family, Teddie Aspen

Dog Lessons

It wasn’t long ago I was digging through boxes leftover from my childhood home. I ran across an American Kennel Club certificate. Maximillian was his name.

I had heard his name many times in my life, often with a sneer from one of my brothers. They loved their dog, and I was the reason we got rid of him. Maximillian, the prized pooch, couldn’t stop knocking me over as a newly walking toddler. So, he had to go.

All this to say, I didn’t grow up with dogs. I had a cat named Snoopy I treasured but was allergic to (a story for another post), but never a dog. I just didn’t get dogs. Never wanted one. And who knows, maybe I was even a little scared of them from all my hard knocks as a babe.

As an adult, when my family wanted to get a dog, I resisted. We even had a dog live with us for a while that didn’t really work out. We ended up taking him to a new home where he could have the room and attention he needed.

Then Penny came along. My sister-in-law became her unexpectedly permanent foster mom. She needed a place to live and a family to love her. Would we be interested? I didn’t really want this at all. We could take her for a 2-week trial to see if we could handle it.

And she never left. We live together but I wouldn’t say she loves me. Still, my heart softened seeing how much everyone else loved her. She changed our family.

And then came the dog that I really did love. Chester. The unlikely, homely, wiry guy from the pound. The underdog. I didn’t even know why we would ever need 2 dogs. I was just getting used to 1! Then Chester who got scared by sudden movements and noises, Chester who always backed out of the room…Chester came along. He was very shy at first but eventually came around and became sweet, playful Chester. He loves to run and bound through the woods, and his sad eyes will pull at your heart strings every time. Chester changed my heart about dogs.

Now there’s the newest member of the clan named Nash, who I’ve taken a liking to. I even embrace my extended family and friend’s dogs. Heck, I even get to walk dogs and dog sit once in a while. Truthfully, I still don’t know how to act around dogs, and they can tell. It doesn’t come naturally for me and maybe never will. Thankfully, I’ve learned that many dogs are pretty forgiving if you at least try. They teach me about protection, loyalty, priorities and unconditional love. They seem to bring out the best in people just by being there and present in the moment. That bowls me over in the best of ways.

adventure, friendship

The Tale of the Pizza Shop

I was craving pizza. A loaded pizza. Full of amazing toppings. Pepperoni that was crisp and curled. Onions that were cut just right. Green peppers for some color. Mushroom for flair. And I can’t forget the best meatball slices on the planet. That’s the pizza I’m craving. A pizza from a cozy mountain pizza spot named Twisted.

Twisted pizza is such a fitting name. Twisted with any toppings you desire. Twisting your tastebuds as you devour the pizza. Mmmmmm I wish you could smell the cheese and yummy toppings.

Twisted.

Twisted is how this story came about. The twisted tale of the pizza and a coke. A fountain coke no less. Oh the adventures we have. 2 chicks. 2 flipping cokes. A damn pizza and some sticky fingers. That’s all I got. No really, it gets so much better.

My cohort started this nightmarish episode on a frightful October night in a scary part of town that just happens to have the best pizza in town. It’s takeout only because of covid. She asked do I want a drink at the checkout? No I’m taking the pizza to go. We wait in the car for the pizza man to deliver the pizza. It seems like a long time because mountain time is like beach time….Sloooow.

A revelation hits her or she decides to speak about her annoyance. You know we don’t have any coke, she exclaims. If I’m having pizza I need a coke. What? I need a coke. You said no to coke. I really need a coke. Okay let me get a coke. No they only have bottled coke and I don’t drink bottled coke. Is this for real?

Do I need to get a fountain coke for you? Yup! Okay I’m waiting in the car for the pizza so off she goes to the inferior pizza place a few doors down in the same strip center…. yes it’s smart to have two pizza joints fighting for clients within 500 ft of each other, right? That might even sound a bit twisted.

Well the other joint has fountain cokes so there you have it. She is happy. I’m happy. But that’s not where the story ends…

She gets the coke. The lid is not quite the right size. The coke spills all over. Hence the sticky fingers noted above. A millions giggles later, she shakes her head at the price of the Dixie cup full of coke ($4) but that’s because you get free refills… but we don’t get any refills in the parking lot. Again that’s so twisted. 

Then she says geez, that place was a buffet. It’s the place the pandemic forgot. A salad bar with cottage cheese. So many items free for all. And it’s open to the public. Guess they missed the rules memo from covid. I just entered a petri dish of pizza establishments and and and. All for a damn coke she said. I sighed and said a flat ass diet coke at that with zero fizz. What the what.

Did I mention she actually got a diet coke? A flat flat ass, no tasting diet coke. All that effort for such a little return. And so we decided to eat the pizza in the car. It was that kind of night. A parking lot pizza party with no music and lots of chomping and a coke to wash it down.

How the evening ended up of a parking lot pizza party with a coke. Don’t you wished you lived the extravagant and twisted life of two chicks? And had the balls to write about it? I mean the meatballs since we are clearly 2 Chicks with endless ink in our pen.

challenges

Taking it on the Chin

Confession time:  I am a klutz in the gym.  OK, actually I am a klutz anywhere, but it seems to be more noticeable in the gym.  Or maybe the bruises are just more obvious evidence and reminders.

First, there were the bruises from learning how to do power cleans.  I’d clock myself in the area under my neck, leaving a nice big quarter-sized bruise.

Then, there were the shoulder bruises that clean-and-jerks left when I slammed the dumbbell too hard in transition.

The chin bruises are their own special kind.  I may have a permanent lump from doing jumping pull-ups and barely getting my chin over the bar, then hitting it as I quickly came down.

Two other scary ones happened on the chin, too.  The first was on my birthday. During the workout and we were racing to do as many shoulder-to-overheads as we could in a short amount of time.  We had to break up the sets too.  It’s hard to explain, but doing them quickly kept me from having to do more burpees or box jumps or something else ugly.  Anyway, one time I cleaned the barbell to my shoulders and then pushed it up as hard as I could, which was great except that my chin was in the way.  I smacked myself so hard I saw stars.  Thankfully I put the bar down safely and regrouped but what a bruise that was.

The final one I’ll share here was a huge lesson learned (and truly cements my mega-klutz-with-a-side-of-airhead status). In a hotel gym they had a large rack of balls of different sizes.  I thought to myself, great, I can do some slam balls.  So, I grab one of the bigger ones, lift it over my head, then slam it as hard as I can to the ground.  Of course, as you can likely predict, it was not a 20-pound slam ball, but just an inflated hard bouncy ball.  It bounced with force and hit me on the chin where again, I saw stars.  The lesson here is:  first, test new equipment.  Second, don’t do new movements in the gym when you are by yourself.  I seriously could have knocked myself out.

I love working out, I really do, and my body is capable of way more than I thought possible.  But deep inside, I’m still the little girl who perpetually wore bandaids on her skinned-up knees, Dad calling me “Grace” in jest of his stumbly, klutzy, accident-prone daughter.  Hope it made you giggle, or shake your head, or some of you maybe feel a little less alone in your clumsy.

coaching

Kindness Note

I received a note of kindness or gratitude a couple of weeks ago from a previous person I coached. It was unexpected and full of sweetness from a young lady. I was over the moon excited that day because I was happy I made an impact.

Then just a few days ago I received another note of thanks but this one was a little different. This was from a player who didn’t make my team but worked hard as an alternate and continued to work on themselves to grow. They didn’t make my team but they made the next team they tried out for. They were appreciative of the coaching, development plan provided, and belief instilled in them despite my short interactions. I was literally swept away by a second young person.

I was again over the moon excited that whole day because I made an impact. It got me thinking about the depth of our relations, impacts and so much more. Many of the kids I coached have reached seniors in high school. Some will go on to play in college while others will enjoy their last years at the high school level.

Whatever their path I’m still cheering for them from afar. Who knew when I coached first graders, fifth graders, or high schoolers how deep my impact would go? I was doing a volunteer job. One I took pride in and invested not only my time but my everything in. It seemed thankless on some days yet it was all worth it when I look back.

There are days I miss coaching. There are also days I’m glad to not be coaching due to politics. At the end of the day I have years of coaching to look back on and I have years ahead to cheer for those I coached as they grow even more. This is the fun part or the added benefit of being a coach. The gift that keeps on giving.

As college commitment times are upon us, I am looking forward to seeing who gets invited to play at the next level, aka college. Not all may desire this path and that is okay. I will just cheer for them when they reach their own milestone, whatever they set in their mind as their next big thing.

I am forever grateful for my coaching time, families that have become friends, kids who have grown to adults and everything that goes along with coaching. The smiles, high fives, tears, wardrobe malfunctions, silly stories, etc.

If you have a chance to mentor or coach a person at any stage in life, go for it. You will receive an abundance of pride in helping another reach their potential that they may not see in themselves.

dare to be different

52 pickup

When I was a kid, I was one of those gullible types. (Ok, I still am, but that’s a different post). My older brothers enjoyed playing tricks on me. “Wanna play cards?” Of course, as the youngest, I always wanted to be invited to play by the older kids.

“Sure!” I replied.

“How about 52 pickup?”

“How do you play?”

Suddenly the whole deck of cards was thrown in the air. Jacks, deuces, aces all fluttering to the ground. “Thats 52 cards, now pick them up!” they’d say, laughing as they walked away.

And with a frown like a sad clown, I did.

Fast forward to adulting. Life is full of chores, duties, commitments. Most days are full of them.

For me, chores tend to become routines.

Grocery shopping Saturday. Meal prep Sunday morning. Cleaning Sunday afternoon.

Even little things have their routines. Every night when I get home I set up the coffee pot for the next day and either set out my gym / work clothes or pack my gym bag before I settle down.

Sometimes it’s almost like a challenge: Laundry goes in first thing when I get home from work on Friday. The challenge? I have to have all my clothes hung to dry by the time I leave for my gym class on Saturday morning. I have to stay alert to get this one done while I’m tired.

Edit the week’s blog posts on Sunday afternoon / evening so “publish” is all that’s left during a busy week.

At times, even my fitness routines become a part of it. 5:30 am CrossFit basically every day for a year. Before that it was working out after work. For a while it was run a 5k after work every Friday. 10 mile bike every Sunday morning.

For many parts of my life, I like routines. I like predictability. It keeps me on track. I get things done. When my meals for the week are packed and in the refrigerator Sunday afternoon, I feel calm and prepared.

Life isn’t stationary. Even in writing this I can see there are routines in my life that have come and gone. Commitments on Sunday afternoons shift cleaning to another slot on the weekly calendar. Waiting at sports practice provides opportunity for exercise of different times and types. Life keeps evolving and I shift and change and adapt. Small changes, small adjustments. What is important still usually gets done one way or another.

Once in a while life is more like a big brother and just asks you to play.

Next thing you know all your routines and commitments are tossed in the air and you get to pick them up, reassemble them into some sort of deck to play with. Chores to shuffle, meals to make, work to be done. But this time I was the one who tossed it all, and by choice.

Joys of weekend farm life shift Sunday’s chores further back. Editing blog posts later weekday evenings. Exercise as early in the morning as possible, sometimes at home. Laundry on Wednesdays and Sundays. Grocery shopping on Thursdays. Those cards are still the same, just shuffled differently.

Then there are the new cards. Furnishing a house. Farm chores. Helping run a new business. And don’t forget a couple of growing volunteer commitments, too. Some of these are wild cards, but they keep the game exciting.

I’m not usually one to gamble, but this new shuffle is keeping me on my toes. Learning, growing, creating a hand I’d bet on in spades.