Wednesday, September 26, 2012

First Tennis Lesson

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
This past Sunday was a busy one.  I was feeling tired and not wanting to do any of it.  The couch was feeling so comfortable, and I was enjoying the feeling of tears rolling down my face as I watched "Raising Helen" on ABC Family.  Still, after that last "feel good" scene on the boardwalk, I guess I felt inspired that my day could be like a movie where the main character quits her job, moves to Queens with three kids and falls in love.  All I had to do was go to tennis lessons and a couple of parties.

I showed up at the Amy Yee Tennis Center, slightly nervous, but mostly still tired and wanting more ABC Family.  I was really hoping this would not be so much a work-out as a lesson on tennis theory with a few tips on how to hold the racket.

There were four other great women in my class, and our teacher, Eric, was really skilled at being fun while also getting the lesson across in an effective way.  I was shuffling forward, running back, trying to keep my wrist cocked-and-locked, and bending at the knee.  About ten minutes into class, I had completely forgotten how tired I was when I got there.
"On the outside, looking in."
One of the best things I learned is that when you are hitting the tennis ball as it comes to you, keep your knees bent and your racket low and behind you with your wrist coked-and-locked.  As you swing your racket, you slowly raise your body as well, by unbending your knees, and then you have to remember to follow through with your swing...all the way over your opposite shoulder.  We also said "Bounce, Hit" out loud as we watched the ball bounce toward us and then (hopefully) hit our racket.

I really, really loved the class.  I can't wait to get back there this Sunday, and I am thinking after this six week session, I would like to sign up for more lessons.  You sign up through the Seattle Parks and Rec website and you get a six week course for only $77.00.  I think it is a great deal.  Plus, I was informed that this week we will be receiving Eric's "Tennis Bible."  Yes!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Keeping the Fire Burning

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
Fresh from the campus of my new school, Bastyr University, I am feeling inspired and really pumped up about women's rights, reproductive rights, and basically, human rights.  I admit, I feel hesitant, and I hush my own excitement for fear of being just one more person that feels the spark only to let it burn out.  One more person that walks away, taking with them that slow, steady breath it takes to blow on the embers of a budding revolution and keep them smoldering, for as long as it takes until the fire fully ignites.

I have seen that quality in myself before: Occupy Seattle, Running a Mile a Day, Painting a Mural.  I can swell with inspiration and vision, only to watch myself deflate in the face of everyday life.  I vow for this one to be different.  I am setting it up differently already.  I am in a program for the next three years that facilitates involvement and community around these very issues.  I have surrounded myself with a cohort of women that share my ideals and vision...we can grow this movement exponentially.

The Midwifery department at my school participated in a viewing of a new documentary, Freedom for Birth.  The film explores the story of a Hungarian midwife, Ágnes Geréb, that was imprisoned for attending home births and is currently still on house arrest.  From her story, you learn about a landmark case brought to the European Court of Human Rights.  One of Ágnes Geréb's clients, Anna Ternovszky, won a decision against the country in Hungary which stated that she "has a human right to choose the circumstances in which she gives birth."

This is huge.  Why have we not heard of this since it happened in 2010?  Why were there only 7 people in an auditorium watching this film today?  Why doesn't some pregnant woman here in the US take this up with her state?  With our Supreme Court?  Yes, I have a lot of questions.

Just to be clear, this means a woman has the human right to birth at home, in a birth center, or in the hospital.  We can all unite upon this front...there needs not be a divide amongst the birth community.  Can't we all agree, and work together to educate everyone, that women are the people in charge of birth?  The woman birthing is the one making the choices.

Let's get fired up.  Let's keep it burning.

Maybe we could get a mural up in Seattle symbolizing this movement.  I was just informed of an upcoming mural project, Stunning Seattle.  I could fulfill (and mitigate my guilt) my commitment to Mural Month, and we could get some beautiful, moving, inspiring art up in Seattle.  Who's in?  The meeting for ideas is next week!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Wonder Woman

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
Here it is, September 18th already.  I just signed up for tennis lessons through Seattle Parks & Rec at the Amy Yee Tennis Center.  Classes are fairly inexpensive, and they offer all levels, from beginner to advanced.  Yes, you guessed correct, I am in the beginner class.  It starts this weekend and goes through look forward to tennis offerings alongside all the sign language posts of October.
Photograph: Allstar/Cinetext Collection/Sportsphoto/Allstar/Cinetext Collection
Believe it or not, I was also looking for sign language classes to take in October as well.  Am I crazy?  That would mean in October I would be: coordinating all-school volunteers at my kid's school, managing my son's soccer team, going to graduate school, taking tennis lessons, and taking sign language classes.  Anything else I am forgetting?  Oh, yeah, being a mom/housecleaner/chef! Duh.

I have to laugh at myself, because just yesterday I was feeling completely overwhelmed with my life.  It's funny to feel overwhelmed and stressed about all these really good things in my life.  When I stopped complaining yesterday, and thought about each thing I am doing, I felt gratitude for every one of them.  I think a good self-care technique could be to really try to remain on task, one thing at a time.

At the beginning of each week, I can spend some time making my calendar and putting it up on the chalkboard, taking that time to look at the big picture and make sure everything fits.  At the beginning of each day, I can also take a look at that day's big picture...did anything new pop up, does someone need a ride somewhere that I forgot about, where do I have room for something spontaneous?  And then, stay focused on each detail as it arises.  Checking it off my list, one at a time.

This is not how I normally live my life.  I am typically a non-conformist when it comes to schedules.  I like my day to be a flow of activities.  That's one of the things I loved about having babies...there was no schedule, we went here and there, had groups of moms and babies over to our house, would run into a neighbor and decide at 5pm to have dinner together that night...every day was a social love fest. (Can you tell my baby is now 7 and I just might be romanticizing this baby time a wee little bit?)

Now that my kids are older, and they have schedules and timelines, carpools and homework of their own, I really need to buckle down and stay on top of everything.  Otherwise, I find myself walking around feeling like a disheveled loser that can't keep anything together.  I do plan on remaining open to my failures at "keeping it together" and loving myself anyway.  I plan on remaining vulnerable to being a beginner with this and through that, finding my own inner scheduling strength.

For some reason, I am remembering my halloween costume from when I was 6 years old.  God, I loved Wonder Woman back then.  Was I perhaps projecting into my perfectionistic motherhood future?  Maybe it's time to take off the shiny, aluminum foil belt with the red star, colored in with a sharpie.

Or maybe, better yet, tap into that character a little more...after all, Wonder Woman only tackled one villain at a time.  One episode at a time.  All while keeping the big picture of a safe world close to her heart.

Friday, September 14, 2012

September - my fave

The ACE, Palm Springs
Posted by Melissa Baumgart
September is always my favorite month.  Living in Seattle, brings that feeling home even more with the bright sunny days that extend well into the first weeks of school.  It likely started out as my favorite month because I get to celebrate my birthday, and because I have always loved school.  Going to bed the night before school started proved more difficult for me than Christmas Eve.

This year, I not only got to start what will be the most life changing school I could ever imagine, but I also got to celebrate a mile marker birthday of 40 years!  The weekend before my school started I flew to palm Spring to stay at my favorite place, the ACE Hotel and Swim Club.  I had a rocking good time.  As my friend has been texting me since we touched ground in Seattle, "We dominated that vacation!"  And I have to say, I completely agree.  I was blessed with generous friends and family that made my whole birthday week completely amazing.  Thanks, everyone!

Tuesday, not two days after the debauchery of my 40th, I flipped a 180° and stepped foot onto the campus of Bastyr University and directly into the Department of Midwifery.  This first week of school has been moving in so many ways.  The supportive teachers, the tremendous room for personal growth, and the thrill/anxiety of finally stepping toward my full potential.  In some ways, I know exactly where I am headed...I know the direction...but the details and the color of how I travel this road will fill in as I walk it.

One of the biggest parts has been meeting my cohort, the women that will be surrounding me some future day when I will suddenly realize we are inexplicably connected.  I find it bizarre to sit right next to strangers and know we will be best friends.  It is as if we were betrothed in some other lifetime.

Tomorrow, it will all get very real when I practice my first ever pelvic exam...on a real woman.
Holy shit.

Friday, September 7, 2012

What a Racket!

Posted by Amy Baranski and Melissa Baumgart
Welcome to September!
We had been looking forward to Tennis Month ever since we picked it.  Who knew that having a baby in the mix would have us starting September a week late?  But it's all worth it, and Japhy is adorable and growing fast; he's the best excuse for not blogging that we've had yet! (And Melissa didn't even have a baby!  What a minute, what's her excuse?)
We have a tennis court just a block from our apartment building, so we are hoping that ups the likelihood of the actual tennis activity.  Last month Melissa had been playing with her son for a bit, and noticed the courts were pretty crowded.  Here's to hoping the school year starting things that out a bit.
With both of us being so busy, Amy literally feeding her baby non-stop and being a devoted mom 24/7 and Melissa starting an intense midwifery program, having tennis so handy could be a real blessing when we just need to release a little steam.  It's a fun sport that has you moving and sweating, all while working on the intricate details of the skill.  

And if we can't find the time for that, well, there's always the US Open on TV!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Photo Project: Day 31

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
Last day of September, taken on the ferry heading to Family Camp on Orcas Island.  We all had a great time out there at Camp Orkila.  Jamie and I feared it would be dorky.  The older kids thought it would be totally lame, and Levi had decided he wouldn't have any fun at all.  He was going to stay in the cabin all day long.  But all of our dreams were sabotaged by the myriad of activities and thrilling rides.

I highly recommend dorking out, and going to Family Camp!

Kundalini Yoga

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
I was rushing into my yoga class last night, "Get out of my way!  I am trying to get to yoga!" Oh, the irony.  After signing up for my beginner special at the new Kundalini Yoga studio I was trying out, I was very pleased with myself for remembering to silence my phone.  Then, at the last minute, I remembered the alarm.  It was 6:45 and I would be in class at 7:20.  That alarm goes off right through the silence button.  Could you imagine the horror if I had forgot to turn it off, and heard that duck quacking alarm right in the middle of class.  OK, well, maybe not horror, but extreme embarrassment.
August's Blue Moon, as seen from the ferry to Orcas Island.
I did not get a 7:20 photo yesterday.  I thought it would be rude to get up during the fire breathing cobra pose and snap a shot of the teacher and the one other student in class.  Instead of a photo, I will tell you that what I offer you is an invitation to go and try Kundalini Yoga for yourself.

It is like Bikram yoga's other half.  Eyes closed the whole time, chanting, focusing mostly on your inner world.  Whereas in Bikram, your eyes are open and you are acutely aware of the external world, using all your determination to not be distracted by what you see and keeping your attention on your mat.  Both are physically challenging, but in completely different ways.  Both are mentally challenging as well, a quality I appreciate very much about a yoga practice.  I feel it is so important to discipline our mind.

I can't say I like one better than the other.  They are both perfectly what they should be, and I am pleased to have both in my life right now.