Bella Grace Blog Hop

As a contributor to the premiere issue of Bella Grace, I have been invited to participate in a blog hop. I have posted an essay based on the magazine's theme: 
Life is a Beautiful Adventure. Visit the publisher's blog at stampington.com/blog. Scroll to the bottom of their page to see additional bloggers participating in the hop. 

**Enter to win this issue of Bella Grace. Simply click on the red comment link at the end of the post and leave your answer to the following question: Who has been an unexpected teacher in your life? 

And now I present...

The Beautiful Game

   “Mama. Agua. Rapido!” 

   I watch as a mother breaks from a group of parents, races across the soccer field, and squirts water into the mouth issuing this command. A 12-year-old hot shot has come to play with an entourage and a full grown ego. Welcome to suburban soccer.

   I am an artist. I am not an athlete. In grade school, I was picked last for kick ball.

   After becoming a mother, I swore I would not be a soccer mom, and I certainly wouldn’t ride around in a mini van laden with magnets proclaiming the achievements of my child. It’s just not my thing. I’ve managed to avoid the mini van, but soccer is another story. Even though I let my son draw on my walls with washable crayons and taught him about Picasso and Van Gogh, a different passion grew within him. Soccer. God was playing a cruel trick.

   The game was a mystery to me. I would scold him after a good slide tackle declaring it too aggressive. I would worry when cold winds whipped across the field biting through his nylon shorts or driving rains soaked him down to his underwear. All the while I watched from my warm car, sipped coffee, and listened to NPR. I kept thinking this was a passing phase, but his love for the game poured out of him like sweat. I kept taking him to games, and the seasons kept passing.

   When Zach was eleven, it was the year of the FIFA World Cup. I thought FIFA was a type of poodle. By now, he knew teams and players from all over the world resulting in geographical knowledge that far surpassed mine. During the World Cup, he’d wake each morning, don an Uncle Sam hat, a USA jersey, and hold an American flag — properly decorated to watch each game.

   Then came the turning point. America won, allowing them to advance.

   I was sitting out in the backyard, when a red, white, and blue firecracker burst from the house and streaked across the lawn. It was Zach taking a victory lap — head back, arms extended, flag still in hand. Pure joy. I caught a glimpse of a tear in his eye as he ran past me. 

   I finally understood. Soccer was his religion. It was his spirituality.

   Over the next four years, Zach counted down to FIFA 2014 and I counted on him to educate me. I knew understanding soccer would lead to understanding my son, so I peppered him with questions. I learned that a slide tackle (that was all ball) was celebrated, not frowned upon, what it means to be off sides, and the difference between a yellow and a red card. Then one day, he hit me with something profound. Zach spoke of the Brazilians referring to soccer as 
“o jogo bonito”  The Beautiful Game. The phrase captures the spirit and art of a series of thoughtfully executed passes leading up to a goal. Winning the game was not enough. It was to be done with skill and beauty. In that moment, Zachary built a bridge for me between art and soccer and I crossed over gladly.

   I knew I had come full circle when I sat by myself on a Thursday afternoon watching America vs. Germany in the 2014 World Cup, praying that I wouldn’t have to go to the bathroom and risk missing a goal. 

   Zachary is my son and my teacher. As an artist, I look for beauty in the ordinary. As an athlete, Zach taught me to see beauty in a game.

Now it's your turn to write! 
Answer the following question and you will be entered to win the premiere issue of Bella Grace magazine. 

Q: Who has been an unexpected teacher in your life? 

1- Click on "comment" at the bottom of this post.
2- Type your answer in the box.
3- Select a choice from "comment as" ("anonymous" always works, but make sure to include an e-mail address so I can notify the winner and get a shipping address).
4- Click on the blue publish button.

If you have trouble entering your answer, you can e-mail me your enter to cmezzoart@mac.com


  1. Unexpected teacher? My Dad.
    Why is that unexpected you say?
    Well, as a kid, you don't look at your parents as teachers (even tho dad was one). As a kid, parents were the people who made you do things.
    But dad would also 'let' you do things. Like cut wood, or help change an electrical socket. And would guide you through it with patience.
    And, I guess, mom too. How to "properly" vacuum, shift the wash, and cut the grass (with each pass, have half the mower re-cut the last pass, just to make sure you cover everything).
    But, while you don't look it as 'teaching' when you are a kid, the reality hits when you start 'instructing' your own kids. When that moment occurs and it is not your voice coming out of your mouth, but your parents' voice.
    (OMG, I sound just like my dad/mom!!)

  2. I hate being wrong. I mean I really hate being wrong. Unfortunately, this has proven to be an annoying vice for me, as I am very content discussing “touchy” topics ranging from religion to politics everyday all day. As you can imagine when discussing these issues the tone can turn from friendly to hostile quickly. Discussions become debates, which in turn, become arguments, and it is here where my vice comes into play. Once the argument begins I am unable to change my position in any way whatsoever. Even when the evidence is stacked against me, and my position has become untenable, I continue to fight the good fight. This stubbornness usually leads to me walking away from the disagreement fuming and humiliated with the other party cursing me on my way out.
    You see I used to think that changing your mind on a subject would make one look weak and wishy-washy. I mean don’t we all, at least in the United States, condemn our politicians for changing their mind on a position? Don’t we condemn our leaders for showing even the slightest compromise on a subject? This would appear to be the case considering the U.S. congress has become known as the “do nothing congress” in recent years. Wait! Stop! You see I can’t help but to bring up politics. Let me get back to the task at hand.
    Now that we all know I am a stubborn horses ass, son of a bitch, loud mouth, pick your adjective, I can get on to who my unexpected teacher is. It happened entirely by accident. I was surfing the net when I found an article by a man named Christopher Hitchens. It was a book review on the last title in the Harry Potter series. I had no idea who this man was, and the subject wasn’t really something I was overly concerned about, but his ability to engage the reader was astounding. After that I began reading everything the man wrote, and I stayed captivated and engaged in every subject he shed light on. I am embarrassed to say it, but I soon developed a man crush on Hitchens. But there was a problem. As I read his books, essays, and articles I found that he, my hero, had changed his mind on a subject when necessary. It could be about anything, but once it had become abundantly clear that he was wrong about something he had no qualms reevaluating his position. Hitchens, a journalist, polemicist, and author, a man who had publically and passionately forwarded a particular idea was not ashamed in the least to change his point of view on a subject. If this man could change his position without being ashamed why couldn’t I?
    This novel idea changed my life. It made me reevaluate my position on almost every subject I had come to a conclusion on in my life. I found that many ideas I held dear were no longer justifiable. If I wanted to be intellectually honest with myself I had to change my position on a multitude of subjects. And you know what? My life has never been better. I can’t say I’m not passionate about certain subjects in life, actually I am just as passionate about my beliefs as ever, but I am willing to reassess my stance on a topic, which is what’s important. I am finally able to accept when I am wrong about something, which for me is a huge accomplishment.


  3. My sister in law is my unexpected teacher. She and I have COMPLETLY different ways of approaching life. I tell too much and I ask questions. I want to understand and figure out and contemplate. I want every encounter to be somehow meaningful and satisfying in some way. She just wants to pretend everything is great. Gets very agitated if you ask questions. She doesn't want to be figured out. She's always hiding.

    This has made me crazy! It has caused me to overly interested in getting the answers, in discovering what she hides. Not the best side of me fir sure! But in watching her struggle and bear the consequences of Her choices, she has taught me a lot about compassion. And in trying to figure out how I could fight this urge to call her out (so hard to resist), I have learned that I am doing the best I can and she is doing the best she can too. That's all we can do.

    1. Congratulations! You are the winner of the Bella Grace Blog Hop at the blog Hair-Raising Thoughts! Please provide me with a shipping address so that you can receive your prize — the premiere issue of Bella Grace. Send your address to cmezzoart@mac.com
      Thanks for your submission!
      Warm regards, Cathryn

  4. Catherine Marshall, wonderful author who, through her writings, taught me so much about faith and living out this precious thing called life. During a difficult season of my life (separation and divorce), her words were a balm to my soul.Now, ten years after discovering her, she still ranks as my favorite writer.
    Thanks for the beautiful words! As a fellow soccer mom, I can relate.

  5. My grandchildren have been expected teachers. When I was raising my son, life was just too hectic to really slow down. I had a full time job. I did a lot of volunteer work. I was a Cub Scout leader. So everything was do, do, do, go, go, go. Now with my grandchildren, I've learned to enjoy the moments with them. Celebrate the small wonders they find, like a little frog in the yard, minnows in a pond, a pretty flower while taking a walk, and the funny shapes the clouds make. I've learned to see the simple joys that surround us.

  6. My patients are unexpected teachers. It's what makes my job as a mental health therapist so rewarding. I'm invited to listen to their stories and within those stories are little pieces of me. We are all linked.

  7. definitely my children....all of them. every day.

  8. my kids. I have always learned so much from them - when they were children and again now as adults.the first lessons were to see the fun in the everyday joys.

  9. my patients have taught me that what is most healing is being truly listened to & seen.

  10. My friend Kathryn. She died a year ago. I will always miss her, her courage, her silly giggle, her thank you notes for nothing, her fierce protection when I was hurt by something.

  11. What a lovely place to visit as I enjoy thinking about this prompt you've shared today. I've learned a bit more about myself from a lovely lady whom has reached out he hand to help me heal through some life altering medical mistakes. Regardless of my daily suffering, she has taught me to value myself because I've lost so much of whom I used to be. I'm working on an exercise daily with courage to love the person I am. I know it might sound funny to many but it's truly something that has been very difficult for me. I'm a work in progress and truly appreciate this beautiful person for reaching out her heart to help me.

    Congratulations on being a contributor to Bella Grace, I can't wait to see what it has to share.

    Warm regards,

  12. My three children - and more so as they have grown into young adults and living on their own. I feel I did my job as a Mom as they each make decisions that will be with them forever!

  13. My child, she taught me how strong I could be.

  14. My brother, through his passing I have learned the true meaning of strength and courage. His and mine.

  15. writing. i had been journaling for more than a decade now. it taught me how to just do i what i love and feel to do because you'll never know where it will lead you later in your life or beyond :)

  16. My younger son. If I am complaining about someone, he will gently say "Have you spoken to him/her about it?" & remind me to deal with something rather than just moan about it.

  17. my cat as I remind my self more and more of how to create a simpler life - responding to immediate needs - rather than those perceived.

  18. Without a doubt, Dave, my late husband. It makes some uneasy when I say he grew me into the wife he wanted but we married late in life and he taught me about finances, stocks, buying property, etc. We built a life together, traveled together and now there's nothing left but memories and photographs.

  19. Thank you to everyone for your thoughtful comments! It was so interesting to read about all the different "teachers" in your lives.