Sunday, November 23, 2008

Something's gotta give...but what?

About a year ago, a book called The Secret made the Law of Attraction a popular concept. The law says that our thoughts (both conscious and unconscious) dictate the reality of our lives, regardless of whether we’re aware of it. Long before this book was published, I have felt that this was true. And I believe that we get what we give in all forms of the concept.

Too many times, a friend has suggested I meet so-and-so, and a week later, I’m unknowingly in line behind so-and-so at (insert random location), and we strike up a conversation, leading to an introduction, and viola!
Or I’ll wonder something aloud (that has been on my mind perhaps for weeks), and arrive home to find a CBS Sunday Morning feature on that very topic recorded on my DVR that same day! I find myself constantly saying, “What a coincidence!” or “What are the odds!?”

Well, the odds are good. And this week is no exception.

In my last post, I wrote a little about sacrifice. And this morning at church, our pastor Derek began talking about just that.

Each Sunday, we typically have doughnuts and coffee in the gathering area outside the sanctuary, but they were removed and replaced with small bags of rice this morning to make a point. Most people in the world live on less than one small bag of rice each day. A sacrifice like this one (for us, an after-breakfast snack) is small, and seemingly insignificant, but helps us realize what we have on this Thanksgiving week. The foundation of the Law of Attraction is gratitude, after all.

As he spoke, I reflected on the sacrifices we make. We sacrifice time at home lounging in front of the tube to be with a friend who needs to talk; we sacrifice time with our family to get the big project completed at work; we sacrifice money so someone else can have a little; we sacrifice that burger to squeeze into our size 6; we sacrifice X so we can have Y and on it goes. But what does it all add up to? How does sacrifice change us for the better? Does it? Still trying to answer those….

Then I think about the sacrifices we make to love God. I have never been persecuted for my faith, but I do feel the rub from time to time. I get teased for being upbeat, happy and cheerful towards my peers. While the love I feel towards them is real and genuine (merely an overflowing of God’s love for me), there are those who would rather poke fun than try to understand. I will gladly sacrifice my comfort to spread God’s love, and the truth I believe.

I suppose sacrifices such as that are the best I can hope for.
What are you sacrificing in your life, and how has it changed you?

Travel safely this week, friends, and have a Happy Thanksgiving, or as Will says, “Save the neck for me Clark” (as Eddie on Christmas Vacation).

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Posting tonight from Wilkes-Barre, PA--pronounced by the vast majority of Pennsylvanians as Wilkes-"Barry" for those of you wondering…and I know you’re out there.

While my creative team treks up to New York yet tonight for another shoot in the wee hours tomorrow morning, I am grateful to be nestled in the hills of PA with a lovely, lamp-lit view of Moosic out my window, and the singular slope of snow, gliding down the distant hill.

The chilly 20-something degree weather + hours spent in airports, grey mini vans, pink upholstered chairs, green rubber steps, a stint on a pew in the Wilkes-Barre Airport meditation room, and other areas of the country's finest optical surgery suites (all within minutes of Scranton of course), leave me hungry for a steaming hot shower, and a long winter's nap. (Yawn)

Miles away, in Illinois, Will is broadcasting his little heart out, and his voice was just starting to sound strained when we spoke minutes ago-- little whispers about our days. Kyle is at our house catching up on the DVR and talking care of our sweet fuzzy Grace, whom he loves almost as much as we do. How incredibly blessed we are to have friends like him....

On my plane from Cincinnati to WB this morning, I sat in front of several soldiers returning home from Afghanistan and Iraq. They conversed over what they'd do when they first saw their wives, kids, and homes. Most of them had completed a 12-18 month tour, and shrieked as the snow on the Poconos peeked at them through thin clouds. None of them have been in cooler than 90 degree temps for more than a year. When the plane landed, and the captain welcomed us to PA, the plane erupted into applause as the men, many badly bruised and pale, stood to deboard our tiny Delta aircraft. I was so moved by their courage and their sacrifice. Many men held toddlers tight at the arrival gates. I couldn’t help but think that these children were just infants when their fathers left home.

I think tonight about the sacrifices we all make for what we love, and I realize that I have barely scratched the surface in such a capacity. I only know on a tiny, insignificant scale what it must feel like to let something go in order to achieve something great. I imagine children will bring this out of me someday.

In the meantime, I’ll tip my cap in humble thanks to those who sacrifice on my behalf. Because they deserve it. They really do.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Man Behind the Microphone

Things were a lot easier three years ago when people would ask, "Hey Will, how's the broadcasting going," and I could simply answer that I was working for all Butler Basketball broadcasts. People understood that and could (sometimes) relate to it. Now, as a freelancer, I am getting more work and different gigs, but they slip past the audience a bit more frequently.

As some of you know, volleyball has sort of become my new niche sport, and this weekend, you can catch a whole load of volleyball action as I call all seven matches (solo btw, sorry vocal chords) of the 2008 NCAA Division III Volleyball Championships. This is my second year in a row doing this (I did the DII tourney in '06) and again it is from Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, IL.

You can follow the results and action by clicking on this link: Will & Volleyball?!?!. Under each game header there is a word "streaming." It should be an active link by the start of each match and will take you to the video/audio.

Thursday the 20th - Four matches starting at 1:00 CST
Friday the 21st - Two semifinal matches starting at 4:30 CST
Saturday the 22nd - A champion crowned starting at 7:00 CST

I don't get paid by the web hit, but you never know what my agent my work out next. And by agent, I mean me!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch..."

Ah, the cranky days are upon us. Dark drives home, mumbling in the dark car about Daylight Savings Time and why it sucks, who’s gonna walk the dog in the dark and risk being surprised by an attacker hiding in the brush that you can’t see because it’s…uh…DARK!
Let me just say that I am seriously one of the whitest gals you’ll ever meet. I burn in the sun; no, cook. I get the worst sun poisoning just from the heat of it, and generally stay huddled in a sarong with a large hat in a cabana on vacation. My freckles morph into large slightly darker splotches by July, and I spend August at the dermatologist being routinely scanned for Basel cells.
But wait…. where did it go? I neeeeed it! I want it! Come back Mister Sun!

The reason I know this winter weather is getting to me is that I have begun at least three nasty, nasty blogs this week (so unlike me) only to come to my senses and delete them before I’d post against my better judgment.

So… I’m outing myself. My name is Mandy, and I haven’t been blogging because I’ve been an angry little hermit. Okay, this is not entirely true.

I do miss the sun, yes.
But, we have had a great couple weeks skipping our workouts and snuggling up with hot chocolate and an overloaded DVR. G has missed several workouts because of the rain, but has slept soundly every night—thank you hibernation gene.

With the holidays coming up and all the great fun we’ve had, I do have a harder time keeping “Josi” (My mom and Will named my mean alter-ego) at bay this time of year. Does anyone else feel the burn?

Wishing you warm, winter months without the S.A.D. ☺

Monday, November 10, 2008

Our Baby's Birthday

A very special Happy Birthday to our beautiful baby Grace this past weekend. She turned the big 2 (14 in human years), which is supposedly the gateway to adulthood. We have loved every single minute of her being a puppy and can't believe how big she has gotten. Mandy and I often poke fun at ourselves for being a bit obsessive when it comes to our little furball, but the joy and love she brings our still-growing family is more than I ever imagined. Having never had a dog growing up, I was expecting the usual (poop, fetch, sleep, shed, etc.), but it has been more than that. She continues to amaze me with her intelligence for words, her emotions and happiness. She is the perfect companion.

So, we treated (spoiled) her to a perfect dog day on Sunday. No dog likes to spend their birthday in the kennel, but after a quick trip to Chicago, we saved her Saturday night and promised her a load of attention on Sunday. She got off the traditional food, and enjoyed scrambled eggs and toast with us for breakfast. After a trip to Petsmart for a new batch of toys (more below), we headed to Broad Ripple park for a cold and windy afternoon in the leaves. It was a perfect fall afternoon, if you like it really cold!

Because the park was so empty, we let her romp around in the leaves and chase us under and around trees all afternoon. And that freedom allowed her to do the ultimate Grace outdoor activity, the Super Plow! This is where she scratches her face and gets properly "outdoorsy" by rolling around in everything nature provides. Oh, to have no hygene instinct:

Well, you can imagine how much energy she exhausted from the day, so we came home to warm up and Grace got to properly introduce herself to her new toys. Dino the Dinosaur is the current hit. And, in traditional Grace fashion, she passed out with her favorite new friend. Dino will last about 7-10 days, and then will be consumed. We don't know why she waits, or what the toys do to her to deserve a tragic and chewful end, but it always happens.

Happy Birthday G!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Aftermath

Mandy was quite the internet surfer as the election results poured in on Tuesday night. We certainly were watching history and enjoying the moment, but even more amazingly, we were watching the reaction around the world at the touch of a button. And, unfortunately, some of the reaction is just downright scary. Look, I understand the issues faced with polarizing elections. Obama won the popular vote by an overwhelming margin in terms of recent history. What does that mean? 53%. FIFTY THREE PERCENT! Just three points higher than a majority. That means 47% of voting Americans did not support our next President on Election Day.

That is not a bad thing. That is an American thing. And it is what makes our country so special. I never got sick of watching human-interest pieces about first-time voters who were immigrants to this country. They wept when they voted because they had a voice. I, along with most that I associate with, can NEVER understand that. To mock it shows ignorance and a spoiled attitude. And that leads to my rant...

"World War III" "Barack Bin Laden" "Moving to Canada" were some of the knee-jerk reactions/phrases I heard within minutes of the election being called. Where have we come as a society? No matter who won the election, it was a victory. The past 8 years have been a disaster and national opinion polls, the current economy and our global position prove that. So, the election process itself needs to be celebrated. My joy on Tuesday night (and into Wednesday morning) was not a product of a promised economic agenda or health care plan. My joy was in witnessing the joy of others. And it was in that joy that so much hatred was spewed, in an attempt to ruin America's moment.

The cynical mockery of people crying at pro-Obama rallies is most disturbing of all. I am white. I have never been persecuted. I don't have a family history of oppression. I have never been discriminated against in a hateful way. Because of those things, I can not even begin to understand the magnitude of the emotion within the minority populations of this country. To shun the President Elect as a celebrity or simply a movement of "reverse racism" is ludicrous. Here is what I witnessed through this process thanks to Barack Obama:

- More people voted than ever before
- More young people voted than ever before
- More minorities felt a part of the politicial process than ever before
- More countries publicly celebrated the election of President not of their own than ever before

That last one is big for me. You had the heads of state of many major countries speaking outside of their typical "Congratulations Mr. X" PR releases. They welcomed a new era of American leadership. Through all of this campaign, the fear of Obama internationall was only an issue in one place, here (thanks in special part to some shameless Republican campaigning). Our current President (and party in power) is viewed with more vitriol than almost any other nation internationally.

So, in one election, we changed the viewpoint of millions of people. And some want to call Tuesday night a failure. We are destined to go back and forth on the issues. That is democracy. But no American could watch the results come in on Tuesday night and not feel some sense of happiness in watching America showcase the fundamental characteristic that makes us the best nation in the world: our ability to choose our path and guide our leadership.

People care now. They are engaged in the future of this country. And those who cared chose their leader. Talk about pressure! Obama now has to live up to the largest group expectations in history. And I am excited to watch him do it.

So, as we move forward, I am (hopefully) looking forward to putting the hate and bickering behind us. If the numbers are true, then the situation is simple. Were you happy with the current leadership of this country? If not, a change was made. We will all need to rally around that change and make sure it happens. It should make for an exciting four (hopefully 8 :-)) years.

On a side note (and a smaller rant), it was ironic to see an African-American elected President on the same night almost every other civil right issue was defeated. Gay marriage was banned in Florida. It was also reversed in California and banned (shocking to me). And, in what I label as the most frightening example of fear and ignorance, adoption was banned in Arkansas for any couples who are not married and living together. Why, you ask? Because the state didn't want homosexual couples to adopt children. Brilliant! Let's force everybody to be married just so we can guarantee ourselves that no gay people will adopt. So, if you are Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt and you live in Arkansas, hand your babies back to the state. Or, if you are two widowers who choose not to remarry out of respect you can't adopt your own children. Good to see fear is still alive in some parts of the country (sigh).

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

We Baracked the Vote!

What an historic day! 
The New York Times reports, "Obama: Racial Barrier Falls as Voters Embrace Call for Change...."

For those of you who know Will, you know he spends most of his time straddling the fence-- but this year has been different. He elected to volunteer for the Obama campaign weeks ago, and spent most of the day today knocking on doors, writing letters, driving folks to the polls and spreading the good word about the change that is gonna come. We are lucky to be sharing tonight with our good friends Kyle and Amanda, and even broke out our New Years noise-makers for the win!

Having been big fans of Obama far before he announced his candidacy, we are proud to be Americans tonight (and each night), and proud of the choice our country has made! 

Fireworks are blasting in our neighborhood now, and I can't help but feel just like they do-- truly bursting with hope for our good country.

Yeaaaaaaahhhhhh Obama!!!!!!!!!