In Search of the Eternal Buzz

My older brother, who is way cooler than I’ll ever be, used to drive a ‘76 Monte Carlo hot rod. On the back bumper was a sticker that read, “In Search of the Eternal Buzz.” As his younger sister, I gathered that search involved fast cars, beer, and babes. Much older and a little wiser, I’ve discovered that the buzz is as unique as the buzzed. As Cole Porter points out, ‘I get no kick from champagne, cocaine, or a plane, but I get a kick out of you.’ To each his own, right?

I’ve had quite the range of experiences in search of my own eternal buzz. Some healthy, some not. Some legal, some not. Some safe, some not. Fast, slow, expensive, free, large groups, alone, far away, right at home. I’ve come to find my brother’s life motto is another way of describing the concept of flow. It’s not about the end result, but the journey. It’s about living in the moment so deeply that nothing else exists. Leaning in with open arms, heart, soul, and mind.

I’ve also learned there are a lot of buzzkills out there. Avoid them. They are speed bumps that need to be swerved around. Some people just don’t like that others are happier than them. Misery loves company, and all that. Buzzkills are narrow-minded enough to think their way is the right way, the only way. But I’m rubber and they’re glue…

Some people are lucky and find their buzz early in life. Some are old and gray before their search comes to a blissful end. Either way, it’s important to keep looking. And once you find that buzz, just keep buzzin’.

So in my search, I’ve found that I love adventure. I love writing. I love traveling. I love food. I love wine. I love learning and knowing things. I love good stories. I love when things are clean and organized. I love puzzles. I love being able to fix things. I love music. I love my dogs. I love nature walks. I love cool air. I love to be entertained. I love to play. I love Christmas. I love the fall. I love to laugh. I love when the ocean or a mountain comes into view. I love the moon and the stars. I love my home. I love my family and friends. I love God. I love my daughter. And I love me. Every day I make time for something or someone I love, and so every day I catch a buzz. The more I focus on what and who I love, the longer my buzz lasts. Voila! It’s as easy that.

So what gets you buzzed?

Music 101

I’ve finally started watching Outlander, thanks to the not-so-gentle prodding of a friend. As one does when binging a series, I skip the recaps and intros. I just started season 5, and was a bit slow on grabbing the remote, so I heard the theme song, and I am so glad I did. Each season comes with a new version of the theme song; this version is sung a cappella by a choir. The accents, the crescendos, the fermatas, the harmonies…it is ethereal, it is stirring, and it is haunting.

I consider myself very fortunate to have been raised in a town that supported its school music programs. We all sang to Mrs. Clark’s direction from 1st to 5th grade. We learned the recorder. Band was optional, but it began in 5th grade. Band and Choir continued through middle and high school with options to join the jazz and marching bands, and the chamber choir. I chose all three. Part of the reason was because we had enthusiastic and talented leaders, Mrs. Imse and Mr. Pearson, especially. They loved what they did, and it showed, and it was their love that inspired and enabled us to be as good as we were. We made great music together, and it felt so good to be a part of an arts program that could bring many different people together to create something beautiful. I especially loved singing in the chamber choir, being a part of the six part harmonies, and knowing that we all wanted to blend together, not single ourselves out.

Hearing the choir on Outlander sing The Skye Boat Song is magical in the way only music can be; it transports and reawakens the soul to a past life, and stirs the desire to want to live it again.

The Wide World of Sports

Sports have affected so many of my life decisions. There are the standard choices, like how much time and money I spent either playing or spectating. There was the unconventional decision to enroll in a university because it had a great football team. My career choice was based on my love of sports, my parenting style draws on lessons learned in sports, and how I maneuver through this world is based around my belief in the concept of sports for social change. And all of this started in my own backyard.

There was always a basketball to shoot, a soccer ball to kick back and forth, or a baseball to catch out in our yard. We tore around town on our 10 speeds. The neighborhood kids would gather for a game of kickball that would last until the dinner bell rang or the streetlights came on. My siblings and I would race each other in any and every thing. Playing with a competitive component was what we did.

Dad coached my town basketball team and mom drove me to the swim center for my meets. Together they cheered from the town park bleachers at my tee ball games. In 5th grade I joined the town’s travel soccer team, which developed into year-round involvement on school, indoor, and district teams for the next 7 years. Simultaneously, I played field hockey in middle school, and tennis, swimming, and basketball in high school. I was never not playing sports. I was good, but I wasn’t great. So when college came, there was a big hole in my life. There were no more year-round teams to be a part of. No more psyche parties. No more uniforms. No more motivation. It was depressing, to say the least. I dabbled in intramurals, and I had to take my college PE credits, but it just wasn’t the same. The team spirit and camaraderie was gone.

So I did what I thought was the next best thing and became a spectator. Fans become their own team, in a way. We cheer together, we grieve together, and we can always agree on something. At Penn State there was always some game or match to attend. When I moved to Baltimore, I had a whole city of fans to high five. And now, I’m a Carolina Caniac. However, as thrilling as watching and gambling on sports can be, it just doesn’t match the experience of playing.

In a sociology course in college, a representative from a local non-profit asked our professor if he could take five minutes of our time to seek out summer camp counselors. Having been a camp kid myself, my interest was piqued. I applied for the job and was hired to work with at-risk youth at a camp outside of Philadelphia. It was there that I decided to change my career path. As a junior I switched my major and went on to graduate with credentials to teach Health and Physical Education to K-12 students. Now, I get to spectate and play, and I get to witness how sports create life-altering changes in the lives of our youth. They are all things that changed my life, but I didn’t know it at the time. Now, watching the kids learn and grow, I realize how impactful sports can actually be.

Mom says she got us into sports because it kept us out of trouble. That’s a very simple explanation of why sports promote positive social change. Yes, sports require a major commitment of time, thereby limiting the amount of time the participant can get involved in other “less admirable” activities, but it’s what they learn in sports that I think is what supports their positive life choices.

I played sports because they were fun. I also knew I wouldn’t be allowed to play sports if I didn’t do well in school. So, in order to play sports, I had to learn time management and how to apply myself, in turn making me a better student. From losses I learned problem-solving, conflict resolution and anger management techniques, all while developing resiliency. From wins and losses I learned about rules and fairness and luck. As a teammate I practiced effective communication styles, diplomacy, and solidarity. I learned to identify my strengths and weaknesses. I learned how to prioritize. I understood that I had to be my personal best every time because my team was counting on me, and that taught me about selflessness, maturity, and motivation. And now, even though I’m no longer playing sports on a daily basis, I own those skills and qualities, and I am able to apply them in other arenas. And they do keep me out of trouble…most of the time.

I coached my daughter’s U10 town league volleyball team earlier this summer. None of the girls had ever played volleyball. Few of them had ever played a sport. And even fewer had ever been on a team. They had a lot to learn in a very short amount of time. I kept it simple. I kept it positive. I kept it light. With each game I witnessed progress, and I was sure to tell each of them what they did that was good. And I was also sure to tell each of them how to get better. They worked on it. And they got better. And in true Cinderella fashion, we beat the best team in our last match of the season. I was the only one who wasn’t shocked. Each of the girls knew that they were getting better as individuals, but I saw the bigger picture developing around them. Afterwards I talked about the whole experience with my friends and said, “They made friends and they had fun, but what was more important was… they won.” And that was me being funny, but I was also being completely serious. Their win was important, because that win proved to the those girls what consistently trying to be their personal best, and doing so together as a team, can produce. And that feels great. And those girls will never forget how great it felt, and they will know they can feel that way again, and they will know how to make it happen for themselves and each other.

Sports do have a way of digging in, planting a seed, and growing us into people who have what it takes to reach far out into this wide, wide world and make it better.