Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A 35 Year Drought (and Counting)

A little bit of a detour, but as a die-hard Dawg fan, I had to share my take on my boys playing in the National Championship game!

I’ve been wearing Red and Black for as long as I can remember. When I was a little girl, I cheered for the Dawgs. I didn’t know why, other than my Daddy taught me. When I was a teenager, I fantasized about going to exotic universities around the globe to study who-knows-what. Once I realized going to Uni in England or France was not feasible or reasonable, I started looking closer to home. I’d always bled Red and Black, so it made sense that I would look at UGA. As luck would have it, my Freshmen year in high school, my family moved to a new neighborhood in Woodstock, GA where my neighbor was none other than Frank Ros, team captain of the 1980 Championship Bulldogs.

My Junior year, we did the “official visit” to Athens. I was unsure that I would be ready to tackle such a town in a short, few 18 months. I decided that while I would continue cheering on my beloved Dawgs, that I would start my college career on the bunny slope. I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to study and certainly wasn’t ready to “declare” anything anytime soon. So, upon graduation, with SAT scores and entrance essays in-hand, I applied to Reinhardt College and was accepted. It was perfect. Several friends from high school joined me on the Reinhardt campus and I met lots of new friends, many of whom still hold a very special place in my heart.

After my time at Reinhardt, I decided that I was ready for everything Athens had to offer: education at one of the oldest state colleges in the country (chartered in 1785), campus life in a town larger than Waleska (home to Reinhardt), but smaller than Atlanta (aren’t most cities?), and football in the Fall. Oh yes! No more watching the games on television. Now I was could sit inside the much-lauded Sanford Stadium, not just as a fan, but as a student! There is nothing like it. Sitting there in the cool Georgia air, waiting anxiously for the boys in the Silver Britches to bust through the banner, while all the Fraternity guys and Sorority girls are in their Sunday best and everyone else is drenched in Red and Black, “G”s emblazoned on every article of clothing, as far as the eye can see.

Ahh, the life of a university student in the south, where nothing matters but friends, fun and football (and education). Here's the thing about my years at the University of Georgia: It started with the Ray Goff error, I mean era and then there was the "Donnan of a new era" (there wasn't much "new" from Ray Goff to Jim Donnan!). Finally, there was some light at the end of the tunnel when an FSU QB coach decided to make the jump from coaching quarterbacks in the ACC to being Head Coach in the vaunted SEC. As Dawg fans, we just knew that CMR was going to be the guy who brought us back from the brink of extinction. And for a while, he was. Winning an SEC Championship in his second year, talent like David Greene, Matt Stafford, David Pollack, Aaron Murray, possible 2017 NFL MVP Todd Gurley, newly-crowned College Football Hall of Famer Matt Stinchcomb. Talent and excitement for DAYS! Larry Munson's "Hobnail Boot" call, the celebration penalty against Florida. We knew we were back. Alas, we were merely great. Not exceptional, not contenders, but bowl bound every year and a decent winning percentage. The type of thing most schools dream of from their football team.

However, this is SEC Football. "Great" doesn't win championships, "great" doesn't get you consistent 4- and 5-star recruits, "great" just means that you win about twice as often as you lose. What made it even more difficult for all the die-hard Dawgs out there is that Mark Richt is such an awesome person. He's kind, compassionate, loyal, a father-figure that anyone in the world would want, but it seemed he was feeling a little disheartened about Athens. Maybe it was just getting to him. I can't imagine how it must feel to know that there are people out there hoping you fail at your job so that you get fired. That pressure is too much for any normal person. So, one "merely great" season too many, and CMR was headed to his Alma Mater in South Florida. There's nothing wrong with that, because someone else was in the wings ready to make his journey home, too.

I've never been happier than the day I found out Kirby Smart was the newest HC at Georgia. I remember when he played at UGA, when I was a student (I won't disclose the years that we were there together, it's a bit hard for me to believe!). With him, he brought a new energy, a different mind-set, new recruiting methods and a long and storied tenure under Nick Saban. Tonight, that culminates in a "Clash of the Titans" type match up (some of you may disagree with that statement, but I think it's pretty accurate). I have heard all the Star Wars comparisons: NS is Obi Wan to KS Luke Skywalker (on the Light Side), if you're more of a Sith fan, It's Saban's Darth Vader inspiring the new Evil Emperor, Smart's Kylo Ren. For me, it's just a match up of two tremendous head coaches with players who have the talent and heart to land them where they are tonight: playing for a championship. I don't know how things will end tonight and who will raise the trophy (Go Dawgs), but I do know that we won't have another 35 year long drought for our next available opportunity to win it all.

A heart-felt thank you to all the Dawgs out there, past and present, for bleeding Red and Black for all of us, your fans! To Sony Michel, Nick Chubb and all the Seniors, thank you for staying and taking us on this ride! To Coach Smart and the current Dawgs, thank you for a wonderful and exciting season. To the Dawgs of 2018, I can't wait to see what this team is gonna do! Let's bring it home in 2019! Sic'em!

Friday, October 13, 2017

When Reality Hits You Like a Freight Train

I've had a week to process the death of Ralphie May. It hit me like a freight train. Not because I was such a fan of his work (I was, and am, a fan), but because he was the same age as I am. And he died. Of cardiac arrest. I know he made a living making fat jokes and laughing at himself, but I wish that someone had been there to encourage him to live a healthier lifestyle, like I was lucky enough to have. He probably surrounded himself with enablers, those who would rather give him what he asks for rather than what he needs. Those who would tell him what he wanted to hear, rather than help him face a tough reality. From personal experience, it’s not a fun conversation to endure, but seeing a loved one end up in the hospital with oxygen tubes (if you’re lucky) or in a casket (if you’re not) is even less fun to endure.

In the weeks leading up to his death, he was suffering from pneumonia and at his last performance, he couldn't walk up the steps leading to the stage. When you have to exert that much energy to do so little activity, there will be difficult times on the road ahead. I know. I remember those trips to the mailbox that had me short of breath. Life is tough enough as it is, why must we make it harder on ourselves by not taking care of the one thing that will be with us through our entire lives: our bodies?

Contrary to what society tells us, we don't have to be skinny, but we should be healthy (BTW, skinny people can be unhealthy, too!). Please, all that I ask of you, my friends and family, is to take care of yourselves. Drink water, move throughout the day, do other things that help you stay in my life longer. It really hit home when I thought about where I could be if I hadn't been encouraged to live a healthier lifestyle. If Ralphie May's death can cause just one person to live healthier, than his sudden loss will not be in vain. His fans, friends and family will feel that loss, but I hope we will all learn from it, as well.

I've included a picture of me in 2011 and him in 2015 (I claim no rights to this image). It's scary that we really weren't that different.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Getting a Tune-up is Important

Well, I don't think it's any great secret after my last few posts that I was taking some "time off for bad behavior". What I didn't realize was that I wasn't feeling like myself during that time, I felt bad. Because I felt bad, I would continue to keep doing the same thing over and over, expecting that at some point things were going to change and I would feel differently (does that sound familiar to anyone?) Yes, that is the definition of "insanity" (whether or not Einstein was actually the one to define it, is up for debate, but it's true, regardless of who coined the phrase). And that was me, driving around all over the place, like a kid on a bumper car grid. No goals, no end in sight, just out there for the hell of it. I didn't really equate my actions with how I was feeling. Then, I finally got the hell off the bumper cars (I mean really, what in the world is the appeal for self-inflicted whiplash, anyway?) I started paying attention again (in the world of Weight Watchers, it's this little activity known as "tracking"), I started challenging myself with monthly fitness goals, I started writing again (hey, yes...nice to see all y'all again!). In other words, I started acting like the myself again.

When I say that I was acting like "myself" again, I don't mean the "me" who would come home Friday after work and not leave the house (or even open the door) again until Monday. Not the "me" who would consume a breakfast that would feed a family of three. Not the "me" who couldn't walk to the mailbox. No, she's gone. For good. No matter how much "time off for bad behavior" I take, she's never coming back. I rediscovered Me 2.0. The one who does 5Ks and Half Marathons, the one who isn't afraid to sweat, the one who feels good physically because she feels good emotionally and vice versa. When I got my groove back (OK, it's a process. Technically, I'm still getting my groove back), I noticed I felt better during Orangetheory classes, I felt better on the bike rides, I felt better just getting up in the morning. Yes, taking care of your mind, body and soul makes it easier to take care of your soul, body and mind.

In other words, what I've really learned is that when I'm not feeling quite right, when something feels off, I should listen to my inner voice (no, not the one begging for Red Velvet Cheesecake) telling me to take care of myself. It is important take a look at what you are doing or not doing, examine what habits you lost or picked up  get a tune-up. Your body is the most important vehicle you will ever have, make sure that nothing gets in the way of your ability to keep it in mint condition. Treat it like Cameron's dad's Ferrari in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. You are not a bumper car stranded on an electric grid, destined to give someone whiplash. No, you are a magnificent piece of Italian machinery, built for excitement and the freedom of the open road. You can only drive with the engine light on for so long before permanent damage is done and no vehicle can perform in peak condition without the proper care. 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Getting a Flat Tire

I hate it when I get a flat tire. It hinders my forward progress, immensely! But, it happens to the best of us and it’s part of owning a vehicle, bike or even a body! Sometimes, you just have to sit on the sidelines and relax until you get the chance to change your tire (or, maybe you are waiting on Roadside Assistance to come out and do it for you). When you think about it though, sitting out for a bit isn’t the worst idea. You can evaluate how far you’ve already come and you can ponder what lies ahead. The thing is, you don’t want to sit out too long, because it might affect your desire to keep going.

I understand this loss of desire better than you’d think. About a year and a half ago, I got a flat and rather than fix the issue and get back on the road, I just languished in the emergency lane and watched others keep driving right by me. Once that happens, the vicious cycle (not the kind of cycle I want to be riding, by the way) just kept dragging me further and further away from my goal. And I was OK with that. I shouldn’t have been, but I was.

Finally, I decided to get out of the emergency lane and fix the flat and get back on the road. I also learned that when you see someone stopped along the side of the road, they may not be ready for you to offer assistance. Until they come to their own decisions to get moving again, there isn’t much you can do, except try to keep them in your rearview mirror and keep an eye on them. One day, they will catch back up with you and you can merge into traffic and be on your way ­– together.

If you get a flat and don’t get right back on the road, it’s OK. Just make a promise to yourself to never give up. If you’ve gone 1 mile or 1000 miles, you’ve already made progress, never lose sight of that important fact.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Should I Pedal Faster?

Well, the answer to that question is “it depends”. Pedaling is situational. Finding the right pedaling speed (cyclists call it a “cadence”) for the terrain is important, making sure you aren’t wasting energy, when you should be conserving it. Just like on this long strange trip I’ve been on for the last several years, if I’m doing something that is sapping my energy rather than increasing it, then I need to shift gears and correct my cadence.

That’s where I am now. I’ve shifted gears, but learning to correct the bad habits that have slipped back into my life will take some time to undo. As I’ve said all along, it’s ok. It is imperative that I listen to my body (although, now that I’m getting older, it seems to complain so much more than it used to!) and make sure that when it is telling me that I’m doing something wrong, I trust that my behavior needs to change.

Shifting gears, shifting mindset. It’s pretty much the same thing. One of the most important keys to having success while trying to accomplish a large-scale dream is continuing to make the adjustments as you go along. The steps you take at the beginning will not be the same as the ones you take in the middle or at the end. Your gears will shift and your cadence will adjust.

I’ve shifted my gears and now I’m working on finding the correct cadence for this terrain. Things will change again and I’ll make more adjustments when that happens. I know now that it’s OK – encouraged actually – to change things up and not stay the course. Dare to be different, as they say.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Changing Vehicles

I know, I know. Just the other day, I said I would change things up from car analogies. To be fair, the blog IS called Road Trip. Also, as I was out riding my bike the other day, and it dawned on me. Just because you’re on a road trip, doesn’t necessarily mean you are in a car. So, with that in mind and my recent re-dedication to this journey, I’ve decided to tackle this from a cycling perspective, at least for a while. If you think about it, the change makes a lot of sense. It takes longer to get somewhere on a bike than in a car. But, you get to see more things along the way and you have more fun when traveling in a pack, with your friends.

Restarting, starting over, rededicating yourself. These are all terms that sound like you failed at something and are making another attempt. It’s not the case. There’s only one way to fail, and that’s to never start. Well, there is one other way to fail: to always compare yourself to what others are doing. Don’t feel like you have to live up to someone else’s expectations or accomplishments. Rather than letting the competition get the best of you, gather your friends to join you on a nice bike ride. It’s a good way to ensure you are surrounded by a supportive group of people. Life is challenging enough. There’s no reason to go it alone. If, for some reason, you find yourself on a solo bike ride, find others who are looking will welcome you to their pack.  One thing that I’ve learned is there will always be slower riders and speed demons, no matter the vehicle. I’ve got to find a pace that I can manage and start there. If I surround myself with others who are successful, then I can only improve.

I’m excited to look at the road from a different angle and speed now. Come along for the ride! It’ll be fun!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Running Off the Road

Sometimes it happens. Sometimes you run off the road. You know how to drive, after all, you've been doing it a while. But something happens and it completely derails you. This interruption can be as simple as one wheel grazing the shoulder or as complex as totaling the car into a tree. Either way, you've survived the ordeal and need to be sure you aren't afraid to get back behind the wheel.

For me, I think the answer is pretty obvious! It's been over a year since I wrote anything. Yeah, I hit the tree! But I have been trying to get back on track. The key word here is TRYING. If I really wanted to get back to it, I would just do it, no trying about it. I haven't been at my best for a while now, as there's been a lot that's been going on over the last year. I won't go into details, because it doesn't really matter, whatever I said, it would just be a list of excuses.

Those excuses are done. I'm back! I've been doing some things right, physically, but mentally, it has been a challenge. I'm ready to get going again. I will need to make some changes along the way and that might include this blog. I've always done it from a driving perspective, but I don't know how many more car metaphors I have in me. So you'll have to forgive me if I veer off that path on occasion and just use this space as a way to get my inside voice, well, outside!

If you're still here and have been waiting on me to get the hell out of the rest stop, thank you! I expect that by the end of the year, I will be in a better place and it will be because I've rejoined the Road Trip!