BLR Play It Forward 2013

celebrate everyday: day 8


Today is January 8th. Teachers’ Day/National Teacher Appreciation Day is not until May 8th, so I guess I could’ve waited to celebrate and shout out to my favorite teacher until then, but I don’t like following the rules (shocker), so I choose today instead. He knows I’m not a rule follower, so the fact I just sent him this image I saved recently won’t be a surprise:

Can't Stop Talking

Quiet and shy have never really been my thing. My poor teachers. I always respected them (if mom ever found out there was any disrespect…whoa), but boy I know I had to have been a chatter-boxing pain in the you know what to have in class.

Thank goodness for teachers like Mr. B! (Now¬†“Charlie” because I’m an adult, but I’m still not used to calling him that.) This man somehow had the magic that so many awesome teachers do, to keep kids like me on task back in the day when I was distracted with things like laser backgrounds, boys, and acid wash:

1990 Class Photo

Flash forward from the 1989/1990 school year and now since the beginning of BLR Play It Forward, Charlie has come out to support me. We always have a lunch date (his wife included) during the week when I’m running around doing event prep, where we talk about all things life, then come the big day, we get our annual photo together. The first year in 2012, I was showered and clean after our alumni game at the art gallery that was part of our celebration:

Me and Mr. B

…every year after that, not so much on the clean side, but smiling all sweaty from soccer and being in good company of course. 2013:

BLR Play It Forward 2013


BLR Play It Forward 2014


BLR Play It Forward 2015


BLR Play It Forward 2016

(Five for five in the pouring rain and thunder!)


BLR Play It Forward 2017

Notice anything besides the fact that we look younger ever year? ūüôā

Charlie’s shirt was never planned, he just happened to wear the same one on year 2 and 3, and then it became a thing.

It feels pretty special as an adult, to become friends with your teacher. Especially your favorite one, and especially because you get to simultaneously apologize to them for being mayyyyybe just a bit stubborn back then (who, me?!), and thank them, for being a positive part of shaping you.

Today I celebrate teachers! The grossly underpaid set of amazing people responsible for corralling all us monkeys and enlightening us, even when they’d probably like to throw us in detention for a week for being sassy little things.

Who always shows up for you? Send them a thank you note. Continued support from people who see promise and believe in you is a seriously big deal.

Thanks, Charlie! A million apples for you.

#LoveYourWork #TeachersRock #Community

*Want to send thanks to someone and don’t know how? Call me! (804.339.6514) I can help.


go get ’em, girls!

I feel like such a proud Mamma today.

Long ago I hired a mousey, quiet, seemingly timid college kid named Crystal to work for me. I saw something special in her I knew for sure most people missed. In the 10+ years since then, I’ve watched her do amazing work in the communities she’s lived in and grow into this strong, intelligent woman who knows exactly who she is. She’s this perfect mix of sweet, kind, and silly, but serious and driven too. One of those watch out, you’ll never see me coming in all my awesomeness, but I’m going to continue changing the world into more of a positive place kind of people. She posted something on Facebook this morning about her new adventures on the west coast and a new job she’s starting. She decided she wanted to move there, made a plan and just did it. No surprise she’s already “making it”- she believes in herself and goes for it. Love that girl and her spirit. It has been an honor to tell her potential employers over the years they’d be fools not to hire her because she’s the best.

I got an email today from one of my¬†BLR Play It Forward year #1 scholarship winners, Raheema. She graduated in June and told me she was¬†going to SUNY Cortland in the fall. She’ll be majoring in athletic training, and doing indoor & outdoor track. Though I’ve only seen her in person a couple times since 2012, I can sense how much she’s grown and I have no doubt she will do amazing things. According to my hometown Mount Anthony Union High School 2015 yearbook, she’s Most unforgettable:

Unforgettable Raheemah

I agree! Another person I’ve been lucky enough to come across who embodies that undeniable zest for life that always makes everyone she meets, smile.

Then there comes other BLR Memorial Scholarship winners Mercedes Chen & Jami Mathers who came bounding into Willow Park last month for our Alumni Soccer Game portion of BLR Play It Forward, 2015 – with big grins, words of thanks, and gifts for me from their trips they took with their earned scholarship funds:

BLR girls

Unfortunately I didn’t get to spend but a few seconds with them as I was running around trying to make sure to cover all my event organizer bases, but I could feel from their thanks, and see from their excited faces in the short time we had together- their lives are never going to be the same. They’ve seen new parts of the world and new parts of themselves. That was precisely my hope, my biggest goal and dream when starting the Blue Lollipop Road Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Life gets crazy, It’s not always easy, there are good times and bad, and you wonder if you’re ever doing anything right. Then days like today happen and you truly feel the gift that it was indeed possible you made a positive difference in someones life. This is a beautiful feeling.

I’m so proud of these young ladies, so thankful to all the ladies in my life, (some still on this earth, and some in ¬†other places), who’ve inspired and supported me always. I can’t wait to do more to give back for all that’s been given to me.

#Unforgettable #PlayForwardGiveBack #Believe


blr do-gooders!

Well happy Monday to me to wake up to an email from my 6th grade (and might I add, favorite) teacher of all time, Mr. B this morning:


Here is a picture from the front page of today’s Banner. I thought you’d like to see. Nice t-shirt, eh?¬† Good choice for the scholarship. Hope you are well.

And then there was a link to this:Making BLR proudYay! How proud are we of our July 2013 Blue Lollipop Road Memorial Travel Scholarship Winner, Mercedes Chen?!

BLR and Mercedes Chen

We thought she was deserving of our scholarship dollars in 2013, and to find this surprise today in May of 2015? That. Is. Awesome. I love that someone we chose for a winner, who embodies the spirit & zest for life our friends had, continues to do good for the community we grew up in.

High-fives & BLR love to you, Mercedes! Glad you are wearing the BLR colors with pride. Keep doing what you’re doing!

#GreenUp #HometownPride #NeverForgetWhereYouCameFrom




Today is Wednesday October 16, and this makes b-day number 5 for BLR. Let’s celebrate!

Cupcake anyone?!

She-Daisy Cupcakery Cupcake

This is the perfect time to write about the above de-lish treat (sun drop pound cake with a sun drop glaze and lemon buttercream) that Wendi, Owner of She Daisy Cupcakery gifted me a few weeks ago after she bought a pair of my vintage Frye boots. (Craigslist rocks.) So yeah, I took a treat from a stranger. (I seem to keep breaking all those rules our parents told us to live by.) Wendi was a blast to talk to. She quit a career that was blah, followed her passion to the land of things sweet- and voila a cupcake company! Another good story about a random encounter with a hard-working, inspiring person who followed their heart. I love being able to share about these kind of people here.

Without a doubt the best part of these past 5 years on the Blue Lollipop Road, has been meeting new people, the kindness of strangers, and spending time with those already in my life that I love. What else is there, really?

Ahhh- yes, the people I’ve met along the way, who share similar interests:

Million Mile Joe

Hood River, Oregon travel people

Allen & Judy Kirkwood on Alaska Ferry Boat

Meet Jack Burrows: Blue Lollipop Road

…the cities I’ve fallen in love with:

Chicago skyline from my apartment

Toronto view

…my various office locations:

Blue Benn Diner Office

Coffee Shop Office

Finger Lakes Office

My BLR Chicago Office

Coffee Shop Office

Coffee Shop Patio Office

…the food I’ve noshed on:

Chicago Brunch de-lish

Food truck tacos

Bongo Room Pancakes

Blue Benn Diner breakfast appetizer

…the places that’ve helped me find the way back to myself:

Thank you Argentina! I found myself again

…the signs that make me laugh:

Signs at The Chocolate Barn

Signs In Bathrooms

Upstate, NY Road Signs

Farmer's Market

Funny Signs: Blue Lollipop Road

Funny Signs: Blue Lollipop Road

…the excitement, energy, and adorable kids (and adults) who keep the Strong Mojo alive:

BLR Play It Forward Day 2012

Ben & Sam with blue tongues

The Carter Girls playing mini gold in BLR tees

Blue Lollipop Kids!

Caleb & Carter with blue tongues

Scott & Sierra love blue lollipops

…the adventure from coast to coast and beyond:

Cape Elizabeth, Maine

BLR-Mobile at the Alaska Border

BLR in Bermuda

The original Blue Lollipop Road: Cafayete, Argentina

Henna in India

Bermuda sights

Iquazu Falls, Argentina


"Crabbing" in Ketchikan, Alaska

…the lessons I’ve learned:

BLR inspiration

…the special friends I’ve reconnected with:

BLR Play It Forward Day 2012

BLR Play It Forward 2013

BLR PLay It Forward Day 2012

BLR PLay It Forward Celebration Cocktails 2013

…honoring lost friends by giving back to hometown female athletes, so they have the opportunity to go out and see a bigger world too:

BLR Memorial Scholarship recipients Hannah Patterson & Mercedes Chen

(Above left 2012 Blue Lollipop Road Memorial Scholarship recipient Hannah Patterson, and 2013 recipient Mercedes Chen at a recent soccer game:)

…events with good friends in beloved landmarks:

Cubs at Wrigley!

…the strangers out there who’re also on the Blue Lollipop Road:

BLR partners in crime

…the freedom I have found and felt:

Finding freedom on the Blue Lollipop Road

Finding freedom on the Blue Lollipop Road

…the truths I’ve come to know and trust:

Knowing what makes me richer

…the journeys and daydreaming in the sky:

Plane ride to Bermuda

…and on the road:

VA farm country

…the cheesy places I’ve been:

BLR-Mobile at South of the Border

…and the beautiful:

Napa hot air balloon mornings

…the nicknames I’ve acquired:


…knowing that there will always be bumps, so I better strap in tight:

Buckle up on the BLR

…never losing faith in things that I hope for:

I think so too

Things I wish

…and to wherever, and whatever- the road leads to next:

The Blue Lollipop Road

5 years ago today I drove down a road in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and “Blue Lollipop Road” popped ever so randomly into my head as I was brainstorming a best way to share my stories with more than just family and close friends. Who knew this is what it would become! I’ve managed all the¬†above on a shoestring budget and with no plan whatsoever. I didn’t grow up with a trust fund, I never spent my childhood jet-setting the globe with my parents (I barely made it out of the state of Vermont until I was 15), I’ve never taken any writing or computer classes (I’m sure that is very obvious considering my regular grammatical errors and other:), and at the risk of sounding so cliche’- I’m just a small town wildly curious kid, that came from humble beginnings, learned in an heartbreaking incident at a very young age how short life is, and since then have decided that every day is a chance and a choice to live like I mean it. During my journeys on this Blue Lollipop Road,¬†I’ve learned things that’ve absolutely changed my perspective and my life as a whole, I’ve seen places that’ve taken my breath away, and I’ve met people I wouldn’t have been able to in my wildest dreams- all because of this platform. Now that is something to celebrate!

I’ve written and shared here in and effort to keep myself in check and awake about what’s really important, to prevent myself from falling into the drone-zone, and to remember all the things that are possible. I hope by visiting here, you stay fired-up about life, like a kid in a candy store too.

Here’s to the next 5 years, and to going for it all.

What are you celebrating today?

#HappyBirthday #LifeOnTheBlueLollipopRoad #ThisIsWhatILove



Thinking about my girls. 19 years ago today, my life changed forever.

I’m so thankful for every minute I have with the people I love, and with those who make me laugh. I’m thankful for memories I have, that will never die. I’m thankful to have known 2 people that showed me pure joy and zest for life when they were here, and who continue to inspire me to be fearless and live fully every day even though they’re gone.

This is for you Maria & Brandy:

Diane's blue lollipop tattoo

I miss you every day, especially on this day- but the power of the blue lollipop always makes me smile and feel like you’re right here with me.

How do you remember your friends?

#BlueLollipops #MyGirls #Soccer #BlueLollipopRoad


to you, mom

In light of recent sad news of some friends who’ve lost their moms suddenly, the fact that you are the one who gave me life, and generally that I feel like the luckiest kid on the planet because I feel so loved by you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week- I wanted to write to you- on my birthday today.

Thank you for always being there for me, through the good, bad & ugly:

Me and Mom!

Thank you for shared meals, shared time, and always good conversation:

Me and Mom!

Thank you for laughing with me and toasting with me:

Me and Mom!

Thank you for always being my first call on my Birthday to remind me of the exact minute I was born, and to tell me for the millionth time- that you love me.

Thanks mostly though, for fully supporting every hope, dream, and goal I’ve ever had (even when they sound crazy), thank you for being selfless, honest, genuine and tell-ya-like-it-is, thank you for never questioning me or my instincts, thank you for helping to make sure I always keep a mindset that anything is possible, and thank you for teaching me what truly matters are the people and time together, doing things that mean something real:

Me and Mom!

If every kid was so lucky to wake up every single day of the year like me, and feel so loved, supported, and happy to be alive because they had a mom like you.

I’m living my dreams, Mom. I’m laughing, I’m loving, I’m trying, I’m doing, I always fight the bad days away because I know the good ones are there. I’m having fun and I am happy. I can do all these things because of the strength and heart you’ve instilled in me. Thank you for the¬†life you have given me. I promise to never take a day for granted. Ever.

Thank you, Mom. It is indeed a very happy birthday today. I love you so much.

Why do you love your Mom?

#ItsMyBirthday #MyMomRocks #LoveYouMom


traci, kate emma, and me

Traci, Kate Emma and I at BLR Play It Forward 2013

Here are the three of us, all good and sweaty after the alumni game during BLR Play It Forward this last month!

These ladies are two of my most favorite. Traci (left) is my former high school soccer coach, the person who taught us all as young girls this special “Strong Mojo!” you hear me talk about often, and she’s such an incredible artist, mentor, and person- I can’t even put it into words. Kate Emma (middle) is my former high soccer teammate, the person who had the original idea for me to host an alumni game, she has a heart of gold, is one of my oldest friends, and we share a special bond that I can’t put into words either.

As I started uploading this years event photos- this was the first that popped up. How awesome. BLR Play It Forward and the Blue Lollipop Road Memorial Scholarship would have never been born had it not been for Traci and Kate Emma. They not only had the initial idea for a game, but helped me package up and execute my additional ideas that now make up this annual full-scale event. These two helped make a dream come true for me that was years in the making; Honoring our two lost friends by showing their families how much they both still mean to us, bringing former teammates, and community members together to encourage maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle, and awarding a scholarship to a deserving student athlete to help her reach her travel goals. Spending time with the people that mean the most to me- those who truly understand the heart and soul behind Blue Lollipop Road, and awarding the gift of travel which I know enriches a life in indescribable ways- has meant more to me than I could ever share.

As the 8/18 anniversary approaches this year, I am more thankful than ever, for all the amazing people I have in my life, and in my memory, that help me never forget how lucky I am to have each day.

Thank you for every minute of support, and love, every encouraging note, and for being two of the most incredible people I know Traci and Kate Emma! I love you ladies!

To the forever Strong Mojo…


2nd annual blr play it forward wrap up coming soon

As I wait on the photographer for event photos so I can write my big event follow-up, here’s one fun photo that makes me smile:


Don’t tell anyone- but we dipped our blue lollipops in champagne after the game:)

That’s Tommi with me. Tommi has come and participated in Play It Forward both years, she used to be my “Big Sister” when I was on the varsity team. She’s still a killer goalie and a total blast. Tommi represents just one of the amazing alumni women who I love to see during our weekend of events. It’s such a treat to experience reconnecting and laughing together, as if a single day hasn’t passed since high school.

Thank you to all the incredible MAU women’s alumni who came this year.¬†Love and Strong Mojo forever!


it’s blr play it forward event kick-off day!

Wahoo! Could I be any more excited?¬†It’s been go, go, go since my arrival back from the Adirondacks and I am loving every minute of it.

Today is Friday July 12 and time for Play It Forward round 2!

I’ve picked up jerseys (pink and blue) for registered alumni, and the t-shirts (white) we will be selling tomorrow:

2013 BLR Play It Forward jerseys and tees

(Kids white tees $10 and adult white tees $15.)

I’ve picked the lollipop supply (Thank you for the donation for the second year in a row¬†Willy’s Bakery & Variety Store!):

Blue lollies!

(We might force you to eat one when you come to the field tomorrow:)

I’ve picked up the farm fresh goodies. (Thank you for the donation for the second year in a row¬†Clear Brook Farm!):

Clear Brook Farm Veggies

(Of course I had to test out a couple of my recipes last night. Twist my arm sampling such yummy locally grown food! Guests at Howard Park tomorrow get ready for some good healthy eats!)

Clear Brook Farm Veggies

Clear Brook Farm Veggies

I have the Vermont Voltage coming tomorrow to hand out free tickets to their July 17th Premier Soccer Club game at Apple Jack Field:

Vermont Voltage Logo

Finally, We have picked a winner for the 2nd Annual Blue Lollipop Road Memorial Scholarship that’s awarded in honor of teammates Maria Green and Brandy Brown who we lost in 1994. This scholarship winner will be announced at 1pm tomorrow during the Strong Mojo Summit at Howard Park before our 2pm Alumni Game. I’m thrilled to give another travel scholarship to a deserving current female soccer player from my hometown, and I can’t wait to reconnect with all the inspiring alumni who come out to play, and all the great old friends, teachers, neighbors, and other wonderful community members who come out to support BLR!

We kick-off the weekend of fun events tonight at the Welcome Back Party at 7pm at Madison’s Pub and Brewery, so come one and all! Husbands, wives, partners, friends, soccer players, non-soccer players, everyone from the community is invited! Madison’s has agreed to donate a % of bar sales after 7pm back to Blue Lollipop Road! Yay!

Tomorrow night (Saturday) we have Celebration Cocktails at Pangea Lounge at 8pm to wrap up our weekend. Pangea has generously offered to donate 10% of all sales from BLR Play It Forward event traffic, so please come out to join us for some specialty cocktails created by their staff just for us!

Donations from all of you out there during the year are what keep BLR/BLR Play It Forward/The Blue Lollipop Road Memorial Scholarship Fund going and growing, so a huge thank you to everyone for such amazing support to help this dream come true again in 2013! Together we can encourage people of all ages to stay curious, to maintain a healthy & active lifestyle, and to be fearless in pursuit of goals.

Here’s to a most fun and memorable weekend for the whole community!