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    Sunday
    Apr122015

    one year status update

     

    A couple years ago when I was planning my move, I knew that somehow I’d have to figure out how I could make connections in my new home.  At the time I didn’t know that my new home would be Cleveland – but I knew the list would be similar no matter where I moved.  Connections are what bind us to a place.

    I lived in Marietta for 30 years.  And I had connections in all different sorts of ways.  Raising children you make friends with the other parents that are sitting with you on the sidelines of your kids sporting events or selling Girl Scout cookies. I had friends from Marietta College baseball.  The bunko group of my early parenting years, and in the past 5 years- Sew La Tea - my every other Friday quilt group.  Co-workers at my job & community organizations. The family friends who have spent Christmas Eve with us and who truly are family. My two book clubs – each of which I miss fiercely.  All of those relationships that I built over the years left me with a wealth of friendships.

    So I knew that I couldn’t replace any of those people or their ties to me and my family.  And you might think I’m foolish to have left all of them to strike out somewhere else. The thing I’ve heard most from people when I tell them my move-to-Cleveland story is “you’re so brave” Really?  I don’t feel like I needed to be brave to move from the place where I had lived for 30 years, loved my job and coworkers, had amazing friendships to a place where I know a total of 7 people.  Oh wait – now I see why people may think that.  I didn’t really think courage was necessary, but I’ve been known to be naïve and not worry about things that I should worry about.  I think that’s worked to my advantage.  Know how sometimes you think “If something horrible happened in the middle of the night – who would I call?”  I moved here already knowing that I could call any of those 7 people that I already knew.  That was hugely comforting.  

    So – one year later, what’s my life like in Cleveland?  Amazing.  I’m so fortunate that I love this job too.  I’ve got a work family that is smart, and kind and doesn’t make me feel like I ask stupid questions as I’m learning this job and this building.  And those of you who know my penchant for entertaining will not be surprised that I hosted the after-work Christmas event at my apartment.

    In my preparation for my move, I made a list of organizations that I could connect with so that I could – you know - connect.  The Purdue Alumni Cleveland chapter, AFS, the YMCA, my sorority (AOII) alumni chapter, book clubs, church, etc.   And I set out to see if any of these groups would be a place where I belonged. - Because that all we’re really looking for isn’t it – a place to belong? 

    Immediately some groups weren’t right for me, and some didn’t respond to my inquiries to get involved.  (Seriously – who knew that organizations had the luxury of turning away the assistance of someone ready and willing to help – someone with years of community involvement?  - And yes, I’m being snarky – I know that they don’t know me, but to be rejected when you’re offering free assistance?)

    I really felt a connection with the women of my AOII alumni chapter. Who knew that all that “sisterhood” stuff we talked about in college actually does last your whole life?   And my AOII association led me to the Arthritis Foundation – our national philanthropy – and appropriate now that I have arthritis in my hips.  I’m on the committees of the Silver Spoon Awards and the Walk to Cure Arthritis – where I’ve met fascinating people who are fun and talented and committed.

    And then there’s the book club I started in my building with a sign in the elevator.  A sign where I asked if anyone would be interested in a book club.  A sign that I thought about for a month before hanging up because I thought it screamed loser occupant of unit #404 is pathetic and wants to start a book club with people she has met but doesn’t know well because she doesn’t have many friends here yet” Now I know that's really not true, but aren't we all are afraid of rejection?  That may have been the only brave thing I've done - but also the best.  Love my book club girls - and we have so much fun that we also have book club halftime – when we get together for wine one evening in the middle of the book club month. 

    So one year later I can report that I've found a lot of happiness in Cleveland. I've made connections in ways I've planned for, and ways that were totally unexpected. 

    You can call it bravery if you like,  I'll just call it an adventure.

     

    (photo above of my current home in the Warehouse District)

     

     

    Tuesday
    Dec302014

    I shouldn't have to choose

     Know that commercial 'My Vikings family became a Vikings, Bengals, Eagles, Steelers, Cowboys Family'?  Well my story is kind of like that. 

    I grew up watching Chicago Bears games with my dad.  (Bear down Chicago Bears).  No - we didn’t live in Chicago, but my parents grew up in Gary Indiana, and that’s close enough.  My dad was given only daughters so we watched football with him on Sundays.  I learned to really love football.  And Walter Payton. (My sister Janice wanted to marry him.  Remember that?)

    I was born and raised in Indiana, and a miracle happened in the spring of 1984 when we got our own NFL team, the Indianapolis Colts. I didn’t care that we might have stolen them from another city.  That they had a rich history in Baltimore - Johnny Unitas and all.   I just wanted an NFL team to call my own.  And from that moment on I became a Bears and a Colts fan.

    And then I married someone from Pittsburgh.  And lived where Pittsburgh was the closest NFL franchise.  And I learned to love the city of Pittsburgh and the Steelers.  Oh we had some years when it wasn’t easy being a Steelers fan, but yet every Sunday that’s where you’d find all the members of my family – in front of the TV, in our black and gold.  When I was divorced I didn’t divorce the Steelers.  After all, I wasn’t a Steelers fan because of him, he’s just the reason why I started to watch them.  I was a Bears, Colts & Steelers fan. 

    Now I know you’re guessing the last chapter in my story.  The Cleveland Browns.  When I told my children that I had accepted a job in Cleveland the first thing Caroline said was “you can’t be a Browns fan”.  Surely you know that the Browns are the Steelers biggest rival.  So I promised I would still be a Steelers fan and I loaded up all my possessions including my Steelers sportswear and moved to Cleveland. 

    Where I live 2 blocks from First Energy field, home of the Browns.  I can hear the cheers from the stadium before the play starts on my TV (7 second delay).  Where outside my apartment window are legions of Browns fans tailgating before every home game.  And my neighbor Chuck is one of the coaches and his wife Kim is in my book club.

    I watched every game and found myself wanting the Browns to play well and win.

    So my heart began to soften towards the Browns.  After all, the fans here in Cleveland bleed brown and orange even though it’s been 50 some years since they’ve had a championship.  Heck, there’s only been one winning season in the past 10 years.  These are not fair weather fans.  There hasn’t been any fair weather here.  Oh I know it’s that way in most NFL cities, but I can’t help but love the way the people of Cleveland love their Browns.

    When the schedule was announced in the summer, my son & I and some of my Marietta Steeler friends got tickets to the Steelers at Browns game, and I hosted them for the weekend.  We put on our Steelers gear and walked over to the game, and I waited.  I waited and listened for my emotions to tell me which team I really wanted to win.  And it was clear to me right away.  

    I am still a bigger Steelers fan in my heart. 

    But. 

    I’ve been a big football fan all my life, and I’ve never lived in a city with an NFL team until now.  Never lived in a place where it’s really ‘my’ team because it’s my city.  I am a Clevelander now.  So I’m not going to apologize for saying that I have now become a Browns fan also.  I broke the news to my kids and my Pittsburgh family over Thanksgiving and the reaction was disappointment but understanding.  I want the Browns to do well. 

    And I want the Steelers to win the Super Bowl.

    I am now a Steelers, Browns, Colts, Bears fan.

     

    Photo above - Me, my dad & my sister Laura at a Chicago Bears game in 2008.

    (Truth be told, I’m a Pirates fan and now an Indians fan – but that seems easier.  You know - American League/National League and all).

    Monday
    Oct202014

    thankful

    We all know unhappy people. And people who are just mean. And sometimes we make excuses for them – because they’ve been making excuses for themselves. And we feel sorry for them.

    This is what we say:

    She/He has had a hard life.

    Her/His_________________(fill in the blank with the appropriate sentence ending)

                     Husband/Wife left her

                     Dad was an alcoholic

                     Mother has cancer

    She/He _________________

                    Doesn’t have many friends

                    Can’t find a good job

    I don’t want to sound unsympathetic or uncaring, because I’m not.  We’ve all had things happen to us that have crushed us and left us broken.  And instead of being miserable we’ve chosen to be happy anyway.   I know a lot of those people.  I am one of them.  So are my 3 kids.  And many of my good friends.  

    Those mean people?  I can't imagine how miserable they must be every day. When my kids were little and were hurt by other kids who were mean I could only think to explain it to them this way: 

    "They must be mean because no one is showing them love". 

    Because there is happy all around you.  Just look. Where do you find your happy? I had many many moments of happiness lately.  And there’s a pattern.  It’s all about relationships.  Friends.  And Family.  And Friends who are Family.  Laughter.  And Bacon.  And children who run up to hug you when they see you.

    My happy is found in all of those places.

    I would say that I hope you’re lucky enough to find it so easily too, but it's not about luck.

    It's about choice

    & thankfulness

    & showing love

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