What if Apolo Anton Ohno Skated for Russia?

Speed skating start

Apolo Anton Ohno is one of the USA’s beloved speed skaters. He is an eight time medalist and in the last two weeks provided the play by play for NBC’s speed skating broadcast of the 2014 Winter Olympics. He’s definitely one of my favorite sports personalities.

How would we feel if Ohno abandoned his citizenship to represent another country in the Olympics? Because, that’s what Viktor Ahn (Ahn Hyun-Soo), former a gold medalist from South Korea, did for the 2014 winter games. Unhappy with how he was treated by his country’s skating federation, Ahn and his father shopped him around and Russia came up with the highest bid.

So now, Victor Ahn has won two gold medals and one bronze medal for Russia. I wonder what we can expect in the future and if other athletes will be selling their skills to the highest bidding country? There are Olympians representing different countries based on their parents’ nationalities, or through citizenship received by marriage to people from other countries, but this is the first time I’m aware of this kind of Olympic free agency.

Ahn is clearly the best in his sport regardless of what country he represents, but I wonder how fans from South Korea, who supported him over the years, feel about his defection? I know if it were Apolo Anton Ohno, I would be cheering for the other guy.

Non Russians Named Victor Are Russia’s Olympic Secret Weapon

South Korean Fury

Defection Row Overshadows Russian Skating Victory

Quilt of Love

quilting
One of my hidden talents is designing and sewing lap sized quilts. They will never win awards or appear on the front page of a magazine. Instead, they keep my family members warm.

Intrigued by beautiful quilts I’d seen in magazines and online, I decided years ago to give it a try. I took a few classes and made some simple quilts. For those of you who aren’t quilters, making seams match and points pointy is important in many quilt designs. Since that’s a real challenge for me, I decided to create my own designs.

The most important quilt I even designed was for my brother-in-law, John, after he was diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer. He asked me to make him a quilt and it needed to be a large one since he was 6’9″ tall. John was very patriotic so I decided on a stars and stripes design in red, white and blue.

I purchased many fabrics in all shades of red, white and blue and roughly pieced it on a freezer paper pattern. There were a lot of curves and hundreds of pieces. Time was of the essence so I worked on it every available moment. It wasn’t perfectly even. None of the sides measured the same, but it was beautiful and he loved it. It was on his lap as he attended his son’s wedding in the backyard of his house; it kept him warm as he lay in the hospital bed in the living room; it followed him to hospice and warmed him as he took his last breath; and finally, it was buried with him.

God was in the details. I tried to make a similar quilt several times over the years and I can never get it to work. I believe God helped me through a process I’d never tried before to make a quilt that would show my love for John and would comfort him and my sister throughout the progression of his illness. I’ll never make a more beautiful quilt and I’m okay with that.

There’s something comforting about working with beautiful fabrics and weaving them together in amazing designs. While I haven’t quilted much over the last few years, the stacks of fabric and my sewing machine are waiting when I’m ready to return.

2/22/14 EDIT: I finally found a picture of John’s quilt. It was about 5′ x 7′, the biggest quilt I’ve ever made. 

John's Quilt

Glimpses of Spring

Glimpse of spring
I’m sure I saw her peek out from behind the bushes. When I turned to look, she hid away again, so I can’t be 100% sure.

I felt her on the breeze and in each breath I took. Could she be playing me false? Is this just a tease or the real thing?

I saw her in the way the trails of water wove their way into the street from the snow piled near the curb. The blades of grass are still holding back hope, remaining brown and yellow.

I feel her in the warmth of the sun on my face. But she’s done this before, pulling me in just to spurn me with the return of frigid air that sends me back into layers of clothing.

I’m not hearing the chirping of the birds yet. Maybe they aren’t fooled into believing it could be true.

So do I trust the birds or my belief that winter is finally pulling back from the painful grip to relinquish its hold?

No decision, really. Today, I’ll be seeking glimpses of spring. I know she’s out there and I’m going to find her.

Valentine’s Day Victims

Broken Heart Valentine's Day
I’m not one of those people who can think of the perfect thing to say at exactly the right moment. I wish I were. Instead, I have to chew on things for awhile. So, I’m either a bit too late or way too early for this party.

Regardless, let’s get back to yesterday. I’m happily single, so Valentine’s Day is not an emotional roller coaster for me. After reading articles, tweets, posts and a number of other writings over the last week, I decided to make a day after Valentine’s Day suggestion.

There were many singles who were distraught about not having a significant other on the BIG day. I get it. I was there at one time, hoping for just the right guy to mesh into my life. But ladies and gents, I’m sorry to say we were still single every other day this year. So why was yesterday the pinnacle of singlehood disaster? 

There were some married people who were expecting BIG things from their sweeties. In many cases, the BIG things were what the guys were supposed to do. Did anyone forget that love works two ways? I remember the blog post by Seth Adam Smith that went viral, Marriage Isn’t for You. Ladies, did you do something special for your Valentine or was it all up to him? 

What if we reframe the day? What if we make it about other people instead of us? Who in your life needed a Valentine yesterday and did you step up to give it to them? When I say “Valentine” I don’t mean a card, I mean each of us as a person. Did I become the “Valentine” or the gift to give to someone who needed a loving friend or family member?

I know I’m a day late, but just think, now we have a year to plan ahead. Maybe, instead of expecting gifts that are supposed to prove we are loved, we can be the gift that shows someone else they are.

So, are you a Valentine’s Day victim or were you the awe-inspiring Valentine? Let’s take a different approach to Valentine’s Day next year or maybe, check out all the roses and candy on the sales rack today…

My Marijuana Plant

Marijuana

I’m guilty.

My mother walked by the plant growing on my bedroom window sill for weeks before she finally took a good look.

“Is that marijuana?”

I stood tall and looked her straight in the eye and said, “Yes.”

After a pause and a roll of her eyes, she finally said, “I give up! I guess I should just sit down and smoke some with you.” Then she threw her hands up in the air and walked out of the room.

I’m not sure why, maybe I was afraid she’d actually do it. But soon after, I threw the plant away and refocused on my studies.

Now marijuana’s legal in my home state of Colorado. Who would have thought?

Furry Dreams

Sleeping Dog

Her deep sigh settles her body down further into the pile of blankets. She breathes in a slow and steady rhythm in and out…in and out. More relaxed than she’s been all day, safe at the foot of my bed. Her heart beat slows as she sinks into her dreams.

Do dogs dream? Absolutely. I can see it when she moves as if running with abandoned joy and wags her tail. Sometimes she barks so loud, I’m surprised she doesn’t wake herself up.

Is Olive chasing squirrels or playing with the cat? Is she running through open fields? Chasing balls?

She’s in my dreams sometimes in happy and weird ways. I wonder…am I in hers?

What do you think our furry family members dream about when they fall asleep?

 

Retirement Head Games

retirement

January 12, 2019…a big day for me. It’s the date I chose for my mandatory retirement. I can retire earlier, but no later than that date. It’s a long story, but ultimately, knowing specific retirement dates helps my employer with personnel planning and there are financial benefits for me.

After spending 30 years (or 35 years in 2019), working for the City of Denver, even thinking about retirement causes some concerns. Financially, I should be comfortable, but what about everything else?

I set the date knowing I have five years to work it all out. My niece, Shoshanna, hit the nail on the head when she suggested the limitless possibilities scare the shit out of me. I hadn’t thought about it until then, but she’s right.

Just think, I could:

  • Move to almost any place in the world, finances and laws permitting
  • Write a book or books
  • Volunteer for a vast number of organizations
  • Run for office (just kidding)
  • Explore the world
  • Be a full time couch potato (an option I’m not considering)
  • Change the world
  • Earn another degree
  • Start a new career

I know retirement will be here before I know it so I’m trying to make a road map.

There are plenty of resources about financially planning for retirement, but I haven’t seen many talking about how to transition into retirement. Here are the questions I hope to answer before then.

  • What do I love to do that I’d like to spend more time doing?
  • How can I make a positive contribution after I am no longer working full-time?
  • How do I challenge myself to continue to learn and grow?
  • How do I maintain my relationships and develop new ones?
  • How do I make sure my retirement is amazing?
  • What can I do now, and in the next few years, to make my transition easier?
  • How to I stay motivated to be active and healthy?

I don’t have the answers yet, but I’ve begun the journey. If you, or someone you know, has any suggestions, I’m all ears…

Toll Road Rookie

Toll Road

It was dark when I finally arrived at the airport in Orlando. It was only early evening so I planned to get to the hotel, check in and meet my fellow photographers for dinner. I was a bit tired after a flight delay and an early morning wakeup call.

My rental car was ready and I had a free GPS system for directions, thank goodness. Okay…on the highway…

“Turn left in point five miles.”  Got it.  I guessed at point five miles and turned onto another highway. Wrong…I turned too early. Just a quarter mile later…toll booth…50 cents per car. Okay…no attendant on duty. I have 50 cents, so I carefully throw it in the direction of the coin collector thing. Then my GPS says, “Make a U-Turn.”  Oh! Oh!

I turn around and a quarter mile later another toll booth. 50 cents per car. I dug in my purse and 48 cents later, I threw it in. I thought maybe they consider that some people can’t throw like Peyton Manning and have a bit of a grace penny amount. Wrong-O! The light stays red.

Now I have a choice, I can either keep going or sit for a minute to figure out another solution. Goodness knows, I’m a rule follower. There were no cars behind me so I reached into my purse and dug around. Phew! 2 cents at the bottom.

I got on the next highway…toll booth…$1.25 per car. Argh! Okay, finally an attendant to take my money.

Me: “What happens if there is no attendant and I don’t have complete change?”

Him: “You just paid so you can go.”

Me: “No, I mean on the roads where there’s no attendant to give change.”

Him: “You need to have change…”

Hmm…I’m not sure he expected to ever have to actually talk to someone.

Another $1.25 later, lots of construction and confusion, I finally figured out the GPS system and the ding that indicated…TURN NOW!

So today since our group photo shoot is over, I’m headed to the Disney Nature Conservancy. It’s not $90+ per day to visit, unless there are a lot of toll roads along the way.

We have one toll road in Denver and I think I’ve only driven on it twice. So I’m a toll road rookie. And…I can tell you right now, I hate toll roads.

Touched Beyond Belief

New York Graffiti

A funny thing happened last November on my way to find the perfect Christmas gift for a family member. I visited Amazon to look for a book and discovered a young man who is changing the world, one connection at a time. He wrote a book called the Humans of New York.

When it arrived in the mail, I opened it and was mesmerized. Brandon takes pictures of people in New York and in a sentence or two, shares their incredible stories of life and love. I found inspiration and appreciation for the wisdom hidden behind the faces of people that pass by unnoticed. It’s true that everyone has a story and Brandon is capturing them. The book has become a permanent part of my collection.

Just in case you haven’t been touched by the magic yet, I encourage you to visit Humans of New York to see if there isn’t a message there for you, too.