Lost and found

Five years ago this week, I signed up as a volunteer for the Special Olympics Kentucky State Basketball Tournament.

Next weekend, I’m going to be watching a team I coach participate in that tournament.

Four years ago, I was starting to get more involved with the organization – but hadn’t yet found my place. I also jumped in the freezing Ohio River that year for these guys and girls. Brrr.

It wasn’t long after that I met an athlete that got me where I am today with SOKY.

This is Dallas. He’s the first athlete I met/saw numerous times as I got more and more involved at Special Olympics events. He was/is EVERYWHERE. He’s kind of a big deal, you guys. Everyone knows him, everyone loves him.

15036406_10103019811545662_1160774891015075997_n

It was through Dallas I then met his mom, Cathy, the head of the Louisville Royals sports delegation – who heard me mention an interest in softball and brought me on to help coach the summer of the 2015 (which you all may remember as that time in my life that everything fell apart but fell perfectly together).

And the rest, as they say, is history.

I’ve said this before about Special Olympics, but it bears repeating: Have you ever found something you didn’t know you were looking for? Something you didn’t know you needed? That’s this, for me.

In the Spring of 2015, I was the unhappiest I’ve ever been. The highlight of my week was Thursday nights spent keeping the scorebook for SOKY’s basketball leagues at Fern Creek High School. It’s where I ended up talking more to Dallas, and to Cathy, and it’s because of them I am where I am today.

I quit my job that year on June 1 of 2015. Two weeks later, I became a coach for the Royals softball team. Not only was I getting to work with some amazing people, but it took me back to all those summers spent as a kid with my family at the ballpark – playing, umpiring, watching my younger sisters play… it also distracted my from my anxiety about unemployment, which was much-needed. (The distraction. And the unemployment was much-needed, actually. Not the anxiety, though. Never the anxiety).

After that I was talked into coaching football (which is hilarious because I don’t know enough about it to do anything but watch and also I suck at throwing a football). Luckily, the two guys I coached with had that covered so my job was being the sideline mom. I bandaged scrapes, gave hugs and occasionally chased/cuddled our littlest player, Griffin, who was determined to run off in the middle of the game. My presence was very important, obviously.

12072701_10102317612573032_4910128527771013110_n

Then there was basketball. Friends, if I shoot 10 baskets I’m lucky to make 2 of them. So I’m a natural choice to help coach, right? Right. Something worked, though, because our team made it to the state tournament and won gold medals.

Last year was my first time as head coach of anything. I started with softball. And just FYI, head coach can simply mean you get the practice space and do the paperwork. And get dibs on making the lineup if you want. Apparently last year it meant piss off a man who was assisting you by doing nothing more than just existing, but that’s a story for another time. Over a beer.

So many positive things have come out of my time as a coach, though. Almost too many to mention. I’ve made some great friendships with those I’ve coached with – Cathy has become an invaluable part of my life, Gus has been so awesome to coach alongside (the two of us are old pros at this point) and then I’ve also been able to spend more time with my cousin, Aaron, who lived out of town for a long time, but who has joined all of us as a Royals coach.

One of the guys in my youth group helped out during softball season and will be back as a coach this year. Several members of my youth group have volunteered at the state tournaments for basketball and bowling for a few years now. My best friend’s son, who is 13, heard about what I do with SOKY and thought it sounded like a cool way to get Beta Club service hours, and who has since come to a game and three practices and loved it as much as I do.

And that’s just the coach stuff.

I’ve also seen enough athlete moments to make my heart explode.

– Athletes scoring their first basket, run, touchdown.

– Athletes helping each other out – passing a ball to someone younger/who doesn’t always get to score so they can get a chance.

– At skills for softball last year, the entire team cheering for each other as they took turns running the bases as fast as they can.

– The smiles and hugs during and after games win or lose, because they just love to play.

– The encouragement of athletes on other teams.

Special Olympics and those involved – athletes, parents, coaches – have given me so much. More than they’ll ever know. And I cannot imagine life without any of it.

Now please enjoy some pictures. Warning: Your heart might explode.

Advertisements

Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That

Alternate title: Thoughts That Run Through Your Head During Bronchitis-induced Night Sweats

I get Bronchitis twice a year (at least) like clockwork. Usually in the fall – Bronchtober – and again in the spring because I live in Kentucky, specifically the Ohio River Valley where the pollen blankets the ground like fresh-fallen snow and it goes from snow one day to 80-degree temps the next.

My body literally cannot keep up – my sinuses are too busy getting used to one type of weather that when the next type shows up they just stop working as they should, meaning I’m a sneezy, runny-nosed, coughing, hacking mess. It’s real nice.

Usually I just let it run its course because it’s over fairly quickly, but this latest round has been a beast. Two-plus weeks of misery. I’m currently on prednisone (steroids), a Z-pack and an albuterol inhaler. So I feel real weird in general but I’m coughing a hell of a lot less.

I just started the meds today, which means last night I was at probably the worst point of this shit.

Below, I give you some insights into my mind and trains of thought last night while I was sweating and coughing every 10 seconds and couldn’t sleep/a.k.a. 30 things I actually thought between bedtime and the doctor’s this morning.. all in order:

1. I’m freezing.

2. I’m sweating.

3. I probably have a fever. Too bad my thermometer’s broken.

4. I will never be able to just feel for a fever on someones’ head. How do moms do that?

5. I want my mom here.

6. I want ice cream.

7. How is my body producing this much phlegm?

8. Idea: A vacuum of sorts that you stick down your throat and it just sucks all the phlegm out of your lungs and airways. Is that a thing? It should be.

9. If I’m not gonna sleep, I should keep listening to the Hamilton Soundtrack.

10. Goddang I’m obsessed with Hamilton right now.

11. If I don’t think about coughing I don’t cough..

12. Shit. That didn’t work for very long.

13. EW.

14. All I can think of is those Mucinex commercials and I wanna throw up.

15. I’m sweating.

16. When I coughed earlier it was a little red – probably because my throat is raw from doing this for TWO WEEKS.

17. It has to be that because otherwise it’s that thing in Moulin Rouge where she coughed herself to death throughout the whole movie.

18. That was TB though. I know 100% I do not have tuberculosis.

19. So many things hurt right now. Cheeks, tongue, I think I bruised a rib.

20. On the other hand, I may have significantly tightened my core muscles – six-pack abs here I come…

21. I need to feel better before my birthday.

22. I hate going to the doctor but that’s how you get the good drugs.

23. They better give me steroids and a z-pack and knock this shit out.

24. I hate everything.

25. What time is it?

26. What is time?

27. Was I asleep or did I hallucinate that I was sleeping?

28. I really don’t have time to be sick right now.

29. I’m sweating.

30. I need to move to the beach.

Faves on faves

This past year was a light one on posting. Well, 2013 was I mean. I think from January 2014 to now, I’ve posted more than I posted in the entirety of the last calendar year.

Why? Because life. I dunno. But I’m glad to be getting back to (semi-)regularity.

In honor of five years today (had you heard about how I’ve had this blog for five years? Have I driven it into your brain enough?) I picked out my five favorite posts from the last year. In no particular order, I’ve listed (and linked) ’em below.

A little less medicated: Wherein I start going off of my anxiety meds. Jesus take the wheel.

• New Year’s Eve Mystery – The Case: AKA Best New Year’s Eve Of My Life

Wherein I am either the worst chaperone or the best one: That time I got a tattoo while chaperoning a church trip.

• You can take the girl outta Kentucky, but you can’t take the Kentucky outta the girl: Otherwise known as when I got to tell Travis Tritt my parents’ (and mine and several others’) favorite story about my whole childhood.

• Self-esteem boosters with Sarah: The one that started it all.

A lot of my favorite things

OK, sometimes I only give you a few links to things I’m loving lately. But I’m feeling generous this time. So feel free to waste time on every single one of these for the next, oh, three days. There’s a lot to go through.

Here are some of my favorite things these days:

This is pure joy, right here.

I love Mateo.

OK, good to know, now how do I become a judge? Because I would pick the cutest ones. Sorry not sorry.

Things like this are part of the million reasons I love photography.

One of the best shows ever. And one of the hottest leading men ever. Timothy Olyphant? YUM.

Kind of want to do this. Especially now that I see Dooce is one of the curators.

Bravo, Newton, for encouraging change.

“So what can we do, we can’t stop the grief, we can’t stop talking. What we can do is spend the time and energy identifying vulnerable kids.”

THIS.

Also, THIS.

Speaking of puppies

Oh man, I miss Breaking Bad

I want to get all of these in prints and wallpaper a room with them. Amazing.

tumblr_mupkzfWVSD1slqxs4o1_1280
image courtesy posterology.tumblr.com

One of my favorite cities, even before it got to keep my sister and brother-in-law for a couple years.

Life lessons.

Click on this if you want your heart (and, if you’re female, your ovaries) to explode:

Fucking genius.

Never heard of either of the Kentucky ones.. http://mentalfloss.com/article/27987/15-places-strange-names-and-how-they-got-them

Speaking of Kentucky, this would be a good birthday present for a certain Kentucky girl about to turn 30 in a couple weeks…
yallstore4_1024x1024
image courtesy kentuckyforkentucky.com

Presidential food, because why not?

A startling look at mental health and what college campuses are and are NOT doing about it..

A popular phrase the roommates and I have used lately.

Saved the best for last – I’m gonna miss havin’ Russdiculous on our team, but can’t wait to see what he can do in the NBA!

(P.s. Can someone make me a shirt that says “In Russ We Trust”?)

You can take the girl out of Kentucky, but you can’t take the Kentucky outta the girl

Never have I ever lived outside of the state of Kentucky. I’ve lived like, four different places within the state, but my address has never had a zip code that didn’t start with a 4.

I’m not complaining. At all. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love this state – my city, especially. We have so many amazing things here to be proud of, so many of the people I love are here…

We get a reputation for being pretty back-woods up here though. And there are those parts of the state. And, whether you want to admit it or not, if you live here and have for all your life (or even a good portion of it), there’s a little bit of redneck in there somewhere.

My redneckiness (yeah that’s a word…I just made up) was significantly higher when I was a kid. Weekends were spent out at my grandparents’ farm, walking on barrels and stilts and swimming or fishing in the pond. And I was a huuuuuge country music fan.

And I’m talkin’ that early 90s country. Like Achy Breaky and whatnot. Oh man.

A particular favorite – my absolute favorite – for a good amount of time, was “The Whiskey Ain’t Workin’ Anymore.”

Here’s the video – I’ll let you take that all in.

That was my favorite song. IN THE THIRD GRADE.

There is so much wrong with that. But I listened to it on tape in my little Walkman on a mix with some Billy Ray and Dolly and John Michael Montgomery and Garth Brooks….

Well. One day in my third grade class we got an assignment. Bring in our favorite song/music to share with the class.

Obviously, I was going to bring my song about whiskey and women and duh why wouldn’t I? Don’t all 9-year-olds love this song?

Um, because my parents didn’t want to have to meet with the teacher/principal/CPS.

Why does this story matter?

Well. You see the man in that video up there? With the mustache? That’s Travis Tritt.

The same Travis Tritt that I found myself behind in line to get our free fedoras (YAY, swag!) at the Barnstable Brown party I told y’all about.

YES. It happened.
IMG_2714

I took a picture of him and his lady while we waited, for work, of course, but then I had a thought.

When was I ever gonna see Travis again? When was I ever gonna be close enough to tell him THE story. The story that my parents love to tell people and one of my favorite anecdotes about myself.

So, maybe it was those three pomegranate-y drinks I’d had or the high from meeting John and Emilio. But I tap him on the shoulder and say hey.

“I told myself if I ever met you, I had to tell you this story,” I said.

He smiled and said “OK, shoot.”

So I tell him – third grade me, his song about drinking whiskey – my favorite, the pain of not being able to take it in and share it with my class.

And he, I kid you not, threw his head back and laughed. And told me that was awesome.

And then we were best friends. And I was like, “WHAT IS MY LIFE RIGHT NOW?” And then I went home and downloaded that song from iTunes.

Best Week Ever. Greatest Hits.

I’m just about done telling/showing you about the Jamaica trip. Except for one more thing to tell you about later that’s such a big deal it gets its own post. And here’s a hint: It involves crossing something off my List.

But that’s for another time.

I took almost 1000 pictures that week. Well personally I probably took about 600. I gave my camera to kids/Jordon a whole lot.

I’ve shown you several, and none really do the week or the relationships we have with our friends there any justice.

But these are my absolute favorites from the trip. Please enjoy.
IMG_4317

IMG_4168

IMG_4356

IMG_4783

IMG_4791

IMG_4834

IMG_4855

Craft skillzzzzz

You guys, normally I am so not crafty.

I am crafty with words, yes. However, if you were to give me a few popsicle sticks, some feathers and some glue, I would do the following:
– Chew on the popsicle stick on account of I sucked my thumb for a while when I was a kid, therefore have the residual oral fixation and now chew on pen tops, straws etc. and also don’t be gross, OK. It’s a thing. Look it up. Psychology, people.
– Run my fingers along the feathers. They’re soft!
– Not even touch the glue.

Therefore, no craft made, and also maybe a gnawed up popsicle stick or two.

Thanks to Pinterest, however, and people making it look oh-so-easy to do things, I decided to be a little brave when it came time for wedding shower gifts for my ladies getting married this summer.

I saw this thing on Pinterest one day – it looked simple enough. It involved a piece of wood, nails and string. How hard could it be, right? Because people only share things on Pinterest that can be easily recreated….

My history with being crafty and talented with things that aren’t related to my job and hobbies hasn’t been great. Remember when my mom wondered where she’d gone wrong? Or when I had the most nerve-wracking painting experience of my life?

Things weren’t looking good for this outing to Craft World, but I was determined. And determination will get you everywhere in life. Except to a job as Robert Downey Jr.’s assistant/towel girl/ladyfriend. Trust me, I’ve tried.

If this were a blog that involved crafts more often, here’s where you’d get a step-by-step breakdown of the process, a la Young House Love or something. But we are still new at this over here at On Account Of so I’ll instead give you a brief description.

My friend Stephanie helped me find the wood at Home Depot. Or was it Lowe’s? I forget. Problem number 1.

I didn’t even know what kind would work best. I don’t know differences in wood. I know there’s like, plywood, hardwood, oak, 2x4s…shit, I’m just throwing things out there. Yes. I’m a stereotypical girl in that way. Sue me.

Then we bought nails. And string.

With our print-outs of the outlines of two states (Kentucky and Tennessee, where my brides be at), my associate Stephanie and I (she was recruited based on her prior experience with this craft and because she enjoys my company) got to work.

First you hammer little holes in the wood along the outline, like you would if you were carving a pumpkin. Once the holes are all in, you remove the outline and hammer the nails in the pre-made holes.

Once the nails are all in place, you freehand a heart over the city, if you’re fancy. Or you draw one on a piece of paper if you’re like me and need more direction. Trace that puppy with the nails, hammer them in and then you’re ready for stringing.

The whole process hurts your fingers like a mofo by the time you’re done, so I broke it up into a few different nights each time, or as I told the brides-to-be, “Three episodes of Justified.” (Good show, by the way. Mr. Olyphant? Yum.)

They all turned out pretty great, I think, and the girls were all excited to receive them, which makes it all worthwhile.

Below I’ve collected about as much as you’ll possibly get of the process from a visual standpoint, including wedding shower reactions. The only absence is one from Ashley when she got hers because it wasn’t at a wedding shower and I was too excited to take a picture. But the picture I have here I think sums up her reaction best.

All-in-all, a fun little crafty thing I managed to not screw up and my girls and I all are happy with the results and that’s what matters.

Now don’t go expecting to see any other crafts as awesome as these for a while. I’m still recovering.

The best day

It’s my favorite day all year. My family and several of my friends get together the first Saturday in May for betting, eating, drinking, cigar smoking, cornhole playing, volleyballing, chilling and yelling at the television once every hour.

It’s the Kentucky Derby and I love every second of it. The weeks leading up to it are some of the most fun you can have in this town and given the choice between going to the track on the day or spending it with people I love, well…that’s an easy choice.

This year, I had every intention of photographing the whole day. Walking around with my camera, practicing my candid photography and stuff for upcoming weddings and such that I will be shooting.

But then I had a Lilly. Or four. And it was more fun to just sit and relax and talk to my friends and family and play a volleyball game or 8 or watch people race in humongous pairs of underwear or play wiffle ball baseball as the sun went down.

I did take a few photos, mainly of cigar-smoking, an annual tradition paired with Mint Juleps (for some brave souls) after the race. The first ones, though, are continuing our tradition of beautiful, America’s Next Top Model-caliber shots, as art directed by my sisters and cousins, and, for the first time, Anna’s boyfriend, Vince. He’s the one with the finger in his belly button for our “Abercrombie Shot.”

The next blog will have a slideshow full of amazing sports action photography, which I can take no credit at all for. I was playing. So I just provided the camera.

But for now, here are mine..

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I look forward to the first Saturday in May like it’s Christmas. And I’m already excited for next year’s party. 364 days and counting…

Ya dig?

Really diggin’ this song right now.

A few notes, however: Weird video. OK Go has spoiled me on all other music videos. No other comes close.

The first time I heard it I thought it was a song from the 80s. I usually don’t care that much about 80s songs.

Also, it’s totally pronounced “Go-tee-yay” not “Got-ya.” I’m from Kentucky.