Ducks, Adrenaline and Volleyball

IMG_1902I read something today that made me laugh.

Ducks walk out of a lake, flap their wings and fly off.

Good for you, duck. I wonder if you have adrenal glands. If so maybe instead of “shaking things off” you might flap your wings in another ducks face, bite him on the tail, or just run around squawking with your wings fluttering about in chaotic melancholy.

Okay, maybe ducks do have adrenal glands.

I know I do.

Sometimes my adrenal glands just open up the cork and pour and pour and pour and out comes shot glasses full of norepinephrine, adrenaline and cortisol. And I just ask for a lemon and some salt until I’m wasted. The stuff is 150 proof.

And while I am completely drowning in the lake, and see no shore on which to waddle out, flap my wings and fly off, I decide to do what any good mindfulness educator might do. I just stand there, in the middle of the cacophony and curiously ponder, What on earth is happening to me?

Externally I am aware of the awful smell of knee pit sweat on three day old knee pads, my eyes are tormented and my head is pounding from the miles and miles of endless convention center fluorescents, my ears are numb from shouts of “side out,” the ear-spitting howls after a massive block, and the endless, utterly endless piercing whistles blowing. And blowing. And blowing.

And then I move inside. And that’s when they come. The tears, the shaking, the laughing, the shear ridiculousness of it all. It explodes into 1000 shards of light, and I stop to examine each piece as I build my stained glass window of joy-filled pain.

There is my girl. My baby girl. And there is this little white ball. And somehow when mixed together they can create both this magic and this mystery. This desire that is so strong it attaches itself to your heart and pulls like one of those wrecking tractors in Extreme Home Makeover. And when Ty says “Go” the whole thing tumbles. And you’re left watching the rubble over Skype from Disneyworld. And you know that you’re having the time of your life, and you are also thinking, My house just got destroyed.

How can you shake off your wings and fly when you can’t even get your feet on the ground?

So, I stop and I feel my feet on the ground. I feel my toes. I wiggle them a little. I watch my breath, and it still goes into and out of my chest. I pull it a little deeper and it goes all the way down into my belly. I do it a few more times and it feels better than good.  I feel the wetness, the hot, wonderful wetness go down my cheeks, and I don’t wipe it away. I just keep breathing. I keep crying. I keep feeling my feet on the ground.

And then I see her little face. It is so beautiful. Her legs are so powerful. Her sweat makes her hair wisp around her face. Her ponytail is lopsided. And I smile. I smile because I need to. I smile because she takes my breath away. I smile because I have adrenal glands. Because the things that matter to her matter to me. And sometimes when things matter, and the wrecking ball swings through, it just plain hurts like hell.




Of course, I could recruit logic and try to defend against my adrenaline with the swords of self-recrimination.

“It’s just a game.”

“There are people on the streets outside right now that don’t have anywhere to sleep tonight.”

“Are you seriously thinking that this moment in this gym has anything to do with any sort of anything important in the universe?”

I could choose to beat the tar out of my feathers for simply having a functioning autonomic nervous system. Instead, I notice my thoughts. I acknowledge them. I tip my hat to them and nod in gentle agreement.

Thank you, dear cerebral cortex, for reminding me of those realities. You are a breath of truth in a windstorm of emotion. And yet, my precious frontal lobe, would you just sit with me right now. Just sit and have a cup of tea, and let’s just be together in this moment. For it is just a moment. It is a moment of pain. A moment of heart ache. A moment of breaking and tearing and rending.

And then there will be another moment. They always come. New moments always arise. New emotions never fail to dawn. Moments in which one little girl throws her arms around another crying little girl and says, “You were amazing.” And the other says, “You were amazing.” And they hug and cry and cry and hug, because that’s so much better than sword-fighting with the light saber of logic.



I find that I’m still standing there. That all this awareness has occurred while I’m still in the midst of the cacophony. Still shaking a bit. Still finding it too hard to text with my butterfingers. Still tending to the last few tears rolling underneath my chin.

And it is okay. Because now I see the shore.

I know why I ride this wave. Because she matters to me. Because I will forever be her momma duck, and yes, sometimes I will flutter around flapping my wings chaotically, but I will always, always, find the shore, flap my wings and take off. And so will she.


Great job baby girl. I am proud simply because you exist.

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  • Pat Reedy

    You had me right there with you, tearing up like you. You’ve made it so real. I feel like I made the trip, but didn’t have to pay a cent! 🙂

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