Another Original Idea – Who Cares?

I pulled up into the familiar driveway, past the goodbye rock, and next to the sandbox my kids grew up playing in. It’s funny how life does that, move slowly, meandering through each and every day until the next when you wake up and five years have flashed by in an instant.  The driveway was filled with cars, the garage busy with activity. Anna grabbed her overnight bag and jumped out and said, “I’ll see you later mum!.” The same little girl who used to get sand in her eye in their sandbox had straightened her hair, put on makeup, and dressed for a friend’s trip to the mall. I smiled and waved to her. I turned to the backseat towards Libby and said,”get used to it, you are slowly becoming an only child.” There was a knock on my window. I put my foot on the break and opened my window to say hi.  Bill stood in front of me proudly wearing his Buoy Bat t’shirt with a wide grin on his face. He looked good, happy, less stressed than I had seen him in a while.

I could hear Bill talking and I nodded as he did but for some strange reason I started adding up the number of businesses Bill and I have started as individuals. We only knew each other for a handful of them but had often shared stories of past ideas and how we had went about making each one happen. In the height of my entrepreneurial push, Bill and I became close friends, he was like a brother who I could sound off my craziest of ideas to and never feel judged. We seemed to think and feel the same way about business and living outside of the box, forgetting that it was even there on some days. I’ve always admired his tenacity of spirit and ability to fashion anything from nothing. He is the original MacGyver and I’ve always wondered what would happen if he hired himself out as a solution to all manufacturing and production dilemmas. He just has that sort of brain that can look at a problem and see the solution almost instantly.

Buoy Bat by Bill Page

Buoy Bat by Bill Page

When I first met him, I had just started The Little Hat Company and he was working on building Mr. Sandbox. During my run with my company, I watched Bill move in and out of ideas and product development including the Portsmouth Pickle Company (Anna’s favorite) and finally onto Buoy Bat. The idea came to him like most of the best ones do, from the spur of the moment, picking up something unusual out of necessity, to do something you’ve always done. The story as I remember him telling me was that he was walking on the beach near his parent’s house in Maine and noticed a washed up buoy on the shore. Bill not letting anything in life go to waste, seized the moment and picked it up and started playing a game of Buoy bat with his daughter using pebbles from the sand. I can only imagine that it took seconds for the idea of a reinvention of coastal baseball to plant in Bill’s mind and travel past every imaginable place he could take such a unique business. It happens to a lot of us, an idea for a business pops into our minds and for a short moment we wonder, “what if”. It’s only a rare few that seize that moment and begin taking actions to make the idea come alive.

That was nearly five years ago, I think, I’ve lost track of time since then. Time has sped up and it seems like I’m always just doing my best to remember to breathe these days. Bill is still at it and as I pulled into his driveway I saw the signs of a growing business, busting at the seams just waiting for the next level of expansion.  I looked up at Bill and said, “you need help with your marketing.” I remember how hard it was letting go of being in control of each aspect of your start up business, handing the reigns of each of its parts to another to manage. He said, “I know. I talked to someone yesterday.”  I smiled. That was a huge deal for Bill because in addition to being an incredible product guy, he can market the hell out of just about anything. He is multifaceted in his own talent pool and that makes the Buoy Bat story even more interesting.  He waved goodbye as he followed Anna back into the house, I’m sure he was getting ready for a number of shows and thinking about which item in his product line to reinvent or streamline. That used to be my life, a crazy whirlwind of business and activity swarming my home and each waking hour. Seeing Bill made me miss it just for a moment, appreciate it for all that it taught me, and respect him for making it work and staying with it as long as he has.

I have little doubt that Buoy Bats from South Berwick, Maine are going to become a national pastime, even recognized worldwide as one of the favorite of outdoor parties and games. That’s just the kind of guy Bill Page is, resourceful, driven, and ingenious when it comes to creating something out of nothing. I just wonder if Bill really did come up with the original Buoy Bat or if the idea came from his days of reading comic books late at night under the covers in Hanover. Either way, check out the amazing world of Buoy Bats for yourself on Bill’s website.  It’s just a click away!The original buoy bat

 

 

 



  • Baby Steps – A Little Lift

    unnamedI moved about the house anxiously looking for a chore that would keep my mind off worry and doubt as Ruby looked in at me from the outside. I washed a couple of dishes and then moved on to the living room picking up stray items left behind and organizing them on the stairs by the room they belonged. I sat at my laptop and opened my Medillia’s Lament folder hoping to get lost in a sea of edits but my heart beat quick and loud. Some would say that the hardest part was over, and normally I would have agreed, but the anxious feeling that had occupied my chest since the night before was saying something different. My mind began spinning, creating images and replaying old tracks that I had thought had been erased. I had made the decision to leave my full time job and instead waitress and focus on making writing my profession. It wasn’t the financial piece that tugged at my resolute, it was the idea that I wouldn’t be able to reach my goal and instead of supporting myself and family with writing I would have to fall back on what I started out doing to put myself through college.

    My mind danced around the vision of having multiple books published through SeaStar Farm Books, helping other authors self publish, and creating writing circles that were held on the farm to inspire and guide others through the process. I imagined our three story barn being renovated and turned into a publishing barn like once dreamed with a friend. There is an incredible view from the second floor that looks out onto our smaller pasture. I pictured myself sitting at an old wooden farm table looking out onto the pasture writing and managing a small publishing barn while I typed new manuscripts and answered correspondences on my laptop. The space would be a creative haven for music and art. Kyle’s guitars would be arranged in the corner on stands and smaller tables would be set up for drawing and painting. The wind would blow in from the pastures, through the space, and ground me in my own dream having come true. This is the dream I have been dreaming and wondering, stressing, how I can possibly make it all come true.

    I know that the first step in making any dream come true is to begin to say it out loud. Once you’ve become used to hearing yourself speak it, then you need to begin to share it. Speak softly at first, while your dream is still a dream and no actions have been taken. Then as your whispers turn to wondering out loud, begin to make plans, share ideas of how it will take shape, and start to ask questions of your closest friends and family. This is how I’ve always made things happen in my life. I’m not sure if it works for others or not but what could be the harm to start whispering about your dream? After intimate moments of wondering, “what if”, with your people it’s time to decide if you are going to move forward to making your dream your reality or if you are going to let it float away and become a distant memory.

    Something about sharing my dream out loud this time feels different, like I somehow have more to lose if I don’t chase after it and make it happen. Somehow it feels bigger and grander than most that I’ve gone after even though compared to other businesses I’ve created, it is incredibly simple in its daily operations and functions. It’s a streamlined aspiration with a calmer and more fulfilling life as its reward. Maybe that’s why I’m so nervous this time, I’m going after something I already treasure instead of taking something that just happened, like creating a hat for my baby and seeing how far I can take it. As I continued to ponder and putter around the house I noticed that it was almost 10:30. I quickly finished up the dishes and removed the rest of the clutter from the living room. Ruby followed me around, pacing as I had, as if she was reeling from my mixed up emotions. She turned for the kitchen and began barking at the door. Sandy had arrived for our meeting. It was my first official meeting scheduled to take the next step towards making SeaStar Farm Books a viable entity and a new way of life that I had longed to live for so many years.

    I held Ruby back as Sandy made her way out of her vehicle. She had her camera in hand and I smiled. Cameras have always made me wriggle, knowing they might capture a side of me I didn’t like how it looked.  Her face was bright and lit by an incredible smile that seemed to stretch from ear to ear. She remarked about the farm being beautiful and that she was happy to finally get together. I nodded my head. I was happy too. It was like two old friends sitting down with a cup of tea, reminiscing and catching up on all that life had brought them, except that we had only met once before in Anne’s office. I shared that I had been anxious about starting my new business, wondering how it was all going to come together, and worrying that it might not. I even shared my doubts about being considered a “true” writer, whatever that meant.  She responded, “you are a writer,” I’ve read your posts. Sandy opened up and walked me through her journey of becoming an artist, a merchandiser, a photographer,and a designer. She told me how she had once had to take a deep breath and know that she could and would do it even though it was a path that few if any had traveled before and her way going about it was unconventional at best.

    I connected with her in that moment. My entire career, life had always been considered unconventional at best, even eccentric at times, but through it all I have always written something and found myself connecting with people in deep, intimate ways regardless of what my title had been. I shared with her that my gift had always been getting the word out in a big way. I’ve been able to take small hometown stories, or new product releases and give them national attention in ways that may have seemed less than traditional or the way things have always been expected to be done. And then I told her that early on in life I discovered that if you simply say something out loud with conviction it has a magical way of becoming true. I cited some of my favorite examples from The Little Hat Company and one from college about being quoted in The Wall Street Journal. Sandy listened thoughtfully and when I paused she smiled and nodded. I almost had forgotten why we had decided to meet. She looked up and said, “I wonder if what you are saying out loud this time is just too broad of a statement.” I hesitated. I had always asked for very specific things to come to light when I had been starting or growing other businesses. I remember saying once to someone on the team, “you know we just need to have a story done on us in Yankee Magazine.” It was only a week or two later that we got the call that our children’s hats had been picked as a must have summer product and asked to come do a photo shoot.

    Sandy was right. In my new anxious state of worry and doubt I had forgotten to do what I have always done best. Dream big, but start at the beginning and make baby steps each and every day until your vision begins to take the shape you want it to. I had jumped into the final vision and lived in it for so long that I had forgotten the power of the journey and what it takes to make it all happen.  Sandy and I took turns sharing our young experiences and the similar places we had been. It felt more like a friendship unfolding then a business meeting developing. Sandy had been recommended to me by Anne Donnell. She has been helping Blue Tree Reiki with social marketing and brand positioning. The pictures she has captured of Anne are honest and communicate the true essence of who she is as a person, psychic, and healer. Anne had reached out to me a few weeks with an excited energy. She had read one of my recent blog posts and and couldn’t wait to tell me that the quality of my pictures weren’t representing my writing and I needed to meet with Sandy. My gut agreed and I reached out to Sandy not sure how our business relationship would take shape or the direction it would lead us but my intuition said it needed to happen.

    Sandy suggested we go outside and explore the farm. She picked up her camera and said let’s just walk and talk and see what we come up with. I had thrown on some shorts and a running shirt and my hair was tied in a knot at the base of my neck. I made sure that we weren’t taking any shots of me, just exploring so we could plan our next steps. Our farm is filled with character and charm and as we stepped outside she immediately raised her lens to her eye and started capturing our home from her perspective. We continued talking about baby steps in helping the business take shape and as I lead her to the barn, I started sharing my plans of turning the top two floors into the office and creative space. She fell in love with a nook by the sun room. It was framed by our brick patio and a hanging plant overflowing with yellows and purples. The black hickory hung over the space creating an evergreen canopy.

    photograph by Sandy Pample Hamel

    photograph by Sandy Pampel  Hamel

    When we finally reached the second story of the barn, I said, “this is it.” This is where I want my business to be. Sandy circled around and agreed that it was perfect. The trap door down to the goat’s stall was opened and as she bent over to take their picture, I cautioned her to be careful and not to fall through. She whispered, “baby steps.” Maybe she did or maybe she didn’t, but since the moment she reminded me of the importance of taking them, I couldn’t leave the thought alone. How could I have been so foolish to have forgotten everything that had always worked for me in the past in making the magic of dreams come true. I whispered to myself, “baby steps.”  I opened the large barn doors to show Sandy my favorite view on the farm. She asked if I could stand there just for a minute. My body froze, the idea that she was taking my picture made my skin craw, but that’s for another post. We walked back to the house and said our goodbyes and decided that we are going to get together soon for the official photo shoot. I got home from work late last night and there was a message from Sandy. There were three photos that she took, she asked for my email so that she could send me some more. As I made the images larger, I took a breath in and realized that I’m closer than I ever thought.



  • Cleaning out – A Little Lift

    peoniesSchool’s out and I’ve switched to my Summer schedule of staying home with the girls during the day and working nights when they are at their dad’s house. I’ve been pulled back into our gardens and pathways, weeding, raking, and cleaning out fallen debris and leftover leaves from the fall. The girls have eased into their relaxed routine of staying up late watching movies, sleeping in, and finding me as I move slowly around our farm trying to catch up from lost hours in the Spring. My mum joined me this morning pulling out globe thistle, cutting dead branches from the birch trees, and searching for garden tools that never seem to find their way back to their home in the garage and barn.

    We meandered in the vegetable garden that we put in last week and pulled up a few of the weeds that had been missed when we turned the soil by hand and shovel. I feel this incredible urgency to steal the gardens and patio back from the weeds and over growth, a need to control my outdoor environment. I know that it is almost impossible to have the house, barn, and yard where I want it at once, but the more I seem to clean each of them out, the closer I get.



  • “good enough” – A Little Lift

    I can’t remember a time that I believed that I was ever “good enough” to  be the lead character of my own dream. It’s funny but that same belief has always inspired, motivated, and encouraged me to dream big whether I was sleeping or awake. The bigger I dreamed, the higher I set my goals the easier it would be to comfort myself when I didn’t achieve them. The problem is that when you dream big, regardless of your motivation or force behind your drive, you will  begin to make changes in your life. At first the changes will be slight and go unnoticed but the longer you hold onto the idea of your unattainable dream, more and more pieces begin to fall into place and soon enough your dream you’ve dreamed of living is just out of your reach. It’s at that moment that you are needed to believe that you are “good enough” to take the last few steps to reaching your goal, making your dream a reality. It’s at that moment, and I’ve had many, that I always seem to fall the farthest.

    fear-of-not-being-good-enoughI seem to be on an endless loop, a film replaying itself again and again. The movie I’ve set out to make since I was a little girl and the images I’ve captured growing up seem to have veered off from one another along the way. When I was little, I dreamed BIG. I dreamed of a life filled with fame, travel, success, love, happiness, peace, and philanthropy. I was going to set the world on fire and then put it out before anyone was harmed. I had a notion that people would know my name across the world and that I would use that to help save some little friends who I only imagined existed. My plan was to become a teacher, a lawyer, a psychologist, an author, a lecturer, and a mom of seven children. I was going to live by the ocean and have my own store and one day find a way to make people stop hurting inside even if no one else had noticed them. For some reason the belief that we as a people could end the horrible epidemic of homelessness seemed unobtainable even as a young child but I still clung to the idea that we could make their lives better if they were. But more than anything else, I dreamed as a young child, that no one would ever be made to do something they didn’t want to do. And then…I simply started to grow up.

    In school I quickly learned that I could give the teachers what they wanted and I found that I was “good enough”. As I traveled through grade school, my dreaming abilities served me well to create essays, reports, projects, and stories. People began to ask me about what my plans for the future were and I simply shared snippets of the dream I had been dreaming since I was a little girl, author, lawyer, and teacher, depending on who was asking the question at the time. Then it was time to apply for college and just as I had dreamed of going off to Chapel Hill, UNC or Dartmouth and being one of the first in my family to not attend a state or community school, I remembered that I wasn’t “good enough” and fell back on going to a commuter state school less than an hour from home. That was one of my biggest falls and one which seemed to set the precedent for the rest of my early adult life.  It’s not that there is anything wrong with the schools I attended, I received a great education. It’s that they fell short of MY dream, I hadn’t even tried to follow my heart and be open enough to see if I could do it. I simply didn’t believe I was “good enough”.

    you_are_good_enough-4056Yesterday I sat in the bleachers at Marshwood Middle School with my husband, Kyle, his parents, and my mum. Our town is incredibly small and I knew almost all of the parents that sat around us, at least by face if not by name. We were all there supporting our children, celebrating their accomplishments and their newest life marker, 8th grade graduation. I have a hard time believing that any of us thought that our children weren’t “good enough” to be going on to high school or to be receiving any of the awards that were given out. Yet, I know that a lot of the kids sitting below us may have had a hard time believing that they are “good enough” for a multitude of reasons and that seemed to trigger something inside of me. The idea that such a paralyzing belief can exist in any of us, especially children and young teens, seems inconsolable and threatening in so many ways. If for any reason, there are some of us existing in our world believing that we aren’t “good enough” for the dreams we have dreamed than there truly exists a fault in our stars. Even if it is only one out of a handful of us that  believe we are not “good enough”, a tragedy has occurred.

    If I don’t believe that I am “good enough” than how is it possible that my children would feel that they are. I grew up believing it was shameful to want more, to ask for more, I thought that having more than the person next to you seemed wrong and somehow demeaning. I’m not sure why and how these beliefs formed but when I discovered that not everyone got all A’s in school, I began hiding mine. When I found myself with birthday money or extra babysitting money, I treated my friends to candy and video games at the general store, and when I came into an opportunity in life I always opened the same door to others around me.  Somewhere in this history lies the answer to why I don’t believe I can go after the dream, I’ve always been dreaming with all my heart. Yet once again, I’ve found myself dreaming big and have decided to give myself another chance to  believe that I am good enough.  Good enough to do something not many people have done, good enough to do something off the beaten path, and most importantly good enough to take the final step into my dream to cement myself in my new world.

    (No Kathy, I’m not getting divorced and remarried again. Although, I’m incredibly thankful that you’ve taught me over the past year to laugh about my failed marriages and not be so wound up about them, you’ve quietly shown me that it’s more important to celebrate that I’ve landed in a place I can love and be loved.)

    I believe that I am good enough to begin again with my career and doing what makes my heart happy and seems to be the most natural fit. So after one of the hardest days yesterday of having to say goodbye to a place that has felt like home for the past four years, I’ve packed up my desk and moved back to my kitchen island to once again make things happen from nothing. And simply because for the first time I feel “good enough”.

     



  • One Word -A Little Lift

    Choose one word.

    Choose one word.

    If you had to choose one word from all the words that you know, what would it be? Which word conjures up the truest essence of yourself or is the perfect representation of all that you believe you can be? Or simply what word describes the life you’ve lead?

    I’m wondering how many of us share the same word?



  • End of an Era – A Little Lift

    Photography - Bryan Lindgren

    Photography – Bryan Lindgren

    Somehow I know that I’ve reached a new critical point in my life, an end of an era.  I’m not sure how to describe the feeling but somehow one moment it is the same as it always is and the next becomes one in which everything feels different. Libby is my youngest of three and sometime during this week she lost her baby face, exchanged it for one to wear through her preteens as she quickly approaches the “P” word.  She’s taken to pulling her untamed curls back in headbands, arranging her own play dates, and spending more time discovering what makes her tick instead of pestering her older sister.  It’s not just her though, I see it in the girls she loves to spend time with, which happens to be her entire third grade class.  It is an end of an era, my last little has become a big along with her friends and in just a few days they will all be saying goodbye to a school which has nurtured, supported, and educated them in a way I could never possibly repay if I tried.

    Photography by Bryan Lindgren

    Photography by Bryan Lindgren

    With one of my children in college, another getting ready to start high school next year, I know that my days with Libby being my baby are numbered.When I came upon this incredible moment captured by my friend, Bryan, I immediately held myself back from imagining this remarkable group of kids wearing their purple gowns and marching one last final time before they  spread out over the world and make their mark. So many of this same group started out together at as preschoolers and developed their early years with amazing mentors like Ms. Lisa, Ms. Laurie, and Ms. Bobby! The years  they have traveled through Central have flashed by and left my heart feeling a dull ache, yearning for the time when the ran out the door and into our arms with their backpacks bigger than their little bodies.

    It just may be an end of an era for this third grade class, it just may be the last time they step into Central School for some of them, but I have no doubt that it will be a new beginning filled with success, joy, laughter, growth, and awe inspired moments for all of them.  Bryan I can’t thank you enough for helping me catch and freeze this sweet spot of a moment in time for our own sanity’s sake.



  • Writer’s Group, A date in June – A Little Lift

    BryanLindgren PhotographyI was surrounded in a sea of tie dye yesterday. Shouts and cheers of laughter erupted from games being played to celebrate the end of the school year. Kids were busy playing polo, carrying water to buckets, moving multiple hula hoops across their line of connected bodies. It felt good.  We live in a small town, less than eight thousand people, and standing in the middle of a crowded play yard, you’re most likely going to know a lot of the volunteer parents. At one point in the morning, I realized that  just in the area I was standing there were five adults that live on our road.  It seemed highly unlikely but knowing how the Universe works I seized the opportunity to invite them all to our annual Witchtrot on Halloween.  It’s become our way to usher in Fall and the Winter seasons on the farm and pay homage to the serendipitous happenstance that we landed in a 1600’s reproduction home on Witchtrot Road.

    ProjectUnderblogQuoteI lingered with one of my neighbors for a bit and the conversation turned to my daughter, Anna.  She asked how she was doing and then shared an incredible complement about her writing.  I smiled. My kids have been recognized as strong writers in school but they often make little of it, saying it’s something they would never want to do in life once they’re out of school.  Even after Aaron has received recognized in college as having talent he is still adamant about not moving in that direction with his degree or work.  I looked down and nodded my head and agreed. Anna is a talented writer.  She turned to me and added, ” you’re a writer.” I looked up as she paused.  I hesitated. I write and I have been writing for a very long time but it seemed as in that moment the Universe was demanding me to step up and own the fact that I am a writer. The moment lingered longer than I wished and finally I simply nodded my head again and changed the subject.

    Writing has never been my professional title. While I’ve been creating stories, content, and copy for most of my life in some form or another, I’ve never owned that it could be my way of life. It’s ironic that the thousands of short snippets I have shared daily through A Little Lift and the various blogs I created on SeaStar Farm Books.com are the dots that are now being connected to finally edge me into that direction.  My daily writings which were once nothing more than a harmless way for me to process my childhood, divorce, being a single mother, and tragic loss of life have actually become the  vehicle and road map to becoming a published author and writer.

    Somehow putting your thoughts and emotions out into the Universe creates a very unique magic which helps to overcome old habits of negative self talk and self sabotage.  It’s a way of clearing the clutter that fills up your mind and burdens your heart. Writing your thoughts down, whether you decide to keep them private or share them, is an unimaginable catalyst for bringing forth positive change in your life. I’ve lived it and over the past five years some of you have even followed me from a distance.  It’s even inspired me to put together a writing circling on June 28th, a Sunday morning lasting two to three hours and depending on response will become a four week offering.  Anne Donnell, medium and psychic will be joining us and offering a bit of her gift as undoubtedly the circle will open up new channels and questions for most of us.  Anne has been feeling as though the circle might include people that have been recently divorced or are going through the process but as we all know life is unpredictable and surprising in who it decides to bring together and when and where they will meet.

    If you are interested in gathering in an intimate writers circle at the end of this month to learn how to begin to share your everyday stories to begin to map together your journey then send me an email at jparkersobo@gmail.com or private message me on my facebook author page, Jennifer Ellen Parker.  I am excited and nervous about beginning this next chapter in my life and hope that you might be too.



  • Putting Your Neck Out – A Little Lift

    unnamed (5)What does it take these days to make it all okay to follow your dream?  I’ve been riding the hurry up and wait train for the past few years and I’m starting to grow impatient and bored. We all know what they say about people who get bored…all together now, they are just boring people. Let me clarify. I’m not bored with my life, God knows I keep busy enough with my family, farm, and work, constantly on the go, juggling multiple balls at once. I’m bored with my blase attitude that it’s just not the right time for me to put my neck out into the great unknown I’d like to call my dream worth dreaming.

    It’s that nagging feeling we shoo away when we are pretending that we have everything under control. Our life is moving along, smooth sailing for the most part, so why on Earth do a crazy thing like put our necks out and see if we can get a glimpse of what we’ve been looking for as long as we can remember. The funny thing is that the one thing we’ve been so desperately searching for has been in plain sight all along. We’ve just been unwilling to acknowledge it for what it truly is. I’ve been dancing around mine for years, keeping it at an arms distance, while I create and nurture a world that I think makes sense for me, not what feels right. Living each day with Kyle is making that harder to do. He serves as a gentle reminder that I am more than what I want and chose to believe and in his unyielding love and support he never misses a moment to share what he sees when he looks at me.

    I witnessed my son putting his neck out fearlessly these past few weeks and I have never been more inspired and proud in the same moment. I could learn a lot from watching his life unfold and I hope I’m around for the best of it.  As I prayed each and every night that he would hold tight and not give up on his dream when things weren’t lining up around him, he was waking up each morning grabbing a coffee and newspaper willing them to, searching and working towards making them happen. And they finally did, they all came together beautifully for him. Somewhere within his tenacity and desire to remain on the course his heart set, I found a bit of courage to do the same. I made my mind up and within just a couple of hours of doing so, I found myself in the middle of serendipitous moments seeming to point me in the same direction. Half of the battle is making your mind up to follow your heart, the other half is actually putting your neck out so that you are the first one to catch the opportunity when it comes passing by.

    When my aunt emailed me this picture of my mum on her vacation last week, my only thought was of how happy she looked being out of her comfort zone. Looking at it again more closely I see her not as my mum but as a woman in her seventies traveling to places she’s never been, experiencing life in a way she never has, and modeling the most incredible behaviors for her children to follow as they make their own way in this world. You’re never too late to pick up your dream and start following it, you’re never too old to be the person you’ve always dreamed of being, and it’s never a bad choice to put your neck out in matters of the heart.



  • A Girl on The Run – Who Cares?

    I’m not a runner, I’ve never been. It’s never felt comfortable and I’ve never seemed to be able to find my stride. In field hockey and soccer I would run because I was chasing a goal or trying to prevent one from being scored but when we were asked to run laps or even cross country to get in shape my body and lungs always cried out in protest. Soon after I started I would always get winded and cramps. If I was lucky, shin splints followed. It wasn’t until my early forties that I found my pace and my breathing became deeper, more controlled. I still wasn’t running to run, I had found another reason, actually I was asked by one of my best friends to coach a girls’ running team.  It was another classic moment in my life, being asked to do something I knew  little about and had almost no experience doing. So of course I said, yes without asking any questions or giving it a second thought.

    groupLast Sunday finished our third season coaching in South Berwick for the non profit organization, Girls On The Run.  The other two coaches and I completed thirty lessons, ten weeks per season, designed to inspire, motivate, and educate young girls on their “star power”. I was almost relieved to find out that I wouldn’t be co-coaching young girls to become the fierce runners they had always dreamed of being, it was much more than that. We were given a well thought out lesson plan that navigated us through the tricky waters of growing up a girl in today’s world of instant communication, open information, and achievement based success for kiddos. We met twice each week and led the girls through a new lesson about being confident, secure, and filled with their best star qualities when confronted with some of life’s age old social traps.  Our head coach, who is an incredible long distance runner would lead us through stretches, a warm up game, and then finally the running which was always accompanied by fun and motivating lap counters for the girls. We always finished off the practice with a closing circle to process the information that had been presented and thoughts on how the girls could connect it to their own lives and when they thought they could use the new tools and strategies in life. Before we said goodbye we  ended with a group cheer.

    During each season we ran two 5Ks. The first was a practice run which started at the town hall and went past Aggie’s Ice Cream Stand, the softball field and had a water stop at the farthest soccer field. After the girls doused themselves with water, grabbed an orange slice, they headed back to the town hall to finish their run. For many of the girls this was their first 5K, run of any distance, and as they ran home to a crowd of teachers and parents holding encouraging signs their faces seemed to beam with pride and accomplishment. Everyone in our groups always finished, whether they walked, skipped, ran, or sprinted through the finish line of toilet paper, it didn’t matter. They had accomplished a task that many adults never attempt or successfully complete.

    finish lineThe end of each session in Girls On The Run in Maine is marked with a 5K run either at Pineland Farms in New Gloucester or at the Cumberland Fair Grounds just off 95. Girls and their running buddies from all over the state unite to celebrate their ten week accomplishment of learning, growing, and training to become the best running girl that they can be.  This past weekend we joined over four hundred other runners and their buddies to show ourselves and our team what we could do. It’s never a race, and we’re encouraged to remind the girls and their buddies that the objective is to have each runner set their own comfortable pace.  I was fortunate to be my daughter’s running buddy for the second time. We stayed in stride with her friend and her mother. The run was challenging for me, feeling as though I might not be able to run the whole way, but watching Libby and her friend stay determined while they had fun with each other took my mind off the aches and pains that come with a non athlete in their forties.  When we reached the finish line the girls found their stride and sprinted ahead of us. Their adrenaline kicked in and pushed them forward in an unexpected jolt of energy while we held back and watched our daughters triumph in their own special moment of glory. If you look closely at the picture I’m the adult wearing the tutu a ways back from the girls.

    Running BuddtThis was Libby’s last time running as a GOTR and I will miss the moments I was able to spend with her as her coach and not her Mum.  It was  an incredible glimpse into the life of Libby as a third grader  being able to take part in  a  program that allows young girls to shine their star power and be perhaps more than they ever dreamed of being. If you had told me in my teens that I would be running 5 K’s in my forties I would have laughed and told you that you were crazy. Somehow life has taught me that it’s not so much what you are doing each and every day but how you are being while you are doing it.  Girls On The Run magnifies the importance of being the best part of yourself while trying new activities and reaching out to the world whether you are in a familiar place or somewhere you’ve never been, and that’s a good thing.

     

     



  • The Sum of its Equal Parts – A New Family

    In each of us, there lies a passion, a reason for being. For some, passion comes easy and is discovered early, for others it lays dormant waiting to be uncovered.  Our passion creates an unquenchable drive which then motivates us to move in directions past points that we may never have previously thought possible. Our passions can change and for most, do often. For some they remain the same from the time they are able to walk until the time they take their last breath.  It’s always fascinated me watching my children grow through their passion, moving in and out of activities, competitive sports, camps, and subjects within school. I’ll be the first to admit my children can be fickle but when they latch on to something that fuels their passion they became steadfast and tenacious. Aaron has spent hours upon hours at his laptop first designing games when he was younger, then editing photos and videos, and finally now teaching himself design and production. Libby drew her first horse years ago and since has developed an unyielding desire to live, breathe, and know horses through riding, camps, and reading. Yet I’ve learned the most about passion and how it seems to thrive or not in watching my middle child in her struggle to find her own.

    When she was little she ran the gamut of activities and sports including; soccer, tae kwon do, piano, dance, singing, cheer, softball, skateboarding, trumpet, and others that aren’t coming to mind but none seemed to having staying power. None seemed to evoke her passion and drive.  I saw determination and focus but never a love that seemed to over take her entire being and propel her deeper into the activity.  Then a year ago out of the blue she announced that she was returning to the cheer gym at Maine Stars to tumble, not compete. I nodded my head and smiled. I was happy that she would be moving, reacquainting with old friends, making new ones, and have a focus outside of the daily drama of middle school. I supported her decision whole heartedly. After she had returned for just a week or so she had gotten her back hand spring back and begun working on a standing back tuck. She started updating all of us on the end of the season competition results for the gym teams and a spark had returned to her eyes. By the time her six pack showed up on her torso, she had wondered out loud if she could be ready to compete for the following cheer season.

    11049397_1632013263693751_41344591_nBy the time tryouts arrived last Spring, Anna was fueled with a mad drive to make a higher level team that she had ever been on and was spending hours after homework studying world class teams on you tube and memorizing dance sequences. She began to talk faster, work harder at the gym, and developed a love for cheer bows and Nike pros. She landed on two competitive teams and soon our home was filled with routine music and glimpses of Anna moving through the dance motions at the dinner table, our living room, and on the trampoline. Her body grew stronger, her mind incredibly focused, and her heart bigger filled with passion, determination, and a sense of urgency to become the best teammate she could possibly be.

    Her first competitive season back is over. The gym garnered incredible awards, titles, and accomplishments and couldn’t be more proud of their athletes.  They have since held tryouts and announced the rosters for the 2015/2016 season.  Anna has advanced and moved up a level but that is not all that she talks about. Her excitement for the new season is bubbling over and being shared as she tells how excited she is for each of her teammates and the new skills they have obtained and the fun that they will have this year working together.  I caught a comment she had made to a post the gym had put on Instagram and it made my heart smile. She had shared that she was so thankful for Maine Stars, her second family.  So while I’ve never been one to push my children forward in a competitive sport, I applaud Maine Stars for creating an incredibly competitive environment which not only demands the best of their teams but supports its individual athletes with the coaching, training, and love it takes to make them want to strive to be the best that they can be. In the world of competitive cheer, its not the best athletes that get to take the floor and perform for a crowd of thousands. Its every single team member on the mat for two minutes and forty-five seconds being judged on their tumbling, dancing, and stunting. Sometimes a team can have more than thirty cheerleaders on the floor competing at once. If one stumbles, falls, or forgets a count then points are deducted from the entire team and a champion routine can land third, fourth, or fifth place.

    unnamed (2)Anna has landed in a competitive sport which is truly the sum of each of its equal parts and I couldn’t be happier for her.