Forest Grove had two no school snow days last week and Maryl and I didn’t find ourselves sitting in our familiar snow day haunt, her car outside the liquor store at 9:50 in the morning. In previous years we have been out there ten minutes early, waiting for it to open, to buy Irish Cream and Jameson Whiskey for Irish Coffees. My Irish “cousin” Ryan in County Sligo finds this hilarious, as he says there is Whiskey in the Irish Cream, and we American’s are doubling it and having more alcohol than we would be served in Ireland. The snow days last week were definitely not our typical relax by the fire mornings, followed by afternoons vegging out with lemon drops. Maryl went in to work to organize data, schedule meetings, and prep for a two-day substitute, and I spent the days swimming 10ks.
Maybe if I hadn’t stayed up late finishing the most recent season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, after watching Spike Lee’s interview on the red carpet, and Lady Gaga’s Academy Award winning speech for best original song at the Oscars the previous Sunday night, I would have sunk into the warm couch cushions with a hot drink and binge watched the comedy, but the themes in the Oscar celebrities’ messages opened a window and gave me a new perspective.
Spike Lee was asked on the red carpet what advice he would give to people who wanted to be the next Spike Lee. He said, “They got to put the work in. It’s hard work. Is this easy? You gotta put the work in. You’ve got to hit it 24/7, 365. Be committed, dedicated and attack it!” A few hours later (ok I have to admit I was kind of vegging out here, but I did do a Barre3 studio workout and an hour swim earlier in the day and was recuperating), Lady Gaga said in her acceptance speech for the song Shallow, “This is hard work. I’ve worked hard for a long time. It’s not about winning. What it is about is not giving up. If you have a dream, fight for it. It’s about how many times you stand up, are brave, and keep on going.”
I have grit. As far as I know, I was born with it. I remember my dad saying, that once I took my first successful, un-supported steps, I wobbled out to the middle of the room away from him and all furniture, and I repetitively started to drop to the floor, then stand-up again, like I knew this was a crucial skill to be a successful endurance pedestrian. Few students I encounter in schools have aspirations let alone a determination to persevere through challenges. An objective I have been working toward in my therapy sessions with students this winter is having students establish goals for themselves, plan how they can meet this goal, and demonstrate through my own actions that achieving goals is not easy and takes fortitude. Several of my speech and language therapy groups are reading and discussing The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown. I love this book, and chose to share the young reader’s edition with my students because it demonstrates what hard work and discipline can accomplish, and I was hopeful that re-reading it with my students would help keep me focussed on the hard work I need to put in to meet my end goal.
I appreciate that Spike Lee and Lady Gaga spoke out at the Oscars encouraging hard work, and I hope others watching reflect on their advice. I was reminded that there are others in different fields, besides athletics and education, working hard in their own ways to pursue their passions and goals. Hearing their efforts encouraged me to swim hard over multiple practices last week, when I very likely might have skipped. I was also reminded that although I feel alone when I’m the only one in the pool for two hours a night after working all day (and sometimes doing an hour barre3 workout in between work and my swim), I’m not solitary in my efforts, feelings and thoughts.
One concerning notion, I have been reflecting on during my recent swims is a conviction from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. This is my new favorite show (if you can’t already tell) that follows a 1950s housewife (Miriam Maisel) going through a divorce while pursuing a career/dream as a stand-up comedian. She encounters an artist, Declan Howell, who shares with her that he will never be married and have a family because he put all that he has into a painting (his masterpiece). He tells her that “you can’t have everything,” and “if you want to do something great, if you want to take something as far as it will go, you lose your family and sense of home.”
Howell’s insight stings and raises a serious question. Can you really not have it all? I’m a single mom with a full-time job, a part-time job, volunteer work, and time-consuming ambitions. Maintaining relationships has always been a challenge for me as I thrive on keeping busy and having well-rounded experiences. Then I hear on the radio, Lady Gaga split up with her fiance days before the Oscars. What happened there? I did too much socializing this past Sunday and my training this current week has seriously suffered. Now that my training is off this week, I find myself distracted, and doubts creeping in. All I can think to do, this late at night as I write to counteract these doubts, is strengthen my meditation practice, but then I’m back to another frequent, distracting question that I ponder during my swims, where is the time?