Professional Athlete vs. Housewife – My balance. My struggle.

 

Growing up I wanted to be a point guard in the WNBA. It was more than a passing phase of childhood. It was hours and hours spent training in the driveway. It was watching the greats on TV. It was collecting cards. It was dressing the part. We had our own basketball goal but our driveway was slanted so I had to use a little more umphf shooting from one side and not the other. Even so, it served its purpose of keeping a young girls dreams alive.

I was a tiny little thing growing up; stuck at about 5’1” and cried myself to sleep about it. I can remember the prayers I used to pray over and over hoping God would have mercy on me and make me grow. It sounded something like this:

Dear Heavenly Father, please make me grow. I need to be 6’2” but I would still be happy at 6’0”. I’m so sick of being so short. It’s embarrassing. I can’t imagine how all these short adults feel having to walk around being so short all the time. Lord, can you please make it happen overnight? Please please please just let me wake up at 6’2”. Don’t worry about all my clothes. I can save my money and buy new ones. Thank you in advance! In Jesus name, Amen!

I’m laughing now thinking about it. The heart of a 12-year-old crying out in pain. In case you’re wondering, God has yet to answer my prayer exactly how I wanted him too. I did grow; but I’m not 6’2”.

Long story short, my dreams of the WNBA fizzled. I didn’t even play basketball in college; although I had every intension of doing so for a long time. By a wild turn of dvv_pokal_achtelfinale_gegen_koepenicker_sc_berlin_80_20170210_1316961569events, I received a volleyball scholarship to a small private university. It wasn’t much but I didn’t deserve any more. I was an athlete, sure; but I was not a volleyball player. Throughout my 4 seasons of college volleyball, I worked hard to develop my athletic ability. Although the WNBA didn’t quite pan-out I still had/have this desire to be more, to become more. And yes, I finally got my shot. I got the opportunity to play professional volleyball in Europe after college. And yes, I still am a professional volleyball player in Europe.

On the one hand, professional athlete is freaking cool. I train. I lift. I sleep. I eat. I repeat. I mean, it’s fun; it’s exciting; it’s prestigious. However, it is also a lot of hard work, frustration and stress. But it’s worth it! Sports build character. I learn life lessons and better myself as a person through fitness.

As a young girl, I had another dream. Different than playing in the WNBA but a dream all the same. I wanted to be married by 25 and start having kids by 28. I wanted to be oneDSC_1175 of those cool moms/wives who are organized but not rigid. I wanted my husband to be so handsome that all my friends were jealous. I’ve always been very particular about things I like and dislike. It wasn’t that I wanted him to be tall, dark and handsome. It was that and much more! He had to be taller than me. He had to be athletic. He had to have a big chest, calves, and booty. I was also hoping for a 5 o’clock shadow. Oh maybe he will have a sexy accent; because who doesn’t love that! Through a wild turn of events, I found my man. It wasn’t who I thought it would be, no. But that’s a story for another day.

On the one hand, I married my lover more than a year ago now. I’m a housewife which is equally cool. I cook. I clean. I do laundry. I grocery shop. I sex. I repeat. However, I mean, it might not be as prestigious. And yes, it’s hard work, frustrating and stressful. But it’s worth it because the rewards, the character building opportunities and the special bond of a lifetime are unmatched.

Now, balancing these two things is a circus act sometimes. I thought I was good at multitasking in college; it doesn’t even compare to what I am capable of now. I’m not perfect. I’m learning. That’s the beauty of it. Just the other day I missed a work meeting completely. I just didn’t even go. I totally forgot. I forgot so bad that I didn’t even remember I missed it until like 3 days later when someone asked where I was.

My childhood dreams came true on two fronts and they collided; professional athlete vs. housewife. I realize there are very few women in my exact shoes. But there are millions of women feeling the same pressure; stuck between two things. Feeling pulled by both. Mine may be different from yours but I’m sure you can relate. It’s challenging. It’s a battle. It’s a constant fight. But that fight isn’t with my husband or my career. It’s with myself. I struggle about what it means to be a wife just as much as it mean to be an athlete at this level. I struggle with what society tells me I should do or look like or wear or say or treat my husband or do.

I always thought, once you got married things would just gel. What could go wrong? You’re soul mates; it’s happily ever after, right? I also thought once you were a pro; what else is there to learn? What could a coach possibly teach me? Yes, call me naïve. I found it so easy to overlook the little things. Now, I know, it is all about the little things!

Learning to be both is hard. Learning to be good at both is harder. This line of thought only leads me to more questions; what do a good wife look like? What does a good wife do? What does a professional athlete look like? What does a professional athlete do?

While I wish I had the answer, I don’t. I can only share my strategies and mindset while I navigate through this time. One tip I will give you is, it is all about effort. You know when you are holding back; you know when you are not trying your hardest; you know when you are mixing up your priorities; you know when you are not giving your best. You might be able to go day in and day out fooling everyone around you; but at the end of the day, you know. Doing something halfway is never a good feeling. Give effort to both things that you can be proud of!

I challenge you first to prioritize your time. Decide what’s THE MOST important and give your time to that first; then decide what is second most important and give your time to that second, and so on. Then as best you can, you can try to compartmentalize. For example, if your first priority is your marriage and you are home with your spouse… BE at home with them. Put down your phone. Turn off Netflix. Stop emailing. You are taking time from your “first” priority and giving to all the others, some of which are 5th, 6th, or 7th on the priority list. I challenge you prioritize, compartmentalize, then to really try your best, your hardest. You won’t regret something if you know you honestly gave your best effort.

Being pulled between two major commitments is difficult. Phases of life come and go. Don’t get defeated or spooked when it isn’t like you planned it. Roll with the punches. Develop a learning mentality towards each circumstance.

 

 

How you can have a beautiful wedding and come out financially on top – the logical side of marriage

We are very normal people. We work very normal jobs. We make very normal money. We have very normal families who share our average financial status. I love them to death but the whole process would have been so much easier if they were multi-millionaires with a healthy “Molly’s wedding fund” just waiting for the day I decided to get married. But alas, they’re normal.

At the time we were thinking about getting married, we didn’t have a lot. We both had some savings but we also had student loans and very little capital to our names. Our net worth didn’t amount to anything. It barely broke even.

We wanted to do as much as we could on our own but we struggled with how exactly to balance our cash. We had wants about this special day, of course. I mean, who doesn’t at least have certain details of their “dream wedding” pre-planned?

However, as I’ve previously mentioned, I’m logical before emotional.

I’m no expert; but I wish to offer advice to those who are in a similar position that we were – an average couple planning to spend their lives together!

My first reaction to your situation – GO FOR IT! Marriage totally rocks – but yes, I’m bias.

If you are also interested in how we mentally, emotionally, and spiritually prepared for getting married – you can read my blog Prepare emotionally for marriage with these 3 tips that unfortunately – all to often – get overlooked.

Now, on to my advice, having been in your spot a short year ago. These are my three tips on how to prepare logically for getting married!

Be realistic

Most people have preconceived ideas about their wedding day. All to often, those ideas are misguided and unrealistic. It is imperative that you don’t get sucked into the madness; that you think logically and realistically.

If you can’t afford it; don’t spend it. The pressure of impressing people is so real. I encourage you to think about what the day is really about instead of what others might think of you because of X, Y, or Z. Therefore, if you find a beautiful dress that you are happy with don’t bother to worry about how expensive it is or what brand it is. Be happy with your choices! It’s your day!

Pick your battles; and stick to them. My fiancé and I made a list of wedding details from most important to least important. We included everything we could think to: flowers, DJ, food, drink, dress, shoes, rings, etc. We took our time and made a ranking that we agreed to stick to as closely as possible. Therefore, if flowers was towards the bottom of the ranking then when an offer for a beautiful arrangement presents itself; we passed.

Be hyper-organized

You will here this organization stuff a lot from me. I’m a big believer in organization and it’s powers. Our wedding was an opportunity when I was able to put my skills to the test in a pressure situation.

Keep the books; keep them well. List, charts, and schedules aren’t easy. If they were, everyone would use them. However, it is a sure way of staying organized. There are a lot of details which go into planning a large event. If you aren’t careful; things can easily fall through the cracks. Organization is a necessity. Make lists; update them daily! Chart your budget; be a perfectionist! Stick to your schedule; don’t procrastinate!

Another huge part of keeping “books” is it is a physical system of organization. Meaning, don’t keep it all in your head. Make sure it is something that everyone involved can see. You know, many women complain about their husbands not helping out enough. How is he supposed to help if he doesn’t know the plan? Wedding planning is a prime example. Men often times take a step back and leave 90% of the work to the female. Now-a-days, you have no excuse to not be on the same page when planning a major event. Technology allows for shared notes, lists, calendars, and accounts right at your finger tips. Use it!

Be flexible

I talked about this a lot in my blog about emotionally preparing for marriage. Flexibility is equally important on the logical side. You are literally joining to lives together! I don’t just mean the spiritual bonding of two human souls. I mean literally joining two houses, two households, two phone plans, two insurance policies, two bank accounts, two furniture and decorations styles, two computer hard drives, and two closets.

Whether you live together already or not, chances are you haven’t combined everything yet. Doing so can be stressful. It is important to think logically and make decisions together. You might love your place; but if your future spouses fits better into the budget – move in to theirs instead of making them come to yours. Maybe you’ve had your same phone number since high school and don’t want to give it up; but if your future spouses carrier offers a better family plan – give in, sacrifice and make the best decision for your family.

I want to encourage those who are making this leap! It is scary; I know. But don’t be frightened. Marriage is beautiful and worth it.

I challenge you. During your process of getting married, save yourself unnecessary stress and be realistic, be organized, and be flexible.

Prepare emotionally for marriage with these 3 tips that unfortunately – all to often – get overlooked

I have heard horror stories about the first year of marriage. I have heard many people say, “the first year is the hardest.” I have heard about the cheaters, the annulment, the liars, the frauds, and the thieves.

Our story isn’t anything like that, thank God. However, we prepared well to take this step in every possible way. Today, I want to talk about the preparation we took before we jumped off the commitment cliff. I will elaborate on three major things that were enormously helpful to us: flexibility, counseling, and prayer.

BE FLEXIBLE!

Flexibility is key to any relationship – whether you are planning on standing at the altar or not. I would consider both my husband and I pretty laid back people. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a self-admitted control freak. However, I’m not rattled easily and react to change well. My husband is also pretty go with the flow – that is, as long as you don’t hit any of his buttons. Everyone has a limit.

Why was flexibility so important to us? Well, my husband and I got engaged on April 3rd, legally married on April 17th, married in the church on July 9th, quit our jobs, sold our cars, vacated our houses, put everything in storage and moved to Europe on July 14th. So yes, flexibility was not only important, it was vital to our sanity.

Communication was a big part of our flexibility. Both of us were willing to be flexible in numerous areas but without actually telling each other what we need or want; it doesn’t actually help. Also, it’s a give and take. You have to be willing to think past the want or need of your spouse and realized why it is a want or need for them. I’m all about logic over emotion when it comes to decision-making. But weddings can’t be all logic. It is an emotional time. For some, there are parts that were planned long before you – the spouse – were even in the picture. You will run into decisions of wants or needs which for some reason – that might be insane to you – are very important to your spouse. On the other hand, balancing emotions with logic can be a good way to keep checks and balances within your wedding planning.

Weddings are stressful. The wedding industry in America is a multi-billion dollar industry that thrives on freak outs. Think about it, there is a TV show called “bridezilla” for a reason. So often, decisions are made simply to keep their spouse from losing their mind. While that probably isn’t healthy, it is reality.

We planned everything – and I mean, down to the details. We then accepted this fact: there is no way it goes down exactly like we just spent hours planning for it to go down. We then took steps and choose not to get rattled because we had already discussed there would be changes and compromises all the way through the process.

SERIOUSLY CONSIDER COUNSELLING! 

In my world, pre-wedding counseling is assumed. Some folks do it because they need real counseling for real problems. Some do it because it’s required by the venue they chose. Some do it because one or both sets of parents put on pressure based on tradition or religion. And some – like us – do it because we honestly wanted an outside opinion about us. We wanted someone who didn’t know us well to listen and give insight into the decision we were making.

Vowing to be with one person for the rest of your life is one of the biggest decisions of any humans life. It shouldn’t be taken lightly. How does that look in reality? For us, counseling was one way to take it seriously.

There were many steps in the process. One in particular we found very cool. We took a test that showed us strengths and weaknesses. It showed the good and bad of our personality traits, positive and negative behaviors, emotional and logical reactions, realistic and dreamy expectations and much more. It was awesome! For us, it show us literally that we complete each other – literally. His positives were my negatives and his strengths were my weaknesses. It felt poetic looking at that piece of paper, like a movie.

What I didn’t realize was exactly what that meant. People always say, opposites attract and that was true for us in a lot of ways. What people don’t say, adjusting to someone who thinks exactly the opposite from you is tough. While over time it becomes something beautiful, the growth pains are real and strong!

This time of counseling took us through scenario after scenario of things that could/would happen in our marriage. Some of the scenarios were things we had already talked about but got to dive deeper together, others were scenarios which hadn’t occurred to us to discuss.

I’m not saying we solved all our problems in pre-martial counseling. But I am saying that it was a tool we equipped ourselves with as we took on this massive commitment.

Pray!

My husband and I are active followers of Christ who do our best to take our problems and lay them at God’s feet. Often, we find ourselves being more reactive than proactive when it comes to our prayer life. It is easy for us to remember to pray when something bad happens, we have a problem, or we need something. It doesn’t quite come as naturally when there is a decision coming up to ask for guidance. Frankly, who likes to be told what to do? Or more so – who likes to be told no? The reality with praying about decisions is that God could say no. That’s scary. Why? Because what the heck do I do with my boyfriend that I’m in love with?

As a couple, we decided to take that leap of faith and really ask God what to do about our relationship – fully knowing what this meant and fully intending to obey God’s voice.  It was March 2016.  We decided to take an entire month to pray about what to do about “us”. Get engaged or not? Get married or not? Quit our jobs or not? Move to Europe or not?

Everyday of the month of March we asked different people to pray for us – specifically the future of our relationship and these life changing decisions. It was magical. It was the best month of my life. In a months time, my future became very clear to me and the hardest decisions of my life felt like a breeze. Not to mention, the people who came out of the woodwork to bless us was inspiring.

I’m not standing here saying it was all just that easy. I can imagine if that month went differently and God had steered us apart I would have a different opinion about what we did. But I believe God is a God of clarity who does not confuse and He was exactly that for us in that month!

I challenge any of you couples who are facing “the big commitment” to really take your preparation seriously, to invest time and effort into your relationship, and to face your problems head on in boldness!

How I went from Brewster to Karagyaurov

April 17th, 2016 I sat in the lobby of my home church in a suburb of Kansas City Missouri. I, along side my new fiancé of two weeks together with my parents, waited for a meeting we had set with our head pastor. We attended a large church. Weekly attendance is upwards of 4,000 people. Facilities are state of the art. The pastor is a middle aged, tall and very physically impressive man named Phil. Even shepherding a flock of over 4,000, he still manages to hug everyone (who isn’t freaked out by it) and calls them by name. My family and I had moved homes and churches the summer before my junior year of high school which had landed us in that church. We loved the church. It was “hip” and the people were nice. As a punk high school kid, the music was loud and that’s all that mattered. I hadn’t truly appreciated the knowledge and leadership of this said pastor until my junior year of college. But once my eyes were opened to just exactly how much I could learn from this guy, Phil, I was obsessed. His knowledge of theology, history and religions of the world is astounding.

Phil wasn’t late for the meeting but we were early and surprisingly calm for the adventure we were about to take off on. My fiancé, Nasko, and I had come straight from the soccer field where Nasko had been working all morning. We were wearing athletic clothes because of the busy and rushed nature of our day. That was the usual. Nasko was a program director in a local youth soccer club at that time. We spent most of our weekends going to, coming from, or at one soccer field or another.  We had only been engaged for two weeks exactly on that April day (The engagement story is a beautiful one, one I will tell you some day.) but today was an even more special day. Today was the day we got married.

My parents were supportive and proud of the steps we had made as individuals and as a couple.  His parents lived seven hours away and actually didn’t even know this was happening at the time. I remember thinking how can you not tell your family! But he knew his family and it seemed normal to him. Phil pulled into the parking lot and walked into the lobby. A round of hugs was quickly followed by a, “okay, lets do this!” The paperwork was pulled out and looked over by Phil as the rest of us waited somewhat awkwardly. Before long, like any good marriage day, a hiccup occurred. Pastor Phil pointed out that our marriage license couldn’t legally be signed in our current location. You see, Kansas City straddles the border of two states, Kansas and Missouri. Nasko and I lived on the Kansas side and that’s where we had picked up our marriage license. However, since we now stood on the Missouri side, the license would be considered void by location.

You might be wondering, did I consider asking a pastor to lie and just write a different location than we actually were… yes. I considered it. But instead of actually asking that of him, we asked him what he would suggested. Quickly he jumped in and said, “There is an easy fix. It’s a 20 minute drive to the state line. I have another scheduled appointment coming up but what about all of us meeting just across the border at, say, 7pm tonight?” With a laugh, we thought briefly about our schedules of the day and agreed. It was set, we would be legally married that night.

Now, I will say. We aren’t cold hearted. We want a big party style wedding. We want all of our family and friends to be there. But because of some extenuating circumstances, we were pressed for time and I needed my name to change ASAP.

Before we knew it, around rolled 7pm.  Because of the delay caused by our location hiccup we were able to clean up a little bit and look more presentable than we had earlier in the day. We still wore nothing special. We dressed in our Sunday clothes, which for American undenominational mid-westerners consisted of jeans and a “cute” top. That day, “cute” top meant a Kansas City Royals baseball 3/4 length tee-shirt for me. As athletes and coaches, we didn’t spend much time in outfits nicer than what we had on. We were calm for the most part. A little anxious but for Nasko and I, this was a legal step, nothing more. The severity of this commitment didn’t really hit us until later.

Why a pastor? Our faith is very important to both Nasko and I. We are both very active in our Christian faith. In additional, we are traditional or a little bit old-fashioned, if you will. Don’t get me wrong, with it being only the legal step we had thought about going to the court house but that was a short lived thought while something about it felt strange. We had then asked Phil to do it and he had willingly agreed.

The first thing across the border from Missouri to Kansas was a barbeque joint called Gates BBQ. Wow, how romantic – huh? There we pulled off the highway in the parking lot of a BBQ joint on a Sunday evening. While we were in Jeans, my mom who took a 30 minute break from work was in her nurses scrubs, my sister who volunteered to take a photo was in gym clothes, and that left my dad who had put on a polo with a collar for the special day. Phil pulled in shortly thereafter and repeated his statement from earlier – this time with a humorous  look on his face, “Okay, let’s ACTUALLY do this now!”

We practically had pen in hand ready to sign the paperwork and let everyone go home. The day had already been more of a hassle than we had wanted. But Pastor Phil quickly took charge – telling us to take each others hands, took a very serious look at us and paused. In that moment, it hit me – oh my gosh he’s going to freaking marry us for real right now! And that’s exactly what he did. Phil performed a beautiful ceremony all the way down to the rings, vows and kiss. We felt stupid. We didn’t even have the rings. We were in converse for goodness sake. But as the sun set, the smell of BBQ in the air, the prayer of blessing from a spiritual leader, and looking into the eyes of my future it felt… accidentally perfect. After a short interruption of someone needing to back out of the parking spot we were blocking, the service was over. Simple, stressless, and natural – it was us.

Phil hugged us good bye with a short comment about this being the coolest wedding he’s ever done. We shared a good laugh and I pondered whether or not to tell him – uh we weren’t planning on a wedding today, just the legal paperwork! I didn’t. At that point, we did what was only natural, BBQ for dinner.

About an hour later, Nasko and I were in the car and headed home. It didn’t take long for both of us to turn to each other and practically scream, “Okay, I was NOT planning on that being such a big deal! Did you?” We agreed and I felt a little better knowing we were both underprepared for our wedding day.

Nasko then dropped me at my apartment, kissed his wife goodnight and drove home to his place.

Wow what a day.

And that’s the story of how I went from Brewster to Karagyaurov.