Archives For Year in review

Holy crap, how could 10 full months have already flashed before my very eyes?

10U Lady Cougars team

Special thanks to Kiki’s Kaptures for taking team and individual photos this year! Visit Kiki online at http://www.kikiskaptures.com.

 

I entered this volunteer “job” with a stellar resume – one year being the assistant coach in a recreational coach-pitch softball league. I’m happy to say I only hit one girl that first summer.

I bet you didn’t know that this vast experience automatically qualified me for being named head coach of a more competitive, yet not overly dominated by adults, youth fast pitch softball team. Neither did I. Yet I was offered and accepted this role back in August 2016.

Girls fast pitch softball divides their levels of play into two-year increments. Therefore, the earliest that girls start competing in games where they or their teammates perform windmill pitching in my home state is 8 and under (keep in mind the “under” can be as young as 7 or, GASP!, 6 years old), which is more commonly referred to as 8U. Once girls age out of 8U, they move on to 10U, 12U, 14U, 16U, and finally 18U. A select few move on to play in college and an even more select few play as professionals or (in those years when the sport of softball is included) as part of the Olympic games.

I think the 10U division best suits my personality type and patience level. There have been many moments in life when I wouldn’t mind being that age again, so hanging out with this particular group of girls turned out to be good for my soul. However, I wasn’t sure how the season would unfold back in those first few months last summer.

softball bruise

We definitely took some bruises early in the year…literally and figuratively.

 

Back when I was asked if we would be doing “bumping” practice (translation: one of my girls wanted to know how to bunt). Back when we devoted several hours at three different practices on leadoff timing, only to watch half the team stand like petrified deer completely upright on top of every base with zero clue of what to do once the ball left the opposing pitcher’s hand. Back when not one, but two players, got hit smack in the face by their throwing partners because neither of the pairs knew what in the hell was going on during warmups. Back when I was more concerned about the team as a collective making any contact with the ball whatsoever at the plate versus raising any single individual’s batting average.

Our saving grace is that we had several pitchers who could throw strikes on a consistent basis. It was as if the softball Gods looked down upon me and said, “We will bless you with good pitchers because we realize you don’t know jack about how to teach that.”

tourney time

Strong in the eye black category.

 

For all of the mental and physical player miscues, there were equal if not greater amounts of coaching blunders on my part. Those times when I had to be reminded of the code to get into the hitting facility or practice field because I failed to save a simple reminder on my phone. The times when I frantically texted parents about my anticipated tardiness to practice when my real job ran late. The time when I not-so-subtly reminded an opposing team’s coaching staff about the age of one of the players I was teaching as they barked out their objections to her leaving the base early while they were annihilating our lesser experienced team. The time when I expressed my opinion to a home plate umpire who got in the way of a throw to cost us a potential out.

Boy was it a learning year for ALL involved. I didn’t always give the game back in the heat of the moment, but I’d like to believe I tried my hardest throughout the year.

And here’s the kicker: This hodgepodge group of girls, the majority of whom I had never met prior to last summer, has made an infallible imprint on my life.

park play

They believed they could do great things together…so they did.

 

I handed out certificates of recognition to each of them. I purposely chose to do that before the end of the season because I’m not always the best with goodbyes. These certificates encapsulated what I felt each girl brought to the team. I promised the parents in the form of a letter that I handed out at the beginning of the season that each girl would know, regardless of her natural talent and coordination levels, she has a vital role to play on this team.

Below is a listing of the descriptions on those certificates of recognition. My hope is that the girls will remember being called out in front of their peers and parents – not for something they fell short on, as unfortunately happens far too often in youth sports, but for something spectacular that they accomplished.

  1. Team Toughness Award
  2. Leaving it ALL on the Field Award
  3. Spark Plug Award
  4. Small but Mighty Award
  5. Powerful and Patient Award
  6. Leadership by Example Award
  7. Maximum Effort Award
  8. Grit and Fit Award
  9. Killer Instinct and Curiosity Award
  10. Smiles for Miles Award
  11. Strength in the Batter’s Box and Giggle Box Award
  12. Persistence and Positivity Award

I am willing to put money on the fact that, even into their early adult years, many of these recognition descriptions will still ring true about their core personalities. I had the privilege of watching so many innate strengths come to life.

To the 2016-2017 Lady Cougar 10U softball team, all I can say is you helped me evolve as a person this year. You proved to me that very small bodies can do very big things when they put their minds to it. I love to watch you play.

Written by Heidi Woodard

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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

Knowing how great life is

January 9, 2016

How’s life been treating you?

I’m guessing your answer to that question is probably influenced by your age, whom you depend on and who depends on you, the person you see staring back at you in the mirror, the struggles you’ve endured, the triumphs you’ve enjoyed, and how you personally define happiness.

Whenever asked, my go-to answer is normally “good!” without a second thought. But, depending on different life circumstances, what actually swirls around in my brain is more like this…

I can’t believe I’m leaving home to go live somewhere else for college.*

I kinda like Ryan Woodard. Like…a lot.

Saying goodbye to my teammates after all these years, and all we’ve been through together, is the worst.

I’m going to marry him. Are we technically grownups? This is crazy.

Finally graduating school…look out real world…I’m coming for you.

These can’t actually be the ONLY houses in our price range. Are these even up to code? Will we ever find a home?

What do you mean there are no paid breaks between New Year’s and Memorial Day? That can’t be right.

It’s surreal this will be our last dinner together as just the two of us before bringing a mini version of ourselves into this world.

I have to plan my social life and sleeping schedule in three hour increments because this kid is so hungry.

I kinda want to punch Ryan every time I wake up and see him next to me sleeping ‘like a baby’. Where did that stupid phrase come from? Our baby doesn’t sleep.

Returning to work sounded good on paper. But, man, it’s hard functioning with my head in one place and my heart in another.

I can’t believe our little boy will soon have a baby brother. I can’t wait!

What on earth were we thinking?

Trying to keep up with daily demands and hold it all together.

I’m not exercising as much as I used to, but at least I’m doing something one or two nights a week.

It’s not exactly the career path I’d envisioned, but it’s stable.

How on earth do people keep their homes ‘Open House’ clean all the time?

Why isn’t there a punch card for ER visits that every mom of boys automatically receives before leaving the hospital?

One last look before we close the door for the final time on our first home. I remember the day we moved into this place and our first night sleeping in the basement on nothing but a mattress. Such a great memory.

I guess we’ll be living in an apartment while we wait for the new home to be finished. With two small children. And two dogs.

Finally found our forever home, or at least where we’ll be until our kids leave us behind.

This is a longer commute than I’m used to.

MaternalMedia is officially launched! Online therapy. Less pressure than actually writing a book. I wonder if anyone actually relates to what I ramble about?

A trifecta of kids? WHY NOT?! Flat stomachs are overrated.

The rumor is indeed true: Girls are a different breed. She has strong opinions about what she’s doing and wearing and eating and planning. As a preschooler, she looked me over from head-to-toe and asked me if today was “mismatch day” at my work. It was not. 

I will do this damn triathlon if it kills me. There’s still an athlete buried in here somewhere!

I am guaranteed uninterrupted ME time if I stick with running.

Ryan is a supportive husband, a fun dad, and a caring coach. I think I’ll keep him.

My plan is to win over a dynamic duo of radio DJs and then keep showing up in their studio until they beg me to leave.

OHMEYEGAWD ALL OF THE KIDS NEED SOMETHING 24/7.

Goodbye friends. Goodbye sanity. Goodbye running. Goodnight Moon.

Hello minivan. 

I’m tired of working on auto-pilot. Eject! Eject!

New job. New challenges. New team. Onward.

I’m going to GiveTheGameBack because I love to watch my kids play.

I’m happy.

I’m exhausted.

Dark room, blankets, foo foo drink, Netflix. These are a few of my favorite things.

I never fully appreciated my mom and dad while growing up.

I’ve got the best parents and in-laws in the world. I would be lost without them.

How blessed am I to have colleagues like these doing the work that I do? Hoping for the best as my future lies in someone else’s hands.

I have to stand on my tip toes to see into the eyes of a boy who once weighed 8 lbs, 14 oz, and whose entire body was 22.5 inches long.

We are soon going to have three different kids in three separate schools.

My dog won’t live forever. But I will love my dog forever.

* I have retained very few memories prior to 1995.

 

So that pretty much summed up the last 20 years with one caveat: I left out some of the bigger experiences that have helped me gain perspective and cherish each new day for the blessing that it is.

Losing my grandparents, rocking my children back to sleep in the middle of the night, getting to know the woman whose son gave my mom a second chance at life, skiing down a mountain side with my dad, traveling to tropical get-aways with my husband, saying goodbye to one of our dogs, appreciating  just how far friends are willing to go to support me and my dreams, embracing the chance to serve as a witness when my sister marries her longtime girlfriend, staring in awe as my children morph into free-thinking, uniquely incredible people…hard to adequately articulate what these moments mean to me.

I do know that, in my 39th year of life, as my dear friend Ashli so eloquently puts it:

At least I get to spend the rest of my life knowing how great life is.

Video forewarning: Ashli’s favorite thing about life is connecting with people and once you hear her words and see her smile, you will forever be changed for the better. Take time to watch this beautiful video that was originally posted on the Her View from Home Facebook page and is sponsored by Team Concepts.

The next time someone asks How life’s been treating you?, be honest. If not with them, at least with yourself.

Take the time to genuinely thank those who have made your life great. Say goodbye to people or things who don’t.

Thank you for coming along on this journey that I originally thought was just a blog…but turns out it’s been so much more for me.

Written by Heidi Woodard