Posted in BlogSwap, Post A Day Challenge, Sports

Wrestling with the Idea of Chivalry

Tonight’s blog topic is a shock even to me. Whoever in a million years thought that I would be blogging about sports? Certainly not me. However, there was a story on ESPN.com today that I can’t just let go of. It is the story of a high school boy, Joel Northrup, in Iowa who chose not to wrestle a female opponent, Cassy Herkelman, in their state championship tournament. In a public statement released through the boy’s school, he said, “Wrestling is a combat sport and it can get violent at times. As a matter of conscience and my faith I do not believe that it is appropriate for a boy to engage a girl in this manner. It is unfortunate that I have been placed in a situation not seen in most other high school sports in Iowa.” I don’t know about you, but I feel for the kid. The decision to default to Cassy cannot have been an easy one.

Gil shared this article earlier today in the social media world and the shit storm started almost immediately. When Gil posted the story, he commented by saying that “chivalry is alive in Iowa”. Chivalry?  For me, chivalry is the knight on a white horse battling dragons and demons for my honor and soul. Chivalry is passing me the umbrella while you stand in the rain. It’s dropping me at the front door while you park a mile away and it’s holding my purse for me at a baseball game while I tie my shoe. When I privately challenged Gil’s choice of wording, he quickly responded with the definition of chivalry from Dictionary.com as “courteous behavior, especially towards women”. Eh, I’m still not buying into it. I prefer my mental image of chivalry to this boring definition.

The back and forth discussion continued with the kid being called sexist and Gil responding that “He was conscientious of the matter & concerned about hurting her”. I read this and just hung my head. In my mind, he had just confirmed the sexist theory. It was the “concerned about hurting her” part that got me. In my opinion, that girl won many matches to get where she was, they are in the same weight class and she was well aware of the dangers of the sport. Yet, Cassy chose to be there and more than that, she obviously deserved to be there. The risk to this girl was no greater than the risk to any boy he was competing against. Or was it?

Gil and I had a chance to discuss this later in the afternoon and we have agreed to disagree (three words that top my pet peeve list of phrases). Gil and I agree that Northrup was in a difficult position. Let’s say he did challenge the girl and she was injured. Can you imagine the public outcry and crucifixion of this child for fighting her in the first place? My question is, did the boy not fight her because he was afraid of hurting her or did he not fight her because he feared the public massacre that would surely come if he did hurt her?

Some of the Twitter arguments against Gil’s opinion were that girls and boys should be treated equally. This is the one that I completely disagree with. We are different. Our bodies are different. We may not like it and try to overcome it at times, but we are different. In reviewing over thirty world records in both track and field and swimming, across both men’s and women’s results, had there been no differentiation made by gender, not once would a woman have held the record for that event. This doesn’t mean that women are inferior or that we can’t compete against men. We can. There is no question about it. Women can be and are great athletes.

Why does it become an issue of sexism and inferiority to say that women should compete against women in some sports? If Florence Griffith-Joyner had been forced to race against Carl Lewis at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, she would have never won a gold medal. As a matter of fact, if she had raced against the men in the 100m, she would have come in 7th place. Would Dara Torres have any medals if she had been slotted against Michael Phillips? That’s a big fat no. Why is it so wrong to favor our participation in a group of fellow athletes that more closely align with our own abilities?

Now, in my defense, I’m all for the woman who wants to compete against a man. If you have the physical strength and fortitude to do that, then by all means go for it. I guess this is exactly what  Heckelman is doing in Iowa. She has proven her ability and she should be allowed to go up against any of the boys in her weight class. If this girl has the desire and is good enough, the boys should be willing to square off against her. I wish her luck and I hope she does get the opportunity to prove she is a worthy opponent.

Since this whole discussion started earlier today, I’ve had the opinion that Northrup did not default to Heckelman for any of the reasons discussed earlier. I read his statement over and over and I came to the conclusion that this boy was not wrestling her because of his faith. He said as much, but it was buried in the statement so that it doesn’t stand out. He mentioned combat, violence, his faith and improper engagement with this girl in his reasoning for refusing to wrestle. To me, he’s saying that he refused to engage in a manner that puts her in a violent situation. He is refusing to fight her. I believe there is an underlying belief system that tells this boy to respect women, not fight them. I think that he chose not to wrestle with Cassy, not because he’s afraid of hurting her or because he feels she’s incapable of being a worthy opponent, but out of respect for her and for girls and women in general. Wrestling is a very intimate sport that requires a pretty significant amount of touching. Maybe Joel was uncomfortable with the idea of touching this teenage girl in inappropriate places. Maybe his thought process was that it would be embarrassing for her and for him.

Huh. Maybe Gil was right. Maybe it was chivalry all along.

(41/365)

Posted in Post A Day Challenge

Valen-What?!?

Gil and I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. We celebrate our Valenversary instead. Valen-what you ask? Valenversary. Gil and I met on February 15th so we choose to celebrate that day instead of the traditional Valentine’s Day holiday. Get it? Valen-versary. I know, we are complete dorks and we are ok with that.

For weeks now I had planned to write this open letter to my husband on our special day. I have thought about the things I wanted to say and I even made some notes along the way.  I struggle with choosing words that say what I feel. I have a really hard time expressing my emotions with written words. This is one of the reasons I wanted to start a blog. I thought the exercise of writing daily would help me to move past whatever it is that blocks my ability to convey my sentiments outside of my head. I also realize from my blogging experiences that I have a really long way to go.

For every momentous occasion in our lives that call for a greeting card, Gil always writes the most beautiful words to me. And what do I do? I sign, “I love you”.  That’s the best I can do. Really, it is. I have the worst case of greeting card anxiety ever recorded. Ok, maybe I’m the only one so I guess that makes my last statement a very accurate one.  I don’t know why the words won’t come but they don’t.  And guess what? They aren’t coming for me now either. I was off to a great start and then I lost it. It was just gone. I am going to save what I started because if the words ever find their way back to me, I feel like it’s going to be a great post. But in the meantime, I still want to tell my husband how I feel on our special day.

While researching quotes for the blog I was going to write today, I found this poem by a man that may or may not have ever existed. His name may or may not be Roy Croft.  After reading the poem, I think maybe I wrote it in a previous life. Maybe I used up all my good words in some former iteration of myself and that’s why I struggle today. I know, I’m being silly but the truth is, this poem says everything I want to say.  Just because the words aren’t mine doesn’t mean I don’t feel what they say. So, here it is, an open letter to my husband, for our Valenversary.  

Dear Gil,

I love you,
Not only for what you are,
But for what I am
When I am with you.

I love you,
Not only for what
You have made of yourself,
But for what
You are making of me.

I love you
For the part of me
That you bring out;
I love you
For putting your hand
Into my heaped-up heart
And passing over
All the foolish, weak things
That you can’t help
Dimly seeing there,
And for drawing out
Into the light
All the beautiful belongings
That no one else had looked
Quite far enough to find.

I love you because you
Are helping me to make
Of the lumber of my life
Not a tavern
But a temple
Out of the works
Of my every day
Not a reproach
But a song.

I love you
Because you have done
More than any creed
Could have done
To make me good
And more than any fate
Could have done
To make me happy.
You have done it
Without a touch,
Without a word,
Without a sign.
You have done it
By being yourself.
Perhaps that is what
Being a friend means,
After all.

You came into my life six years ago today and filled a void in my heart that I didn’t even know existed. Thank you for rescuing me. Thank you for being my best friend.
I love you.

Posted in BlogSwap, Post A Day Challenge

Share The Love Blog Swap

Last week my husband and fellow blogger, Gil Gonzalez, suggested that a group of us write about something we are passionate about and guest post on each other’s blogs for Valentine’s Day. Jeff Smith, of GetYourHeadOutOfYourAss, is the special guest blogger on my site today. I hope you enjoy reading what he’s passionate about. I know I did!

Ahhh Valentines day.  The one day of the year that is dedicated to passion and love.  When I was invited to write a guest blog about what I am passionate about, it left me shaking my head.  Considering that I have been told that at times I am very squirrel like, running to and fro at a maddening pace, it goes without saying that I have a myriad of things that I am passionate about.

Surfing, home renovation, exercising, and kart racing are only a few of the things I have been VERY passionate about.  Allow me to explain my use of the word VERY.

When I am in surfing mode, I am in the water at daybreak, walked across the street to work, and then hit the water again after work until dark, usually spending 20 hours or more in the water each week, always at the same spot at the same beach.  Karting mode leads to lots of work on the kart, spending 10 hours per week meticulously setting it up for the local track that I always race at which lead to several wins and a track championship.  Exercising can absorb 1-2 hours per day every day in the spare bedroom which was set up as a gym.  And watch out when I start renovating a room as that is a non-stop whirlwind of activity until the job is finished.

So you might be thinking, damn, this guy is busy!  No.  I wrapped myself up in one of my passions so much, that I completely forgot about all of the other things I loved in life until, after doing the same thing over and over and over for months on end, I would grow bored and loose the passion.  The surfboards would sit in the corner for months, until a catalyst came along and caused me to get back in the water again, starting the cycle all over.  Surf, get bored, move to renovation, get bored, move to exercise, get bored, move to kart racing, get bored, move to surfing, get bored, rinse and repeat.

During all of this I learned a valuable lesson.  People are not surfboards.  Nor are they hammers, jump ropes, or kart engines.  When you loose the passion in a relationship, you can not just put your partner in the corner, knowing that they will still be there in a few months when you are ready to pick them back up and play with them again.  Yet like anything else in life, the passion that you feel for someone can fade if you don’t keep things fresh and exciting.  I have a divorce to show for it.

Most relationships start out with excitement and passion, but it inevitably fades as the months go on and your life together melds into one big blob and becomes routine.  Sometimes that takes years to occur, but sometimes it only takes months.

Here on Valentine’s Day, hopefully you find yourself spending time with the one you love, feeling the love and passion that is in the air on this special day for lovers.  Like many couples, you may have planned something special on this day or purchased something special for each other, which brings about a certain excitement.  But what about next week?  Six months from now?  How about 5 years from now?  Will you still feel the passion and excitement?

On that note, I would like to propose a special challenge for today.  Don’t just buy your partner dinner or flowers, but do something that will last beyond the indigestion and moldy water left in the vase after the flowers have perished.  Make a pact with them.

Promise to each other and to yourself to work towards keeping the passion alive.  Change things up.  Make plans to get away for the weekend at certain times each year.  Go explore something that is new to each of you.  Take on a shared hobby.  Play together.  Have fun.  Keep your passion alive!

I encourage you to check out the other bloggers involved in our Share The Love Blog Swap. They are Gil Gonzalez, Kim Randall, Lindsey Goodall and Regina Verow.

Posted in Post A Day Challenge

Mean Girls

Poor Natalie. Today she got schooled in the way of the bitches. It’s such a hard lesson for a middle schooler, but a lesson we all learned. You know it’s true. We are bitches. We are catty and mean to each other for no apparent reason. And this seems to happen around the time we enter middle school. It’s like a switch flips inside our little female brains that tells us to do evil to each other. I talked to a couple of friends today and they confirmed that middle school was that difficult time for them as well. When I was younger we were known as pre-teens but I really like today’s terminology of Tween to describe this age group. It really is a developmental stage caught in between childhood and early adulthood and for me, these years were the most difficult I can ever remember experiencing.

I remember the first time I realized my friends were lying to me. One girlfriend was going out of town for the weekend and had invited me to join her and a third friend. Woohoo, we’re going to the beach! Lucky me! The night before we were to leave I received a call from friend #1 to say that her parents told her she could not bring any friends along. I was disappointed but ok with that. I called friend #2 to wallow in our sorrows together. The problem was that friend #2 wasn’t wallowing at all. She was packing. That was an ouchie that hurt for a long time.

I had a chance to talk to Natalie about what happened today. She was mad. Really mad. I asked if she was going to talk to her friends about what happened and she said no. Apparently this isn’t the first time these two so called friends have been mean to her so she knows from experience that talking to them won’t help the situation. At 11 years old, she’s already realized some very harsh truths about how her friends behave. She said she’s been with one when that one was saying bad things about the other so she knows they talk about her when she’s not with them. This is so sad. I wanted to hug her but she had her game face on and I could tell she was happy just venting so I let her do that. She even said to me that she didn’t think she wanted to be friends with them anymore. The sad thing is these are her two best friends and have been for years.

I shared my little story with her and she laughed at me and said my story was way worse than hers. I’m really happy to see that she’s not letting it get her down. She said she was going to be silently angry and just not hang around them, which made me a little happy on the inside. Now that I know what these girls have been doing to her this year, I’m fairly relieved. But, I also know that the female of our species is fickle. We change our minds like we change our underwear. And, we easily forgive. I expect to hear stories soon about the things these three girls have been up to. However, I think that Natalie is going to be a bit more cautious going forward. Unfortunately, for each of these two girls, there are dozens more just like them. My hope for Natalie is that she finds that one real girl who will be her true friend.

I hope that his little talk tonight helps Natalie realize that, in addition to her mom and dad, I’m here to listen and help when she needs it. I wanted to tell her about all the beautiful friendships she will form throughout the coming years but I think tonight, she just wanted to be mad. I completely get that and saw more than a few similarities in our personalities tonight. I hope that my understanding of her feelings and my experiences will help me be the friend and adviser she will need as she continues through life. I hope that tonight was the first of many heart to hearts shared between friends.

Ok, now it’s time to share. Tell me your worst middle school story. I know you have some and I want to hear them. Mostly, I want to know that I wasn’t alone and I want to be able to tell Natalie that she’s not alone in this either.

(36/365)

Posted in Post A Day Challenge

Lee “Rocks”

(Prompt: What is your proudest professional moment?)

I have to start this blog by saying that I’ve been fortunate enough during the past 4 ½ years with L-3 Communications to have experienced several proud professional moments. I’m going to pick two to write about tonight. When I get to the end, you’ll understand why I picked two.

When I look back at that day in May, 2006, when I received an email from Christi Gilbert with L-3 Communications, requesting an interview, I can’t help but smile. I sometimes wonder if Christi saw something special in me or if she was just desperate for help. Whatever the reason, she made me an offer. I quickly accepted and my life has not been the same since.

It is such a blessing to have a job that challenges me every day. It was because of those challenges that I was given an opportunity to excel and after only a year on the job, was nominated and selected as L-3 Communications Employee of the Month for October, 2007. My true reward for this accolade was not the plaque or the company mug or the small bonus check. My true reward was being recognized for the hard work and dedication I had put into my job. I had assumed a lot of duties that were not originally part of my normal job requirements, but I wanted to be a team player and put everything I had into being the best that I could be for my company. I’m a firm believer that, if in the public eye, my company shines, I shine and if I shine, my company shines.

When I found out that Christi had submitted the nomination for me, and that she had received endorsements from my peers, customers and vendors, I was so flattered. What more could an employee want from their boss? I gave everything I had to my job and I was honored for that. I’ll never forget the feeling I had when I was finally able to read the nomination and endorsements. Some of the people I respected the most had used words such as exemplary, professional, responsive and supportive to describe me. I was blown away. There were phrases like “her hard work makes my job as a subcontractor a lot easier,” “with all that she has to do, she will always do everything in her power to resolve my issues,“ and my personal favorite, “Lee rocks”. In her nomination statement, Christi said “She cheerfully and without complaint took on that responsibility and has successfully resolved many tough issues.” Who doesn’t want to hear her boss say things like that?

I will never be able to express the level of gratitude I have for Christi. She was my boss, my mentor, my biggest cheerleader, my confidant and my friend for 3 years. About a year and a half ago I had an opportunity to move into a different position, so even though Christi has not been my boss since mid-2009, she does continue to be all of those other things to me. She gave me a chance to take on a job that I had very little experience doing and helped guide me to be successful in a very short amount of time. I’ve often joked that I didn’t win Employee of the Month so much as Christi’s nomination and description of me won. Christi has been supportive and encouraging to me since the day I walked in the door at L-3 and I will never forget that.

A few months after being recognized as EOM, I had the amazing honor of being named the L-3 Employee of the Year. The announcement was made in a room full of people in Reston, Virginia, but the only person I remember seeing in that moment was Christi. She flew up there with me and stood beside me as the announcement was made and I’m honestly not sure which of us was more proud. I remember seeing the tears in her eyes through the tears in my eyes and thinking how blessed I was to have someone like her in my corner.

(35/365)

Posted in Post A Day Challenge

It’s A Small World

Tonight was a great night. It was one of those nights that make you realize just how blessed you really are. Gil and I were invited to attend a private meeting hosted by the once and (hopefully) future mayor of Tampa, Mr. Dick Greco. I’ll hopefully have more to write about later on this meeting but let me just say that whatever that man is selling, I’ll take ten.

It was a great meeting and I’m super excited tonight that I live in Tampa and the Tampa Bay area. This is such a wonderful place to be and I honestly can’t imagine ever living anyplace else again. One of the things I love about Tampa is how it’s this big, huge sprawling city but it has such a small town atmosphere about it. We had a couple of those small town moments tonight that just helped me to solidify my opinion.

It was so great to arrive at the meeting and immediately see a handful of people that we know and call friends. Some of the faces were expected because of the subject of the meeting but then there were other faces that were nice surprises. I just love our diverse circle of friends and acquaintances in this town.

As soon as this meeting was over Gil and I scooted out the door for part two of our evening. We had been invited to a small gathering of friends at Eats Deli in South Tampa. Our new friend Tracy was hosting a small party to thank some of her blog supporters and we had been lucky enough to get on that invitation list.

It’s a very cool story of how we met Tracy. I somehow stumbled onto her blog one day after seeing the title and I was completely intrigued. Her blog is called My Other City by the Bay and I immediately fell in love with it. Tracy is a northern California transplant to Tampa and she’s on a mission to fall in love with Florida and the Tampa Bay area. She blogs about all the wonderful things in our lovely city, although she confesses that she still loves and misses California.  I just don’t get it but then again, as Gil pointed out, I came from Alabama and her perspective is quite different from mine. Fair enough.

On the day that I first discovered Tracy’s blog, there were three entries on the home page. The first story is what instantly caught my attention because there was a picture of our friends’ Julia and Kirsten’s book, Our Stimulus Package. I started reading the blog entry and kind of laughed about how Tracy (who I did not know yet) was talking about how she wanted to meet these ladies. I thought to myself that maybe I should send Facebook intros to the three of them. But then I read the next blog entry and laughed a little more. This one was about a local sauce company, Intensity Academy. Last year, Gil and I met Michelle, who owns Intensity Academy. Of course, after seeing this I had to send the blog to Gil to check out, which he promptly did. He also found the humor in the small worldliness and we both agreed we HAD to meet this Tracy chick.

We did just that this past Saturday at a book signing at Barnes and Noble. We were introduced to her by none other than our friends Julia and Kirsten, who had since met Tracy and became friends. It was after this introduction and some chatting that Tracy invited us to attend her party tonight. We were flattered and knew we had to go.

When we arrived at Eats, Tracy immediately said we had to meet her friend Leslie. Leslie is the ‘Chief of Everything’ of an online magazine about the Tampa Bay area. The magazine is called Vertical and you MUST check it out. It’s so beautiful and some of the pictures took my breath away. I’m telling you, even if you don’t live in Tampa, this magazine is so stunning that you will not be able to tear yourself away from it.

While I was being introduced to Leslie, Gil was distracted by a girl at the bar. Turns out, this girl, Kristi, was a neighbor of his some 11 or 12 years ago. What makes this part of the story really odd is that we are now planning a mini-reunion between Gil, Kristi and our current neighbor from across the street because they all three used to live in the same neighborhood about 3 miles from where we are now. Oh, and while Gil was talking to Kristi, Leslie and I were exchanging contact cards. She looked at my card and noticed the website I have listed is danaCreative.com. She pointed at Gil and said, “Is that danaCreative? I follow him on Twitter and have read some of his blogs?” I cracked up at this point. It was simply too much for me to handle. It was almost like I was in an episode of Punked or something. It was just too much coincidence to be for real. Right?!?

I guess that just because a city has three million people in it, it doesn’t mean that you can just get lost in the shuffle. Well, I suppose you could but I’ve never been one to simply blend into the background and just disappear. I wrote last week about my first real understanding of community and what it means to be a part of one. I wonder if that idea is what drives me to be social?

Just yesterday in church, our pastor talked about how God designed us to do life in community and how we desire to build these communities of relationships so we can do life together with people who are just like us or even completely different from us. I think about my various circles of friends and acquaintances and it’s pretty wide-ranging. There are the heart friends, the techie friends, the concert friends, the back home friends, the neighborhood friends, the work friends, the philanthropist friends, the church friends, and geez, this list could go on and on. Maybe my desire to build so many different communities is simply part of God’s master plan for us and for me. Maybe I just can’t help it because it’s what I was born to do.

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