflect and breathe. But it shouldn’t, or doesn’t have to be that way. Life paths are a choice.

Cecile Andrews once wrote, “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary can breathe.” Breathe enough so we have the time to pursue other avenues or dreams. To really enjoy and appreciate family. To not miss the sense of where you are going, or who you are.

To take side roads.