Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Refreshing Vibe of Team USA

I obviously love swimming, especially the big meets like the Phillips 66 Nationals, which are World Championship Trials.  And there is just something about these women that make me so excited for USA Swimming and the generation that is in charge.  There is a refreshing vibe with the swim team that I have not seen in awhile, and it's such a breath of fresh air. The vibe seems to radiate from the lovely women of the water.  I find myself, as a spectator and a fan, refreshed by their attitude and everything they represent, both in and out of the water.

It all started with the You Tube video parody of  “Call Me Maybe" and ended with an amazing amount of hardware in London.

Gold, silver and bronze medals were won with not only pure guts and intensity, but also with the cool confidence that you get when you know you have some serious strength behind you. 

And that strength comes from the likes of Missy FranklinI said it over and over again, leading up to the London Games, “You may not know the name Missy Franklin now, but you will, and you will fall in love with her." For all those who don’t watch swimming during the three-year stretch between Games, she is everything you think, read, hear and more!  She is wise beyond her years, and even though she was a high school student, I felt like I should’ve been asking her advice on how to allocate my retirement account.  When you have a personality like she possesses, coupled with incredible talent and work ethic, it’s just pure magic.  She makes everyone better, the same way Jordan brought out greatness in his teammates on the court and in practice. And her teammates did the same for her.  From Katie Ledecky's pure youthful grit to Allison Schmitt’s infectious smile…the team was powerful, calm and (as crazy as it seemed) appeared to be swimming without a care in the world, completely stress free.

These young women are having fun all while breaking records, winning medals, and making history.  It’s the perfect balance between youth and pro sports.  Somehow, some way, they make it look so easy, and we soaked it up. 

That is the beauty of this leadership.  Picking up the USA Today and seeing a picture of Missy hugging Katie for placing second and making the World Championship team in the 200 freestyle    and 4X800 freestyle relay says you don’t have to be mean to be competitive, or to be great. You can be a positive force and bring out the best in one another all while being an accomplished individual athlete. With this kind of leadership, that is exactly what will happen.  And it will spread like strep in preschool...Even to the men’s team.

Momentum, chemistry…these are all very important concepts in the team sports that we watch and love.  But the same is true for this individual sport on the big stage. When your leaders are creating a close, positive environment, as one person does well, the domino affect begins. Can't wait to see what these ladies do in Barcelona. Go get'em girls, we will be watching, cheering and spread the positive spirit.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The strength of friends

When I met my friends in college, I had no real idea of what our friendship would mean or amount to in the future.  I had very close friends in high school, but for one reason or another as it often goes, we lost close contact.  And although we speak easily, there is often an emotional disconnect, too much of our lives have passed and too many experiences have shaped us. It's different with my college girlfriends. We've worked hard to remain close, and have witnessed and even walked through quite a journey in eachothers’ lives. 

We went from graduation in 1994 to our own versions of “real life," in different cities attempting different careers.  And through the ups and downs with every life decision and every important change, we have been there. Maybe not every girl for everyone, but the group, by extension, has been there.  With every UP, we have all been happy and lifted, and with every DOWN, we are all emotional yet stronger.

We have experienced the normal milestones together.  We have danced ourselves crazy at eachothers’ weddings and celebrated the pure joy of the arrival of babies.  When you are living it, sometimes you think, “I don’t know if I can take another wedding.” (Both for your dancing pride and wallet’s sake.)  And with every baby announcement, you send out your gift…all the while wishing you had just one more wedding to go to…to really live it up.  We have celebrated BIG birthday’s together in style, from 21st to last year’s 40th!  There is so much joy in those memories.

What I witnessed with my amazing girlfriends last weekend was the purest form of everything that makes a friendship real and true.  We celebrated the true courage, strength, and love for one of our friends as a mom, wife, and pillar in her community.  We watched her stand infront of us and speak from the heart about someone that was a part of her, who could not have been more special to her, and in turn, it made us reflect on our own lives.  We were a part of a backyard filled with love, warmth, compassion, and heartache, where there was not a dry eye to be found.  And as I sat, in awe, listening to my friend, I absorbed her message. A message we can all learn from and honor in our lives.
We are surrounded by gifts and messengers that are right in front of us each and every day to teach us the true meaning of our lives.  These mighty gifts are reminders of the amazing amount of love that exists.  Life taken for granted or moments wasted are not acceptable.
On that day, the strength of my friend and our group's combine strength was beautiful. Real, genuine love and our dedication to our friendship was on full display, and I was humbled and proud to be a part of it.  

In our journey through life, we will have many more milestones . . . milestones of celebration, birthdays with more adventures and more meaning, and yes, we will also have those sad days where we will rely heavily on the strengths of one another.  But I will live every day a little fuller to honor those moments because of my friends, my family, and because of the love I hold for those around me.  

I see my gifts.  They ask me to snuggle with them, swim with them, and teach them the ways of the world.  I am honored.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Summer Time

As the song says... “School’s out for summer!”  It is a beautiful feeling for kids, and can lead to full-on panic mode for parents.  How in the world do we keep these kids busy ALL SUMMER?  Well, summer is in fact only 90-some-odd days (depending on when your kids officially finish the school year) and by day 50, you will be thinking, “Oh my god, we have less than half of the summer left. Where did the time go?”  Don’t wait any longer. Start to schedule your memory makers now.

Memory makers are the events/moments in your kids' lives that they will never forget.  You know, like that perfect Christmas gift from Santa! I can vividly recall some of my favorite sometimes memories. I will never forget our family trips to Yosemite and Camp Curry, slip-N-sliding on the Sweats' lawn, sneaking people into the drive-in movie, whitewater rafting down the American River, and camping in my dad’s backyard.  I could go on and on with lists like this, but I think you get the gist.  Don’t let the summer pass by without some wildly spontaneous moments, or better yet, some well planned activities that will forever be cemented in the “BEST DAY EVER” column of your kid's brain. 

Summer activities could come in the form of a surprise late night movie on a Tuesday night,  or even more exciting, setting up a white sheet in your backyard to create you own drive-in movie experience (boy I miss those!) It could be that uber camping trip with several families where the kids have bikes and the adults have paddle boards...or just tents in the backyard...yay toys and s’mores for everyone. Or that first lemonade stand you helped your kids build to set up with the garage sale. It could be a summer slumber party for a "half birthday" celebration (and isn't it so much easier to tackle that in the summer than during the school year.) It could be signing your kid up for the camp of their dreams, even if they won’t recognize it as one of the best summer memories ever until they try it.  And nothing says fun like the random neighborhood cannonball contest.

So why not just start, host that BBQ you’ve been meaning to put together.  Don’t put so much pressure on yourself, send out the invites and ask people to bring things.  Food is good, but the company is better and that's what you'll remember.

Summertime is about FUN.  Some of it will happen on its own, but this is your friendly reminder that some of it needs to be scheduled.  Don’t wait until day 56 and panic, look through your family bucket list and start marking stuff off over the next few months.  There is no time like the present, or as my dad always said, “Life is a party only most damn fools don’t know they are invited!” Well, my friends, you are invited!