As I type these words, I am in my comfy jammies, feet up, and have the Winter Olympics on TV. I am amazed by any elite athletes in any competition, game or exhibition who reach new speeds, new heights, new levels of strength and grace and do the seemingly impossible. When the Olympics come along, we get a front row seat to be awed by the best of the best.
Part of the excitement comes from the fact that there’s always an element of danger or injury. The older I get, and I suppose in part because I’m a mom, that element of danger causes me more anxiety, worry and cringing as these folks willingly throw themselves into wild situations. There’s something especially jaw-dropping and scary about the Winter version of these games. Many years ago, I had the opportunity to stand at the top of the lower ski jump in Lake Placid, NY. It was terrifying just standing there, looking down that ridiculously high and steep path (again, I was on the LOWER structure), and I decided right then and there that “Yup. These people are crazy.” And the heights and challenges have just gotten even more intense since those days.
Over the weekend we watched luge with guys flying down the ice path at 80+ mph, which is not even as fast as the bobsledders who get up to 100mph flying down tubes of ice in tiny little skating go- carts. Last night we witnessed Big Air Shougang freestyle skiing. These women were happily hurdling BACKWARDS on skis down a 165’ slope that is nose-bleed steep, flying off a jump to do twists and turns in the air and land smoothly. After they landed, they came to a stop, lifted their masks on their helmets and smiled for the camera like they just had the most fun ever. And guess what? They are all beautiful. I mean, come on. Really? I just don’t understand. At what point do these smart, strong women who are headed down their life’s journey to do things like go to Yale to study medicine, decide “Hey, ya know what? Downhill skiing is too boring. I’m gonna hurl myself down the side of a mountain and become airborne to do tricks and laugh in the face of death. Just because it looks like fun.” Insert face palm here.
I enjoy watching, but at the same time it gives me angst. Can anyone over the age of 20 watch moguls without their own knees aching? Any time any of these athletes stumble or fall, I physically flinch. I think anyone who just SURVIVES this craziness deserves a metal, let alone focus on out-spinning, flipping or flying past their competitors. They are just not like us regular people. No, the rest of us live with much more attainable goals – you know, like getting out of bed and walking downstairs without tripping.
As I sit here in my cozy space, feeling a bit sore from a short post-work 30-minute workout, I’m thinking about my own low-risk daily activity targets. You see, I received an Apple Watch for Christmas. And now I’m fairly obsessed with closing my rings every day. For those who are not familiar, Apple serves up three rings for each day, helping the wearer meet goals for daily exercise, movement and standing. My ring goals are set low – an hour a day of exercise, standing at least once every hour, and whatever the preset level for calorie-burning movement comes standard. That’s it. Yet those silly digital reminders are doing exactly what they are designed to do – suck me in, so I feel compelled to close those dang rings every day. No one sees them but me. No one will know or care if I don’t do it. No one is watching me race down a ski hill and do flips on my way to a gold medal. Yet there they are, taunting me.
I’m thinking that instead of having to earn rings (or medals), perhaps we should be awarded recognition for getting through what we RW’s already are accomplishing on a daily basis. Coordinate childcare, school, and work a full 8-hour day? Here’s a ring. Get all your laundry done, put it away AND change the sheets on the bed? Another ring. Did you manage to have a conversation with your teen that lasted more than 5 minutes and included full sentences? Nice glowing ring for you. Pick a healthier option on the menu, good for you, here’s a ring. How about a double ring every time you successfully deal with an insurance company, financial institution or advocate for medical care for an elderly loved one without totally losing your sh-t?
Granted, I’m all about rewards for going above and beyond, and using your special skills and abilities. So perhaps we could receive lovely medals on ribbons for the bigger things – like getting a promotion at work, coordinating and hosting a big family event, maintaining a new workout plan for at least 6 months, or getting out of debt… All really great accomplishments that otherwise go unrecognized.
Instead of stepping up to a podium and having to look amazing while listening to the National Anthem, our reward celebrations should be held at a margarita bar with other RW’s, wearing our yoga pants, where we can all compare notes on how we got through each day, rings intact. We’ll leave the extreme athleticism and death-defying acts to those Olympians. We’ve got our hands full being amazing in regular ways.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go write up my grocery list. I’m sure that’s worth at least one lovely pink ring.