Everyday Conversations, From Live It Everyday

  • Experiencing Landon Donovan's Last Game

    On Thursday, October 9 around 1:00 pm, I had just gotten out of my last class of the day and was ready to drive home. I was looking forward to just relaxing and taking it easy on what was now my fall break, seeing as I didn’t have anything planned. That all changed when I received a call from an old high school friend. As soon as I answered the very first words he said were “hey man, I got three tickets to Landon Donovan’s last USA game up in Connecticut, you want to go?” I was completely shocked to say the least. There was absolutely no way I was going to turn down this once in a lifetime opportunity. So around 10:00 that night, we, along with a third friend, set out toward New England.

    The trip from where we left (eastern Kentucky) to East Hartford Connecticut, where the game was, took about 11 hours of driving. Along the way, we made a detour to Philadelphia to enjoy the historic sites and kill some time. The tour of Liberty Hall was completely free and completely worth it. It was pretty cool having the opportunity to see the place our Nation was founded. If given the chance, I would love to make a second trip to the wonderful city.

    Anyway, back to soccer. When we arrived to Rentschler Field (home of the UCONN football program), the atmosphere was terrific. The stadium was completely packed and the support from the fans was incredible. Landon Donovan was named the captain for the match, and the plan was he would just play the first 30 minutes, giving him time to rest for his MLS game the following Sunday. Landon played for what was more like 40 minutes, and then he was finally substituted off ... for the last time ever. As he was walking off, the fans -- myself included -- gave Landon Donovan the standing ovation that he most definitely deserved.

    After the game, Landon took part in multiple interviews, and was honored with a very special presentation, along with a video presentation attributing his most impressive USA achievements. I made my way down to the supporter’s section and got a picture with Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl, along with his signature. As we were walking out of the stadium, we found the USA bus. As the players were loading up, I managed to take some pictures with Chris Wondolowski (USA forward), Nick Rimando (USA goalkeeper), and the head coach of the National Team  -- Jurgen Klinsmann!

    Experiencing LD 2 Experiencing LD 3 Experiencing LD 4 Experincing LD 1

    This was an experience that I will never ever forget. Landon Donovan has given so much to this sport and to this nation. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity see his final minutes in a USA jersey, and help give him the thanks that he deserves. I think it will be a long time before our country sees another legend like Landon Donovan.

    Until next time, Kelby

  • The Side-View: Savoring The "Now"

    Do you ever catch yourself looking forward just like those professionals tell you to? We’ve been trained to look far, far ahead into the future journey to plan, prepare, and eventually reach our goals. (As if we really know our goals, anyway. Many will change over time.)

    My job has me traveling in and around Gulu, Uganda everyday. The surrounding districts I work in can almost be an hour away, so I find myself in new territories navigating around potholes which in Uganda are pretty much giant, gaping malicious black holes. I have to keep my eyes open for bikers, pedestrians, and large trucks whaling around corners and curves covered in grass taller than my Toyota Rav4. While driving, I find myself looking forward every single day. (Gold star on my car insurance, right?) I stare blankly at the undefined road ahead of me, preparing for anything to maybe, potentially come my way. I look forward preparing for those problems and any potholes that will surprise my path. I stare ahead only focused on the destination and moving forward to reach it. Do you ever get tired of looking forward?

    3 This photo was taken when I was driving through a mint field to one of my home visits to evaluate an applicant for Chidlero.

    Today, I let my friend Peter drive since I had never visited the Lakwana district. As he drove, my team and I were allowed to enjoy the ride, but I still found myself staring ahead at the blank, orange, winding road. Why was I still looking ahead?

    I turned my gaze out my side-view window and instantly fell in love with the new scenery. My view was covered in green trees, cascading landscapes, untame grass, rolling hills, and beauty untold. I love my job, and I love where I am. So why have I always focused forward on the blank, winding, undefined road when the side-view has always been so much better?

    I get so caught up in the stresses of life that I am always planning and working for the complete product. I am never satisfied with the small chunk I’ve accomplished because it has yet to add up to anything. It is hard for me to celebrate one day of home evaluations or primary school scouting because the program still isn’t built, or anywhere near completion. It is hard for me to enjoy the scenery of today when I am bracing myself for imaginary potholes and curve balls that may never appear. Lately, I have been making efforts to savor each day for its own scenery and small accomplishments.

    We must look forward to our destination, I still agree, but we can’t forget to gaze into the side-view of where we are right now to memorize and absorb beauty. Furthermore, we must feel content that it may not be the destination but it is nonetheless a treasured moment of the journey.

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    It can be difficult to gaze into the side-view because in the very moment you are taking it all in, you are passing it. You may merely have a second at each spot, but the beauty can last forever.

    Enjoy the side-view, too.

    Until next time, Cara

    Follow Cara's adventures in Uganda on her personal blog. Donate to her organization, Childero, here. Keep up with her on Instagram here (where she posts the best videos and photos of her sweet kiddos). 

  • When To Watch Team USA

    This past year, The World Cup sparked a huge interest in soccer from millions of Americans. We rallied together as a nation, and supported Team USA during their entire campaign. It seems like the same exact thing happened in 2010. I love the American passion that comes out for the tournament -- but it seems like it just goes extinct during the years between each World Cup. There is absolutely no reason as to why America can’t continue to support and love its team, even after the World Cup comes to a conclusion. If you’re desperately wanting to watch the national team take the field again, but don’t want to have to wait until 2018 -- then don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.

    Next year, Canada will be hosting the Women’s World Cup. Women’s soccer is just as fast paced as men’s soccer, and is definitely just as exciting. USA’s women’s squad is regularly one of the very best teams in the entire world, and will prove to be very strong competitors. This is surely a tournament you won’t want to miss.

    The CONCACAF (this is the name of our region, which consists of nations from North & Central America and the Caribbean) Gold Cup will also take place next year. Teams from all over the region will face off to become the champion of CONCACAF. Expect to see quite a few new faces, as these young, untested players will be trying to solidify their role in the national team.

    2016 should be a very exciting year for U.S. Soccer. There is of course, the Olympic Games in Brazil. The thing I really like about the Olympics is that our entire squad, with the exception of three players, all has to be younger than 24 years of age. This gives all of these young players a chance to show their talents on a global stage.

    In addition to the Olympics, USA will actually be hosting Copa America – which is a South American Soccer tournament that invites a few CONCACAF teams to participate. We’ll get the chance to watch very talented national teams like Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Colombia face off….right here in our country! If you have the chance, I urge you to go out and support Team USA during this tournament, it should be an incredible experience!

    In 2017, the Confederations Cup will be held in Russia. This is an 8 team tournament, with at least one team from each region around the world competing. It’s sort of like a “pre-game” to the World Cup the following year, if that makes sense. If USA wins the Gold Cup in 2015, we will compete in the Confederations Cup.

    Finally, before we know it, 2018 will roll around and The World Cup will be upon us! I am very excited to see what this tournament holds for our country. Don’t just watch soccer every four years. There is a major tournament every single year between the World Cups, so get out there, have some fun, and support Team USA every day of the week!

    Kelby

  • What I Love to Read: Runner's World

    I love magazines. First off, let me say that I love to read in general. A newspaper, poems, magazine articles, tweets­ -- I love it all.

    So when I heard that my favorite running magazine, Runner’s World was getting a makeover (for the first time SIX years) I was pretty pumped.

    This magazine is the holy grail of running reading material. It covers everything from how to improve your race times, how to stretch, healthy and unique recipes for granola bars to history of the beer mile.

    It has it all.

    So now after months of speculating about the new redesign the October issue showed a new look to my favorite magazine.

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    Editor in Chief David Willey said, “We decided it was time to change because everything around us in running and in media is changing. There are more people running and racing than ever before, for reasons and with points of view that are more varied than ever before. The running community is larger and more fragmented, but, thanks to social media, also smaller-seeming and more connected. It's a challenge to balance it all, but we think we’ve taken big steps forward.”

    For those of you who don’t know, I am a huge newspaper nerd. I love all aspects of magazines and newspaper, so graphic design and layout is something I love to research on Pinterest or in physical copies of magazines.

    Also, can I just point out that the cover girl on the front of the October issue is NOT A PROFESSIONAL RUNNER. She is street runner like you and me. She holds no world records, runs in cut-off T-shirts and has a job and a kid. So props to RW for showing someone on the cover who is more like you and me.

    RW cover

    Here is a quote from the RW Editor in Chief about the magazine:

    Most important: Regardless of why or how far or how fast you run, this magazine is for you. It is for all runners—even those who don’t dare apply that label to themselves because they think they’re not…something enough. If history is any guide, there will be no shortage of opinions on how brilliant/idiotic these changes are, and I look forward to hearing them all. We've come a long way but are always striving to do more.

    Happy reading! Meghann

  • Live It Everyday Is Going Social

    We're a fan of social media. It connects us to our families, our favorite sports teams, and friends. We love it most of all, though, because it connects us to you!

    In preparation for the new line that drops in just a few weeks (EXCITEMENT), we've gotten social. Don't forget to follow us on Twitter, and now, keep up with all of our shenanigans  on Instagram! Want a sneak peak of what we've been working on? You're going to want to follow us!

    Instagram Promo

    We follow you if you follow us -- we'll say it again -- we love being your friend!

    Have a great week!

    Haley & the Live It Everyday Team

  • A Runner's Guide To Buying The Right Kind of Shoe

    Runners are supposed to replace their shoes every 300-500 miles. So ever since high school cross country, I’ve gotten a new pair of running shoes roughly every six months.

    I usually swap out shoes depending on my outfit. (Yes, I’m THAT girl who likes to match her running outfit and shoes). But in all reality, it’s a good practice to have. Running in worn-down shoes are bad for your feet, ankles, and shins. Depending on where you run (roads, trails, treadmill) will determine how often you need to replace your running shoes.

    1a

    Before you get started running, I would suggest going to a specialty running shoe store to get properly fitted. Just because there are some super cute Nikes in your size, doesn’t mean they are the best for marathon training. Be sure to check out other brands like Asics, Brooks, and Mizuno.

    2a

    Make sure you take the time to break in your new shoes. There is nothing worse than getting blisters from your new shoes rubbing you the wrong way (literally).

    Also, DO NOT run a race in a new shoes. The old rule is true: do not run a race in anything new! Run in what you know will not chafe, rub, or irritate. Running in shorts that are too short, or a shirt that is too tight will know help you run the best you can. Running is not about looking good; it’s about busting butt and making a goal.

    RUNNING IS NOT A PRETTY SPORT.

    Accept that, and move on. Yes, you can match your outfit, but in the end you should still be covered in sweat.

    So here it is: an excuse to buy new shoes! Buy some cute (but supportive) running shoes and hit the pavement!

    Run happy, Meghann.

  • Refining Moments -- A Missionary's First Day in Uganda

    Well, *slump and sigh*

     

    I am here. Uganda, the pearl of Africa. Initially, visitors only remark on characteristics like the afternoon heat, the exhausted smells, trash abstractly painted across every way, terrible dusty orange dirt roads, and the bustle of the BodaBoda (motorcycle taxi) drivers who WILL run you over.

     

    Mmm, but not me. Uganda is more. I stare at Uganda like an artwork the way the dusty orange roads contrast against the green banana trees growing along the side of the road brushed with the background of the bright blue sky. I love the brilliant colors. The roof on every house is a different shade of red and the people with their ebony skin just makes their ivory smile stand out and shine a little brighter.

    3 4

    There are many refining moments to this trip. I am here for a year in order to launch a new program called Childero. The program financially sponsors children for the educational, nutritional, and medical needs but my heart is in the mentoring part. You see, five days a week I get to hang out with orphaned children and encourage them. That's it, the foundation really. Just encouraging, mentoring, and building up.

     

    But these are refining moments, and today was simply day one. Day one didn't include any of the description above because day one is simply falling into a brand new culture. I am a goal oriented person, I like to see things accomplished quickly and programs are just the opposite.

     

    When you volunteer you see the finished product, errhh ... DEVELOPING product since I believe everything is always developing. Well with me, you get to see it from ground up, and let me tell you the ground is cold, hard, and infertile. But we will get a garden one day.

     

    But for day one, here are my highs and lows.

     

    High: I bought a local phone and got the Toyota RAV4 that I will use for the program. If a RAV4 doesn't scream humanitarian in Africa not sure what does... The headlights are safari certified.

     

    Low: Phone tech not my strong point. I struggled with the device and SIM cards for long enough and have to visit the store again tomorrow.

     

    High: I bargained and got the phone for $20 cheaper.

     

    Low: I miss people from home. I miss my room that I call my sanctuary.

     

    High: I saw a GIANT bird in the city and got so excited. It was a massive colorful flying bird and I freaked out calling it a dinosaur... NO ONE better comment with their obviously googled name of the bird because Dinosaur makes it all that more mystical and wonderful. It looked like it could eat an eagle for tea time AND someone confirmed that it is a carnivore. Bon appetite, birdy.

     

    Low: I am sleeping under a mosquito net and am scared my knots won't hold and it will drop on me in my sleep lol. Woosh, splat!

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    Last High: I get to visit the NILE River this weekend.

     

    Living it everyday has highs and lows, and lows are just fine as long as you bask in the highs. So, bask in the highs with me and let the lows refine us.

     

    Until next time with my quirky details. Cara Hope Starns.

     

    Epilogue: I am sitting all alone in the common room at 12:40 am when a rampant beast started attacking the door!! #OnlyInAfrica. It is scratching madly trying to get in... The door is rattling. Well, I am still as a stone praying it walks away in failure. If you don't hear from me again you'll kno....

     

    Like she said, Cara is in Uganda for a year developing and jump starting an organization called Childero. You can donate to this wonderful organization here and keep up with her personal blog here, for more information. As always, the Live It Everyday team is thankful for our contributors and those in our community who truly Live their lives Everyday. We love you, Cara! 

  • Experiencing It Live -- Supporting and Loving Major League Soccer

    On August 16, I had the privilege of traveling to Ohio to watch Columbus Crew face off against Los Angeles Galaxy in the Major League Soccer showdown. Before the match kicked off, Columbus honored legend Landon Donovan by showing a video of the most memorable goals that Donovan has scored over the years at Crew Stadium. After the video presentation, former Galaxy and USA teammates Frankie Hejduk and Gregg Berhalter (currently the coach of Columbus) presented Donovan with a framed piece of netting from the north net -- which is from the goal he scored on in the 2-0 victory against Mexico in September, 2013.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9k4R1yVvm4&list=UUQsasqjpe_blMBHbUoWYGZg

    “I have a lot of very good memories here and I was very appreciative of them doing that. They certainly didn’t have to and I certainly have a lot of respect for the Gregg [Berhalter] and the Crew organization.” – Landon Donovan

     

    It’s very heartwarming that the Crew went out of their way to honor Landon’s career in such a way as that. In the next game the Galaxy played, the Colorado Rapids presented Donovan with a ski pass, a Vail Resorts gift basket, and a bottle of wine from the vineyard of Colorado’s owner.

     

    Getting back to the actual game in Columbus -- it definitely didn’t have the turnout that I was hoping for. The Galaxy were basically ineffective throughout the entire match, resulting in a 4-1 thrashing from Columbus. Both teams have been on fire and have won every game since their meeting on the 16th.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRXL3OJarSE&index=2&list=LLomvsraQAHLT6HdA95wcrYA

    After the match, the Crew treated fans who decided to stick around for a while longer to a fireworks show. Although the Galaxy didn’t get the win they were hoping for, I’m so glad that I got to experience Landon’s very last game in Crew Stadium, and a fantastic fireworks showing.

     

    I urge everyone to start supporting Major League Soccer. The best way for soccer to further develop in The United States, is to build a stronger fan base. The best advice I can give is to find an MLS team and support it. Watch as many televised games as you can. If you ever have the opportunity -- PLEASE buy tickets and watch a game live. I promise the atmosphere is totally different from any sporting event you have ever been to, and you will absolutely love it. You definitely won’t regret it. I’m so excited for our league and our national team to continue to grow. Soccer is beginning to become one of the major sports in our country, and that is something I’m proud of.

     

    Stay tuned, Kelby

  • An Active Duty Soldier's Thoughts on 9/11

    Brian Worstell is Owner Mike's brother and my uncle. When I was an infant and Brian had just come home from deployment, I cried when he touched my foot. I didn't figure out that I liked him until he was in Iraq and called to ask about me. While, you know, he's overseas fighting. Now, I know him as an everyday hero who never misses an opportunity to snag a brownie and who's always down to pick on me and play basketball.

    brian

    As the 13th anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001 approaches, I sit and reflect as to what that day means to me. As an American, it infuriates me that it ever happened at all -- how could the most powerful nation in the world come under attack with such a brutal and deadly act of violence? I think this day has a special meaning to every American with no two meanings the same. But one thing is true for all Americans regardless of race, creed, or color: our way of life was challenged that day.

    As a Senior Non Commissioned Officer with more than 23 years of service and retirement right around the corner, I look at 9/11 from a completely different perspective. As I think back over the course of my career and try to put into words what this means to me it is this: that while not always glamorous with many missed birthday’s and countless other significant events, one thing has always made it make sense to me and that is that the last 23 years have been well spent in the service and defense of the American way of life.

    I have had the honor and privilege to fight for those who could not fight for themselves and protect the freedom so many crave. Few understand how to protect and fewer know the price of that freedom. It may sound cliché but it is a fact: freedom is not free and since the founding of our nation that price has been paid in blood by those willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for the greater good. I knew when I entered the Army 23 years ago the possibility of death in the defense of my country was always a possible outcome and in my younger days the thought of dying gallantly in battle was heroic. Now that I am older and have fought in both Iraq and Afghanistan, I realize I would rather die an old man with my kids and grand kids and family gathered around me. What is more heroic than that?

    As I said, fighting for those who can’t fight for themselves is not just a domestic battle. We in America want the best for our children; we sacrifice and do things we may not always want but we do what is necessary. I think back to my last deployment to one of the worst parts in southern Afghanistan. The thing that bothered me the most and stood out to me was the children. They didn’t ask to be born in one of the worst areas in the country; they didn’t ask to grow up with the constant threat of violence. The parents of these kids the hopeless blank expressions on there faces knowing that it gets no better the hopes of a better future impossible. The thought that maybe something, anything, you may have done while there could just maybe help one of those kids to do better makes all the sacrifice and hardship a little easier to endure.

    After I returned from my last deployment from Afghanistan in 2012 I went to New York City and, although it was many years after 9/11, I went to Ground Zero and to the new monument. As I stood there, I realized that the American people are resilient. We may get knocked down but you'd better believe we're getting back up. The people in the city seemed happy and excited about rebuilding and the future. As I watched I couldn’t help but to think that I had done my little part in restoring confidence in the American way of life.

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    Brian Worstell

    Senior Non Commissioned Officer

    United States Army

  • September 11, 2001. Why We Don't Forget.

    September 11, 2001.

    It’s a date no American can forget. It’s when I started shuddering when airplanes flew over my house, too close in my 11 year old mind. It’s when the word “soldier” and “veteran” began to mean a lot more and when my mom started to wear a red, white, and blue rubber bracelet proudly supporting my uncle in Afghanistan. I think it read “I Support Our Troops.” I remember her distress when it broke and she was unable to fulfill her promise, that she would wear it until he returned home safely.

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    I was 11 years old when the Twin Towers were struck. I remember the chaos that circulated in and through our elementary school as teachers passed out colorful pieces of paper that were for our “Take Home” folder. We scanned them, trying to decipher what had happened. “Have a conversation,” it read. I can’t remember what else. It was a list of things to do to help continue the dialogue for the greatest tragedy any of us had most likely seen. We were 10 and 11. Our biggest concern was what the cafeteria was having for lunch. I had never seen anything like the photo on the front page of Lexington’s paper when my preacher held it up on Sunday morning at church.

    I lived in Kentucky when the nation felt an irreversible tragedy. When my mom picked my sister and me up from the after school program, she told us that something bad had happened. There had been an attack, a bomb, a plane, that flew into two buildings in New York. “I thought it was a joke, or a rerun of a past war on the radio,” she said. I don’t remember what happened after that. Later, she told me she and our family’s best friend had been screaming on the phone, just minutes before. “He’s okay!” Lisa shouted. “He’s okay!” My mom, too dazed from the events and lost in downtown Lexington, kept saying, “I know!” They had gotten confused—both had brothers named Jeff. Both were involved in the armed forces. Lisa’s brother was supposed to be at the Pentagon that morning.

    I went to school in Murray, Kentucky, when the tenth anniversary of 9/11 came and went. I was working for my school’s newspaper, The Murray State News. Because I was a creative writer, and much less a journalistic writer, I was assigned a human interest piece: stories from faculty, students, staff, whoever was directly involved in the attacks (you can read them here and here). I interviewed a faculty member who was at the Pentagon when it was bombed. He told stories of small details—leaving his hat in his office and later having to retrieve it, a friend of his who was nearly burned alive, the sprinkler systems that went off on the sides of the building that had not been touched. I interviewed a student who was living just outside the city. The smoke, she told me with hands trembling and eyes averted from mine, was so prominent in the sky, they thought it was night.

    When I think about 9/11, I think about the evil, the horror, the images of people flinging themselves from the buildings. I think about the way I couldn’t possibly understand what had happened in this terrifying time, because I was so young and so far removed. But, in the same breath, I think about how 9/11 changed me. It seems so absurd to even type that, to admit to it out loud. Families were torn apart. Friendships were ripped away. My family had suffered no immediate blows. My friends were safe in their central Kentucky homes. But, I felt (and feel) keenly the heartbreak that occurred those thirteen years ago. Goosebumps crawl up my arms and settle on the back of my neck when I hear of veterans’ stories—both tragic and triumphant. When I was 11 years old, sitting in a pew in a Methodist church in Lexington, I saw what had happened. And though I didn’t understand entirely—the phone calls that were placed on the planes that were hijacked, the servicemen and women who pulled victims from the fires, the mothers, fathers, and children who would never see loved ones again—I knew that it was a time to rally. In a naïve, and childlike sense, I understood that none of us would ever be the same and that now was the time to be together.

    Thirteen years later, my mind skims across those blurred memories I have from so long ago. I board a plane and listen to every word the flight attendant has to say about safety. I squeeze my uncle whose arms have gone numb after years of violence fighting for the protection of this great place, tighter when I see him. When we read reports about Gaza, Iraq, and Syria, I remember the way I felt when our country was exploited. I remember everyday. I remember the way I thought that this tragedy meant that we should all stand together, that we should and we will all rally.

    To those of you who serve or have served our country, from the bottom of my heart, the Live It Everyday Team and I offers our thanks. You are what makes this country and this world great.

    All my love. Haley.

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