O: Jim’s Factory


I once heard a story, about a boy who got into more trouble then he knew what to do with. He fought with his brother, avoided his mother, and watched his father in the garage. As years past the boy sat in class, mastered his skills, but rarely interacted in the rooms. He knew the pot dealers, held his own parties, and even found a way to charge admission with his brother. He was a gear head, a grease monkey, always trying out a new idea. Unfortunately, like every other soul in the world that wishes to move on he too had to find employment.

At 16 years of age he started sweeping paper. Just scraps, pieces of paper cut from massive machines, something his father had worked on. Tireless, without complaint, he made his money, swept his scraps, and kept working day to day. As he grew older, the company of paper continued to expand and he increased his involvement within the company. He worked as a die cutter, a pressman, and even in the glue room occasionally. He joined the Teamsters Union, not fully getting what the point of that was, and made friends with those who came and went with this company, but he always stayed. Sure, there were other job openings, new beginnings around each corner. From church cleaning to box packing; there was something always available, but he always stayed with the company. In recent years, with economic woes, he took the hits, watched his friends leave, but kept his family his priority. He continued to work. In the building with no air conditioning, the building that smashed his fingers, and even caused him to fall off a stage onto the concrete floor, he always worked. He took his friends fishing once a year for several years, just a weekend on the lake. As the years passed, one by one those friends disappeared, but even without them or even the fishing, he kept working.

Thirty years and more passed, his loyalty never waved. His wife laid in the bed with cancer, and he made it a priority to work in the factory, drive sixty miles south to the hospital, stay with her all day, and head back to work the next day, for months. His family came first, and he stayed with the company to ensure it.

As age came, so did changed, the company switched ownership, new clients came in, and the presses kept running. Every so often there’d be a hiccup in the financials for the plant and paychecks were hit, but that never stopped him from working. 8 hours, 10 hours, even 12 hour shifts ranging from five to six to seven days a week; he never stopped working, always followed orders, and would get up no matter what hour of the day it was.

33 years since the boy brushed the papers along the floor and he still stands there today. He’s a pressman, running one of the massive machines in the plant. He’ll do it for 19 more days.

It was announced last week that June 7th, 2013 would be the last day the company existed. Many clients outsourced to the state of New York from the new owners of a couple years. Everyone would be let go, pensions are practically gone, 401k’s are non-existent and retirement is out of the question. Severance packages would exist, but that massive box at Leonard Road and Easton-Saxton will not make a noise again once that day passes.

With 30+ years of experience, technical school training, but no college degree, where will he go? What will he do to ensure his family stays number one?

Sometimes in life I really do wish that soccer was the only stress that I experience. I’m sure everyone else would agree to have that one item to stress them out, but for everything else to run smoothly. I’ve been thinking over the past several days about this post, and the anger that comes with it. I was informed last Tuesday that Jim’s plant; Climax Packaging [St. Joseph Packaging] is closing on June 7th, 2013 for good; leaving Jim without a job. It has been eating at me for days, even causing a lack of sleep in several instances. I’ll brag on him in this post [because he'd never do it himself], he is one of the hardest working blue collar individuals I’ve ever met. When I first met him [when I was 5] he had a black beard, cut-off black t-shirt, overalls, and carried his lunch in what used to be a tool box. He was one terrifying dude, and to this day that unspoken respect still stands in my mind at a level I didn’t even know existed. He tied my shoes before my first ‘competitive’ mile, made my breakfast nearly every school day for six years, and was the person who took me to every single recreational soccer game as a kid [MC had to work on Saturday's at that time, so don't judge her]. Rather quiet, he unintentionally made  a impact on my life of what a God fearing leader looks like. They don’t always have to be loud with words, because their actions easily make up for them.

The story of Jim and the company, which is very real, translates directly into my approach of soccer. Jim is quiet, from the inner section of St. Joseph, Missouri, wasn’t born with a lot of money, never had a lot of money, never complained about not having a lot of money. He sacrificed so much to put up with a high school brat, while his wife…who he loves unconditionally…was dealing with her body trying to fight cancer; three years before being diagnosed. Those hours he worked, noted above? He worked second jobs throughout the seasons to cover expenses and try to latch onto dreams of a better future for him and MC. He never gave up, was never intimidated by the white collar world, rich jerks, or anything else of the sorts. He is Phil from Duck Dynasty in ways that appear frightening.

I’ve felt gut wrenching awful since hearing about the plant closing. A few days later he was moving my girlfriends car to get his motorcycle out, and the car slipped off the jack and wound up denting the radiator. He called me, explaining what had happened and he’d find a way to buy a new radiator for her. I mean…that poor man felt terrible. After already being crushed with my divorce [he took it worse then MC did], he’s careful with my current relationship [he has no reason to, she love him]. So, I tried to calm him down, she tried to calm him down, MC finally got him calmed down and my heart broke that much more. The world of this man, outside of his family, was spinning out of control and it wasn’t his fault. I mean, he stopped smoking cold turkey just because MC asked him too before they got married. He has his flaws, like all of us, but I’ve never met a human to give so much, sacrifice so much, and believe so much in people…period. He knows very little about soccer, but he loves the Kansas City Shock. He talks about, which just about puts me in tears every time, because I know I’m making him proud.

The Kansas City Shock is in many ways a gift to Kansas City, that was the idea, but it was also a gift to my parents. They’ve watched this thing, they’ve seen the errors, misfortunes, and heartache, but they still believed in me. I work hard, and I lose sleep, because I learned from the best. I learned that you work hard, complain little, and try to help as many people around you as humanly possible. Jim’s behaviors and lessons are dotted throughout this program. Everyone is welcome, he’d never turn someone away. Sleep is lost getting work done, because Jim would do the same thing. The program, unlike so many other soccer programs, isn’t catered to the rich, soccer elite of the area [there, I finally said it]. It’s designed for the hard working, back breaking people who believe that they’re never noticed. They’re like Jim, getting tossed around, but trying to better their lives and those around them. Many of our players would relate well with Jim.

I guess I’m proud to say that I’ve cried through the typing of this entire thing tonight. I could barely keep myself together at MC’s and his house tonight. Why? Because it hurts. Because this guy gave me so much, and the one time, the one time he needs help; I can’t do anything. I can’t save the plant, I can’t buy the company, and I can’t even find him a job. If there is anyone that deserves vacation it is him and MC. I’m not overly sure how to do it, but I’ve got to give back to him. He deserves the attention, recognition, and the peace. Is it alright to say that I just want to help? That one day I just want to present a massive check to my parents and say, “Enjoy the relaxation. It’s taken care of?” Doesn’t Jim deserve to breathe a little easier? Laugh a little more? Actually go fishing again?

I thought this piece would go in the direction of anger; lashing out at the stupid company that outsourced the jobs in Jim’s plant, closing the place down. I am still angry about that; especially on the business side of things. However, thinking back to all of it; I made sure that I was free tonight after work to relax at my parents house. No matter how old I am, or bad mood I’m in, I know I’m safe there. I know that Jim will reheat his coffee, he’ll sit in his chair, and Scamper [his cat] will hop up on him and go to sleep [affectionately referred to as 'sweep-sweep time']. That’s comfort, that’s home, and I don’t want the stupidity of someone else put any of that at risk.

I just want Jim to be happy, happy, happy.

-D-

O: Unspeakable


I’m just in awe.

I mean…mind being blown doesn’t even describe.

I’ve been searching for words for this post most of the day. The home opener for the Kansas City Shock is May 25th, 2013 at Kansas City Kansas Community College. There have been several bumps along the way, especially as of late, but in the past week…God is just doing something…amazing. Something only He can do. The nice part about my life is being able to sit back and knowingly not be able to take credit for what is taking place. From sponsors, to airfare for players, to practice fields, to things that I never even dreamed up…this week has been incredible. Unbelievable I even had someone tell me, “We’d like to work with you, because we believe God is doing great things in your program.” I mean…wow…mission field? Found!

As I stare out the window this evening, watching the lightning flash all around it is the most comforting feeling in the world to know you’re exactly where God wants you to be. There’s no denying, no describing it, you just know…and it never gets old. I think God almost enjoys thinking, “Alright, he is waking up. What can I do today that’ll just blow him away?” I’m pretty sure that’s how He works, and He gets a kick out of it too.

The Kansas City Shock is rocking and it’s been a blast. Honestly, today was one of those days that I even forgot the concept of how or why this website was ever created. Unfortunately, that realization was short lived this evening. My girlfriend is known to wander throughout the Facebook world [no, none of us are safe], and had looked up my ex-wife. Now, due to the restraining order from a few years ago, I stay out of it and away from any of it. That, and really, I don’t care. However, as my girlfriend said tonight, “I was just curious on getting an idea of who you were before we met” [she's curious like that]. Repeatedly I had asked her to stay off my ex-wife’s Facebook page, but I quickly learned that if she wasn’t sharing information with me [that I didn't want to know], other people around me were doing so instead.

She beat everyone else to the punch tonight. There we were, heading to dinner after church, she had brought up the Facebook page. That turned into an argument, she left it alone, and then she started crying. Now, my girlfriend, as special as she is…is not a crier. That’s not her style, so this had me confused.

She had a seizure. I just feel really, really bad for her.

That was the only phrase that could come out of her mouth while traveling down the interstate. My ex-wife’s mother has had a neurological disorder for some time, resulting in seizures and even a few strokes…at a very young age. I’m speculating, but it sounds as if that neurological issue has been passed down. My girlfriend went on to explain that it happened in the school lunchroom where she taught. From the education background, I can’t imagine how fearful that must have been for everyone.

The car was quite while I mulled over this information, trying to think about my reaction to this news, and that’s when I blurted it out:

I. Don’t. Care.

Harsh words, and sadly I meant them. I didn’t care. The anger and bitterness from years past came flaming back into life as I went on a small fit asking if she cared that I was homeless, if she cared that I was broke, broken, and worthless, if she cared that I was absolutely nothing. Frankly, they were the childish rants expected from a bitter individual [though not necessarily Christ-based]. We remained silent until pulling into IHOP. Hoping to drown the thoughts in the most awful tasting iced coffee I’ve ever had, my girlfriend and I talked about every other topic under the sun…myself trying to ignore the knowledge that I had gained in the past hour.

Finally, after the evening was over, working some business angels and watching the storm roll in; I just sat, quietly. Trying to understand my stance, my anger, and bitterness. How could I rationalize it? Why would I rationalize it? I have the right to be angry right? I have the right to harshly and unfairly think “that’s what you get”, right? With the falling rain I was remembered of the phrase that started it all.

Dare to be different. Shock the world.

If I allowed myself the pleasure of enjoying the heartfelt struggles of those who passed me by to my own demise, how is that being different from our societies standards? How is that different from our cultural norms? It isn’t, and if it isn’t different from the standards of the world then it isn’t within the realm of what God expects from me as a loving, Christ-centered, individual. Jesus, no matter the person, would never act in such brash, boastful ways. What would dare make me think I was better then Christ?

I claim it as human pride, a serious error on my behalf, but I’m still upset about being hung out to dry. I’m upset with being abandoned and condemned. It’s a hard pill to swallow. However, that doesn’t allow me to view a hurting person in any different light then compassion that is expected.

So, though this information and these thoughts go in places that I’ll never understand; it’s worth noting that while I’m still conflicted with bitterness. My heart still aches for her, her family, and yes…her husband. I can’t imagine the fear, the heartache, and the unknown that they all must be encountering. I’m not sure if God counts it, but while I still struggle, somewhere in the rolling thunder tonight I’m still praying for my ex-wife’s recovery and healing.

-D-

 

 

O: Idolatry


Idolatry 

An absolutely horrific word; tends to bring about the ideas of Biblical times, statues, prostitution, and all sorts of weird things.

Thank goodness we don’t have to worry about that.

Right?

My thoughts exactly.

Time for some bitter truth:

God has been silent.

My prayer life, while not ceasing, has been insanely driven one way; I haven’t heard from God in some time. Even my days at MoVal feel…distant. My girlfriend and I were discussing this tonight over a plate of tacos. Times with the Kansas City Shock are hard right now; there’s been a lot of struggle and stress as of late, both within the program and personally. I couldn’t put my finger on it, it was literally driving my girlfriend to tears to see the amount of stress, and finally tonight she asked, “How’s your prayer life?” I responded honestly by stating that it’s been steady…but then for the first time that I could recall I paused and looked at her and said:

God’s been quiet.

We’ve learned through history that any time God is silent; something big is about to happen, whether that person [or people] is in sin, or His might is about to be shown, or the temple is about to go through an earthquake…God’s silence should always be a red flag.

I missed the red flag.

Since the silence from the creator the struggles with the Kansas City Shock have been numerous and far outside the power of my sole being. It’s been hard, frustrating, and saddening in every way you can imagine.

While sitting on my couch tonight, after my girlfriend had left and the tacos had settled; with the distraction put away I simply asked to the blank room and empty sky, “So, what’s going on?”

After some random talking, confessing, and random confusion this incredible, sorrowful, humbling realization hit me like a ton of bricks:

Idolatry.

I’m guilty. It’s on me. I committed idolatry, and told God to take the back seat because other things in my life were more important then Him.

More specifically: The Kansas City Shock was more important then Him.

How could I have been so warped? Every time stress hit me, chaos ensued, and argument broke out…it was all about the Kansas City Shock. So what did I do? Every night I’d go to bed practically yelling at God, “Do this for the Shock, show me this for the Shock, let the Shock do this, etc…”

Where was the thanks? The praise? The hope?

Nowhere. It was all about business.

Tonight has been a humbling, troubling night. Going to the roots of my beliefs of confessing, asking for forgiveness, and repenting. I feel dirty, soiled, and a mess. How could I boldly proclaim the faith I live by, when I wasn’t even living by it? Honestly, in my mind this equates to the dorks who decided that making a golden calf because the crazy dude went up on the mountain wasn’t coming back. The result? This bitterness that I’m facing is my calf destroyed and placed in the water.

I sat in the dark for some time after realizing this concept, and understand the error. It was following, understanding the concept of forgiveness that I wondered what exactly I should say. What could I do to get back on the right path, and move forward?

I asked God for one thing tonight:

Hope.

Does this mean that everything is fixed, and the world is realigned and spoons of happiness and peace await me? No, probably not even close, realistically it’ll probably get even worse. However, no matter my position in life I will always stand by this. I would rather have a life of chaos with the connection to my God, then have the perfect life on earth all to myself.

-D-

O: Fighting Words


I just spent thirty minutes yelling in the car.

To no one.

Seriously, if you looked at me yelling in the car while driving to grab some iced coffee for the night, I was yelling at no one.

Reality is though; I was yelling at God.

I’m so sick of fighting.

I expressed this poorly to my girlfriend tonight. I’m sick of fighting. Today was one of the more stressful Friday’s that I had incurred in some time. The more I thought about it, the more I realized…everything I do is about fighting:

  • I’m fighting for business
  • I’m fighting for love
  • I’m fighting for my faith
  • I’m fighting for my dreams
  • I’m fighting for my health

I’m just fighting. Everything in me revolves around fighting, and guess what? I am tired. I’m exhausted. I’m done with fighting. That’s exactly what I yelled at God tonight; I’m sick of not getting rest and I’m sick of fighting.

Don’t judge me…and don’t tell me none of you have thought something similar…

It started from this morning; I woke up in a horrible mood. Business things have been stressful and it showed in the mirror. The whole day I felt tension between myself and my Master, and tonight I finally snapped. It’s been brewing for a while, and I’m yet to see where actually becoming angry with God gets you any further advancement, but tonight I didn’t even care. I was/am irritated, upset, heartbroken, and just plain mad. Sure, nothing in life is free and you have to work for the things you have, but man…it feels like there isn’t anyone even in the corner with me. Where’s my Father? Where’s my God? Where’s the Creator of the universe? I know He’s here, I know He’s listening, watching, and probably pondering in thought [I wonder if He does that], but tonight…like a spoiled child, I’m just angry with God.

I’m simply angry because I’m sick of fighting, but guess what? It doesn’t stop. The fighting never stops, not on this earth at least. The daily battles of good and evil rage on throughout the days and nights. I once read where it says, “I will give rest to the weary”, but I think I’m not weary enough. It’s hard to express it in words, but even in the ‘real world’ the fighting is insane:

I fight businessmen who throw me under the bus every chance they get.
I fight for the sake of our soccer program; pushing and convincing people that we’re real and we’re going to be great.
I fight in a relationship because I’m fighting for the relationship [I'm just terrible at showing it].

Even a month ago this anger issue saw its boiling point when I was threatened to go outside of a Steak-N-Shake with a fellow customer, so he could show me how to talk like a man. I’m taking full blame for that. I was so sick of seeing the waitress being treated so poorly that I just outright called out a family of six who were being jerks. Turns out papa bear wasn’t thrilled with this notion and through some interlaced cursing made it clear that if I didn’t shut it he was going to force me to. My arrogance got the best of me, but before a blow could be landed, his family left the diner. Was I the hero? Nope, I was just a hot head who was sick of seeing people treated so…horribly. That’s all I am, a fighter.

I’m going to try to fall asleep and actually rest, but judging by the spat I just had with God; I doubt rest comes easily.

-D-

Mobile Minutes: Humanity


My body feels like death.

Anyone remember the ‘truck stick’ from football video games via Play Station? If you do, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

I feel like I’ve been mowed down. Last night I went in for my running for the day, as conducted via the schedule. The first two miles were alright, but kind of boring. I’m trying to follow instructions by running at a pace that I can carry on a conversation. However, by the end of mile two I was so desperate to go to bed that I cranked the mother up and run a sub-6 third mile.

I. Hate. My. Life.

It hurts to walk, sit, move, type, breathe, think…everything.

Thankfully though; some time as being a human, mid-20 adult is due up this weekend.

Double date tomorrow night [after a three mile run and work]. Saturday has some Peeps Soccer in action, a few stores, a two mile run, and then Sporting on the television with MC and Jim, with my beloved girlfriend cooking some wonderful dinner. Then Sunday…by Sunday I’m done with work for the month, it is an official ‘rest’ day on the training, and I will relax.

-D-

Mobile Minutes: Turning Tides


It’s been a fascinating past seventy two hours. I’m not sure what the case may be, perhaps a home field announcement, scarves being released, or perhaps something else…but the tides are turning; I can feel it.

The business side of life is promising; God is doing great things. Naturally, per usual it requires me to hit close to rock bottom as a nice reminder that I cannot control all aspects of life; in fact the reality is that when I let go of control and let God control me…then great things start to happen.

And great things are happening.

I’m just going to leave it there, but I can already tell you next week is going to be a busy, exciting week. I can feel it in my bones [soul].

On a fun side note:

A few weeks ago my girlfriend landed a 50″ television for a great price, and it wound up in the apartment. Tonight I broke down and get a HDMI cord. Now, we have a laptop connected to the television in a dual screen. Meaning I can work on my laptop, while running shows, movies, and soccer matches on the television.

Needless to say, in a very rare nerd moment…I’m pretty pumped.

-D-

Mobile Minutes: Boston Part XII


Recovery.

As anyone would say when traveling; the first day back you’re just exhausted. I feel like my head has been in a steam room most of the day.

Somewhere in New Hampshire...or Vermont? I hadn't yet realized how far off I was...

Somewhere in New Hampshire…or Vermont? I hadn’t yet realized how far off I was…

When I landed at KCI I was greeted by my girlfriend and four news stations. Because the plane had over 30 local runners participating in the Boston Marathon everyone was looking for a quote. Unfortunately my wardrobe that I had picked out that morning was the same color scheme as the jackets from those in the marathon. After getting through the gate, I hugged my girlfriend, answered a few questions [clarifying clearly that I wasn't there] and moved out of the airport promptly. While this was going on the airline computer system for American Airlines had gone down as well, redirecting passengers to the same terminal we were in.

For once KCI was an absolute nightmare.

The cue of the snow on the mountains should have been the giveaway...given that Portland is a shipping town on the coast...

The cue of the snow on the mountains should have been the giveaway…given that Portland is a shipping town on the coast…

After an hour of running around we were finally out of the airport, I picked up my repaired Altima, worked on a store in Kansas City, and met some of the crew at Freebirds down south. Upon returning home that night up until this point everything has just been a whirlwind.

Turns out on US 302 that the hairpins are driven so much that the line int he middle of the road...yeah...not visible. That railing on the right keeps you from falling into the frigid river below. Fun times!

Turns out on US 302 that the hairpins are driven so much that the line int he middle of the road…yeah…not visible. That railing on the right keeps you from falling into the frigid river below. Fun times!

But, we move on. As goes with any trip I’ve got photos throughout this post from Monday’s random journey, and all sorts of random links that document the entire, eventful journey to Boston, Massachusetts [and back]:

Turns out coffee shops in Portland, Maine close at 7:00 PM EST during the week. Who knew? The good news though? The ocean never closes.

Turns out coffee shops in Portland, Maine close at 7:00 PM EST during the week. Who knew? The good news though? The ocean never closes.

Sadly, this journey will be memorable for far too many things. It was nice going into work today and being asked about the soccer match. Realistically, by the time I woke up today if it wasn’t the phone case I purchased this weekend, I’d almost forgotten why I was even in Boston. My poor girlfriend doesn’t even talk about the game, she only makes mention of me flying back. MC talked to me today on the phone, and just hinted at how nervous my girlfriend was about the airport [which thankfully was wonderfully amazing]. It’s a heavy heart that I left in Boston, to the city, but not the people. The people of Boston do not need heavy hearts sent their way; they’re stronger then that. Take every horror story you’ve heard about New York, Washington, and elsewhere along the coastline and never, ever compare it to the city of Boston, Massachusetts.

Even before the traumatic events on Monday, I was going to be sure to wrap up this whole adventure by speaking about the city dynamics, the atmosphere, and the overall culture of Boston; just from my perspective. I feel guilty knowing now what I do versus what I had grown up believing about “Bean Town”. The people are prideful, but not in an arrogant way, its in a way that shows you that they’ve worked hard for what they have. Meeting the Boston PD while at Dunkin Donuts was an example of that; everywhere I went the respect for the police in Boston was unreal [this was before the bombings mind you]. Sure, traffic is terrible, but people aren’t mean, they don’t yell at you; this was definitely not D.C. or LA for sure. It really felt like a close knit community of only 1.2 million people. Outside of the insane pricing for home ownership I definitely wouldn’t mind living in Boston [or Portland...my goodness].

In case anyone is ever curious…yes, I did finally get my lobster roll at Susan’s Fish-N-Chips in Portland, Maine [also got their 2 Fish Sandwiches for $2.50]…

Portland, Maine; while being much smaller then Boston is truly a hidden gem in the New England area. If you don’t know what you’re looking for you will miss Portland, I promise you. However, once you find it, even a few minutes in there will keep you from wanting to return from your original destination. The city overlooks a glass bay, from one side you find people and parks, and everything in between and on the other side you see the cityscape; nothing extremely large, but its beautiful. Modern decor blends with fishing stories and great food. The people are lively, active and engaging. I saw more people in bikes in Portland in one evening then I’ve counted back home in at least a month. It’s peaceful, remote, but large enough to find anything and everything you’d need [did I mention that they have a pretty decent lobster roll?]

...with tarter sauce...

…with tarter sauce…

-D-

Mobile Minutes: Boston Part VI


Blessed.

Every part of why I came up to Boston, Massachusetts was outlined this afternoon. After a rising round of donuts and Dunkin [part one...to be continued] I made my way down the ‘streets’ [ally-ways] to Dilboy Stadium; the field that the Boston Breakers have called home for a few years now.

Dilboy Stadium

Dilboy Stadium

First, the stadium is next to a Gulf gas station [yes, Gulf does exist...I'm as surprised as you are] with a 24/7 Dunkin Donuts inside the building. Second, the field is a mix of a track, football field, and soccer field. The town of Somersville, Massachusetts owns the park and the Breakers rent the field for their game day use. I parked the car and started walking around the field, noting the fences, building style, and the street vendors that were putting up shop outside the field. At this time a bald man was walking down the stadium entrance as well;  the Boston accent almost as evident as the Kansas City Shock t-shirt he was sporting. Indeed, I had found my man.

Meet Ryan, he’s the logistics coordinator for the Boston Breakers, also goes by Mr. Dunkin, and Director of Media Relations. Professional doesn’t even begin to describe the guy. He’s been chatting with me for years on Twitter, literally. Since the Women’s Professional Soccer [WPS] days. However, today was the first time we met in real life. Ryan, along with the GM of the show “LB” were two of the primary reasons I was here. “LB” had been at the WPSL AGM in Las Vegas and Ryan had been keeping track of the Kansas City Shock. Factor in some of our crew meeting Ryan and their head coach, Lisa Cole, in Indianapolis this winter and let’s just say that the connections between the two programs continue to grow.

When I met with Ryan we just talked small talk, got started on setting up the field and the press box. I got a pass to wander around the facilities and just watch it all work. It’s incredible watching a professional organization get their stuff together for their home opener. Sure, not everything was perfect [when is it ever?], but it was so smooth. You could tell this program had been around the block a few times. Their new sponsor; Ocean Spray [yes, that one] was already noted on the runner boards [advertising boards] and jerseys. “NikeSoccer” was plastered everywhere compliments of the National Women’s Soccer League [though it has not been formally announced as a sponsor for the league], and people were running around in order and structure to the game ready that was four hours away.

While Ryan worked on setting up all of his computers, iPads, and glow sticks in the press box “LB” was spotted in the bleachers talking through the ever-so-needed walkie talkie. Thank goodness he remembered me from Las Vegas. After a few minutes of chit-chat he asked about my seating, and I had purchased a ticket [of which I do not regret], but “LB” had other plans. He gave me a ‘pitch side pass’ [for NASCAR fans this would be a pit pass] and showed me my seat that was on the field, literally a few feet from the sideline.

Bonus points!

Bonus points!

Score.

Several times I found myself just standing there watching everything ‘grow’, it was fascinating from the start…and humorous at times. I stepped out of the stadium and saw merchandise tables going up, and I started to chat with everyone I met. The passion of these people were unreal. Here are all these individuals spending their Sunday’s setting up a field for a game in which they’re not even getting paid; they’re volunteers. Welcome to the world of women’s professional soccer…still. While eyeballing the gear my eyes laid upon a phone cover. Yes, an iPhone 5 cover that had the Boston Breakers on the back of it. Interestingly enough I had just been upgraded from my company to an iPhone 5. With that was this request,

You have a $50 budget to get a phone cover.

This cover was $15. So, before I knew what had happened I had swiped my company card through the Square [very easy by the way] and I now own a Boston Breakers iPhone 5 cover. I did this for two reasons: first, it’s a nice cover for the iPhone 5 and it’s the Breakers; secondly, because I enjoy messing with our accountant at work and I’ll be curious to see her remark about the iPhone 5 cover purchase in Boston, Massachusetts.

This will save my phone...multiple times in its life.

This will save my phone…multiple times in its life.

Once I had received the cover I spent some time in the press box, meeting members of the local media, seeing the video for live streaming being set up, and again…just watching.

As we moved closer to the 6:30 PM EST kickoff the players started to show up, the coaches appeared, and with that…the fans. It was a sold out, and I’m not talking “sold out because we gave away all the tickets” sold out…I mean a packed house in the cozy 2,500 seat stadium with standing room.

Note: Due to the crazy harsh winter the new 1,000 seats that are to be added across the field haven’t been installed, but they are coming.

Children, parents, the elderly, and even the mayor of Somersville all came out tonight. Additionally, Cheryl Bailey, the commissioner of the National Women’s Soccer League also stepped in for a few words. The air was frigid, the wind was blowing, but when the players took to the field it didn’t matter. At this point I had found my seat, but also noted a friend of mine from Facebook was sitting in some seats a few rows behind me. Again, like Ryan, I went hunting and found the man with his three daughters. It was refreshing to see people that are just as genuine in real life as they are digitally [no Catfish issues here]. After the national anthem, the game got started.

For the first 45 minutes I froze and waited, cheered and froze, looked at the audience and froze some more. I despise Nike and that $50 hoodie was sounding more and more appealing as I thought of it. At halftime I had to move around, so I figured I’d try some local grub. Indeed I went for the Italian Sausage food cart. For $13.50 I got a massive dog and bun and more fries then I knew what to do with. It…slid down…just fine. Always worth taking a look at local cuisine when the chance arrives. Sadly I was not able to bring the food to the seat on the field, and it did include me looking at a security guard and saying,

Ah ya kid’n me? Ah, faugit ’bout it!

…I had to try it at least once. While munching on some fries I was greeted by two more people that I had spoken to on Twitter for quite some time, in fact one of them before I met Ryan years back. Again, the sincerity was instantly noted when talking. It’s insane to think about the amount of people that were at this game across the country, that were pulling for the Kansas City Shock on a daily basis. Trust me, these people know us and they like us…a lot. After a man told us to get down since the game started I worked on a few more fries and headed back to my seat.

A few minutes passed and I saw “LB” talking to the Cheryl Bailey of the National Women’s Soccer League. Honestly, as the CEO of the Kansas City Shock it would be a crime if I didn’t find a way to at least greet the woman who was to guide…so much. I watched “LB” pass by, along with one other man [who turned out to be an owner of the program]. Cheryl was alone, texting on her phone.

I made my move.

Realistically, there is nothing smooth about anything I do. I’ll confess to that, and this was no different. She was sending a text and hadn’t noticed that I was standing next to her. After putting the phone away I was able to awkwardly greet her, play the ’20 name game’ with her, and then introduced myself. It was…awkward. The Kansas City Shock is in the Women’s Premier Soccer League, and this is the commissioner of the National Women’s Soccer League [go ahead basketball junkies...break out the ABA/NBA stories]. We just shot the breeze for a while, but I enjoyed her passion for not only what she was doing, but her entire passion for actually growing this league. She was realistic, but also optimistic. A blend that isn’t easy to find these days. I asked her a few questions about the league, and she answered as I expected…vaguely, primarily because we can’t predict the future of any of the programs. Fascinatingly enough we left one another in peace by…exchanging business cards? Yes, as strange as it seems, I can now say that I received a business card from the commissioner of the National Women’s Soccer League, a small victory in my book.

IMAG0460

These are real and cool. Yes, they’re really cool.

After sitting back down [and freezing] I spent the rest of the match watching the game, including a game tying goal in the 91st minute of the match (90 minute game with extra time for injuries and fouls) by the home team; of which the crowd went insane. I was able to chat with this older man sitting next to me, screaming his ever-living heart out. His family actually houses two of the players that are out of town, we took some time to talk about that experience, and how much he loved having this opportunity.

When the game had finished, I hopped up to the press box to give the ‘pitch side pass’ back to Ryan. It was then that things went from fascinating to awesome. Before I knew it I had followed him onto the field. So, I’m surrounded by all these players and suddenly it occurred to me:

I need to find the Aussie, we have common ground.

I met Kyah Simon for the first time ever tonight; very gifted athlete, very humble soul. We chatted on briefly, but we did talk about her, her club back in Australia, her time here, and I brought up our Aussie as well…these are professional athletes, individuals I should never have met had my life continued its original path. It was unreal.

Finally, after all was said and done, I found Ryan on the field once again and of all the people that I had met, there was still one I hadn’t:

Ryan, is there any chance I could chat with Lisa?

Several months ago, I had received something from a coach, some words of encouragement that meant the world to me. It was perfectly placed, perfectly timed, and did exactly what should happen from a coach…it motivated me to do better. Interestingly enough it came from a person I had never spoken to in my life; the head coach from the Boston Breakers. If nothing else, tonight I needed to at least say thank you.

Here came this short woman [everyone in Massachusetts...minus Ryan...is short] in a Breakers coat, and she didn’t even do the formal introduction; she knew exactly who I was:

There was a rumor saying that you’d be here tonight.

That was from our GM tweeting to her last night…

We walked and chatted for a few moments; talking about life, the game, the world I’m in, and her thoughts on the future. Just as before, only in real life, her words of wisdom just sank in. I’m not sure what her gift is, but I wanted to listen and learn. “Focus on yourself and your situation, everything else will work itself out.”

Afterwards I said my farewells to Ryan, spoke to a few more media individuals, and headed across the street to Dunkin Donuts [part two] for coffee.

On my way to the hotel; recapping the entire afternoon/evening. This game, the environment, the words, everything…it was all exactly what I had looked for. Everything that I was hoping to find in Boston was there. I felt/feel recharged, optimistic, realistic, and determined. The mixture of the respect tonight, the excitement of the environment, the encouragement, and even the discussions I’ve had recently with my girlfriend all combined just as a perfect reminder that I’m exactly where I need to be.

It’s fascinating how a game, a random city, even more random people can unknowingly take what God needs you to hear, and ensures that it is exactly what you hear.

-D-

O: Deep Breath


Will someone please tell me how it is already April?

A letter greeted me at my apartment today; a reminder that my lease renewal is up at the end of this month. Fascinating considering that it feels like just yesterday I stepping into this place for the first time. Yes, I will be renewing it for another nine months. While I do find the constant commute to KC a bit annoying at times; being removed the ‘bulls-eye’ of business can at times be very refreshing.

It’s already Sunday, and I’m still awake. I took today and was productive; cleaning up for the past several weeks that I’ve been running all over the place. Kitchen, bathrooms, dining room, and living room were all addressed. I’m still needing to work on the office and bedroom. Got a brief run in, and then took some time at a U-8 Peeps Soccer game. I cooked my own lunch, and had some leftovers.

I lived life.

I looked at my budget and cringed, noted bills, and hung up my recent diploma from Subway. Lit a new candle, and drank some coffee. Had burgers with my girlfriend for dinner, and complained about weight, health, and fitness following.

I guess this is what is called ‘real life’.

Regardless of how you term the notion of what ‘real life’ is, it comes and grabs you whether you’re ready or not. It’s insane to think that just over a month from now the Kansas City Shock will be in full swing. Tickets are being sold, and some very…weighted…topics are on my desk.

I see MC and Jim every-so-often, but living apart [even thirteen miles] has proved to drastically limit our interaction time [and home cooking]. MoVal is churning along after a great Easter weekend last week, and Dur is getting ready for coaching courses in California later this month. Jo is back on Facebook, and my girlfriend talks to her rather frequently.

Snow has melted, proposals have been made, and marriages are on the eve. My monthly magazine from my alma mater greets me with the same news of budget moves, new hiring’s, and expectations for the future. I run when I get the chance, and as of late I’ve really fallen short of my own expectations. I’ve argued with my girlfriend, and as of this evening…came out the humbled loser. I still make mistakes and I dream of getting this website turned into book[s] when the time allows itself.

I try to listen to dub step music just to give life a different age; almost as my way of reaching out to my youth and breaking free of the grips of this new reality. However, even there the melodies and drops start to blend into the next and the next.

I’m not sure what I dream of anymore. A few nights ago I woke up from a dream, and it was disappointing. Very realistically I had become the President of the United States of America, and was able to give the opening address to open up the Summer Olympics [the US had obviously finally found a way to get the Games]. It was a new world, set in a distant times. Magnetic bullet trains, and vast vegetation surrounded my experiences. Phone calls, family, and all around joy brought about by the Games and personally because somehow…I was the President. Compared to the several, consecutive nightmares that have befallen me in the past, this was a nice change of pace. However, as goes with any good dream; sometimes waking up is the worst part. Outside of that though; I dream about the day’s events; meetings, soccer, business, Subway, traveling, cities, etc…

Life is calm. I’m not suggesting that this is a negative aspect, but it is a change of pace from the rapid past three years. I suppose I’m transitioning in a pattern, a cycle, maybe maturing? I wouldn’t safely suggest that idea at this point.

I do not necessarily see all of these adjustments in past weeks as a negative change, but due to the transition of life [and lack of writing] it’s something that has definitely caught my eye as needing to be penciled into the daily accounts of this individual life.

Surrounding suburbs entertain me, and specific greasy spoons in downtown entice me; marriages aren’t forbidden, and the hostility of what once was is nearly non-existent. I still don’t want a two-story house, but that’s because I hate stairs. The white picket fence could be alright; I guess.

Am I losing motivation? Ambition? Passion? I would hope not, but the fear does seep in from time-to-time. I hope I’m not losing my edge, or becoming too old to wear my hat backwards.

With thunderstorms in the forecast tomorrow, in my world the seasons officially change. Boston comes up next weekend; as I head out of town for a few days.

Perhaps I’m just meandering around, but…I hope that in my personal world; a bit of fresh air and some deep breaths can kick me back into high gear.

-D-

#getyourpraiseon


Today I requested an archive of my Twitter account since its creation (in 2009 for those curious). Even through +33K 140 character tweets it is amazing to see the progress of life. It snowed today, I’ve been running everywhere because I’m employed. I’m writing presentations because I’m part of an incredible organization. I get to experience all of this in a very unique, beautiful area of the world, and spend some very precious time in a church in the middle of nothing. I have a beautiful girlfriend that is attached to me, and refuses to let go…no matter what. I live on my own, with supportive parents just down the road, and frankly:

I’m loving life like God has loved me.

Get your praise on!

-D-