Beach Ready

Sometime around April the magazines and news shows start talking about getting a beach-ready body.  Today I gained a real perspective on that term.  I sat in my comfy beach chair with my toes in the sand wearing my 3 year old bathing suit and a goofy baseball hat to keep my pale scalp from burning,  just watching.

I watched as a petite, fit young mother sat in a sports bikini with her legs straddling a hole in the sand she dug with her toddlers.  She was beach-ready.  I watched as an overweight couple tumbled into each other laughing as they were knocked over by a wave.  I watched as a tattooed thirty-something dad who looked like he used to work out dragged his daughter on a bogey board over the waves.  He was beach-ready.  I saw a pregnant mother holding her two-year old’s hand as he jumped gleefully over the foam.  She was beach-ready.  I saw a teenage couple – slim and youthful holding hands as they walked along the beach looking for shells.  They were beach-ready.  I saw a lifeguard -with the muscular physique of an athlete pull her hair back into a ponytail as she blew her whistle at someone who’d wandered out of the safety zone.  Yup, she was beach ready.  I watched a man – he had to be 70 or more – walk up and down the beach with his metal detector beach-ready. Even the young women -he ones most targeted by those magazine covers – from tiny to plus-sized – all beach-ready and blissfully enjoying themselves.

I remembered a few months back standing in the fitting room with an armful of bathing suits.  I remembered the nasty, critical things I told myself that day. “Disgusting. Fat.” I was so upset with myself that I convinced myself that I didn’t deserve to go to the beach or pool.  I felt such shame that people would actually see me like that.

Now as I sit in my beach chair, I couldn’t feel more beach-ready.  No one on this beach cares that I am not in peak shape.  No one cares about cellulite on my legs or my muffin top.  And finally, I don’t care either.

My son runs up to my chair, “Mom, are you ready to come in the water?”  I take off my hat and sunglasses and race him to the surf.

Of course I’m ready.

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Sports and politics

If you have a favorite sports team, you know how it is.  You’re rabidly, illogically devoted to them.  If a bad call is made, it’s always against your team.  You never acknowledge that your team got an advantage.  Though you might complain to other fans about your common team, you will NEVER let the opposition’s fans know your team is imperfect.

Yankees fan: What’s with the Mets making that trade?

Mets fan: (knowing the trade was awful) I think he’s got potential.  Just wait – this is going to be our year.

Yankees fan: Of course we win every year.  We’re just that good.

Mets fan: Of course they win all the time, they have ridiculous amounts of cash to spend on whoever they want.

When my son was about 9 years old, he dedicated his life to the New York Giants.  He’s the kind of kid that never wants to hurt anyone’s feelings.  He’s the kid that doesn’t want any one mad at him.  So we had to have a talk.

Me: You know, sports is the one place where people can kinda mean and insult each other and it’s okay.

Him: What do you mean?

Me: Well, some people are going to tell you the Giants stink.  And it’s okay.  You can even tell them their team stinks.

Him: confused look

Me: It’s okay, just be prepared.  Hating on the other team is part of the fun.

His first day at school wearing his Giants jersey was a big life lesson.  Within a few weeks, though, he learned to razz his teachers and classmates when the Giants won or their team didn’t.  He figured out that them picking on his team just made him more fiercely loyal.

That’s how it is with sports, and that works.  Because in the end, sports is a kind of entertainment.

It seems that some people take the same philosophy and apply it to politics.  They pick a team, put on the jersey, practice the cheer, and refuse to see any imperfections.  They hate their opponent with all the joy of booing a rival football team.

The difference is that politics shouldn’t be entertainment.  It should be about what you truly want for your country or state or city.  It shouldn’t be about all the “cool players” being on your team.  It should be about what they’re planning to do.

Too many of us pick a team because one person is charming or another is snooty, or someone else has an annoying voice, or someone associates with someone we don’t like.

He’s dishonest.  She’s stupid.  He’s a crook.  She cheats.  He doesn’t speak well.  Worse, he belongs to this, that, or the other ethnic group or demographic.  Let’s not forget blind party affiliations.

Before going any further with character analysis, how about asking some important questions.

What are their goals?

How do they plan to achieve them?

Do I think, based on what I know and read and hear from experts, that this plan will work?

Do I agree with the goal in the first place?

If you plan to support a particular leader based on soundbites, character assassination, or personality, I suggest you look deeper.  Think about the issues.  Form some opinions FIRST.  Then find out whose goals most closely matches your beliefs.

Save your undying loyalty for the soccer finals.

The sacred duty of electing a leader of our country deserves a bit more consideration.



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