Family, Food, Football, and Fun

This is the first Thanksgiving in about 15 years that I won’t be cooking. Normally my whole day would be spent between the kitchen and the tv…cooking or watching football. But this year, for the first time in forever, hubby has to work. It’s pointless to cook for one.

Fortunately I have friends and family who’ve been generous enough to invite me to share the holiday with them, so I’m going to hang out at my cousin’s. I know, little foodie that she is, that she’ll have brined the turkey…(I usually do the same).

Brine
If you got the above turkey naked and swapped out those rose petals with other seasonings (though you could also keep those roses if you’re that kind of chef)…and maybe used a cooler instead of a bath tub, that would be brining. ūüėČ The turkey is terrific that way!

And of course, the house is usually full of family and friends and definitely football….so you’re always looking for ways to keep everyone entertained. Let’s face it, not everyone is a football fan…. This year I saw this particular version of BINGO and cracked up! Can you imagine?

Bingo

Okay, so some of it isn’t nice or Thankful….but you have to account for close quarters and family…and the complications that are usually entailed when you get a mix of such different personalities (and family members) in the same room.

My Cowboys play every Thanksgiving, so I always have that joy…. I’m also finding it very interesting that this year is going to be an all NFC game holiday. For me it’s definitely a “Go Cowboys!” day…so all Cowboys gear, even to Thanksgiving dinner.

thanksgiving-is-at-our-house-dallas-cowboys-schedule-2013-dallas-cowboys-thanksgiving-day-ga

Of course when you combine Family, food, and football….fun usually ensues. Sometimes it comes from the announcers on TV, other times it’s from the people at your table… (C’mon…y’all had to know I couldn’t keep it clean forever. Whose blog did you think you visited?)

Phrases

Still, at the end of the day….it’s all about gratitude. And making a difference. Recognizing those meaningful moments. Some prayers answered, and some gifts of unanswered prayers. I’ve seen a lot of different videos today, but I think the one that touched me most was shared on Facebook by my pal, Jess Witkins. Watch this and see if the power of this message doesn’t move you the way it did me.

Finally, I’d just like to say that I’m thankful for each and every one of you. May you all have plenty to eat, love that knows no bounds, and a life well lived…with very few regrets!

Love Remains

I talked to my father-in-law yesterday. He’s in good spirits and said that if he didn’t have the history he did, he wouldn’t have even known he was ill. He asked me to convey his thanks for the thoughts and prayers and asked that you keep them coming. He’s certain since everything was caught early, his type of cancer is highly treatable¬†and he’s got faith in his oncologist that he will prevail. I was so relieved to hear that and to get a sense of where he is, mentally.

On the flip side, the friend I mentioned several months ago with cancer is not doing as well. Her last scan has shown that the cancer has grown and that her prognosis doesn’t look very good, but she’s trying to remain optimistic and continue to battle. Please continue to keep her in your thoughts. I thought the Billy Dean said all the right things about life being short and living life to the fullest.

As you all know, I’m a die hard football fan, so I’ll be glued to the TV tomorrow evening. As a Cowboy fan, I’ve got to say….”Go Ravens!” I’m just selfish enough to not want San Fran to get their 6th ring before us. It’s bad enough that Pittsburgh got there first. ūüėČ So does anyone have Superbowl plans? Which team are you rooting for? Why?

Having said that…I’ll be sharing some of my favorite happy love songs as we count down to Valentine’s day. We’ve got to make sure everyone is in the mood for loving by then…and slow builds are good things. ūüôā This one is from one of my favorite balladiers. There aren’t many who do it as well as Collin Raye.

 

“Attitude Reflects Leadership” And Other Life Lessons

Some of the most important life lessons can be learned from Remember The Titans. For those of you who don’t know the story, it’s based on a true story about one of the first integrated football teams in the south. This entry onto the football field, to this day, is one of my favorites of all time. It shows the beginnings of acceptance and teamwork that were beginning to take root during a very tough time in our history. As I thought about the this movie, I saw a lot of pertinent things to today in both acceptance and leadership. Today I’m going to try to share with you some of the lessons I picked up along the way…see if you don’t agree.

To understand a bit of what the tensions were like during that time, a black child had just been killed by a white shop owner. The local high school was being integrated and they’d hired their first black coach. This particular school’s pride and joy was their high school football team and their All American defensive player, Gary Burtier. Here is what the intro to the new coach looked like.

And even in leadership, sometimes there’s division. When faced with antagonism and disdain, you have a choice in how you proceed. Handling things with class and grace is vital for success.

Sometimes bringing someone to the scene of past battles over similar causes can create understanding…and a little respect. Some people are starting to understand the bigger picture. If we don’t look back on past mistakes, we could be doomed to repeat them.

Sometimes a bit of cold, hard honesty can wake you up and change you for the better. Although this scene seems negative…it’s actually a healing moment. It’s the first time the two biggest leaders from both sides of this team have talked…and truly communicated with each other. They both had great points. To this day I remind myself of that quote. “Attitude Reflects Leadership.” Although I don’t lead a team anymore, I try to remember it every day.

As you can tell, acceptance was far away. The coach recognized that the first step was going to require him to be tough…and to gain the compliance of the leader of the white side of the football team in order to get the rest of the team to follow. Unfortunately, sometimes this requires making an example of someone. If you’ve ever been around teenagers, you know how that can work. If you can get the “king or queen bee” in line, the rest will follow. Sometimes that lesson can be painful for the teenager.

The most rewarding thing is seeing when someone listens to you, acknowledges their need to change…and then acts. Especially as a leader. Because if leaders can find a way to come together, everyone else will follow.

And now they’re starting to understand each other… it helps when there are a couple people on the team don’t know how to hate. Love the big guy, Lastik. Sunshine, too. Both kids were military brats, so had been forced to learn to get along. Of course, sometimes whole other issues come up…LOL! (BTW, the kiss was revenge for Burtier’s comment when he first got to camp, assuming he must be gay to wear his hair long…Sunshine had been in California…lots of hippies there.)

I love this part. Coach Boone setting expectations. Does he believe these kids are going to be perfect? No. But he realizes that striving for it every time is the best way to get them there. Excuses will not be tolerated. Repitition is key to making things happen. It’s like a quote from a commercial I heard a long time ago. “Amateurs practice till they get it right. Professionals practice till they can’t get it wrong.” Set your expectations, then practice, practice, practice. (I remind myself of this daily with my writing)

Look at what can happen with a little honesty and support. This is when you know it’s real. It’s what you do when no one is watching….and there’s nothing in it for you. That’s when you define yourself as a person and as someone worth following.

There will always be people who will not change. Who don’t care who they hurt. And there are those who will step up and define themselves. This is one of those moments for two different people. Rev is the quarterback, in the beginning scene, one of the kids holding on to hate chooses to ignore an audible causing Rev to get hurt. Sunshine steps in and shows his greatness.

Integrity defines you as a person. I think Gary Burtier learned that. Growing up requires you to make the hard decisions. He stood up for his values, even though it was probably one of the hardest things he’s done. Sometimes the lesson is…there are hopeless causes in the world. And hard as it may be, you have to let them go or they will continue to be the toxic poison in your life.

Coach Yoast stepped up for a cause he believed in at great personal cost. By speaking up he lost his opportunity to be nominated into the Hall Of Fame and to take the team back. He chose to do what was right…and be the example he expected his team to live up to.

Remember The Titans taught me that there are no odds that can’t be overcome…you’ve just got to be willing to fight for it. This movie isn’t about football. It’s about life and friendships and overcoming adversity.¬† What do you guys think? What movies have inspired you? What quotes have changed your life…or maybe your outlook? What did you take away from these clips… If you didn’t get through them all, that’s okay. If you did…it was worth it, wasn’t it? I loved that this was based on a true story. If you haven’t watched this movie yet, I strongly recommend you do. If you already have, what did you learn? What did you like best?

Friendships, Trips and #Thankstweetings

As this years draws closer to the end, I get reflective. Looking back, I guess I always have. Maybe because we’re also closing in on Thanksgiving, or simply in my nature, but I find myself looking for things to be thankful for. First and foremost, I’m grateful that this year is almost over because it means next year can begin.

This year has been tough on my husband and I. He’s had three surgeries between February and May…and broke his hand. Just as things finally start to stabilize, I lost my job. Although we joke about the whole “for better or worse” portion of our vows, it’s strengthened our relationship…and our relationship was already pretty solid.

But as rough as we’ve had it…we realize it could always be worse. Above is a picture I took in the Bahamas two years ago. That year we stayed at the Wyndham Nassau Resort.We went back again this year, but we stayed in the Atlantis on Paradise Island. It was amazing! In these last two years we’ve made several friends because we book through Maximum Sports for their annual Da ‘Boys In Da Bahamas trip. We’ve also gotten the opportunity to get to know some of the players on a level we’d never have the opportunity to enjoy in the regular world.

The point of all this? We got to be good friends with a couple while we were out there the first year and we look forward to meeting up every year. Unfortunately, this year, my gal pal was diagnosed with cancer…and did her treatments. Her hubby fell prior to our trip (off a ladder, I think?) and wound up with stitches prior to the Bahama trip…which meant no water excursions for them. Last year we all went snorkelling. This year we did a shallow water dolphin thing…and they didn’t get to join.

Then, after the Bahamas, my gal pal had another incident with cancer. This was followed by her hubby getting into a motorcycle accident that left him badly injured and hospitalized for a bit. Between the medical bills and the time off required to care for him, not to mention his time loss due to his medical condition, they have neither the finances nor the time needed to allow them to take this trip next year.

I was seriously disappointed that we wouldn’t get to see her next year as we’re all in different areas. She lives in the DC/Virginia area and the rest of us live in Florida/Texas/Illinois. Pretty spread out. When she told me that she’d be unable to make the trip, I mentioned getting together for a girls weekend! All the ladies agreed… It would be a ton of fun! This is where you guys come in. We need ideas for places to go. It can’t be too close to her home…as you ladies know…when you have a husband and a son, there is a tendency to call you for every little thing if you’re close enough to feel accessible to them. On the other hand, it needs to be close enough that it’s not too costly to get there for her. Our initial thoughts were Nashville…maybe Myrtle Beach. Where would you guys recommend and why?

And thinking all these trips had me thinking…if money were no option, where would you love to visit and why? I’d love to go on a trip around the Mediterranean…Italy, Greece, Portugal, Spain, the south of France. My hubby is half Italian and dying to see that side of his culture. Me, I love the richness of food, passion and history in those areas! I’d also love to eventually own a vacation home in the Philippines. The four years I spent there growing up were amazing! So much love, food and sense of family there. I have always felt welcome in that country.

So…this is what I’m most thankful for this year…the friendships I’ve made…the challenges we’ve overcome…the dreams I’ve been able to pursue. What are you thankful for? And speaking of thanks…check out Good Geek Ranting’s blog on #Thankstweeting. I think he’s got a great idea and I plan on participating! People don’t hear Thank You nearly as often as they should… And who knows? You may just brighten someone’s day!

Getting the Flock Outa Here!

Today is a mad rush of final cleanings and packing as I prepare to head to Dallas to feed my love affair with the Dallas Cowboys. As a few of you may remember, my passion for the Cowboys started when I moved back into the country from the Philippines after living abroad most of my young life.¬† So at 10 years old, the first thing about football I remember was watching Tony Dorsett break for that 99 yard run…and I was in love!

A few years ago, my boyfriend (hubby, now) booked us a trip through Maximum Sports¬†to see our Cowboys play.¬† (Thank Goodness he’s a Cowboys fan, too…or there may have been problems). On that trip we got the opportunity to see the Cowboys play the Houston Texans (we won!) as well as meet Jason Witten, Tony Romo (2 weeks before he became the starter) and Chris Canty (his rookie year…before he became one of the hated Giants). After we booked our trip, the only thing we had to worry about was the occassional lunch and sometimes, drinks.¬† This cemented us as permanent customers of Maximum Sports.¬†The icing on the cake is that the owner of the company, Ronni Sokol, is a fantastic person and a huge advocate for breast cancer awareness…she’s also a survivor.¬† I’m lucky enough to call this wonderful woman my personal friend.

Since meeting her, I’ve gotten the opportunity to shake Emmitt Smith’s hand at the luncheon following his induction into the Hall Of Fame, not to mention watch him get the honor he so richly deserved. We’ve also gotten to hang out with some of our favorite¬†Cowboys in the Bahamas!¬† How many people can say they get a chance to do that?

In fact, this is a picture of my favorite nose tackle, Jay Ratliff, wearing a children’s play helmet at the dinner in the Bahamas the night before we left.¬† He’s one of my all time favorite people…and players!

And here’s a picture of me with Bill Bates, holding one of his 3 Superbowl rings! Pretty cool, right?¬†And he’s a really nice guy.

But my all time favorite guy is probably Everson Walls. For those of you who don’t know who he is…this wonderfully generous man actually donated a kidney for his former teammate when diabetes took it’s toll and began to slowly kill him.¬† Later he co-wrote a book about his experience called A Gift For Ron. Since I heard he will be at the tailgate party, I’ll be buying the book and plan on getting him to autograph it.¬† I’m telling you, he and his wife are such wonderful human beings…I was glad to get the opportunity to get to know them in such a different venue.¬† Here’s a picture of me & hubby¬†with both Everson and Bill, along with Kenny “The Shark” Gant.

Can you guys tell I’m excited?¬† Outside of writing…what are you passionate about? What kinds of celebrities would you like to meet or spend time with? Which celebrities have moved you? Have you met any?¬† If so, who? I love to hear about this stuff…

As you can tell, hubby and I are well matched.¬† And if none of those apply…or even if they do…what travelling songs do you enjoy?¬† Here’s what I’m leaving you with…Ha!¬† You had to KNOW I’d be leaving some music.

When in Dallas…. ūüėČ

Oh yeah… (Michael Clark Duncan will be missed)

 

Major Migraines And A Bit Of Good News

I was going to begin our “Choose Your Own Adventure” story today, but decided to postpone it so that I could do our project justice. (Yes, based on all the feedback and support you guys have given me, I’ve begun to think of it as OURS).

Not only¬†is today my writer’s association meeting,¬†I’ve also¬†been battling a 2 plus day migraine. Today has been the first day I haven’t felt like falling to my knees and weeping like a baby, so I got a few things done around the house. In a little more than a week I’ll be leaving for my anual trek to Dallas to watch my Cowboys play…for those of you who follow the sport, I’ll be watching them play the Giants.¬†(I’ll also get to meet Jay Novacek)¬†Co Cowboys!

Immediately following our trip to Texas, my awesome sister and her husband will be coming to visit.¬† Since the parental units now live down here, we’ll be having an “early Thanksgiving” during their stay.¬† This means houseguests…both for when my girl friend comes to doggie sit my babies while I’m in Big D and again when my sis and bro come down.¬† Clean, clean, clean…that will be me for the next few days.¬† Never fear, though, it won’t interfere with my blogging.¬†ūüôā¬†I’ve come to really enjoy doing this and consider it my “me” time.

Onto my good news…one of the guys I sing with has written a song.¬† He has reached out and asked me to collaborate with him and come up with some lyrics. What an honor! He sent me the music this week…now it’s up to me to come up with the rest. Cross your fingers for me!

Anyway, my buddy Emma¬†mentioned Harry Chapin the other day in one of her blogs…and it got me to thinking about his daughter…Mary Chapin-Carpenter. I want to share two songs with you guys from her repertoire.¬† One is the first song I ever heard her perform…and she knocked it out of the park (no wonder she’s so respected for her talent in the music industry).¬†It is called “Opening Act”.¬†¬†The second one is about how things can sometimes go wrong.¬†With my headache, I’ve felt like “The Bug” this week, which, incidentally, is the name of the second song.

How has your day been?

TGIF: Thank God It’s Football!

I absolutely love football.¬† There is something about the crunching sound of man hitting man that satisfies the bloodthirsty wench in me.¬† In fact, when I was younger, while my girl friends were playing with their¬†Barbies, I was in the yard playing tackle with the neighbor boys!¬† I like a bit of violent physical contact in my sports. ¬†So it’s no surprise that my first boyfriends were football players. ¬†I find the mental game of the territory battle, one side working to maintain their place and gain more, while the other side defends their ground.¬† Really, football is a form of war game.

Then there are the men that fight this battle.¬† They¬†are¬†usually in great¬†physical condition.¬† They have a take no prisoners mentality when they’re on the football field.¬† They’re competitive.¬† They don’t like to lose.¬† And sometimes, if we’re lucky, they look like Jason Taylor or Joe Montana.

For me, though, it’s the unlikely heroes that make me drool.¬† Guys like Miles Austin or Tony Romo who came into the NFL as undrafted free agents.¬† People who weren’t expected to amount to anything that suddenly found themselves responsible for their team’s winning season against all odds!¬† Or guys like Keith Brooking and Charles Haley who people said were washed up, and getting too old for this game, but became the heart and soul of their defense.¬† The ones who would fire their teams up!

Unexpected warriors who go beyond what people expect of them, who battle through insult and injury to become the difference makers.¬† People so passionate that they don’t care what the “experts” tell them they’re capable of.¬† They’ll forge their own way.¬† Yup!¬† I find that incredibly sexy.¬† The fact that they look great in their uniforms and are often bent over so I can appreciate their glutes…that’s just icing on the cake!¬† Okay, so a military man in¬†uniform fits this sexy description quite well, too.¬†¬†And then they go one step further and sacrifice their lives for our freedoms on a daily basis, asking for nothing in return.¬† Yeah, I’m attracted to alpha males, especially if they are leaders.¬† What do you find sexy?¬† When you close your eyes and see romantic¬†hero, who do you picture?

One of these days, I will probably tackle a blog post on some of the things commentators say that sound¬†racy while announcing a game.¬† But in the meantime, I’m just going to be thankful that my Cowboys are back on tv and see what the season brings.¬† I’m sure someone is going to inspire my imagination.¬† Someone always does.