Sunday, April 25, 2010

Alone isn't always lonely

I have had tickets for the Women of Faith conference here in Vegas for nearly six months. It's one of my very favorite weekends and I have attended probably 10 of the conferences in various cities in the past 12-13 years or so. Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Denver and now Las Vegas. It's really a highlight for me and something I look forward to for months. I usually go with a big group of friends, and have led the group several times (with varying success...).

This year, I was going with a group, then I wasn't going at all. Then I was going with a friend. Then she was suddenly not able to go, so I was searching for a friend to go with me. Then the extra ticket was given to someone else, then I decided not to go. Then I got the ticket back and I still wasn't going to go. Then I finally decided that I WAS GOING, DARNIT, even if I had to go by myself.

Guess what?

I went by myself. (I did get a friend to go on Friday night, but she wasn't able to attend on Saturday, so on Friday, I was not alone...)

On Saturday, I had four seats around me that were unoccupied the whole weekend. Why four? I don't know, but it's true. So, it was me,two chairs to my left, two chairs to my right and 5,000 of my closest friends all enjoying the conference.

When I first realized that on Saturday, I was going to be alone in a giant group of girlfriends, I felt a little sorry for myself. (That's why I decided TWICE that I wasn't going.) Then I decided to make the best of it. So, I chucked myself under the chin and said:

"Self? Look on the bright side. If you want to go shopping instead of listen to a speaker, you CAN. If you want to eat both box lunches because you have two tickets, you CAN. If you want to dance in your five empty-seat suite, you CAN. Read the book you are enjoying during lunch. Don't worry what others are thinking...realize that they are NOT looking at you!!"

So, I took myself and we went to the conference together. Me and my self. And we had fun. We talked to other women around us, we ate both rice krispie treats in the lunch (we both love rice krispie treats) and we had TWO bottles of water instead of just one. We ate ridiculously-expensive chocolate-covered almonds, and we (shhhh) didn't share. We read the book that we are both loving, we danced and sang outloud with Natalie Grant and Mandisa. And we didn't care if we were embarassing, because we were not embarassed.

It was kind of hard, and during the hour-long lunchbreak when I watched everyone chatting and laughing with their girlfriends, I will admit to feeling a teensy eensy bit sorry for myself. But, when all was said and done, it was as good a conference as I've gone to. And I have learned just a little bit better how to be comfortable in my own skin.

I'm already planning next year, and I am going to organize a group of fun Christian women to go with me, but this year's conference was a good one, and I think it was good for me to just sit and listen to the speakers and not feel the need to comment or worry if the person next to me is enjoying the conference (or eating my chocolate-covered almonds...).

Monday, April 5, 2010


As most of you know, Chase takes karate lessons. You may NOT know that he is a purple belt (next is brown, then black), so he is an advanced student. That is impressive, but it really means he gets to be in the teenaged class where there are a LOT of 16-18-yr-old black belts and he gets beaten up a lot. It's not nearly as much fun as it used to be, according to Chase. There are two big karate tournaments here in Vegas every year. They are both on Easter weekend every year. The Jr. Olympics are on Friday and then the US Open is on Sat and Sun. Because we are Christians, Chase has only participated in the Friday tournament, which, frankly, is fine with him. Last year, he got gold in kumite (fighting) and bronze in kata (a choreographed simulated fight). This year, he moved up a division...and he still got bronze in kata but got fourth in kumite. He was fairly disappointed, because with his long arms and long legs, his strength is really in kumite, not kata. Regardless, we were very proud of our boy. 30+ countries were represented in the tournament this weekend, and it's a real achievement to get third and fourth in your age bracket!

But now, he has decided he wants to take a break from karate. It was an agonizing decision for him, and for us to let him make. He has gone to karate three (and during tournament season, four) times a week for nearly two years. He has gone from white, to red, to yellow, to orange, to green to blue stripe to blue to purple belt. He has learned a lot of katas, a lot about fighting and about discipline and he has made some good friends. But, over the past few months, I have seen his interest wane. Once he graduated into the older and more advanced class, he just didn't like getting his teeth knocked out EVERY week, three times a week, by the older kids. And I totally understand that, but it's hard to see him stop (I can't say quit because my kid is not a quitter) so close to a black belt. I really hope he will take it back up again because his Sensai is amazing and these classes have been so good for him. But, one of the benefits of growing up is you get to decide what activities you participate in and which ones you would just rather not. Chase is a great kid, and he has put his all into karate. It's time for him to branch out a little more and put his all into something else for awhile. It's going to be weird not to head to karate every Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights at 7, though. And I'm going to miss the friends I have made sitting in that room for 90 minutes three times a week. So maybe I should take up karate, right? Yeah, fat chance. I have seen what they do to my kid - I ain't lettin those teenagers beat me up!!

So, it's the end of an era. But, Chase won't be sitting at home twiddling his thumbs now that he's done with karate. He is on his school soccer team and they practice nearly every afternoon, unless they have a game. It's a quick season (5 weeks, 8 games), but it's a LOT of practice. And he is really looking forward to playing tackle (gulp) football at school in the Fall. And this summer, he is going to volunteer at VBS at our church for a week in early June, go camping in Utah with Divine Hubby and some good Colorado friends in late June, then head to Wisconsin for a two-week camp in mid-July, followed by his annual week-long trip to see my parents on the East Coast in early August. So, I'm not sure he will miss karate much until, oh, say, Christmas. He's always been a man on the move.

Like I always say...if you name your kid an action verb, you get what you deserve. I sure love my little action verb. Wouldn't have him any other way!