Friday July 1, 2016

It's a holiday weekend and Dan and I are currently working from a Caribou Coffee shop in Grand Rapids, MN. Today is a good day to have a job you can do from anywhere...

Erin and her friend Lexie are off at volleyball camp at the University of MN - Duluth. 48 hours on campus, and about half of the time is spent on the volleyball court... should be a fun experience for them and maybe even improve their volleyball skills...

Dan and I dropped them off in Duluth and made the trek over to Grand Rapids to visit my family on Pokegama Lake. Always good to catch up with Jeff, Mary Jane and their crew. They are salt of the earth kind of people... and, Jeff can tell a story with the best of them! Lots of laughs last night...


My cousins Nathan and Ryan and Ryan's family came over for dinner. Ryan and his wife have three boys under 5... highly entertaining! Fun to watch Deyton and Wiley play on the beach and drive the kid-sized gator around the yard. And, I got some time holding baby Tate...nice...

Today we will head back to Duluth to hook up with Lexie's parents Shaun and Kerri for a day on Canal Park. Then Saturday we get to watch Erin at the end of camp tournament before we head home for the rest of the holiday.

Life is good. Happy 4th of July, Everyone!

Friday June 24, 2016

Some highlights from this week:

Erin won a golf tournament... Volleyball training is in full swing, day and night... We had a live chipmunk in our house...

I am writing this morning from the shadows of the University of St. Thomas. After dropping Erin off at her leadership camp up at University of Northwestern in St. Paul, I made my way to my old stomping grounds... I needed a place to do a little work, so I found a familiar spot.

Hard to believe it's been 25 years since I graduated from college...  we have some interns working in Public Affairs this summer. They are oh so young...

Erin's summer is moving along nicely - a little golf, a little volleyball and lots of socializing... she sometimes is just going out as I'm going to bed! Erin has plans the next three weekends - leadership camp, volleyball camp and a trip to her friend's cabin. Oh, it's good to be a teenager... sometimes...

Back to the most exciting part of my week... Sylvie has figured out how to time the lag in our screen door.. she sneaks in and out as we come in through our garage. Sometimes we don't realize even that she's come back in the house...

I was working at the dining room table on Wednesday as Dan went out to his car. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Sylvie scurrying across the floor... and then again... and then again...

When I finally paid attention, I realized she had brought a live chipmunk in our house.  She was letting it go, then catching it, letting it go, catching it... apparently, Sylvie just wanted to play.

I screamed and told Dan to come quick... about that time, the chipmunk sought refuge behind the upright piano. Dan and I pulled the piano out... but no chipmunk... it had crawled up into the back of the piano!

Dan shined the flashlight, we located the rodent and I grabbed it, ran to the door and set it free... let's just say I'm going to pay closer attention to the f%*&!#@ cat as she comes and goes...

So, that's what qualifies as excitement in my world...

Happy Friday, everyone!

Friday June 17, 2016

Well, today feels like the first day of summer for me. One of my work duties these past three months has been to plan a celebration for Mayo Clinic Radio's 25th Anniversary. The party was last night, and I'm happy to say it was a success! Mayo Clinic leadership attended and lots of former guests of the program showed up as well. I had lots of help, and it went off without a hitch.

Working with Mayo Clinic Radio is now the great majority of my job. I write copy and help produce the weekly show that features Mayo Clinic experts sharing their knowledge. In the near future, we're going to be live broadcasting via Facebook live and producing video podcasts for You Tube. Exciting times to say the least...

So now that the radio event is over...  it's time to work on planning another... for the Shannon O'Hara Foundation!

Our annual golf tournament is just a month away. We'd love to have a full field of foursomes (how's that for alliteration!). You don't have to be a "good" golfer - we usually even give a prize for last place :)

We've got some great raffle prizes and it's a really fun day. All proceeds from the event are split between the Mayo Girls Golf program and the Shannon O'Hara Foundation. We hope supporters and friends like you can join us.

Here's the link to the registration form: MGG Swings for Shannon registration form




Class of 2016


Dan and I attended graduation yesterday for the class of 2016 and it was just as I imagined it would be... touching and heart wrenching at the same time... her chair sat empty with a single yellow rose laid upon it...

The class president's speech was titled "Screenshot the Little Moments". He reminded his classmates to not just look to the future, but to remember the here and now, this moment, and all the little moments that move you ahead in life. He shared with his class that this was a lesson he learned from Shannon...

He spoke about being Shannon's friend in 7th grade and how she was upset about the acne that her cancer treatment was giving her. He remembered that she told him "It could be so much worse..."

Dan and I sitting in the audience cried and smiled as Shannon's classmate captured her essence - she appreciated each and every moment she got, even when she knew her future would not be long.

I can picture Shannon and her excitement when it all began. We have the video of smiling, bright-eyed Shannon jumping up and down on the way to the bus stop saying "First day of school! First day of school!"

I am feeling some closure today as I look back on these kids and their journey from kindergarten to graduation. We had hugs and tears with Shannon's friends after graduation. I felt her there with us, through the eyes and souls of these kids.

Dan and I had the opportunity to speak to the class at their graduation practice. What I really wanted to say to them, was thank you:

To the class of 2016, first off, congratulations. I remember the day you started kindergarten, and I’ve watched you grow and struggle and earn your way to this momentous occasion.

Secondly, I’d like to say thank you. Thank you for remembering Shannon. Thank you for supporting the Shannon O’Hara Foundation. It was a lovely tribute that was included in the yearbook.

Thank you also for including us in your lives in these last 4 years since Shannon passed away. So many of you were quick with a smile every time you saw us. You stopped to say hi, even if you didn’t know what else to say. You showed us compassion, a trait that reminded us of Shannon. Remember that compassion. It will serve you well. It was easy to be compassionate to us - you knew our story. But, as you go forward, remember that people are fighting battles all the time. Give them the benefit of the doubt.

For those who knew Shannon, when we hear your names called and you walk across the stage, we will remember a Shannon memory with you. Whether it’s from Bamber Valley, Willow Creek, or youth soccer or hockey, I have memories of so many of you. And they’re good memories for me, because they make me think of Shannon.

As you go forward into the working world or on to school, I hope you carry a bit of Shannon’s legacy with you. Be kind. Be a good teammate. Laugh. Persevere.

In the end, people will remember you not for what you achieved, but for the kind of person you were. Shannon didn’t get to reach this graduation day, but a little piece of her is here in your memories. For that, I am grateful.

I will leave you with my favorite quote that I feel describes not only Shannon, but those of you who have helped me, Dan and Erin through the past four years.

It comes from the poet Maya Angelou: 

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

We will never forget how you made us feel. Thank you for letting us be a part of the class of 2016.

Wednesday June 8, 2016

Today is Erin's last official day of her sophomore year. She's off taking two finals this morning, then one online final to complete tonight and she's done. This week also brought the end of the golf season. While the section tournament was a struggle, she had a great year.  It's so hard to believe that she's only got two years left...

So, a big week around the O'Hara household. Add to that, my friend Kula had surgery yesterday and all went well. Double mastectomy complete, tissue expanders in place, and now it's time to heal before radiation. The best news of all - pathology showed no evidence of cancer in lymph nodes or breasts. Thank god...

Erin and I visited her in the hospital last night. Erin needed a study break and needed to see Kula. It was also a good reminder that there are worse things in life that taking your American Studies final! We had a good laugh about that...

So, Erin will be relieved when all is said and done today. Dan will return home tomorrow from an entire week away. Some fun, some work, but that's a long time to be gone... I hope Sylvie remembers him or he'll be crushed... he loves that cat!

Now I am mentally preparing myself for the weekend ahead as the class of 2016 graduates on Saturday. It is, of course, not how I imagined it would be. And yet, it does somehow feel like I right of passage for us, too. Shannon's class is graduating, even if she's not there.

My hope is that watching those kids cross the stage and hearing their names will spark happy memories for me... memories of Shannon... school projects and sports teams and friendships... the names of these kids are tied to some little piece of my little girl which is why I want to go to graduation.

Any chance I get to connect with the days when Shannon lived is a chance worth taking... so, here's to you, class of 2016. Glad you have been a part of my life.

Memorial Day 2016

It's been a wonderful weekend for us as we prep for the final two weeks of the school year. Our weekend involved:

  • Social outings for Erin each night
  • Dan running a half marathon
  • Graduation open house for Shannon's good friends Anna and Connor
  • Flower pots and landscaping work for Jen
  • Practice round for section golf tournament
  • Group decades project almost complete for Erin (They are still in the basement working on this as I write at 10pm!)
Dan ran his race in a Shannon shirt... hell most of our wardrobes are Shannon gear! He was pleased with his race, but mostly just happy to be done. The Med City marathon signals the end of his training... and the beginning of the "all golf, all the time" season...

Erin played a practice round at Cannon Falls Golf Club today. That's where the section meet will be this Thursday and (hopefully) next Monday.  I hope the girls can play their best when it counts.

The graduation party for Anna and Connor was nice. We like them and their families and it was important to us to be there. Of course, it's poignant, but we were able to remember that it's not about us. Our friends are sensitive to us and that feels good. We had fun... checked that box...

So today, I was planning to watch tennis and surf the web... but rain in Paris canceled the French Open today, so I tackled some planting, replacing a dead bush, trimming, mulching and planting my flower pots. It was a beautiful day and I got to work up a sweat doing some manual labor.

So, a good weekend all around. Sunshine, friends and family... life is good...






Wednesday May 25, 2016


25 years ago today, I graduated from college. The world was an infinite place of possibility...

Somewhere, deep down, I know it still is. I've got a lot more scar tissue now than I did then, but each and every day, there are still things to learn...

I find myself thinking about college a lot these days. Of course, Shannon's friends have made their choices and will be spreading out far and wide in the near future.

But, I'm thinking about it in terms of Erin, too. She has just 10 days left in her sophomore year of high school. And, once you are a high school junior, college begins to be a topic of conversation. Junior year is the time for tough classes, working for a good GPA and taking the ACT and SAT college entrance exams.

It goes so fast sometimes...

Erin and I went out and played a few holes together tonight after the afternoon rain.  Her meet today got canceled due to thunderstorms, so we had a rare afternoon at home. Erin might have even snuck in a nap.

But after the rain cleared, we jumped on the golf cart and played the O'Hara loop. That's what we call the group of holes closest to our house... in gym shorts and bare feet, E and I each played two balls and worked on our swings while we talked and laughed. It's so easy being with Erin... I am going to miss her when she's gone...

But, wait! That time isn't here quite yet, even if I can begin to see it out on the horizon...

25 years ago when I finished my schooling, I certainly wasn't thinking about being a mom, and I had no idea where that journey would take me... I was definitely still wondering what I was going to be and who I was going to become... I'd like to think I have a little more clarity about that now, but I still don't have it all figured out.

The good news is, at 46, I'm OK with not having it all figured out. The 21 year old me couldn't possibly understand that.

That's the thing about life, you learn what you need to know as you go... and growing older is not such a bad thing...

"Do not regret growing older... it is a privilege denied to many..."