#AffirmationMonday – The Man Who Taught Me it is OK to Love a Kansas Jayhawk

So, the American Medical Association might have some input on making cheerleading a recognized NCAA sport. I honestly don't see why it shouldn't be a sport at that level. They do athletic stuff that would take a ton of training for me to be able to accomplish. I am for it. Happy #AffirmationMonday, everyone!

So, the American Medical Association might have some input on making cheerleading a recognized NCAA sport. I honestly don’t see why it shouldn’t be a sport at that level. They do athletic stuff that would take a ton of training for me to be able to accomplish. I am for it. Happy #AffirmationMonday, everyone!

Yesterday was Father’s Day. I have been blessed with a lot of good male role models in my life. My grandfather, Jack Edwin Allen, is one of them. He also turned 81 yesterday.

For as long as I can remember, my grandpa and I have playfully teased each other about the Mizzou-Kansas basketball rivalry. We used to have a game where if one of us made fun of the other person’s team, we had to give that person 10 cents. A dime is a lot to a 10-year-old. Not so much for a grown adult. Looking back on it, I think it was his way of getting in a few good diggers for a small investment.

1) My grandpa is wise and smart. I think it can just be assumed that someone who has seen many seasons of life will be wise. My grandpa definitely falls in that category. He has had many life experiences and has spent much time reflecting on them and growing from them. And we are blessed to have him share those life lessons and experiences with us.

But he is brilliant as well. To be a civil engineer for an oil company, designing pipelines around the West, you have to be smart. He passed that on to each of his children. It does not take long to realize how smart he is by interacting with him. I do not think I have met someone who processes, contemplates and analyzes like him. I hope to have half of his brilliance at some point in my life.

2) My grandpa is absolutely a hard worker. It is insane. He always has been. But it is crazier the older he gets. He instilled in me early on a strong work ethic and the importance of getting your work done. When my brother and I would spend time with my grandparents in the summer, we did chores with my grandpa every morning. We got to go fishing or go to the park afterwards, but it was always about finishing the chores first. While we were not stoked about it then, it is one of the things that has made us who we are today.

And even though he is now 81, he continues to work on projects and chores as much as possible. It is actually really humorous to watch him help my dad with stuff. My dad will tell him to sit down or take it easy and he just continues working right next to my dad.

3) My grandpa is a fighter. He has been battling lung cancer for a few years now. Even though his body is tired, he continues to fight. I also have a young cousin named Jack. Big Jack is Little Jack’s main male role model. And you can already see the benefits of that relationship. Little Jack is an incredibly smart little dude. He has an engineering brain like his father and grandfather. Little Jack works hard. Last time I was at his house, he came home from his pre-school and immediately would water all of the plants in his yard. Even though it was over 100 degrees.

My grandpa continues to fight. Probably for many reasons. But I think one of those reasons is his love for Little Jack.

My grandpa is a great man. A strong, wise and tough man. He has and continues to teach me many things. I love him and am proud of him. Even though he is one of the biggest Jayhawk basketball fans I know.

#AffirmationMonday – Number Eight – I Have a Beautiful Sister, Her Name is Lydia

This is my mother and me, circa spring 2012. This post is about my sister. But my mother has played a large role in my sister's life. Mainly, birthing her. But, they are best friends as well. I am happy my mother got to have a daughter.

This is my mother and me, circa spring 2012. This post is about my sister. But my mother has played a large role in my sister’s life. Mainly, birthing her. They are best friends. I am happy my mother got to have a daughter. Also, photo cred goes to Melissa Hatfield.

Having a decade difference in age from a sibling is a gift and a curse. Moving out of the house when Lydia was seven led to not getting to know her as well as my brother. We just didn’t get to spend as much time together. But it is an absolute gift in terms of being able to remember every part of her life.

I can still vividly remember the day my parents sat my brother and me in their bedroom and told us we were going to have a younger sibling. I remember the night she was born. My grandma driving laps around the hospital in my mom’s minivan, as my brother and me tried to guide her to a parking place. I remember holding Lydia in my arms for the first time. I remember the first time she smiled.

Here are three of the many reasons my sister, Lydia, is an awesome person:

1) Lydia is hilarious. It is what I hear a lot from people who know her. Or meet her. And it is so true. Mainly the humor comes from this ridiculous sass she possesses. But, one of her best qualities is her ability to see the humor in life. She is able to laugh at herself. She is able to laugh at circumstances and situations. It is rare and contagious.

Being around her or interacting with her reminds me to do that in my own life. To always look for the humor in life. And to laugh often. It is one way Lydia’s life has made mine better. And a way she has made me a better person.

2) Lydia tries everything. As someone who found a passion I wanted to stick early, I respect and admire this a ton. Lydia has done so many different sports and activities. And I think it is because Lydia loves people and relationships. She constantly wants to get to know people and develop new relationships with others. It is incredibly refreshing to hear about and watch.

I love talking to my mother and hearing her talk about what Lydia is up to. What her new hobbies and passions are. And I love having parents that encourage and support that type of attitude towards life. She teaches me to break out of my comfort zone with people and circumstances. To continually try new things and meet new people. Because it is how she lives her life.

3) Lydia is brilliant. She has always had a large vocabulary. She very much benefitted from living in a house with people a lot older than her. But she has a desire to learn. She loves to read. She seeks out people older than her and learns from them. She absorbs everything.

I think what is most impressive is how smart she is about life. She is incredibly mature for her age. She gets life. She gets that it is about relationships and people. And to get that at such a young age is so wonderful.

Lydia has a beautiful heart. She is accepting of all types of people. What’s more, she loves all types of people. It is that passion that makes her see the humor in her own situations and circumstances and relationships. It guides her to get out of her comfort zone and try new things and meet new people. And it has made her “life-brilliant.” She teaches me new things all of the time. I love her and am proud of who she is.

I spent the first ten years of my life not being able to imagine having a younger sister. I have spent all of the years since not being able to imagine what it would be like to not have Lydia.

*Editor’s note: There was an interesting (brief) article this morning about why people live in Oklahoma when it is so prone to tornados. First,  I am not entirely sure why this is a question. I am not sure where tornados rank with other natural disasters in terms of prevalence and destruction. But couldn’t you ask the same to someone who lives on the coast about hurricanes? My experiences with people in Oklahoma is akin to people from other Heartland states – hardworking, loving and always willing to help others. That would be enough to make me want to stay somewhere as well. Tornados or not.

*Editor’s (second) note: So, I ran a race this weekend. The success wouldn’t have been possible without a HUGE group of supporters near and afar. I am blessed with amazing friends and family who constantly support and love me. Also, it wouldn’t have been possible to train at the intensity I have been able to without an enoouraging and flexible staff at Partners in Routt County. Not only was I allowed to leave for runs in the middle of the day, they constantly showed interest in my training. They were all at the race on Sunday (two of them running themselves). The encouragement has been humbling.