perspective

Every Game is a Gift

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I looked out over the field, early that morning.

It was a beautiful April weekend.  Still a little crisp in the air, but the bright, direct sun warmed your skin enough.

I thought to myself, it is a perfect lacrosse morning. Right now, we are in the heart of lacrosse season, the sport both of my daughters and many of their dearest friends love. I looked out over the field where both of my daughters played their first seasons of the sport. It should have been bustling with warmups and whistles. Instead, it stood completely empty, the “closed” signs warning everyone away. Corona was in town.

When my older daughter was in high school, she told me that lacrosse was the only reason she went to school some days. In those high school seasons, she fought through injuries of all kinds.  From ankle twists and endless bruises to plaguing knee injuries and surgery.  Most notably, as a dynamic and skilled attack player, she also suffered at least three significant concussions. Because of these brain injuries, she watched many games from the sidelines, cheering her teammates on with all her energy and might while she waited for her head to heal.

After making her way through the recruiting process, she earned a spot playing in college.  There were many ups and downs, but she made it to the college playing field.  I was so proud to see her play at that level.  But just a few games in to her freshman season, she took a hit to the head that knocked her out for several minutes.  She lost some of her memories.  She couldn’t stand bright lights our music louder than a whisper.  She was just not her usual sharp self for a while.

Days off the field turned into weeks and months.  Her college freshman season ended and even though there were a few glimmers of hope, she finally got to the point where she realized her playing days were over.  Yes, she could continue coaching and being a referee, but she would never pick up her lacrosse stick competitively again.

God, I loved watching her play.  She was such a competitor on the field.  It was amazing to witness and cheer for her. Seeing that end too soon was devastating for us both.

My younger daughter has taken her own path through lacrosse.  She has great talent and has loved the sport for many years. She was just finding her footing in her first full varsity year when corona came to town. When I ask her these days what she misses most about school, she says lacrosse.

Each of them, in their own ways, now have “lost seasons.” Seasons that should have been played. Goals that should have been scored. Laugh-filled bus rides that should have been ridden. Late night meals with teammates that should have been shared. Wins that should have been celebrated. Defeats that should have been endured. Lessons that should have been learned.

Coronavirus has served many of us lost seasons. Weddings, holidays, so many celebrations shifted, even canceled.  I think especially of high school and college seniors in their final months of school, what should be a time of togetherness, of celebration for them and their supporters. I hurt for them, even though the changed celebration doesn’t change the effort they put in or the elation they should feel. If you know someone who has a lost season because of corona, I encourage you to reach out to acknowledge that loss. Most of us don’t quite know what to say, but just being there to listen and recognize what is lost may be a help.

An unexpected concussion ended my daughter’s lacrosse career too early. From that time I knew, every game is a gift. Every time you get to step on the field or out on the stage or wherever you do what you love…every time you get to do that, it is a gift to be cherished and a challenge to be embraced. When we emerge from this, I hope we are changed in a way where we remember that.

celebrations, coaching

Growing Up Fast

They may not be fully grown but they represent a few of my maturing players. Many team colors over the years but the same great kids and lots and lots of memories.

I have known this group since they were in elementary school. I wasn’t their only coach but I was fortunate to have them with me for a few seasons, reasons, tournaments and so on.

We built strong bonds. We built trust. We giggled. We traveled from state to state many times and boy do we have car stories to tell. They got better in the sport they love. They had their glow up. Now they are in high school. Almost ready for college.

They are now working as volunteers to pass their knowledge on to the younger kids coming up in the ranks. Something they probably didn’t imagine when they first suited up in their lacrosse gear for the first time. This picture was taken in the state of Alabama about 5 years ago.

I have a front row seat in watching them excel as leaders on and off the field. They don’t get paid. They work hard. They are role models. From brace-faced young girls to whistle-blowing officials. These girls have grown up all things lacrosse. They are now choosing to volunteer in the sport that has afforded them so much. This gem of photo was a first 3 v 3 tournament in the Sunshine State back in 2016.

These girls may not see the value of what they are doing today but they are leading by example. Those they are mentoring and will later mentor others. They will springboard off this leadership experience as they head off to college. Their team bonding will crossover into the workplace one day. This keepsake photo was after a hard fought championship game in sunny South Carolina in 2017.

They are tomorrow’s workers. They have a solid foundation. They will be successful. I will enjoy watching them grow into greatness. How can I not include the toy soldier photo from a holiday tournament held in Georgia every year. One that is festive and full of crazy costumes and most notable is the cold temperatures and bad weather that comes with a December tournament.

This is why I coach. I love being a part of these girls’ stories and I love having them a part of mine. From costumes to travel and beyond the sport of lacrosse has bonded these girls for years. They are there for each other when times are challenging and they push each other when the need arises.

As many of my lacrosse girls approach adulthood, this is my big thank you for letting me be a part of your journey. I remember so many of my coaches throughout life and the lessons they taught me. I hope my players remember me one day and the memories we made.

So many hurdles for these girls and other athletes who had their seasons interrupted because of the Coronavirus scare. Uncharted territory. The closest reminder for me was 9/11 however none of these girls even remember 9/11 as they were not born yet. What a crazy reflection in this growing up post.

I now feel old and experienced in life having seen the Gulf War, 9/11 and now Coronavirus. Crazy to think my parents talked about the potato famine and I get to tell stories about the toilet paper famine.

This post is for my three musketeer trio and those junior coaches that paved the way before them. You know who you are.

coaching, inspire

Unexpected Motivation

I’m a coach. I love every bit of inspiring young kids. I enjoy watching them surpass their limits without even noticing. I admire the pure joy when they get better. I like to help kids stay fit early on in life. I like building a team or community with diverse players.

I even enjoy the uglier side of coaching. The side that includes a loss by one point or the athlete that has to overcome a bad performance. These struggles are life lessons and those learning the lessons have no idea how valuable those teaching moments were at that time. That’s the hidden beauty I see and get to experience!

As the high school season is about to start for lacrosse, I get to celebrate my past players when they reach a new level. As I was mid-post I got this heartwarming message from a family I coached for many years who now resides in another state:

Hey there, KK made varsity at her new school. She is thrilled, but you’re still her favorite coach😁😁🥍🥍🥍

Being a coach can be challenging but the rewards definitely fill your emotional tank. I had an experience with a young girl this week that I know from a distance. A few years younger than the group I normally take on, but circumstances allowed her to work with me on a special team. This unlikely pairing yielded unexpected motivation.

A great kid. A coachable kid. A hard worker. These are my favorite players to work with. The ones who are like a sponge. Ready to soak up the knowledge and soar. Maybe it’s the age? Could be since the age I’m normally with has hit puberty and normally has a mind of their own along with opinions and attitudes.

She had many firsts in her time with our team. First goal, new friends, new game rules, new field format, and higher level of competition. She attacked it all with a positive spirit, a smile and an “I can do it” attitude. She exceeded all expectations and she was thankful for her opportunity.

If her successes were not the icing on the cake then what was? What made this player special was she told me she wanted to be an author when she grew up and she knew I was an author. She did her research. She was a fan. Not the fan that wanted your autograph but the fan girl that wanted to know about the writing process. How to make her dream a reality.

How to become a writer is much like being an athlete. You have to keep working to get better. You have to have content to write about. You need to be consistently working hard to improve. You need to evolve.

The smile on her face and mine when we made this connection was the beginning of a new relationship. One of a different kind of mentoring. A challenge that I will look forward to. Motivation for both of us. Inspiration for both of us.

She likes a good plot twist. A murder mystery. A novel with a twist. She is well on her way to hitting her lofty goals as a writer.

When I put my head on my pillow as I write this entry I sigh and say life is good. No money was made in this transaction. No strategic planning was needed. Just raw opportunities to inspire another. If that’s not motivation I don’t know what is.

This weekend I traveled with my team. I was their coach. I had a job to do. What I got in return was memories, motivation and an abundance of inspiration. If I was asked to sum up my coaching experience this weekend in one word, I would say amazing.
Simply amazing.

dare to be different, friendship

A Little Chick Story

I am sure some of you are looking for a flirty chick flick type of story, but this is just a chick story about where we got our start. Boring to some but memorable to us.

2 Chicks and a Pen met on the lacrosse field. One chick on each side of the fence which is so symbolic to our overall bond and relation in general. One chick was a coach and one chick was a spectator. A particular spectator who spent most days hiding under an umbrella avoiding the sun, the shade, people, and rain on any given day. The coach however was loud and in-your-face kind of coach which was what made the two most unlikely to be paired in the way we are today.

An unlikely duo developed a friendship first through their kids. Then quickly friends turned into extended family. From there the friendship developed into a deep-rooted partnership that took on the brand that we know today as 2 Chicks and a Pen.

3 children’s books published, a business formed, countless blog adventures documented, thousands of fans around the world, and so many memories made. From napkin scribbles at a local restaurant to book signings to field research destinations, we have experienced so much on our path and we have so more ahead of us.

The picture below shows us running a 15k together this month. We have also run a half marathon, some 5k extreme races and some 10k races together. I’m sure when we started writing together running races wasn’t even a blip on the radar. Now we schedule fitness events throughout the year. This is just one of the ways we have grown in love of fitness, friendship and ability to share stories with others.

The way the story goes, we launched in 3 days according to Chick 2, but that’s fairly inaccurate. We actually have several years under our belt currently. Originally we connected almost immediately but that’s not 3 days or even 3 weeks. We began using writing prompts as a way to get to know each other. We traded countless hours writing and chatting. Trust followed.

Soon after, 2 Chicks and a Pen hatched as a legitimate business entity. Goals were set. Timelines established. Projects mapped out on the horizon. We went on to naturally evolve as writers, motivators, athletes and so much more. Our story is unique to us. Nobody will be able to replicate our vision.

The creative spark we have is definitively categorized as amazing. Our timeline is limitless. Our zest for life and sharing it on a large scale is fearless. Our opposite personalities is part of the dynamic. We just do things the #2chx way.

Our journey has had many twists and turns and ups and downs to say the least. We live life so it’s expected. Juggling families, careers, life and our own personal journeys. Somehow on our path Chick 2 joined the Crossfit movement and hasn’t looked back. We did some research and development on nutrition and used ourselves as guinea pigs. Some of these stories we share on this very blog. That’s just one of the side bars that spun off of 2 Chicks. One of many.

We took the road less traveled. We are a legal business entity. We register our business and pay taxes each year. We have a big online presence yet we are active in our community. We have an expensive hobby but we set out with a goal to improve lives through literacy. Whether we write on paper, print our stories in book form or write online we are communicating in our grandest fashion. We are succeeding at our mission and leaving a literal legacy behind.

Word wizards of sorts. We have so much to share some days that we are busting at the seams. While other days we may suffer from writer’s block and can’t string a sentence together. One chick may hold on to featured articles for days or weeks or even months on end until they reach perfection. One chick may write away fast in the moment but has to rewrite several times to correct typos. It’s a creative process for us. We do it over and over and love every opportunity we can sink our teeth into.

My favorite memory to date is reading our stories to kids and having them ask questions about us, our writing process and the whys behind the stories. When they realize what’s beyond the book itself their curiosity sparks. I want to be a writer! I want to be an illustrator! I want to make a cartoon book with my friend! Those innocent but curious minds are in growth mode. Exposing them to our stories lets them see opportunities for themselves. Infinite opportunities.

Chick 1’s writing process is notably different than Chick 2’s. Neither is wrong or right, just different. We are constantly evolving and choosing our path(s) as we mature in our creative minds. Keep watching.

We appreciate you joining in on our public ride or chickscapades whether it’s one post you read or many. We leave a trail of chick dust here, there and everywhere. You may see us on the web, maybe you follow us on Instagram, maybe you catch our tweets, maybe you are one of our local pals who knows us around town. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, we love you.

As Valentine’s week is upon us. We wanted to share a little of our inside story to you. As a sort of love story for the world. Our love of literacy. Our passion for serving others through words. Who doesn’t love a good back story.

Give us a like online. A social share. Be our Valentine this year. Send us a sweet note. A quick feedback note can let us know what you like about our brand. If you don’t like us it’s okay, we know we are not a one-size-fits-all model. That’s why you can choose to visit our page or invest in our books.

2 Chicks’ next public event is on 2/22/20, an event honoring Veterans and supporting suicide prevention efforts, which is near and dear to both Chicks’ hearts. If you are interested in getting involved check out this link. You can donate online.

http://www.official22wod.com/

Happy Valentine’s week!

fitness and nutrition

Your Feet Stink

Stinky feet is no laughing matter when it comes to teens who play sports.

Let’s take my daughter. She plays lacrosse and on a tournament weekend she can play 3-5 games outside in the elements. Her shoes will be sweaty, wet and dirty at any given time or pretty much all the time. We change her socks multiple times. We rest her feet in Crocs between games to sit them out. We go to extremes in my mind to prevent the foot funk!

Add in the eeew factor of being a teen and the chronic stench of shoes with no socks or socks that haven’t been washed in what seems like months you get the most awful smell in the world. Limit the airflow (like in a car) and you are doomed.

Carpool with three teammates and that funky smell just multiplied to an epic level. Add in the gear bags and their bodies after a day at the ball field in extreme heat and let me just tell you it’s enough to burn your eyes, throat and turn your stomach upside down.

And that is just feet and perspiration. I didn’t even mention the car farts that come because they can’t use the darn porto-potty!!!

What got me to write about this was a recent car ride to the field with an SUV full of three girls. We were running late so they all went to put on their cleats in the car and boom! The driver and I almost passed out. I hung my head out the window, gasping for air. The girls said “you’re crazy, it doesn’t smell,” and proceeded to pass a shoe to the front of the vehicle.

That was it. The window was down so the shoe is immediately held out the window. We approach a red light and the car next to us is laughing uncontrollably. I make eye contact. They say “please roll up your window, the stink is reaching our vehicle now.” My jaw dropped.

I was horrified. The smell was validated. The kids were in shock as well but found it funny. If only I had a picture of my face in that moment.

The light turned green. The guy in the neighboring car says, “good luck today. We have the same smell over here in our carload. That’s why we laughed when we saw your arm and head out the window!”

So why do feet stink so bad? Those shoe balls don’t work. Neither do the oils you spray in the shoes. And washing is no help either. Does anyone have any suggestions to cure stinky feet syndrome?

I am pretty sure the nail salon hates me when I bring this child in for a pedicure because they have to work so close to and actually touch those nasty things she calls feet.

I really don’t remember my feet stinking like that as a kid.

I hope my stinky feet blog made you giggle not hurl.

adventure

Summer Adventures, Part 2

Sarasota, Florida was the destination and adventuring was the name of the game.

Girls trip time. 5 girls in tow. 3 teens and two mommas ready to see what they can cram into a few days at the beach destination.

Roof top swimming upon arrival. What a blast to see the sun set and enjoy the atmosphere after some time in the car. Some quick photos for the girls by the moonlight. Early rise to travel the town by bike the next day. The bike seat was nothing short of uncomfortable but it was a beach bike and it was on our must do list. We rode to the bay and explored away. Uncomfortable? Maybe, but adventure nonetheless.

We unexpectedly found a bike decorated at the bayfront near a tiki bar. We were not sure if it was a symbol of death by the water as it was decorated in white and was somewhat angelic. Boy, were we wrong! It was a symbol of peace and and we discovered this after asking about the history of the bike at the hotel. And then our unexpected adventure began…

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How many of the randomly decorated bikes could we find in the next few days? The next one was the mustard yellow one on the corner and then the old school ten speed adorned with flowers in the park. How many more will we find?

 

 

We stumbled on a kids bike decked out in print but somebody actually wrote junk not art on this one…check out the seat in the pic. Each bike is chained to a post of some sort and they are randomly scattered across the city. Next up was pink cheetah print. This one might have been one of my favs but that’s because we found this while driving and had to make a u-turn to snag a photo.

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We were on a scavenger hunt of sorts. We found a baby blue bike on the shore just over the bridge after a day on the beach. We made this a photo opportunity for our crew at sunset. We had to bang another u-turn again to catch the butterfly bike and then we caught the odd bird house bike at red light the last day we were in town.

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Unexpected adventures can yield to unexpected fun, just like the group of new friends we had dinner with one night. All types of backgrounds came together to chill and enjoy some conversation, cocktails and food. Unplanned, unexpected good times.

And the last bike we found was a scary octopus looking bike full of scales of some sort. What a whirlwind adventure that was unplanned. We got to learn a little about a local artist while on our trip and just got to share in some sleuthing with the girls as we were out and about each day.

Fun Friday was set aside for the beach and I was on a mission. I had to complete a handstand challenge. A handstand unassisted on the beach. In public. In my bathing suit. Feet kissing and no assistance. Can miracles happen? Well I had been practicing in the weeks approaching the trip and I was confident, but I never even attempted a handstand on a soft surface like the sand. Would I fall over? Would I chicken out? Would my friend capture the moment for proof?

Well, I am happy to report it’s a done deal. I sealed the deal and can officially take this off my bucket list. It might not be the prettiest handstand but it’s a freestyle handstand. No wall to catch me. No support. Just me putting in work. My day, my week and my month was complete in that very moment.

 

#goalgetter even on vacation. I mean, my pal David told me it’s not a beach trip until you do a handstand on the beach so hopefully I will continue to be fit enough as I age to continue this new beach tradition with whomever my travel mates are.

And then there was the cherry on top…. the young girls did handstands with me. A triple threat. A handstanding trio. That’s modeling, folks. Lead by example and people around you will want to level up and see what they can do, too. None of us were gymnasts. We just wanted to do beach handstands. And handstands we did.

Done and done. A few short days of rest and relaxation along with car ride giggles and snacks and of course late night chats and tropical frose drinks. Can’t complain about the adventures I had these past few days.

Wonder where my summa adventures will take me next time. I bet it will be stateside but you never know. Stay tuned!

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family

For Dad

 

We sat in the parking lot in Virginia, 7:45 am last Sunday.

“My dad would be so proud of me,” I told the teens in the back seat. “I found the 24/7 taco place.” Street tacos with cilantro and onion on corn tortillas. Authentic. Just like the tacos he took me to eat at one of the first real taquerias in Atlanta over 30 years ago.  “Yelp says it’s a Richmond institution.”

Now, I can’t say I am truly just like him. He’d have ordered the tripe or tongue tacos or other more exotic meats. I’m a carne asada and al pastor girl. He would have gone crazy on the hot-hotter-hottest salsa bar. I chose the only one that said mild.

Dad, who loved to talk about how he didn’t even eat a taco until he was 25. He spent the rest of his life making up for lost time.

Then, after cheering for my daughter and her teammates at a lacrosse tournament, those teen girls and I drove a bit north to Kings Dominion.

Even with his broken body, my dad loved a great roller coaster. He could tell you the history and all kinds of fun facts about any coaster in the country, not to mention the first time he rode it. We even belonged to American Coaster Enthusiasts growing up. So spending Father’s Day at Kings Dominion was a fitting way to honor him. He also loved carousels, band organs, all things carnival and amusement. I don’t ride every roller coaster but I hope I’m getting better at embodying his sense of adventure.

What’s funny is I didn’t start out this Father’s Day thinking “what would my dad do today?” I didn’t set out to make the day a tribute to him.

It was after I stood back and reflected that I saw that some of the ways I do life and travel naturally reflect what he taught me by example.

Cheer for your kids. Be interested in what they like and want to do. Nurture those interests.

Eat at little, out of the way places. Take the scenic route sometimes. Try the local specialty. Support small, family businesses.

Be curious. Ask questions. Listen to the answers.  Ask more questions. Keep learning.

Ride roller coasters and merry-go-rounds. Embrace life’s ups and downs and even the rough, bumpy spots.  Delight in the unexpected. Enjoy the ride.

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