Archives For Loss

How others see you

December 26, 2016

I’ve read several people’s personal opinions on social media and have heard others talk about how 2016 needs to end already due to the fact that a lot of terrible things have happened this year.

Being able to tuck my three children into bed at night (metaphorically speaking as they each grow more independent by the day) and seeing my husband’s eyes looking back at mine reminds me that I don’t have anything significant or real to complain about. Hanging out with my parents, my sister, and extended family over the holidays gave me much perspective in terms of what I have. As compared to what so many others do not.

I’d imagine if you asked people who ran into me this last year how they might describe me, you would hear something like “happy go lucky” because that is how I try to carry myself. Even when I am feeling neither happy nor lucky.

I shared back in August how I lost my cousin. A beautiful, vibrant person who took her final breath and left this earth far too soon.

You learn more about the people whom you choose to associate with when times are tough. During this low point in my life, it was easy to see which of my relationships were strong and which were seasonal.

friends-are-like-trees

I entered a new role within a new company around the same time. Whenever you apply for a job, the potential employer wants to know what’s in it for them. Rightfully so, in exchange for a paycheck, they want to make sure they are getting a great R.O.I.

I’ve taken several professional personality tests over the years and here are my Top 5 “what I bring to the table” strengths according to one such test:

1. Maximizer – I love honing my own strengths and helping others maximize theirs.
2. Positivity – I realize bad things in life happen; I simply choose to focus on the good things.
3. Woo – (Winning Others Over) I enjoy finding common interests with people in order to build rapport.
4. Communication – I like to explain, to describe, to speak in public, and to write.
5. Developer – I like to see the potential in others and help them experience success.

If I could add one more category that wasn’t an option included in the possible testing outcomes, I’d say I want to add value to something remarkable. That’s not too much to ask, right?

My hope for me and for you is that 2017 turns out to be a remarkable year, however you define that to be. In order to move onward, we must say goodbye to the bad stuff in order to remain open to what awaits.

Written by Heidi Woodard

Of life, lyrics, and legacy

November 13, 2016

I am not embarrassed to admit, although I probably should be, that the first time I heard Leonard Cohen’s song Hallelujah was while watching the movie Shrek. That film was released in April 2001, before my children were even born. Yet I remember it was one of my boys’ (now 12 and 14) all-time favorites growing up.

I must not have been the only one who heard those lyrics for the first time care of DreamWorks entertainment because over the next decade, you couldn’t make it through a single season of any of the reality talent shows without hearing young vocal hopefuls belting it out on stage after stage.

Not a single version held a candle to the rendition I heard on Shrek. I don’t know if it was because the male singer had a haunting yet beautiful melody that I didn’t expect to hear in an animated film or simply because his was the first performance of those soulful, yearning lyrics that ever graced my ears.

After learning that Leonard Cohen was the song’s writer, I studied his life and legacy. I was transfixed by the different lyrical interpretations for Halleujah. I added it to my list of Songs that Move Me and I Have No Idea Why so Stop Wondering and Just Enjoy Them Already.

When I learned he passed away on November 7, a familiar thought resurfaced.

Every person should have an understanding of what their life means to others before they leave this earthly world for their next adventure.

So, Mr. Cohen, thank you for giving not only me, but also my son, this classic melody that transcends generations. He learned the words for his third grade talent show and due to his hours upon hours of practicing, so did his little sister. I believe they were 9- and 4-years old, respectively, when I asked if I could record one verse.

 

A few weeks later, I held back tears as I watched my son stand in front of all his grade school classmates and sing this classic without fear or hesitation.

If you’re anything like me, you sometimes wonder when going through the daily motions of life if what you do really makes a difference in the grand scheme of things. How does one know if you are making the most of the years you are given when you are not in control of the quantity of those years, only the quality?

I plan, God willing, to live a long life – struggling to maintain humility and gratitude while living with the knowledge I make mistakes every single day. I also try to make people (myself included) smile every day. To not take life too seriously because we are all in this ride together and one never knows when you’ll be asked to step off the train to allow room for new passengers.

When Leonard Cohen originally penned the words to Hallelujah, he’d have no way of knowing that he would eventually give a mom he’d never meet a memory I will never forget.

Enjoy your week ahead with the other passengers on the train whom you inspire with or without your knowledge.

I’ll leave you with a couple more performances of Hallelujah for your listening pleasure.

Written by Heidi Woodard

I couldn’t think of a better way to follow-up my coaching series (which featured insights from a baseball coach, a soccer coach, a basketball coach, and a volleyball coach) than to share recent and upcoming experiences that are connected to my former softball coach and teammates at Creighton University.

I had the privilege of providing color commentary for the Creighton University vs. DePaul University final regular season conference softball game on Mother’s Day.

It was a memorable experience that I won’t soon forget.

Big East commentary_Woodard and Ryan

Heidi Woodard and Jake Ryan prior to the start of the Creighton vs DePaul softball game on May 8, 2016.

Although my focus was obviously on the game at hand (unfortunately, the Bluejays lost 2-0 to the Big East regular season champion Blue Demons), I couldn’t keep my mind from drifting to the six C.U. seniors, particularly in the bottom half of the seventh inning of that game, who I knew were three outs away from seeing their collegiate playing days come to an end.

I remember what it was like to have to say goodbye to my coach and fellow teammates after they had influenced my life in a way that is indescribable with mere words.

senior day goodbye

Coach and Heidi Geier back in 1999

Brent Vigness

Coach and Heidi Woodard in 2015

There were five of us in the class of 1999 (self-nicknamed the Fab Five) who competed and grew up together for four years. We each entered into college as All-Stars from our respective teams, had our butts collectively handed to us as underclassmen, learned to elevate our game as we matured, and progressively raised our squad’s performance until we left the field as conference champs.

We won, lost, bickered, supported, belly ached, belly laughed, and most importantly believed in each other. As a result, we found a way under Coach Brent Vigness’s leadership, to improve year-after-year before recording our final out against the eventual College World Series Champion UCLA Bruins softball team in the NCAA Regionals.

fab five

Young and fearless: the very best friendships and memories are the ones that last a lifetime

Over the past 17 years, the Fab Five have grown up. We’ve returned to our home cities, married our spouses, started our careers and our families, have celebrated triumphs, and endured losses.

Sadly, the recent loss of a teammate’s mom prompted my reunion with these wonderful women this weekend. Val and her mom, Sandy, are pictured above in the photo of me jumping on my coach. Sandy passed away on April 26, 2016.

Isn’t that how life tends to work? It doesn’t wait around patiently for you to make the time to prioritize people. It slaps you in the face with a wake-up call when you’re least expecting it.

I am counting down the hours before I can see my teammates again and scream out their names in gratitude for the chance to hang out for a few days. I have missed past opportunities to get together…and I know I won’t be able to fly across the county at my every whim in the future…but THIS TIME, well THIS TIME I’m making it work.

Life has moved on with or without our permission. Loss will bring us together again. Love and laughter will remind us how much we mean to one another, even after all these years.

Every athlete will remember the memories made with their teammates over everything else. Crossing the figurative finish line is something to be proud of, but stories are told from one generation to the next about enduring the race itself.

Lastly, before I forget, yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of the longest game in NCAA softball history: a 31-inning epic battle between Creighton and Utah. Even crazier than that, both teams turned around after a 20-minute break to play the third longest game in NCAA history – 25 additional innings. These doubleheader games took place in 1991, while I was still an overly confident high school player. 🙂

Thanks for allowing me to take a trip down memory lane.

Creighton Softball Timeline in the late 90s
1999:
Earned an NCAA Regional Appearance; lost to eventual National Champions UCLA Bruins in tournament elimination game
1999:
 11-3  MVC* record. Repeated as Regular-Season Conference Champs and won MVC Conference Tournament (31-28 overall record)
1998: Head Coach Brent Vigness earned MVC Coach of the Year Honors
1998: 16-2 MVC record. Won the first Regular-Season Conference Championship in Program History (33-15 overall record)
1997: 10-4 MVC record (32-30 overall record)
1996: 6-12 MVC record (17-24 overall record)

*Creighton moved from the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) to the Big East Conference in the 2013-2014 season.

Written by Heidi Woodard