Thursday December 1, 2016

December has arrived. While we had a few snowflakes yesterday, the grass is still very green in our yard... I won't digress here into a discussion on global warming...

Our Thanksgiving getaway was wonderful. Relaxing for all three of us and gorgeous weather made golfing and time by the pool quite nice. We do like our "new" tradition and hope we can pull it off one more year. After that, Erin will be in college and then, who knows...

Erin going to college has been creeping into my thoughts lately. Spending last week with the Shives and many of Ariana's friends gives a window into the next step of life. Erin, as always, loved hanging with the college kids. This year, there were more! Ariana (a senior), T Connor (junior), Ariana's roommate Katy, from the island of Jersey of the coast of England (senior), and joining us for Thanksgiving dinner were two of Ariana's triathalon club teammates, Dan (sophomore) from Syracuse, NY, and Dario, a grad student from Milan, Italy who is a Fulbright Scholar studying the clarinet at USC.

How's that for a reminder that the world is a big, wide place...

Erin soaked it all up and by the time we get to the next stage, she will be ready. Me, on the other hand... I've got just under two years to get there...

But, now we are back in Rochester and in the middle of Erin's junior year. School is going well and she'll be busy this next month with the student government fundraiser called GOFA - Give One For All.

She's also playing off season volleyball with a new team this year, as our Southside Juniors club didn't have enough kids at the upper level to make a team. So, Erin tried out for a new club and now has teammates from all over southern MN. This team will travel far and wide starting in January. Trips to Minneapolis, Omaha and the Wisconsin Dells should make the winter go by quickly. This has been the first week of practice and so far, so good...

Dan is busy this month, too. Traveling with his boss today and then headed to Nashville for company wide meetings next week.

My job continues to energize me and I feel like it's such a good fit for my skills. I am so fortunate to find that after staying home with children and not being in the work force for a great portion of my adult life. It's such a conundrum for women. I got the best of both worlds - a chance to be a stay at home mom when my kids were little, and now a chance to do a job I love. Gratitude.

So, bring on December. We head towards those memories of Shannon in her last days. How can we be approaching our 5th Christmas without her? And yet, Erin said to me yesterday, "I love Christmas". The holidays still represent family, love and generosity. Shannon amplified the importance of those things for us. It is never the same without Shannon, but it can still be good.

Happy Thanksgiving

As usual, holidays make me introspective. Loss will do that to you. There is always a missing piece for us when we give thanks for all we have. We miss Shannon dearly and that hasn't changed or lessened in time.

But, time has shown us that you can heal and go forward without leaving behind the missing piece. Shannon is incorporated into our daily living and Dan, Erin and I each carry her with us in all that we do.

We have wonderful family and friends in our lives and we are doing our best to continue to grow and love and live.

That's what I'm feeling on this Thanksgiving Day.

I am thankful for each of you who are reading this blog. It means you have crossed paths with us or our story and you care enough to read what I write.

Hug your loved ones today, everybody. It is a day to hold close what matters to you.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Monday November 21, 2016

We had a jam packed week last week that culminated in our SOF night at HS Girls Hockey event. Man, we love those people. Shannon hockey buddies and their families continue to carry us through and they continue to carry her with them. There were green hockey laces and green ribbons and green tape. Can't say enough about these girls...

The Facebook flashback got us again. Those very same families who showed up at Thursday's HS game, showed up in our timelines this weekend. It was Shannon's last hockey tournament. 5 years ago. The only time her team ever won a tournament. Hopkins Champions 2011.


That was the last best day that Shannon had. Such a good, bittersweet memory. All the girls on that team will remember it forever.

So, this year's successful fall fundraisers have come to a close. The season is about to change.  This morning we have bright sunshine above a hard frost here in Rochester. It sounds like our beautiful fall is going to give way to some winter weather.

My parents picked a good fall to move back to Minnesota. They made it all the way to late November without any snow!

We were suppose to have dinner at my parents new place last night, but Erin is having a bout with the flu. Poor girl. She hasn't been feeling well all week, but tried to tough it out and go to her debate team competition in Mankato on Saturday. It didn't work out so well... let's just say she spent some time in the Mankato East HS bathroom!

We are hoping she can shake it before tomorrow... we head out on our 3rd annual Palm Springs Thanksgiving. We're all so looking forward to time with our friends, time by the pool and a little golf mixed in... golf for everyone except me :(

Three weeks ago, I hurt my wrist playing tennis. Yes, hitting a backhand like I have thousands of times before... getting old is a bitch! Anyway, I'm in a splint for 4-6 weeks and won't be playing golf this time around...

It's ok. Dan and Erin will get that time together and I'll have some time with my friend, Kula. Our chances to be together have been few and far between these days... I've spent the last year ramping up to working full time... and, oh yeah, she's spent the last year battling cancer!

A year ago at Thanksgiving in Palm Springs, Kula had not yet been diagnosed. That is hard to believe since it now seems like her cancer journey is just a part of who she is.

Yet another reminder to take it day by day...

So, onward we go. The holiday season commences. It's never the same for us anymore, but there's is still so much for which we can be thankful.

Wednesday November 16, 2016

What a great weekend we had at the Shannon Cup. Watching the Rochester teams play, meeting players and parents from around the state, and sharing our story.

We did something different this year and gave a copy of Determined to Matter to each girl playing in the event. These were the older age group kids, and I think they can handle the story (which includes some foul language on my part!).

Our merchandise sales for the weekend totaled $2700. There is more Shannon merchandise out there in the world... love it... thanks to all who support our mission.

We watched the younger girls skate under the banner for the Cannon's 14B state championship. That banner bears the SOF logo.

            

That state tournament was won the year after Shannon passed. Shannon's best hockey buddies were on that championship team. While Shannon's high school class graduated last year, her "hockey class" are seniors this year. Shannon was young for her grade, and therefore always played with the girls who were a grade behind her. The state tournament banner bears the Shannon logo because they all felt Shannon was with them in spirit.

Those girls and their parents were our best helpers as we got the Shannon O'Hara Foundation up and running. We couldn't have done it without them. They continue to help us out at our events and show up to support the SOF.

So, Shannon's best hockey buddies are now seniors. We will be sharing the ice with them one last time on Thursday night as we have SOF night at HS Girls Hockey.

The first game is Century vs. Winona at 5:30pm, followed by Mayo vs. JM/Lourdes. Our on-ice presentation should be around 7pm. Merchandise will be for sale throughout both games.

I'm so grateful we are still connected to these girls who were Rebels turned Cannons. They've been with us from the beginning...


Shannon Cup This Weekend!

It's been a week of emotions, resolve and healing... time marches on and new challenges await our country. I have an open mind and continue to hope for the best. That means looking for the best in people, too. We will move ahead with caution, willing to do what I can to make this world a better place...

On a small scale, making the world a better place is part of the mission of the Shannon O'Hara Foundation. Our season of fundraising kicks off tonight as the Shannon Cup begins for the under 15 girls teams.



Last night, Dan, Erin and I went and spoke to the Rochester teams that will be competing. We brought them some Shannon swag, wished them luck, and told them they are our Shannon ambassadors of the next generation. It made our hearts full. When we walked into the locker room before practice began, we spotted two Shannon O'Hara Foundation sweatshirts being worn and at least three different Shannon t-shirts were spotted as well. If each of these girls are committed to making the world a friendlier place, we're going to be all right.

We have teams coming from all over Minnesota, Wisconsin and even Canada this weekend. We're looking forward to connecting with these teams. For the first time this year, we will be giving each participant a copy of Determined to Matter. Now more than ever, we want to spread Shannon's story and her message: be kind, be a good friend and be a good teammate.

If you're looking to buy some new Shannon gear, come see us at Graham Arena tomorrow (Sat. 11/12) any time between 8am and 6pm. We have new long sleeve grey t-shirts that represent all that has grown from Shannon's wish - research and scholarships through hockey and golf events. 

Hope to see some friendly faces on Saturday at Graham Arena!





Post Election Blues

I woke up today with a heavy heart...

I try to write here about love and compassion and being a generally good person. Those are my life goals. I want to do the same today, but I'm struggling...

Our country elected a mysogynistic, racist bully to be president.

I am having to accept the fact that a great majority of people like me - whites living in middle America - decided they could live with Donald Trump. It is apparent that neither candidate was particularly likable. People went to the polls to vote against the other candidate. Clinton was a flawed candidate, for sure. But she's a woman who has spent 30 years in a man's world and she's still standing. I have respect for that.

My 15 year old daughter watched the election results with me last night. Someone help me answer her question - How do we elect a man who thinks it's OK for him to grab women by the pussy? That sexual assault is somehow a man's right? That we should laugh about boys being boys? In two years Erin will be living on her own on a college campus.

I have friends and family in the LGBTQ communities, some of whom were able to get married to their long-time loves. How do I reconcile that half of America thinks they don't deserve the same rights I do?

How do we help people of color feel safe in this new America? We went from the first ever black president to one endorsed by the leader of the KKK.

Trump riled people up with hateful rhetoric. People wore t-shirts that said "Trump That Bitch".  He called her a "nasty woman". Women are on the margins now in this new America.

I understand wanting change, wanting to shake up the Washington elite. I understand fear about losing jobs and difficulty learning to accept people who don't look like us. Yes, our political system is wracked by gridlock and inefficiencies. There are places where we could make sweeping changes for the better.

What I don't understand giving a big middle finger to the progress this country has made on human rights. Women's rights. Gay rights. Minority rights. I'm sad that half of the country doesn't value these things. I don't expect everyone to think like me. But I do hope for human decency. The potential make-up of the Supreme Court has such huge implications when it comes to personal freedoms.

I'm not smart enough to understand how this will change trade and the world economy. But I do know how I feel today. I feel lonely. I feel defeated by a big, loud bully. I feel a little scared to share my opinion, because there are so many Americans who don't view the world through the same lens as me.

This morning, Donald Trump has said he will be a president for all Americans. His words and actions have hurt so many already.

I know love and compassion is the way forward. But today, I hurt.

Thursday November 3, 2016

I'm a little groggy this morning as I did make it up to see the end of game 7 of the World Series last night. What sports drama... I found myself, like much of America, rooting for the Cubs. I'm all for an end to long-time suffering!

Yesterday was a good day on Willow Lane. The house is filled with laughter in the afternoon as Erin's friends came home with her after school. They raided the pantry and fridge - Cheez Its, Pringles, apples, croissants and pretzels. I love hearing their chatter. It's amazing the things you can learn if you just sit and listen... Oh, I am going to miss that when Erin is gone...

With volleyball season ending, Erin has had more time on her hands. She has been busy with volunteer hours - some for student government, some for National Honor Society, the things that just don't get done during the volleyball season.

Yesterday was also my parents first day in their new home with their furniture. They are officially Minnesota residents again. It is nice to have them close by and we've been able to see them quite a bit over the past month as they tackled the renovation and moving process. I know they are happy to be back... we'll see how they feel when the snow flies...

Speaking of parents, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention my father-in-law's birthday this past Saturday. Eddie O is 93... wow...

I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed by the speed at which time is passing these days. Erin is a 1/4 of the way through her junior year. We had a legitimate college discussion this week. My parents are back in MN. Thanksgiving is just three weeks away. Shannon Cup hockey tournaments kick off next weekend. I've been to a funeral, had a colleague become a father for the first time, and have a friend who is caring for her husband at the end of his life...

So many reminders that life will continue to happen. The good, the bad, the ugly, the moments fill with grace. Every now and then I need a reset to remember to enjoy the present.

For today, I will enjoy what's right here, right now.

"We spend precious hours fearing the inevitable. It would be wise to use that time adoring our families, cherishing our friends and living our lives." - Maya Angelou