SOMN Winter Games 2018

WOW!

That’s what I have to say about my third time volunteering at the Special Olympics MN Winter Games Powerlifting meet on Saturday February 18th. There were over 50 athletes of various abilities from across Minnesota and even a team from Manitoba, Canada showing their strength, support.

I love volunteering at this meet because of the joy and excitement of the athletes. They are equally excited to lift and show off their skills as they are to cheer and support the other lifters. The energy level of the athletes and the fans rivals any USAPL meet I’ve attended and even though their numbers aren’t the highest I’ve seen (hello Big Ray Williams, Jen Thompson, Kim Walford, and so many others) the lifts mean as much, if not more to the athletes.

The energy on the platform began with the first squat and continued through the last deadlift. For me, the first squat is arguably the hardest lift of the day. This lift really sets the tone for the rest of the meet. And I can say that most lifters hit this lifts beautifully based on their ability. There will always be some red lights but they only help to make you better – regardless of your ability.

What I probably love the most is watching all the volunteers and coaches with the athletes. The gentleness and respect given is amazing and in this case truly everyone is a winner. The big men who lovingly give a white light to lifters and the strong women who keep them safe on the platform truly love what they are doing.

I will admit that I have favorites. The Barbenders group from Minneapolis has two of my favorites – Nell and David. I know David through a fellow Movement Minneapolis member (hi Greg!). David is tall and lanky and lifts with his heart (figuratively, folks). He is quiet and polite and remembers so many details.

Nell and David

And Nell. There are not many female lifters in the special Olympics so its easy to root for them all. But Nell has a smile that just won’t quit. When she finishes a lift she just beams. And it’s the biggest smile I’ve seen. The smile lights up the room and I always just want to give her a great big hug!

The last lifter I have to mention is Reetu. She is wonderful to watch, too. To see her smile you have to look into her eyes. They sparkle when she knows she’s made a lift. How wonderful it is to watch her! And her lifts are so good! You know I’ll be watching for her next year!

Reetu

This year we – you know, #teamgreen – met up with the Bemidgi team and made lasting friendships. Volunteer coach Allyson Allen competed my coach Jennifer Vogelgesang Blake in her first meet way back when. She has a fine team who was in rare form at the meet. The support and love they showed each other was infectious and the kindness they showed us (#teamgreen coach JVB and teammates Andria Johnson, Traci Slane, and Libby Berg (if you need a chiro and are in the MPLS area I’ll hook you up)) what it meant to lift each other up and keep you humble. I’m going to strongly recommend we emulate them at all of our meets going forward.

Dale showing coach JVB some moves

The comraderie that is present in a Special Olympics Powerlifting meet is magical. Even strangers are friends. There is no greater joy for me than watching these athletes approach the bar and perform a lift. It is a beautiful site to realize that the bar doesn’t care who you are, it respects you for your effort.

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But what do you do for fun?

I’d like to say a lot of things but lately I’ve been working more than funning. And between work and training there isn’t a lot of energy left for funning. But on the weekends I can be a little looser with my time and tackle some of those fun things. 

This long weekend I’m tackling things like enjoying nature, bicycling, and painting my garage door trim. Yup, that’s the kind of funning I do. But I do them with gusto and enjoy every minute!

Saturday was a blast – spent most of the day at the Minnesota Landsacpe Arboretum and didn’t see enough. I visited some old friends and made some new. There are so many wonderful plants to explore within 100 yards of the main building that you get absorbed and don’t wander into the excitement that is the 3-mile loop. And once you get to the 3-mile loop you can spend time getting lost in the trails and looking for that certain “Norwegian” maple tree. And then there is the sculpture garden. I know, right?!?! A sculpture garden – art at the arboretum. Not to mention the carnivorous plant and giant bugs exhibits! So.Much.Fun. 


Sunday was full of activities. I have an awesome recumbent bicycle and went for a long for me bicycle ride – 23 miles. It started and ended at a regional park (Coon Rapids Dam for those of you in the know), along a nice regional trail (Rush Creek Trail) and then around another regional park (Elm Creek Park). It was good to stretch my legs in a way I normally don’t – sadly this was the first bicycle ride I’ve been on this season. I really have to remedy that! 

Then it was home to a 45 minute nap. It wasn’t so much a nap as lying down quietly with my eye closed. And it was so refreshing. Sometimes that just needs to be done. 

After my nap it time to sand and paint the garage door trim – both the car doors and the people door. And while we were at it we sanded and painted the (small) front porch railings. It was a long, hot job but so satisfying. Everything is so fresh looking it makes me feel good. Now if only I felt up to washing the deck…



And finally we end up on Monday. Today I woke up early – 6 am for those keeping track. Instead of going back to bed (as I am wont to do on days I don’t have to work) I got up, checked some news, made coffee and headed for the deck (yes, the one that is in need of washing). And here I sit, planning my day in the cool morning shade listening to the birds and enjoying my coffee. 

There is nothing that says a person has to be perpetually busy to be happy and that busy is the only way to have fun. Sometimes the most fun I have is sitting quietly on my deck, listening. Mourning doves. Crows. Jays. Chickadees. Cars in the distance. Nature in the ‘burbs. This is going to be a good day, whatever I end up doing.