Tuesday, August 30, 2011

BMXing with my Brothers

I grew up with two brothers and NO sisters.  So, even though I had my own things that seemed girly (ballet and cheerleading), I wasn’t really the girly, girl type.   I was always getting into whatever my two brothers were doing too.  They loved to play army outside, and ride their bikes and set up ramps to jump over, and all that fun stuff.  And, being the lone girl, I wanted to be a part of it all too.   And, let me tell you that neither of my brothers had any fear at all!

So, when they set up bicycle ramps and started jumping bikes in the street, I thought it would be fun to do it too.  Only, they had some crazy mad skills… and I didn’t.  Regardless, they were always willing to let me have a go at it. 

So this one day, Scott thought it would be fun to set up a ramp under a pine tree in the front yard.  His goal was to ride the bike over the ramp and get airborne high enough try to grab the lowest branch and just hang on.   It was going to be a super cool stunt if he could pull it off.   And he did!   But… I was not going to be outdone!  So, I wanted to try it…

So, I get on the bike and go over the ramp.  I reach up for the branch and SUCCESS!!! I grab it and let the bike go flying!  Hurray!... Only the next thing I know, I hear a loud CRACK!  The branch snapped and my big old fanny hit the ground with a huge thump.  But, I didn’t exactly hit the ground.  I hit one of the roots of the tree right smack on my tail bone.  It sent a wave of nausea through me like an army brigade!  I’m pretty sure that Scott and Chris were rolling on the ground laughing, but it was all a big blur to me.  They kept fading in and out as I was trying to decide if I would pass out or throw up!   I mean this knocked me SILLY!

Then they came over to help me up.   I tried to make my way into the house, but it truly looked like I had a big corncob stuck up my fanny.  And it hurt like crazy!   I went in to tell my mom that I fell on a root, and she just looked at me and said… ‘Well that’s what you get for doing crazy stuff.’   I got absolutely NO sympathy.  And, did I mention that my mom is June Cleaver?  So, for her to not be the doting mom meant that either: A… she didn’t believe me or  B… I had crossed WAY over the line!   I’m not sure which it was, but she wasn’t having any part of my complaining. 

Well let me tell you that sitting down for the next week was not easy!   Once I was down it was fine for about 5 minutes.  But after that, it would just start hurting again.  And getting back up was horrible.  Yowser!   I had a big bruise on my tailbone, and a lot of laughing from my brothers every time I tried to get up.   

My brothers continued to race their bikes and jump ramps and all that fun stuff.  And, they were actually quite good at it!  But… that was my last bicycle ramp.  I’m quite sure the boys don’t even remember, but they were glad to get the silly girls out of the mix anyway!   I still liked to ride dirt bikes with them, but I stayed away from all the ramps (and low hanging branches) from then on.    Hey… I’m not crazy!  One major butt buster in your life time is enough!   

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Girls Night Out

I had a wonderful dinner the other night with my best girlfriends.  It’s always a laugh a minute.  Being the trendsetters that we are (ha), we decided to visit this trendy restaurant downtown called Via.  Well, let me tell you that I am not so sure Via was ready for us! 
We got there and the very pretty waitress sat us at a table with cushy seats.   The lights were pretty low to create ambiance.  When she handed us the menus, we told her that we needed to see the dessert menu first.  Of course this always throws them off for about 30 seconds.   But, then they realize that we’re serious, and they laugh and comment about how cool it is that we eat dessert first.   And, sometimes, they even mention that they wish their moms were as cool as us. (hahaha!)   This night, however, the lights were so low that NOT one of us could even read the menu.  We tried our best, but finally, I had to get up and go over by the door to even see the menu.  And, the seats were so cushy that getting up was not so easy.  Picture this... we’re trying to look trendy, we’re old, we can’t read the menu, then we can’t seem to get up without groaning, and we want our dessert first…  You would have thought that we were there for the early bird special!  
Finally, a table opened up near the window, and our sweet waitress moved us over there.  Success!  We had enough light to see the menu.  And, it probably would have been better for everyone if we couldn’t.  We ordered  2 desserts to share,  Crème Brule cheesecake and some little donuts with raspberry and chocolate dipping sauce.  Yum… It didn’t take us long to devour this. 
Then, we started looking over the menu for our entrees.  Pat quickly honed in on French fries.   She said “Ya’ll listen…  last night I told Randy I wanted French fries, and he told me that I just needed to STOP!  He said I was Out of Control!   Who is he to tell me what to eat?  Well… I’m ordering a BIG plate of fries and then I’m gonna go home and tell Randy that I ate EXTRA fries just for him.  I may even dip them in chocolate! “  Ha!  You go girl!  So, when the waitress came back to remove our dessert plates and take our orders, we told her to leave the chocolate sauce (just in case).   
Oh my heavens, we ate too much and laughed a lot!  Thankfully, no one peed their pants at the table.  Although, I’m pretty sure Pat was close at one point!   Our reputations as trendsetters would have been tainted (for sure) if one of us had to put on the Depends!   J    All in all, a good time was had by all!  I’m sure that there were several guests in the restaurant that thought we were drinking heavily, even though we weren’t.     And our sweet waitress got to start her brand new job with 3 crazy ladies that ate dessert first, dipped French fries in chocolate sauce (yes, we did!) and didn’t care one bit if she didn’t know everything there was to know about the menu!   It will be a long time before she waits on anyone else quite like us. Fifty may be the new forty, but  French fries in chocolate sauce is the new broccoli!  Who says we’re not trendsetters?       

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Find your inner Bethany

This past weekend,  I watched the movie ‘Soul Surfer’ with my daughter.  If you haven’t seen it, rent it!   It’s a movie about Bethany Hamilton, an up and coming surfer that was attacked by a shark while surfing.  Yes… the movie was very well made, and very inspirational.  And, after the week I had, inspiration was exactly what I needed.

I was coming off of a very difficult 10 days of long hours, closing delays, people unable to move in because people DIDN’T move out, people that were mad at me because one owner decided not to rent to them because they had no income, etc.  There were a lot of things going on that were out of my control, but I felt like I had to fix it all!  And, in doing so, I completely exhausted myself and my husband.

Well, I sobbed my way through the whole movie.  Mind you, there were sad tears, happy tears, laughing tears, big tears, little sniffles, tears of triumph, tears of joy, and at one point, tears for NO REASON!   I felt like I was watching one long Hallmark commercial, and I just couldn’t stop!   I’m pretty sure Rachel looked up a time or two and chuckled at me.  But, oh the relief and joy I felt when it was all over.

This young girl’s indomitable spirit just hit a note with me.  Yes, she lost her arm to a shark attack.  She didn’t understand why such a bad thing could happen, or how she would ever make anything good of it. But she had an amazing spirit, and some amazing people perfectly placed in her life to help.  And, just when she felt like giving up, she had a milestone that made her realize she could go on.  And she did.  She inspired a lot of people who have roadblocks of one kind or another.  She inspired me.

You see, I’ve seen a lot of people lately that are in bad shape for one reason or another.  In fact, lately, with this real estate market, I see more people that are struggling than people that are not.  And I spend the good part of my day encouraging people to just hang on and we’ll keep trying.  And by the end of the day, I’m totally spent.  And,  with this market, there are days that I feel the same way they do.  But it’s not in my nature to give up.  So, seeing someone else conquer their disabilities always inspires me to fight past mine and to count every single blessing I have.   

There’s a line in the movie where her father tells her that a good surfer can just feel the wave and know that something big is coming. They have to get very quiet and just feel it.   I paused the movie and explained to Rachel that I completely understand that.  I come in from running every day and sit in my sunroom for some quiet time.  I use that time to just be still and listen to what God is bringing my way. I recharge, but I also listen.  And it’s in those quiet moments that I am reminded that  I can handle whatever is coming today.  

Sometimes, the best way to remember that you can get through your own challenges is to see someone else win theirs. And when you see someone like this precious girl, Bethany Hamilton, lose her arm, and fight back to find the good in it, it makes you realize that your problems aren’t so big. There are people out there that face bigger obstacles than we do every day and never give up.  Seeing someone else work through their challenges gives you hope.   Working through your own takes courage.  So, get in touch with your inner Bethany, and push through.   You just never know… when you find your own strength… you may inspire someone else to find theirs.  

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Waitress Fiasco

We were out of town for 2 days last week at a softball tournament.  And after sitting in the hot sun all day watching 4 ball games, the parents were looking for some liquid refreshment of the adult variation.  The coaches had planned to take all the girls to dinner for a “bonding” session and the parents were wanting to be anywhere BUT there.  We bond with our kids every day!  We wanted a night out. J   

 So… we ran across this little Irish Pub that looked interesting and several of us decided to try it out.  Walking in the door, we noticed that it was pretty empty, and so we thought we shouldn’t have a problem getting seated.   The sign said “seat yourself”  so we pulled a couple of tables together.   When the waitress saw that there were 9 of us, she just let out this huge sigh.  She was literally flustered before we all sat down.  And, when we told her that we would like separate checks (mind you only 4, NOT 9) she just looked at us like we were from another planet.  She wasn’t rude at all.  But it was pretty clear that we were adding the final straw that was going to take this girl right over the edge. 

Then she asked us what we wanted to drink.  Mind you, we’re in an Irish Pub that has a huge sign up advertising their new Cider and all the different drink combinations that you can make with beer and cider.  So one person asked for a drink off the sign.  She just gave a puzzled look and said “I’ve never heard of that!   You mix Guinness Stout with Cider? “    At this point, I saw one person at the table raise their eyebrows.  He laughed and said “It’s called a poor man’s Black Velvet”.   She still had this puzzled look on her face.  She wrote it down and went on the next person.  By the time she took our orders, she had learned about 4 new drinks from her menu.  And, she finally said,  “I don’t know any of these drinks, I’m a bud light girl myself!”   We all just chuckled, and blew it off.

Our drinks came to the table just fine, and then we ordered food.  She slowly wrote everything down as we ordered.  All was fine when the food came out.  Everything seemed right, and we were really enjoying our food.  She stopped by the table and asked if everything was OK.  When we said yes, she said “Well good!  Then I am not going to lie to you!  I’m going outside to take a smoke break!   Haha”… Again, we all laughed. 

The food was delicious!  But then it came time for the check.  She came to the table and handed us each our bills.  Everything looked OK, but she had left Tom’s meal off our check.   We didn’t want to cheat the restaurant, so I told her that she left it off.  So, instead of going back and fixing mine, she took all the ticket from us and went back to fix it. 

There was a mistake on someone else’s bill.  Then she took them back again.  Then again.  Then again.  Every time, she was completely flustered that she wasn’t getting everything right.  We didn’t mind, but it was getting a little comical.  After she thought she had everything right, she came back to the table and announced that she had paid our bill with someone else’s debit card.  Whew! Again, she collected all the checks to see what she did wrong.  Bless her heart!  Then she came back and said  “ I didn’t mess it up after all, , but now your bill just disappeared!  We can’t find it!”   What???   By this time, she went back to the computer to figure it out with her boss. Tom joined them.  When I looked over, she was crying.  Boy did I feel bad!   After 15 minutes of trying to figure out my bill, she had had enough.  I think the camel’s back was finally broken!

When she collected herself, she came back to the table, and she proudly announced “OK!  I’ve got it right now!”   And, to be honest, if she didn’t, I didn’t care!  I was willing to pay whatever I could just to GO!    While Tom was with them, they saw what was happening.   Every time she entered the “special of the day” it just would just drop off the check.   And once they discovered it was a computer glitch, I think it truly made her day to figure out that she wasn’t crazy!  This flustered waitress had a whole new attitude about her.  I have to say that I admired that she never gave up trying to make it right.  Even when she couldn’t figure out what she was doing wrong, she kept going back over it again and again.

So, did we tip her?   Of course we did!  She needed it!  And on the way out the door,  I just sent a little prayer that the rest of her night would be wonderful.  And, I’m sure it was!  It could only get better from here!    

Friday, August 12, 2011

Drive the Boat Linda!

When we were little, my dad bought his first boat and decided to take us all to the lake to learn to ski.  I don’t remember how old we were, but we were pretty young… maybe 6, 7 and 8 at the time. We were so excited!  We just thought this was the greatest thing since sliced bread.

When we got to the lake, Dad instructed us on how he was going to slowly back the boat (trailer and all) down the ramp with us in it.    Mom was going to be holding the rope, so NOTHING was going to happen to us.  But, we needed to be still and quiet so that we would not fall out.  We were all dressed in life vests, and every safety precaution had been made.  Mom was smiling, but let me tell you that she worries about EVERYTHING,  so I’m sure her brain was going about 100 mph. 

So… Dad backed the boat down the ramp and we are sitting there quietly (yeah right!)… We weren’t the quiet types.  We were too excited to be quiet.  And we just couldn’t wait to get moving.  But, while Dad was parking the car and trailer, we noticed that the boat was filling up with water.  It was coming in fairly quickly and we all started yelling.  Dad came running and jumped in to help us bail out water.  Mind you, it wasn’t THAT much water, but it was coming in faster than we could bail it out.  I wish I could tell you that we were calm… but that would be a lie, and I don’t lie. J  But, Dad quickly figured out that we weren’t sinking!  He had just forgot to plug the drain holes in the back, and water was coming in there.  Crisis averted… let’s ski! 

So… after we drove around the lake for a little while, Dad finally drove us out to the middle to let us figure out this skiing thing.   He talked to us about boating safety and asked Mom if she wanted to learn to drive.  Of course, she said NO WAY!  But, Dad turned off the boat, got out of the driver’s seat and sat on the edge of the boat.  He was bound and determined that she was going to drive.  He explained that she HAD to know how because if something happened to him, she wouldn’t be able to get the boat back to shore.  She quickly explained that SHE wasn’t going to let anything happen to him. (Smile)  Of course, we all WANTED to learn to drive the boat, and we wanted to learn to SKI!  So, we wanted them to get on with this lesson and get us in the water.

Mom wouldn’t budge.  She sat there and continued to say that she didn’t want to learn to drive.  So then my Dad made a fatal mistake!  He sassed my Mom!  I can remember it like it was yesterday.  He said “LINDA, you’re a chicken! You’ve got a yellow streak down your back as wide as you are! And it’s this wide! ”   Then he held up his hands pretty far apart.  OH NO he didn’t!  Oooohhhhh!  Mom was out of her seat in a flash and gave him a big shove.  Dad went right over the edge backwards.   Mom gave us the “Oh Crap “  look and we just sat there in SHOCK!    The next thing that happened was a blur. In one swift move, Dad came up and out of the water like a flying fish!  I tell you, it was like he pushed off the bottom and just landed in the boat all in one move.  And he was NOT happy!  He started emptying his pockets.  Bam… wet wallet on the floor of the boat… Bam!  keys… bam!  sunglasses.   He didn’t say a word.  NO ONE did!  You have never (and probably will NEVER)  see the three of us so quiet (or so still).  We were scared to death to move!  

Dad grabbed the keys, cranked the boat and drove back to the shore in DEAD silence.  We knew better than to whine about not getting to ski.  We knew better than to say a word!  We also knew better than to even look at each other because one of us would probably start crying, or worse… start laughing.   I’m pretty sure no one spoke on the way home either.  So, there we sat… in the back seat staring straight ahead for what seemed like hours.  But, as soon as we got home, we couldn’t hold it any more.  We ran to the boys’ room and started laughing.  Then Mom came in to check on us and she started laughing (and crying at the same time).  And eventually, Dad joined us and laughed it off too.

Yes, we did finally get to learn how to ski that summer.  And, over the years, we all learned to drive the boat.  (None of us inherited that yellow streak from Mom. Haha!)     Mom even learned to drive the boat so Dad could ski.  But, when Dad tried to belly ski and swallowed way to much water because his precious children misread his “stop”  hand signals and told her to speed up, she opted to never drive the boat again. J   Let me defend her… she wasn’t getting back at him for the chicken remark, I promise!  It was clearly our fault!   Yet, still to this day, when I hear someone say “You’re a chicken”… I just chuckle and hope they NEVER say it to my Mom. J 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The funeral

Yesterday, I attended the funeral of a dear friend and colleague. The room was full of people that came to pay their respects.  The pews were full and I was standing in the back.  As I listened to the eulogies of this amazing woman, it was clear that she was loved dearly.   She was, in fact, quite a dynamo, and it was no surprise to me that she was loved by so many people. 

So, why is it that when someone dies, you always stop to reflect on your own life for a minute.  Shouldn’t we be doing that every day?  But, we don’t… most of the time, we’re so busy making a living that we forget to make a life.  So,  as I looked around the room, I started thinking… (oh no… trouble, with a capital T). The first thought I had was “Begin with the end in mind ”  from the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey.  It’s the line of thinking that everything you do should be because you have a specific result in mind.    I was wondering…Would people be saying nice things about me?  Have I contributed to society enough that there would be people actually wanting to share a funny story about me?  There are plenty of people that could tell some stories, but would they want to?   

Then I wondered… “would I draw a crowd?”   Now how funny is that?  What would I care?  I would be dead.  Why would I even think about that?    So, I sat there and weighed the options, and I decided that I didn’t want to draw a crowd… I wanted to live long enough that there weren’t very many people left to come.  Ha!  The thought train took a selfish turn… imagine that.   But, I went right back on track when I realized that it would mean that I would lose a lot of wonderful people along the way, and I didn’t want to do that either.  Dang!   

Then I wondered… if there were actually people there, would they be celebrating my life or celebrating my death.  I certainly didn’t want anyone dancing and singing “Ding Dong, the witch is dead!”     But I wouldn’t mind anyone having a 5 second dance party or doing the happy dance to celebrate my life.  

So… as I left the funeral, I looked up and thanked my friend for bringing all these crazy thoughts to mind.  You see, she lived a life worth living. She was full of joy even to the end.  And, once again, she reminded me that I need to live a life that makes a difference to others too.   So, I made a promise to go out the door and do my best to be a blessing to others.

 Life is way too short to sit on the side lines. We need to handle people with love and patience.  We need to dance and make others dance with us!  Sing off  key!  Laugh!  LIVE!    Don't wonder if people will be sad when you go.  Just make them happy while you're here.   You see… we really have no control over how and when we go.  But, we CAN control how we stay.  J  

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Coach Tom's Hair Bows

My oldest daughter started playing softball when she was 6 years old.  Tom was her coach.  She loved playing, but I think he loved coaching more.  About the time she was 7,  we started playing at a new park so that she could play fastpitch instead of slow pitch.  Being new to the park, the other dads thought they could use that to their advantage during the draft and leave Tom with the players that hadn't really played much.  And, let's not forget to mention the fact that Coach Tom had a pony tail, and most of the other coaches were big brawny, clean cut southern boys. He didn't exactly look like he fit in.   Of course all the other coaches thought they had stacked their teams, so it would be an easy season for them.  But they were in for a surprise.    When they asked for everyone to pick team names,  again, we were left with the one  no one wanted... the Wahoos.   I thought it was a cool name.  I had no idea that a wahoo was a fish... but, it really sounded like a fun name!  

During the pre-season practices, it was clear that Tom was starting at square 1 with a few of the girls. But, this thrilled him.  He absolutely loved teaching them.  He had a drill for everything, and he made it fun for the girls.  As team mom, I felt it necessary to be the head cheerleader.  So before the first game, I listened in on Coach Tom's pre-game speech.  When he finished his pep talk, I stepped in and said, "Hey girls, if you win this game, Coach Tom will wear a bow in his ponytail for the next game!"  The girls all cheered. Coach Tom wasn't thrilled with me at all.  But he was a good sport, so he agreed.  And... Coach Tom wanted to win.:)    

The team name turned out to be absolutely perfect.  Everytime the girls did something good, we yelled "Waaaa Hoooo!".   It was annoying, but we loved it.  Best team name EVER!  It was fun!  And, to make it even cornier... the Hawaiian name for a Wahoo is the Ono.... So if the other team did something good, we would quietly say "oh no!"  and just chuckle!   Again... Best team name EVER!  Yep... these softball families didn't really know what to think of us.  

But all this cheering, and the promise of a hair bow, really made these girls try hard.  They won the first game!  And, before Tom could even say anything about the game, they sang  "Hahaha, you have to wear a haaaaiiiirrrr bow! "  So, any plans that they might forget went out the window.  

Before the next game, I bought some ribbon with our team colors, and glued a bow to a hair clip.  I bought extra ribbon and extra hair clips, just in case.  And before the next game started, we had a bow ceremony.  The girls all gathered in a circle and chanted  "Cooooaaacchhh Toooommmm,  Coooooaaaccchh Toommmmm" and did a little dance while I slowly clipped in the hair bow.  They were completely psyched!  Then came the question... "If we win again, will you wear the bow again?"  And, Coach Tom said  "If you win again, I'll wear 2 bows!"  And I chimed in... "we'll have a bow cermony after the win"  and held up the second bow! (Surprise Tom! )  

Well... this little team of "non-players" surprised a lot of coaches.  By the time the season was over, Coach Tom had 13 hair bows. He added one for each win.  They never lost a game!  The bow ceremony was more fun than the win at each game. The girls had a blast, and the parents had fun too.  Now, he REALLY didn't fit in with the other coaches... but he had their respect.

The co-coach for our team thought this was hysterical. He laughed and told Tom that he was glad that he had short hair so he didn't have to wear any hair bows.  But, he didn't know me very well!  I bought one of those ball caps with the built in pony tail, and clipped on 13 bows and presented it to him IN FRONT OF THE GIRLS!  Coach Dave had his own pony tail with hair bows for the championship game. 

Well... "Coach Tom with the Pony Tail" had a winning season.  And he had the hair bows to prove it.  But, he's not the only one that had a great season.  The girls had a blast!  They learned alot about softball, about winning with flair, and doing their best no matter what anyone else thought.    The tough country boy coaches learned alot too.  I think we all did.  You see, Coach Tom was there for the girls. He didn't care what anyone else thought, he cared about the team.  And... that is a true winner!