Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Mommy's Came to Play

In just 3 1/2 days, you can squeeze a lot of activity in. I have proof!

Hiking with the Moms at Sullivan Canyon

Dining in the Grove & Santa Monica

Wine Tasting in Santa Barbara

Monday, August 30, 2010

It's Confirmed. I am a Catholic.

Saturday marked my first day as a full-blown Catholic. 27 years of yearning for the Eucharist, and I am finally able to receive the body & blood of Christ. Amazing! The whole experience was a bit surreal, and as history would have it, the Holy Spirit was definitely moving inside me. I am proud to report that I was able to hold it together and only had a few streamline tears (as opposed to large sobs) as I stood at the alter to be confirmed.

I felt so fortunate to share this monumental moment with my family and friends. I realized that I am blessed with an amazing circle of love that surrounds me and encourages me daily. I am also engulfed in a community of faith, hope, and love for Jesus which moves me each time I step foot onto the campus.

I was showered with gifts by my love, my family, and my friends. It is safe to say that I am covered in crosses to keep the devil away! All of my thoughtful gifts are gorgeous and special in their own way. I even have a new favorite bible passage (see below for details). Many blessings and much love to those that helped me along my journey and who will continue to support my walk in faith with God.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-7

Just Because...

Sometimes the best surprises are those that are truly surprises. Sometimes the best acts of love are those that are done 'just because.'

Thursday, August 26, 2010

DeuceBrand Makes the Number 2 Desirable

Launched in 2010 by fashion-conscious athletes, Deuce offers not only a product but a concept as well. Gary Hughes & Tom Malloy, former collegiate football stars, have always believed in themselves so it was only fitting that they carry this belief into their business. Deuce represents more than just the #2. It represents the determination, will, belief, and dedication it takes to become #1 whether it be on the playing field, on stage, or behind the scenes.

The watches are new-aged, vibrant, water-proof, and healthy. Yes, healthy. Their watches are packed with negative ion technology providing a multitude of health benefits to the wearer such as increased oxygen to the brain, heightened awareness, decreased drowsiness, and faster recovery time from workouts.

In the short time Deuce has been around, they have managed to catapult into the sports & entertainment industry in a wide variety of ways. From forming a partnership with Mercury Insurance Open (WTA tennis tournament) to having a presence at the X-Games to celebs such as Manny Ramirez and Snoop Dogg representng the brand. They are making the number 2 desirable from SoCal to the East Coast.

To check out Deuce, click here. And remember: Look Good. Play Good. Wear Deuce.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Working Woman's Wednesday (Part Six)

Since I missed last week's shout out to my lady friends, I thought I would do a dual post about the tag team of Kate "Tall Girl" Strand & Liz "The Assassin" Grimes. These two single handily ran 6 National Championships. What does this mean exactly you ask? Well let me tell you...

It means over 500 teams. 15 players per team plus 3 coaches = 18 per team. 500 x 18 = 9000 people that they are playing customer service too ( I am not even including the spectators, parents, facility directors, etc). There are over 1000 games played at 20 different pools. In case you are wondering, 2 people cannot actually be present at 20 different places, but they came pretty close to making that happen. They were able to manage all situations at all locations. That is efficiency at its best.

Here's the kicker, all 6 tournaments take place in a 2 week window. These two fine colleagues of mine worked 16+ hour days for nearly 3 weeks straight as their is preparation prior to starting and follow-up once the events are complete.

I think back to when I used to work one event for 16 days and I was exhausted. I cannot imagine doing 6...count 'em 6! Kuddos to 2 of the 3 Chick Production Gang!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Forgive Yourself For the Lord Already Has

Last night was my final RCIA class before I am confirmed on Saturday. Those of us who are "graduating" met in a special room with our sponsors. The feeling was intimate making us each a little giggly. Something about a closed room with candles and the love of your life sitting next to you makes me silly.

We discussed our journey (from the beginning of RCIA to now), the spiritual gifts that we possess, the gifts we pray to someday have, how RCIA has changed us, and what confirmation means to us. Due to my water works display at Sunday's dismissal, I was a bit more reserved and calm for this portion.

Our team leader also covered what to expect on Saturday and how to appropriately receive the Eucharist as well as some other reverent tactics. A few of us asked questions as some of it seemed a bit foreign (lucky for me, I have seen 1,000 Catholic masses since my childhood so I am pretty hip on the whole process). We laughed a little more and did a bit of story telling.

So as the class came to an end, our team leader led us in a different style of prayer. We closed our eyes, quieted ourselves, opened our hearts and ears, and began praying. Perhaps the most powerful part was when the prayer led us to ask for release of those mistakes we have made, for forgiveness from the Lord. A stream of tears slowly fell down my cheeks. For so long I have carried so much shame on my little shoulders. Shame that God would not forgive me for the mistakes that I have made. Shame that even though I was walking in His light, He would think I was a phony because I had not always walked holding His hand.

Words cannot express the weight that was lifted of my shoulder by this intimate experience. I now know what it is like to have the Holy Spirit truly move me in a physical, spiritual, and emotional sense. I finally realized that God forgives. You simply just have to ask Him.

For if you forgive men when they sin against you,
your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
Matthew 6:14

Monday, August 23, 2010

Love is not a feeling; It is an act of your will. (John 13: 31-35)

The greatest gift the Lord has given us is the ability to love and be loved. He followed up the gift of His love with free will, giving us the ability to make our own choices. So in the end, our life is comprised of our choices and the path that we have made for ourselves.

As society has shaped itself, we have created ideals or perceptions of what life is all about particularly love. Growing up as a young girl, I had a lot of fantasies about being in love and what it meant. I always believed that it was much like a fairytale where a handsome prince charming came and rescued me. He would keep me safe, never leave me, and certainly would not disappoint me. I was under the impression that everything dealing with love ended with a happily ever after. Fast forward 20+ year later and while I still secretly believe that love can be like this, I realize that it isn't exactly how I imagined as a child.

See here's the thing: love can disappoint you. It can hurt your feelings at times. It doesn't always say or do what your heart desires. It can break your heart. But here's the good news: love is a choice. You get to choose to be loving towards your boyfriend, fiance, spouse, parents, children, and friends. Through your actions, words, writings, prayer, and silence, you have the choice to be loving. For it is in loving others that we are rewarded the most spiritually and emotionally.

Agape love, the kind that Jesus has for each of us, is that love in which we give ourselves wholely, deeply, and truly to others without wanting or expecting anything in return. It is through agape love that we love others for the person that they are. It is loving them despite their faults, their weaknesses, their flaws.

God so loved the world that He gave His only son for our salvation, knowing that we would sin time and time again. Despite our sins, God loves us anyway.

I encourage you to love someone today for who they are. Love them despite their mistakes. Love them without expecting something in return. Love them as God loves you.

Baby, Let's Just Go With It

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Good Morning San Gorgonio. Today I Will Conquer You.

We began with a breezy morning in the outskirts of the Palm Springs desert. The start to the trail is not what I am accustomed to (call me spoiled, but I prefer the old traditional dirt path), think hiking on a sandy beach with large boulders every which way. Nonetheless we were able to navigate our way to the trailhead as the sun peaked out from the mountains.

I generally do not like to know what is in store for the daily hike. It is an old tactic I used to use while playing tennis- never look at who your opponent is until match time. My goal was to concentrate on playing the ball rather than the girl who stood across the net. My strategy worked 85% of the time. Hence, I have carried that into my hiking endeavors. Well my PIC, Curious George, has a drastically different preference. He takes knowledge to the next level. From his debriefing curbside, I learned one basic thing: the first part is the most difficult. True.

After the first mile of straight up terrain with an elevation of 1,000 feet, we caught our breaths courtesy of a breathtaking meadow and a quiet stream that whispered softly to us. The calming waters' hush created even more serenity and peace. Strategically placed waterfalls rapidly rushed over the fallen rocks as we continued through the meadow.

At a shady spot, we quenched our thirst, nourished our bodies, and rested our legs. I have to say that we have this whole hiking thing down to a fine science. We prep nicely and hike efficiently with just enough food, water, electrolytes, rest, photos, kisses, and conversation.

So as we proceeded, we trekked through a series of switchbacks that make Halfdome seem easy. And as the land flattened out, giving us a spec of hope, we realized that the worst was yet to come. The No Smile Mile. A mile of stiff grade upward with really no end in sight and the thought of knowing that it didn't quite get you to the summit. Stopping ever so often to pace ourselves, we eventually made it up the climb and the rest was pretty much smooth sailing.

Alas, at the top. Once again, the highest peak in SoCal, did not disappoint. The views each time from the top continue to amaze me as I overlook the various types of land: desert, mountain, pastures, etc.

San Gorgonio basically rounds out our Summer Summit Series (as we have trained all summer for Mt. Whitney which will take place in 2 weeks from Tuesday). Now we taper off and rest our legs for the big daddy so-to-speak. Another long, hard, sweaty day on the mountain. Another victory.

Friday, August 20, 2010

This is My Confession

No not like Usher with the 3 girlfriends and the babies on the way. My confession is a little less severe but equally as disappointing. It has been nearly 3 months since I have productively written in conjunction to the book. Sure I have blogged fairly religiously, have spent many days & nights writing love letters to you know who, and have addressed several notes and cards to business leaders nationwide. But I have fallen away from the core of my existence (eh that might be a bit dramatic even for me). Seriously though, my main purpose for this blog is to exercise my writing cap, and I have been slacking majorly.

Perhaps this should come as no surprise considering the last two sections that need to be complete are equally as daunting, mind-boggling, and complicated to express: significant others and sex. Yeah I don't see any of you jumping at the chance to write a comprehensive, non-biased section on either of those topics. Couple those topics with the drain on my brain that my life is currently creating, you will find that the lack of writing is somewhat acceptable (not that I am making excuses or anything).

I am pledging to rededicate time to refining, polishing, and completing the last of the 25 in the next 3 months. If a few of you could be so kind as to continually remind me of this pledge, it would be much appreciated.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

'Tis the Season...For Babies

Back home in Kentucky, people are getting pregnant left and right. I am not sure what is in the water in those parts, but I have been advised to stay far, far away just in case. My sister attended a baby shower a month or so ago. She called me 4 times in a row. Please note that this never happens so I was frantic thinking something awful had happened. Not the case. She just wanted to share her shock with me: 4 women prego and announcing it at the shower for the first time. When you add those 4 with the 6 others that already have a little one, you start to see the pattern here.

As my friends and I are approaching (uh hum) 30, the season of weddings is slowly dwindling down while the season of babies is rapidly increasing...causing a serious state of anxiety for me. I am not engaged nor married so conceiving a child seems like an eternity away. My biological clock, however, is beginning to tick a little faster. I catch myself loathing over children (babies in particular), gawking at all things baby clothes/baby room, and avidly naming my unborn kiddos. Please do not judge me.

Just a few weeks ago, we threw a baby shower for Meissa. She will be the first of the California crew to give birth: an exciting yet eye-opening concept. Her soon-to-be daughter Anabelle Lee was showered with pink, pink, and more pink. We enjoyed a lovely afternoon of girl time and pregnancy talk. Hence making me even more anxious...

Can you guess which onesie I designed? Tough call, huh?!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

...Bouncing in the Club Where the Heat is On (Miami Part Dos)

As my time is coming to an end here in the Cuban-accented city of Miami, I am beginning to feel a sense of sadness. I have always felt overwhelmed with reluctancy when leaving a vacation spot, ever since I was a young pup. Travel could be considered my favorite hobby, and there is something so freeing about being out of your original routine and having the ability to daydream about who you are, where you live, and what you do while emerged in a crowd of strangers.

In adulthood, I still have the same type of feeling yet have learned to control the deepness of how it effects me. Despite this maturity and self-control, I find it the most difficult to leave Miami. In many ways, this place feels like home to me. I spent so much time growing and shaping my life here, and I never feel displaced when I return. I navigate my way from A to B as if I never even left.

Because this was an extended staycation, I was able to see a lot more and do a lot more than usual which I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity. From South Beach to Key Biscayne, we (my boo & I) saw and experienced so many things. Perhaps this has been the most remarkable trip as we were able to do it together.

Adios Miami...Te echo de menos!

Monday, August 16, 2010

El Rancho? Si!

They say the best way to learn a language is to be emerged in the culture. I am here to let you know this is true; however, you need not travel outside the country nor must you spend hundreds of dollars on Rosetta Stone. Nope. Simply surround yourself with 16 South Americans, and you'll be fluently speaking Spanish in no time.

Despite the 16 varying countries that all of these fine international water polo coaches hail from, the language is similar in that the core words, phrases, and conversions are relatively the same. And I've learned a few tricks along the way. When in doubt, add an o to the end of a word and they will sort of get what you are saying. Some examples include rancho (for ranch), passo (for pass), and loco (for crazy).

Mi amigos have provided a lot of education and entertainment over the past 8 days. They have a serious love for shopping and drinking cerveza. They also love to take photos, run along the beach and into the ocean, and laugh at me. I have really enjoyed this opportunity to learn from others and gain a bit of inside Spanish knowledge. My new favorite phrase: Vamos el ninos!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Working Woman's Wednesday (Part Cinco)

AP...aka Ashley Papenbrock, not to be confused with the Associated Press. She is my fine co-worker whom I glance at each work day as I sit at my desk and answer countless customer service calls. She gleefully makes signs to flash at me causing me great hysteric outbursts. She also, aside from providing a plethora of entertainment, works extremely hard to produce our National Team events.

AP is flawless in her approach to event planning, execution, and follow up. She is not satisfied until all participants (be it players, referees, delegates, coaches, or fans) truly have a phenomenal experience. Her attention to detail is unmatched to any that I have met before. She is a valuable asset to USAWP as well as to my growth as an employee. Most importantly though, I cherish our new-found friendship.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

IMGeez, I Miss This Place

With two full days under my belt, I am making great progress on my list o' stuff to revisit in the 305. As I go, I have been noting the key differences between FL & CA to determine which one I truly adore more. The verdict is still out, but FL is slightly leading.

  • the Grove (i.e. Greenstreet, Monty's, Moe's, & Sandbar), Gables (i.e. Houston's & Miracle Mile), & Sunset Place(i.e. all shops of fashion), enough said
  • totally legal to talk on the phone and text while driving (which thrills me since I feel like I am doing something devious each time I talk/text & drive)
  • driving sans a GPS and not getting lost is an actual reality
  • brand, spanking new Chipotle moments away from my old hood (ok CA has many more Chipotle but in the words of Kara C. I'm just saying)
  • most importantly, my friends for a lifetime that I first made as a real, living, breathing adult

  • accessible beach(es)
  • fabulous frozen treats, Yogurtland say what
  • my boo, my boo, my boo awho (thank you Nelly for that jam)
  • j-o-b, sad but true
Florida could take a commanding lead in the days ahead as I continue to make checks off my Miami list. Stay tuned to see who will win the race...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Welcome to Miami...

The beginning to a 10-day staycation has begun. Arriving at 5am in Fort Laudey (daudey we likes to party) to a lovely 85 degrees, I picked up my sweet Kia mini-van and headed south to the land where the heat is truly on. After a quick drop off, I went to my fave breakfast joint: Einstein's. Never disappoints me.

The roads are the same as I left them 3 years ago, and I am fully confident in trekking around sans a GPS. Thus far, I have taken all back roads and have yet to get lost. Wow, I really am a grown up now.

Next up, a little visit to the old 150 Alhambra Circle in the Gables.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

34 & Counting

Today marks 34 years of marriage for my parents. Who would've thought two 21 year olds would make it this far (wink, wink!)? But 3 decades, 4 kids, 1 grandbaby, and 3 dogs later, they seem to have it figured out.

I love my parent's story, one straight out of a fairytale book. If I ever get around to it, I'm going to make it into a screenplay. It all started with sports (typical in this family). My dad saw my mom cheering at a basketball game. He whispered to his best friend, David Duke, that he was going to marry that girl. DD laughed at the thought of my dad scoring such a hottie. A few months later, on the 3rd invitation, my mom and dad went on a lunch date. My dad popped the question 6 weeks later. They married after 5 months on August 7, 1976.

I have always admired their passion for one another, from the start and all these years later. The world could stand to learn a few things from couples of this generation. They made it simple. They fell in love and got married. There were no excuses; no perfect timing; no hesitations. They just knew.

Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What Day Is It?

I am not exactly sure what day of the week it is. I forgot what it was like to be out of the office working an event and having the feeling of serious misplacement upon return (especially since my two day hiatus was a sneak attack). Delirious is not a strong enough word to desribe our entire staff, most notable KStrand & Liz "The Assassin" Grimes.

6 National Championships in 2 weeks is a bit insane from a planning and execution stand point. Nonetheless, it reminds me of a similar job (can you say Sony Ericsson Open?) in where I genuinely adorded my position, tasks, and environment. Sigh.

As the summer in the greater Los Angeles area takes a turn into home stretch, the water polo community will gear up in Miami next week. We are hosting the UANA Junior Pan American Cup at Gulliver. With their new facility, an International PASO Conference, and the blazing heat, we are all in for a real treat. Not to mention, those are my old stomping grounds if you know what I mean.

Bring on the cuban flare!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Working Woman's Wednesday (Part Quatre)

Today's for Tara Jean. My little twinkie. At one point, we were like twins honestly (with the exception of me being blonde and her being brunette). We had matching sport degrees, sweet blue mustang convertibles, gnarly pick for our bevvie of choice (um jack), and a love for fine cuisine (aka Greenstreet, Ra, etc).

Now we just visit each other from coast to coast, picking up where we left off. We play host to one another and make sure that we allow ample amount of time to spend giggling and gossiping.
This past spring, TJ came to hang out with me in L.A. We hiked, dined, drank, and talked. It was a great visit, and I enjoyed our time together. Part of my excitement about the upcoming trip to Miami is knowing that I will get to see her pretty face every day for 10 days! We have a full agenda to get in all of my favorite activities and hot spots!
See you soon my love!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Sandy Cheeks...Win, Place, or Show

And they're off...

This past Saturday we spent a day pretending to be back in the bluegrass. There's nothing like a fancy hat, bourbon, and fast horses on a lovely afternoon to make you feel right at home.

Del Mar track was on our list of things to do, but with such a short season, I wasn't sure that we would be able to pull it off. Much to my surprise we did, and we only lost $20 (if you don't include food and booze). And the best part is that we almost became rich a few times. If only those long shots could get 3rd instead of 4th, I'd be engaged, debt free, and certainly not sitting poolside watching water polo coaches scream about a game that determines if they place 27th or 28th. Nonetheless, that's why they call it gambling I guess!

Can you tell who has been to the track before according to the pics below?

My Boys

My Man