Saturday February 18, 2017

I am writing this morning from Omaha, Nebraska in the shadows of the Centurylink Center where later today, Erin's volleyball team will start play. This is a three day tournament called Pres Fest with hundreds of teams from a dozen states. I'm looking forward to it!

Dan is home babysitting the pets. After several weeks in a row of traveling and staying in hotels, the 5 hour trip to Omaha wasn't on the top of his wish list. It's OK, he knows I was ready to get out of Roch and I am enjoying having a hotel room to myself. I don't remember the last time that happened... I think my cousin's wedding a couple of years ago...

But, while I like my alone time, I've been thinking a lot this week about relationships and the people in my life...

Tuesday, was Valentine's Day, and while Dan had to hit the road that morning, he left me a sweet Valentine's card. It's good to be loved. I played tennis with my group of close friends and oh, did we laugh. Our "Tuesday Tennis" group is always just what the doctor ordered.

Wednesday was a day spent at work, collaborating a bunch of moving parts and producing quality work. It's a really healthy, fun working environment. Almost a year into being a full time employee, I am really getting to know the people and... bonus... I really like them.

Thursday night my women's volleyball team finished up our season. Over a beer afterward, we talked about kids, husbands, work, school, college... six 40-something women have a lot to say!

As I was driving 5 hours in my car by myself yesterday (Erin was on the bus with her team) I was thinking about how big my world is now. So much bigger than before Shannon got sick. Is it because we shared our story about Shannon and continue to be "out there" in her memory? Is it because I'm more open? Does it just naturally come with age?

It's probably a combination of all of the above...

I do know that Shannon led us down a path where we realized more fully that the human connections we make are everything. At my volleyball game this week, a woman on the other team stopped me after the game and asked "Are you Shannon's mom?" She worked in radiation oncology and was a part of Shannon's treatment team sometimes. She told me "Shannon was a great kid." Dead or alive, that's what a mama wants to hear.

The Tuesday tennis group are the women who showed up when I needed it most after Shannon's passing. The helped me back to some sense of normal and they continue to let me talk about both of my girls.

Even my volleyball team has a Shannon element to it. Their kids were friends and teammates of Shannon. They all knew her, or knew of her through their children.

I've been thinking a lot about how Shannon continues to shape me, and I've been thinking about how Shannon will affect Erin as she goes forward in life. Erin will make hundreds of new connections in the coming years as she finishes high school and goes off to college. How will she carry Shannon with her and share her those who never knew her? That is not for me to decide - it's up to Erin - but I still find myself thinking about it.

Lots of deep thoughts for a Saturday morning in Omaha... grateful for the time and space to think them.

Saturday February 11, 2017

It seems the weekends are when I can find time to gather my thoughts and maybe write a little... Being a full time employee has certainly cut into my down time, but that's not necessarily a bad thing!

I continue to love my job and the people I work with. My department has a real team feeling to it, and we operate like a newsroom, sharing story ideas, brainstorming, helping each other produce stories...
It's the journalism job I trained for 25 years ago... life is funny that way...

The weekends are also our chance to go out and have some fun. Dan will be off in Green Bay next Tuesday, so we celebrated an early Valentine's Day last night. Happy hour, tried out a new restaurant, and one more stop for an after dinner drink. Still home by 10pm! Perfect :) Accepting your age is a beautiful thing...

Erin was also out socializing... she managed to stay up a little later than me and Dan! Erin has such a great core group of friends. She is loved and she loves them back.  These are kids who feel comfortable walking into each other's houses, raiding the pantry, and talking with each other's parents like their own... We are grateful for the people who love our kid...

I've been thinking a lot about Erin lately... our time with her here is getting shorter each day. We made the appointment for her drivers exam this week. Pretty soon she won't need the mom taxi anymore. While I am ready for her to drive, I will miss our commutes where we talk and sing together...

Erin is beginning to think about the next She wants to explore the big cities on the east coast, so she and I are headed to NYC to look at colleges over spring break... exciting and scary...

Dan and I would give Erin the world if we could... if she has a goal, we want to help her make that happen. But, letting her leave the nest is going to be hard... mostly on me and Dan.

So those are the things that occupy my thoughts these days. I have to remind myself to enjoy the here and now. We've still got time together, so stay in the present and enjoy...

We should have learned that lesson after Shannon. To enjoy this moment, because other moments aren't a given. Shannon lived that way, and I need to remind myself - over and over - to do the same. I still have room to grow in that regard, but I'm trying.

"Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have" - Eckhart Tolle

2017 SOF Scholarship Recipients

Congratulations to Samantha Jones (John Marshall), Paige Anglin (Mayo) Maddie Leqve (Century) and John Schmitz (Century) for being chosen as 2017 Shannon O'Hara Scholars.

Thanks to those who support the foundation and make these scholarship gifts possible. You all help us to carry on Shannon's spirit.

Friday February 3, 2017

We are in final preparations for tomorrow's big event - Shannon O'Hara Scholarship Night!

Here are the details:

JM vs. Century Boys hockey

Game time: 7:15pm
Location: Graham Arena 4

We will present our scholarships at the end of the first period and merchandise will be available for purchase throughout the game.

We're excited about this year's winners, but I think I say that every year! We've been fortunate to have great kids apply for the scholarship and, believe it or not, this is our fifth year of giving out scholarships.

We hope you can join us tomorrow night at the rink. It's better when we all celebrate together.

Here's a little trip down memory lane...





Monday January 30, 2017

Our weekend was filled with activity, Dan and I here in Rochester running the Shannon Cup event while Erin was off at the Minneapolis Convention Center playing in a three day volleyball event. Divide and conquer...

Erin had her first chance to get to know her teammates a little better. Hanging out in between games, at the hotel, etc. This is a new team for Erin and there are 11 girls from 7 different high schools, so new friends to be made!

Dan and I spent Friday night and Saturday at Graham Arena. I have to admit, I do still love being around the rink. Even 5 years later...

This weekend's Shannon Cup was for the U12 and U10 age groups. 300 skaters and their families from MN, WI and even IL... many of these teams come back year after year, but there are always some new teams, too, who don't know our story. Having a chance to share with them who Shannon was and why this tournament is named for her is a special thing for me and Dan.

The Rochester kids help us spread the story, too. They run around the arena in various Shannon gear and they continue to tape their sticks and helmets in lime green to remember her.

We sent a copy of the book, Determined to Matter, home with each family this weekend, too. Seeing these young girls wanting to learn more about Shannon and wanting to be inspired, well, what more could we ask for... Dan and I got to sign a few books for the girls. They think that's cool, and we do, too.

We had a young girl from a St. Paul suburb who was hanging around our table. When her mom joined her, they told us that after playing in this tournament last year and after reading the book, this girl did a report on Shannon and the Shannon Cup for school. So, a middle school class 90 miles away from here learned about Shannon and perseverance and kindness and gratitude...

This weekend, we sold $5,000 worth of t-shirts and sweatshirts and trucker hats to help us fund our scholarships. The kindness and generosity of others is such a pleasant reminder of the good in this world... Congrats also to the Rochester 10A team on being Shannon Cup champions!

So, we take a deep breath this morning and then prepare for one more Shannon event this weekend. Saturday, Feb. 4 will be Shannon O'Hara Scholarship Night during the Century-JM Boys hockey game. We are excited to award our 5th year of recipients. Another good group of kids who will have a little help from Shannon as they pursue their dreams...

Wednesday January 25, 2017

What should be a day of Erin taking finals has turned into a snow day. Ah, you gotta love Minnesota... or not... My hubby is in Nashville this week at company meetings, so snow removal is my problem today... someday maybe I won't live in these conditions!

I'm grateful today that I can telework... send some emails, shovel some snow, write a script, shovel some snow, etc...

We've been busy with Shannon O'Hara Foundation work, as our Board of Directors met this weekend and chose the 2017 scholarship winners. We're excited to present them on February 4th at the JM vs. Century boys hockey game.

Calling our scholarship winners and telling them they are receiving the award is the most rewarding thing we do. I hope we can do it for a long time...

But before we get to that, we have the Shannon Cup this weekend: 22 teams, with over 300 girls ages 10-12 will be at Graham Arena. It's fun for Dan and I to stay connected with the hockey community and to share our story with another generation of Rochester girls. It is energizing to be around those kids.

We're also excited to roll out some new merchandise... so come see us if you can!

New SOF Merchandise on sale - Saturday 1/28 - 8am-6pm - Graham Arena


Tuesday January 17, 2017

Snow day! Actually, ice day is more like it... Rain, sleet and ice overnight has led to schools being closed today in the Rochester area. Erin's first snow day of her junior year... always an unexpected treat.

Actually, Erin doesn't even know that it's a snow day yet, because she is still asleep! She will be glad to have an extra day to catch up on homework/projects/finals preparation. Two weeks left in the first semester, so it's crunch time.

I will work from home today and enjoy the extra time with Erin. I love that I have that kind of flexibility...

Dan had to hit the road as the customer in Green Bay doesn't care that we had an ice storm. So, off he went at dawn... someday he'll be able to retire from the road.

We are fast approaching our Shannon events at the end of the month. The scholarship applications have all been received and our board is reviewing them right now. It's going to be a very difficult year to pick a winner. Thank goodness we have the input of our board of directors to help us make the difficult choices. We will award the scholarships at Graham Arena on Saturday, Feb. 4.

First up, though, is the Shannon Cup hockey tournament Jan. 27-29. This is the younger age groups - 10&under and 12&under. 20 teams with 300 skaters will be in town to compete. I've been busy getting t-shirt orders from the teams, organizing volunteers, etc. It's work, but it's worth it.

I often joke that my job with the SOF is no pay, but great benefits... Sharing Shannon's story with these young athletes is always a rewarding experience.

Time to dig in and get through January. Here we go...