Career Change

IMG_4422It might be time to edit my website…

I’m no longer coaching college lacrosse. For the last 10 years it has been my life, my everything, my first true love. But about 2 weeks ago I met with my athletic director and it was decided that this might not be the route I should take.

I’m not upset about this. I’m excited, I’m seizing opportunities left and right, I’m ENJOYING this stress-free time. I no longer need to censor and edit myself, I can finally go out in public to places where if someone sees me acting carelessly it doesn’t reflect on some other greater entity. There’s no more perpetual worry about what my players are doing or acting, did I respond to the recruit, what events am I signed up for. I feel a tremendous amount of relief.

I’ve been applying for jobs in new career fields. I had a phone interview today with an insurance company. I’ve never really worked in finance, but I didn’t hide it and they seemed more interested in my personality than my experience. They told me to call them back if it’s a job I’m interested in pursuing. I interviewed yesterday with a non-profit. I want to learn how to grant-write and help create a better place for people to co-exist in. I have an in-person interview on Thursday. I’ve been offered a handful of writing freelance jobs. Finally using my master’s degree the way it was intended to. Finally, I am working as a group fitness instructor and really taking the time to expand my knowledge and skills by reading more and more about fitness trends, techniques, and concepts.

I am happy. I am relaxed. I am excited for this new adventure.

My cortisol levels has decreased tremendously too. I can tell because my belly is flattening out, and my skin is clearing up. Yeah, I’ve managed to lose inches since departing Huntingdon. All this sudden change has been interesting to say the least. In addition, my boyfriend is deployed so I’m by myself here in Alabama. But my support system has been coming through. I’ve been running with a running group. Going out with my kickball teammates and friends. I feel like I’m living a life that I was supposed to be doing and it made me think about the first season without George.

I believe the luster began to wear off the moment he died. That 2014 team is forever my favorite because they saved my life. They gave me a purpose. But most importantly, they inspired me to find new passions, to find meaning in all of the madness going on around me. And college coaching, for right now, is not my purpose. Maybe I’ll move back towards it at another time, but it’s time for me to figure out how to build my own nest.

Lacrosse without George

This is my fourth lacrosse season without George. Every preseason is riddled with anxiety and figuring how to deal with it. This season has been particularly difficult because there’s another sense of loss I’ve been trying to deal with.

My boyfriend is in the military. Once New Years hit, he was gone for training. He’s been away now for 8 weeks, and he comes back on Friday. I’m really excited to have him back, but in a short 4 weeks he is gone for 6 months. I know that’s what I’ve signed up for by dating someone in the military, but there’s a massive feeling of conflict has been weighing on me. I’m not going to air my anxieties for professional reasons, but know they are there will remind me when I look back at this post in the future.

I control my attitude toward things and I’ve been trying so hard to head to the office with a clear mind, positive attitude to practice, and be as understanding to the people around me and their needs. But I feel like I’m ignoring my own needs, and when I try to make time to take care of myself, something comes up. I took a personal weekend not too long ago, and ended up working the entire weekend with emails, scheduling, recruits, and relationships with other lacrosse coaches. It’s part of the job, I know. I also know I’m childless and alone too right now, so there’s a weird expectation I need to be on call all the time. I need to find a balance. That’s all this is about. I wrote a lengthy diatribe above to conclude I need a balance.

Adulting is hard. I think I deflect a lot and I need to just deal with the fact that I’m fearful of failing and worried about being alone again. That’s what is causing my emotional distress.image

Pressing stress

November is such an interesting month. My birthday came and went, and in my professional life this is the most important recruiting month of the year. Plus on top of it all the third anniversary is waiting for me on the 25th. It’s been a bit of a task balancing it all. I’m excited, busy, but under it all there’s this stress building. It came crashing down on Friday when I knew I had too much on my plate. I had to sign a lease for my new house, but I had 4 recruits on campus doing overnights. I also was running my first recruiting showcase on Saturday. Plus I was still needing to manage my current players on the team and make sure they’re doing well in their lives. I crumbled, I crashed, I burned, but I made it through. Everything went smoothly.

This week has always been a little sad for me. Tomorrow will be the last night/day George is home with me. On the 15th he goes to the hospital 3 years ago, and then on the 19th he comes home to hospice care. These next 10 days are tough. Those memories are still so fresh, and I sometimes wish they would disappear. Why can’t I remember what happened in 2012 so clearly? Replace 2013 with memories from then? Actually I do remember 2012… I was recruiting, I went to the IWLCA convention and I wasn’t with George. I was doing my job. And there you have it, it’s this ongoing conflict I have with the most important aspect of my job: recruiting. It takes me away from my life, but it’s a necessary sacrifice I have to make in order to be successful. In order for my school and team to prosper. So I have come to grips with it.

I’ve also noticed that when times are good, I don’t think about George as much as a should. It’s when things take a turn for worse I think about him. I think about all the lessons I learned from him and how he impacted my life and affected the people around him. I look to him for answers, and wish he was around for me to talk to so I could flush and work out ideas. I feel bad I don’t think of him as much during the good times. But I do think about him when I get noticed. I always think he has his hand in some things that happen in my life.

For the months of November and December I was selected to this thing called ‘The List’ in RSVP Magazine. It’s a group of influential young professionals in the River Region the magazine highlights. I was highlighted for this issue, and the month is so serendipitous I can’t help but think he was involved. I just need to get to December.

Here’s the link: https://issuu.com/rsvpmontgomery/docs/novdecscreen16

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Summer recruiting

“The interval between the decay of the old and the formation and establishment of the new constitutes a period of transition which must always necessarily be one of uncertainty, confusion, error, and wild and fierce fanaticism.”

College summer recruiting is a necessary evil of my job. I shouldn’t call it an evil, but a necessary means to success. Watch, evaluate, contact potential student athletes and draw them to be interested in your school and grasp the vision you’re trying to establish and create with the program. I’ve spent thousands of hours doing this with sometimes great results and other years flipping over every rock possible. The summers I spent going to tournaments, camps, writing emails until 2 in the morning, the moment George passed away it filled me with so much regret. Hours spent chasing players and not spending with him. Unfocused while we’re together because I’m texting and writing recruits. It filled me with regret for so long, but this summer recruiting has been reinvented. It’s been fun for me!

Almost every weekend I’m traveling to attend showcases and I’m really enjoying the process. It’s been a great distraction for me and I’ve been enjoying meeting new people and interacting with the players. I’m helping growing the sport in Alabama and it’s very fulfilling. I’m happy. I feel like myself again. Rain or shine, it’s good to be looking forward to what I do best. And im so excited for what’s around the corner with my program and my career.

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Biking to what I know

Tomorrow I’m packing up my things, grabbing my dog and I’m heading home. As much as I’m moving along, I need to get out of here. With my season ending, my daily routine has been jolted because there is no more practices, game preparation, and scouting. On top of that having to deal with the dissolved relationship and now figuring out how to deal with these gaping holes between events,  I concluded the ultimate resolution is I need to leave. So I’m gone. Give myself some mental health days to regroup and surround myself around old friends, former teammates and of course my wonderful parents.

As the days continue to fall forward, I am so grateful for the community around me in Montgomery. This morning I taught my Wednesday morning spin class, and when I first started teaching at Metro I only had 3 people in class. Now I consistently have 10 people, and they are incredibly caring, sweet and jovial. One of the riders texted me after class saying how much they enjoy my class and my energy and enthusiasm, and I started crying when I read it. I’ve found so much salvation and peace of mind when I’m astride a spin bike. I try to put out to everyone how much I love being there with them and sharing the power of fitness and how it can transform you in more ways than just your body.

I started cycling because George loved it so much and it was just one of the slices that made him who he was. He’d pump the tires on his bike before going to sleep so he could bike to work in the mornings. He tried so desperately to get me into biking that he would encourage me to bike to Penn Station before catching the train to Madison, NJ. When I was away, him and his best friends would ride around NYC finding the best restaurants, hitting up Broadway shows or concerts. He loaned his road bike out to his friend, just so someone else could enjoy biking as much as he did. When he was in Atlanta he founded the Atlanta Biking Group. When I’m on a bike- outdoor or indoor- I feel like it connects me to him. So it’s not a surprise I’m falling back on the power of cycling. It helped me throughout the initial grieving process, and in this recent bout of grief it’s supporting me again.

I feel this grief is solely brought on by the sudden changes. I was afraid to fully commit to having to deal with myself just by myself. I don’t have my team to commit myself to, but I do have my program, which I’ve been focusing in on. I’ve been doing clinics, setting up my summer schedule, finding camps to go to. Marketing and promoting Huntingdon Lacrosse. But I can’t help but feel disconnected, and I’m hoping this trip home will allow me to resolve and allow the wound to scab back over.

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Why I write

Photo 119George and I had a food blog. We used to poodle around NYC looking for the best of the best, good deals, good vegan options, busts, and of course home recipes. It was a hobby with both enjoyed and a way we bonded. Blogging was a staple in our relationship and writing was the foundation of it. We met in a creative writing master’s program. So I write because I desire to find the words to redevelop and unlock the memories I had with him which serves as a means for me to feel connected and work through losing him. My posts aren’t as frequent now as they were in the early months, but my grief and feeling of loss isn’t as prevalent.

My method of operation to combat grief first was with writing, and then fitness. Now I pretty much have the fluctuating emotions in check. Beginning of the new year it was rearing its ugly head, but again the power of words helped me sort through it. The phrase time heals all wounds is accurate. But it’s naive to think I’m the same person I was 2 years ago. I was active in changing my spirit and mind by changing my body too. Early on my thoughts would drift to those moments when George was gaunt and jaundiced. His cheeks sunk inward, and his lips chapped from the medicine and the blue in his eyes popped because of the yellowish tint where it should’ve been white. But even when that was happening he still told jokes, he still made me laugh, he expressed so much love to everyone around him. And because of his joy of life it made me feel guilty that I was crippled by his absence. I knew if I was sad he would be devastated, so I worked on bettering myself from within. Finding reason to get out of bed. And luckily I had a responsibility of coaching my lacrosse team and running a program, but even more simplistic than that, I had a sweet little man I needed to care for.

Bodie grieved along with me. He would cry behind doors, snuggled close to George’s pillow, and just occupy his side of the bed. Those nights he hopped off the bed and whine just on the other side of the door tore me up inside. One time he did it at 430a and I called my mom because it was so sad. But together we changed and those dark memories became better. I remember the times George would play the guitar and make songs about Bodie and his love of his blue ball. Those times we walked through Prospect Park to the doggy beach and met other terriers for Bo to play with and then ignore just seconds later. I don’t remember the days he was dying as clearly, and it’s a blessing.

Writing allowed me to remember the good times, sort through my sorrow, find meaning in the memories, and bridge my old life to the one I continue to build now.

 

Love, loss and lacrosse

I met George when I was a graduate assistant for the women’s lacrosse team at Wilkes University. Our attraction and admiration for each other began in the master’s program there, and it’s the preface of our love story. I was an assistant coach at Sacred Heart University when we began building our lives together. Then I was hired at Drew University as the head lacrosse coach as we planned our future.

But at Drew my first year I had to passively watch his cancer begin to overpower him. I didn’t know what was happening. I was in denial. And in my second year, he passed away. My third year at Drew I was rebuilding a foundation, but knew my time was limited there. I needed a change, a place to make new memories in a world without him. In my first season at Huntingdon College, I feel like myself again. I feel stronger than I ever have before. Thankful for the adventures I had in my time in the northeast, and grateful for all of those who’ve supported me. The love I shared with George has propelled me forward, and I try my hardest to make him proud. He’s my why. I do what I do because of him.

2 years ago I was forced back to the region where our paths crossed and love began. The thought of going back to Northeast Pennsylvania still turns my stomach. Revisiting Wilkes Barre/Scranton area is my real life hell. Some day I know I’ll appreciate it, but for right now it’s too painful. With the help of a friend, I wrote an essay for the Guardian about the Drew vs Scranton game of 2014. It was torture going back there then, but love carried me through.

Balancing life and beyond

Ive been seeing Mike for over 7 months now. It’s going very well, though we’ve had our struggles. I’m now in my 30s and I’ve seen many of my friends get married and also see a select few have to go through divorce. I’ve noticed that some of the ones going through divorce suffer from a form of grief. Which isn’t a surprise because their life is drastically changing and sometimes dealing with those emotions are very difficult and confusing. It’s not the same, clearly, as a spouse passing but I’m empathetic to the drastic life changes and the struggle to get back into the dating game.

I feel complete when I’m around Mike. Life is good, and the companionship makes dealing with stress, whether it’s from work or not exceeding self-expectations, much more tolerable. He makes me feel special and it makes me feel special and unique. This weekend I had games and we went 0-2, but he supported me all weekend long and helped me not dwell on the losses but see the good in them more. He’s been following my team all season long and reminds me how far the team has come since the first game. And sometimes coaching gets the best of me and I really can get hung up on the wins and losses. I have expectations for myself and I set the bar high and if I can’t achieve or deliver I do get down on myself quickly. And to put it bluntly, I can be a real bitch. He’s been a good balance to me.

I think about old Julia and how immature I would be with wins and losses versus now. I remember when I was coaching at Sacred Heart I would be so angry after losses and just be downright mean to George. He would support and do things not so different than Mike but I wasn’t receptive to it. I just think of how far and how much I’ve grown up and how now I’m capable of separation of work and personal life, and have a functioning relationship. Our past certainly molds us into the people we are, but how we come out of the worst situations and how we learn really does build us and forms our character. Take care of the little things and once those add up the big things will follow.

I took a big leap of faith moving to Alabama, and I’m glad I did. I’m happy with how things are turning out, and I feel more levelheaded. Lacrosse is going well, life is improving, and the relationship stuff is coming together. I really do feel like I can give my all to every aspect of my life, and for awhile there I didn’t think I was capable of that kind of balance. image

Impactful weekend

Over the weekend I traveled with my lacrosse team to Ferrum College and then to Greensboro College for games. We split this weekend but it was an interesting weekend. Not because of the games but more so of the people and places.

in 2013, the first year I was a head coach at Drew University, my lacrosse team traveled to Ferrum College for spring break. It was strange being back there. I remember how excited I was to be on my first spring break as a head coach. George would send me texts of encouragement and at night call me to get the details of the game. It was nice being back there and once again pulling out a good quality win. After the game we got back on the bus and headed two hours south to Greensboro, NC. When we got into Greensboro one of my friends who coaches at Guilford College stopped by our hotel and we chatted. It was so great seeing her! I just am so appreciative of the people and relationships in my life. She was a huge support for me after George passed and I remember seeing her at tournaments and camps, and she was so kind and open to hearing my woes. We’ve played together on club lacrosse teams and it’s wonderful seeing her, and her son and how things change so much but friendships remain strong. It makes me really grateful to be involved in the lacrosse community.

Coincidently, one of my other lacrosse friends was in the Charlotte area too and we were chatting over the weekend trying to see if our schedules would match. Unfortunately it didn’t work out, but I enjoyed the back and forth lacrosse talk we had over the weekend. He’s a great coach and I love getting his perspective. Admittedly he’s one of my friends I was careless with the immediate months after George passed and I tend to bring up how cold hearted I was then. He reminds me I indeed was an ass, but he got to have a front row seat to watch me change physically and mentally.

It was such a bizarre weekend now that I think back on it. Almost like a reminder of how important the relationships in your life are. Don’t take anything for granted.

 

Getting fed up

Im going to tread lightly on this post. Being agitated to certain points is one of those ongoing things that happens in life. But I start to have a big problem when other people’s issues suddenly become mine. I’ve found a healthy way to deal with my stress and grief that doesn’t really involve others.  However my parents would argue that it does, but that’s also cause I call them to complain. Heh. That’s what they’re there for right?

My grief has been stirring lately. I’m missing George more and more and it came on so suddenly. Because of this I’ve been doing my best to put myself out there and meet others. I need a support system of friends down here in Alabama. My close friend from high school recently had her wedding and I decided to not attend due to finances and grief. Yup grief. It made me sick to my stomach thinking about going to a wedding. I’ve only been to one since George has passed and it wasn’t a smart decision to attend. But grief aside, the cost of the flight was exceedingly out of my price range too. Especially during season when I use my personal funds to help tie up loose ends with my team or to buy team activities. I don’t have a ton of wiggle room.

But this is my life. Losing George will continue to impact me. I’ve come to terms with that. What’s been aggravating is when others pour their woes onto me. I am happy to be a friend, I’ll give advice, I’ll listen to problems, but I do not like the additional stress of other people’s problems falling on me. I won’t get into specifics, but I must use my widow card here. I’ve lost my husband, my entire future collapsed when he died. When he died, my life also stopped and I had to figure out a new one. I’ve made it through. I’ve excelled and continue to thrive. I feel like I’m relatively more optimistic than I was when he was alive. I can be a person to lean on when my friends are in turmoil, but it is not okay to burden me with these issues. It’s not okay to impact my livelihood with problems that do not concern me.

Now I have a thirst to run, to exhaust my body with problems that shouldn’t be mine. But because I care, it’s impacting me emotionally and mentally. On top I am dealing with running and building a lacrosse program in a nontraditional region.