Something Indefinable

(Last week, I posted a link to a blog I was asked to write about my experience with Spartan Endurance.  This is my original writing that I had to edit down to make room for the comments I included.  Enjoy)

 

Wet, muddy, cold. Swearing I would never, ever do it again. When I called my husband after it was all over, apparently I dropped the f-bomb more times in 5 minutes than he had heard in the last 5 years. Or so he tells me. I don’t remember. Kinda like childbirth. Also, kinda like childbirth, as the days passed, the pain and suffering started to blur and the aftereffects of being through something difficult with a group of people also sharing that pain and suffering started to change into…something. Something indefinable.

 

Indefinable. We all have people with which we share things. Friends, colleagues, family. But it isn’t until you share discomfort and difficulty that you make those deeper bonds. I don’t mean the discomfort of an awkward situation – we’ve all had those – but real discomfort. Wet, muddy, hurting, and yet still moving forward because your team needs you. Once you’re pushed so far out of your comfort zone that you can’t see where you started, and you look around at the other wet, muddy faces struggling right along side you, things change. You change.

 

There’s a new “fad” out there on TV. Reality shows like The Selection, Team Spartan Race, even to an extent America Ninja Warrior College Madness, pushing small groups of people together, who may or may not know each other at the beginning, into doing difficult challenges. I’m not even talking about that, although I see shades of similarity now that I’ve been through it. Twice.

 

I’m talking about Spartan Endurance. Specifically the Hurricane Heat (HH). What? You haven’t heard of it? Well, let me just tell you, it’s hell, it’s cold (or hot), it’s definitely wet, it’s probably going to be muddy, and fun. How can it be fun? Imagine playing Hungry Hungry Hippo in groups of 6, carrying the “hippo” (the 7th person) and racing against other “hippos” to a field of tennis balls to see who gets the most balls in the 5 gallon bucket the “hippo” is holding. Oh, and the “hippo” can’t touch the ground. And you have 30 seconds before you have to go back to your spot. Then imagine a similar game where your team has a few minutes to gather the most tennis balls from the field, even stealing from other teams. The first team to 60 wins. We never made it past 28.

 

Imagine being duct-taped by the wrist in a group of about 12-15, and having to negotiate your way through mud and under barbed wire, all while trying to educate a Frenchman on the slang of the word “slippery”. Imagine standing in a line, facing a similar line of people, and having to pass a bag of peanuts down the line, using only neon-green, 2 ft long broom handles, and not letting the bag fall, otherwise you have to start over. Imagine a grown-up version of a 3-legged race, with someone you may (or may not) know, in the dark, up and over muddy hills. And imagine joking and laughing the whole time, keeping each other’s morale higher than yours, so they can boost yours higher than theirs. Oddly, I adapted a few of these challenges for my Cub Scouts, and they loved it.

 

Why am I talking about this? It’s simple. It’s been almost a year, and the Hurricane Heat is back in Atlanta. That one that I swore I would never, ever do again? This year, it’ll be my third HH. Over the summer, I participated in one at Ft. Campbell, KY, and it was almost like a family reunion. There’s something special about this group of people. We bonded in Atlanta that night in a way not many people do. I’ve made lifelong friends, bonded closer with acquaintances I had only just meet a few weeks before, and have found a network of people that “get it”.

 

We started that evening as strangers, for the most part, nervous, scared, not sure what to expect. But we finished as family. There’s definitely something indefinable about that night, the night that started with HH-080. Last year, I couldn’t wait for it to be over. This year, I can’t wait for it to happen. That was the magic of 080. I don’t know what the new number will be; I don’t know what the new team name will be; I don’t know who I’ll see/meet there. But I hope you’re one of them. Come define the indefinable with me.

 

Oh, and in the interest of full disclosure, I’m a 45 yr old housewife, with 2 kids. I’m not a runner, I’m not overly strong, but I know how to work on a team, and I’ll never leave a fallen comrade.

 

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On Writing and editing

I’ve volunteered to write something for another blogger.  Someone who actually gets paid to be a blog writer. It’s, like, his job.  No pressure, right?

The challenge is to write about something specific that I did last year, gather quotes from others who did the same thing, and keep it under 800 words.  For someone who likes to talk, and to write, that’s a challenge.  800 words isn’t really that much.  The piece that I wrote on my own, without the quotes, climbed pretty close to 800 words.

I’m now at about 1300 words. Oops.

So I sit here, staring at the screen trying to figure out how to cut and edit, shave and shape, the work.  Funny thing is, I remember writing almost 8 years ago on another blog about how writing and editing is like forging a knife from steel.  There’s a delicate balance of what you want to edit and change.  If you remove too much, it changes the shape of the blade and becomes something different.  If you don’t remove enough, the blade is dull and ineffective.

Sadly, I can’t find that piece I wrote.  The blog isn’t there any more and I didn’t save it on my own.  I was hoping it would inspire me.

Here I sit, staring at the screen, looking for that elusive inspiration.  I could edit the quotes, but I’m even more hesitant to audit someone else’s thoughts.  I’m great at proofreading and finding errors, but I’m not a fan of copyediting.

I’m tempted to let him edit the rest – shave off those 500 extraneous words and get it to something more concise and to the point.  And I’ll probably post my original one here, without the other quotes.

Until then, I’ll just sit here and stare at the screen….

New Year, New Me, New You

Happy New Year!

After almost a 6-year hiatus, I have decided to try and resuscitate my blog from so many years ago.

A lot can happen in six years.  My sweet little daughter has turned into a teenager and is almost unrecognizable at times.  My sweet toddler boy is starting to require showers on a daily basis because, well, he stinks.  At least he’s not eating me out of house and home.  Yet.

But that’s what happens when kids grow up.  They change.  Usually for the better, thankfully.  It’s a rocky time, though, and it’s by far the most difficult challenge I have faced.  And I’ve managed to throw myself at some new challenges in the last few years, too, including finding a new desire for health and fitness.  In 2013, I started taking a class with some friends to get in better shape and lose weight.  I lost a total of 30 pounds, although since then I have managed to gain back some of that.  Maintaining a workout schedule, as well as the challenge of changing a diet for the better, has proven to be significant challenge for someone who loves junk food and being lazy.

But my road to fitness has led me to new friends and new adventures.  2015, I completed my first Spartan Race – a sprint.  2016, I completed my first Spartan Trifecta – a sprint, a super and a beast.  I also finished two laps of a Warrior Dash and a couple of other Spartan sprints.  My daughter completed her first Spartan Sprint, and my son completed his first Spartan Kids Race.  2017, I have a goal of two trifectas, possibly 3, another Warrior Dash, a Savage Race, and it looks like a Ragnar Trail race.  It’s gonna be a busy year.

 

Midwest Homeschool Convention – day 1

First of all, let me say YAY for a gal’s weekend away!  A dear friend of mine and I drove up from TN to attend the MidWest Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati.  This is exciting!

We’ve already had an afternoon of workshops and both L and I have felt convicted by what the speakers have to say.  In essence, we are ruining our kids – BUT IT’S NOT TOO LATE!

The first woman we saw was a workshop called “Confessions of a Disorganized Homeschool Mom” and it was like she was speaking TO ME.  Yes, I knew I was disorganized but she made me feel normal for being so.  It was like a weight was lifted off.  Some of the ways to help stay “on track” in our disorganized world are things I’m already doing, but there were other ideas that were totally new and refreshing that I will definitely be incorporating into my home.

The next workshop was on Unit Studies.  I love this concept on paper, but putting it into action is fearful for me.  The speaker, Amanda Bennett, talked about the benefits and rewards related to unit studies and this is the part where L and I were sure we’re ruining our children. Instead of discovering the gifts God has given them to succeed in ways THEY were meant to, we’re making them fit into our expectations of how they are to learn.  Wow.

Lastly was a workshop on writing and helping a reluctant writer.  Since we don’t follow a writing program, per se, this was very interesting with even more nuggets of inspiration.   The speaker, Julie Bogart, is a ghostwriter by profession and just started teaching writing to her children the way she worked writing.  While doing so, she discovered that the “educational” way of teaching writing isn’t the same as the “professional” way of writing.  This lead to her developing her own curriculum called Brave Writer which seems to be very interesting on the surface.

I see some research in my future.

Oh, and did I mention the vendor hall??  There is a ridiculous amount of companies related to homeschooling down in the exhibit hall.  We were in there for an hour and only saw half of what was there.  I can’t wait to get to the other half!

 

 

 

 

Unsocialized Homeschooler?

One of the things I remember hearing about (and I still do hear it) is that homeschooled children need to be socialized.

Hmmmm…  I wonder just what that means, sometimes.  I read a recent post on The Pioneer Woman about socializing and homeschooled children and the comments (current count around 260) were eye-opening about the differing opinions and thoughts on these children and their social behaviors.

There are threads about it all over different homeschool forums; How do you socialize your child?  Where does your child interact with other children?  How does he/she do in public?  I’m guessing each family knows their child and what they need best.  That’s certainly true in our case.

Monkey is a social machine.  She loves being around other children – as long as it’s not her brother.  Don’t get me wrong, she does love her brother, but they do fight as siblings do (and it makes a momma crazy, for sure).  Being homeschooled, though, hasn’t changed that.  Thankfully, with my job and our family activities, she’s still around other children almost every day.

Just last week, she had her standardized testing for three days.  She met a girl and made a friend on day one.  On day two, that friend invited her to a birthday party on the weekend.  On day three, her friend is introducing Monkey to her mom and making sure it’s ok that Monkey can come to the party.

The party was on Saturday and we went (and it was about 30 minutes away – one way), not knowing a single person there but the birthday girl.  Monkey was a little shy at first, but her friend took her to each girl and introduced her and within a little while, all the girls were dancing and playing around (it was at a karaoke cafe; a unique torture for the parent that will be written about later).

There’s no unsocialized homeschooler in this house.