Wednesday, May 29, 2013

She 2011

I’ve never seen a woman so
Determined to hide her magnificence -
what makes her magical – what makes her tremendous.

It’s as if someone told her long ago
that humility alone was not enough - that no matter the compliment –
nothing could be truer than the lie of her own self-doubts.

I fight to convince her that my words aren’t filler
meant to warm the moment in her heart and then quickly fade when the breeze blows by
but my expressions fall on hardened ears.

She’s had too long a history of not hearing what her heart needs,
she bought into the lackluster life led without a fiery love
and critically reviews each compliment given, looking for the motive – because there must be one.

I love her lazy days – the days when she paroles her soul –
releases the doubts and lets in the possibility of love
they are the days when She shines.

Those are days when She opens the doors to what I see all the time
and shares her beauty with those lucky enough to be close
She could convince flowers to bloom in the dead of winter on those days

But those days leave all too soon.
So, I stand behind her, beside her – near as I can
with the hope I don’t miss her – the whole of her – the Amazing her.

Friday, June 1, 2012

For Melissa - as she discovers

My niece, Melissa, is finding her wings today... literally, flying across country and to a new life. Part of me wants to stop her ~ now recognizing all the dangers I ignored when I was her age. Part of me worries that we didn't prepare her for all that she will see. The rest of me wishes I could witness her next steps because I know they will be amazing.

So, for Melissa... and for her older sister, Heather:


I watched her belly grow, filled with anticipation and worry
Not knowing what was to come, but a beautiful baby girl
As the days passed, she filled my young life
Watching her first steps, hearing her first words
Always thinking and wanting the best ~ more than she was born into ~ for her.

Years passed, life rolled and rumbled
My life, only miles and a phone call away from her,
climbed on and tumbled
and when I would see her, and now, her younger sister,
I would always wish the best ~ against probability ~
That she would overcome all the barriers life – and we – had placed before her.

She took all that she was given
and somehow made her way through the
teasing kids always do because of differences
She grew into a young woman ahead of her time
Fighting her own battles with the grace only God could have given
A young woman who cried sometimes on my shoulder and sometimes only alone

As she turns the legal age of an adult, I continue watching and hoping ~ against hope
She will succeed and all of that enormous potential
will pour from her as I have always seen it.
And I watch her sister, eyeing her belly, filled with anticipation and worry,
Not knowing what is to come, but a beautiful baby girl.

Friday, April 20, 2012

My Hero

Jen said the other day she didn't know why Pat is my hero. I didn't play for Tennessee though it was my dream growing up. I haven't even met her. But here's the thing: I DID play for Pat Summitt.

From the time I can remember, I watched Pat coach. I listened to all ESPN could say about her and cherished the moments we were allowed to see inside the locker room and hear her pre-game and halftime talks. I got chills through the TV because of her infamous stare. And, oddly, it made me work harder.

Knowing Coach Summitt focused on the core principles of the game, I spent countless afternoons and weekends alone on the courts at Keswick park, at school, wherever I could to make sure my shooting was at its best - not because I thought I would play for her, but because her coaching was clearly the best and I wanted to be the best.

Her locker room talks weren't just about the team in the room. Her tenets aren't just about basketball. Her coaching techniques reached far beyond the court. Pat Summitt didn't just want to win games. She coached over 160 women and all of them graduated from UT. In her book, "Reach for the Summit," Pat included a copy of her "Definite Dozen" rules for the team. The original is in the women's locker room at UT, but I keep a copy on my desk at work.

The Definite Dozen

1. Respect Yourself and Others: There is no such thing as self-respect without respect for others.

2. Take Full Responsibility: Admit to and make yourself accountable for mistakes. How can you improve if you're never wrong?

3. Develop and Demonstrate Loyalty: Loyalty is not-unilateral. You have to give it to receive it.

4. Learn to Be a Great Communicator: Communication eliminates mistakes.

5. Discipline Yourself So No One Else Has To: Discipline helps you finish a job, and finishing is what separates excellent work from average work.

6. Make Hard Work Your Passion: Do the things that aren't fun first, and do them well.

7. Don't Just Work Hard, Work Smart: Know your strengths, weaknesses and Needs.

8. Put the Team Before Yourself: Teamwork allows common people to achieve uncommon results.

9. Make Winning an Attitude: Combine practice with belief.

10. Be a Competitor: There is nothing wrong with having competitive instincts. They are survival instincts.

11. Change is a Must: Change equals self-improvement. Push yourself to places you haven't been before.

12. Handle Success Like You Handle Failure: You can't always control what happens, but you can control how you handle it.

Her career speaks for itself:


Pat Summitt is the only coach (men's or women's) to reach the 100-win mark in the NCAA tournament (112). Tennessee has produced 20 All-Americans and 12 Olympians. She earned $8,900 in her first season at Tennessee, but in 2008-09 became the first women's coach to earn more than $1 million in a season. -- ESPN Stats & Info

Seasons 38
Win-Loss 1,098-208
Win percentage .841
NCAA tourn appear 31
Tourn Win-Loss 112-23
Tourn percentage .830
Final Fours 18
NCAA titles 8

Pat Head Summitt put heart and soul into her job. She has a contagious work ethic, a way of communicating her passion that displays a tenacious winning attitude and a method of coaching that relays her concern for the team's success - not only on the court, but in life. The sum of those things (and more) resulted in the most successful career and program known to women's sports.

THAT is why she is my hero.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Deliver me, please

We did it... after seeing too many of the intimidation-style mattress commercials, we went out and got the one "everyone" talks about. While shopping in the store, we followed Tina's instructions and laid down on a few different beds.

There were the ones with massagers included (no more quarters in the "Magic Fingers" machine!) and there were others with the head and foot raisers too... (we would have likely never left that bed)... but we decided on the "Firm" one without the bells and whistles. I was a bit surprised they could deliver so quickly... the next day! Impressive. Our mouths were watering with the concept of a bed that was known for support and comfort and that you could jump on next to red wine and NOT SPILL A DROP! (who doesn't need that??)

The delivery was right on time and we were super-excited. We made the bed and since it had been a less than restful week, even laid down for a few minutes. It seemed a little stiffer than we remembered in the store... but, ok.

The first night, after taking the ritual melatonin, we gathered the family and piled into our (as advertised) most comfortable bed. And, sure, it was comfortable... if you were used to camping in the Rockies or if you had spent a year in a Turkish prison or if you had decided sleeping in the streets of Baltimore sounded relaxing. This bed was HARD.

We tried to toss and turn all night, but the bed was so hard, you couldn't move without bruising something. We found bones, joints and nerves we had never known before - and ALL of them hurt. And, sadly, because it was a memory foam mattress, it left us both with lasting impressions in the morning.

I couldn't wait for the store to open to get a replacement. I drummed my fingers on the phone, on the desk, on my head until the little hand hit 10 and I called the store. Ray answered. And, Ray... well, Ray had NO IDEA. Looking back on it, I would think people at mattress stores should be trained to deal with sleep-deprived consumers.

The conversation went like this:

Ray: "Mattress Firm, where you sleep happy for less"

Me: "Ray, we bought a bed over the weekend. We need to get a replacement tonight."

Ray: "Normally, it takes a couple of weeks to break it in..and, we have a policy that you need to sleep on it for 30 days before we replace it."

Me: "Ray, I cannot sleep on this bed even one more night. We both woke up with back aches and we cannot sleep."

Ray: "Let me call the area manager and I'll call you back"

An hour later, I hadn't heard back from, I called him back. In the course of the communication, I ended up frustrated (see 'dealing with the sleep deprived' in the Mattress Firm training manual) and had the area manager's phone number in hand. So, I called Daniel.

Daniel: "Mattress Firm, where you sleep happy for less" (that was old the FIRST time I heard it... didn't get better with frustration)

Me: "Hi Daniel, we got a mattress over the weekend. We cannot sleep on it, it is causing us pain. How can we get a replacement tonight?"

Daniel: "Did the store tell you we have a 30 day policy?"

(and this is when I hit RED)

Me: "They did, and, if we're going down the 'policy' route, You also have a RETURN policy, we'll be happy to return the mattress and buy through your competitors.

Daniel: Oh, no need to do that, we can wave the policy.

Through the course of conversation with a now more understanding Daniel, he convinced me that we should walk (literally, walk, jump, crawl) all over the bed to soften it. He assured me - if we wanted a mattress that day, we'd get one, but that we might want to try softening ours first - it worked for him.

After a brief discussion, we decided to try it out... it seems the walking around conversation softened us... perhaps it would work on the mattress. However, the next two nights were as painful as the first - finally resulting in me piling extra blankets under us, one of us deciding the floor and/or couch would be 100 times better and both of us considering fighting the little dog for her kennel.

So, this morning, I once again waited for the store to open. Determined, this time, to get a replacement today. As I drummed, I searched the internet for reviews... should have done that before... a LOT of people complain about the firmness... in fact, my eyes could be playing tricks, but I think the only person saying the mattress was perfect was same guy seen on TV as a victim of waterboarding. WHO in his/her right mind enjoys this torture!?!? There was one review praising the bed with a comment they had experienced "the sleep of the dead"...

Sleep of the dead? By the end of the third night, we were wishing we WERE dead. The dogs seemed to be moving slower and I swear I heard Smokey sharpening a knife in the middle of the night. That was the last straw.

I met with the local store manager, told him of our plight and nearly dropped to my knees - either from exhaustion or just for begging purposes - to ensure a better night's sleep tonight. I told him we felt like the Flintstones - laying on granite; that Houdini HAD to have been more comfortable on his bed of nails; and that I could easily sleep on Stone Mountain and feel more cushion...

The new mattress will be delivered tonight.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Paradise - found

Back from a great vacation and all I can do is think about planning the next. So, while we were on the cruise, we found the absolutely perfect beach... Long Bay on Tortola (BVI).

We asked Captain Friendly to find the best Conch Fritters on the island and he brought us to a cafe here. The fritters were good, the soup was great and the view was unimaginable. After lunch, we lounged on the chairs and enjoyed the sounds of the ocean because there were very few people around - certainly nowhere near the throngs of people we'd seen on St. Thomas. The pale blue waters, the green hills of the islands and the gentle, tropical breeze - along with the story of the elderly couple sitting behind us at lunch who have visited this resort for each of the last 30 years... they all told us THIS is where we need to vacation.

So, now, I'm sitting at the computer, searching for a travel agent with the best deal... to take us back to paradise. Maybe this time, we'll bring a couple of friends.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


I'm the first to admit I have my blond moments...ok, days... ok, life. Yes, I've seen signs while driving through New Orleans and wondered about the intelligence behind a permanent display identifying the way to a beauty contest - only then to realize that Miss River Bridge didn't mean exactly what I thought. (It WOULD help, though, if they used proper punctuation - a period - or state abbreviation - MS). But, yes, if you are wondering, I probably would have then questioned the PC nature of our world not wanting to announce Mrs. or Miss.

And, I've spent more than my share of time with a foot in my mouth because I missed other signs - more than once, I have entered a room with "Who died?!" only to find I have ESP. (I've since retired that saying from my repertoire).

But, it's been a recent topic of conversation... the signs that are in front of us every day that we just MISS. A mullet...a love of sports...and cars...the undying belief that guys think "sporty" chicks are cute... and a desire to be "just like Jo" from the Facts of Life. Nope. Didn't see any of them. No indications.

Looking back now, I missed signs so large Times Square would be jealous.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

That person

You know the one... the one who can't stop talking about his or her latest purchase -I did just get a new car. Or the one that has a never-ending supply of the new born photos... well, I don't have those or one of those. (Seriously, the kid looks the same - sleeping, awake - drooling in all - and, no, that's not a smile, it's gas).

But, here's the thing - I am suddenly aware. I've noticed recently, as I speak, my friends seem to be very focused on some deep thought - and I'm afraid it's not anything to do with my topic. Today at lunch, I was talking with Jen...I'm certain the glazed look in her eyes had absolutely nothing to do with my enthralling weekend. And, Dylan's texts are far less involved than my responses...I'm not sure, but I believe she might have meant it when she said "OMG, stop." Well, probably, she didn't.

Unfortunately, even though I recognize this look and the change in response from my friends, I can't stop myself.

So, be happy I'm not the close talker and I don't have a slide projector with a million vacation photos. And, give me some leeway because I may bore you to death with the best thing that's ever happened to me.