Friday, April 27, 2012

Euro Living, Part IV

On the Charles Bridge in Prague.

  It's been a few weeks, but I haven't forgotten my last entries about Euro Living, and how day-to-day life differs from that in the US. I figured since my time in Dunkerque and France is winding down for the season, there's no time like the present to get that series finished. Here are my previous three entries on the subject: Euro Living Part 1Euro Living Part 2, and Euro Living Part 3

Out and About:

  Banking, for me, is a different experience in Europe. The only time I EVER go inside a bank is when I'm in Europe. In the US, I do all my banking online, or at the ATM. While there is online banking with European banks, I'm not THAT confident in my abilities to correctly translate a website...and once again, the bank is definitely NOT the place to have any mis-communications!  

  One thing I also notice is that checks are still used on a regular basis throughout France. While seeing a person in line at the store write a check is almost unheard of these days in the US, it's still a regular occurrence with the French.

Berliner Dom in Berlin.
  Either in Europe, or at home in the US, my day-to-day routine more often than not consists of a trip to a fitness gym for a workout. There are no giant 24 hour fitness-type gyms in Europe. The gyms you find in Europe are most-likely, privately owned, and are in a building that has been converted into a gym. The areas usually are smaller. For example the gym I go to in Dunkerque has four treadmills. Compare that to the gym I frequent in the US that has probably 20 of them.

  If you're an American eating out anywhere in Europe, and you enjoy your bottomless lemonades or Cokes, you'll find yourself disappointed (and stuck with a fairly large bill for those drinks). No free refills here in Europe. And no, not even at McDonald's!

  But one standard rule that works in our favor (as Americans), is that you don't usually tip waiters in Europe (the UK is an exception! Learned that the hard way!). So maybe you can make a little bit of your drink money back in that manner.

Wall of beer in Bruges (Belgium).
  Though I am not a beer drinker (I know, I know...I've been told many times that German and Belgian beer are incomparable), I've noticed that it's completely normal for a pint (or whatever you call it) of beer to be cheaper than a bottle of water. If you know me at all, you'll know that it's no small miracle that I haven't developed a taste for beer just to save a few pennies!

  The beautiful architecture throughout Europe goes without being said. Walk around any European city, no matter how big or small, and you'll find the buildings by themselves are a joy to look at. Whether it'd be cathedrals, libraries, castles, monuments, universities, city halls, or even some apartment buildings, they're all nothing short of spectacular in my opinion. The sheer age of the buildings is pretty awesome. By comparison, the US has nothing that rivals the 'old' in Europe.

The Facilities (Or Lack Thereof)

Dinner in Prague with Mom, Nana, Steph, and Cicci.
  Walk through the streets of Dunkerque, or any other French town, and one thing will  become clear very quickly: the French don't pick up after their dogs (this is the case in several other, but not all, European countries I have lived in). Carrying a plastic bag to take care of any presents your dog might leave behind hasn't quite caught on here on the 'Old Continent' yet. So if you're out for a run, or just strolling through the streets, you have to constantly be on the lookout for landmines that might be hiding. Gross, I know.
Il Duomo in Milan.
  While it's not the case in France, paying to use the restroom at rest stops or gas stations along freeways is a regular occurrence. From memory, it usually costs about 50 Euro cents (70 cents), so you better have some change on hand. The good news about paying for the restroom is that it usually means (not always though) it'll be a pretty clean facility.

  I was reminded of this last nugget just a few hours ago as we made our way though Belgium and Luxembourg (on our way to Strasbourg). You are much more apt to see a man on the side of the road not bothering to take a trip to the restroom (come to think of it, I don't know if I've ever seen that happen in the US -- I know if happens, just not in front of me!). And you thought Americans were lazy! 

No comparison to the Colosseum in Rome.
  While we're on the subject of the facilities, the toilets are fairly different as well. But I won't go into any more detail than that. ;)

Random Trivia

  One random piece of Euro Living trivia I've always found pretty entertaining is the amount of hand signals, sign language if you will, that is used. It seems to me that every country has several widely known random hand signals, sounds, and gestures, that have very specific meanings. I wish I could visually give you an example (maybe I could do a video blog for this one day!!), but I'll list off a few of my favorites.

Wroclaw Plaza in Poland.

  In Italy alone, they have signals for: 'let's go', 'come here', a really skinny person, full (as in the arena was jam-packed), someone who is talking ad-naseum, and so on. Did I miss any??? It's amazing what can be conveyed just with a small gesture.

  Another few small differences: When counting in Europe, you start with your thumb as one, and continue with your index finger for two, etc... (versus starting with your index finger in the US).  And in France the kids, very specifically, raise hands in school with their pointer finger extended.

  So there's part four of the most obvious differences between the US and Europe I have found while living abroad. I'll have the fifth and final entry for you next week!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Focusing on the Positives

What makes you smile?

  There's a lot of negativity in our world. Turn on the TV, or go on the Internet, and it's all around us. On the news, in television shows, down the line to our countless social media outlets.

  And when you're constantly surrounded by negative, it's easy to get caught up in the wave, and yourself, turn into 'Negative Nancy,' isn't it?

  For whatever reason, our minds focus on, and highlight negative thoughts more often than they absorb positive reinforcements.

The Psychology
  Historically speaking, bad things threatened our survival (drought, an attacking animal, threatening situations). Over time, our minds evolved to hang onto those negative things more-securely to help ensure our survival with quick and swift action. The negative alerted us to danger. This is the trait negativity bias.

  The second reason we hold onto more bad than good is that our brains focus more on things that are out of the ordinary. On a day-to-day basis, our lives are pretty good. Things are at least OK for most of us. Think about it: good things happen on a regular basis throughout our day, and we rarely bat an eye. But the moment something bad hits, we fall apart. Because it's unusual, we focus on it. We fret about it, we tell our friends about it, we might carry one negative thing with us for the rest of the day! What about those 10-15 great things that have also happened? This is called the positivity offset.

  I'm not in the US right now, but I can bet that the lead story on SportsCenter over the weekend was Ron Artest's (sorry, I refuse to call him Metta World Peace) elbow to James Harden's head. So out of ALL the positive, amazing, graceful plays that happened in the world of sports, THAT was the one play that everyone focused on, and that everyone will remember. Negative sells.

  Even as a basketball player, I've always focused more on the shots I missed, instead of relishing the ones I made. That is no different than a child remembering the the one negative thing they are told rather than remembering the five positives.

  Over time, negative, anxious and defeated feelings accumulate, and before too long, you're stuck in a rut. So if we're surrounded by negativity, and our brains psychologically focus more on the negative, how do we keep ourselves from falling into the abyss?

  Unfortunately, I don't think it's possible to rid ourselves of negative in the world. But how do we focus more on the positive, more on the light that is surely in our lives?

How to Focus on the Positives
  Not focusing on the negative can be a serious exercise in discipline. It takes a lot of willpower and practice not to focus on the bad. Just like it might take practice to find and focus on the good. No matter our situation, positive emotions ARE there! You just might have to work to find them.
  • As 'zen' as it may sound, focus on the present moment. Again, most of our day-to-day moments are positive. But if we're fretting too much about the past, or worrying about the future, we miss out on opportunities to experience positivity in the here-and-now.
  • Pay attention to the human spirit, it can be amazing! What little things have others done for you that have helped put a positive spin on your day? And in turn, what have you done, or what can you do, that might positively affect another person's day? No matter how big, or small the gesture, they all make a difference! Remember those times. "What we focus on, we empower & enlarge. Good multiplies when focused upon. Negativity multiplies when focused upon. The choice is ours: which do we want more of?" - Julia Cameron

Celebrate your successes!
  • Celebrate your accomplishments. When you deserve it, really celebrate! Too often we're already looking for the next step, or our next conquest (this also can be applied to 'living in the moment'). When it's appropriate, pat yourself on the back, & take a moment to celebrate your success. It's like celebrating a win. Don't forget to celebrate a win by moving too quickly onto the next game. Just like you shouldn't celebrate too often (after each made basket, for example)!

  • For a more drastic change, we might have to change our brain process. This changes our outlook, or our perspective. For one month, write down three things a day you're thankful for, and three things you're proud of. This exercise will make you think of the abundance in your life, not what you might be lacking. It trains us to look for the positives in our daily lives. "Change your thoughts and you'll change your world." - Norman Vincent Peale
 "What kind of energy are you putting out into the world? There is nothing in between."

  What about when you feel others are dragging you down? How do you not allow others' negative attitudes affect you in a bad way?

Find that bright spot, and focus on it!
  Obviously, it's important to surround ourselves with positive influences and positive attitudes whenever we can! We can try as much as we can to avoid, but of course that's not possible all the time (and avoidance doesn't leave much room for growth). Co-workers, teammates, classmates, colleagues of any sort aren't up for debate in most situations.

  So when you're around that negativity, how do you overcome it? Just the same as we overcome our own negativity, we shift our focus!

  No person is 100% bad. But once we've been around them often enough, the bad might be all that we see. Look for situations where you have positive interactions with that person, and instead relish in those moments.

  It's also important to mention taking responsibility for yourself. Your thoughts, actions (and reactions), and energy all contribute to the goodness (and the problems) in every relationship you have. 'If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem', right?

  These are some things that have arisen in my life recently, and I'm trying my best make a change for the better. As with anything, it's a work in progress! There are times when we need to be reminded that there are some things we cannot control. As much as we might try, we just can't! In those situations, choose to let it be, and move on! Let's focus our energy on the things we CAN change, and CAN affect.

  We can tell ourselves, 'think positively, focus on the good' all we want. But we have to do more than just 'think it'. If we have a natural propensity to drift towards and remember the negative, we have to retrain our brains. It takes time to change habits, so it definitely will take a little time to change our perspective! Stick with it!


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Slacking Blogger

Kite-surfing in Malo les Bains (Dunkerque).

  I know, I know, I've been slacking in my blog game lately. My normal routine has been thrown out the window for the last week or so.

  There's a lot of different things going on for me, so my mind has been wandering a bit. I can't seem focus on anything long enough to write a worthy post. And instead of posting just for the sake of posting, I'm holding out until I regain a little focus on writing. I want to keep things high-quality around here!

  Yesterday (Monday, April 23rd) began my last week 'on the job' here in Dunkerque for the season. The 2011-2012 season has gone incredibly fast for me. Last year at this time, I had already been home for a week or two. So even though this is a much longer season than I've had in a while (eight month contract this year, versus six months last year in Sweden), it's zoomed by just as fast, if not faster than previous seasons.

Springtime in Dunkerque.
  But still, as the end of the season approaches, you start to get antsy. You're excited, but you still have so many things to do. Your job isn't finished. There are still practices to attend, and games to be played, and then other happenings enter into the picture to take your attention. I equate it with the last hour of a 10-hour plane ride. You're ALMOST there, but there you are, still 35,000 feet in the air.

  I have numerous posts started, but I find myself distracted, and can't put the finishing
touches on them (and they're good posts too -- you'll like them, if I ever finish them!!).

  My distractions come in many forms: planning post-season travels, what books I want to read, what I need to do before I leave Dunkerque, what I'm going to do when I get home this summer, what I should be doing today, a new-found obsession with the show Sons of Anarchy, and of course going to workouts and practices.

The beach!
  I guess I'm not as good at multitasking as I thought I was. :)

  But don't fear, vacation-planning is in the books (you'll be hearing more about that in due time!), and I'll try to curb my wandering-mind! So hopefully my writing-cap returns and I can put the finishing touches on some of my entries!

  Talk to you soon!


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

No Playoffs, No Climax Point

Playoffs in Germany.

  The last month of any basketball season usually marks its climax point.

  In high school, you were vying for a league championship, and a state playoff berth. Once you hit college, your conference tournament and a prestigious invitation to the NCAA Tournament caught your focus. Finally as a professional, whether in Europe or the NBA, your motivation is to make the playoffs, and for your team to advance as far as possible.

  The climax is what you play for. All the excitement, all the pressure, all the hard work comes to a head come playoff time. That's when you want to be playing your best basketball. Because that's when the games count the most.

  For me this season, there are no playoffs. There is no climax. And I've decided it stinks! It's like reading a book, or watching a movie that has no climax. It just sputters out, and limps to the finish line.

In college, your focus was the NCAA Tournament!
  The league I'm playing in has no playoffs. There is a Final Four 'tournament' for the top four finishers in the league. But unfortunately my team is not quite at that level this season.

  Some teams are still fighting to avoid relegation for the following season (the bottom two finishers in our league drop down to the lower league). Thankfully, as of a few weeks ago, my team has successfully secured its place in LF2 for the 2012-2013 season.

  So essentially, we have nothing to play for. Nothing, that is, except pride, and satisfaction in your own performance.

Playoffs: Bigger crowds to play in front of, bigger games! (Sweden)
  But let's be real, everyone's level of pride can vary a great deal. Just like our ability to self-motivate can differ enormously from one person to the next. Practices can get lackluster (to say the least), and games can feel like glorified scrimmages. My goal is to not allow that to happen in my final two weeks in Dunkerque.

  At the onset of each season, teams usually sit down together and set goals of how they want the season to go. Some might want to finish with a playoff berth and that's it (in most leagues, that means finishing in the Top 8 in the standings). Others might be more specific, and say they want to finish in the top two, or win the championship.

Have to keep focused as season ends!
  The professional season can be very long. You get tired physically, and you can lose your focus mentally. Once you hit that seventh or eighth month, you might find yourself going through the motions. That's where having goals can help keep you and your teammates motivated. Goals give you a way to measure your success, and will keep your eyes on the prize.

  In situations where the season is seven or eight months, I think it's helpful to break your goals down. 'Shorter-sighted' goals are easier to keep focused on, and easier to measure after all.

  While I'd love to be preparing for a a playoff series, or the Final Four, that's not my reality this season. So my motivation remains on my own personal pride in how I play, and how I can improve as a leader. I cannot control those around me, but I can control my effort and my focus on each and every practice, and our final two remaining games.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The W via SLAM Online

All Star game -- Poland 2006.

  I started my blog in September of 2011. I wasn't sure what would come of it, what exactly I would write about on a weekly basis, or even if I would enjoy it. I was sure of one thing: if all else failed, write about basketball.

  That's how the majority of my time is spent after all. Preparing for the day's practices or workouts, which in turn are preparation for the weekend's games.

  Late in 2011, I was asked by Ben York (a proponent of women's hoops, writer for SLAM Magazine, and now for the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury) to help him ramp up coverage of women's basketball, and bring first hand experiences to the audience. I told him I was game, and looked forward to doing anything I could to help.

  So after a few short months, my efforts as a blogger were already paying off. Not that I necessarily pictured myself becoming a full-time writer. But one door opens another, and so on (not to mention it's always nice to hear compliments for things you put a great deal of effort into). I was excited by the idea of joining up with Ben and a few other veterans of women's basketball to bring light to new experiences and perspectives.

Practice in Luleå -- Sweden 2008-2009.
  It just so happened our forum would be via SLAM Online. I was a loyal SLAM reader growing up. It's a magazine about basketball and its players, for the players. I'm sure fans appreciate it as well, but I always felt it was a magazine for the player especially.

  Given the audience at SLAM Online, I can be more basketball specific and technical than I am here. My role over at The W is to bring the International perspective.

  Lots and lots of Americans come overseas to extend their playing careers, but not many know much about it. So I am happy to be able to relay my experiences to those who are interested.

  I've tried to answer the most basic questions in regards to playing professionally in Europe. They're the questions I get most often when people find out what I do for a living.

  Am I missing anything -- what else do you want to know about? All four of my articles (so far) are listed below; check em out if you missed them the first time around!

Team First vs. 'Get Mine' Mentality
Ins & Outs of Euro-Ball
Euro-Hoops: Expect the Unexpected
FIBA's New (Ridiculous) Uniform Regulations

Friday, April 13, 2012

Granny's Got Game: The Fabulous Seventies

  I am constantly amazed at how efficient the Twitter medium has become at relaying information across the globe to educate, and/or 'do good' -- for lack of a better phrase.

  Several weeks ago I was passed along a link to a trailer of a documentary about a senior women's basketball team in North Carolina. Senior as in, all the team members are in their seventies. Not something you see every day -- but I thought to myself, great for them!

  It sparked my interest. And I was curious to find out a little bit more about the film project starring these ladies. I found their story to be inspirational, and one worth passing along! The film is called 'Granny's Got Game'.

Their Story

  'Granny's Got Game' is a documentary film about a senior women's basketball team based in North Carolina. The film follows them through their 2011 season, and culminates with a trip to the National Senior Games Championship in Houston. Just like any basketball season, these ladies' season was filled with countless ups and downs, and obstacles to overcome.

  The team is comprised of seven fiercely competitive women, all in their seventies. They started playing 6-on-6 basketball (where you couldn't cross the half court line -- so you were either strictly an offensive player, or a defensive player) in the 1950s but stopped after high school. In pre-Title IX America, there were no opportunities for women to keep playing after high school.

  After a long break from the game, the ladies are back playing the game they love so dearly, with teammates who have become like family. For 17 years the Fabulous Seventies, have been competing together in Senior Games Tournaments throughout the country. They've had to adjust to and learn a new, physical style of basketball (where they now play both offense and defense) while overcoming the skepticism of their peers.

  The Fabulous Seventies has had great success in their time together, winning numerous medals in tournaments across the country. And as teammates and friends, they support each other off the court through the difficulties that accompany aging, such as breast cancer, injury, and widowhood. These women are more than a team...they are a family.

Behind the Scenes
  Film maker, Angela Gorsica Alford, a former player herself, followed the Fabulous Seventies (their team name) for over a year. Here are her goals for her first film:
  • honor and celebrate these amazing women. 
  • inspire people of all ages to stay active. 
  • change perceptions of the capabilities of the elderly and contest negative stereotypes. 
  • highlight the support and encouragement the women get from being part of a team. 
  • give younger viewers a sense of perspective so they can appreciate today’s sports opportunities.
  • illustrate the competitive and ambitious nature of female athletes of all ages. 
  Gorsica Alford intends on showing the movie in film festivals across the country, and pursuing television broadcast opportunities. She also plans to screen the film for senior centers and youth basketball camps.

Angela with the team.
  The film is in post-production now, but is low on funds. There is a fundraising effort currently taking place in order to reach these goals. The more money that is raised, the more people will get to see the film and be inspired by The Fabulous Seventies! All funds raised will be used to finish and market the film. Go here for all information about the film, and fundraising efforts.

  It's a story of inspiration. They enjoy playing the game of basketball. But they play to win, not just to play! It's a story of camaraderie. They overcome a great deal to go out on the court with their best friends. And it's a story that should be passed along!

  Aren't these ladies awesome?!? It's never too late to keep playing! Vote for the film this week in the Indie Wire Project of the Week! Watch the short trailer, and follow the links below for more information to cheer The Fabulous Seventies on!

Granny's Got Game -- Fundraising Information
Granny's Got Game
Vote for 'Granny's Got Game' for Project of the Week (Ends April 16th)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Euro Living, Part III

Hanging out with the Wolfenbüttel crew after a workout.
Lost in Translation:
  Language, obviously, is probably the biggest adjustment you have to make while living in a foreign country. It can also be the biggest source of frustration as well.

  Unless you're extremely blessed with the gift of language, and can pick up every language there is, you will struggle at one point or another with communication.

  I am very grateful when people speak English, but it's not something you can (nor should) count on.

  I've found it's a generational thing. If someone is in their 20s or mid-30s, they'll probably have a pretty decent grasp on English. If not, you're most likely out of luck. Unless you're in Sweden of course. Where EVERYONE speaks perfect English (I came across one person in two years in Sweden who didn't speak English -- they're incredible 'up' there).

Interactions Out and About
Sweden: Easy for an American to adapt to...
  When you're out and about in town, wherever you may be in Europe, you never know when someone is going to start up a conversation with you. It's a little unnerving not being able to answer people when they approach you (in your apartment building, on the street, etc.)

  When I'm at the grocery store, I always hope that the cashier doesn't ask me anything more than 'do you have a loyalty card?' If I don't understand, I usually say, 'sorry?' -- in English -- with a smile, and that usually lets them know I don't speak the language. They'll either re-phrase in English, or forget they even asked!

  For the most part, I try to fly under the radar and not ruffle
any feathers, it's just easier that way.

...except for the snow and 'kickers'! ;)
  The only time I've been comfortable enough speaking (or trying to speak!) the native language was in Italy. It took me a while to pick up enough Italian to become somewhat conversational. I remember going to the bank in Como, and making sure I knew EXACTLY how to say what I needed to say. Definitely don't want any miscommunication at the bank! Thankfully, I always managed to get my point across.

  It can be frustrating not being able to fully express yourself the way you want to. But if that becomes too much of an issue, then you should probably throw yourself into studying the language, and become fluent! Otherwise, you really can't complain, you're in a foreign land after all. You can't expect 'them' to speak English in their own country. If you really want to communicate, you have to make the effort to learn the native language!

Poland: Miscommunication for sure!
  A few caveats about speaking English to non-native speakers (despite common belief, talking louder usually doesn't help get your point across!)
  • Don't start telling a story until you know the person will understand you (or you have someone who can translate the story for you!). There is nothing worse than telling what you think is a funny story, having the person not understand, and then sit there with a blank stare when you're done telling it.
  • You have to be careful with sarcasm. Many times that doesn't translate, and you don't want to hurt anyone's feelings!
  • Sometimes you have to speak English as they speak it. 
    • Shortening your sentences helps. You might find yourself saying, 'I go to store', instead of 'I'm going go to the store.' Sure it's not proper English, but it's probably more important that they understand you!
    • Use words you know they know (that you have heard them use). For example in France, I know my coach understands the word obligation. So I might ask, 'is it an obligation?' instead of 'do I have to?' Or in when in a restaurant I might ask a teammate, 'what are you taking?' Instead of 'what are you having?'
My German team: Lots of languages/cultures. But we made it work!
      And one thing about listening to foreign languages, and trying to understand (usually you begin to understand WAY before you're able to speak). 
      When you're out with teammates/friends, you have to concentrate really hard, and focus on listening to them. If you daze in and out, you won't understand a thing! I recommend always trying to listen, that's how you learn!

       Still have many more differences to share!! Tune into part four, coming up soon!
Euro Living, Part One
Euro Living, Part Two  

Monday, April 9, 2012

Learning from Losing

A game earlier this season.

  For just the second time since the turn of the new year my team, DMBC Dunkerque, celebrated a win Saturday night. Two wins in three months -- yikes! To be honest, I'm a little surprised I haven't been stuck in a deep depression from all the losing. It got me thinking about how I've changed over the years in regards to how I handle losses.

  While my uniforms and teammates have changed drastically over time, my reasons for playing haven't. At first, when I was a kid, I played strictly for fun. Over the course of years and years of practice, it eventually became my job.

  Though, for whatever reason, it's never felt like a job to me. Probably because basketball has never stopped being fun. The work can be hard, both physically and mentally (you do the work to be your best. To me, meaning, to win). And yes, it can be frustrating when things aren't going your way. But when it comes down to it, I STILL find great joy when I step onto the court. And it still is where I feel I am at my best -- in my realm.

One Bad Loser
My motto...
  One thing I've learned is that losing never gets easy. Though I think I've gotten a little better at it over the years. When I was in high school, if we lost, I would never be able to sleep. I would literally replay every moment back in my mind: Every shot I took and missed, or every turnover I made; every play that went awry, and wanted to have back, was running in my mind while I tried to sleep.

  The constant game film replaying in my head usually resulted in me tossing and turning the entire night. I would fall asleep at some point, and wake up the next morning in an awful mood, not wanting to go to school. You can bet, nine times out of 10 I was in class the next day. Though I didn't give in without a fight. ;)

  So you can say I didn't handle losing very well as a teenager.

Learning to Adjust
Winning is fun...
  I don't want to say I learned how to lose my freshman year in college. But it's safe to say I learned to cope with it better. Point blank: we weren't very good my first year at Colorado.

  We were young, and inexperienced. And that was NOT the recipe for success for competing in one of the toughest conferences in the country.

losing isn't.
  Our team consisted of one junior, six sophomores, three freshmen and a walk-on. Tough to win in a conference like the Big-12 with a line-up like that. As a result, we took our fair share of bumps and bruises along the way.

  Early on my freshman year, I reacted to losses in a similar fashion. By tossing and turning the entire night, beating myself up, and replaying what I could have done better to help my team win. Eventually I guess I learned how to put the loss aside, long enough for my mind to quiet down, so I could get some all-important sleep.

  As my team at CU got better and more-experienced, winning became the norm again. So thankfully I never accepted losing.

Re-Adapting as a Pro

  As a professional, I've always been on winning teams. Teams that have made the playoffs, and had successful seasons, record-wise. This season, however, has been the losing-est season I've had in a long, long time. I've never had a season in Europe where my team finished below .500.

Celebrating a win in Germany.
  It's definitely not something to be proud of, but I guess it goes to show that I've grown up a bit in that regard. The fact that I am enjoying my time in Dunkerque, even with all the losses, says a great deal. There are definitely still times when I'm not-so-happy about how things are going (usually on Saturday night and Sunday morning after a loss).

  But life goes on, and you learn from set-backs. A couple things I've learned along the way:
  • You learn what you really value in life. Things outside of the game that bring you joy. 
  • You learn how to persevere. Life will never be easy for us ALL the time. It's important to take the bumps, learn from them, and keep moving!
  • You learn to rise above negativity. Losing equals a lot of negative thoughts (your own), and negative things (maybe attitudes, words, actions) around you. You learn not to give into the negativity, and hopefully turn it into something positive for yourself.
  • You learn to handle your emotions, and not let them control you. 
  • You learn there is always another game, and another chance to redeem yourself. So you have to prepare yourself when that time comes!
  I will never accept losing as the norm. Because losing is not fun. And that's why I play!

Celebrating a big win in Italy.
  You'll never find me cheery and chatty after a loss. To me, the day you're okay with losing, is the day you should stop playing. When you're okay with losing, that means you've stopped caring, and stopped competing. If you don't care, it's time to get off the court. Simple as that.

  But finally I've learned that you can get something out of an L as well!

  With our win over Laveyron on Saturday, DMBC Dunkerque officially avoided relegation (for more about that, read: Avoiding Relegation). Three games to go, and it's clear sailing! Here's to three more wins to finish the season!