Fly Away.

 

Her name was Laura (Redmond) Ramirez, she was a senior when I was a freshmen, and my first memory of her was when she smacked my butt as she almost lapped me on our first fitness test ha. This undoubtedly took place on my very first day of college where I was a ‘walk on’ and well, Redmond (Red), was one of our senior captains.

You see at the moment in time, I felt as if my legs were going to collapse and that there was no way I could take another step. Yet there was Red, joking around, plus making the hard work look easy.

She knew no other way but to lead by example.

From the first moment I met her, her tenacity with an undeniable balance of humour, was infectious. She only knew how to be a fighter with a smile on her face.

That never altered. From the moment she found out, in 2007, that she had Leukemia until the very end. This includes, during those 10 almost 11 years, where she also lost her mother in 2010 (with leukemia) and then also her father in 2016 to liver cancer. 

Yet, even through all that pain and loss, pain that many of us cannot imagine, she was the same Red from college; one hell of a fighter with a smile on her face.

And when she passed away, earlier this year, and I could not make the funeral due to Futbol, writing was the only thing that brought me peace. These lyrics are to honor her courageous journey and that of her husband as well, who stood by her for every step.

You see, when John (than boyfriend, soon after husband) and her found out about her condition, there were recently out of college and had their whole lives ahead of them.

I am sure some people would think about walking  away from Laura, but not John.

John stood by her till her final breath and that was where our own tears fell. Our tears fell as we thought about their incredible journey together. What it must have been like for him to not only watch his wife, his best friend, fight this horrible desease but also to watch her lose her closest family members throughout that same time frame.

“Here we are.

The time has come

How do we say goodbye.

You said fight

To carry your joy

To find your strength

To Believe again …”

The lyrics were also written thinking about my father, about his own mother as we told her the news about losing her only son, about watching my mother go through the pain of losing her own mother, with watching so many of my friends, who I call family, try to deal with the pain of losing their mother’s, father’s, brother’s, and sister’s.

“Tears still fall

Ill find a way

You loved all my

Pain Away…”

This song, is for anyone that has ever lost someone, to try to allow you to have a little more peace than before.  To believe, to know, and have faith in that even though they are not with us now that the time we spent with them and the impact they had on our lives can never be taken from us.

“But you know

I am standing here

Smiling loving you.

Sunshine through the clouds

You’ve always been an angel….”

Laura was a type of human that even when she was suffering with all that pain, with all that loss, you could not help but leave her presence with a smile. And for that alone she will never be forgotten.

ALL PROCEEDS, OF THIS SONG, WILL GO TOWARDS HER INCREDIBLE SCHOLARSHIP.

Laura’s family and friends are aiming to raise an ambitious $50,000 to support an athletic scholarship fund in Laura’s name at the University of Illinois, her alma mater. The fund will be used to support future soccer players at U of I.

Donations can be made online at http://iamtheifund.com/makeagift.html. Click “Make a Gift” and indicate in the “Special Instructions” that the gift is being made in memory of Laura Redmond Ramirez. Or call the Varsity I office at 217-333-7777. The optional fund number is: 774623.”

ENJOY. #ForHim #ForHer #ForYou #ForUS

 

The Beauty of Our Anger.

Anger.

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What a scary thing it can be.

I am not talking about the surface anger. Like when you get a parking ticket or maybe your sister (okay wife ha) ‘steals’ your favourite shirt.

I am talking about the anger that boils deeps within all of us.

That you might not actually know exists until you are pushed to a limit where it finally comes to the surface.

The kind that can make you feel so passionate, righteous, in control, which actually makes us blind, disrespectful, and possessive of rage.

You see, I have that anger.

I can feel it coming up as I have written, deleted, rewritten, deleted, this very post.

Or how that anger can seem to rise simply opening up the news. How it makes me want to take someone by the shoulders and start shaking them.

That I justify this want by saying what I believe is the right thing to believe.

But is it?!

Isn’t that what those on the other side of the ‘fence’ are saying about my own?!

See they believe, just as I do with all my heart, that what they are fighting for is what is fundamentally right.

Phhhhhhheeeewwwwww.

Breathe.

Okay.

That might be one of the hardest things I have had to write. To actually admit that ‘they’ have every right and reason as I do, to fight for the things that they think will make a world a better place.

However, this has also allowed me to see the beauty of when I can actually see past my own anger.

To see where the challenge actually lies.

That we as a people need to take a step back, so we can see from another point of view, to then be able to take a step forward together.

That through our belief in others, we can in fact, strengthen are own beliefs in us: The people.

How?!

Lets start by walking in another’s shoes.

Christians. Maybe read a book about the virtues of a buddhist. I challenge you to see if you find a common ground, a common goal, a common belief of hope, love, peace, kindness, joy.

Or we can even go more extreme.

Trump. Why don’t you take off your suit, take away all your fame and security, and go live in the poorest part of the states. For one week go see what it is like to be a parent where you have to work two jobs and still can’t get ahead of the bills let alone food on the table.

Or for the people in Alabama who are trying to pass a BILL that allows their faith based adoption agency to not allow same sex couples to adopt a child. Why don’t you go and live in a home of two loving people. Two people that are not only committed to each other but to also raising a child that does not have a place to call home. Instead of judging them with the same book that says that your wife should … (plus 1 Timothy 2:11-14, 1 Corinthians 11:5 ESV)

1 Corinthians 14:34-35 ESV:
The women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

My point is, why are we so quick to accept some things and yet not others?!?  Unless I am wrong and you not only uphold your beliefs on who has the right to help a child but also to all the women that go to your churches that they must sit silent and submissive to the men?!

As Justin Timberlake so graciously said:

“If you are black or you are brown or you are gay, or you are lesbian, or you are trans, or maybe you’re just a sissy singing boy from Tennessee – anyone who has treated you unkindly, it’s only because they are afraid or they have been taught to be afraid of how important you are.”

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I show you JT’s words because I was one them. One of them that were afraid of who I was and how important someone else could be. I was so afraid ,that I clung to words that I did not fully understand, and judged with them. I was so desperate to feel the love, grace, forgiveness, a fresh start, and joy that I never took the time to see from where ‘they’ were coming from.

I never took the time to fully grasp that. Even though I was being taught the Words of God, it was still interpreted from their lives. From where they grew up, from what they were taught, and from their experience.

I now understand why The Word sounds different in Malmo, Sweden thats it did in Champaign-Urbana, IL. Or how they sound different in Vancouver, Canada to Paris, France, and so on.

And instead of looking at in a hindering way I choose to look at it for what it is: the power of fellowship.

It is a very special thing to be able to find that strength, confidence, and safety away from ‘home.’ The reason why we all find different Churches that seem to speak just to us compared to another.  From the pastor, people, or overall community we are able to find ‘home’ in a way another person found it in the Church down the street.

But does that mean that Church down the street is less than the one we found?! Does it mean the words spoken there are less important than the words spoken here?!

Seems like a pretty easy answer right?!

(I speak about Churches because that is what I know. However, if you have another faith then please take out Church and insert the place that works best for you)

This is the beauty of faith.

Imagine the world if fear was not the reason to treat someone different.

Because the truth of the matter is that that IF you truly are a believer in whatever God, or whatever higher power, or in nothing, life should be about bringing everyone closer to them through love, respect, kindness, compassion, joy, and faith.

Learn. Live. Find. Search. Love. Enjoy. Fight. Encourage. Challenge.

The world is scary folks. It is a scary time but don’t lose hope.

Just because the one standing in front of you is spreading lies and hate, doesn’t mean the one standing behind you, to your left, or to the right are doing the same.

With love.

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More Than a Book Review…

 

You know I have read my fair share of “self-helps.” I have done my fair share of prayer, scripture, positive reinforcement and when nothing else works – the art of simply fighting the air. However, in 2016, I realized it was finally time for me to start cutting through all my baggage, that I had no choice with holding onto all my extra crap, and that it was time to finally stop running from my pain.

That through all my ‘running,’ I have actually created more pain, and it was actually the one place I need to go to find peace. Or as Mark Manson says in ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck,’ “Many people may be to blame for your unhappiness, but nobody is ever responsible for your unhappiness but you. This is because you always get to choose how you see things, how you react to things, how you value things.”

Mason’s book has quite easily summed up the balance I have struggled to find.

His way of intertwining academic research, jokes, and his ability to make the complicated things simple, allowed me to comprehend his ataraxia. That through “improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn lemons into lemonade, but on learning to stomach lemons better”

And let me tell you, my lemons?!? Well I couldn’t stand them! I was so afraid of their actual taste that I literally caused physical pain to myself instead of dealing with it.

How?! Why?! That doesn’t make any sense?!

Yeah, I hear ya!

Trust me, I was telling myself the same exact things. However, all I could seem to find, repetitively was heart break compared to the right answers or antidote.

I was so out of my depth when it came to understanding what a monster anxiety can be. To recognize how strong and powerful the mind is. Especially, when it is fighting against you compared to with you.

That, to beat it, you literally must stop thinking about what you don’t really know you are thinking about.

Makes sense right?!

Okay, okay, a better example.

As I have stated before, one of my main anxiety symptoms was/is feeling like I have a swollen tongue or tingly tongue. Before, I would try and fight it or get scared of it, which would always make the symptom worse. Now, I know that it is my subconscious. That somehow my brain has created this loop where at certain times, even though I ‘feel’ that I am not thinking about it or looking for it, it is there.

My mind knows how to trigger these symptoms without any help from ‘conscious’ me.

(What a dick, I know) ha

Again, through Mark’s book, he breaks that down. He writes about how we shouldn’t always focus on finding the ultimate ‘right’ answer. That we should make it more simple. That we should chip away at the ways we were wrong today so that we can be less wrong tomorrow. 

That with some grace, compassion, forgiveness, and love we can truly start to master our sense of self. That does not mean you have to find yourself or figure out who we are to a T. It means that we have to realize, humbly, that we are just one being in this massive 7.5 billion being world. That we were raised in an environment that we did not choose and that we should have the honour and/or respect to be conscious of that.

 “Before we can look at our values and prioritization and change them into better, healthier ones, we must first become uncertain of our current values. We must intellectually strip them away, see their faults, and bases, see how they don’t fit in with much of the rest of the world, to store our own ignorance in face and concede, because our own ignorance is greater than us all ….. This means giving up your sense of entitlement and your belief that you’re somehow owed something by this world. This means giving up your supply of emotional highs that you’ve been sustaining yourself with for years.”

Entitlement, me?!?

Yeah its hard to look at yourself in that way right?!

It sure in the heck was hard for me to take an honest look at myself.

I mean everything that I have achieved, my story, my success, is because of me?! Right? It is because of my hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. It is because I didn’t give up. That I accepted and took strength in the fact that nothing was handed to me and that I am where I am now! That when people thought I was done, stopped believing in me … Welp, I found a way to keep going! I damn well deserve this!

This is what I am owed, is it not?!!

That was my dialogue on the rainy days. When my hope seemed bleak. That is what I thought would push me through to fight another day.

Can you relate?!

Have you never said?!  I want that or I deserve this?! Or I believe this, how can YOU believe that?! No, no what I believe is the ONLY way. Have you NOT read the bible?! Have you not studied His words?!

Yahweh of the Bible?! No no no, it is and ONLY Allah of the Qur’an. Allah is the TRUE God etc, etc, etc …

Those words folks, these arguments, these words are the foundations of so many wars, deaths, suicide, and gut wrenching pain. Yes, of course, there is also tremendous amounts of joy, love, faith, hope, and more. However, why does it seem we are so afraid to see and love each other from our neighbours eyes compared to our own.

To be educated, respectful, kind, and loving instead of hateful, judgemental, disrespectful, and violent.

I sure in heck have been on one side. I have never been physically violent, but let me tell you, my words, my judgements?! Well they might as well have been because I never understood the gravity of my words until it was too late.

Do you?!

Can you understand the truth, see the strength, and power of Mason’s Law of Avoidance:

The More something threatens your identity the more you will avoid it. This is why people are often so afraid of success for the exact same reason they’re afraid of failure. It threatens who they believe themselves to be. 

So as I said before.

2016 was a year of heartbreak. However, we should never forget that the beauty of heart break is also the strength (we find) when we reach the other side. To be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel and have the faith that we can get there. That we will get there.

That you don’t get a day back. That finding yourself doesn’t always need to be right now. Because when you can keep striving for a better self, when you can learn of new cultures, new stories and journey’s, it allows us to remain humble in our judgements and accepting of the true differences of others.

“Just as one might suffer physical pain to build stronger bone and muscles one must suffer emotional pain to develop greater emotional resilience, a strong sense of self, increased compassion, and a generally happier life. “

“One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.”

-by Freud taken from “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck”

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Mr. Rob Williams.

Below is my family.

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As you can see, my mother couldn’t be more proud ha. She has the family that she has always dreamed of; one that is contrary to many social norms.  Aka she not only has a black son-in-law but also an unexpected (depending on who you ask) extra daughter-in-law. haha

I say that, because, since I was a child I have  been ‘forced’ or maybe better said ‘allowed’ to see what fighting for people’s equality really looks like. Yes, I will be the first to admit that most of the time, my mother, had to literally drag me out of our house to the numerous demonstration marches. However, now I realize how important those moments were. Just how important it was for me to see past my own incompetence as a ‘cool’ teenager and see some of the truths that many of us are not exposed to.

At that age, I never could have imagined, how powerful it would be for me to look back 18 years and say that I was apart of fighting for 5 young black men that were discriminated against in a local high school. Or why today, it would be so important to say I was a part of something that was bigger than myself.

That all lives matter.

My brother-in-law, my 2 beautiful nieces and nephew that are mixed, my wife, and so many more are the reasons are why this entry, why these powerful words, are important, and  why I hope you feel the same way after you finish reading this.

I hope that after this, you might be able to understand the truth about how we do not choose where we come from, who we come from, and what we are born into. Meaning that what we are passed on from our parents, whether that be to love everyone or to hate anyone that is different from us, we simply aren’t given that choice.

However, by CHOICE, we are all ALLOWED to find out what we believe in for ourselves.

So without further adieu, I am proud for you to see and meet my brother from another mother: Mr. Robert Williams and Rob, for what it’s worth, I hope you can also see just how proud I am to say that.

What you need to know:

I met Rob almost 10 years ago today.  I can still remember the moment when I walked up to him after one of my college soccer games. You see, at that time, all I really knew about Rob was that he was a Professional Indoor Arena football player and held the nick name ‘Black Super Man.’  Which actually still stands today in the weight room of the the University of UMass.

However what I have learned about Rob, over the years, has been humbling. Humbling in a way where I have seen a man not only be an incredible father, husband, but also a man of extraordinary work ethic and perseverance.

One that has allowed me to believe in hard work and faith through his own actions.

To him… its simple….YOU MUST EARN YOU RIGHT.

Rob grew up on the South side of Chicago, where most of his family still resides today. Now, to some of you that means nothing, but to those of you that live in Chicago or watch any News program, I wonder what your reaction just was?!

Head drop?

Head shaking?

A long sigh?!

You see, as of now, the south side of Chicago is in great turmoil. Not only the south side, but Chicago overall has their highest rates of shooting homicides in the country. I mean we are talking about a city population of 2.3 million people having more shootings than New York (8,5 million) and LA (3.4 million) combined.

(Below is the locations of shootings for 2016 – the clear circle in the lake – directly parallel to Broadview -is where downtown Chicago lies )

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Today there has already been, in 2016, more shootings than all of 2015. With over 2,588 shooting incidents, more than 3,173 people have been injured, and 543 confirmed dead. That is more than 50 percent higher than this time last year. (*Chicago Police Department Data)

I hope that helps you paint a picture.

A picture of where my brother-in-law spent most of his childhood. A childhood, where he will admit that he had more than most, but was still faced with the reality of having to navigate through the difficult times the the south side of Chicago has always been known for. Where his father always made sure that he had his pants up high and his hat on straight so he wouldn’t cause any attention to himself. Where he was taught, that even though he was allowed 4 people in his car, he knew that he should never pack the car because of the perception it could give a police officer. Or how, even today, he knows he will have to teach his son, my nephew, to make sure he is confident, his head tall, shoulders high, but not to be arrogant so people of authority don’t take it the wrong way. To teach him that he must always play two sides of the line.

Are you taken back?! Do you understand?!

Before this interview, I can honestly say,  I did not understand.

I mean I felt like I had grown up with the some of the same ‘disadvantages’ as Rob. Meaning I saw or experienced poverty. I had been involved with violence and discriminated against. I grew up fighting. Fighting to have what others were given and what I felt, in a way, owed.  I was almost upset with how he could not understand that. How could he tell me that  I don’t ‘understand’ when I grew up on food stamps (at points in time) and knew all too well about fighting for your right?!

But this is what I failed to comprehend until we had this hard, but much needed conversation, and all I needed to do was simply ask, “how can you help me understand?!”

Rob’s answer, changed my whole perspective …

“I joke with my wife that your family could be a perfect south side family, minus  

             the whole colour thing. I don’t doubt  you are non sympathetic with it, what you have   

             experienced. The biggest thing, or biggest difference, or even your family    

             wouldn’t get, is just the way we were taught the “way we were thing”. The way 

             we were conditioned to think. 

             You might have been raised to question things, even be tuned in, but there is no 

             questioning, there is no beating around the rules for me, from where I come  

             from. Because if I do question, I feel that could be singled out of as an African  

             American. The rules are there for us to follow, rather right or wrong. We don’t 

             get the opportunity to ask those questions of why. 

             The research actually shows that there are more white Americans in   

             poverty than black Americans, but that doesn’t change how we are looked upon 

             differently.

             This set of rules – a reality – is something we (the public) don’t really talk 

            about. 

             That goes back to when my parents who were born in ’61. Things weren’t great then 

             but things were becoming less segregated. The way that they raised me was all that I knew. 

             My father never wanted me to take a chance that I would mouth of to the wrong person.

             They really raised me with a “don’t talk back, don’t mouth up” to people of authority. He

            raised me in a way that would allow me to understand the way the world really works. Do

            what I am told and don’t argue.  To conform was a way that they thought we would be the

            safest. 

           The main thing – we just had to do things slightly different. Make sure I do them 

           the right way and staying off the radar, even if I am doing it the right way.

            I will never use being African-American as a crutch, it’s just the truth with having 

           to grow up with a different ‘set of rules.’

           And lastly, unless something changes, it presents a very scary time to raise 

           children because there use to be a time where you felt as if  you kept your head 

           down, got an education, moved to the suburbs – did things the right way – that 

          would keep me safe, us safe. 

          But now, with all the attention that’s going on, who knows how an officer will 

          approach me – whether right or wrong – it is scary time bc you just don’t know 

          what people are thinking. Everyone is on edge. I don’t think a police officer needs 

         to be afraid to walk up to the car but now, you never know what they are thinking 

          or in their mind, what they are thinking. It could get better, but we have to 

          navigate now. It’s not easy. “

        You see what his words made me see, for the first time, is that every morning when I get in my car, I never think ‘what if.’ It has never crossed my mind, that one day, when I am driving my kids to school that an officer will look at me and pull me over just because of my skin colour or even because I am driving with my wife. Or that when I was 16 years old and driving all my friends around that I had anything to be cautious about because why would I?! I was following the rules, right?!

Our world, our world is one where we have not yet broken free from the hatred of the ones before us. You see no one is born racist, no one is born with a love for Jesus, or for Buddha, or for maybe no God at all. We are all taught. We are all taught and molded from the ones that brought us into this world. Meaning, we all have the power to change this! To finally being able to say, “no I do not understand what it’s like to walk in your shoes but I can start to try. Allow me to see and do everything I can to help.”

So how do we start the change, how do we start to understand?!

“We have to talk about it. We start to ask the hard questions and then humbly 

           accept the answers. We don’t try to change them, we have an open dialogue     

          about it and no matter how many conversations about it, unless you walk a mile in 

           someone else’s shoes – its hard to sympathize what they are going through. But    

          the bottom line is, if you haven’t walked in their shoes, you can understand it but          

          you are not me.” – Rob Williams.

      So, yes I know that I am not an African American, but I am still a minority.

I am a minority in the right that I have a wife and that I face discrimination almost everyday. Some of you may never understand that or even care to try but why?!

Why do we continue to allow our past to dictate our present?! How can we say we are changing when the truth of the matter is we still believe what our fore fathers taught us.

I mean, its like saying we all accept the flip phone instead of the iPhone 7.

You might laugh, but it is true.

We allow ourselves to be ruled by our history instead of the courage, mistakes, losses, and gains to who we have all become today.

And so, I leave you with this, from THE Maya Angelou

“I have had so many rainbows in my clouds. I have had a lot of clouds but I have had so                         many rainbows in my clouds and one of the things that i do when i stand on that stage, when i stand up to translate, when i go to teach my classes, when i go to direct a movie, i bring everyone who has ever been kind to me with me. Black, White, Asian, Spanish speaking, Native American, gay, straight, and everybody. I say come with me, Im going on the stage. Come with me I need you now. Long did, you see. So I don’t ever feel I have no help. I’ve had rainbows in the clouds and the thing to do it seems to me is to prepare yourself so that you can be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud. Somebody who may not look like you. May not call god the same name you call god if they call god at all. You see I may not eat the same dishes prepared the way you do. I may not dance your dances or speak your language but be a blessing to somebody. Thats what i think.”

What would the world be like if we all thought this way?!

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Never Give Up.

This blog is my first entry for themotivenation.ca

This website is one that Erin has created to help motivate the world.  It is where she will have monthly features on different ‘motivators’.  She will help tell their stories and share a quote that the live by. Then by those words, she will create many different avenues for their quote to inspire others, and the truth behind why they do that for them.

For example, starting September, she will doing her first feature piece on Benoit Huot who is a 19 time Canadian Para Olympian Medalist and whose quote is “Never Give Up.”

My part in this project, is to take their quote, and help share stories that bring out the power of those words.

So, without further adieu …

NEVER GIVE UP.

As an almost 10 year Professional Athlete aka veteran, I can understand those words. I can understand the weight that comes with them. The tears that come so quickly to the surface as I think of moments where I almost gave up, where I thought there was no way I could possibly keep going.

However, that is not what comes to my mind now.

All I can think of is the last 4 month, as a wife, to a 4 time World Cup participant and 2 time Olympian who has just had her third Olympics taken away from her due to a 3rd ACL.

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A third ACL injury, where she actually played through it to help her team qualify for the Olympics.

Yep, you read it right! Erin McLeod, Canada’s #1 keeper, played through a qualifying tournament without an ACL. Not only the game vs Coast Rica, where they won, but also a Cup Game and ten minutes of a quarter finals match in Champions League.

How do I know this?!

Well as her mother and I sat in the waiting room in Malmo, to hear how her surgery went, the doctor came out to ask us when exactly did she think she tore it? He asked that because the greatest damage of her ACL, that he found,was not from 3 weeks before from the Champions League game. He said the damage would have been from a month or two before, or even a couple months before that. (The CL game was just the final push on her knee)

I won’t even even get into details how she was asked to play with it wrapped up! Yeah I know it sounds nuts, but that could have been an answer to get her through the Olympics, but ultimately that would be (most likely) ending her career.

So, like I said, never give up.

My wife made the decision to do just that.

She chose faith. She chose a path where the pain would be unimaginable, not only from the surgery but all the other thorns that come with it. She chose the decision which would allow her to continue on this crazy journey of chasing her dream. That has so many unknowns, sacrifices, defeats, but also joy, courage, honour, and fight.

So here she is, almost 4 months into her ten month rehab process, and trying to find her way. Trying to find her way while the team she has called her “family,” (for 15 years) is playing in the Olympics. A team, where she has sacrificed everything, to become a medal contender.

The best way I can explain it, from the outside, is like coming up with all the pieces of an app like ‘Twitter’ and then a couple months before you launch it, this million/billion dollar app, you have to take sick leave.

So as you watch, at home, you see the product. The product where you have put everything into it, with your teammates/friends/family, and then what them enjoy all the success.

You hopefully even do feel a part of it, in some way, but the world, and you standing on the podium is a dream you simply have to just let go. A dream that has pushed you through the grueling workouts, the time away from your family, the holidays missed, the birthdays forgotten, etc…

That does not meant that you are not happy to see all the people who have sweated, cried, laughed, and dedicated most of their lives (with you) to succeed. It just means there is no remedy.

There is no answer or words that can be said to make it okay or easier. It is just a pain that you have to find a way to work through, a pain that can be shattering, and humbling all at the same time.

A pain where a wife can only really grab a box of tissues and say; it will be okay …

Now, of course, there are good moments. There are days were we can, she can, understand the journey and power of faith. Where the pain can turn into inspiration and pure grit. Or maybe even better with a new tattoo;p (Moms that was for you ha)

In summary.

Life, as we know it, is a roller coaster. Like any journey and dream is in life. Its about riding the ups with incredible joy and then holding onto those moments as you go through the crippling downs.

I know in my life I have gone through some downward spirals, where I just wanted the day to be over, because I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I know and can respect that that is where my wife is now.

Where she is in a place of asking why a lot more than saying thank you. These moments, we can all see in our own lives, and as hard as they are then, if we hold on, it usually turns into the moments we become incredibly grateful for later.

This month, to me, is about finding a way to lift your head when you feel the chains won’t allow you to take one more step. That whether you are an Olympian fighting for your chance on the stand, a veteran fighting to find her way without her sport, or a wife trying to simply be a number one fan.

It’s simple: Never Give Up.

Because if is truly your dream, you will always find a way, to simply lift your head …

1/2 Way There…

I am going to blame this on the jet lag but all I can think about right now is, “half way there, ohhhh oh, living on prayer…” That puts the first half of our season into perspective ha.

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Even though we have been here for 7 months, we are now officially half way, with finishing in November. I think the best way for me to describe me on the pitch so far is this…

“Doubt Me. Hate Me. Rate Me. Shake Me. Break Me. NOW Watch ME.”

That was posted by my friend Ms. Carli Lloyd. Now her and I might be fighting for different things but I think it all comes down to respect, respect for our craft, and something we have dedicated our whole lives too. Granted, she could probably fund my career with her Nike contract alone ha, we have both made sacrifices that only our “inner” circle will ever truly understand.

I say that because a couple weeks ago I was approached by a reporter who said (give or take), “Do you have anything to say to those people who said that you were only picked by Rosengard because you were Erin’s wife?!”

At first, I was angry, then I was proud. I mean my wife must be a pretty big deal for a top 5 team in Europe to sign me to a two year contract just because “I am her wife” and don’t forget that that means year round pay ;p

I get it, I have no ego with admitting my wife is a bigger deal than me, but here is the truth of the matter.

I am 30, I am married, I (now) have a family to help support, and I know that I am worth more than a 3k pay check for 6 months.

And that 3k is before taxes and includes the money needed for paying rent, making my car payment, cell phone, groceries, etc …

I don’t mean that in a way where I am not thankful for being a Pro, but I disagree with the NWSL on how we had NO negotiating rights to our contract. Meaning that when I signed my rookie year I was locked in for as long as ‘they’ saw fit.

Every year it was a one year plus one year with a 5% increase of pay, no matter what. I had no rights to say IF i wanted to leave a team or stay. Oh and don’t forget we only get paid for 6 months but get told what, where, and when we can play for 12.

So let me rephrase. . .

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Malmo needed a defender. So when I came in September for my tryout, that was the position they saw me at. However, after an injury to a forward, I was moved up top and took full advantage of it. (10 goals, 4 assists, in 13 games)

Yes, I was sad to leave Houston, especially when I was so invested in the team and really believed in the girls around me. However, after 6 years Pro in the states, I realized that I would rather try and fail in Europe or simply be just a wife than to play in the states where the NWSL has made a living of making non US players feel unwanted, replaceable, and unstable.

It was simply too much. It was too much for me to be a part of a league where the  US national team players seem to be the ONLY focus. Where 16 players, give or take, on each team get over looked continually when they should be getting incredible praise for keeping the league alive!

Don’t get me wrong. I completly understand how important the national team girls are to the fans, but you can’t use the statement, “they put fans in the seats.”

You can’t say that as you see Portland pull  in 17k plus with not one national team girl on the pitch.

You can’t say that because the clubs choose to focus on them for media coverage compared to the inspirational stories of so many others that stand in front of them.

We all know that maybe 5 of the NT players change crowds by the hundreds… the rest… well lets just say I have been mistaken at least 5 times for Meghan Klingenberg ha. I mean, I’ll take the compliment, but come on, my bangs make up her hair ha. #thickhairmatters

Again, I am not taking away from the US players, because honestly it is not their fault.

They are put there because of the ideology of many of the clubs, when now, with being away, I see that it can be such a different way.

Now I see, how ALL over the world, leagues have been successful having the club be on the same level as national team. Where you have to be there to earn your right, where only international breaks is when the NT girls are gone, and where club training is just as respectable as the national team.

Not because of the price behind it, but because of the women that we call teammates. The women standing shoulder to shoulder,with you, who are getting paid 6k for 6 months but choose to sacrifice everything to have the opportunity to tie up their laces with their name on the back of a Professional jersey…

To so many, that is their dream, and they would do absolutely anything for them to live it.

I mean who wouldn’t?!

I will end with this.

FC Rosengard is by far the most professional club I have ever played for and it has nothing to do with the BIG gestures (ex stadiums) but because of the little ones. It is because they believe in the details a full time Physio who believes its his honour to help us out, who wants to be there and has years of experience, a full time massage therapist, a gym membership, a locker room at our field, our laundry washed, and in an environment where it’s not just about 1 or 2 players, but a roster of 18 who believes in the team first not the name on the back.

It is because we have a coach, an assistant coach, a GM, etc who shows up before us and leaves  way after us. A coach who believes in the group over an individual and takes the time to treat us as the same as the men’s Pro team he coached before.

In summary:

NWSL does matter for the generations to come, but maybe, maybe the little things (gestures, people) will finally start to matter so it CAN be a league that is an honour to play FOR not just with.

Til next time …

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Anxiety.

I figured, you guys, are used to me getting to the point and with this being one of my newest blog posts, I figured I would …. “start it off with a bang”

You see, my life right now is … well … the best it has ever been.

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I don’t mean this in a cocky way, so just bare with me …

In the last 6 months:

– I have been able to experience Newly Wed bliss

– Signed with a top team in Europe – along with my wife nonetheless

 – Played Champions League

  *and one of the most estranged facts of my career

– for the first time, after 8 years Professionally, I am getting paid year round.

I can’t remember a time in my life where all of this lined up, meaning professionally and personally where I have absolutely no complaints.

That is exactly why none of this makes sense …

It started around the beginning of December with chest pains.

At first I thought it was because I had some sort of sinus infection plus a bit of neck pain. However, after the chest pains started to subside, the headaches came, then the nausea, which turned into weight loss and sleepless nights.

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Bless this fan, she had no idea, but to me… well I don’t look like “me”

For the next four months, the symptoms above, became my world. My days turned from joyous moments into ones constantly searching for some type of pain. Trust me when I say, after a week of feeling any of those symptoms above, I was ready for them to be done. I just couldn’t understand how my “own” mind was the thing that I was in a battle with. How I could be sabotaging myself even as I told myself I wasn’t. How as a Professional athlete, someone who knows her body inside out, every little tweak, every sore muscle, and nothing seemed to make sense.

You see as an athlete physical pain makes sense.

It makes sense in the “off-season” to show up at a pitch, on a treadmill, and know that you are about to attempt to push yourself past exhaustion. That you are going to have to dig deep within yourself to find the strength to go a step farther than last time. That you will continue to do that for as many, weeks, months and/or years that you have the honour of calling yourself a Pro.

So, again, what doesn’t make sense to me is this: Anxiety.

It doesn’t make sense how I can’t “fight” it. How I can’t tell it to just go away or shut my brain off when all my “symptoms” come in full force. How after 29 years, it seems all my emotional “junk” is starting to finally come to the surface. That for some reason, for the first time in my life, I can’t seem to “run”anymore.

That I have been humbled, beyond belief, these last couple of months and all because I have finally seen the power of my own subconscious, good and bad.

For example.

About a two months ago, I was again, on my couch (at night) suffering from the feeling of a swollen tongue. At this point in time, with help from the club, we had ruled out all physical aliments, and I was given the task to start trying to understand the root of my anxiety. So as I began to feel my tongue, I turned to the steps I was given to help ‘control’it …

breathe deep

focus on the in and outs of your breath

close your eyes, relax …

Unfortunatley, almost instantly it felt like I got punched in the chest. My breathing started to get more and more laboured and the pain in my chest seemed to be almost exploding.

So my instinct!? My instinct was to fight, I mean I have fought my whole life and as dumb as it sounds, I got up and started punching the air. It sounds so funny now, but to me, at that moment, it was the only thing i knew how to do.

And yes, to my surprise, it just got so much worse. I collapsed on the floor and started to sob.

You see, there I was. No complaints remember?! And yet, everything seemed so out of my control.

I just didn’t understand, how could this be me?! How could I be so helpless to my own mind?!

That night will be a night I never forget. It was a night that broke me but yet, it also allowed me to start to realize how much I needed help.

Over 40 millions adults in the US, 18 and older suffer from what is considered the most common mental illness in the US and only 1/3 actually seek treatment. We are all human and anxiety can be one ugly beast! A beast that shows many different sides and shapes, but one that YOU can overcome.

I am not too proud to say I am seeking help. I know that I am one of the lucky one’s that has an incredibly wife, family, and friends that will always pick up if I call, offer me a hand when I need it most, and be there for me at a drop of a hat.

I have started the process of staying present, understanding, and respecting “my” symptoms when they come. I am finding myself back in prayer and meditation to simply allow myself to sit with it all.

Below is a quote that one of Erin’s customers asked for with a piece of art. I can’t help and feel empowered with reading it.

“May your heart be kind, your mind fierce, and your spirit brave”

Never stop believing you are worth every moment of true inner peace.

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My rock. It feels good to have my smile back 😉

 

Til next time…

 

 

 

 

 

 

European Extravaganza

It has been a while since I have had  ….. well, frankly wanted to write anything. Once I returned from Norway, things have not exactly been going as planned.

I can’t even say I am ready to talk about all that has gone on. Lets just say I am still trying to gather all my thoughts.

So, instead, I am just going to talk about my amazing trip through Europe. Starting with my awful debacle in Paris ;/

Europe, Europe, Europe.

You know, I have been pretty darn lucky in the world traveling side of life. As I flip through my passport I found stamps from Brazil, Norway, Sweden, England, Germany, France, Finland, Spain, Scotland, and even Japan.

For someone who did not see Chicago for the first time until she was 18, that’s not a bad record for the last 6 years. I also quickly realized how different it is to travel with a team compared to individually.

Gosh have I been spoiled.

It is a whole different ball game when you’re the one booking your own flights, trying to have one country travel plans coincide with the next, and yes, most importantly, keeping it at a reasonable price (that’s the kicker).

The reason I found myself even considering this European adventure was because of three main reasons:

1)    My Norwegian team didn’t make the finals, so I had a week in a half of time to hangout before I went back state side

2)    I had a pair of amazing friends in Barcelona and Germany that I wanted to see.

3)    RYAN AIR!!!

Folks I am not kidding, I flew from Oslo to Paris to Barcelona to Munich, and back to Oslo for 117 American dollars. Not a typo, trust me my brother even had to call the airline because he did not believe me when I told him the price.

Once I saw that price, I knew it was my duty to travel for all my fellow Americans! Ha

Paris, France – aka the Nightmare

The “City of Lights” or as I call it, “The City of WWWWUUUUUVVVV.” I know what you’re thinking, why in the heck would I want to head there alone?!?

It’s actually pretty simple – the kicker about RyanAir is that they only fly into certain cities. For instance, I couldn’t fly straight from Oslo to Barce. Had to head to either England or France before I could reach there.

After doing some research, I happened to find a family friend that lived in Paris, France it was. Would you turn down the love capital, The Eiffel tower, and some of the best chocolate in the world?!? Exactly!

With only having a week to travel, my timetable in each city was pretty short. i.e. – I was in Paris for a whole 36 hours.

Everything started out perfect. I landed in the morning, found my way to meet my family friend, and even got a quick tour before it was dark. The weather was quite a bit warmer than Norway, which got me excited to see the city the next day.  Being mid-November, I was surprised that it was not absolutely miserable outside. Then again I did just come from Norway where it was literally the Siberian tundra! Ha

Anyways, I crashed pretty early knowing that the next day I had exactly 6 hours to see the “hot” spots of Paris. I could see the Eiffel tower outside my guest window, had a bike raring to go, and the map studied/conquered for a perfect route to get me around the city.

Inception Anyone?!?

Bright and early I am off on my first solo adventure. Money, camera, map, and bike – check, check, and check. The first 7 minutes of my bike ride were splendid. The tower was on the horizon and the cool fall air was delightful……….. Then BAM, flat tire ;/

I could have turned around and headed back up to find a pump at the apartment OR just fill up at the gas station down the block. In the US I do that all the time  – should work here right?!?

BEFORE I CONTINUE, I must tell you that none of this is made up. The timing, stupidity, and stubbornness is 100% me . . . . Unfortunately

I pull into the gas station and start trying to fill my tire. As I push down on the air gage, my tire started to instantly lose air. I tried to pull it off but it was too late, my tire was completely flat. It turns out that this particular bike had a new and improved valve that actually needed a special attachment to fill it correctly.

I immediately go to the gas attendant and ask for some help. I think he understands what I am saying and points in the direction of a red yawning, a bike shop right?!? Nope, it turns out to be an appliance shop that was closed. With time dwindling down and the Eiffel tower a loooooong block away, I figure I can go there, and then look for a bike shop.

4 hours later……

I have not only managed to walk around in a huge circle around the Eiffel tower but it conveniently started to pour rain. Not the nice sprinkle kind, the kind that pierces your body with the sideway sting. Every darn person that I asked for help sent me to either a gas station or an actual bike renting automatic center.

Needless to say, 5 hours passed of me walking around Paris with my handy bike at my side. My dream of seeing this beautiful city was short lived. Hands frozen, body shivering, and frustration in full swing I head back to my friends apartment. The only good news was that I did actually get to climb up the 780 steps of the Eiffel tower – the view was amazing.

one of the many streets i wondered around in Paris

In the end I realize there are many “what ifs” in this story. I mean who would of guessed that there were NO bike shops in Paris? Or that I would let out all the air of my tire and instead of doing the simple thing of heading back to the apartment I decided to try it out for myself.

At least I had the chance to try their famous hot chocolate and a Éclair. My mouth is watering now thinking about how yummay that was! It even ALMOST made the pain in my frozen hands disappear.

as you can see the map and I were not on the same page ha

BARCELONA

 

This might be my favorite place I have visited so far in this vast world. I got to spend 2 ½ days there and was blown away. My good friend/teammate Vero took me all over. We covered the Barce stadium, the Olympic campus, Sagrada’s and Gaudi churches, Vero’s favorite restaurant (OMG yal, the food was so amazing, would fly back just for another taste.), and of course the coast line.

The first day was my favorite. We went to Las Ramblas, the famous street of Barce.  From the numerous street vendors to the amazing street performers, my mind was blown away

Vero and me up at the Olympic training grounds

From my pictures below you can see the Barce number one fan and another street performer. I literally crawled under this man to see how he was staying up and there was nothing there! He must have the strongest arm in the world! I still have no idea how in the heck he pulled that off.

Number 1 fan
what the heck?!?!

After that we went to the famous St. Joseph Mercat. It was so incredible. I mean the market was endless with everything. They had snails, ostrich eggs (which are massive), Negro ham, etc.  I still don’t know what the big deal is with this particular ham, but with the picture you can see it is a good 100 US dollars more expensive, WTH (heck).

notice the difference in prices from the middle two?!
seafood anyone?

I also was lucky enough to get a practice in with her team, Espanyol, that night. They practiced late (9 pm to 11pm) and my first impression was a bit low. The players that I saw first were a bit bigger than most. That, of course, gave me false confidence because I was quickly reminded that they were professionals as well. The things those girls could do with a ball was crazy. Every single one was doing this trick or another. My biggest accomplishment was only getting megged once that night…. Gosh were they good!

Gottingen,Germany

To many of you Chicagoans the name Trent Meacham will mean nothing to you, yet if I said his name in Champaign, people might head into frenzy. He is a good friend of mine that I have known since we played soccer together around 8 years old. He is now an ex Illinois Basketball player and professional player in Germany.

He is one of the best men I know. Talk about a God fearing, humble, and hard working human being. I didn’t think I could meet someone more impressive until I met his wife, Theresa. She is just as incredible as him and supposedly could of made it quite easily in the WBNA, just a beast ha.

Anyways, I had the pleasure of getting close to them over the last couple of years and was happy to make them my last stop of my adventure. After a 45-minute bus ride to downtown Munich and then another 2-hour train ride I arrived in their very quaint and gorgeous new home.

A view from their apartment window

It pretty much was two great days of seeing some family. With being gone for two months, it felt so refreshing to see some familiar faces, and be able to see what their life is all about over seas.

Overall, I could not of asked for a better trip. I got to see some very dear friends and what a day in their life looks like. I’d have to say that my biggest shock was the differences in the culture. For example I came from a country (Norway) where they are up at sunlight and home by sunset, working every minute of the day. To Barcelona where nothing opens until 10, then closes from 1 to 4 for some good old wine drinking/eating, and then reopening until 10 pm. I would definitely say that the Spaniards know how to enjoy life.

With my schedule I can easily find myself having the days run together, especially with pre pre season training. Most of my days consist of a morning workout of running, boxing, or some technical work. Then after lunch I have a harder workout of either lifting or playing. Not sure how it’s possible, but feel like I have no time to myself in these days. Yet, at the same time I would not change it if I could.

I realize that my off season training is built on this philosophy:

Off-season is where the blood, sweat, tears and fears are shown, where the champions are made. Season is the time where you finally get to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Yep, just made that one up. Til next time folks.

 

OOOOOOooooooopppppsss (From start to end)

– My creepy roommate in the background – lol

Let me tell ya folks, if you EVER start your week off by accidentally (key word) breaking someone’s arm with your shot (soccer):  you should immediately begin to brace yourself for the “interesting” events to follow …

For example, if that was not bad enough, we got our butts absolutely handed to us this weekend. 6 to 1. Yep, 6 to 1 was the score of our game and it was NOT in our favor.

Have you ever experienced a nightmare you can’t wake up from?!? Well this was mine! In the first 35 minutes we were down 5-0. Lets repeat. FIRST 35 minutes, down 5  – 0!!!!!!!!!!! It got so bad, that after the 3rd goal I ran over to our coach, saying we needed to change something/anything. Not sure if it was the language barrier or what, yet nothing changed.

After the 4th goal,  the team got together and decided to change the formation.  I know this sounds incredibly ridiculous, however, something had to be done. From that moment on we held our ground, even put one away.

In my mind we only lost 2-1, not a bad trip after all, right?!? Aghhhhh, still can’t figure it out. I can’t remember ever being in a game, on either side of the coin, where 5 goals were scored in the first 35 minutes. I can say with a 100 % guarantee that I understand what the poor old Haiti and Guatemala team’s felt like after playing US ;/

Builds character right?!?

That, of course, did not help our mood on Saturday (played that morning) night when we were suppose to have our  “Halloween” party.

A little history –

The Norwegians don’t really celebrate Halloween here. So, two years ago, Lindsey (other American I came with) and I decided to show them a bit of what that night would consist of.

Two Years Ago – dressed as bag of Jelly Beans

We had the typical Halloween candy shipped over -Twix, Reese’s, Snickers, Candy Corn (Yuck), etc. We bought the pumpkins, carved them, and baked the seeds. Made the popcorn balls, Carmel apples, buckeyes (my fav), Goodie bars – pretty much a slice of heaven.

All the girls loved it and got really into it. They dressed up and somehow agreed to watch a scary movie. The night was perfect, until our coach Hege Riise (USA Assist. now) decided to sneak up and scare the hibbie jibbies out of us !!! Have to get her back for that one.

Anyways, this year, we decided to do it again. I am proud to say that it was a success, even with the earlier mishap. I baked the Goodie bars, made an apple crisp pie, carved the pumpkin, and baked the seeds.

The rest of the girls brought some treats, dressed up, and we finished the night with another scary movie,  “The Crazies.” With me being a huge whimp in the department, I was not a fan. Yet, it was still a blast to be with everyone and see them taking part in the holiday.

It’s funny, in the US many women enjoy this holiday because it is there excuse to dress up in skimpy clothes and not get a 2nd look (yes I did this too.) But here they actually dress up as actual scary things or creatures ha.

From the picture below you can see the “Evil Nurse”, the Lion thing, Witch, Ghost, and the Nun. What you can’t see on the – oh so scary Nun – is her fish net leggings. lol

Before I end this blog with telling you of my travel plans for next week, I have to tell you about this morning!!

On Monday mornings, I have the pleasure of joining the Norwegian Women’s team with a strength session. Well this am, as we walked into their “Olympic” training facility, we ran smack into the middle of Marit Bjoren’s training session.

Side note: with Norway being such a small country, they have one main gym where all their “Olympic” athletes train. The sports dealing with snow/ice/mountains are obviously some of their specialties. The place we go to lift is comparable to the Colorado Springs Olympic center. Meaning, its incredible and you are constantly surrounded by some of the best athletes in the world.

Neither picture is digitally enhanced in any way, trust me, I saw her less than 12 hours ago! She is considered THE best skier in Norway, and some could contest, at one point, the best in the world!

In layman terms, SHE is a BEAST! I have never really felt small compared to most women, but after watching her teammates  and her train, I have never felt so little.

You guys should have seen the things they were doing. At one point, they were balancing on a BOSU ball (half ball/balancing board) doing one-legged squats holding a 45-pound weight. Was absolutely remarkable the strength that they possessed!

I can’t even begin to comment on the men skiers that were there. Think I had to pick up my jaw at least three times today.

K, I have been at this coffee shop way too long today and its time for me to head home for some dinner. But, like I mentioned above, I have booked some travel for next week.

With us having our last game this weekend and me not flying back to the states til the 16th, I have decide to travel.

At 8 am this Sunday, I will be taking off to Paris. Then after a short visit there, 36 hours to be exact, I will be flying to Barcelona where I will meet up with Vero. I think you all might know her, the studly Spaniard?

I will hang with her til the 11th and then fly to see some good friends in Frankfurt til the 14th. Then I am back to Oslo, and home on the 16th!!! YAY

Am I little bit nervous with traveling alone, YES. Have I done that before, not technically. Yet, I know if I can just make it through Paris, where I have yet to book my night arrangements, I will be allllllll good.

Fingers crossed.

The best part about all of this is that my total airfare ONLY cost me 79 dollars. That’s right, four different countries, 79 bucks = thank you Ryanair!!!

Wish me luck – warning you now, my post next week might be a bit delayed 😀

INTIMIDATION

We had another weekend off.  Minus snowing, it was a low-key week, and very relaxing. Yet, don’t you worry, I always find some way to make a fool of myself –

Telling you folks, I do these things for you. So… pretty much you are welcome (It’s just what I tell myself so I can enjoy these moments that much more) ha

THURSDAY:

Like usual, we had practice in the evening, and our practice attire was our all black kit. Here in Norway, we have three different practice uniforms. Each day, we have a different combination to wear and if we do not get it right, we receive something called a Prikk (a fine)! We also get fined for leaving anything behind or forgetting things to practice (i.e. water bottle)

One attire aka one of dad’s “action shots” ha

This Thursday, my black practice jersey was dirty, and my only option was a Nike dri fit underneath my jacket.  Meaning, I was practicing in pants and a jacket, and my body was covered from neck to toe = SMALTERING! Luckily for me, it was ALSO the hardest practice to date . . . . . . . . NOT

I know the reasonable thing would have been to flip a black shirt inside out, wear a smelly one, or take the fine.  . . . . nope, can’t do it – reasons being:

1)    I take pride in not being fined yet.

2)   One of my biggest pet peeves is having BO. Not saying that it has EVER happened to me. Literally the thought of that smell makes me gag!

3)   I did not think it was going to be such a hard practice. Should of figured with us having the weekend off… ooooops

At one point I literally had steam coming from my head. The girls later informed me that they were actually contemplating throwing some water on me. Gosh am I happy they did not. Walking in 20 degrees weather with your hair wet is NOT fun.

After an eternity, practice was finished, and I ripped (exaggeration, like usual) off my jacket.

Side Note: My dri fit was actually a cut off AND contrary to belief, cut offs are actually made specifically for women playing soccer in foreign countries! It’s like an written rule, ya know. Like washing your hands after you go the bathroom ;p

Come on, when else am I going to wear it?!? Needless to say, all the girls started laughing and making fun as I cooled down.

Tool bagish, maybe……… necessary, ABSOLUTELY

FRIDAY:

Have any of you heard about Zumba (Click below for an idea)?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-myAVlxWBGs&feature=related

With us having the weekend off, one of my teammates and I thought it would be the perfect chance to try it.

We had to get there a half n hour early, other wise we wouldn’t have gotten a spot, which put us in perfect time for the 30 minutes abs class aka the class of immense pain!!!

As we walk in, we think that we will fly through both workouts; man were we wrong. The abs were some of the hardest things I have done in my life (Red Stars – it was even harder than our Blood, Sweat, Tears, and Fears workout. Not kidding).

I still do not know what was more embarrassing, getting shown up by a handful of 50 plus year old women with the abs or the next hour of Zumba ;/

Before I admit what happened in the following dreadful hour, you have to remember they speak a DIFFERENT language here!

The class begins (takes me about 10 minutes to be able to stand up straight from the abs) and I am slowly finding my grooooooove. The steps are pretty easy and I can follow the teacher by just watching her. I am feeling the beat, you know, nodding my head, bouncing the shoulders, maybe a couple kicks here an there.

Yet, two songs in we start to pick up the pace. We literally went from Frank Sinatra speed to Shakira. I was so bad! By the time I got one dance move down, la maestra (teacher) was already onto the next. What the heck!!

For example:

Just as I begin to master the side-to-side shuffle/spin step, the instructor would say something. I think she is saying, “good job” or “move your hands/feet one-way.” However, of course, she is giving them directions to change in one or two side shuffles. There I am, trying to stay in sync and as I side shuffle right, everyone immediately comes left, and I ultimately end up running into the 3 elderly women around me. Every time I managed to hit all three women besides me, still not sure how I did it.

I not only stuck out for repeatedly disturbing the routines of the dances but also because my teammate and I were a good 30 years younger than everyone else.

I am still laughing at some of the expressions and eye rolling I received from the 60 older women. I mean holy cow, seriously?!?! I got served….

Good news: This Friday is a new day!!! Ha

My buddies

SUNDAY:

“I use these for acid indigestion” Jake

“So what are we gonna use these for?!?”  Teammate

“INTIMIDATION” Jake

Everyone has to remember this part of Little Giants. It takes place moments before they are about to take on the Cowboys, the best team in the league.

Well that scene is exactly how I felt this Sunday.

I don’t know how I exactly ended up in a room with 2o of the best grown, grown men club coaches in the area, yet there I was.  Sunday morning, 8 am, trying to smush myself into the back corner so they would not eat me alive (dramatization, duh) ha

Okay, I do remember agreeing to help out one of the Academy coach’s with identifying some “local” talent, but that’s it. I did not understand that I was about to get taught a lesson on just how important soccer is here.

Like I mentioned above, I not only found myself in the room with 20 of the best coaches/scouts around Lillestrom but was the only girl and significantly younger. To make matters worse, I even raised my hand at one point because I thought the main guy was introducing me. He was really just saying that I was going to walking around scouting. Lets just say, I was happy that I did not understand Norwegian that day.

For the next two hours I sat on top of freezing cold bleachers writing down who I thought the best 12-year boy soccer players were. I proceeded to find out that this is something that only happens once a year. That the “good ones” would get called into the different professional team academies and literally change their life!

12 years old, seriously?!? When I was 12 I was still learning how to put my hair in other ways than a ponytail. Granted, I did not know how to put my hair up until I was 11 and another two years after that to figure out I did NOT have to violently flip my whole upper body upside down to do it ha.

No wonder, the Norwegians and every other foreign country is a step ahead of us with footy. Just look at the Academy boys. As soon as they get noticed, they are moved to a special “athletic” high school where there practice time is schedule into their class schedule.

To think a practice or going to the gym could be in a high school curriculum?!? So cool ha, I know, I can only dream. Can you imagine how good we would be at different sports if that were the case for us?

Mind baffling huh?!  That’s not even mentioning that their best athletes are soccer players. Imagine if we had the Hester’s as forwards or  wingers? Or better yet, the Urlacher’s as a center backs? Think about the possibilities of our World Cup outcome! My bet is that we would have gotten that last bit of luck to move onto the next round.

Summary:

Anyone want to send me some indigestion tablets?!? Think  I am signed up to do the same thing this weekend. (Gulp)

Have a great week folks, HAPPY HALLOWEEN from all of the Masar’s. Especially the cutest darn Monkey in the world!!! 😀