Bounce Back When It Counts

Image: © Sergey Nivens (Fotolia.com)

Life Is Basketball

We live in New England, but instead of cheering for the Boston Celtics, my son rocks a Cleveland Cavaliers jersey. At least that was the case until the Cavs traded his favorite player, Kyrie Irving, to the Celtics. Then again, since it is an Irving jersey, he still wears it while we cheer on The Green this season.

The truth is I will always root for his team, and he will for mine. That is what family is all about, or at least that is what I aspire to. I know many people are not as fortunate to have the mother-son bond we have. We laugh, we goof, but we have our serious moments too. I’m there to lift him up when he’s struggling, and even when I think I’ve put on a brave face, he knows to share an extra hug when I have a hard day.

When town basketball tryouts were approaching, we spent some time together on the court. He dribbles circles around me, but playing with the old lady is worth a laugh or two. After he made playful jabs for my underhand shot from the free throw line (he endearingly calls this a “diaper shot”), he offered me some sage advice.

“Mom, you can do things the easy way or the hard way, but you can’t be afraid to take the shot.”

When you think about it, life and basketball have a lot in common. Much like the ball, you will have your ups and downs. There will be people who will try to steal the ball from you, even foul you to get what they want. Every now and again, you will score a basket but sometimes you will miss. At end of the game, we all face a buzzer.

The trick is to play your best game.

Inflate Your Ball

Basketball is about coordination and strategy, offense and defense. For some people, that comes naturally, but for most of us, we have to work at it.

Dribbling, for example. The more precise you are in bouncing the ball, the easier it is to control. If you get sloppy, it slips away from you. Not only could you lose the ball, but your opponent could pick up where you left off, reaping the spoils.

Why should someone else score off your hard work?

Dribbling isn’t only about your skills in handling the basketball though. It is also about the quality of the ball itself. If the ball is not properly inflated, it isn’t going to bounce as high and it could even roll away. We do not want another “deflategate” on our hands. 

Yes, I know it’s the wrong sport, but the idea is the same.

My point is that you can work your tail off but if you do not allow yourself time to recharge, to keep your equipment in working order, you only make things harder on yourself. Sometimes, a time-out is necessary. Don’t hesitate to include some self-care in your routine, whatever that means to you.

To win the game of life, you need balance.

Bounce Back

You also need a strong foundation.

Try to dribble a basketball against a pillow. It is not going to bounce back at you. It will simply fall flat against the soft surface. Even the sound of the ball landing on the floor gets smothered. All that effort with little impact.

You need a firm ground to not only support the weight of the ball but to generate enough energy to spring it back into your hand. I am not implying that you should be rigid or hard, but you need to set the stage for what you want. You need to establish a framework on which to grow.

To play your best game, you need to know what it is you want. Then build, from the ground up, what it takes to get you there.

Who knew life was so much like basketball?

My son, the middle-school philosopher, teaches poignant life lessons without realizing it. He is simply honest and true. I am ever grateful for that. While we still have many more baskets to shoot together, he is the star on the town basketball team. I will be cheering him on the whole way. Both on and off the court, wearing the jersey of his choice.

Finding Time to Write

Image (from left to right): Alan Ruck, Mia Sara, and Matthew Broderick in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), Paramount Pictures

The Speed of Life

Ferris Bueller knew how to live life to the fullest. Whether it was singing Danke Schoen on a float, dining as the Sausage King of Chicago, or ripping through the city streets in a 1961 Ferrari, he didn’t just pass the time, he thrived in it.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Don’t let the fact that he is a fictional character deter you. Anyone can have that full and rich a life if they use their time well. No, that doesn’t mean that every moment has to be spent in some super productive multi-tasking chaos. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Time rolls along, seemingly slower when you’re down and out or faster when you’re having fun, but it rolls. Day to day, week to week, month to month, and season to season. Each moment has its own purpose. Slow down and respect it.

Doing what you want to do with the time you have is the key to getting what you want out of life.

What Are You Waiting For?

If you want to be a writer, you should be writing. If you aren’t, you are wasting your time.

Professional writers may have an easier time bringing themselves to the writer’s table. After all, no words means no food, electricity, or roof over their heads. The trouble comes more for those us who have not yet made a professional career out of writing. When we pursue writing for fun or as a hobby, maybe even hoping for a career, when we do not rely on writing to sustain us, do we give it the attention it deserves?

Not hardly enough.

The cold hard truth is that we allow ourselves to get sidetracked. We get caught up in all the other responsibilities that life throws our way, whether that is the job that actually pays the bills, tending to the needs of friends and family, or any number of worthy and not so worthy distractions.

I am in no way trying to take away from the importance of these aspects of your life, but you have to find time for your personal needs as well. If you spend your days dreaming about your book cover or seeing your name on the New York Times Best Seller list, make room for writing in that busy schedule of yours.

How to Make Time

How do you find time to write? Simple. You make it happen.

There is always time in the day. I know, I know, it doesn’t always feel like it, but look at me. I’m a mom of two grade-school kids, and I work two part-time jobs while keeping my writing dream alive on the side. Because I want this to happen, I include writing on my to-do list. I make it a priority.

After all, a publisher is not going to give me a free pass because I’m “busy”.

What time do you wake up in the morning? Get up a half hour earlier.

How late do you go to bed? Stay up a half hour later.

How much television do you watch? If you’re not willing to cut out some shows (really?!), at least watch them on a DVR to cut out the extra commercials.

Do you have a long commute? A train ride can be a perfect time to jot down some ideas or you could even consider dictating your story if you are the one behind the wheel.

There are a million ways to find time to get your ideas on the page. With a little creativity, you can find a schedule, even a few minutes, that works for you.

The Time Is Now

Too often people wait for some magic date to get started. Let me tell you a secret. Today is as good as any New Year’s Day or birthday to motivate yourself. The time is now.

If it is what you really want, why are you waiting?

  1. Schedule time to write. Even if it is a half hour a day, a few fixed hours during the week, make the commitment. Pencil it into your calendar. Make an appointment with yourself.
  2. Protect that writing time. It is too easy to get distracted and find yourself using your writing time for other things. You wouldn’t no show an appointment with your doctor (well, maybe some of you would), but if you did, you would probably be hit with a no-show fee. In that case, there could literally be a price to pay. You wouldn’t no show a friend either or your relationship could suffer. Why would you respect yourself any less? Honor your time and your goals. Build momentum with your writing.
  3. Write more. What you write is not always going to be good but don’t let that stop you from writing. You get better the more you write. Don’t let so-called “writer’s block” be an excuse to not write, to cancel your appointment with yourself. When the going gets bad, write bad but write something. You cannot edit a blank page.

It’s time to stop the excuses. Stop no showing yourself, and find the time to write.

Live like Ferris Bueller and chase after the life you really want!

When Mary Poser Welcomed Me into Her Home

Image: Tanya Feke, MD and Mary Poser in Columbus, WI back in 2008 (my own photo)

Welcome to Live-It-Uary, a place to celebrate life while we live it. Live-It-Uary honors people who show kindness, people who create and inspire, people who do good deeds. Thank you for making the world a better place.

Becoming a Public Enemy

The film Public Enemies, starring Johnny Depp and Christian Bale, filmed on location in Wisconsin back in 2008. Michael Mann directed scenes in Beaver Dam, Madison, Manitowish Waters, Milwaukee, and Oshkosh, but Columbus, Wisconsin was the most special town of all, at least to me.

All thanks to Mary Poser.

She was an amazing octogenarian, now nonagenarian, bustling with energy and verve. It so happened her home in Columbus was tagged by Universal Studios as a site for the movie shoot. Over weeks to months, her house was transformed into the house where gangster John Dillinger’s girlfriend would be followed, the office where fellow mobsters would turn traitor, the site of a high-speed car chase, and more scandalously, a brothel.

A whole room had been dedicated to storing 1930’s memorabilia. Her kitchen had been downgraded to a microwave in the basement as her real kitchen transformed into a nonfunctional depression era model. Cardboard lined her walls and staircases to prevent any injury to the original wood during the constant moving of furniture.

She saw it as an adventure, plus she would earn some enough cash to fix her roof.

It’s A Small World After All

As anyone who knows me knows, I am a movie buff. When I caught word of the film shoot online, I considered a short trip to Wisconsin. The trouble being I was the new physician at a practice in Durham, Connecticut at the time. Would I be able to get a few days off?

Curious as to why I requested the time away, my then partner Brad Wilkinson asked, “Where are you looking to go?”

“It’s a small town in Wisconsin. Only a few thousand people. You wouldn’t know it.”

“Try me,” he said.

“Columbus.”

When he started laughing, I thought he was making fun of my willingness to travel halfway across the country to catch a glimpse of a movie set. The reality was he was about to send me on an even greater adventure. It turned out that his wife, also a Mary, was raised in that very small town. We later learned that Mary had a close family friend whose house was being used as a set for the film.

Enter Mary Poser.

Going Back in Time

I flew into Chicago on May 5 and drove three hours over the Illinois-Wisconsin state line into Columbus. With Mary Poser’s address in hand, I headed for her house and soon found myself conversing with crew members transporting dollies of equipment to the house from a large truck with the Universal Studios logo on it. Interestingly, the crew assumed I was a reporter – foreshadowing that I would one day write movie reviews for a newspaper. I thanked them for their time, jotted a line into my notepad (Johnny Depp confirmed for tomorrow’s shoot), and waved them adieu. Since Mary was not expecting me until the 6th, I snuck off to my hotel for the night, a little worn for the travel.

Things being what they were, the Depp shoot was rescheduled to another day, bummer, but my tour with Mary would go on as planned, better than ever. If there was a more gracious host, Mary was it. She literally took me in with open arms, hugging this friend of a friend even as her house was ransacked by film crews. As she toured me through the different sets, the cinematographer himself walked through to tweak the staging.

Mary introduced me to her family, offered me dinner, and dazzled me with more hospitality than I have come to expect as a New Englander. Listen, I am a proud New England, but we tend to be a bit slower to hand our trust and our homes over to complete strangers. She nudged me to take a nap in her home instead of heading back to my hotel. Of course, I coyly asked if I could take a nap on the brothel bed, and she giggled out a yes. It was the best nap of my life!

Thanks for Everything

Some people are spirited. Some are witty. Some are kind. Some open their homes to camera crews and strangers. Mary Poser is all of them combined. Her simple act of kindness gave me one of the most memorable days of my life. If only more people could be so generous in sharing their time.

Watching Public Enemies when it hit the silver screen in 2009, I recognized so many details from the sets I had seen firsthand. It felt as if I were back home again at Mary’s house. Mary and I have a tradition of sending each other Christmas cards to catch up on the year. I tear into the envelope with glee every year. She is a special part of my life now and has been for 10 years.

Thanks, Mary Poser. You are a role model for the ages.

Out with the Old and In with the New Year

Image: Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001), Miramax.com

My Bridget Jones Life

My December 2017 Resolution Stats

(See my original resolutionsJanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMay, June, July, August, September, October, and November stats here)

  • Averaged 210+ minutes of exercise per week (v. good, above goal)
  • 2 special recipes tried this month (v. good, at goal)
  • 8,000+ written words for the month (v. good, above my 5,000+ goal)

Looking Back on the Year

Have you ever written a diary? If you are like Bridget Jones, you might have kept track of your New Year’s resolutions. If you are like Bridget Jones, you may have put down a few choice words for people who’ve done you wrong. If you are REALLY like Bridget Jones, you likely wrote some down you could regret.

That’s what comes to pass when Mark Darcy and Bridget Jones finally get together after all those mixed signals get cleared up, only to get mixed again. When Bridget sneaks off to put on something a little more comfortable (which is usually anything but ’comfortable’), Mark gets a peek at her diary.

Mark Darcy is rude. He’s unpleasant.

He’s dull — No wonder his clever wife left him.

I hate him! HATE HIM!

Yikes!

Mark storms out of the apartment, and Bridget chases him down the street in little more than a silk robe and her underwear. Looking back on all that they’ve been through, looking back on the year, she now sees life in a whole new way. Mark was not who she thought he was. He was someone much more. She had misperceptions and misgivings that were unfounded. She apologizes, and he hands her a new unused diary, for new beginnings.

It’s always a good time to start over.

We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby

I started the year looking to prove something to myself. For that, I embraced the New Year resolution, much like Bridget Jones did back in 2001. I used the quirkiness of her character to bring out the cheekiness in my own. It’s amazing how much I have in common with a fictional character!

Still, Bridget is my hero. Not because she gets it all right, because, honestly, she doesn’t. If anything, she fails repeatedly, and she does it on a grand scale. That’s life. What I respect is that she dusts herself off and gets back in the game.

I stuck with my New Year’s resolutions, mostly. Did I experiment more in the kitchen? You bet. Did I get and stay fit? Most definitely. Did I write a book? No. But I did write and a lot, by my standards. If you tally my word count, it exceeds the length of the average novel. That may be a stretch, but hey, it works for me!

Research (can you believe they search this sort of thing?) says 80% of people give up on their resolutions by mid-February. Ultimately, only 8% actually keep them by the end of the year. When you think about it that way, I did not do too bad.

What I Did Do This Year

I Exercised. I may not have run a half marathon, but I ran more than 700K miles this year. I am also the fastest I have ever been, able to run mile after mile in under 8 minutes. I may not have lost weight in the process, but I am more consistently active than ever before. That feels great.

I Grieved. I lost my 87-year-old maternal grandmother Alzira to cancer. I lost my 103-year-old paternal great aunt Helen to dementia. I lost my 13-year-old miniature dachshund to heart failure. I lost and I mourned, but all the same, I felt blessed for having been loved and having had the chance to love.

I Started Over. I started a new job and built a name for myself in a new healthcare field. I also started a writer’s blog and got back into fiction writing. I did not let circumstances stop me from succeeding, or at least trying to. I took the bull by the horns and charged forward with a clean slate.

I Wrote. I may not have published a new book this year, but I still have two books selling on Amazon. I wrote a blog post every week this year. I wrote 4 articles (or the equivalent) as the Medicare expert for Verywell.com every month. I posted one to two articles on my health and wellness site Diagnosis Life every week. I attended a writer’s conference and opened myself back up to writing fiction. I would say this writer’s writing goals are building steam.

I Did More. I made new friends. I enjoyed old friends. I cooked. I laughed. I journaled. I loved. I meditated. I played. I read. I saw Wonder Woman. I was a Wonder Woman. I traveled. I vlogged.

What did YOU do this year? Cherish the good times and learn from the hard times. Would you do anything different?

You have a whole new year to make a change, if you want it.