celebrations, family

The Owl Series

This series isn’t your ordinary owl story or two. This will be a series for the years to come. It’s the beginning of documenting the path to college athletics and what happens along the way. The good. The bad. The in between. All of which is solely from my vantage point. The outsider looking in. The fan girl view. 

Will there be success? Failure? Injuries? Accolades?

Will this be an initial destination or a long term commitment? 

How hard will it be to balance academics and athletics?

Will the love of the game continue to flourish?

The story started years ago. A dream. A belief of you can be who you want to be. Hard work. Practice. Travel. Tryouts. New friends. Old friends. Enemies. Encouragers. Coaches. Mentors. Motivators. Cheerleaders. Sprains. Strains. Bruises. Hours and hours of training. Eating smart. Saying no to some events due to games early the next day. All of which made her who she is today. Every experience helped shape her. Every risk paid off. She did the work. She beat the odds. 

I can literally say I’ve been with her every step of the way. Now I see her standing on her two feet ready to conquer what’s ahead. Proud is an understatement.

Strong. Charismatic. Determined. Confident. Smart. Athletic. Talented beyond words. She made her choice. She decided to be an owl. It wasn’t an easy decision either. She weighed options. Many options had pros and many had cons. What would be the best overall? When she made her choice she committed in grand fashion. A cool graphic on social media started it all.  A tweet from her travel club followed. The college gave a wink. A nice spread in the local paper was an added surprise. As an owl she will begin to take flight. Her flight to her destination(s).

She will continue her athletic career as a Division 1 athlete. What an accomplishment. A female division 1 collegiate athlete. It’s a celebration to make it to this level. I couldn’t be prouder of her and how she handled the grueling process. She stayed true to herself. She went far but ended up near. Sometimes you need to see what’s out there before seeing that you have what you need closer than you think.

She learned to be interviewed. She learned how to interview others. She learned a little about negotiations. She learned what is official and unofficial in the athletic world. She forged her own path. She is now beginning a new journey with her new teammates. The teammate relations began with text and other mediums. The group is “chatting” which is somewhat of a honeymoon phase to get to know each other and build rapport.

The team logos are making their way into the wardrobes. The thought of what’s next is on the horizon. Everything from who you are now to future roommates to major course of study selection is on the chat feed. The hard part is done but now so many more new experiences are on the horizon while still wrapping up existing school and sports obligations. And don’t forget keeping her image squeaky clean. This is a big responsibility. 

The first out of state meeting took place for 8-9 young ladies on this same journey. Some competed against each other. Others just socialized. Multiple states represented. New personalities drawn together by a sport they love. A sport I have grown to adore myself. Although I didn’t participate, I celebrated the opportunity for her silently. So much is ahead and I can just smile knowing she will grow during this experience. And so this owl story has begun, but where will it lead and what will I choose to share in the years ahead?

I will continue to write about the owl adventures as they evolve. Not sure how frequently this will happen but it will happen when I feel led to document something. Until then know I’m practicing my best owl sounds and thinking of how I will find a way to like the team colors.

celebrations

It’s Finished!

The little project has come to an end.

No more measuring.

No more cutting.

No more blisters.

No more sawdust flying around my face.

The cleanup was pretty quick. Kept some scraps for the next project. Returned extra materials to Home Depot. Emptied the trash. Ran a quick vacuum and packed up the tools. Snapped a few more photos. Finished. 

Time to use the newly updated 120 square feet of space. Finished in the time allotted. Somewhat within budget. Recycled materials were used. Ideas were reworked many times. A little helper provided some labor along the way. Many songs were listened to while jamming and working. Evening and weekends spent hustling in a different way. Rain days got in the way a few times, but not too many.

Two trips to Home Depot. A few cuss words. No emergency room visits was a plus. Some tools were borrowed. A small power saw was purchased but will be reused on another project. Winter will require a small space heater for warmth (see above). Spring and fall will have a nice breeze with windows open. Summer will have a small Room air conditioning unit. Built on a budget. Built to be used. Built by me. Not perfectly designed but it’s perfectly useful. A great experience to learn and see the fruits of my labor. 

As I wrap up this DIY project, I definitely have a new appreciation for the construction industry. I also understand why there are specialized trades such as carpeting, painting, ceiling work, trim work, electrical, plumbing, etc. It’s hard to be good at everything. So many chances to get injured with a momentary lapse in judgment. 

From nothing to something. Building away. Lots of different types. Carpet. Metal. Trim. Walls. Insulation. It sure was a fun experience to knock out this little project. Two more projects to go. One planned. One unplanned. Just the way life goes I supposed. DIY trims the budget and allows one to do more with less. That’s where I am at on these little fix it jobs. Elbow grease and positivity will get you far in these kind of projects. A willing helper goes a long way, too.

I didn’t even mind cleaning at the end. Gave me a sense of completion. Happy 2023 to you!

celebrations, challenges

The Last Hoorah

Every year I take a glance back at that year I’m in around October first. I celebrate. I reminisce. I shake my head. Then I say boom this is what I’m going to accomplish for the remaining days of the year and here is how I’m going to set myself up for success in the upcoming year.

This year is a little different. When I look back I sigh. I celebrate all that has been endured. I shake my head at the insanity. I high five myself for conquering fears and trying new things. I reminisce on this and that. I sigh again and say when is this year over. The shit show has been constantly flowing all damn year. I looked forward to 2022 but now that it’s here I think okay it’s time to go and hit 2023 ever so fast.

Three loose ends dangling in the air. I have to be in limbo until each gets sorted out. Each has its own set of complexities, costs, consequences, and of course risks. The end of year trips are less than exciting. More have to’s than want to’s. Family away for the holidays. I seem to be missing the wow factor to finish out the year. Maybe it’s a new kind shit show that hasn’t hit my radar yet, but hopefully not.

As I take out that calendar for 2023 I see some blah on the horizon in January. A roadblock to maneuver in February. A pivotal decision in March. What I don’t see is the break in the chaos. I see higher expectations. I envision bigger shoes to fill. And then there is taxes. Another thing I love to hate come April.

I guess 2022 didn’t wow me. I’m thinking 2023 won’t wow me as I’ll be recovering from a 2022 hangover. I’m going to have to find some creative mechanism to help shovel the shit for the year ahead because it still looks like shit is going to be around me in droves. Maybe that is just the hint of manure I smell at the farm? As I revisited the post as I do all my writings I thought to myself I don’t really need to post this rant but that’s exactly why I do.

When I began this post I was wallowing in the pitiful mess of life. However reading, revisiting and revising was very beneficial for me. Not only the writing but in life. I allowed myself to be reviewed. I made note of some things I could control and jumped on them.

I added a little sunshine to my end of year. I put a little hope on the horizon. I said no to something I really wanted to show self discipline. As an added bonus others around me became inspired in ways I didn’t see coming. Actions have meanings. We may not always know what or why at the beginning but in the end if you are open to growth you can see. Funny how life works.

In a short 24 hours I saw motivation, action, desire, support, and those around took notice. You do become what you surround yourself with: your environment. Your people. Your motivation. Your success. Each hinges on the other. My final note to you is simple:

Step away. Do something spontaneous. Enjoy the moment. Everything will still be there when you return. You just might see things a little differently to endure the shit show for longer or maybe even find a way out of the rabbit hole.

celebrations, family

Whirlwind Weekend

My youngest daughter joined a college club lacrosse team. One of the fun parts of this is travel. First up: an away play day in Nashville that just so happened to be my birthday weekend. That was an easy sell!

It was harder to find a traveling companion. Close family and favorite travel buddies couldn’t make it for one reason or another. I was kinda pouty until just a few days before, when the daughter I was going to watch figured out she could stay with me. We traveled to Nashville separately, but after her games we were able to spend the rest of the weekend together.

It was a whirlwind weekend of packed with fun. I had most of it mapped out before we met up. I started with morning coffee at Dutch Brothers, a perennial fave. Longtime readers know that I love to visit local coffee shops on my travels, but Dutch would be an exception. It’s a national chain, yes, but there isn’t one anywhere near my hometown. I can’t resist their positive energy or their soft top!

Then I found my way to one of the Five Daughters Bakery locations, which happened to be tucked in to a cute local marketplace. Most of the shops were closed at that early hour, but there were still some fun murals and photo opps. A handful of their hundred-layer doughnuts and I was off to the next destination.

After that, a super quick visit to Cheekwood to catch a glimpse of their fall pumpkin festival displays. I was the first one through the gates that morning, and more than likely the first to leave in time to make the start of the lacrosse games. Still, it was soothing and smile-inducing to see the beautiful plants and festive surroundings. I’m sure I could have spent a whole day there, but even just that small sliver of time made me feel lighter and carefree as I welcomed my favorite season of the year.

After lacrosse, we made a quick visit to a Nashville food hall with a close family friend. It had live music and a wide variety of local eateries – something to please everyone. Then we spent Saturday night on a “touristy” thing by visiting the Grand Old Opry. Pretty classic Nashville, but my daughter had never been. It was a great variety show, even if we hadn’t really heard of any of the acts. Wonderful entertainment. (An evening at the Bluebird Cafe is still on my Nashville wish list! Didn’t get tickets this time but I’ll keep trying.)

After the show, we drove about an hour to Cookeville. This brought us close to the next morning’s adventure, a kayak to Burgess Falls. The paddle was low key and not too technical, but it was pretty long. The scenery was pretty and then it was a short hike to the falls since the river waters recede a bit in the autumn months. The bottom of the falls are only reachable by kayak or hike, which made the view all the more sweet.

Time with my youngest becomes more precious each year as she moves through college. Long car rides leave time for us to chat and catch up. We talked this time about how, as time goes on, we’ve learned that we would rather have fewer things and more experiences together.

Just like my older daughter, I can hear that her dreams will take her to live in faraway places in the coming years. This makes these experiences and memories all the more sweet. Time and attention (and shared adventures!) are the best gifts we can give one another.

celebrations, dare to be different

50 and a half

Year fifty has been nifty thus far or maybe shifty or maybe drifty.

I started out with such big plans for my big celebration year. The planning even involved the year leading up to the big 5-0. Some items are crossed off the list. Some are sitting on the sidelines for now. 

No matter what big plans were dreamed up it seems like I’m really just seizing the moments with a new appreciation on life. The not waiting to do. The not wondering what others think. The not finding reasons to not do while I can do. The biggest reflection of that was my summer of 2022.

I planned. I shifted. I completely changed things up. I added. I deleted. I winged it all. I took chances that sometimes I wouldn’t because my stable brain would say no. When I reflect I sigh big and am ever thankful. Summer of 2022 was about new kinds of risks. New to me. Some scary. Some just different.

Appreciative of the the time. The places. The people. The experiences. The spontaneity. The memories. The knowledge. All of it. I grew by leaps and bounds and stretched to new limits. I had to trust and rely on myself more than ever.

From a random concert experience with my 83 year old mom to a cross country trek with my youngest to the Pacific Northwest. I have written about many stories but not all stories. During these glorious days there have also been sad and trying days.

Loss of time with loved ones. Challenges that many will never face emotionally. Financial investments that went down the toilet. Let downs in many forms. Takers trying to suck joy from your being. Balancing work deadlines among the chaos. Also those casting judgment for living my best life. 

The good. The bad. The ugly. Everything in between and tangled in my web of life. Everyday we have a choice to live life to the fullest. Everyday we have a choice to move or sit idle. Everyday we have a choice to do or not do. I may do more than others but it’s always a choice. A choice I make. One day I may be confined to a chair or couch. That day I won’t have a choice. Today I have the choice thus you won’t find me wasting time on the coach wondering about what ifs. I will just be off doing.

As I hit 50 and one half I think I am settled in who I am. Who I will become. Who I won’t be. The quiet confidence of being me is what I enjoy most about flipping the calendar to the year 51 and beyond. I get to choose my adventure. My timelines. My companions.

I get to choose where to spend my money. I get to choose my hobbies. I get to decide what is next for me. I can support the dreams of others if want to. Some may judge. Others may be envious. Some might sit by and watch from their couch. That’s okay. It’s not their story. It’s my story.

I write and live my story in the public eye. That is my choice as well. One day my writings will be all that is left when my story stops being written. But just because the writing stops doesn’t mean the living won’t continue. My stories will continue to breathe life to others. They may even spur an adventure bug in those who read them. My photos. My words. My spirit will be carried on to others virtually.

Purposefully designed. A seed of sorts planted in the World Wide Web. My farming of life online. From seed to flower in my own special way. Fifty has been a great year to reflect, adjust and appreciate where I am. Who I am. What potential is still untapped. 

I’ve paused enough this year to see inside me for who I am. Now the fun will begin. Again. And again. Until the end. Signing off at 50 and a half. Looking forward to years 60-66-72-80-85-90-94-95-99. All of these numbers have significance. Let’s see which ones I hit.