Grateful for my Homeland

 

There’s a Will Smith song that comes to mind when I hear the word Miami, but I can neither remember the title of the song nor a catchy lyric from it.  Just know that there is.  As a good excuse to celebrate Cindy’s 41st and catch up with great friends, the Seiberts, we headed to Key Biscayne in Miami for a long weekend of pretty much just relaxing.  It was pretty great and not just because the hotel had a buffet of free Valentine’s Day candy set up at the entrance.

It struck me talking to Cindy on the way down to Miami about what people think about when thinking of Florida that I am really grateful to have grown up in South Florida.  As an aside, we couldn’t really come up with much beyond older folks and sunshine to characterize Florida – would love to know what you think.  Not having an immediate thought pop into you mind when you think about a state’s characteristics isn’t always a bad thing, just ask Alabama or Alaska. 🙂  Seeing the sunrise out of the ocean and enjoying some beautiful weather in February when the rest of the country was dealing with a snowstorm is not too shabby.  Seeing diversity beyond what we have in much of the rest of the country and experiencing all of the benefits of such diversity is also pretty great.  Interestingly enough, seeing waterways everywhere and boats and marine/tropical life (Ibis, huge lizards, etc.) is something I only now realize how much I took for granted growing up as I really enjoyed seeing it in such abundance again.  Lastly, bikes.  South Florida had a huge population of cyclists and on Saturday morning they apparently flock to the Key Biscayne area.

While in Miami we ate at the iconic Joe’s Stone Crab (in spite of the 3 hour wait that no patrons seemed to even flinch at, nor did we until doubt kicked in at the 2:45 minute mark)  and the several decent spots in Key Biscayne.  We wandered the Bayside Mall and enjoyed the marina there with some early day Mohitos from the MojitoBar in spite of their tricky, almost bait-switch pricing tactics (buyer beware).  But mostly we enjoyed relaxing by the pool or over a meal with good friends we see way too infrequently.  If you can’t be grateful for picking right back up where you left off, whether it be with your home state return or with close friends, then enjoyment isn’t your gig.

Speaking of enjoyment – hope you enjoy this brief slideshow as much as we enjoyed the times behind the photos.

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February 2014: Winter Storm PAX!!

After nearly a week of daily updates, warnings, bread loaf ratings of this wintry storm it actually happened. It is not unlike the Charlotte area to talk it up big and not have anything to show for it. This storm came in on Wednesday midday, dropped 6-8 inches on Fort Mill and then stuck around on Thursday to drop another 3-4 inches. A full winter walloping! A storm like this is pretty welcome so long as it only happens once. We sledded, had snowball fights, rolled snowmen, ran in it, drove in it and shoveled it. For 2 days we were northerners. On day 3 it was melted which gives us a leg up on the north.

Fun times for all. Even more fun to drive out on icy roads on Friday morning to fly to sunny south Florida for a Valentines/Birthday celebration with Cindy. We are pretty fortunate folks.

Click here for a sled show of the fun!

 

Go Gaiters! Gratitude

While I am grateful for the run the Florida Gators have been on (15 straight and undefeated in conference play leading up to this weekend’s showdown with Kentucky at Rupp), this time I’m grateful for the kind you wear to keep junk out of your shoes when hiking or running.  This morning the “junk” was snow and ice after getting 8 inches or so in Fort Mill yesterday and another 3-4 inches this morning.  As much as I have disrespected them over the years while hiking, I’ve never run in gaiters before and found odd enjoyment from what was the scourge of my hiking gear as they kept my feet/shoes quite warm and dry on my run.  I had strong doubts as I set off onto the trails behind our house and watched my feet sink in snow and ice up to my ankles or further with each step.  While I knew few things beat a snow run, I now know maybe a snow run wearing gaiters takes the cake.  Like our Gator basketball team is doing for our lame football season, the running gaiters may have redeemed my former negative thoughts about my hiking gaiters (same gaiters).  Gaiter grateful.

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Grateful for Other Cultures

A first for me and my family occurred tonight: we attended a Vietnamese New Year celebration. A wonderful woman named Thi has a Vietnamese restaurant in downtown Rock Hill and she invited Our friend Alex to bring his family and another family to join in on the celebration. We were joined by other friends of her restaurant as well as 15 teachers from other countries who received a grant to come to the U.S. and share/learn with other teachers at Winthrop University – this group was hosted by the mayor of Rock Hill.

The two times I have been to Thi’s, the food has been incredible (Thi cooks it and will bring us what she thinks we will like) and the service is always personal and attentive. Tonight, she outdid herself with a New Year’s festival complete with dancing dragons and tigers. The kids loved it and had never seen anything like it before. Very cool. Very grateful.

Click here for a brief slideshow.

Grateful for my Personal Worst 5k

IMG_2661Yesterday I ran a personal worst in the Oral Cancer Foundation’s Run for Awareness, a local cause with tremendous community backing after the loss of a neighbor, Jeremy Blevins, to this disease (good local paper write-up on the event here).  That’s right, a 50:58 and maybe my favorite 5k I have ever run.  I ran it with my 4 year old Charlie.  We chatted.  We sprinted.  Sometimes we ran backwards.  Often we ran to make circles.  We stopped to look at small bugs on the road.  Twice Charlie said: “Dad, can we take a rest?” and rather than walk it out we sat on the curb and watched runners run by us.  I have never considered sitting down on a run to rest but it was actually quite nice.  I’m pretty sure I could have run the race faster but not sure I could have enjoyed it any more.

There are 3 things I made note of at this event:

1) I didn’t know Jeremy Blevins, but I can tell you he had an amazing family and circle of friends who are closer after losing him to this awful cancer.  There is a light that they have…hard not to think what makes it shine.

2) This community (who have logged over 35,000 running miles in the past year in support and memoriam) cares deeply about each other.  Everyone probably thinks their community is pretty great – ours takes the cake.

3) This family is positively impacting lives in his memory:  nearly $30k raised at a first annual 5k.  People running for the first time because of him.  Awareness raised through free screenings.  People caring about people.

Life can be pretty fantastic if you slow to see it every now and again.