Thursday, August 29, 2013

Restoring my Normal Routine

It's been a different kind of summer, with community responsibility taking over from my precious routine. Between a big Sweet Adelines concert in early July, our Chopped show on August 4th and the Hotshots Fundraiser at Talking Rock on August 19, I am worn out. Now that those major events are successfully behind me, it's time to guide my life (and my temperment) back to something more normal.

"Normal" here is a good stress-free night of sleep, langorous mornings with coffee, some golf, a little housework, perhaps an errand, and an evening relaxing at home or with friends. I'm used to this rhythm. It's good for me. I stay busy, but in the ways I want to be busy - not according to anyone else's schedule or priorities.

Patio project almost complete!
I'm anticipating, with pleasure, this Labor Day Weekend which will bring a friend's housewarming party, a chili cook-off and festival, and a golf scramble. Our enhanced patio will be ready for social gatherings in a little more than a week. October will bring a visit to New England to see Mom and to spend a few days on Maine's seacoast. Song of the Pines chorus is beginning to rehearse Christmas songs in preparation for Prescott's festive holiday season.

Change is in the air... A shifting of seasons and a move back to normalcy. My arms are wide open.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

An Emotional, Magical Day

Talking Rock's Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew Golf Tournament and Fundraiser took place on Monday. After just seven weeks of planning driven by a steering committee of five and supported by dozens of volunteers, we hosted an event that our club manager called "historic". Our small community raised over $247,000 for the families of our Hotshots. With a little more work, and some luck, over the next few weeks we may meet our lofty goal of $250,000.

How did all that money make its way to our small community? Our members were generous, buying playing spots in the golf tournament, sponsoring holes, or writing donation checks. They found corporate sponsors willing to buy sponsorships beginning at $5,000 - up to $10,000. One sponsor combined two for a $15,000 sponsorship. Businesses and individuals were convinced (by our volunteers) to donate items for our silent and live auctions, which generated $54,000. Our club, Talking Rock, was the "presenting sponsor", covering expenses for labor, food, sponsor signage, and more. Other services were donated by printers, advertising, and a graphic designer. This event simply would not have been possible without the commitment and magnanimity of the many who wanted to honor the Hotshots and help those they left behind.

The event day itself was nothing short of magical, in so many ways. We had honored guests from the Prescott and Central Yavapai Fire Districts. The entrance to the club was lined with hook and ladder trucks, whose horns and sirens kicked off the shotgun scramble. The golf course hummed with foursomes who were there for a good cause. Back at the Ranch House, Chef Richard and his crew were nothing short of awesome, having provided continental breakfast before tee time, they then had boxed lunches available for delivery onto the course. In the evening, our guests looked forward to a prime rib and salmon buffet.

To me, the magic really began after golf. A little rain and distant lightning temporarily pushed people inside to shop at the silent auction. Then raindrops gave way to sunshine, and the live auction began outside. Guests bid on attractive items like travel packages, rafting through the Grand Canyon, hunting, fishing, helicopter rides, and a custom-made KE-15 rifle made by friends of one of the Hotshots. Bidding was fierce, and items went from hundreds of dollars to as much as $10K. 

Guardian Air landed a helicopter on the driving range and delivered a donation check of $10,000. The Artful Eye, a local jeweler from Prescott, gave $19,000 from a fundraiser at their store. They also created a beautiful medallion that Talking Rock provided as a commemorative gift to participants.

Photo by Karen Barreira
There were many memorable moments during this special day. Taylor Caldwell, sister to fallen Hotshot Robert Caldwell, spoke of her family's loss. They take comfort in the fact that Robert died doing what he so loved, surrounded by his brothers. Two close friends of Hotshot Travis Turbyfill were seen toasting their friend in front of his photo posted on the wall of the Ranch House. A fireman's boot overflowed with cash donations. Rainbows lured people back outside to celebrate after the rain. All day, tears often were quickly followed by laughter and hugs.

It's difficult to describe the feelings we had at the end of the day. Into the evening, we danced and celebrated under the stars with friends and loved ones, and marveled at the generosity of our little community. We're feeling proud and fortunate to be in a place where we could do something to make a difference.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

We Get What We Need

When things don't turn out the way we've planned, it can really throw us self-absorbed, imperfect human beings for a loop. No matter what we do, sometimes, as the Rolling Stones have been singing for 45 years, "You Can't Always Get What You Want". With red, tear-filled eyes we rail against those who block our way. Harsh, judgmental words stain our mouths. Imagining retribution soothes our beastly souls, making us feel less impotent.

As the angry fog clears, eventually we are able to see things a little differently. It's better to let the venom dissipate. Things usually work out as they should. It's hard to see, but the truth is there somewhere.

Poisonous people may harm others, but they usually are destructive to no one more than themselves. Left to their own devices, they attract misery. It's best not to engage, but to retreat. You can watch from afar, although you may very well lose interest. That's probably healthiest.

So we count our blessings and look forward to when it will become clear that the ways things are unfolding is actually better for us than what we had planned. I have faith.

"You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes, well you might find
You get what you need"

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Like Work, Only Harder

For the past month, I have been working with some other volunteers from Talking Rock on a fundraiser for the families of the Granite Mountain Hotshots that lost their lives in the Yarnell Wildland Fire on June 30th. Through corporate sponsorships and generous personal donations, we have exceeded $160,000 in donations. We also have collected some amazing in-kind donations to auction off on August 19th, the day of our golf tournament. The auction could generate upwards of another $30,000. Although we may not quite achieve our goal of $250,000 for the families - we could get close.

I'm out of practice, doing this sort of work. Attending meetings, juggling spreadsheets, fielding email, answering and returning phone's stressing me out, and I'm exhausted. I know, I volunteered for this gig. All I need to do is remind myself why we are doing this, and get back to work. The end result will be worth whatever it took to get there.

In the meantime, the laundry is piling up, my office looks like a tornado came through, I'm not cooking meals, my blog is late, I'm envious of Ron out on the golf course right now, and of the beer he'll be having afterward. I'm afraid I've alienated some people (volunteers) by giving them tasks and instructions that are required to accomplish what needs to be done. (Those who know me know I have a bossy streak. "Really?") I can't wait for things to get back to normal after August 19th.

This is an education in volunteer work. Next time it may be someone else's turn to take the wheel.

For anyone who would like to donate $19 for our 19, here's an easy way to do it. We would be very grateful.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Grown-Up Friends

It's interesting and rewarding to gain new friends when you are an older adult. There's an inherent difference between this experience and when I made friends as a child or teenager. I'm still trying to put my finger on exactly what it is...

As a child, you expected to have friends, and stumbled upon little buddies as a normal part of life. We would take our rubber ball out into the street to play kickball, a bunch of other little kids appeared, and you made friends. It just happened. You were drawn to certain other students at school, and all of a sudden you had "peeps" on the playground. I sang in chorus and made friends with others chorus nerds. It was easy. My college friends continue to hold treasured places in my hearts, because that's where we really grew up, together.

As young professionals, making new friends became a little more complicated. Yes, work yielded some new acquaintances and friends, because we spent so much time there. We had to start being more cognizant of romantic relationships among our peers - trying not to make anyone jealous, or sending out the wrong signals. We became more transient, relocating because of our careers, leaving friends behind (geographically), and building a new life. Once committed to a spouse, our world revolved around each other more than friends.

So many distractions are out of play now. It's simply a lovely surprise to make friends when you are middle-aged. It is, perhaps, the greatest unexpected joy we have discovered early in our retired life. In our 50's, we are not as competitive in our friendships. We don't worry about hanging out with the popular kids. My girlfriends laugh if we show up in the same golf outfit. It doesn't matter if we conform with anyone else's idea of how we should look, or who we should be. It's pretty cool that people like us for who we are. At this point, we're unlikely to change much.

The passage of time and the goodness of life colors our enjoyment of each other in a soft light. Occasionally we are faced with reminders of how fragile life can be. The laughter, smiles, hugs, play, jokes, and closeness follow us from day to day, comfortable knowing that we are part of something warm, and bigger than we are alone.

Thank you, Friends.