Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Hometown Hero - Todd Helton's Retirement

I don’t know if it is hearing the crack of the bat, eating the foot-long hot dogs, or spending time with my dad, but I have always loved baseball. Baseball is one of the few no-frills sports, that truly is just about the game. There are no cheerleaders, no half-time show, and no grown-men dancing in the end-zone; no, baseball is all sport and no glamour. I learned at a young age the magic of baseball. I held in reverence names such as: Mickey Mantle, Nolan Ryan, Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and about a hundred others. I was one of those rare girls that collected baseball cards instead of Strawberry Shortcake. I remember the day my dad took me to my first baseball game like it was yesterday. The excitement downtown was palpable. My first game was at Coors Field. The Rockies were still in their infancy, and they were playing their first season at the new field. The second I heard the announcer say the hallowed name of Andres Galarraga, I fell in love. There is something so perfect about a baseball game. The field, the players, the game, is just the same as it has always been, and watching a game is like connecting to American history. My dad took me to as many games as he could when I was a kid. I was even lucky enough to see the last game that Ozzie Smith every played at Coors Field. It wasn’t just my dad who loved baseball; I would watch game after game with my grandfather. My grandfather had M.S. for the majority of his adult life, and was confined to a wheelchair, so he rarely missed a televised Rockies game. Watching a game with him was even better than being at the field. He would tell stories of watching baseball as a kid, and yell at the players on the screen that they needed to run faster, or work on their hitting. Needless to say, the Rockies have always been a part of my life, so when I was eleven years old and my mother told me that I was going to get to meet the new first basemen for the Rockies, I was excited.
            My mother works for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, it was Colorado Division of Wildlife at the time, and she said that there was an opportunity for two kids to get to go duck hunting with Todd Helton. She then told me that I was one of the kids that were going to go. I was more than excited, I was nervous. I had never met a pro ball player before. I had a few things signed over the years, because a lot of the Rockies like to hunt and fish, so they would send things home with my mom, but this was my first time actually meeting one. The day finally came, and my dad drove me to the meeting spot. We met Todd and the man who was in charge of the day at a gas station before we headed to a local radio station. Now, when I was eleven, I was awkward, lanky, and had a pixie cut. The man in charge of the day thought that I was the boy who was coming with us, and my dad had to inform him that I was his daughter. I definitely felt worse at that point, and wished I had never cut my hair. Then, we finally met Todd. He is a lot taller in person, than he looks on the field. He said hi to me and told my dad that they would take good care of me. My dad handed me my shotgun, and told Todd that he wasn’t worried about me. We waited for the boy to come, and then we all left to the radio station. I didn’t know that we were going to be on the radio, so I was extremely nervous, the nauseous kind of nervous. Todd kept cracking jokes, and that helped to ease my mind. Once all of the pomp and circumstance was over, we finally got ready to head out duck hunting. I was a little sheepish at first, but then relaxed once I realized what a laid back guy Todd was. Throughout the day Todd told us stories about high school, and a lip fungus he once had. I, of course, found him hilarious. He told us about his time with the Rockies, and he told me about his girlfriend that he was going to ask to marry him. (I even got a sneak peek at the ring!) After Todd took us out to lunch, we did a little more hunting, and we finally got a couple ducks. Todd threw our ducks into the back of his rental car, and joked about having to return it with blood in the trunk. Then, it was finally time to head home. The boy that had come with us had a box of things for Todd to sign, and I had nothing. Neither I nor my parents thought that it was appropriate to bring anything, because I was able to have the experience of just being able to hang out with Todd for the day. So, Todd signed every piece of memorabilia that the boy had brought, and when he was finished, the boy thanked him, said good-bye to all of us, and went with his mom. I shook Todd’s hand, thanked him for the day, and got ready to go with my dad. Todd asked if I had anything for him to sign. I told him no, but that I had had a great day. So he told me to wait a minute while he went through the batting bag he had in his car. He finally pulled out a black batting glove. He told me that that was all he had. Todd signed the glove with a black sharpie, and said that he was sorry that no one would be able to tell it was his signature. I was so excited, and told him that it didn’t matter because I would know. That was it. I ran back to my dad, and never saw Todd up close again.

            Even though I never saw Todd in person again, I have followed his career, and cheered him on. I watched from my college apartment as the Rockies came so close to the World Series, and I watched the Rockies lose game after game from my grandfather’s hospital room. Through it all, I have always felt like I had the inside track on Todd, that he was not only a great ballplayer, but that he was a great person as well. A pro athlete not only took the time to spend the day with a couple of kids, but he helped an awkward eleven year old girl not feel so awkward for one day. So when I saw my twitter feed announce that Todd Helton was going to retire, a bit of sadness washed over me. The Rockies are not only losing one of the best first basemen in major league history, but they are losing one of the best people. Fifteen years after meeting Todd Helton, on September 29th, 2013, I will be at home with my husband and our son, who was born on a Rockies opening day, watching an old friend take his last stand at first base, and feeling the same loss that the rest of Colorado will feel as we say goodbye to number 17. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Dreaming Dreams

Dear Readers, 

The question I pose to you this week is, how many of you are doing the things in life that you have dreamed about doing? Or, is living out your dreams just a childish thought? 

I have put a great deal of thought into this lately, due to the fact that I currently appear to have a lack of a career path. I began college right out of high school, and I knew exactly what I wanted to do. When I began college, I was an Elementary Education major. I knew that I wanted to be a teacher. (Well, to be honest, I loved art and writing, but felt that there was no way to make a career out of it, so I became passionate about teaching instead.) I had volunteered with a special education teacher in my senior year of high school, and I wanted to be able to contribute to this world in the same way that I felt that the teacher I assisted did. When I first started college, I loved my major. I felt like I was working toward an admirable goal. However, the further and further I got into my major, the more and more it seemed like something was missing. First, I changed my major to Early Childhood Education, and then, when I switched schools after my husband and I were married, I changed my major again to Elementary Education and Special Education. My health made school difficult for me, as you all know, so I had a long break after that major change. Then, once my son was old enough, and I was ready to go back to school, I decided to major in English. Finally, I felt like I was pursuing the thing that made me, me. It has proved to be a long and difficult road to achieve my degree, but I love to write. 

Now, back to the question at hand. Am I doing the thing that I have dreamed about doing? I have dreamed about being a writer. I have dreamed that someone will read something that I write, and fall in love with it. I have dreamed of being like the writers whose words constantly swirl in my head and live in my heart. Am I a writer? Sure, I keep this little blog, and I write a million things for myself, but I do not have my completed bachelor's in English, and I do not have a writing career. Therefore, I do not believe myself to be a full-fledged, put it on a business card, writer. I feel such a pull to writing, but I also feel a pull to be responsible adult, and find just any job that pays. This is why I have posed the second part of my question. Is it childish to believe that we should all be doing what we dream about doing? Someone has to pay the bills, don't they? I know so many people who are not doing what they dream about doing. Is it fear, or is it responsibility of adulthood that makes us believe our dreams are not worth the time anymore? 

I put these questions to you, my readers. For me, I am holding on to my dream to be a writer. I may not be considered a writer, yet, but I am holding on to the dream of someday. If I am silly and childish, well I guess, so be it. I have been called worse. 

Until we meet again, count the blessings in your life and give thanks. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

To Makeup, or Not to Makeup? That is My Question

Dear Readers,

Since I have been ill, it has become apparent to me that I have not worn makeup in over a month. To be honest, it feels nice. Don't get me wrong, I love makeup. Putting on makeup every day, is a little like being an artist every morning. I attempt to delicately cover my freckles and dark circles, and then add a splash of color and sparkle to my lips and eyes. I feel confident when I wear makeup. However, since I have not worn makeup in a month, it has occurred to me that maybe I rely on makeup too much. Since when did it become so "unattractive" to have freckles and dark circles? I have put more thought into this subject in the past week, than I have in the entire past decade or so that I have worn makeup. So, I now pose this question to you, my it better to go without makeup? Sure, I have gone without makeup in the past month because I have been in and out of hospitals and at home, but would I dare to go without makeup to work? (Yes, I am aware that I do not currently have a job due to my recent illness, but just go with it.) These are the questions that I have posed to myself in the past week as I am starting to feel better. I have even looked up the history of cosmetics. Allegedly, cosmetics date back thousands of years. Apparently, there is evidence that Ancient Egyptians and Romans used types of cosmetics, such as kohl and red pigment, in order to "enhance" physical appearance. Is that what we are still using makeup for today? Are we solely using it to enhance what is already there, or are we using it to cover-up what we don't want seen? I know for me, I have very dark circles under my eyes, freckles across the bridge of my face, and sallow skin, that I like to cover-up. That is my focus with my make-up application, not enhancing my eyes or lips. I envy women that wake up looking glowing and rested, and never use any kind of product except a smear of chapstick. I have imagined what this country would look like if no one used any type of cosmetic. Think for a moment. It would be drastically different. So, what is the drive for women, and men alike, to continue to paint a face on every morning? I have no answers for you, readers. I only know that I have taken a moment to reevaluate if I am in control of my makeup, or if it is in control of me. As for now, I am still in bed, sans makeup, and I am unsure whether I will ever wear any makeup again, or if I do, whether I will wear as much. I think I want to try to feel confident without makeup for a while.

I have attached a couple pictures of myself without makeup. Not to prove anything, really, but to show myself that I am not afraid to be seen without my arsenal of cover-up.


Well, readers, I hope that this subject is thought provoking for you as well. Until next time, count your blessings and give thanks!