soccer Tag

p(L)aying forward feels so good

It’s Thursday July 13th now, and I’m still trying to wrap my head around what an incredibly powerful BLR Play It Forward weekend we had just a few days ago. It is always the most bittersweet day of my year.

I will have a full post coming soon with some of my favorite images, but in the meantime here are a couple that show what community and coming together to do something good looks like:

All hands in. BLR Play It Forward 2017

BLR Play It Forward Community Kick Wall Gift

Being a part of something bigger than myself that means something to so many people is by a landslide the best work I have ever done. Love, joy, and time together to celebrate memories is the most I could ever ask for in this life, and I’ve been lucky enough to experience that for 6 years in a row now. This is my team. The rest of the people who support us were all there too, just a few feet away. I’m always so honored to be in such wonderful company.

Thank you.

#RememberCelebrateLive #StrongMojo #PlayForwardGiveBack

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still hearing laughter

I’m currently sitting in my travel office for this week; the counter at the Blue Benn Diner:

Blue Benn Diner

Blue Benn Diner

I can’t get enough of this place when I’m in my hometown for BLR Play It Forward week each summer, even though I miss my coffee buddy so much.

I arrived in Vermont late Sunday night, and have spent the last few days reconnecting with some of my favorite people, and putting the final touches on plans for our 6th annual event that kicks off on Friday night. Sometimes I have to pinch myself at how ridiculously gorgeous this place I grew up in, is:

Vermont Views

Mount Anthony - Bennington Battle Monument

That’s view of Mount Anthony and the Bennington Battle Monument above. I took this photo from the town park where we will reveal our community give back surprise on Saturday. To say I’m excited and proud is an understatement. I’m trying my best to keep things under wraps as we complete all parts and pieces, but I really want to shout from the green mountain tops about the all the good heart and effort so many people have put, into making this special gift happen. I know the families of our girls will love it.

Today this article was published in the Bennington Banner.

REMEMBER. CELEBRATE. LIVE.

It’s so important to remember where we came from, no matter how far we might go from “home.” Giving back is key. Celebrating each day, and the happy memories we have, honors those we might not be able to see in person anymore. Living, realizing today is the day, to go, be, see, and do, is how we respect the clock that doesn’t stop.

Much of this life is so bittersweet. As we carry our bruised hearts around each day, I hope the voices of laughter that remain will always inspire us to keep arms wide open.

#AlwaysLookingUp #PlayItForward #RespectTheClock

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my bluebird of happiness

In the fall of 2011, Honda sponsored a road trip for me. Honda fans voted on where to send me on my Blue Lollipop Road adventure and fortunately that included all east coast spots. That made it easy on me to pick up the car I got to drive in New Jersey, and also put me close to all things Northeast where I had an excuse to see some family and friends. I hadn’t seen this girl in years, but as soon as I dropped in out of nowhere, she was thrilled to host me in New Hampshire:

Play It Forward 2015

Lucky me.

(This photo was taken at BLR Play It Forward 2015.)

I remember sitting in Kate Emma’s living room after kids and hubby were in bed, talking about our friends and past memories of good times in high school. She made a suggestion that we should have a reunion soccer game, and that I host it. Neither of us had any idea what all of this would become next, but that one night of conversation would end up turning into something so much bigger and more powerful than we would ever imagine. Now here we are, about to kick off our 6th Annual BLR Play It Forward event.

As soon as I arrived back in Chicago (where I lived at the time) from my Honda trip, I got to work putting together this alumni soccer game idea, added in some community social events, and a travel scholarship fund. I keep in touch with a lot of people, but for whatever reason I had barely any connections to, or communication with old soccer friends at that time, and I sure as heck didn’t know how to go about starting a scholarship fund. This was one of those times when social media came in very handy. Finding alumni around the world I’d either never met or hadn’t talked to in years would’ve been nearly impossible otherwise.

I remember sitting in my apartment in Old Town on the 23rd floor right above Second City for HOURS and DAYS planning, planning, planning, and not coming up for air during the fall and winter of 2011/2012. I was clueless on all of it but I had never felt so sure about anything in my life, so I just kept calling, asking, messaging, and asking more, and I knew it would all work.

August 18th, 2012 was our first event, and it was by far the most incredible and bittersweet day of my life. I’ve never been able to put into words what that day felt like. All I know is it was this beautiful blur of celebration perfection for these two people who brought so much joy to the world. I’ve never felt sun on my face since, as warmly as I did at that moment we released those blue balloons in the sky after the game:

Balloons in the sky

Everyday since then, I always look up at the sky and clouds in a different way, reflecting on how lucky I am to have time with people who bring so much love and laughter to my life.

Two weeks from today will kick off our event once again. As I thought about writing this post when I woke up this morning, I remembered the hours I’d spend sitting at my desk planning this big dream we had. For those few months it was like everything else in the world disappeared and I was totally in my flow, completely present to what made me tick in every way. I would go to the gym downstairs in the morning for my booty shaking class, and straight back up to my apartment throwing my sweaty clothes in the laundry and wrapping myself in this beach towel I had that I often wore before hopping in the shower so I could send a quick email or make a quick call, etc. I cannot count the amount of times I’d look down at 9PM to find myself still wrapped in that towel, filthy and starving still sitting at my desk. I would jump up looking at the clock, grab a quick shower and fly out the door of my building to the Chipotle downstairs for a burrito before they locked the doors at 10PM.

Full circle:

Guess where I went this morning? Guess where I’m sitting right now? Guess how much time has passed today and I haven’t noticed because writing about Play It Forward and working on the last bit of push for this year is so my jam that hours fly by? Guess what I am wearing? Guess who still hasn’t taken a shower, and guess where I could run downstairs right now if I needed something to eat? Yes; booty shaking class, my desk, a lot, that same towel (Ok, maybe that’s gross, but I have washed it a lot so I don’t care:), me, and Chipotle. I’m just in a different city and it’s 6+ years later.

What does this mean to me? Everything. When you find that thing, that “place” where you could be hungry, tired, and the world could be swirling in chaos around you, and you wouldn’t even notice because you’re doing something that feeds your soul to the core, THAT is being inspired. It’s the power of Strong Mojo. I think that continuing to do that thing/those things throughout your life is key.

Play It Forward 2012:

Play It Forward 2012

Play It Forward 2012

2013:

Play It Forward 2013

Play It Forward 2013

2014:

Play It Forward 2014

Play It Forward 2014

2015:

Play It Forward 2015

Play It Forward 2015

and 2016:

Play It Forward

Play It Forward

…have been beyond special. I’ve experienced that people will show up when you stay inspired, believe in something bigger than yourself, and continue to share it. THE FIELD OF DREAMS IS REAL. Play It Forward is not me. It’s US. It’s the indefinable essence of magic when everything comes together perfectly. It is remembering where you came from, celebrating the memories you have, and living like today is the day.

I’m so lucky to have had such selfless support, help, and love, so I’m able to host this weekend each year. It would be absolutely impossible without all of you, so if you are reading this, thank you. We honor our friends in the best way possible by continuing to come together, and never taking a single day for granted.

Please join us July 7th & 8th!

Keep celebrating.

#RememberCelebrateLive #StrongMojo #AlwaysLookingUp

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the pivot of the strong mojo

Today is Monday which is technically a work day for all of us adults, but it also happens to be one of those work days I have done very little to make actual money. As much as money is a necessary thing, I realize once again on days like this, there is absolutely nothing that could ever make me feel richer than the time I have with all the amazing people in my life, and doing work that makes me proud. I’ve spent my entire day on a project that has meant more to me over the past several years, than I could ever put into words. A few photos from our 2016 summer event:

BLR Play It Forward 2016

BLR Play It Forward 2016

BLR Play It Forward 2016

BLR Play It Forward 2016

BLR Play It Forward 2016

BLR Play It Forward 2016

The original idea for BLR Play It Forward, was to have a travel scholarship that would be gifted each year during our alumni reunion event, to a deserving soccer playing student at my hometown high school in support of them participating in either a language exchange program, a Gap Year, or an adventure travel trip for personal development. The first few years we had great luck with finding deserving students and programs. I don’t think there are a lack of those anywhere. The adults are the problem. (Always:) Let’s just say after this amazing force of nature we created, happening year after year, with all it’s amazingness, we found out that if there are hundreds of people yelling, YEAH! over here, and one or two people pretending they don’t see you over there, you’re better off barking up the tree that wants to actually participate.

So this means a shift for our annual Play It Forward give back.

Starting this year instead of attempting to partner with the school, we are partnering with the community as a whole and we have plans for a VERY exciting gift that will be a permanent fixture in town. All is in the works and will be a big surprise revealed on event day, July 8th.

The point of this post is to say, when you find what you really love, that thing you feel in every ounce of your bones that means so much to so many people, don’t ever give up. The student travel scholarship portion of my perfect dream for BLR Play It Forward worked for a few years at first, and we have incredibly impressive students who were recipients. Raheema is one of them and she’s pictured above. I’m hugging her in the photo at the registration table last summer. She is now a college athlete and we could not be more proud! We’ve watched her grow up and become every bit of the awesome we knew she would be. Now my perfect dream has shifted for this event and where raised funds go, and that’s Ok. The most important goals will always remain the same. There will always be Strong Mojo. No one could ever stop that.

I hope you will mark your calendars for the weekend of July 7th, and join us in Southern Vermont for this weekend of all things old friends and neighbors coming together, with all the new people in our lives, too. We are an all-inclusive kind of crowd, because love rules on this Blue Lollipop Road. Everyone is welcome!

Here’s to the indefinable essence of something magical coming together. 

#RememeberCelebrateLive #PlayForwardGiveBack #DoGood

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BLR PLAY IT FORWARD 2016 KICKS OFF TONIGHT!

Here we go year #5!

Doing good feels good with all the bad and sad news in the world. Tonight we will kick off our 5th Annual event starting at 7pm at Ramunto’s with our Welcome Back Party:

BLR Play It Forward 2016

Ramunto’s will donate 10% of all sales from anyone joining us, back to the Blue Lollipop Road Memorial Travel Scholarship Fund! Come one and all for craft beer, wine, great pizza, lots of specials and fun! 7pm until ?

Tomorrow we will award scholarship funds, play some soccer, the kiddos will do a fun run at halftime of the game, and we will have Celebration Cocktails to wrap the weekend at Pangaea Lounge. Pangaea will also donate 10% of all sales from anyone who joins to the Blue Lollipop Road Memorial Scholarship Fund. They’ve whipped up a special menu of BLR inspired craft cocktails, too. Yum…

ALL ARE WELCOME FOR EVERYTHING! Bring yourself, your lover, your friends, your dog, your kiddo’s, your former coach, neighbor, grandparents, and whoever else you can think of. THIS IS A COMMUNITY EVENT. (Rain or shine!)

Three cheers for the Bennington Banner and writer Adam Samrov who put out this article about our event, today. Thank you, Adam!

Want to get involved, donate/sponsor, or have a question? Great! See event info. here, or call/email Diane:

804.339.6514

Diane(@)BlueLollipopRoad.com

See you this weekend!

#RememberCelebrateLive #StrongMojo #PlayForwardGiveBack

 

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blr play it forward 2016 kicks off one month from today!

What happens at Play It Forward, you ask?

All awesome things like friends, families, and neighbors, coming together (new and old), lots of socializing fun, honoring people we love who are no longer with us, and gifting scholarship dollars to deserving high school students to help support their travel goals. Doing good and p(L)aying forward to give back, makes everyone smile:

BLR Play It Forward 2015 Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 11.23.12 AM

We are all hands in for our community kind of gals! So what’s in the hopper for this year? Well check out our event poster:

BLR Play It Forward 2016

…and mark your calendars to join us!

If you can’t join us in some way for this great weekend in Vermont, maybe think about what really matters to you, and make your own community give back wherever you are. Our Play It Forward theme; Remember. Celebrate. Live:

*Remember where you came from

*Celebrate the memories you have

*Live like today is the day

Pretty good rules to live by, right?

Let’s all go and put some more love into the world by being Strong Mojo Warriors. Here we go, year 5!

#RemembercelebrateLive #PlayForwardGiveBack #Community

*(A shout out and huge thanks here to Nicole Sauer for her great photos from our 2015 event, and Tracy Bushee-Boudreau for her continued fabulous logo and poster designs each year!)*

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things that fill my heart

Today is March 9, 2016 and that means it is exactly 4 months until the 5th Annual BLR Play It Forward Event in Vermont.

WHOOP! 5TH ANNUAL! 

In 2011 when we (a couple of my amazing alumni soccer soul sisters from back in the day) came up with the idea for an alumni soccer game which then turned into a full-scale community event and scholarship fund, I spent months in my Old Town Chicago apartment, floor 23 overlooking The Second City entrance, in my pajamas trying to figure out how to make it all happen. I remember some days I’d go to the gym for an 8 or 9am class, come back home all sweaty and yucky, wrap myself in a towel intending on getting in the shower, and start working only to find it to be 8 or 9pm and myself sitting there, 12 hours later stinky, starving, and still working. It’s kind of amazing how time flies when you’re in your zone working on something you’re so incredibly passionate about. I’d eventually shower, and often times take the elevator downstairs to Chipolte (which was in the same building as The Second City across the street), get a veggie burrito, sometimes a beer and by 10pm be eating my one meal of the day on my couch in quiet. Rinse and repeat this is how those few spring months of 2012 went before our first big event happened on August 18, 2012.

Check this out! I just found a photo of my little desk area in that great high rise apartment I had:

BLR work space

Small work space that cranked out some dreams. I can’t even remember what I used for a chair! Not fancy. It didn’t matter. Boy those are good memories. This scene is where Play It Forward was born. To this day, my best work and what I am most proud of.

I’ve got buckets of photos from 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 – but I will share just one from each year for space sake for today.

2012, balloon release in honor of our friends to kick off the inaugural event:

BLR Play It Forward 2012

All hands in before game, 2013:

BLR Play It Forward 2013

The Blue Lollipop Road Memorial Scholarship award, 2014:

Blue Lollipop Road Memorial Scholarship

Me and “Mr. B” last summer, 2015 – one of our most loyal fans and supporters, cheering us on each year in his same white t-shirt:

Mr. B and I

(That sweet guy was my 6th grade teacher!)

There’s no way I could share here, all the photos and words I have that would illustrate properly the amazing impact we make. This day is so special you have to be there to believe it. (I hope whoever you are reading this, you will join us this summer in some kind of capacity!)

On July 9, 2016 we will once again come together to reconnect, reminisce, play soccer, cry together, laugh together, and give back. I already know it will as usual, be my favorite day of the year. A bittersweet day in this “brutiful” life, where nothing else matters other than coming together to remember, celebrate, and live.

What do you do, to make sure you never forget where you came from?

#RememberCelebrateLive #PlayForwardGiveBack #StrongMojo

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365 day reflections

On this day last year, I was watching a big game at Panther’s/Bank of America Stadium between Liverpool FC & AC Milan as part of the Guinness International Champions Cup with my best friend:

Liverpool & AC Milan

Often times like today, when I’m sipping my morning coffee in silence, I think about where I was exactly one year ago. I jog my memory, then scroll photos to make connections to what I was doing, who I was with, how I was feeling, and how or how not any/all of that has changed. When I reflect, occasionally I feel a bit mad at myself because I know I could have and should have done some things better, and sometimes I laugh & shake my head at myself thinking of embarrassing things I have said or done. The constant that is always there though, in these flashback to the last year moments, is that I always feel a sense of pride for trying my best even when I am tripping up, slipping up, and looking like an idiot while eating huge pieces of humble pie along the way. Mostly, my heart feels full because I’m so lucky to still be here on this planet, healthy, with good friends & family, and I get a chance from this moment on to be better, do better, give more, and live more.

Here’s to recognizing & accepting where you’ve been, because if you don’t look back and see, you can’t move forward and be.

#LiveAndLearn #NobodysPerfect #TheRideOfLife

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playing it forward with forever friends

Here we are a week after BLR Play It Forward 2015 weekend. Thinking about our time together makes me smile. As I work on page updates, stories about what happened during our event, get photos from our photographer, etc. I wanted to share this one:

Good old friends

This is one of the only 2 photos I managed to get during our alumni game time. Things were so busy it was a blur, but I had to grab my friend Kate Emma right after the game while we were nice and sweaty to get a quick shot. Kate Emma suggested the idea of an alumni game when I saw her for the first time in years during the fall of 2011. I’m so glad she did. I took that idea and ran, and now 4 years later (with a lot of help from people like her to make it all happen), we have this amazing annual event that’s done so much to bring our hometown community together. People like Kate Emma mean the world to me. The ones you grow up with know you, they get you, and they love you in a way like no other friends. There’s a unique bond with old pals like Kate Emma that never go away even if our lives run in hundreds of different directions. I feel pretty darn lucky to have such a large core group of hometown ladies who support and love me so much.

Thank you Kate Emma, and to all of my girlfriends from MAU for helping to make my Vermont time each summer so special.

More Play It Forward 2015 wrap coming soon!

#Community #PlayForwardGiveBack #StrongMojoForever

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