Monday, September 28, 2009

To Punt or Not to Punt

Another week, another guest blog. I love reading the perspective of others! It keeps me encouraged on my own journey.....

This week, The Man steps in and gives his perspective. I am confident that after you read his post, you will instantly know why I love this man!!! He is so fabulous!!

For those reading on Facebook, remember to check out my official blog page at Enjoy!!

Football is finally back. Monday’s workouts at the health club are
always more robust with the ESPN highlights adding a needed adrenalin rush to offset the usual Monday reluctance to get back into the swing of things. Time to warm up on the elliptical, watch precious footage of Jessica Simpson’s ex-boyfriend losing in their new gazillion dollar stadium (with a scoreboard costing more than the old stadium), and crack open the latest Sports Illustrated.

While considering how the makers of the mammoth Dallas scoreboard failed to do some basic math to determine how high it should be in order to be missed by a punt, I found a story of a high school coach who did some statistical analysis and determined that punting was a mistake.. not just sometimes, but always.. . His team has not punted in over 2 years, and they don’t plan on punting.. ever.. They don’t bother trying to return punts either.. In case you are wondering if this is an act of sheer lunacy, his team won the 5A State Championship.. in the glorious state of Arkansas, home of your friend and mine, the Divorced Diva (which seemed like my lightning bolt from the sky to finally write a guest blog in this space).

Here is an example of some analysis the coached used to make his decision:

"If Pulaski has a fourth-and-8 at its own 5-yard line, Kelley said his explosive offense likely will convert a first down at least 50 percent of the time. If it fails to convert, statistical data from the college level shows that an opponent acquiring the ball inside the 10-yard line scores a touchdown 90 percent of the time. If Pulaski punts away (i.e., a 40-yard punt with a 10-yard return) the other team will start with the ball on the 38-yard line and score a touchdown 77 percent of the time. The difference is only 13 percent."

So simply put, the risk/reward ratio favors not punting, even in this extreme example.

Now, before the objectors storm the gates.. Yes, this team has an explosive offense.. Yes, it’s high school and the punters are not that great.. and yes, there are exceptions to this ‘rule’.. Having said that, the question still remains.. why is punting the ‘rule’ and ‘going for it’ the exception in today’s game, and not the other way around? Even using the most strict statistical analysis, the bottom line is that at every level of football, coaches and teams do not ‘go for it’ as often as they should.

The answer.. according to the article.. briefly put is ‘saving face’. A coach doesn’t want to have to face an administration having risked it on a fourth down and failing.. So instead of choosing an opportunity for victory, the coach and the team may fall short of their potential at best, or die a sure and slow death at worst..


Do any life applications come to mind when hearing this? If ‘going for it’ on 4th down can be likened to winning the game of life and relationships by having love, intimacy (knowing and being known), truth, trust, openness, vulnerability, understanding, etc.. and punting were likened to ‘throwing in the towel’ and temporarily or permanently giving up on those things, what does it mean to go for it, even on 4th down? When do we play it safe and punt, hoping to not lose ground, instead of going for it, to actually win the game?

Every Sunday on ‘my weekends’, I drop off my boys after spending 5 days with them. Every time, it’s hard, and I usually cry. If and when I talk to my girlfriend around that period.. I usually mention it.. I don’t know if it’s a flaw, and I am surely not trying to impress her, but I know it’s sharing a very real piece of how I am feeling, in real time. For all I know, it may be getting on her nerves by now, so it’s risky.. It would be much safer to not even bring it up, and there was a time I wouldn’t have done so. For you, it may not even be equivalent to a 4th down. For me, it’s like 4th and 10 at my own 30 yard line.. a risk.. And I’m still not sure it will get me the first down.

After months of dating, there comes the inevitable argument(s)(some of you out there only have 1 per relationship, so please bear with us who don’t get it yet!). She feels bad, really bad for her stuff, and her part, and is sorry and says so.. and there are walls between us.. I see my part as clear as day, but hey, why mention it? It’s safer to keep it out of the conversation. After all, I would have to admit that I was wrong about something I defended so convincingly before. Goodness, talk about risk! 4th down, 15 yards to go.. Just punt.. play it safe! I can just be really forgiving you know (and isn’t it nice that she will offload some of my guilt)! Should I let her know and admit that I totally blew it.. again? Should I let her know that I struggle in this area, and it might take a while for me to get ‘better’ at it? Shhh Punt! … she will never know!

The ‘defensive’ and ‘safe’ move, makes it harder to win… when winning is defined by things that make a relationship truly successful (intimacy keeps coming to mind – knowing and being known).. Revealing our true selves (especially our flaws) usually feels risky, and hiding our true selves usually feels safe, but in actually, the opposite is true! Honestly, from my experience, it seems more like every time I punt, it gets returned for a touchdown against me, and whenever I ‘go for it’, I make at least a first down, and sometimes even score a touchdown..

Now I will be the first to admit, that ‘going for it’ doesn’t always ‘work’ in the way we might want it to, or think it should.. For example, in a previous relationship much of my ‘openness’ and ‘vulnerability’ seemed to ultimately backfire (relationship ended).. But truth be told, the situation and risk taking revealed our incompatibility, resulting in the ending of a relationship that wasn’t meant to be.. a winning play in the grand scheme of things.. My hope and desire is that I would live more and more in a way to win the game, and less and less to save face, or to play it safe.. punting less, and going for it more..

Well.. you may be facing a 4th and 5 at the 50 yard line.. Are you going to punt, or go for it? What’s your play coach?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Thoughts from the Daughter.......Ken and Barbie

In the spirit of having my blog, The Divorced Diva's Guide to Survival, be a true guide to survival - to give a true perspective on divorce and getting through the process, I have asked a few people to guest blog their experiences. My daughter, a lovely, complex, competent, young woman has agreed to share her thoughts............

It is 3am and I have been writing paragraphs and pages only to scratch them all out. I was asked to write a piece about being a child of divorced parents quite some time ago. It has been one of those things that you put off so long that it’s all you can think about. How do I write about my experience of my parent’s divorce? How do I write about something that still has an effect on me?

Every little girl dreams of meeting Prince Charming. We imagine it, we draw it in pictures, and we enact it with our Barbie and Ken dolls. The term “happily ever after” is taught to us all throughout our lifetime. Like when you have your first serious boyfriend, you think it will last forever. Then the next week you break up, your world is shattered. I had this crush on this guy when I was a freshman in high school. He was the first guy I ever truly liked...and surprise! He liked me too! So we get to talking and have lots of mutual interests. But one slight problem...I was not allowed to date. In my mind it wouldn't matter...he liked me I liked him...end of story. We were going to be together forever yada yada. Well that very next week he was into another girl. Sad story. The same goes with watching your parents get divorced. Your whole life, you see these two people together, walking through life with you, and you think it will be that way forever. When you find out that it doesn't exist anymore...this ideal of happy is just as much of a sad story as that first boy crush your freshman year of high school. It changes your perspective on everything.

I am getting married in 26 days. Two-six. Terrifying. These two opposing views of how relationships work make the prospect of marriage hard. I love my fiancĂ©e, he loves me…but what if it’s just a Barbie and Ken? I grew up knowing a happy set of parents, but then things happen and it doesn’t work. It creates doubt in my mind. My perspective has been changing...and I didn't ever believe that I would ever truly be comfortable getting married. However, the closer that wedding date approaches...the more calm I am. Marriage can happen for all of us.

Despite all of the doubt that past events can create for the future, the future is just that…still in the future. It is unknown and undecided. It is ready to be written. Natasha Beddingfield had it right in Unwritten:

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
the rest still unwritten

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Why Being a Single Parent is Hard……

This weekend, I overheard a conversation between two ladies speaking of a woman they knew who was divorced. The ladies commented on how sad it was that this woman was not the parent she was when she was married. The woman (I’ll call her Sue just to give her a name) used to be “all about the kids.” Sue was a great mom who doted on her children, was creative, fun, and an engaged parent. Now that Sue is divorced and dating, her life has changed a bit……..and her “poor, poor children” don’t understand why mom is not available 24/7. The ladies continued their observation with the *shocking* statement - Sue now wants to have her ex take the kids every other weekend so she can spend time with her new boyfriend instead of splitting every weekend with her ex.

As I eavesdropped on the conversation, I felt a surge of protection for Sue…..I’ve BEEN there….I’ve DONE that……and I wanted to jump in the conversation and give these ladies some perspective…..

I too am not the parent I once was. My divorced friends with children have admitted to the same. Although I was never the perfect parent, I always tried to be around my kids…to have dinner at the table most nights… make breakfast on the weekends… have food in the refrigerator (a complaint I hear often now). I stayed home with my kids, planned parties, built fires outside, made cookies, played games, had fun family vacations, went shopping…..and had THE best holiday experiences.

I miss those times….a lot…..and many times I wish I could turn back the clock and make things work just to have that life back……but I can’t.

If I were to be brave enough to butt into that conversation, I would have spoken of how lonely being a single parent is…….where you once had another adult to unwind with at day’s end, now you are a parent 24/7. Where you once had someone to share the load with….you are now exhausted. Being a single parent is hard because you are torn between parenting your child and wanting to build new relationships…..and that takes time….time to spend together… is such a tug-of-war. Although some people would say that raising the children comes first (and I do agree in principle that it does)….what happens when the kids leave and the parent is left with nothing? As a 40 year old woman, that is a scary thought. My friends who are the same age feel the same. Do we really want to be 45 or 50 years old and THEN looking for someone to build a relationship with….really??

Although I do realize that the totality of my life is not whether or not I have a man in my life…….it sure is nice when you find that person… starts to feel a little “normal” again…..

Dealing with the X factor is another difficult thing about being a single parent. Nevermind the typical miscommunications and differences of opinions----one of the hardest things for me to hear is, “well, Dad said I could…..” Lordy, lordy….my temperature starts to rise….blood starts to boil….and the kettle starts to sing….. Suddenly, I feel as if I am in a competition with the X and he is winning (I so hate to lose). Now that my kids are older, it has gotten very difficult to refrain from spilling my guts over how I really feel about that…..and I am embarrassed to say that there are times that in the heat of “competition” I have been too quick to point out the flaws of said father figure in order for myself to look better…….and….it has backfired every time.

Truth be told, every time I hear those words, I am ushered back to the end of my marriage and the feelings of rejection that I felt. When my children say those things, I desperately want them to see me in that good light….to have me be their hero… know how much I want to do the best thing for them….even if it isn’t the most popular. I want them to see how I struggle with being a good parent… I agonize over every decision… inexplicably tired I get (and therefore how grouchy I can be sometimes). But those things are hard to show your kids without sounding like a big nag and without sounding like a guilt trip.

Now that my kids are both adults, it has gotten even more difficult in some ways. They get to choose who they spend holidays…..weekends…… with. Hearing, “I’m going to stay with Dad for my time off….” or “I am having Thanksgiving with Dad..” pierce my heart. Of COURSE I want them to spend time with the X, of course he needs holidays too (ish)……and I understand in my mind that this is a good thing…….but I want to be selfish and keep them all to myself. In truth……it is just hard.

So……I chickened out of my impulse to butt in to the conversation…..Sue will continue to be the fallen star of the parent world….but I resolved to once again be transparent in a place where I would rather keep private….and share (even in a small way) my personal struggles hoping that it is an encouragement to those on this same journey.