Putting on your big-girl panties.

Dear friends,

This is a photo my CupKate posted on Twitter Friday night of her tennis team.

I wish I could tell you they were dressed up for a happy occasion, but that’s not the case. Instead, they were going out to dinner with their coach to tell him goodbye.

Not long after Kate arrived in August for the start of her freshman year, it became clear there were issues with the tennis program. I’m not going to air dirty laundry that’s not mine to air. (In fact, I know very little. One thing you learn quickly after your child goes to college is that parents have little-to-no rights to information.) I’ll simply say the fall season was cancelled and the coach is leaving following an NCAA investigation.

It was a shocking development to say the least. Kate and I spent all of last year touring eight different colleges. I had pinned my hopes on a private Jesuit university several hours away, but Kate chose her current location — a small public university in our home state — because she instantly bonded with the coach and with these girls. I adjusted, and to say we both set sail with high hopes is an understatement.

But you know what? The universe immediately handed Kate a difficult but valuable lesson, chiefly that life doesn’t always work out like you planned. Two weeks into what Kate imagined would be an idyllic college tennis career, life smacked her upside the head with a big dose of adult reality: humans makes mistakes, institutions are fallible, and life goes on. I’m proud to say Kate put on her big-girl panties immediately and has been dealing with it in the most admirable way.

Kate is the only American player on her team. The other seven girls hail from Morocco (the girl in purple to the right of Kate, who is Kate’s roommate), France, Russia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. I don’t know if cultural differences have played a role, or if it’s a matter of youth, but I can tell you Kate’s teammates were having difficulty navigating the complexities and uncertainties of this very difficult situation.

So I sprang into action. If there’s one thing I know how to do and do well, it’s how to navigate administrative and organizational hurdles. Some would say I’ve made a career out of  making bureaucracy work to my advantage. I became the team’s ombudsman, advising them, scripting them, helping them prepare and organize their inquiries and responses and, hopefully, calming their nerves. The girl nicknamed “Frenchy” started calling me “the Tiger” (la tigre).

When Kate told me this, I laughed out loud. If you’ve followed the controversy over author Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, you know I’m more of a laissez-faire kitten-mother than a tiger. Still, I knew the name was offered with affection and gratitude and I pledged to wear it as a badge of honor (despite the Asian stereotype). And I couldn’t help but think of the seven other mothers, thousands of miles and four languages removed from their daughters’ situations, and hope it would give them comfort knowing one of us is well positioned to help.

None of us have any idea what the future will bring. A new coach, certainly. How that will affect these girls, their tennis careers, their college experiences and, ultimately, their adult lives is anybody’s guess. I advised Kate to ride out the year and see what unfolds — and she’s doing that with her famously mature approach.

The truth is — she had a drawer full of big-girl panties before she went to college so I had nothing to worry about.

With gratitude {for a girl who can roll with the punches with the best of them},

Joan, aka la tigre du tennis meres

Sunrise.

Dear friends,

Source: Say it Sweet

I had a dispiriting day yesterday.

The reason isn’t important because we all experience them, don’t we? Sometimes it’s a work issue. Other times it’s a family problem. Or the dishwasher stops working. Or the dog gets sick. Whatever the reason, we sometimes have days that disappoint us, make us lose confidence, cause us to question what we believe about ourselves and our abilities.

Lately, when I have that kind of day, I go looking for words of inspiration and encouragement. Sometimes I find them as posters on Pinterest. Etsy is another good place. And my favorite Buddhist books and websites usually give me a lift, too. I’ve even been known to Google my particular disappointment and see what pops up — and like an encouragement lottery, I sometimes find a winning ticket or at least an interesting path to follow.

Yesterday, I tripped across the canvas above on an Etsy shop.  God bless Victor Hugo, because I really needed the reminder that sometimes, you just need to let the sun go down on your disappointment.

You’ve likely figured out by now I have a tendency to over-analyze. I mean, who else but a hopelessly introspective individual would publish a gratitude journal for all to see? And like most traits, my tendency toward self-analysis can be both a strength and a frailty, depending on the day.

Self-reflection has at times given me more empathy, more humility, more patience. And it has also driven those closest to me to distraction with my tendency to “talk it all out.” Really, you can’t just argue with me. Because then you have to dissect the argument. Discuss the motivations of the participants. Reflect on the outcome and opportunities for improvement. Have a meta-argument. (Did I mention my graduate degree is in Psychology? Top that with an interest in self-help techniques and an endless curiosity about spiritual beliefs of all faith traditions and . . . yeah, I’m one of those people. I suspect some folks wish I would just curse at them and storm out of the room. It’s certainly more efficient.)

Anyway, I spent the better part of yesterday obsessing about this particular setback until I decided some time around 8:00 pm that I was done with it. I turned my attention elsewhere and let the sun go down on it.

I’m not fooling myself. The matter is messy and unresolved and I have to pick it back up again at another time or it will continue to fester. But on Wednesday night, I bid it bon nuit and released myself from the responsibility of absorbing it any longer.

And Thursday morning . . . well, the sunrise looks a little brighter today.

With gratitude {for words of wisdom sprinkled throughout the universe},

Joan, who once took an aptitude test and was told she should be a writer or a psychologist and can’t figure out how in the world she ended up as neither