Thursday, July 29, 2010

Every Day Is A Birthday

I've been fielding questions for the past several days from friends asking what my "big plans" are for my birthday. I think because my life is normally so busy in general, everyone expects some kind of superhuman craziness out of me on "The Big Day."

But aside from a fire drill in my building sometime between 6-10 PM, I have absolutely no plans for "The Big Day." And it doesn't concern me in the least. Because birthdays are like life. Some of life's moments are big, colorful, momentous and unforgettable. Some are peaceful, easy, and simple. And as hectic and my life has been lately, I've actually been looking forward to peaceful and easy. Besides, my life is pretty darn awesome on a daily basis, whether it's my birthday or not. Isn't every day a cause for celebration?

Then I got a text from a friend who was preparing for an interview where one of the questions was, "Do you have a philosophy for work and for life?" And I realized I do. My philosophy is this:

Live every day like it's your birthday.

Birthdays are a celebration of life. The day you were born, the world changed irrevocably. And it keeps growing and changing in new and wonderful ways every day you're here. With every choice you make, every experience you have, every investment of your time and talent, and every person you touch or share your life with, you change the energy in the universe! Sometimes it happens in little ways, and sometimes the changes are big. But no matter what size the impact, it's uniquely yours. Isn't that worth celebrating?

Special things happen to you every day, if you just pay attention and recognize them. The smile on your face from a silly text message from your craziest friend. The feeling of the sun and wind on your face driving the freeway with the top down. The unexpected invitation to a baseball game. The joy you hear in someones voice when you call them out of the blue. The fun of wearing your favorite party dress and strappy silver shoes to work on a random Thursday.

(Yes, I am wearing this to!)

So don't wait for your "official" birthday to celebrate all the amazing things in your life. Get out every day and LIVE IT.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Farewell to Frolove

We suspected it by the end of last season, but the reality hit yesterday when the theories became fact. Alexander Frolov is no longer a Los Angeles King. Our Frolove is gone, and he's not coming back.

The hockey/business reasons on both sides of this parting of the ways have been exhaustively covered by people more qualified than me to write about them. But reporters, bloggers, and armchair GM's with Twitter accounts don't explore the human factor, which is where I come in.

Alexander Frolov and the Kings started out together young, with great intentions of building a beautiful future together. But like a romance between high school sweethearts, the passage of time saw them grow apart. In fairness, no one ran away at the first sign of trouble. The love was there all along, with both sides trying what they could to make it work.

It was a long, slow decline, but in the end everyone involved recognized it was unrecoverable. It's like looking across the breakfast table at someone you once loved with all your heart, knowing that you still care about them but you have no choice but to pack your bags and leave.

Alexander Frolov, the hockey player, has talent. I hope a change of scenery helps him show it again. He deserves that chance.

I only spoke to Alexander Frolov, the person, on a handful of occasions, at fan events and such. And I use the term "spoke" loosely, partly because I was hopelessly tongue-tied looking into those gorgeous blue eyes, and partly because Fro is so quiet. Sweet, kind, exceedingly polite, and a little mysterious too, with this slow smile that make you feel like he was looking into your soul with those eyes and reading your every thought. I'll miss that.

And I'm not the only fan that will miss the beautiful man that wore #24. My friend Nichole Glaze (aka "The Frotogropher") will be without her favorite subject. Nadine will miss screaming, "спасибо, Sasha! хорошую работу!" during games, and speaking Russian with Alex at player events, prompting him to sign her jerseys "To Nadia"...

And I will miss those blue eyes...

New York Rangers fans, our Frolove is now yours. Take good care of him. And love him well -- just like we did.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Russian is Coming! The Russian Is Coming!

OK, so it's not the start of the Third World War, but it might as well be. Because as much as speculation about the Ilya Kovalchuk-LA Kings free agency negotiations have divided Kings fans ever since July 1st, there is one sure thing to come of out of all this. NOTHING in LA-LA land will be the same when it's all said and done.

This drama has played out like a Tolstoy novel, and today's latest plot twist is a rumored face-to-face meeting between Kovy and Kings GM Dean Lombardi tomorrow. The folks already on the Kovy to LA bandwagon are immediately seeing this as a sign that ink and paper will meet, and we'll finally have a deal that lands the missing piece of the Kings play-off puzzle.

Whether it happens on or not is anyones guess. And whether it happens or not, I remain unconvinced Kovy is the magic bullet to ensure the Kings success. Here are the tangible reasons.

  • Even if Kovalchuk lowers his reported $10 million a year asking price, the Kings still accept responsibility for a huge contract that will be tough to move if things don't work out on the ice as neatly as everyone thinks.

  • The Russian star's demands have changed little since he started talking about a contract extension with the Atlanta Thrashers, where he was team captain. Leaders that are more focused on money than the team aren't leaders to me, and everything about his guy's actions say he cares more about himself than any team he plays on.

  • Yes, he scored 40 goals last year. But so did Alex Ovechkin, and the Caps got ousted in the first round of the play-offs after winning the President's Trophy. Having a 40 goal scorer does not guarantee you a Stanley Cup, folks. You need other things like goaltending, solid defense, etc. Hockey is still a TEAM sport, which is why I love it.
Then, there are the intangibles. IF we manage to land this guy, expectations will be so high no one will have any patience if he or the team don't meet them. Kings fans are already a cynical bunch in some respects, and their cynicism is probably earned after many years of watching their team get close to the big prize, then come apart at the seams. I mean, even The Great One couldn't bring us a Stanley Cup, so why should Kovy be able to do it?

What happens if this is the season he DOESN'T score 40 goals? Then we have buyers remorse, we're stuck with it, and half the fan base will be ready to crucify Dean Lombardi for pushing to make the deal they so desperately wanted in the first place. Or what if he does score 40 goals and we still don't make the play-offs? What then?

But the biggest thing that makes me want to turn away from this deal is the fact that we're having to cajole this guy to be interested. My friend Su Ring hit the nail on the head when she said Kovy is like the guy everyone wants to take to prom. He may be the hottest date around, but if you're the girl that gets to go with him, do you even have fun? My gut says no. Because it's a hollow victory to win him knowing he wouldn't commit to you until he exhausted his options with the prettier girls. You're now the one he settled for, not the one he wanted. I LOVE my TEAM, and they deserve to be treated better.

As the Russian saying goes, "The heart wants what the heart wants." And my heart wants no part of this guy breaking it into pieces. Thankfully there's a lot more to love on this Kings team already. I hope it stays that way.

Monday, July 5, 2010

In Training: The Mental Game

Have you ever started the weekend with grand plans to get so much accomplished, then gotten yourself into such a funk that you not only got NOTHING done, you proceeded to beat yourself up about it? Welcome to my July 4th weekend.

It started with looking at the calendar and realizing I only have 30 DAYS LEFT until my one year "In Training Challenge" deadline. And I'm not where I want to be, physically or, as I quickly discovered, mentally. I've spent the past week getting over a cold, but I've been feeling better every day. So why did I suddenly run out of gas this weekend?

I woke up Saturday morning when the alarm sounded with grand plans to catch up on my lengthy to-do list to get my life back in "perfect" working order. I laid in bed for about 30 minutes pondering just how I would attack the day, then proceeded to roll over and go back to sleep. By 10 AM, I was finally up and moving, but all I managed to accomplish by noon was eating some cold leftover pizza and doing a little Facebooking. So much for productivity!

The more I thought about how much time I had already wasted, the more I lost energy. I figured I was just still tired and needed to sleep more, so I took a nap Saturday afternoon. When I woke up, I was upset I slept longer than I expected and wasted the majority of a perfectly beautiful day. And since my amazing productivity plan was now shot to hell, my brain sapped the last of my energy, and I didn't even want to get out of bed.

But I did get out of bed long enough to do one thing. I picked up a book from my ever-growing pile of unread gems. It wasn't on my to-do list for this weekend, but working through that pile was on the hockey off-season to-do list, so I figured it was better than nothing. And by the end of the weekend, I had finished the book and had the start of a new outlook.

Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral is a celebration of life, love and friendship as experienced by a group of women fulfilling the last wishes of a dear friend. I won't give you the rundown on the whole book, because I hope you'll read it and I don't want to spoil the fun. It's probably the most uplifting book about loss you'll ever read. But one of the other big themes in the book that resonated with me this weekend is the importance of taking time in our busy lives to just BE. As Annie writes in a letter to her friends:

"Just pause and remember....I should have done it more. Just pause, my loves, remember me, and then keep going..."

So instead of beating myself up for everything I didn't do, I decided to appreciate the gift of perspective this book gave me, and I felt some of my energy return. Once again, Coach Nadine to the rescue! She was the one that brought this book into my life and helped start to turn my lousy weekend around.

But my biggest motivation came on Sunday, as I was catching up on blogs of friends I follow. I came across an update from my former co-worker Tiffany Mather. About a year ago, Tiffany's husband Kevin was hit by a truck while biking with friends from his church. He sustained a serious spinal cord injury, lost the use of his legs, and ended up in a wheelchair.

But Kevin's story is one that demonstrates exactly how much power the mind can have over the body. He and Tiffany shared a video of his struggle to get back his mobility, and it's nothing short of awe inspiring.

As I sat there and watched Kevin give every ounce of effort he had to walk using leg braces and a walker, I felt ashamed. How could I let myself get demotivated so easily? Kevin has to overcome obstacles every day that I don't even think about, and here I am being basically lazy. Because I'm a little tired? Why am I not out making the most of all the opportunities I have?

It turns out that Annie and Kevin were just the kick in the head I needed to get going again. So now that my head is back in the right place, I've got 30 days left...and I've got work to do! Time to get to it.