kariskhaos


Alone?

Sitting by the window I find myself itching to write. Out the small oval portal of my seat I can find nothing but blue ocean and fluffy white clouds. I am alone, actually the flight is full, I have a couple from Australia next to me but for all intense and purposes I am alone. I have no husband here, none of my four teenagers, no sisters or other family, I am alone. It is almost a foreign feeling to me, a novel concept, a dream/nightmare where I am not quite sure how to behave. I can not remember the last time I traveled by myself. This is not a trip to see anybody, not because I am needed anywhere, not for an anniversary, birthday or another worthy occasion. This outing is a designed vacation to a beautiful destination just because.

I think I am in shock, I have not eagerly anticipated this trip, I have been almost embarrassed to tell people what I was doing. “Who are you going with?” “Whats the occasion?” “What will you do?” Alone? You are going alone? Well, not completely, my parents will be there when I arrive, they are generously giving me a couch to sleep on in the condo of their resort for five nights. I have not been alone with them for five days since I was last living with them twenty plus years ago.

I am going to a familiar place, a fabulous resort in Ixtapa, Mexico where my parents bought into a time share about 14 years ago. I have come every other year for Thanksgiving week with my whole family- my kids, my sister and her kid, my other sister and her husband, and my parents. This is the off year, the year my parents go by themselves. I have never been here alone. I do not know Ixtapa without my kids, and husband, and sisters. I have no experience, no memory, nothing to anticipate doing because I have never done it by myself.

I have been told that I do not take care of myself, that I do too much, that I push myself too hard and need to be better at self care. These are wise words from good friends and family. An opportunity came for me to go to Mexico, by myself and I actually did it. My amazing husband encouraged me to go, my kids said why not? My parents actually seemed pleased at the opportunity to have me alone.

The turbulence of the plane brings me back to reality, I hear the flight attendant droning on about the mileage program. I look out the window, see the ocean, the blue sky and I take a big breath in, exhaling slowly; letting the stress, the hurried chaotic life I live on a regular basis leave. I am here by myself but in reality far from alone.

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Bend Senior High Football: More Than a Game

My daughter Jessica is now a junior in high school, in eighth grade she was kicker for the junior high football team.  Now she kicks for the JV football team with hopes to be the Varsity kicker her senior year. She is 17-17 in extra points and has two touchdown saving tackles.  Her nick name given by the coach is “perfect”. She wrote the following essay for her writing 121 class is allowing me to share it with you.  I love that girl and am so proud of her choices.

Bend Senior High Football: More Than a Game

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The bus rolls to a stop in front of the dreary Marist High School in Eugene, Oregon. Behind the cracked and faded paint, worn away by the constant rain, stands a football field. The vibrant, lively green stands out against the white and black buildings, which happen to be the Marist High School colors. I gather my scattered items, displaced after the three-hour bus ride, and file off the bus with the rest of the team. Lacking clear direction, we congregate near the sidewalk, lost sheep without a shepard to guide us

“Boys, follow me.” Coach Brown’s voice reaches us through the fog. There is a rustle of air as all 30 boys, and the other Bend Senior High coaches, start to walk at the same time towards the voice. Silence settles over the players, just like the layer of mist as they march towards the locker room. Dressing and preparing for the game happens in a hurried manner, and when everyone is done, Coach Brown poses one question to the team. “Why do we play football?” Then, he promptly exits the locker room, clearly expecting us to follow in his wake.

As I stumble out, the rest of the team by my side, my mind is preoccupied with the question. I don’t notice the click of cleats on concrete, the mist which instantly soaks deep into the bones of every person, or the small crowd gathered on the rickety visitor bench. My mind is deep in thought, contemplating what my answer would be. For many people who don’t have first hand knowledge of playing football, the answer may be clear based on preconceived ideas about the sport. Football has earned a bad reputation from all different levels, starting at the pro level, and working all the way down through high school. Professional football is often associated with scandals, money, and hard hits. College football can give the appearance of dumb jocks who receive special treatment, for instance, lower standards to be accepted to the college. Collegiate players then receive full ride scholarships, and still complain about not being “paid”. High School Football is often seen as a popularity tool, a team of dumb boys, and a method of entertainment on Friday night. People with these preconceived notions may quickly be able to jump to a conclusion to answer the question, I however cannot. 

“We’ve prepared for this”…“This is our time”… “Hit hard, go hard”. I am brought back to reality by the snippets of conversation I hear. The words ring out, a call for greatness from each and every player. Like a pack of wolves, chasing their prey, the team sprints to the sidelines, ready to play. The mist picks up to a flat-out rain, leaving all on the field as wet as if they were in an actual shower. As we take the field for the first time that night, our crisp white jerseys, and white pants, contrasted with the glinting, gleaming blue helmets, shine bright despite the rain, our armor as we ride into battle. The whistle blows, and I, along with the rest of the team, start running towards the Marist football team, a carefully synchronized and practiced art of kickoff. My foot solidly connects with the ball, letting out a thwack as it sails in the air to the other team. Seemingly in slow motion, a white helmet of the Marist team scoops up the ball, and begins to return the kick. I watch in slow motion as the white helmets makes it past not just one, two, three guys, but the entire team. Suddenly, as if the slow motion clock was turned to fast forward, the white helmet is in front of me; I am the only thing standing between him and a touchdown. 

Now might be a convenient time to mention I am a girl, playing on a high school boy’s junior varsity football team. Like any of the boys would do, I solidly plant my feet, and take the hit. As I stand and dust myself off, my mind registers the roar of the crowd, so loud, one might believe we just won the world championship. The boys, also known as my teammates, stand stunned for a second or two, then proceed to attack me, jumping, hitting, and punching me, in other words, their way of celebrating. I look down at my once white jersey, which is now covered in mud so much so that one would never guess the jersey was originally white, and think to myself, “This is why I play football.” Forgetting what everyone else believes is the culture of football, I realize why I play. The determination, seen in the pre-game cheer, the will power to do what the other team cannot, the desire for greatness, kinship, and empowerment that one receives, this is why I play football.

A shrill whistle cuts across the field, signaling halftime. Soaking wet, and cold, yet totally excited from the first half results of the game, the boys and I stride into the locker room. As we sprawl out, draping ourselves across various benches and seats, Coach Brown walks up to some of the players talking and checking in with them. A few of the other coaches are talking to players, giving valuable advice, and others still are in a corner talking to each other. Brown walks by every player, sometimes commenting, giving a compliment, or just a touch on the shoulder. When done with this, Brown once again poses the question, “Why do we play football?” I glance around the room, and every single eye is on him. No one talks, whispers, or moves. He has captured our attention. In this moment, I see Coach Brown in a new light, no longer Coach Brown, but Father Brown. He is a dad to each and every player in the Bend High football program. He talks, comforts, teaches, helps, and also poses the difficult questions. Continuing with this thinking, the boys on the team are all brothers, they sweat together, change together, win together, lose together. The other coaches are uncles, providing good tidbits of information, and supporting the role of Father Brown in raising us into a proper football program. In the middle of this family analogy is me, the single sister. While I am off in space thinking about the question of why, and the new realization I just came to, Coach Brown has moved on, and is talking about the game. “We need to protect Jessie, she is our kicker, we need her, she should not have to save the touchdown with a tackle.” This plays right into the idea of me being the sister, protected by the brothers and dad. As Brown wraps up his halftime talk, and we once again prepare to take the field, I find another answer to the question of why. I play for family, the family I found in the team. 

As one pack, we storm the field, ready to play for 2 more quarters. The second half of the game rushes by, filled with pouring rain, clashing helmets, and the occasional touchdown on our part. The final whistle is blown, and the game is over. Tired, yet excited about the win, the boys and I pile onto the bus, dripping with rain water, and sweat from a job well done. As we sit on the bus, patiently preparing for the long drive home, Coach Brown comes on the bus, and says proudly, “I think you have figured out why we play football, for the feeling that each of you feel right now.” Despite the cold, wet, miserable temperature, I feel a warm glow deep inside my body. The feeling of hope, determination, tenacity, discipline, and self-empowerment provide this fire inside me. Football gives life light, warmth, meaning, in other words, football provides a reason to live. 

The bus slowly begins to pull away from the droopy, worn down buildings that make up Marist  high school. A boy on the team, leans over to me and says, “Feels pretty good, right?” I only nod my head, but in my mind, there is so much I want to say. I think about the culture, family and personal gain that comes from football, and believe that every person should have the opportunity to experience something like this. I turn my head back to the boy, and say, “Football really is more than just a game.”

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Managing Mondays: Rhythm

Managing Mondays: Rhythm

I slowly sip my coffee and revel in the mornings stillness. It is the first Monday of the first full week of school. My two sophomores, junior and senior are out the door. Gus, our golden retriever, has been fed and is curled at my feet. The day is going to be full, and a bit crazy as I juggle appointments for Jessie’s knee, Lila, and the cooking for my kick off of Kari’s Kitchen. I am looking forward to it.

The Summer was terrific and I enjoyed myself immensely, but I am so thankful that school is back in session, and a new rhythm is establishing itself. I can only go for so long without a structure or schedule. My kids need it and so do I. It feels good to have a plan and to be able to quantify accomplishments. The tension in our home the last two weeks before school starts is palpable. They are fighting for every last moment of freedom, video time, tv time, sleeping in and staying up late. I am at my wit’s end with the house, the mess, the laundry, the bickering, and the physical presence of large teenagers, three of which are smelly boys clogging up the air and space.

“Rhythm, a procedure marked by the regular recurrence of particular elements, phases, etc.” Good coffee, kids out the door, a chance to write, then tackle the day. Find your rhythm. Be willing to change the beat. Dance through your day!



Day eighteen, the last night

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Sunshine warms my face, and Gus sleeps at my feet as I enjoy the breakfast/ lunch that Christian made for me. I slept in for the first morning of my time here, and had no agenda for the day. Christian had asked that we go to a beach since we have spent all our time working on the cabin. John wanted to work a few more hours on the property so the rest us took off for Bennett Bay. The boys and Gus venture down the beach to rock hop and climb to the end of the bay. Jessie, her friend Jas, and I sat down to soak up the sun.

It was hard to believe that this is my last full day on the island. I am so thankful for the time here, and the house is looking great. I created a little vignette of my grandmothers hats, purses, gloves and jewelry in honor of her amazing collection. I have loved seeing my children invest in the house that was built by their great grandparents. I am so proud of their hard work, and how their investment will pay off for future generations of our family.

We ventured down to jump off the dock, and even though Isaac and John did not jump, we all walked together down the hill and onto the dock. It is moments like this that I treasure. I etch the moment in my heart, and know that I will be able to recall this feeling, this smell, this special time in the future.

We end the night at the lighthouse. A beautiful sunset, a baby seal barking out to his mamma, and the waves slapping the shore. This is a perfect day, a beautiful night and fitting end to my special time on my special island.

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Whimsical Wednesday: A Day Off

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Whimsical Wednesday: A Day Off

The Sun woke me earlier than I had hoped this morning but it is hard to complain about sunshine. I had arranged to meet my friend Kim at the bakery, and then we would hike Mt. Parke. I was ready for a break, needed to be away from the kids and be out of the house. Gus and I walked down to the bakery, I grabbed a pastry and sat outside. Kim is a wonderful woman I met on the island about ten years ago when our kids were all in a day camp the island had. Her daughter Jas is Isaac’s age, but Jessie and she bonded and became fast friends.

Now when I come to the island she is someone I seek out. We walk and talk and have a friendship built on intimate moments together in a short time, while we are both on island. They have just finished building their home out by the light house and it is beautiful. Kim and her family live in a suburb of Vancouver and also ‘Summer’ on Mayne. It has been a wonderful to have a friend and kindred spirit on the island to look forward to seeing.

We loaded Gus into her car and drove to the trail head. This particular climb brings you to the top of the island and the views are incredible. It is always a must do on my list when we come to the island, and the chance to hike, spend time with a dear friend, exercise, and get space from my wonderful children was just what I needed. We caught up on each others year, shared our hearts, moaned about getting older, having teenagers and finding time for ourselves. It was perfect.

The view from the top is breathtaking. You look out over the water to other islands, ferries, and other boat traffic, mountains in the far distance, and eagles soaring below you. It is hard for me to believe that there is anything any more beautiful anywhere on earth. We finished the hike, and had a wonderful lunch on her deck. Life is good and a day off is just what the doctor ordered.

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Day sixteen on my island, contemplative

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The sun sets on day sixteen over the island. A lone seal swims as a sliver of the moon rises. The water is rougher than usual, but the sun set one of the most beautiful. Today is the first day I have been seriously annoyed and ready for a break from my kids. Isaac especially. That is a pretty good record for us. We have been living, working, and playing together for over two weeks and today is the first I have raised my voice in pure annoyance.

Isaac, who loves to push all of our buttons has been relatively calm and amiable. He has been a hard worker and fun to play cards, and other games with. Today he reached his limit at the same exact time I reached mine. This is not a good thing. Fireworks fly as we both express our isolation frustration.

The majority of the projects are done, my dad told me the house and property look the best they have since my grandparents were alive, and living here on the island. Jessie and I finished our four-year sea glass mosaic project, and the sun which had been hiding for a few days, came out again.

Time seems to be catching up with me and I am tired tonight. I think about turning 45 next week, and for the first time ever I have mixed emotions about my birthday. I will have finished my goal of blogging everyday for a year, and our oldest son will be a senior in high school. I will be halfway to 90. This must be Isaac’s fault because my brain is in a negative space and he has been ornery today. That is one of the good things about having kids, there is always someone to blame.

Tomorrow is a new day, and I will spending time away from my kids, going for my favorite hike with a special island friend who I connect with once a year. We will catch up on each others lives, laugh, and enjoy the best view of the whole island. Maybe from the top of the island I will gain perspective, and find a new goal. Tonight I will fall asleep to the lullaby of ferry boats and the promise of another day.

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Saturday Story Time: a love from the distance

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Saturday Story Time:

I wandered through the gardens, meandering through the quilts and flowers. A quilt show of over two hundred quilts artistically placed throughout the Japanese Garden’s. I came by myself as the kids were not interested. I was happy to be alone, needed the space and the quiet. My mind was scattered and I was struggling to find my peace. I was in my favorite place, it was a beautiful day and I had even had my lemon tarts this morning. I sat down in the sun, on a bench in the garden,and searched my heart for the source of my discontent.

The answer came fast and sure like a splash of ice-cold water. I miss my husband. It has been two weeks without seeing him. Spotty Internet connections have made it difficult to Skype and texting is wonderful but not quite the same. It is said that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and this year has been a testament to the truth of that. We have chosen a life that puts us away from each other for most weekdays. Scott spends his weekdays working in Eugene, so the kids and I can stay at our home in Bend. It has been a sacrifice for all of us, but certainly the hardest for him.

When I am at home, in my routine, and busy with the life we lead in sports, jobs, and the chaos of four teenagers it seems a bit easier to be away from Scott. It is never easy and we both hate it, but time goes by quickly during the week. Now being here on the island, with time and stress on the slow side, my heart feels his absence in new ways. There is so much I want to share with him, so many little moments when I look up to catch his eye and realize he is not there. I reach for him at night and get a moan of surprise from my daughter.

This island holds amazing memories for the two of us. Scott has fallen in love with it as much as me, and together we have explored the beaches, water ways, and hikes as a couple, a family of three, four and six. We bought our canoe, arrived by boat, ferry and hopefully someday by sea plane. It is here we have dreamed together, walked together, and swam in the cold waters with eagles soaring over our heads. The island is my true north but the compass is useless without the magnetic force, my husband.

Sometimes just naming the issue is comforting. I text Scott, let him know my heart is hurting for his presence and remind us both it is just one more week. I get up from the bench and once again engage fully with my island. It truly is a beautiful day and I am loved. What a blessed woman I am.

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