Wednesday March 22, 2017

There have been some sure signs of spring this week, and not just on the calendar where is says "First Day of Spring"!

The eagle has been flying down out street again this week, heading to the reservoir to hunt for dinner. It makes us wonder if there are babies in the nest this year. Sunny barks at the eagle as it flies overhead. It makes us smile every time.

I also know spring is here because the Mayo Girls Golf season began yesterday. We had our first team meeting and it's always fun to see the girls again and meet the new ones. We have a roster of 25 this year, including 9 new faces, so that's fun. Erin is a captain again this year and I will have the opportunity to be a volunteer coach.

Each year when we start the season we have a meeting the first day. It's a chance to lay out the team rules and talk about the upcoming season. That also includes talking about MGG Swings for Shannon, our annual fundraiser. Each year I tell a new group of girls about Shannon and her short time on this earth. Yesterday, I brought copies of the book for anyone who wants to read about our journey with Shannon. When I look at the pictures of Shannon the day she played in a JV golf meet, she looks so little. I guess she was.

To accommodate the golf schedule, I will start my workdays a little earlier so I can finish and be done in time for practice. I'm so grateful to have this opportunity and to have a job that allows flexibility. The time with Erin here at home seems to be flying by now. I can't believe it, really. Next week, 3rd quarter of her junior year will come to a close and then we're off on some college visits. How did this happen to my little girl?

I know I've contemplated this here before, but I think I need to keep saying it over and over in preparation for the changes ahead. So, thank you all for being my sounding board!

I feel like Erin's independence carries extra weight because of Shannon. I know that's not fair to Erin, but it's a reality. We are only going to have a new driver in the house one time. We are only going to go through the college choice process one time. Etc... These are big milestones and I have to enjoy the process and not let my mind jump ahead, which is not always my strong suit.

So, we carry on working our way to the end of March. Life is good on Willow Lane. I continue to remind myself to enjoy the moments, stay in the present and appreciate the hear and now. I hope you all can do the same.

Thursday March 16, 2017

This week is flying by as I'm catching up from being gone for a few days last week. My trip to Palm Springs with my girlfriends was lovely, just as I had imagined. Strong coffee in the morning, tennis and sunshine and good conversation day and night. Three days of fun and friendship. I did manage to see my boy Roger Federer practicing. He looks just as good in person.

I came home just in time to see the latest 6 inches of snow fall, and to go shopping for a prom dress. This was my first time - ever - shopping for prom. I never went, and, of course, Shannon didn't get the chance. Sunday, during the snowstorm, Erin and I spent 5 hours looking for just the right dress. Dan thought we were crazy. Some things dads just don't understand. Mission accomplished and Erin looks beautiful in the one she chose.

Today, March Madness begins - the NCAA basketball tournament kicks off and will dominate the sports landscape the next three weeks. Dan, Erin and I have filled out our brackets. Always fun to try to guess better than the next guy. And, the MN Gophers are in the tournament this year, so we have a rooting interest.

It's also fun to look at the names of all the colleges and universities participating as it's a reminder of the endless possibilities out there for the kids who are beginning this journey. Erin's senior friends are down to crunch time and making their college choices and Erin and her junior friends are just beginning the college process.

Sports, as you know, is a common topic of conversation in our household. Say what you want about organized sports and crazy parents, but I still think the pros outweigh the cons. Erin's volleyball team this year has 11 girls from 8 different schools who are learning to play together, win and lose together, and support each other no matter what. Those lessons will serve these girls well in the coming years as they learn to live with roommates and advocate for themselves when mom and dad aren't at their side.

Erin's sports life will get even busier starting next week as the high school golf season begins. The first month of the season in Minnesota involves hitting golf balls indoors, but Erin and I are both excited to get the season started. I am lucky enough to get to be a volunteer coach again this year.

We graduated 11 seniors, so our team will have some new faces this year. The first golf meet is scheduled for April 11. Hopefully, the snow will be gone by then!

Dan's travels took him to Wisconsin this week and it just so happens that the Gophers play in Milwaukee this afternoon, so Dan is able to take some customers to the game.

This weekend will take us to the cities for a volleyball tournament. This will be a chance for Grandma and Papa Harkins to see Erin play as the tournament is right in their backyard.

All is well in our world.

Wednesday March 8, 2017

Today is International Women's Day... and I am celebrating by getting the heck out of here with my girlfriends! The sustained 40 MPH winds and bitter temps are making it all the more exciting to be heading to California...

I believe this is our fifth annual getaway and our third time heading to Palm Springs, coinciding with the pro tennis tournament at Indian Wells. Yes, tomorrow I will be stalking the courts looking for Roger Federer...

More importantly, I will be with four other women this weekend who support me and lift me up in this crazy life we live. My hope is that I do the same for them.

Dan and Erin will survive at home without me. Volleyball tonight and then they have a date night planned to go to the girls basketball game tomorrow night.

Just so you don't feel sorry for DanO, please know he has a couple of golf trips planned in April and May...

Erin's life will be busy in the next three months as the club volleyball season continues and the high school golf season begins. The only good news about this crazy wind is that it's drying up the golf course as we speak...

Erin is a captain of the golf team this year and we've got several new kids coming out. I am looking forward to another year of volunteer coaching with the girls.

But, first things first - a trip to the desert with Kay, Kula, Sue and Jeannie. There will be coffee, wine and beer by the pool, yummy salads prepared by those who cook (not me!), days of playing tennis and watching tennis, and much conversation and laughter in between...

So, Happy International Women's Day... tell the women in your life that you support them... even better, show them...

Sunday February 26, 2017

It's been a good weekend to be home! More than a foot of snow fell between Thursday night and Friday, prompting a snow day... it was 60 degrees on Tuesday and the grass was turning green. Now, golf season just got a little bit further away...

Erin and her besties use snow days for sleepovers... We love her friends and they love us back. We talk school, boys, college, life, you name it... And, Erin does the same with their parents. So healthy and supportive. What more could you ask for? I'll take all the eyes and ears and hearts and minds lifting these kids up.

We're fortunate that Erin's besties have parents who have become our besties, too. We broke our cabin fever by heading out for dinner and drinks last night. It's good to have friends...

February ends this week and it will be a busy one. The junior class takes the ACT test in school this week. Pressure for these kids as they prepare for the next step. So exciting and nerve wracking to think about going away to college. And not just for me, but for Erin too :)

This process of narrowing things down - How big a school? How big a city? What kind of major? And on and on... Erin's senior friends are down to crunch time and we are following along closely, learning from those who go before us...

Next weekend will again be filled with volleyball - this time we are off to the Wisconsin Dells for a three day tournament. Dan will be along this time and I'm excited for him to get to see Erin play.

So, we keep chugging along. Life is good and we've got fun stuff ahead in March and April: travels, volleyball, girlfriend getaway, golf trip for Dan, spring break, golf season...

Time goes quickly and I want to be prepared for what's ahead but also remember to enjoy the here and now. That's my constant struggle... not unique to me, I know...

So, I'm off to enjoy this day with the people I love...I  hope you can do the same...

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 step...college. 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.