Let me rattle off a few names here:
What do they all have in common? All of them are gold medalists of this go-around of the Olympic games. London 2012 has been kind to them, and they have walked way victorious in a variety of ways, and not just with a circle of medal around their necks. Although, I will admit, that alone is pretty damn cool.
As I’ve described in the last how many posts, I’ve become quite the Olympics junkie. When the games end, I’m going to be incredibly distraught. What will I do with myself? What am I going to watch on TV? How can I have a reason to scan the swimming crowds for Ryan Lochte’s face without looking and feeling like a complete idiot? When I’m caught Googling him for the 50th time, I will no longer have an excuse as to why I’m staring at his beautiful, cool blue eyes.
But this is not my personal crisis at the moment.
What has been equally rewarding of watching these Olympics is not just finding new eye candy to drool over. It’s seeing others openly bare their pride for their country. They’re up on those podiums, accepting the highest honor their sport can offer, and all in the name of their country. Talk about patriotism! It’s not just proving you’re the best in any given event. The World championship is slightly different from the Olympics when it comes down to what winning means to an athlete. Just like when I played tennis; winning the conference has a whole new feeling compared to winning a home meet. Or winning on Parent’s Night held a different significance than winning during any regular home match.
There’s a difference in pride, and there’s a difference in who’s watching you compete.
The Olympics? It’s the equivalent to the Hunger Games of Panem (minus the children killing children part.) The whole world is watching. Every play, every move, and every word you speak, is heard by everyone around the globe. You’re representing yourself, yes, along with your athletic capabilities. But you’re also representing your country. That is a huge responsibility and not one to be taken lightly. It’s an even bigger deal when the whole world is ready to criticise something, anything.
It doesn’t matter from what country you hail. Somebody is going to have a negative comment or two, whether you were pitch perfect or not. The United States is a prime example, and it’s a bit tricky when it comes to the US of A. I can’t say we’re hugely popular with many people in the world right now. A foreigner might not have a problem with me until I mention the small detail that I’m an American. Not everyone is like this, but many countries and their people are not too fond of us.
Regardless, I am proud to call myself an American. I don’t care what other countries say. What my government doesn’t isn’t necessarily a reflection of my personal beliefs, or what I feel is the right thing to do. Convincing many of that idea is a battle royale of its own, but we’ll leave that topic of conversation for another time and place.
“The harder they hit, the more encouraged I get.”
The wonderful words of Hillary Clinton, our current U.S. Secretary of State. Could we change her words up a tiny bit to make it relevant to the Olympics? Can we say the more medals we win, the bigger the target on our backs? So why add fuel to the fire by not showing appreciation for the country you stand there and represent?
Here’s what I’m getting at. There are countries competing in the Olympics who do not like us as a nation for many, many reasons, whatever they may be. If I were competing in the Olympics, I honestly would want to work as an ambassador for my country, not just for my sporting event and my accomplishments. Winning the gold is a huge deal, and when I’m standing on that podium (this is my fantasy, so back off!), I want others to see not only the pride and hard work I have invested in this sport, but I also want the world to see how happy I am to represent my country in these world games.
With that in mind, here’s my personal crisis of the day: Why are our athletes not showing that pride on the podium? How can they show it, you might ask. For starters, you might want to smile and actually look at the flag of your nation being raised in your honor. Maybe, just maybe, you could mouth the words to your national anthem. If for some reason you have no clue what the words are, try mouthing the same thing over and over again. I don’t even care if its Old McDonald Had a Farm. Just make your lips move so we think you’re singing along! It has become my biggest pet peeve to see our elite athletes not even attempt to show their appreciation for their nation or the support of their fellow countrymen. I know for a fact A LOT of us are cheering you on from across the Atlantic. The least you can do is smile and let us know you’re grateful.
As much as I rag on Michael Phelps for being slightly an ogre and how Ryan Lochte beats him hands down in the body department, he still stood with his eyes fixed on the American flag as he received his 20th medal the other night, and, dare I mention it, he smiled so broadly and so happily when the final notes rang out, I just know he was feeling a rush of emotions only he could understand. Even his mother stood in the audience singing her heart out.
Ryan Lochte. You already know I love him, but my respect for him leaped meters when I saw him singing to the national anthem when he beat Phelps in what already seems like ages ago earlier in the Olympic games this past week.
Serena Williams. She stood proudly with the American flag behind her this morning as she won her first gold medal in the singles’ division for tennis. As for how she spoke and acted during her first interview right after the win, that’s a whole other story. What I’ll say now is this: You’ve been playing this game for a long, long time. Since you were a teenager and you are now in your 30s. When you win a major title or competition, I don’t think you should be acting like a 13-year-old still. Accept the win with pride, grace, and dignity. Don’t stand there and say, “OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG THE GOOOOOOLD” the whole time. Anyways, I’ll rant about her later.
The one I do want to rant about is Gabby Douglas. I am incredibly happy she won the women’s all-around gymnastics competition. I think it’s great, especially with how difficult the sport is. I would certainly fall off that balance beam if I tried doing flips and kicks like that. But when it came to the medal stand, she looked anything but enthused. When the national anthem played? Her eyes were everywhere BUT on the American flag. While I understand how enormous that moment would feel, I’d like to compare Douglas to Missy Franklin. Both were first time Olympians and both girls are incredibly young (Douglas is 16 and Franklin is 17), but yet Franklin glued her eyes that flag and she sang her little winning heart out. When the anthem ended, she wiped away a few tears that managed to escape. You can’t tell me Douglas was too distracted because of her age to pay attention to what was happening. Her eyes were everywhere, she didn’t smile once during the entire 2 minute song, and don’t even ask if she sang.
She didn’t. If I had to put a word on her, it would be stoic, but not really in a good way. Honestly? She almost looked bored.
Her teammate who didn’t qualify for the all-around competition looked far more excited for Douglas’ win than Douglas herself. And let me also add that she stood out like a sore thumb at the team competition when the U.S. took gold, and all of her teammates are staring at the flag, singing to glory to their nation. Just sayin’…
To be fair, Douglas isn’t the only one who has done this. There are other athletes I’ve watching, and not just ones hailing from the USA, but from other countries, too. And while I might not like these other counties as much as my own, I still think they should put in the effort to at least pretend to acknowledge who and what they represent while standing with an honoring medal around their neck.
Enough of the serious chatter. I’m ready to share my Fabulous Friday with you, and here is what made my day better than average to start off my weekend:
Fabulous Baby Gear:
Fabulous Sweat Top:
Fabulous Sexy Time:
Fabulous Kick-Ass Lady:
Fabulous Adult Living:
Fabulous Themed Wedding:
I hope your weekend is finding you well and putting you into new adventures like never before. Me? I’ve been working like a dog. I’ve been putting in more hours now that I have a full-time job about to start versus when I was simply looking. Funny how the worlds works.
Happy Olympics Weekend: Take 2!
Raise your hand if you’ve turned into a snarling, drooling, foaming at the mouth addict to the Summer 2012 Olympics taking place in London at this exact moment in time?
No one? Anyone? Are you sure?
No, my hand isn’t in the air, either.
BUT…I have become a total Olympics Junkie since the opening ceremony took place last Friday evening. And, yes, I didn’t capitalize the word ‘junkie.’ It’s only fair I pay my dues to what I have become and wear it like a patch on my sleeve with pride.
One of my friends commented the other day about how watching the Olympics makes them feel more patriotic than any other time of their lives. Watching members of our country compete against our rival countries (like those dang French in the swimming competitions who knocked my beloved Ryan Lochte out of medaling yesterday and pushing him into 4th place…just shy of a medal. Dang you, Frenchies!!), it really does lift something in the spirit.
As I watched the women’s gymnastics team achieve gold for the first time since the Magnificent Seven, I felt a different sort of pang resonate through my chest. It was a pang of longing.
I miss competing. Plain and simple. I miss the rush of adrenaline that let me know something exciting was about to happen, and the result totally rested on my shoulders.
At that point, I could only hope I’d trained long enough and hard enough to face my opponent. Tennis, once again, pops into my mind. That sport, for me, will always hold a special place in my heart. My high school was small, and barely had a sports team of any kind. Somehow, we managed to amass enough students every year. Well, upon my entering high school, I knew I wanted to play basketball. Tennis, on the other hand, was something my cousin convinced me to try out the summer before I entered official high school status. It didn’t hurt that my sister also played on the team for a few years prior to my entry into high school, so naturally, I wanted to follow in her footsteps (but discreetly. No one likes to admit they did something because their sister made it look cool!)
A long story short, I was hooked after my first summer lesson. So when “try-outs” for the team came up later in the summer, I got a call from the coach asking if I wanted to see what a couple of practices would be like, and make my decision to be on the team from there.
You should know up front that there as no C-Team or JV squad for this tennis team. When you joined the team, you were playing at the varsity level immediately, and for someone who had never touched a racquet prior to that summer lesson, it was slightly terrifying.
Even more terrifying? Being placed at 3rd singles for my first match ever. I was playing opponents who had been playing for 5+ years, and literally would kill me if I got in the way of the ball without my racquet to deflect its speeding orb-like self.
I won’t lie. It sucked at the time. I knew I wasn’t the best of players, but I also knew I was better than what my scores reflected. I considered it a victory when my side of the score cards shined with a game or two in my favor, and not big fat zeros. 6-0, 6-0. I never hated a score total so much in my life.
Like I said, it sucked at the time. But I was too young and dumb to acknowledge the training and skill sets I was picking up right away from playing opponents way beyond my skill set. As I grew older with the sport and my own personal skills began to expand, the tides were turning. I was suddenly that player other teams hated to play. My years of being pounded into the tennis pavement paid off. I became one of the best players in the conference. It took a lot of patience, a lot of practice, and a lot of beatings to reach the skill set I eventually entered the season with my senior and final year of high school. Now, to say I was undefeated that season would be a total lie. I was beaten a handful of times, but the beautiful part is that it wasn’t by complete shut-out.
I made myself a promise when I advanced to the 2nd singles position: If I was bound to lose, I would win at least 2 games every set and not go down with a shut-out. It kept me swinging, that’s for sure. When I assumed the 1st singles position, it became my goal to shut out players the way I had been shut-out all those years ago.
You know what? I achieved that goal a number of times. My time had come, and I wasn’t about to forget it.
“It’s straight from the horse’s mouth.Not that I’m saying I’m a horse.”
We only like to tell it how it is, don’t we, Victoria Beckham, the erstwhile “Posh Spice”. She may have been talking about her autobiography with those words, and I guess in a way, so am I. Tennis is a part of my life, so consider this a fleeting story in a long, long, not-even-close-to-being-completed autobiography about, well…me!
So, how does this tie in with the Olympics?
Like previously stated, I miss the competition. I miss the mental preparation needed prior to the event. Seeing the athletes sitting and watching/cheering on their teammates with their ear buds tucked safely in their ears…I used to do that. I needed ten minutes of “me” time before stepping out on the court. I miss the routine. I miss the physical and mental discipline.
I need to find myself an adult sports team. Now that I have a Big Girl Job and everything, I have my evenings to train, and a fighting spirit that just don’t quit. I’m always looking to prove myself. Maybe I could be on the national tennis circuit yet.
I think it’s okay for me to hold on to that longing, the want to be a part of a team again, the want to be disciplined enough to take the reins on my own but also have a bigger picture in mind. SO…with that in mind, I realize it’s been awhile, but here’s my latest installment of ‘Hey, It’s Okay’s”
Hey, It’s Okay…
… If all your future baby names come from celebs. Cate? Shia? Adorable, right?
… To know what only four out of the 12 keys on your key chain actually go to.
… To still be forwarding people that ridiculous “Talking Twin Babies” YouTube video. Funny on the first or the dozenth viewing.
… To pretend you’re getting in shape for your wedding even when there’s no ring on your finger. Really, whatever motivates you.
… To make everyone else turn around, walk 10 paces and sing cheesy Bon Jovi songs while you attempt to pee in the woods.
… If one hot dog is pretty much never enough.
… To ask him to kick in for your birth control pills. More than OK!
… To look up, realize you and your significant other are both on your phones and totally feel like those people.
… Not to have the foggiest idea how to talk to a three-year-old.
We still have a lot of summer left ahead of us, and I intend to fully grasp each day with a new fervor. It’s amazing how knowing I have a new job starting in a few weeks has totally changed my perspective on things. I go to and leave work totally smiling, and it’s incredible.
One nice thing? Soon, I’ll be buying myself a new laptop, so when I get home from work, pop a beer and snack a little bit, I can sit down on my porch, open my computer, and blog away, be done in like 1.5 hours, and still have time left in the evening to go out and do a few things yet.
How nice will that be?
Until then, I’m glued to this schedule and to my TV. Every glimpse I can have of Ryan Lochte these days, I’m taking it. Damn, how someone can look so good in a swim cap and swimming trunks is beyond me.
Mr. Lochte, you keep doing what you’re doing, and I’ll keep watching and cheering from my living room. You’ve got a fan in me, sir. (And half the country’s female population, I’m sure.)
But they don’t really count 😉
Last night while out to dinner of $5.00 burgers and an extra platter of onion rings with my sister (a rare occurrence, I know, and yes, it was totally delicious. Gotta love the week before Aunt Flow comes for a visit!), we stumbled upon a topic I would have marked in my mind as forgotten except for my sister’s reminder of how much we used obsess over this topic. The topic in question is in regards to a particular athletic endeavor. Which one you might ask?
Let me tell you in two words…
I know the exact reason why the sport has fallen off my radar as of recently. There’s no longevity in any of the skaters anymore.
Sure, one wins a major competition, she moves on to the next, maybe comes in second place, and then she’s done. You never hear from her again. Take the case of Sarah Hughes. She placed 2nd or 3rd in a lot of competitions leading up to the Olympics in Salt Lake City. But, then, on a total fluke (this is my opinion and my opinion only, mind you), she wins the gold medal. Next thing you know, she’s declaring herself retired from the sport at 19 years old and she is no longer competitively skating.
What the hell was all those years of early morning training sessions, hardly a social life, a limited diet, and more training sessions for if you are retiring at 19. Hello! Get back out there, skate your ass off, qualify for the next Olympics, and defend your title! The gold medal is the highest honor one can receive in any sport. Yeah, a fluke of a day where the top contenders both have an off day on the ice may be the reason why you won, but still. It’s a freaking gold medal that no one can ever take away from you or the history books.
There is one figure skater who always captured my heart, and she still does to this very day: Michelle Kwan.
Salt Lake City was meant to be her year. After winning the silver at Nagano, she was primed and ready to sweep the ice with her style and grace, only to be caught off-guard by whatever it was on that day. She ended up walking away with the bronze medal. Still without a gold to her name.
Kwan is a lot like me in my current trend of life. Let me explain…she prepared her whole life for one moment, a moment that I’m sure she dreamed about all during her years of skating competitions, training sessions, and sleepless nights in her room. Throughout the triumphs and tears of her skating career, she had an ultimate goal. Something every athlete hopes to achieve, and that is the Olympic gold medal and to be the best of the best. For a few moments, anyways. Winning the gold medal may not have been her prime focus, but at one point or another, it was a goal of hers in which to achieve.
Instead, at both Olympics, she won the silver and the bronze. In 2006, when the Olympics were in Italy, she had the go-ahead to be on the American team after undergoing several physical evaluations and petitioning her rightful spot on the team due to a few untimely injuries. But, it wasn’t meant to be. Right before the Olympics were to start, Kwan withdrew due to the very injury she worked so hard to heal. Shortly after that, she retired herself from the sport of competitive figure skating.
I read the announcement on Yahoo! News of all places, and I just sat there. After screaming at the computer screen, of course.
“People ask me how it feels to lose the gold. I tell them, I didn’t lose the gold; I won the silver.”
Inspiring words I need to remember more often than not, spoken by the Olympic figure skater herself. Michelle Kwan: You brought such grace and beauty and spunk to a sport. She literally oozed passion each and every time she took the ice. I literally held my breath whenever she took the ice, and that’s saying something.
The last time I held my breath for a sporting event? Probably when Melanie Oudin took out Maria Sharapova in the 2009 U.S. Open.
With the summer Olympics taking place in London in the not-so-distant future, it’s hard not to recount all the times you fell in love with an athlete or athletic performance. I’m not going to lie. The winter Olympics tend to get my blood flowing a little faster than the summer events, but they are still thrilling regardless.
While sprinting, high jumping skateboarding, long distance running, and the high bar are all athletic endeavors in their own personal rights, there is only one sport that comes to mind which combines the mastery of gracefulness along with the technical difficulties of jumps, spins, turns, and sometimes (but usually in the men’s division) full-front body flips. That, my friends, is figure skating.
While lightsaber dueling and tennis also bear a trace of mastering technical skills. Not just anyone can pull out a slice serve on the first try, and if they do, they don’t understand what it is they are actually doing. The moment they stop to think about the mechanics of their natural motions, they lose whatever power they had. One doesn’t simply pick up a lightsaber and know how to use the different forms of lightsaber combat, be it the basic form of Shii-Cho or the very advanced and hard to master Form 7 Juyo. The moment you stop to dissect the motions of your lightsaber, you lost the power within, too.
Mental tricks. Killers, I tell you.
The sad realization I’ve come to? I’ve lost interest in figure skating a lot compared to what I used to dedicate in terms of time to the watching of this particular sport. When I was a teenager and my sister and I still lived at home (back on the farm!), entire Saturday afternoons were spent watching both the men’s and women’s programs. Short programs, long programs, free skates, exhibition skates…we watched all of it. We commented on everything. The outfits, the songs, the movements, the jumps, the competition, the scores skater’s received, and the commentary of the commentators themselves.
By the way, one of thee most annoying things of watching figure skating, or any sport for the matter, is when the commentators feel the need to say something about everything little thing. Can we watch the program in silence and appreciate what is happening before us? Even if you’re watching it live, it’s annoying to hear what they have to say duringthe performance. Just shut up already! I don’t care what she had to say three competitions ago about this particular move! Not at the moment she’s executing it, anyways!
I wonder if Scott Hamilton is still commentating these days…It’s been a long time since I’ve watched a full-length figure skating competition on TV. I don’t recognize anybody’s names anymore. My own fault, yes, since I’ve stopped keeping tabs on the sport and its competitors, but at the same time, no one has captured the magic evenly remotely close like Michelle Kwan did. She’s a legend in her own right.
I suppose I could aim to be like her, even if I’m always coming in second place. I can only imagine how she wrestled with herself for weeks, months, years (I’m sure!) following the 1998 Nagano Olympics. Kwan should have taken the gold that year. Hands down. While little Miss Tara Lipinski had a spring to her jumps, she did not hold an artistic candle to Kwan’s performance that night. I will never forget watching Kwan break into tears the moment her music stopped and she struck her final pose of her long program.
I didn’t understand it at the time. I was a youngster myself, and as I watched her burst into tears, I remember asking my sister why Kwan was so sad. She hadn’t fallen once during her program. So, why was she crying? My sister answered me, but what she said, I don’t remember. But, now I know.
It was simply a beautiful performance. One for a lifetime, and she knew just how good she was.
I get chills just thinking about it.
Michelle Kwan has the heart of a champion. She will always be a champion in my heart.
In case you’ve forgotten just how damn good an ice skater she was, I’m leaving you with her Nagano performance. Enjoy, and be reminded of those who find beauty in the world and dedicate their passion to that beauty.
And because I like her so much and can’t resist, here’s her performance from the 2005 National competition.
It’s amazing the looks one gets when they wear sweats in public.
It’s amazing how they accrue even more stares by bearing the gender of a woman.
Yeah, that’s right. I wore my sweats in public for the last 12 hours, and I had perfectly good reasons. I played an hour of doubles tennis and then danced for an 1.5 hours in a tiny, hot dance studio. Sweat was dripping off my temple. How’s that for a pretty picture?
When I planned on sitting in the library for the next 3 hours after that, I really didn’t care that I would still be in my dance pants. In fact, it was far more cooling on my body than sliding back into my jeans. But man, did I get some dirty looks from people. Actually, I should fix that statement. I got some dirty looks from women. Women, specifically, wearing these things called leggings as pants.
This could be a really interesting argument to have. Why are sweatpants better than leggings? Oh, let me count the ways. But, in the fear of seriously pissing off anyone reading this, I’m not going to go too far into detail. Yet. (Come on…I’ve seriously insulted my ex-boyfriends on here…Do you really think I fear the wrath of girls who think leggings are sexy?)
Let’s be real here…only about 1% of the entire world’s population can actually make leggings look good. Those are the girls who have on hips, no thighs, no boobs, and definitely no excess fat anywhere on their bodies.
To the ladies giving me the stink eye because I was walking around in cotton, tie waistband dance capris: None of you were a part of that 1%. Many of you had hips, butts, and thighs. Be proud of those things! Shake what your momma gave you. However, don’t be insulted when I give you an equally stinky eye because I can see your ass crack through your leggings. My cotton sweats do not show off my ass crack. In fact, they actually flatter and streamline my thigh’s shape.
There’s our difference. Thank you, and good night!
Ah, but not really. I had a breakthrough this morning, and it all came down to tennis. I forgot how incredibly happy playing tennis makes me! How knowing my strength is what makes the game happen, to see a direct result of my efforts, and to know that my aggression on the court is actually attractive to others (ahem, guys) on that court.
I actually had a long conversation with a very cute boy in my tennis class because we were nailing each other with our serves. He had a few tricks up his sleeve while I had brute force behind my serving. So totally cute. I knew my tennis skills would come in handy.
The main point here is how much happier I felt following my hour of tennis. My endorphin levels just flew through the roof. Being noticed by a cute boy in class probably didn’t hurt matters any.
“Never trust a woman who doesn’t have an instant hormonal response to diamonds.”
Hard core words of truth from Kate Reardon, a fierce fashionista who had a word or two about diamonds herself.
When my ex and I were together and in love (wow…taht seems so long ago), no matter how mad I got at him at times, if he had ever whipped out a diamond bracelet or necklace or earrings, I would have made love to him right then and there. I’m serious. It didn’t even have to be a giant rock of a diamond. I’m not looking for the Heart of the Ocean diamond here. Just a glimmer of a sparkle of a dusting would have gotten my won over in a heartbeat.
It may sound petty, but any man who gives his girl any fragment of a diamond, he means business…and he’d give a diamond when he loves you. For real.
At least that’s what I’m going to keep telling myself 🙂
As promised, it’s time to deliver my Fabulous Fridays. Again, I apologize for delivering my Friday inspirations on a Monday. But everyone hates Mondays, so why not make it a little brighter by reminding you about the Fabulous-ness that was Friday?
Here they are:
Fabulous Party Idea:
Fabulous Vintage Moment:
Fabulous Magazine Cover:
Fabulous Reaction to 1st Time Reading the Hunger Games:
Check out this blog and if you’ve already read the Hunger Games, you’ll enjoy her reaction as much as I did.
Fabulous Use of Paint:
Fabulous Party Decor:
Fabulous Hunger Games Inspired Cocktail (find recipe here):
I hope these have helped brighten the start of your week, and maybe inspired a little burst of flame inside you, too. Happy Monday, and may the odds be ever in your favor … for the remainder of this week, at least.
Can’t make life too easy on you. Where’s the fun in that?