A Year of Change And Possibilities: May, June, July, August 2014

Oh, the spring and summer months, so simultaneously anticipated and dreaded. Months and years of preparation came to a head, as my children and I were thrust into turbulent change.

Lily turned 18 and graduated from high school; we saw joyful high school traditions and the rewards of hard work on the snow and the pole vault.

Senior Ball
Senior Ball
L pole vault
Lily setting her high school record in women’s pole vaulting.
Lily's graduation
Lily’s graduation

At the shore, we celebrated endings and beginnings of next chapters.

Cameron at Santa Cruz
Cameron at Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz beach
Lily at Santa Cruz beach.

I experienced a true ’empty nest’ that terrified me. So I traveled – without kids.

Bend, Oregon
Bend, Oregon
Deschutes River
Deschutes River

And in one of the most spectacularly horrible Augusts in recent memory, life turned completely and inexplicably upside down as dreams were dashed for one, opened for another.

IMG_7371
broken leg in Oregon
Moving Lily into her Salt Lake City dorm room
Moving Lily into her Salt Lake City dorm room

This quote, by William Stafford, reflected this tumultuous time precisely:

“There’s a thread you follow. It goes among things that change. But it doesn’t change. People wonder about what you are pursuing. You have to explain about the thread. But it is hard for others to see. While you hold it you can’t get lost. Tragedies happen; people get hurt or die; and you suffer and get old. Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding. You don’t ever let go of the thread.”

Through it all, I tried to keep writing, to reflect the upheaval; as my posts were sporadic and at times, many far too difficult to write in the moment. Some of my favorite pieces from May, June, July and August were:

 Every Day Is Mother’s Day For Me

Past And Present

A Month of Quiet

Letter To My College Bound Daughter

Today, I Love You

The theme of change and possibilities culminated in the fall and winter…more in my next post.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Thanks, Coach, For The Life Lessons

17 years later, I'm proud of the woman she's become
17 years later, I’m proud of the woman she’s become

Dear Coach,

We have never met in person, but we have a few things in common. First, we both spend a good amount of our time working with teenagers. Second, we both spend a good amount of time with teenagers who are ski racers. And third, because of our roles, we both make a huge impact on their lives. I’m writing you this letter (after spending two days calming myself down) to thank you for some unexpected life lessons you taught my daughter at Monday’s ski race. I’m not sure if you’ve ever met her in person either, but just in case you haven’t, here’s a little bit about her:

My daughter is just 17, a happy, strong, confident young woman on the verge of graduating from high school. She has been a skier since age 4, a racer since age 7, and has spent endless hours pursuing her passion. My daughter is one of the hardest working athletes I know; she’s sacrificed more than the average teen to excel at her sport, and as a result, she loves every minute of it. She’s even hoping to race next year in college-not because she wants to have a career in skiing, but simply because it makes her happy. My daughter is honest, kind, fair, compassionate and well liked. She’s also a great racer, and because of the mental and physical demands of ski racing, I believe she has grown to be a courageous person. In other words, she’s the kind of kid you’d like to get to know and have on your team.

Now, maybe you had an inkling of my daughter’s spirit over the last few weeks you’ve been watching her race. Or maybe not. I’m not going to second guess your actions here, or unleash my mamawolfe-instinctive-fierceness on you. I simply want to thank you for what you taught us when you threw a temper tantrum and disqualified my daughter for wearing a Go Pro camera on her helmet after she came in first place.

Thanks, Coach, for teaching my daughter that as long as we do the right things for the right reasons, we’re going to be ok. She didn’t strap that camera to her helmet and ski down the course because she was trying to do the wrong thing; in fact, she was given the camera by her coach, who after decades of coaching the high school team, didn’t have an idea that wearing a camera on her helmet would break any rules. She wasn’t trying to hide anything, she wasn’t trying to do anything wrong; in fact, she’s the kind of girl who avoids breaking rules at all costs. Had she known she could be DQed, she would have eagerly removed it. She wasn’t trying to be defiant; heck, she’s never even gotten a detention in 12 years of school! In the end, she accepted that she unknowingly broke a rule, and that since you objected, that was that. Thanks to you, Coach, at the end of the day she could look at herself in the mirror and know she was ok.

Thanks, Coach, for teaching my daughter that it’s not always about you. When she responded to my congratulatory text with the message that you had DQed her, I was shocked. I struggled to come up with words that would become a virtual hug huge enough to console her obvious disappointment, and the first thing that came to mind was to say that sometimes people do things to others because they feel vulnerable, and they project that fear onto someone they perceive as ‘below’ their chain of power. In my eyes, that’s the worst thing  a teacher, coach, or parent can do. It’s bullying, it’s cowardly, and it’s a real show of poor sportsmanship. Thanks to you, Coach, she learned how that feels, and will not repeat your behavior.

Thanks, Coach, for teaching my daughter that winners aren’t always the ones who come in first. Anyone who has been around ski racing knows that if you focus on being first, 99% of the time you’ll be disappointed. Ski racing is about preparation, persistence, and perseverance. And of course, it’s nice to make the podium once in awhile, especially when you earned it fair and square. But ski racing has taught my daughter to always do her best and the results will follow. Do you know that after you DQed her (against the objection of every other coach at the race), that your racers came to her and apologized for your behavior? Those results surely don’t show up on the score board. So not only was my daughter validated by her teammates, but also yours. I sincerely hope that your lack of sportsmanship doesn’t change theirs; in my parent handbook, I’ve learned that kind words go much farther than words spoken in anger or fear. Thanks to you, Coach, she learned to hold her head high-she knows what a winner looks like.

Coach, at the end of that day, as she tried to drift off to sleep, I know she was sad. She’s only 17, and hasn’t had nearly the time to learn about life and its inevitable disappointments that you have. I know she felt loved, and safe, and that tomorrow would be a new day, and that there’s always another ski race around the corner. And I also know that one day, when this monumental experience shrivels into the minute, momentary instant in her glorious life, she’ll be able to look back and smile, and maybe even, for just an instant, wonder if you learned something, too.

With gratitude,

mamawolfe

 

 

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Change: The Only Constant In Life

Changing Leaf
Change (PC: Knowsphotos)

“The important things is this:

To be able at any moment to sacrifice

what we are

for

what we could become.”

~Charles Du Bos

So here’s to change:

to submitting college applications,

to new schools and teams,

to forging new friendships,

and

contemplating what could come next.

Change.

The only constant in life.

A life constantly changing.

How is your life changing?

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Prom Costs: What Do You Think It’s Worth?

IMG_3213[1]
prom costs

It’s prom season, and parents are feeling the pinch of financing the night of their high school student’s dreams.

In a recent study published by VISA,  adding up the dress, shoes, makeup, nails, tux, flowers, dinner, limo and dance tickets totals an amazing $1,139,00 in 2013-far more than any teens that I know can afford.

So the question is, is it worth it?

Read more about prom costs in my article, “How to Avoid Overspending on Prom and Have Fun Doing It” and see what you think…is one night worth the cost?

Do you remember how much you spent on your prom? Has your child gone to prom recently? How did you handle the high cost of prom night?

Yahoo liked my article so much they added it into their feature, “Soaring and ‘genuinely silly’ prom costs prompt families to budget for big dance” on The Lookout Yahoo! News blog!

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Sixteen Years Old, and She Is Girl Power

ski racing Lily

I sat on the boot room floor early this morning, legs curled up in front of me, watching her get ready for her ski race. In between giggles with her friends and  thumping on red, white and leopard print ski boots (she is my daughter, after all), she stopped and said, “You look like me right now. Curled up on the floor-that’s something I would do.”

I smiled, and thought that for the first time she has actually compared herself to me. I took it as a compliment. So rarely do I think she is anything like me at all.

So much of her life is foreign to me. Her teenage experience moves her in a world I knew nothing about at sixteen. As connected to high school as she is, I couldn’t have been further from. As much as she loves her friends, socializing, proms and rooting at football, lacrosse and basketball games, I didn’t. For her, high school is a time to be cherished; for me, it was a time I couldn’t wait to dispose of.

At sixteen I felt powerless. My parents told me I never worked to my potential, never used my intellect in a measurable manner.  I didn’t even have the internet to blame for my lack of attention to school. I just simply wasn’t motivated. I remember being preoccupied with boys and dating, music, and not much else. For me, sports ended with the onset of puberty; I chose instead part-time jobs, limited class time, and had absolutely no vision of life in the future. And the funny part is that I don’t remember it really worrying me all that much.

At sixteen my daughter exudes girl power. She has everything that I didn’t, and I am in awe of her. Choosing a sport like ski racing has taught her how to accept victory and defeat, how to push her body and mind to the extreme, and she has found that instead of focusing on boys, she can pass them by on the race course.

She holds the power in her life-in the places where real power exists. Not in the alluring eyes and smooth foundation-laden skin of my youth, but in the powerful thighs, bruised biceps, and complete control she relies in to propel her down the course. She has learned to be soft and tough, as confident slipping on a revealing skin-tight speed suit as a chunky pair of sweatpants.

In sixteen years she’s learned the power of good friends; those girls who will stand by her, make her laugh until she hiccups, and hold her when she needs support. She knows the power of her convictions, for making the hard choices when it’s the right thing to do, and accepting her mistakes as they come.

She laughs, cries, and feels the frustration I remember from being sixteen. Except she looks at the future before her and knows that she will be ok. She knows she won’t have to wait until her forties until she finds her passion;

I'm just the same as I was Now don't you under...rather, she knows her passion will take her where she wants to go. Girl power.

As I spend another Sunday on the ski hill, safely nestled into a writing chair, I can’t help but smile at my girl. Her long cinnamon colored hair in a messy braid, her cheeks flushed with excitement, and surrounded by friends, my heart swells. Sixteen years and powerful. I can hardly wait to see what she does next.

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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