I Believe That Kindness Wins

Wanna hear a fun story? I haven’t written much since summer began, but I’ve been wanting to tell this one since it happened. It involves a few good staples of any summer vacation and a big dose of kindness.

I’m assuming by now you’ve all heard about the US Women’s soccer team winning that World Cup. Well, before they did that, a few of my friends and I made a last minute plan to go see the gals play the ladies from Germany in a semifinal game in Montreal.  We considered flying there, but plane tickets were a wee bit expensive with only a few days notice, sooooo…

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…ROAD TRIP!! Isn’t a road trip one of the best parts of summer?

There was head up...

Car games…

...fellow fans driving by...

…fellow fans driving by…

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…and RoadTrip Radio! Even though they wouldn’t let me play this one loud in the border crossing line.

Speaking of lines, let me cut to the best part of this story.  The whole trip was awesome…we walked out of our hotel on the way to the game just in time to see the team leaving their hotel across the street (Heeyyyy, Pinoe!), some nice Canadian bartender made us custom red, white and blue cocktails, we went on a little hike and especially the win, but I think we all agreed on our favorite moment.

We were feeling so excited as we walked to the metro station on our way to the stadium!  It might have had a bit to do with those America inspired drinks or else the Canadian beer, but mostly it was the hype of the game.  Lots of people were walking the streets in Montreal all decked out in their USA fan gear. It almost looked like the 4th of July.  What I guess we hadn’t thought so much about, was that all those people were going to the same place we were, so that when we walked into the metro station our pre-game bubbles deflated.  There was a crazy long line to buy tickets.  Super long.  All the way back to the back wall of the station long. Our hearts sank as we tried to squeeze into line.  I think we were all thinking the same thing, that we would miss the beginning of the game now. But we didn’t have a chance to say it or even really let the disappointment sink in, because the second we stepped into line, a man walked up to us and asked, “Are there four of you?” We all nodded, not sure what he wanted.  And then…he made our night!!  “Here you go!” he said and he fanned out four metro tickets in front of us. “Wait. What? For us?”  And then he explained, “Yeah, we just waited in that line and wanted to let someone else not have to.  Here you go! Have fun!”  OOOH! MY! GOOOOSH!!  Wasn’t that just a sweet and kind and super fun thing to do?! He just bought extra tickets to give away.  And he gave them to us!  Can you imagine our excitement?  It went a little something like this:  THANK YOU!  THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! And then we ran!  We fumbled with how to work the tickets at the turnstile, and then we ran some more.  Straight down the wrong set of stairs to the wrong track.  That’s when another nice man said, “Uh…ladies.  Do you want to be on the other side?”  We darted a look across the tracks and saw our people, all red, white and blue on the other side. YES! Yes, we definitely want to be on the other side!  We yelled out some more thank yous and took off running again.  We were smiling and laughing the whole way to the stadium.  We made it with just minutes to spare before the gals took the field and the whole night we kept saying, “Remember when that guy just gave us metro tickets?!”

And we vowed to pay it forward.  Because making it to the start of the game wouldn’t have been nearly as great if we hadn’t almost not made it to the start of the game. It was the kindness of a total stranger that fixed that.  He made us so happy!  Thanks again, metro man!

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And to all the people we cut in front of, I’m sorry. But not really.  I am a little bit sorry for taking a picture of you, Backwards Hat Girl, while you were looking kinda miserable and I was looking and being so happy. I’ll try to make it up by being kind to some other stranger sometime soon.

 

Ready or Not, It’s Summer!

So here I am, at the beginning of summer vacation.  I’ve been waiting and longing for this moment for the past several weeks.  I usually try hard to stay present and not really count down the days, but the ramped-up pace of the last few weeks of school did have me keeping my eye on this prize.  Something caught me a bit off guard over the weekend though.  I was suddenly hit with this feeling of not being ready for summer.  I was pretty much ready for school to be over.  Though it’s always a little tough and bittersweet to say goodbye to my students, that part I don’t really look forward to, most of the time, I was definitely ready for the busy-ness of the busy season to end.  I certainly don’t want to stretch school out any longer, but all of a sudden I had this mixture of sadness and maybe a little worry because I feel like I’m not quite ready for the clock of summer to start ticking away.  I need to make some plans!  I need a new swim suit! Seriously! How can all the swim suits I want be sold out already?!

OK, I really don’t care all that much about the swim suit, but I was having this weird anxious sort of feeling about summer starting. I was expecting to feel all jumping-in-the-air-clicking-my-heels-together excited like I do at the start of most summers, but that kind of wasn’t the case this year.  I’m quite sure it has to do with a whole host of factors.  A few of which I thought might be worth mentioning here.

One thing is that, endings are hard, even when you’re looking forward to what’s on the other side of the end. This year the end of school brought a few more goodbyes than usual as several close colleagues retired.  I’m often asked, as school is about to finish, about how to handle a child’s sadness and tears about the ending.  A few years ago, I started sharing Brene Brown’s Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto and directing parents to the part about teaching kids to feel their sadness instead of trying to take it away or brush it under the carpet. It’s hard to end something that was good.  It’s hard to adjust to the fact that you won’t be seeing the same people every day who you are used to seeing.  So I tell the kids that it’s ok to be sad about this. I am.  It’s ok to cry about this.  I did.  And then I remind them of an R-word (we’re big on R-words at our school). I tell them that they are resilient.  They will recover from this sadness and fairly quickly too.  I tell them that their heart can be sad and happy all at the same time, even if it feels very weird, it’s ok.  They’ll learn that this is the way of school (and life) and soon, before they know it,  they’ll be focused on pools and popsicles.  And so I’m telling myself the same thing.  (except I might focus on these grown up pops!  Scroll down for the boozy section.)

Another thing about the start of this summer that brought on some weird feelings for me, is the shift in schedule and that I don’t have all my plans all set. I don’t have a giant trip planned. I don’t even know what I’m doing for the rest of today. It feels like a little bit of a transition to go from the super scheduled and jam-packed days of June to the wide open days of summer.  Now, I know this is not an actual problem. There are people who are sick or hurt and there are huge injustices in the world, those are problems. I know plenty of people really deserve the wide-open days of rest and summer and some people never get them. I am so very grateful for mine.  I’m also very positive that I’ll come up with plenty of things to do and those wide-open days will soon be fun-filled.  I’m just saying, I felt a little uneasy about how my time would play out. I want my time to be well spent. I want this to be a really good summer.  But sometimes I fall into that whole trap of thinking that if I’m not being productive, I’m not spending my time well. And sometimes I get too caught up in planning and being “ready.” But only sometimes. I’m reminding myself of what I really know in my heart, that some of my most well-spent time and treasured memories have been those spent doing what seems like nothing with my family and friends, spontaneous happenings, unexpected meetings and unplanned moments.

I’m at that age where time seems to be going a lot faster.  I just kind of want a little buffer zone right now in between when school ends and summer begins.  Like a pre-summer, for deep breathing and dreaming and plan making. But we don’t get that.  So today I’m using a little lesson that my dear friend Regina taught me.  I can’t stop the clock from ticking, but I can notice this moment, this end sliding into this beginning.  And right here, the whole summer is stretched out before me.  Who knows what wonderful things will happen?!  I’m hoping it’s a season full of family and friends, lots of time outside, wonder and big newness.   As much as I can, I’m going to make sure it is.  I’ll keep you posted.

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I really love this line from the book I’m reading right now. It’s called “Phenomenal” and it was written by Leigh Ann Henion about her explorations of some of the world’s most extraordinary natural places. Her life and my life are quite different, but still…I love being wondrously astounded! I hope you also can’t believe your life in a good way this summer and ten years from now. I wish us all many moments of being wondrously astounded. Happy summer!

A Hike, A Hang Out and A Full Heart

So my last post was about this busy season I’m in right now, and it seems to be getting busier and busier.  But a sweet and fun part of this full season, is that it’s also my birthday season!  OK, I don’t claim the whole season for birthday celebrating, but maybe I stretched it out for at least the weekend.  And I might extend it even a little more still too.

I know a few other girls who were also born in May, so I took advantage of several reasons to celebrate and planned a little something.  I’d been wanting to host a get together at my house and also to do some hiking, (my spring hopes come true!), so I combined the two and we headed out after school on a Friday to hike and hang out.

IMG_6360We took the Continental Lane.  Washington’s army did a good job of blazing the trail long ago, so it’s a nice easy walk through the woods.  Which was good for us.  We had kind of a larger hiking party and lots to chat about, so we couldn’t really focus on rock climbing  or scaling boulders.

IMG_6364I had a few moments during the hike and at my house afterwards when I saw this group of ladies before me  and my heart was so filled with gratitude for the people in my life. All the people.  I feel truly blessed to have these gals and lots of other good, good souls in my life and many others who aren’t in my daily days, but who have crossed my path and I keep in my heart.  I wish they all could have been there.  I could probably go on for a while about something sappy like how walking this trail in the woods is symbolic of the paths of life we walk with each other, but you probably saw that one coming, right?  I’ll spare you.  Just saying, my heart filled up. And my eyes might have too a few times… and then someone was walking without a shoe (Not naming any names. Or even initials!) and we had to poke in tree holes and we laughed and talked and walked. IMG_6372I took my Ling Bling along and found a good place to leave it for someone else.  Part of me didn’t want to give it up, but I like the idea that someone else might find it, get a smile from it, feel gratitude and pass it on.

IMG_6369After we hiked enough, we went back to my house and some more friends came.  We muddled drinks and cooked on the grill, enjoyed the patio, toasted to birthdays and friendship, ate cake and lingered around the table.

IMG_6359Full heart!  And a happy birthday month to my May girls!

PS – I didn’t draw that heart.  We just found it there on our path.  I hope you find lots of love on your path today!

 

 

#9 – Feeling Lucky in Kentucky (Plus #’s 27 & 3!)

Little did I know, back in the spring, when I started making my list and added, “visit my college girls at each of their houses” that, first of all, I would get to see ALL of them in one visit but more than that… that my visit to one of them would be for her… WEDDING!!!

But that’s just what happened! About 2 weeks ago, Kelly (ya know -my favorite of the college roommates ;)) married the nicest southern gentleman at their gorgeous home in Kentucky.  It was a beautifully sweet, country wedding and it was soooo much fun to be with my girls for a whole long weekend!  We don’t get to see each other very often now that we’re grown ups (Are we really grown ups??!!?) but as soon as we’re back together, it feels like we’ve never been apart.

We started out in Louisville. We got some new t-shirts.  We were given a free bottle of vodka at a wine shop! (People in Kentucky are niiiiiiiiiiiiiiice!)  We headed to the country. We switched time zones unexpectedly. Some kids got hitched!  We danced! Oh man, did we dance!   We camped!!! (kinda) There were lots and lots and lots of laughs! No one can make me laugh like these girls. I’m so grateful that I met them back in the day, that they are still in my life and that we all were there for Kelly’s special day.  I was definitely feeling lucky in Kentucky! (Cheesy, I know.  But true!)

Meant to be…groom’s parents, bride’s parents, bride and groom…all married on same date.

Here comes the bride!

The Kiss!

Who doesn’t love drinking from a mason jar? Kelly and Mike did such an amazing job with all of the decor and set up!  They did everything themselves and it was beautiful!

Watching the first dance

My girls!

We couldn’t resist the t-shirts at the airport

These friends make me SO happy! (Never mind what my hair is doing. There was a STORM-A-BREWIN!)

What is happening here? Getting ready to enter a late night dance circle?? We were the last ones on the floor/lawn…

#27 -Here’s where we slept! Does this count as camping?? When the thing was parked right outside of Kelly’s house?? That might be cheating as a real camping experience but we’re gonna count it as completed for my list but only on a technicality because… there was a WILD ANIMAL! that slept inside there with us! Squeak! Squeak! (I still want a tent.)

The next day…

We made s’mores…

…and got four wheeler tours.

Congratulations Kelly and Mike! Lots of love to you both!  Can’t wait to come visit again!

PS- I went to a National Park in Kentucky too! (#3) But that’s a whole nother post…

Back on the Blog/ Replacement

I took a little break from writing at the end of the summer but I did NOT take a break from doing the fun things on my list.  I have a lot of stuff to tell you!  It’s about #’s 1, 10, 13, 17, 18, 20 and 23! Real quick summary: I left the country. I took the kayak out.  I ate more tomatoes (good and bad!).  I’m volunteering for a super awesome, feel-good program! I did some reading and have a few books on my waiting list.  There was a brewery or two.  And I got schooled in local hiking. Plus lots of fun things that aren’t on the list.  It was a gooooooood summer! Really good.  I’ll fill you in. Stay tuned…

Can you guess where I went with the passport?

But also, there are 7 and a half-ish months left until my birthday and 6 spots still to fill on my list. Plus it’s back to school time and this always feels like a goal-setting/new year’s resolution kind of time to me so I want to make one replacement and ask for some help with filling the rest of my list.

The replacement is #8 – painting my nails.  OK. Whatever.  Not me.  I was originally talking fingers (toes are always done!) and I did do them a few times but then I realized that it’s not my thing.  It was a good trick back in the day when painting helped me stop biting.  And I’m fine with it if you like painting your nails.  It’s cute on some girls, but it just doesn’t do anything for me anymore. And I gotta be me! So it’s off the list.  I want this list to be about filling my days up with the fun things I love, people I want to be with, finding new things I like, getting out of my comfort zone and making me happy.  Painting nails isn’t doing it.  Skiing though…skiing might do something for me!  So #8 is now… to use my skis more than once this winter. (Dear Snow, Please cooperate. But not too much. No one likes school in July.) So that leaves 6 more spots to fill… got ideas?  I want fun, out of my box, happy, new ideas.  Taking suggestions…

#10 & #24 – Kayaks and Kites

I’ll just go ahead and give you the moral of the story right up front.  It goes like this…

dance in the rainAnd ain’t that the truth?!  We get one – just one – beautiful, amazing life!  We gotta get out there and live it!  It’s kind of what my list is all about/helping me learn.  BUT! But. If there is a storm, I mean an actual weather storm, with thunder and lightning and the whole bit, then you might want to wait it out.  Don’t let it stop you, just be safe.  That’s what happened this weekend when I went kayaking and kite flying at the beach with my good, good friends.  Thunderstorms ended our kayaking trip a bit early and delayed our kite flying for some time, but we did get to do both and we had lots and lots of fun together!  See here…

That little one in the middle is quite the paddler!

That’s not my kayak but I was still so happy to be on the water. And it was the first time I got to go with the little one. We were both psyched about that! Only a little longer til she can do her own boat (or try mine!).

“Look at that cloud! Looks like it’s leaking. Is that rain?”

BOOM! Thunder. Kayaking. Over.
We do some shopping while it pours.

At this beach, kite flying is only allowed after 6pm. So we take a walk by the water while we wait. We enjoy the pretty sky, assess the wind…

…we get hit with a wave while posing for pics…

…then we turn around and see this sky! And BOOM! more thunder…

So we wait it out with a pedicure for tiny toes.

Then when the storm passed…she just went for it! That kite was flying high!

She kept telling me to let mine go higher…

She came over to give me some pointers…

…so I let ‘er go to the end of her rope!

Pure joy! Worth the wait.

Look at those cute beach feet! Thanks, friends! The kayaking, the kites, the beach, the horse racing, taking the pics… the whole weekend was wonderful! xoxo

#24 – Not Too Old for Kites

I love being at the beach!  It’s a great place to do lots of things.  I like relaxing, reading, walking, napping, playing games, swimming, and, my new skill, ocean kayaking wave riding.  But, the beach has got to be the best place for kite flying.  At any other location, you have to wait for a windy day. Around here, that’s probably one day in March.  But at the beach, there’s a good breeze on most days. Sure, kite flying might seem like a kiddie thing to do, but who doesn’t want to feel young at heart? And remember when I was a lil down about being 34? Welp!  I wasn’t sad on my last visit to the Jersey shore. (Don’t forget!! This, NOT this!) There were smiles and laughs when I enlisted a friend and we flew some kites!  When’s the last time you did that?

First, we have to put our kites together.

Then, we get away from the people, because no one wants a kite crash.

And Bre’s kite just sails away!

Apparently, I put the string in the wrong place, so mine needs a little fixing – with my teeth! Aak!

Apparently, my teeth aren’t strong enough and I do NOT like the feeling of biting on string! Kite flying almost becomes NO FUN! But then, Jackie puts down the camera and fixes it for me. Thanks, J!

Bre’s having no troubles!

2nd try…

…and we have lift off!

We don’t know how to do kite tricks. Do you?

Go fly a kite!