Sailing and Life

 

The kiddos and I just recently returned from a great trip to Lake Norman, an annual tradition around the 4th of July with family-friends that have a house there.  Ella is one of my mother’s best friends and her and her husband Dennis are also the kids God-parents.  We have been going to visit them at least a few days each year for about 5 years.  We have such a good time getting away and spending time there.  When we’re there, we enjoy swimming, fishing, paddle boating, kayaking, and just relaxing by the water.  They have a great place with a nice size dock, a beach area and plenty of space for the “Circus” as they call the Wells kiddos.

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The last couple of visits there, Christopher and I have enjoyed “learning” to sail.  The girls enjoy it some, but they typically just want us to get them back to shore fairly quickly.  As you can see in the picture below (a little grainy), Julia just wanted to pretend she was “Maona” on the bow.  Plus, it’s a small sail boat and four of us on it is probably a little much.

 

I grew up going to the lake during the summers to enjoy our time on a regular motor boat, where we could ski, knee-board, tube, or just ride around the lake enjoying the wind in our face.  I had never attempted to manually sail a sailboat.  It’s ironic, but I watched “Moana” last night for the first time with the kids.  There’s a scene where Moana “makes” Maui teach her to sail and it reminded me of Dennis coaching Christopher and me on “how to catch the wind” and how to “tack” and “jib.”

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Christopher and I really have fun getting the boat out on the water, but it is not easy to sail, even on the smallest of beginner boats.  We had to learn when to pull the line tight so that the boom (a large aluminum pipe holding the bottom of the sail) would allow the sail to capture the most “air.”  It was important for us to understand the “feel” of when to tack (to zig zag) in order to maintain speed, while at the same time steer the rudder so that we got close to where we wanted to go.  Many times we would get going fast enough to make a small wake and the slightest turn would cause the sail to go flat and we’d stop and just float until we could figure out how to harness even the slightest breeze to get us moving again.  Occasionally, we would catch a large gust of wind and the thrill of the speed and the excitement of having to lean back out over the water to keep the weight balanced was so exhilarating, yet sometimes a little scary.  The boat never turned over, but came close a time or two.

We enjoyed those exhilarating moments immensely, however, a good steady wind was what we preferred.  With a consistent breeze we could pick up good speed, yet also have the opportunity to improve our sailing capabilities without having to worry about flipping the boat.  I do have to admit the air would “go still,” and the emergency oar did have to be used a couple of times to get us back to the dock.

 

Sometimes life can be like sailing.  There are times when you haven’t experienced certain situations that you have to use your “gut,” or “feel” to overcome adversity or figure out a dilemma.  In life, we also have to be determined and patient in waiting for, finding, and going after that breeze or what we’re searching for or what is needed to get us moving again.  When things aren’t going so well, or get hard, we may have to find our oar and start rowing to make things happen.  Finally, many decisions or actions take us to those “oh shit, we’re about to tip” moments.  By digging deep, hanging on tight and fully committing ourselves to find that proper balance, we typically come out unscathed and onto steady and calm waters.  In life, we can’t be afraid to tip, but we have to be ready to bail the water when we do.

Happy sailing!  Have a great week!

 

 

10 Minute Brain Dump

Some call this a Stream of Consciousness, but I’m going to call it a 10 minute brain dump. I’m new at this blogging but have really enjoyed getting my thoughts out, whether it is as a post or on paper for a future post.  I have had some help from a friend that has been very helpful with ideas and insights into this new journey I’m on with my blog.  This exercise is one of her suggestions.  So, the goal of this “Brain Dump” is to just write for 10 minutes.  Let’s see how it goes:

It’s Saturday afternoon and the kids and I are having a “veg” day.  They have their feet up, all on one bed, watching one of their favorite YouTube Channels.  I doubt they will take a nap, but it’s been a very busy week for us with a 5 night visit to Lake Norman and then to Chimney Rock.  We are all spent and need this day to chill.  Hannah does want to go to Goodwill to get some “Large” shirts to lounge in.  We may just do that since I have basically had to buy all new clothes from dropping 25 lbs since Christmas.  I have an entire closet full of clothes that don’t fit anymore and can be of good use in someone else’s closet.  With the kids having their feet up, I am spending my time this afternoon just resting and relaxing myself; a perfect time for writing.

chimney rockSo I’m starting to get a little anxious about this upcoming week.  This past week has been amazing and we have had such a good time.  I took off work and have enjoyed every single minute with the kids at the lake, but I know that Tuesday looms when they are going out west with Amanda and won’t be back for two weeks.  The anxiety of knowing I won’t see them for that long is so tough on me.  Since Amanda and I have been separated, the anxiousness of having to tell the kids goodbye for any length of time has been hard on both of us, but two weeks seems unbearable.  Skype and Facetime just aren’t the same as having them here with me and seeing them daily.  I will say though, it has gotten a little easier for the weekly visits, but I have had to learn to get busy and stay busy when they leave.  The silence without them here is deafening and can really get me down if I don’t find something to do.  I have found myself going to the lake to run, going to the gym, or even going to browse the grocery store aisles just to buy my protein mix.  I’ve also found some consistency with my guitar and something that I’ve gotten really addicted to is writing.  Getting my thoughts out on paper can be so refreshing and healthy for me.

Going through this separation, and the immense changes that come along with it, has motivated me to spend time reflecting on my past and how I’ve lived my life till now.  I give immense thought to who I am, my values and how I can ensure that I’m doing all that I can to be a better dad, a better man, a better friend, and a better husband, when and if that opportunity presents itself again.

My timer is not up.  I’m at 9:19 but I’ve got to call it wrap because there is a knock down drag out happening upstairs between Julia and Christopher…. Dad hat on!

“After My Time Is Up” Note:

I know most of you may ask, “Matt, you only had a little time left and you cut it short?”  I have to say that the floor above me sounded as if Christopher and Julia were body slamming each other to go along with the yelling.  Once I got them seated on the couch, I learned that their argument was over Julia breathing on Christopher and her “twitching.”  Christopher decided it was bothering him so much that he wasn’t going to let her watch his IPad anymore…. Julia did’t take that very well.  “Christopher, wouldn’t it have been easier to say, Julia, you’re breathing on me.  Could you please stop.”  When I asked him if he thought of that, he said, “Yes, I told her a year ago that I don’t want her breathing on me.”  SMH….  There was an admitted hit and a shove to go along with the yelling.  “IPad is mine for the rest of the day! Read, draw, take a nap or play together with the hot wheels.”

 

Sunrise

I woke up this morning with a few topics that I’ve been writing about to share, but the beautiful sunrise this morning pushed those topics aside for another day…..you can probably see why:

 

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It’s Sunday morning, sitting in an Adirondack chair just feet from the shore at Lake Norman watching this amazing sunrise.  “Almost Heaven” is how I’ve described it.  Heaven to me is beautiful, peaceful, awe-inspiring, calm, full of light, joy and happiness….this is almost heaven.

I’m up before everyone else with my cup of coffee, just the sound of some birds welcoming the new day.  Closing my eyes as the sun is rising, feeling the warmth of the rising sun as it moves above the trees on the horizon.  It’s so peaceful as the slight fog drifts along the top of the water so effortlessly.  It’s the start of a new day, a blessing that so many times we take for granted.  Nothing we can do will change what we did yesterday, but the new day gives us an opportunity to do more, to do what we wished we should have done yesterday.  The new day gives us another chance to learn from our pitfalls or the pain we may have caused by words spoken in haste or the actions we made towards others, or even how I got onto one child and not the other one because I didn’t “catch” the entire act.  The sunrise represents a new day to play a little longer with the kids, to make the most of our time together.  It represents a new day to encourage the children to be adventurous, to take risks (not dumb risks), but to try something challenging, to not be afraid of messing up, and owning it when they do, something we all need to do.  This sunrise represents a new opportunity to leave a mark on someone else, to be an inspiration by how we treat others and to live the day to its fullest as if it’s the last sunrise.

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Christopher has started listening to Lecrae on my Spotify account.  Lecrae is a christian rap artist and while I loved 90s hip hop and rap back in the day, I really don’t think I can tell you a song, or maybe even a rapper’s name unless it was one prior to the year 2000.  I listen to so many types of music, including today’s pop, just not rap.  So, a few weeks ago, I turned on my Spotify, put my earbuds in and started out on a run around Lake Junaluska listening to the “This is Lecrae” station thinking, “Let’s listen to what Christopher has been listening to.”  Now, I’m not changing all of my music playlists to rap, or even christian rap, but I have to say, the storytelling in these songs is so well communicated and leave no room for misinterpretation on the meaning or the feelings.  The beat of these songs is great for a 9-minute per mile pace too.  If you see me running around Lake J, waving my hands in the air “like I just don’t care,” or like we use to when we heard “Hip Hop Hooray” back in the day, don’t judge me, because I’m probably just feeling it with Lecrae.  To bring my thoughts full circle, a line in Lecrae’s song “Just Like You” says, “I wanna be like You in every way, So if I gotta die every day, unworthy sacrifice, but the least I can do is give the most of me…”  This sunrise represents a new day for me to give the most of me to God, to my children, my family, my friends, my coworkers; to give the the most I can, of myself, each and every day!

It’s time for another cup of coffee, but I just don’t want to move.  The view, the warm embrace of the sun, my mind just dumping thoughts, memories and emotions out so fast that I just can’t keep up….no paper to write on, just the phone’s note feature to capture all it can take.  I considered doing a video “blog” of my thoughts and the view but I have some serious bedhead and probably even eyeball boogers, plus, I want you to use my thoughts, the descriptions of the sunrise and the emotions felt for you to imagine your own story as if you were sitting in this blue Adirondack by the lake; the sun rising on your new day.

Enjoy your Sunday.  I’m going to refresh my coffee now, peek in on the sleeping kiddos and leave this seat for you to enjoy…..

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“The Greatest Show on Dirt”

Late Monday afternoon, I returned from an amazing 2,200 mile road trip with my dad and my sister to The College World Series, “The Greatest Show on Dirt,” in Omaha, Nebraska.  The trip was not only a bucket list “check” for me, but most importantly for my dad, Andy.  Dad, or “deddy” as I called him when I was little, coached and cheered me and Sally through years of baseball and softball.  Long drives in his 1981 Datsun truck, after getting off early from work, to make sure we got to our all-star games or travel ball tournaments on time, always having time to make a stop for a Gatorade, sunflower seeds and Big League Chew.  This trip was for Dad, who I called after my first semester at Wofford when I realized I probably didn’t study or take my education seriously enough, putting even my baseball scholarship at risk due to that first semester GPA, “Dad, what are we going to do?”  His response, “Son, it’s not what we’re going to do, it’s what are you going to do?”  This trip was for him, our Dad, but became a trip for all three of us!

 

The journey started when Sally called me last November and said, “Hey brother, what do you think about me and you taking dad out to the College World Series next year and we can give it to him for Christmas?”  Sally still calls me “brother” to this day; I guess it goes back to me being 12 when she was born and I was always brother when she learned to talk….kind of like “daddy” or “mommy”, I was “brother.”  Okay, I digressed a little, but for a lot of you that know me, I’m not always the most spontaneous person that just says “hey, let’s drive 1,100 miles and go watch the College World Series.”  I have to think about those things…but I said, “uh, yes, of course,” fairly quickly when Sally asked me.  In the back of my head, though, I was thinking, “what about the kids, time off at work, how much is this gonna cost……?” Within a few weeks, Sally had a 3 bedroom house rented through Airbnb….we were booked and we were going to the College World Series in June 2017!

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Start of our road trip!  11:00PM Wednesday Night

We set out on our road trip last week when Sally and Dad got to my place around 10:00 Wednesday night.  The plan was for us to sleep for a few hours and get up and go super early.  Sally said, “He Bro, why don’t we just leave now and drive through the night?”  We left at 11:00 PM on Wednesday on our 17 hour drive to Omaha, Nebraska….while it wasn’t as I had planned, driving all night made more sense once we got on our way and especially once the sun came up; Sally got a full night sleep through the night, finally waking at our breakfast stop at Cracker Barrel in Mt. Vernon, Illinois!  Getting there at 4 o’clock in the afternoon versus 8 o’clock was nice.  We capped off the evening with three great Omaha steaks, a salad and a beer; at 8:30 all three of us were conked out on the couch, of course, watching that night’s game on TV.

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Friday and Saturday were all about being at the park watching baseball and experiencing the College World Series in person.  As a baseball player for almost half of my life, into my early 20s, there was hardly a year that I didn’t watch the series on TV and dream of playing there one day.  Here I was, early Friday afternoon, with my Dad, sister and the largest smile on my face walking into TD Ameritrade Park to watch the final four teams play at the College World Series.  While I never got to play there, my dream came true because I was there in person to see, smell and hear what the Greatest Show on Dirt is all about!

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It was a long, whirlwind of a trip, but one that I am glad we did and one that I want to do again with my children one day.

Memories of this trip will be with me for the rest of my life.  Yes, we were at the College World Series and yes, we checked off a bucket list item that many sports lovers have, but this trip was more than the bucket list check of going to the “Greatest Show on Dirt.”  This trip was about giving back to our dad; his two children putting him first for a change, giving him the opportunity to check off one of his bucket list items, to thank him for the many sacrifices he made for us.  The trip was about Sally and I spending quality time together with our dad, experiencing new things, watching baseball, drinking beer, laughing, singing; just being us, a son, a daughter, a brother, a sister and our dad, together; something we’d never done before!

I don’t know where this blog is going to take me, but I am glad you stopped by and I hope you’ll continue to join me on this road trip.

Goodnight!