Friday, December 11, 2009

Are you on Facebook?

If you are a part of the wonderful time sucking social networking extravaganza, we know and love as Facebook, then I have a challenge for you!

Most sports in this country, the ones you all know and love, and will find on television almost every week of the year, have incredible monetary backing. And the athletes are taking home paychecks in one year that could finance my training for my entire carreer. As small sport like water polo, that finds its sporting stage once every four years at the Oylmpic Games, we are entirely dependent on the funding we get from the United States Olympic Committee and our sports National Governing Body, the non-profit organization, United States Water Polo Inc. Without this, my team and I would not be able to train, or travel and participate in, competitions to get us ready to represent our country.

So when I heard about the Chase Community Giving page on Facebook I realized, this opportunity may be the easiest way for anyone to give back this holiday season and give a huge boost to our sport!!

Simply go to the Chase Community Giving page and cast your vote for us. Then Chase will give money to the charities that have the most votes.....and the deadline is TOMORROW!!!! With a few clicks of your mouse you could be giving my team an incredible gift. A chance to continue our journey towards GOLD in the 2012 London Olympic Games!!!!

I have included a link below to direct you to the page! And if you are not a member of Facebook.....this is a fantastic reason to join!!!

In Olympic Spirit.......

Sunday, December 6, 2009

11 Weeks?!?

When I found out I needed surgery the first question I had was... "What is the recovery time?"

Of course soon follows the standard "4-6 weeks" response. (Oh, I am tottaly going to be that 4 week part of the standard deviaton.) The surgeon, the therapists and doctors all saying the same thing: "You will be up and moving around right after the surgery, and back doing what you do in no time!" As an athlete, 4-6 weeks was already too long.  This theory of "no" time was going to be interesting.

I hit the 6 week anniversary of the operation and had a follow up appointment with the surgeon. He told me at this point the incisions and tissues in my knee were healed. I still had a bit of swelling and I would now be in a battle with scar tissue for range of motion. With 5 1/2 weeks of therapy, I could walk normally, I could do all minor strengthening excersices, and from what I could see (photo) I had lost a LOT of muscle in my leg. (How hard it is to build up the muscle and how fast it departs!)

So began the battle. Playing water polo requires a rather awkward rotating motion we do with our legs. "Eggbeater" had never seemed stange to me. I could do it for hours, maybe days. Supporting myself in the water was as easy as breathing. Yet the scar tissue on either side of my patella tendon and through my capsule was creating a loud"pop" doing even the simplest of things. Like bending me knee from a straightened postion. Wait, that happens when you walk. Yup, not too comfortable with normal linear motions. So doing anything even close to water polo was not going to happen. Yet.

It became quite clear that what I was going to struggle with most at that point was maintaining a positive outlook with my (what I feel is WAY TOO SLOW) progress back to an athletic level I think is satisfactory for playing on the National Team again.

I know everyone is different. Our bodies heal at their own rate. And I am quite frequesntly reminded I am no spring chicken anymore. (I'm not? Age is a number....I guess until you try and heal something and realize, yes, you really are 31. Boo.) But, I think my lifestyle- staying fit and active and absorbed in this pursuit of something I am passionate about, has made me feel a bit invincible. I attack things thinking I can achieve anything if I just try hard enough. And I still believe that to be just might take a little longer than I previously envisioned. I was not leaping around after 4 weeks, or 6.....not even 10. Uggh.

Now in the 11th week I have seen the most progress. I think I have clawed my way up the mountain I had in front of me. Breaking holes in the sheets of ice, slipping back down a few times, but finally nearing the summit. And what kept me going, besides the images and sensations of future practices and games floating through my head, were appreciating the small moments of joy.

Like dressing up for Halloween at the therapy clinic. I broke out my tutu from my ballerina costume two years ago. And our trainer Lance, sported an amazing Spiderman costume. :)

Or making a trek up to LA to see Joshua Radin in concert for the first time. I got Joshua's CD Simple Times from a friend last year. It was about the same time I was trying to decide what path I should set out on post Olympics. And for some reason the sound of his voice was really calming to me. I would listen to his music as I walked around Greece, or when I was reading or hanging out at home and it would help me think. When I found out about his show I had to see him live. And again, those songs helped to calm my anxiety about the healing process and focus me back on the good.

And of course taking more pictures......

Black Friday getting brighter as Christmas lights start to come on!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Photo(s) of The Day

My life's pursuit, as of now, is what many others would call a hobby. Cultivating another hobby has never been high on my list. I have always loved to take photos. My little "point and shoot" camera has served me well, documenting my adventures and travels. But.....if I could make a job out of one of my passions, could I do the same with another? Why not give it a try.

I have a new "more complicated" camera. And with the extra time I have while recovering from surgery I think I will learn more about photography, how to properly use this camera, experiment with taking photos and dream up ways in which to use my photos in the future.

You never know what can come of your dreams once you put them out in the universe. :)

These were the first photos I took this morning with the new camera. This kitty lounges on this car every day and seems to be in a perpetual battle to try and keep her coat clean. Always licking and preening. It is no wonder, with how dirty this car is.

I was only going to post one photo, every day, from the batch I take. But it is so hard to choose. And I like it when groups of photos can tell a story. Maybe as I get better I will be able to narrow it down. We shall see.

Friday, September 25, 2009

All cleaned up!

Ravishing Designer Blue Cap- $5

Exquisite Red Plastic ID Band- $10

Warm 6000 Count Cotton Blanket- $15

Limited Edition Sticky Thermometer Gauge (on my forehead) - $25
(Or is that a bar code to scan me in at the supermarket?)

1 Un-Swollen, Pain-Free, Non-Popping Knee- PRICELESS

The surgery before mine took a little bit longer than scheduled. As I lay there I began to get a little anxious. Incredible teammate and friend, Ericka Lorenz, had driven me to the appointment and was trying to distract me from thinking about what was coming. She blew up a surgical glove and we drew on it.

Something so simple. Made me smile and head to surgery with less stress. :)

Dr. Scott Graham did a splendid job.

Now it is up to me to get the joint back up and running.

Rest, Ice, Elevation and lots of therapy!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Detour in the intended path.

Books are curiously fascinating to me. I love to read and often go into Barnes and Noble, Borders or Target to just look over the new books. On occasion, I am impulsive and just buy a plethora of new material to have at home when the opportunity arises. A quite moment. A need for escape.

Rarely do I actually think of why I end up with the books I adopt. Some have covers that intrigue me. (I have been successful with that technique and also have had very disastrous outcomes.) Or I will read the back to see if the summary will move me. Sometime I will open the book and read a random passage. If I like the writing style or the excerpt I read, I will make the purchase. A drive-by of my previously trusty authors is always a must.

I also really appreciate a gifted read. Knowing that my friend probably deems this work something that will reach me in some way.

Last year, I got the same book from two people. Maybe that should have been a wake up call to begin reading asap. But with the upcoming Olympics, training and traveling, I never got to it/them. One got packed away in my boxes, heading to storage, during the post-Olympic move. The other, tossed in a bag that ended up piled in the corner of the guest room at my parents house, where I stayed at the beginning of the year.

It wasn't until I was heading to Greece to play that I found it and thought maybe I should include it in my travel bag. It was called The Traveler's Gift. Fitting, no?!

I had been going through this wrestling match in my head before deciding to play in Greece. The time off had given me a chance to analyse the way I felt about playing. Was I doing it because I loved it? Or just because I have been doing it for the last 9 years? Was there something else I wanted to pursue? Deciding to play in Greece I felt gave me this new opportunity to play in a different atmosphere. New country. New teammates. Different goal. Preparing to go over there, I was training a lot on my own. Swimming, lifting, spinning. Not exciting, but do-able. When I got a chance to play "pick-up" polo with men's club and high school teams.....I would leave giddy. Unable to wipe the smile off my face. At least I knew the polo was still the fun part. That was a step in the right direction.

One night in Greece, before we played for the Cup, I was reading late at night. I came across this passage:

"Success requires the emotional balance of a committed heart. When confronted with a challenge, the committed heart will search for a solution."

It was the first time since college, which was a long time ago, that I found a pen and underlined that section. For days I thought about that. And I committed. Playing water polo was what I wanted to do. It makes me happy. And I will see it through for as long as possible.

And this week I found out the path will have a bit of a detour. I slipped on the wall this summer during a swim set. Torquing my knee a bit. I had hoped a bit of rest would eventually help the pain, swelling, and popping to go away. No such luck. An MRI confirmed that I had tears in the back of my knee cap. So some minor arthroscopic surgery will clean it up and I will be back at it again!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Friday, July 31, 2009

To have won or....not?!

We play a game. The time runs out. The USA has one more goal than our opponent. A win, right?

I had the ball in my possession as the time ran out. I looked at the ball. Then the ref. Then the scoreboard. Yes....WE WON!!!! At which point, I realized I was at about half tank in the pool because I was trying to swim the ball up the field of play to run out the clock. I turned to my left, towards the center of the pool and tried to look back at our bench. I came face to face with my teammate Brenda. Behind her, the fuzzy shapes of the rest of the team and coaching staff, jumping, screaming, flying into the pool, splashing, hugging....celebrating. Brenda said to me...."Petie. We have done it!!! Again!" (Brenda and I have been on the team together since 2000....winning World Championship gold medals in 2003, and 2007.) Realization was setting in. And soon followed the perma-smile. Inner dialogue: "Oh my god. Oh my god. We did it. WE DID IT! OMG. OMG!!!!"

I think from a spectators point of view, our celebrating may look like we are trying to drown each other. A dog pile in a pool can become a precarious situation if you are in the middle, getting kicked and hung on. For our coaches and staff, who have all their clothes on, I know it can't be easy to stay afloat. But with the kind of adrenaline that is coursing though your body, it seems like the best place in the world to be. The tournament staff tried their darndest, to herd us out of the pool and into the locker room to change for the medal ceremony, in a timely fashion.....they were speaking Italian, so it was easy to pretend not to hear them and soak up the moment for just a little longer. ;)

Receiving a medal is an incredible experience. The receiving ceremony, seeing your flag, and if you are on the top tier- a chance to hear your National Anthem. It is enough to make your heart burst.

But for me this year was that much more special. Four years ago, I had come to Italy to play for a professional club in Florence. It was my first experience living abroad and I did not know one bit of Italian. There were twins on my team. Not the tallest girls (OK, most of the high school girls I coached were bigger as freshman than these two), but I soon found that they had gigantic hearts. They taught me Italian, drove me around, welcomed me into their home, and took care of me as if I was their sister. I broke my nose when I was playing there, which was so bad I needed to have nasal surgery to fix it. Their mother sat with me in the hospital, went to the pharmacy and got all my drugs and then doted on me, as all moms do, for the next two weeks while I stayed with them. Coming back home after that season, they visited America once but we have kept in touch mostly over the Internet. I had not seen them in three years....but they made the quick trip to Rome to cheer for us during the entire tournament. They are true water polo lovers and incredible supporters of my water polo adventures. They made the sign above and hung it in the stands. Their seats were positioned directly behind the poles holding the medal winning countries flags. So as I stood atop the podium, heavy medal around my neck, sweet national anthem singing to us....I could clearly see their smiling faces and the jubilant waving of a homemade flag as well. It was an amazing thing to get to share with them.

Then after all this, Canada (our final game opponents) protested the result of the game. They thought there had been a portion of the game that should have been handled differently by the referees. So they put in a formal request of protest, meaning after ALL that.... the celebration, the medals, the hugs from supporters, the adrenaline and joy....we were told we had to wait until 10:30 the next morning to find out if we were, in fact, the winners. I felt like my body was a balloon and someone had just stuck me with a pin. SERIOUSLY?!?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

We won Champions Cup!

Traveling to Russia for the Finals, playing, having fun, and the aftermath!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Playing professionally.

Vouliagmeni Nautical Club

I have come to Greece to play for a club team, just outside Athens. It is in the small town of Vouliagmeni. The picture above is standing at the club, looking out over the small bay, back at the town. "N.O.B" is the abbreviation for the club. Because I can not understand one bit of Greek, I can not tell you how that translates into Vouliagmeni Nautical Club. But I assure it does, because it is all over our gear, swimsuits, and caps. Either that, or they are REALLY making fun of the foreign kid. Because I trust most everything they tell me. Fending for myself is really hard when the letters are a completely different alphabet. I can't even TRY to sort it out.

I am sure this tells me where the gym is. Better bet is to just follow everyone else.

Luckily, most everyone here does speak English, so I can ask for a translation.
Our coach will give us a swim set in Greek and I wait until she is finished, turn to the girl who swims next to me, and quickly get the English cliff notes. I am one of the two fastest swimmers on the team. So usually I am out in front of the other girls on swim sets. I can not rely on my usual tactic of hanging back to just watch and figuring it out as I go. I learned really quick that the other fast girl is a little jokester. When I think we are doing 5 laps at a time...... I flip for my last lap, push off and look back to see everyone else stop. I pop my head up, and find my translator laughing her head off. That was the day I began auditorially memorizing the water polo terms I would need to get through practice.

Typically, foreigners are asked to come and play for teams for their National League seasons. Each team is allowed two foreign players. One from a fellow European country and one from the Americas or Oceanic/Asian region. The season lasts about 7 months, where each team will play against each other twice, at which point you are placed in post season games until there is a winner. I am not here for that. Our team already has a Spanish goalie, and they picked up my fellow American team mate, center, Moriah van Norman.

During the regular season, the top two teams from the previous years season, play in a European Cup, against the top two teams from the rest of the European professional teams. For the "Champions Cup", teams can bring in additional foreigners. Enter, ME!!!!!

I will only be in Greece for about two months. To help the team in the semi-final, and hopefully final games of the Cup!

Here is another look, from the end of the peninsula, back at the bay and the town of Vouliagmeni. Our pool (it is hard to see) sits on the left side of the bay, just beyond the docked sail boats. Very beautiful place to be playing and practicing!

Friday, April 10, 2009

The downfall of my blog.

So much for resolutions.

Reasons for not posting regularly:

  1. Lack of Internet.
I decided to come play water polo in Greece. I got a contract playing for a professional club in a town outside of Athens. I live in an apartment (with a fellow American National Team Member- who also plays for the club) and we are stealing Internet from someone in our building. I believe it is the office below us. And because EVERYTHING here is made of stone and marble, going through that kind of material, the connection is jankety at best. Most of the time the only place we can get good reception is sitting on her bed, in her bedroom. It must be positioned directly above the wireless router. And while we are friends and teammates, I do not think she really wants me hanging out in her bed all the time. Space bubbles need to stay intact. So instead of blogging and sharing my stories.....I read and listen to music. Or go out with my new Greek teammates for coffee. (Which I have come to learn is mandatory, daily.)

If I do want to get a strong and reliable porthole to the web, I have to pre-arrange a visit to a teammates house, because I am living overseas sans car. I am completely dependent on my new Greek friends for transport. Due to the fact that most of my creative moments are just before bed, while I am calming down from the days festivities, not having the Internet readily available at home really puts a damper on my posts.


The universal black hole of time has sucked me right in. I resisted joining Facebook for a long time. Mostly because it was something that started after I graduated from college. (Yeah, I'm old. ;) Hahaha.) Originally, being just a network for college students with educational email addresses, I couldn't gain access and scoffed at such a segregational institution. Then I caved and joined so I could see some pictures posted of a teammate, by a person I didn't know, who had tagged her, so if I were on Facebook, I could add her, and see her photos. Simple, right?!

Now it is so easy, when I just have a 15 minute window, to just hop on FB, post a status change (My parents love those so they know what I am doing half a world away and I haven't called. I know....BAD DAUGHTER!) check my wall and briefly stalk my friends to see that they are all doing well. If I add a photo or 12, my friends can take a visual tour of my adventures and comment as they wish. Quick and easy.

But let's be honest. Blogging is way more fun. My Facebook friends are not getting my random inner narrative, unless I can fit it into a one line sentence. (Which happens on occasion, I guess.)
Blogging is just far more time consuming. Which brings me back to my point.....

Monday, January 19, 2009

Recapitulations and Resolutions.

NOTE: This post was written in the beginning of the year. But my life, being very unconventional these days, has run away with me and I never posted it. I am sorry to my readers and will get on top of my posting. (Thank you Tim for giving me a kick in the pants.)

I love getting/sending snail mail. So come the holiday season it is time to:

  1. Make a list of folks to send cards to. In hopes that,with it in writing, I will not forget anyone. (There is always that possibility- So, sorry, if my brain blanked on you this year. Plus it is imperative that I have your address for you to get a card.)

  2. Check and see how many 1,2, & 3 cent stamps I need. (Every year as long as I can remember, Santa has deposited a fresh roll of stamps in my stocking. With the rate at which the price of stamps has increased in the recent years, I have so many random priced stamps collecting dust. It is time they get out in the world and travel.)

  3. Dig out the holiday cards I bought last year on discount. (It really is a great way to save money. And the love sent is still the same.)

  4. (If time will not allow an old fashion card) Devise some sort of home-made holiday hello to send to people.....preferably with pictures because I agree with the notion that 1 picture can say 1000 words. The eHoliday card was utilized a few years ago....but I think nothing will ever compare to a real card.
That done, the real question is.... "What do you put in your card?"

I think if you order those photo cards from Costco or Wallmart or something... Putting the right photo in your card is key. Because then all you have to do is sign it. Nothing else is needed. A ponient shot of the whole family changing a flat tire on your cross country road trip or maybe a surprised shot of the new baby vomiting all over Daddy's new work shirt. Now that would be a great holiday card. :) I particularly liked the card I got with my nephew Conor's photo on it. Right in the center is one of him all naked on a blanket! Cute little baby butt! It was the most adorable thing. I may save it, and show him when he is about 16. Wonder what he will think when he realizes how many people have seen his bum!?!

And if there are no photos and you are sending just a normal old card.........Will just a signature do then?

I believe that it is special just to receive mail in this day and age. But I am not going to lie, this year when I read a few cards, after reading the signature I found myself longing for more. What was happening in these peoples lives? Cuz lets face it.....most of the cards you get at the holidays are from people you do not see very often. Pondering life scenarios in my head I then realized that what these cards did was reconnect them in my head and heart. Weather there was a note or not they still wanted me to know that they were out there somewhere. And now it was up to me to find out more if I want.

My cards were really just an extended holiday hello. Maybe a random thought here and there. Because (if I were posting more regularly) all of my friends and family can find out what I am doing with myself right here on my blog. Pictures included with my random inner narrative. So while I sat there as I wrote my cards and ran through the entire year in my head, recapping my adventures and revisiting the emotions of my memories, I realized that most of them were posted here. Not all of post-Olympic posts are not created yet.........

Which lead me to start formulating my list of resolutions for the New Year. Near the top of my list was posting more. Dang it. I have already let that one slide. Ooops.

But instead of letting my resolution slide into oblivion. I will turn it around today. Catch it before six months pass and half the year is gone. Baby steps!