Staying in the NOW!

SO proud to know all of these famous people who were featured in the Keys Style January Edition!

Take a minute and read three awesome articles in this January Edition:

Teacher Spotlight  pg. 4 and 5

Ship Happens-Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) pg. 26-29 

Student Council Members Seek to Improve Their School for Every Student pg. 6-9

What great articles about our little island!

I love living here and experiencing the connection we all have, a connection that supports EVERYONE to reach their ULTIMATE Goals. Sometimes I get bogged down into the logistics of planning future events, writing lesson plans, scheduling practices, doing paperwork, watching from the sidelines, networking and facilitating opportunities for my students/athletes, that I neglect look at the results that are evident TODAY.

These articles cover a great teacher and our local Special Olympics Director at Horace O’Bryant Middle School, the lifestyle born from meetings at the Lazy Dog picnic table and the Key West High Student Council moved me tremendously.

Reading these made me look outside the “To Do” list and returned my feet to the NOW.

2014 is going to be EPIC!

2014-01-04_0741 Invitational Maria Teacher Spotlight

2014-01-04_0839

Half Way Point

The half way point of summer has been reached. This year I choose to stay close to home and enjoy the paradise of the island. I have accomplished the art of living with the sun. Going to bed when it is dark and rising with the sun.

The biggest joy of the summer is being part of the development of our Monroe County Special Olympic SUP (Stand Up Paddle) Team. It is becoming apparent this is not just about learning to paddle and standing on a large board in the middle of the ocean! I am watching youth, who have unique learning abilities conquer fears, put aside behavioral issues, make changes in nutrition and lifestyles.

Amanda was afraid of the deep canal water. Casey from Lazy Dog helped her overcome the fear!

As these young adults experience the freedom of being on the water, without parents, teachers, therapists of others who control their lives— they are becoming confident to make choices, to speak up and to find out how to live more independent lives. They are becoming part of our island community and developing individual identities as athletes.

I too am learning more about myself and how to ask for help. I am not an athlete, I am a teacher, planner and visionary. AND A VERY PASSIONATE WATER WOMAN! But in order to give these athletes what I have so freely received from the ocean, I need help from skilled paddlers. A BIG THANK YOU TO THE LAZY DOG PADDLE TEAM! Without these ladies, the history that is being made in Monroe County Special Olympics could not be happening.

When I opened the current issue of the Standup Paddle Magazine, I cried, seeing the photo of our athletes. These young people are sharing the pages with legends, along with becoming legends in themselves! I realized that this has become bigger then Special Olympics—this SUP program has now become proof that this sport is for EVERYONE!

I personally have had my life change due to the empowerment that paddling has given me. When I go out on the water, paddle along the edge of the ancient mangroves of the Keys, finding places to dock the board and walk onto the old road, I am connected to those that lived on these limestone islands long before my time. My spirit is fed.

Walking from Old Road back to my board. Years ago, someone lived in this cove!

We are beginning the planning sessions for our First Annual SUP Invitational  on Oct. 14, 2012. There is so much for me to learn about putting on an event. More will be revealed!

It is humbling to have so many folks jumping in to help.

Ultimate Athletics–Race promoter Bill Elkins is teaching me how to stay focused, work as a team in order and plan with the big goal in mind in order to have something that will become established annually.

Lazy Dog-Race Trainers, Coaches and Board Suppliers—these ladies are teaching me to watch and listen, to slow down and not worry so much.

YOLO— Donations and Raffle Items–Jeff and Mitzi Archer teach me to enjoy each moment and to live life to it’s fullest!

Key Largo Bicycle Tours,–Donations and Raffle items –My new friend Mark Terrell is teaching me to keep it simple and explore this paradise I live in.

SUP Key West–Donations and Raffle Items—Megan is teaching me to slow down, that the journey IS the destination!

Paddle The Florida Keys–Donations and Volunteers—My new friend Scott is teaching me that a leap of faith is all it takes.

Let us know if you would like to join these awesome folks in helping us put on this upcoming event by emailing monroeSUP@gmail.com

The focus of this event is providing competition opportunities  for Special Olympics Athletes in the State of Florida at no charge, along with providing fun races for women, men and kids for a $25.00 registration fee to fund this First Annual SUP Invitational.

Save the date –Oct. 14, 2012—we will have hotels offering discounted rates for that weekend–come hang out with some awesome people!

Journey into the Vision

The journey into the vision of SUP racing with Special Olympic Athletes is providing me with multiple lessons and notes to self for the future. First one is that no matter how well you plan—traveling up the road to participate in a one day event is much harder then it looks!

5-3-12 Thursday

We arrive at Enterprise Rental company in Key West to be informed that NAS Key West has taken all their vans and we can only have a 15 passenger van. Ok, so in theory this sounds good, we can all fit in together and not have to caravan, all boards can fit on top and we should be good. But on inspection of the van we find that there is no storage  for our stuff, only lots of seats. Ok so we ask them to take the back seat out, “It is too heavy for me” says the guy preparing the van, and off he goes to get a buddy…….30 minutes later they take the seat out of the van, and off we go. The thing is a mini bus, but ok, we are looking at the bright side and rejoicing that we are going to load up and take off in the a.m. Off we go to load up the athletes boards…… but forgetting that Coach Ruth and Coach Susan are short people and lifting boards onto a mini bus can prove difficult…… so we resign ourselves to taking two boards and fitting them into the van, giving athletes the experience of SUPer travel! One more revelation……this mini bus is not handicap accessible! One of the athletes who used a walker cannot climb into it! It is at least a 3 feet step up! I have to get on my knees to climb into the back to load up the multiple bags of stuff we seem to require! How can 4 athletes need so much stuff??? How did we accumulate so much equipment and why are these paddles in the way? Oh well, still looking on the bright side, we now have room for three athletes to lay on the seats under the boards, because the athlete with the walker will ride in her mom’s car. We all head home to rest and be ready in the a.m. Heading out at O Dark thirty to make the 5 hour drive to Naples!

Note to self—-organize a fund raiser for a Board Trailer and a Handicap Accessible Mini Bus!

5-4-12  Friday

TRAVEL DAY! Our first SO SUP road trip! I am up and out of bed like a kid on Christmas Day- 4:30 a.m.! Brush my teeth and check my phone for last minute text or calls, sure enough there is a call and a text that came through at 11 p.m. One of our athletes is sick and cannot make it! Frantic phone call to mom and realization of how much this young ladies anxiety affects her. She is the dearest young lady, and I am really sad she will not be with us. Breathe and move on………now to reassess the the mini bus situation….we have two coaches and two athletes in a MONSTER Vehicle….I text Coach Susan and await the call in order to confer……so it is off into the monster van we go.

Arrived in Naples at our friend and fellow SUP coach MJ’s house in record time! An afternoon at her pool, grilled hamburgers and lots of visiting with Collier County SUP coaches and SUPortive friends was fun. Checking into the hotel we find cute little rooms facing the pool, a quick dip in the pool and all athletes into bed with visions for blue ribbons dancing in their heads!

Saturday 5-12-12   RACE DAY!

As I awake, I am in awe of the events of the past year that got us here, the people who have supported these awesome athletes. Each athlete has grown, matured and found parts of themselves in the sport of SUP, they have come into them selves as young adults and I am privileged to be part of it. As we prepare for this epic first time competition with other Special Olympic Athletes, I pray that each person involved today receives the joy these athletes carry in their souls.