Friday Flashback: Manon Rheaume – The First Woman of Hockey

manonYou may have never heard of Manon Rheaume but if you followed hockey in the 1990s, you would know that Rheaume was the first woman to play professional hockey.  With the United States Women’s Hockey team winning the Gold Medal this week, I thought it would be fitting to flashback to one of the pioneers in women’s hockey.  Many have called her the “First Woman of Hockey”.

In 1992, Rheaume signed as a free agent for the Tampa Bay Lightning of the National Hockey League (NHL) and was the first woman to sign with an NHL team.  She played in an exhibition game against the St. Louis Blues allowing two goals on nine shots.   She later played in another exhibition game against the Boston Bruins in 1993.  She never saw action in any regular season game in the NHL.  She did, however, make her first appearance in a regular season game in 1992 with the Atlanta Knights of the International Hockey League (IHL) against Salt Lake Golden Eagles.  In addition to playing for the Knights, Rheaume played for the Knoxville Cherokees, Nashville Knights, Las Vegas Aces, Tallahassee Tiger Sharks, Las Vegas Thunder and Reno Renegades from 1992-1997.  She appeared in a total of 24 games.   Her record during this span was 7-6-2.

manon2
Rheaume playing in first NHL game

In the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Rheaume to played the gold-medal game against the United States. She made several notable stops in the first period, but let in one goal during the second period and another in the third period. Canada didn’t score until late in the third period, with only four minutes left on the clock. A minute before the buzzer sounded, the Canadians decided to pull their goalie to improve their scoring chances. However, the Americans took advantage, scoring their third goal and winning the game 3–1. Rheaume and the rest of the team went home with silver, Canada’s first Olympic medal in women’s hockey.

 

Rheaume later played for the Minnesota Whitecaps which was a women’s professional team in the Western Women’s Hockey League (WWHL) from 2007-2009.  She led the Whitecaps to the league finals.

In 2015, Rheaume dropped the puck in the opening face before the first game in the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL).

Rheaume currently resides in Michigan and coaches a Detroit Little Caesar’s under-12 girls hockey team.

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Yes, I was up at 1 a.m. watching Women’s Ice Hockey…

Okay, you busted me.  I stayed up late last night/this morning to watch women’s ice hockey.  I’m not ashamed of it either.  It wasn’t just any hockey game, it was the Winter Olympics Gold Medal game between the United States and Canada.  What an awesome finish.  It was just a great hockey game – period.

Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 13

This USA-Canada rivalry in women’s ice hockey is pretty intense.  After winning the past four gold medals, the U.S. women defeated Canada 3-2 in an overtime shootout to end a 20-year Gold Medal drought.  This epic game was on the 38th anniversary of the greatest game in U.S. men’s hockey at the “Miracle on Ice” over the Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympics.

After the Americans took the lead in the shootout with Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson’s goal, USA goalie, Maddie Rooney, stopped Canada’s Meghan Agosta to seal the win.

I fell asleep watching the game early on and when I saw it was 2-1 in favor of Canada during the second intermission, I decided it was time to go to bed.  I couldn’t sleep so I went back to watching the game and I am glad I did.  The USA tied the game late and sent it into overtime.  The US dominated the 20-minute sudden death overtime period and nearly ended it several times.  They had to kill off a penalty in the final two minutes to get to the shootout.

I did not see the medals ceremony.  This morning, I saw the report of how Canada’s Jocelyne Larocque immediately removed her silver medal.  Now she’s getting a lot of flak over that move – as well she should.

While watching the incredible quality of play by both teams in the game, I wondered about if this would impact the women’s game.  There is a women’s professional league with four teams in the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) but the league is barely surviving.  I think it would be a good step for the National Hockey League (NHL) to bring support for women’s professional hockey.  In my mind, I would like to see each NHL franchise also have a women’s team.  They could play each team in the division four times which would give them a 24-28 games.  I think limiting the schedule to within the division would save on travel costs and help the women’s teams to get off to a good start.  The women’s teams could even play in a doubleheader with their male counterparts on specific nights.    The top four teams in each division would make the playoffs and would play each other in a single-game elimination.  (No need for the drawn out seven game series).  I really think there should be a NHL-W.   This would be a good time for it.

The women’s game is different but just as entertaining as the NHL.  There is still body contact so it’s still a physical game; however, body checking is not allowed.  I also like it that they have a full-face guard.  It probably saves on a lot of dental issues.  I’m not sure why the NHL doesn’t do this.

2018 Winter Olympics – USA Results:

  • Feb 11 – beat Finland 3-1
  • Feb 13 – beat Olympic Athletes from Russia 5-0
  • Feb 15 – lost to Canada 2-1
  • Feb 19 – beat Finland 5-0 in semifinals
  • Feb 22 – beat Canada 3-2 (so) in Gold Medal game

Other facts about the USA Women’s Ice Hockey team:

  • The team was 7-5 leading up to the Winter Olympic games
  • The USA snapped a five-game losing streak to Canada
  • Amanda Kessel is the sister of Phil Kessel of the Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Robb Stauber is the coach for Team USA.  He played goalie five seasons in the NHL with the Los Angeles Kings and Buffalo Sabres.
  • The USA won the first Gold Medal in women’s ice hockey in 1998.
  • The USA team has won two gold, three silver and one bronze medal.
  • Nine players on the 2018 roster play in the NWHL
  • Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando are twins – the only sole set of twins for the USA in the Winter Olympics.

 

Could These Olympic Team Sports Be Professional Leagues?

I’m sure many have watched in awe the sport of Curling in the Olympics and wondered if there could be a professional league?  Okay, maybe not.  While curling is quite an interesting sport – there are other team sports I wondered if they could become a professional sports league.  Let’s take a look at a few of these:

CURLING

curling_8This is a sport in which players slide stones on a sheet of ice towards a target area which is divided into four circles much like shuffleboard.  It involves high skill and precision.  Teams are made up of 3-4 per team.  It is also called “chess on ice” with an estimated 1,500,000 registered players worldwide.

So could a professional league work?

The sport is particularly popular in Canada, so if you have a professional league, you would certainly need franchises North of the Border.  In the United States, the league would probably work best in the Northeastern portion of the United States.  An eight-team league would look something like:  Boston, Buffalo, Toronto, Montreal, Saskatchewan, Vancouver, Rochester, Detroit.

I could not find any current professional curling leagues in existence.   The is a touring event in Canada called Curling Canada but nothing in a traditional sports league format.  There are some U.S. Colleges which participate in curling.  The current top teams in curling are:  RPI, SUNY-Poly, Oklahoma (who would have thought this?), Bowdoin, Nebraska, Yale and Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Could curling be a professional sports league?  Maybe but in a limited area.

SHORT TRACK SPEED SKATING

Hungary Speed Skating World CupThis is a sport which teams up four to six skaters on a rink similar to a hockey rink.  It is a lot like roller derby on ice except contact is not allowed.  It is an exciting event to watch as skaters lap around the rink in an attempt to beat out their opponents.

So could a professional league work?

Probably not in the traditional sense with franchises in various cities.  Naturally it would be more viable in cities with ice rink arenas.    One way I see it could work would be as in conjunction with a hockey game during intermission with teams in cities with existing hockey franchises.  Short track speed skating is mostly popular in Canada, South Korea and China.  There are no professional team leagues in this sport.

Could short track speed skating be a professional sports league?  No.

TEAM BOBSLEDDING

bobsledThis is a sport which involves two or four member teams which make timed runs down narrow, twisting, banked, iced tracks in a gravity-powered sled.  The timed runs are combined to calculate the final score.   This is an exciting event to watch in the Olympics.

So could a professional league work? No.

The first obstacle for bobsledding as a professional team sport is the limited number of bobsledding tracks.  There are only two tracks suitable for this sport in the United States in Lake Placid, New York and Park City, Utah and two in Canada.   Typically, sports which involve some type of vehicle are not organized as a professional team sport.  If bobsledding were organized into some sort of professional sport it would be much like NASCAR.  That’s how I would envision a bobsled-type league.

Bobsledding is mostly popular in Germany and Switzerland.  There are no current existing leagues in bobsledding.  With a limited number of tracks available it is no likely there would ever be a professional sports league in bobsledding.

TEAM FIGURE SKATING

Figure Skating - Winter Olympics Day 2This is a relatively new team event in the Winter Olympics where teams of figure skaters compete as a team in a short program and free skate.  After each competition, the highest scoring skater from each group gets 10 points, the second highest gets nine point, the third highest gest eight and so on.

So could a professional team figure skating league work?

Figure skating is probably the most popular sports in the Winter Olympics.  If there were an organized team figure skating league, it would be in locations with existing ice rink arenas.  A league would stand a better chance at survival if known names in figure skating were in the league.  It’s difficult to say where figure skating is the most popular in the United States or where any professional franchise would fare better.

There are no current professional leagues in team figure skating.

It is very unlikely that we will see any sort of professional team figure skating league.  It would be very difficult to get Olympic stars in a league.  The only variation to such a league would be in a touring format.

Aside from curling, most of these team events are very unlikely possibilities for professional team leagues.  While they may be popular events in the Winter Olympic Games, they would need to overcome other obstacles in becoming professional sports leagues – especially in the currently crowded sports landscape.

 

 

 

 

Life Without Sodas

no-sodaOver a year ago I decided to wean myself from my daily dose of drinking sodas. My poison of choice had always been Dr. Pepper. It was a daily habit.  I decided that I would try to develop a healthier habit and try to drink water.  The main reason I wanted to live a soda free life was to lose weight. Although I have lost a few pounds, it hasn’t been a drastic weight loss but there have been many more benefits to go without the daily dose of caffeine and sugary drinks.

In the beginning it was tough. I won’t lie to you.  I had to fight through some withdrawals and annoying headaches but it didn’t take long for me to adjust to water as my main source of drink. I am not totally a water-only drinker now. I do have an occasional sweet tea. I mean, it’s a Southern thing after all right? If I feel the need for a little taste of something I will go for a PowerAde or Juice. I won’t say I’m not tempted by the soda machine or my old friend the Doctor – especially during the summer months – but I crave a cold water more now.

During this year I have seen other advantages to drinking water such saving money when we go out to eat. Drinking water saves probably $3.00 on the bill. It also saves some on the grocery bill too since I no longer have to put them in the shopping cart.

I feel better without drinking sodas as well.  I crave a cold water more now than anything else.  There is nothing that satisfies my thirst more than water.  Instead of running to the soda machine and getting a Dr. Pepper, filtered water works just fine for me now.  Another good thing is that water doesn’t lose its taste like sodas do when they lose their fizz.

Drinking too many sodas can cause a lot of negative effects in your body.  Carbonated sodas contain no beneficial nutrients but plenty of calories and sugar.   Consider this – one 12 ounce can of soda has 39 grams of sugar which is the same as popping 10 whole sugar cubes.  As for those “diet” sodas, they may be calorie-free (as well as taste-free) but that doesn’t mean it is any better.

I won’t say that I will never drink another soda but I really don’t plan on going back now.  I don’t need the sugar rush or headaches from the habit of needing to drink a soda.  I also like trying different kinds of water now.  My favorite water is Iceland Glacial Natural Spring water or Fuji water – yes the one in the square bottle.  My least favorite is Aquafina.  So, yes, I’m a water  aficionado now and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

water-bottle-537x402If you want to go soda-free, here are some things I would suggest:

  1. Take it slowly.  Don’t go cold turkey.  Wean yourself off of sodas.  In the beginning I would drink one mini-can of soda until I didn’t need it anymore.
  2. If you HAVE to have a carbonated beverage, try some of the sparkling beverages.  I guess that’s good but you won’t need the bubbly in your water.
  3. Drink juice in the morning to kick-start your day.
  4. Find YOUR brand of water.  You might have to try a few to find the one that works best for you.
  5. Don’t ignore filtered water.

I won’t promise you that you will lose a ton of weight because you won’t but I can tell you that you will feel better and you’ll be on your way to a healthier lifestyle.

According to thrillist.com here are their rankings of the top eight bottled waters:

  1. Mountain Valley Spring Water
  2. Voss
  3. Nestle Pure Life
  4. Fiji Natural Artesian Water
  5. Evian
  6. Dasani
  7. Aquafina
  8. Smartwater

 

Why I Left The Church (Part 1 of 3)

left_churchFor the first 46 years of my life, church was my life.  I rarely missed a Sunday.  For most of my early years it was a Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday night routine for me.  Church attendance, in my mind, was equal to having a relationship with God.  I never remember a time when I rebelled against going to church.  It was ingrained into my being.  There was no other option – at least for my first 18 years.  Then when I left home it had been instilled so much in me that I was afraid to miss.

Let me just tell you in the beginning of this series that I do not miss the church.  I’m sure that to my friends who are still in the church that my admission will shock them.  It is not meant to be a slam or criticism to them or people who still go to church.  Each person is different and this is my story.  It isn’t meant to be a blanket judgment for all only the reality for me to share with you.

CUTTING TEETH ON THE CHURCH PEWS

My father was “called to preach” when I was just learning to walk.  He asked for God a sign and he apparently got one when God worked through my mother to call him into the ministry.   You see, my mother had grown up as a preacher’s kid herself.  She told the story many times that she had no desire whatsoever to marry a preacher yet that’s exactly what happened.  My father was appointed to his first church in Valdosta, Georgia in 1967.  For the next 15 years he would be my pastor.  From Valdosta to Moultrie to Temple to Homeland to Axson to Villa Rica and then Savannah was the journey I took with them.  I saw the good, the bad and the very ugly about the church.  I am not happy with a lot of things I experienced and witnessed growing up in the church.  Many people naturally assumed that I would follow my father and my grandfather into the ministry of being a pastor.  I did not and, although I tested the waters, it was never meant to be for me.

When you grow up as a preacher’s kid, there are expectations placed upon you that can be overwhelming.  Everyone watches what you say and do.  When you don’t meet those expectations there are people more than willing to let you know how you have disappointed them.  The expectations are the hardest part of my life in the church.  Your life is in meeting those expectations and not disappointing people.  It doesn’t matter if they disappoint you or not.  I spent a majority of my life working to please others.  That’s how I was raised and that’s how my brain was wired for all those years.

I will get into the church in Part 2 of this series.  I will say that it was a cult in spite of those who would object to such a description of the church.  I will lay it out for you next week.   Since I left the church I had to unlearn many of the erroneous things I was thought.  I really had to spend a lot of time sorting through it all and figure out what was true and what was not true about God.

Growing up in the church was not about the fear of God but more of the fear of disappointing everyone which was the same of disappointing God.  There was a culture of unhealthy fear being in the church.

When I left home for the United States Air Force, many people told me that I would give into the temptations to alcohol and other sinful things that was assumed that people in the military do.  Contrary to those assumptions, I never had any of those desires.  I wasn’t raised with it so it wasn’t something I desired to do.  Was I perfect?  Heck no.  I had my issues but I was too afraid to disappoint my parents or people in the church.  I was expected to keep the teachings and everything about the church.

I tried my best to make it work.  I tried to “drink the Koolaid” as they say.  You know, one thing that I absolutely could never understand was the whole thing about speaking in tongues.  Yeah, I know the look most of you have right now.  If you are in the church and knew me you’re probably shocked.  Those of you not in the church probably have a different look.  Let me tell you that I never got it.  I never could grasp it.  Others around me did and spoke in tongues frequently.  I don’t know.  I won’t say it’s fake but I sure saw a lot of misuse in that function of the spirit.  People would use that “gift” to manipulate things in the church.  I just missed it somehow.  It’s not that I didn’t try.  I tried many times to speak in tongues and read books, listened to tapes and sermons on the subject but it just simply never clicked for me.  Honestly, I still don’t get it.

Most of my life in the church I tried to fit in.  I never did.  I taught Sunday School, Bible Study, worked in Youth Camps, worked with Youth in the church and tried to preach but never felt my fit.  The only place I have ever felt my fit in the church was in writing and the church didn’t even birth that in me.  Working as a sports writer at a newspaper got me on that path.   The last job I really had was as the media minster which was where I worked the computer and audio for church services.  I didn’t even fill like that was my fit either.  In fact,  one year I worked in a men’s retreat with the media and one guy comes up to me and fusses me out about not having a tape ready for purchase yet later that night he was standing up in front of the congregation crying and talking about reaching out to people.  Really?   Yeah, that was much of my impression of the church.  Hypocrisy everywhere.  Of course, where else should hypocrites be?  Of course the biggest hypocrite was me.  In fact, I penned this writing during my last year with the church:

Welcome to Hypocrite City, Population: Me.
I am the chiefest of all hypocrites.
None can do it better than me.
I am a pro at the “church game”.
Just answer “fine” to all questions.
No one cares otherwise.
Don’t believe me? Try another answer.
They don’t know how to respond
Or they try a religious cliché
“Keep looking up”
“I’m praying for you”
etc, etc. etc.
Nothing of substance – just words.
Words are empty without actions.
That’s why it’s best to answer: “fine”
No one wants to hear me whine.
The church is a joke
Christ isn’t laughing
I have proof of what I say
No calls or emails sent my way
No encouragement or even one of those clichés
Just nothing
Tomorrow is Sunday, and then will I exist to them
Well, until next Sunday that is.
As long as I play my role and do my deeds
I don’t want to hear it
I want to feel it
I don’t feel it.

Maybe saying the church has too many hypocrites is the reason you think I left the church.  No, not necessarily.  It was just something I came to expect in the church.  I had my fill of people who would be totally ugly and later speak in tongues in the Holy Ghost.  Yeah, that still makes me sick to my stomach.  Growing up with my father being a preacher whenever we would move to another church the first church member to tell us about all the problems with the church would be the very one that would cause the most problems.  If expectations were on me then I had expectations to be suspicious of the motives of others which is one thing I have had to work on a lot since leaving the church.

Yes, there are a lot of negative things from my experience with the church but that wasn’t the overriding thing that caused me to leave the church.  Since leaving the church, I had to pick the good parts from the bad.  I left the church but I did not leave my relationship with God.  The honest truth is that my relationship with God is better now than it was in all those years in the church.

I left the church but I did not leave my relationship with God.

FORSAKE NOT THE ASSEMBLY

I know preachers will quote that scripture about not forsaking the assembling yourself with others. (Hebrews 10:25)  I know it well.  The reason they will say that is because the church is their lives and, well, they need people and their finances so they will be able to continue in the ministry.  I’m not saying they are in it for the money because I know some good people who are in it and they are working jobs to support themselves and pastoring their churches.  They are not all about the money but it is their livelihood so of course they want to encourage people to come to church.

Let me say that for many people it is important to attend church and be involved in church.  I won’t tell you that I will never attend or be a part of another church.  I don’t know that for sure and I would never say never.  I just know that at this time in my life I am doing better without it after all the years of expectations and hypocrisy.  I would never discourage anyone from attending church.  I have to be careful not to be critical of people who do.  I often catch myself in a mid-eye roll when someone says they belong to a church.

So is it easy to keep up a relationship with God without church.  No it isn’t easy at all.  It’s honestly a lot of work and there is a lot of self-discipline involved.  When I was in the church, I really only had to be “on” a few hours a week.  Two hours on Sunday and maybe an hour for Bible Study.  I have discovered that without church I have to work to keep my relationship in the right place.  For me, it works to listen to at least one Podcast, listen or read the Bible at least every other day and constantly praying as well as spending time being quiet before God.  Nothing super spiritual or anything but doing what works for me.

I eventually came to a crossroads in my life and chose another path of which I am on now.  I made a choice to live the life that I could live.  It does not involve the church.

NEXT WEEK:  The Church I Left

 

How Do You Milk The Salchow?

salchowWith the 2018 Winter Olympic games going on in Pyeongchang, South Korea, we all have to brush up on the terms and events of the games.  To begin with, we have to try to pronounce the name of where the games are being played.  If you are from the South, this can be quite an entertaining event in itself.  I have pronounced this several different ways and even something close to P.F. Chang.  I’m not sure I’m going to get it right.

Then there are terms such as the triple salchow and McTwist which aren’t really desserts you can order at McDonald’s.   The slachow term is used in the figure skating events.  It’s one of those jumps they do when we take a breath to see if they are going to fall when they land.  I have to admit that when I Googled it that I tried the Southern way of spelling by looking for “Sow Cow”.  Contrary to my spelling, it has nothing at all to do with a cow.

A McTwist isn’t something you can order at McDonald’s.   We have learned that this is one of those snowboarding tricks that we oooo and aaaaah about when we see it.  Yeah, I won’t even try to attempt anything like that at home.  Just hand me a McTwist with sprinkles on top.

I don’t know about you but when the Olympics come around, I have to brush up on the terms and the events.  Like asking, “What is curling again?”   Here I go to Google.  Okay, that’s the thing with the huge iron looking rock with people who use brooms and yell really loud for a game that looks a lot like shuffleboard.   This is a sport?  Can you imagine having a professional league in that?

My favorite event is probably the bobsled.  I like watching the Jamaican bobsled team and the excitement and energy they have before they turn their bobsled over on the track or finish with a record low time.  It doesn’t matter to me.  I still like to watch them.    I also like the short track speed skating.  It’s a lot like roller derby on ice.  The luge and skeleton events are pretty strange.  No way I’m going to lay flat on a skid and go 60mph and try to steer with my legs.   Where is the snow tubing event?  Give me that one.

Of course, the most popular event is the figure skating.  I still get dizzy watching them spinning around.  I have read that they one way they learn to do it is to practice it endlessly until they don’t get sick anymore.  Don’t even get me started on the jumps.  The spinning things would certainly wipe me out.   Figure skating is where we get that salchow term.   In a few days we will be acting like we know all the terms such as triple axle and salchow.  “Oh, that was an awesome slachow!”  And we’re still saying it “sow cow”.

A new term in this Olympics is OAR which stands for the Olympic Athletes from Russia.  Russia is suspended from participating in the Olympics because of drug doping violations so only athletes from Russia who have qualified and passed the International Olympic Committee can compete but not for their country.  Confusing?  Yep.  Remember the “Miracle on Ice” back in the 80s?  Well, it won’t be the same this time when Team USA plays OAR.   Yeah, it doesn’t have the same ring to it.  “Let’s beat OAR!  Let’s beat OAR!”

Another confusing issue is with North and South Korea.  In some events they are competing together as Korea but in other events they are not.  I’m not sure what’s going on with that.  Apparently, under an agreement with North Korea, its qualified athletes are allowed to cross the Korean Demilitarized Zone into South Korea and compete in the games. The two nations marched together under the Korean Unification Flag during the opening ceremony.  A Unified Korea women’s ice hockey team is also competing under a separate IOC country code designation (COR); in all other sports, there is a separate North Korea team and a separate South Korea team.

Speaking of women’s ice hockey, they don’t tend to throw down and fight like the men do.  We also wondered how they able to play since there aren’t any women’s leagues and most colleges do not have a women’s team.  That’s pretty amazing that they can do it.

We also have to get familiar with the “stars” in each event.  I honestly don’t ever follow any of these unless it is the Olympics.  So we have to forget past Olympic athletes and get caught up on the new batch.  Okay, so it’s not Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan anymore right?

A total of 95 teams have qualified at least one athlete so far, with 92 of them expected to compete. Six nations are scheduled to make their Winter Olympics debut: Ecuador, Eritrea, Kosovo, Malaysia, Nigeria and Singapore.

Well, just when I am adjusted to the Winter Olympics again it will be over and I will think nothing about these events for another four years.

I think if I can say Pyeonchang right that it will be a success.

 

My Happily is Now!

happilyI will start out with a warning for you…this blog is going to be a little sappy.

Today is Valentine’s Day and it is the day when we express our love to someone special in our lives.  I know, I know, this day is over commercialized.  Roses cost a fortune today.  Jewelry stores love this day.  I still remember the times in elementary school when we would have envelopes on the wall and we would put cards in the envelopes for our classmates.  I would always save the best card for the girl I liked.  Sadly, they would never return the favor.  Yep, I was the one that got the “Goofy” card.  I wasn’t very smooth in the 4th grade that’s for sure.

Things are different now.  Today it is about the love.   Well, for me it is.

You see, the reason it is a happy day for me is that I found that one true love people talk about and movies are made about.  I have that happily ever after and I’m living it with my wife, Crystal, today.

It wasn’t always this way.  I have had many miserable Valentine’s Days in the past.  I remember how dreadful it was to look at the hundreds of cards and finding it difficult to get the right now because – honestly – I wasn’t feeling it.  Not for a long time.  When you are with the wrong person, life is pretty miserable.  I hated my life.  It wasn’t much fun to be me.

I met Crystal in high school but lost touch with her for over 30 years until we re-connected on Facebook.  Both of our marriages were over and we were broken people.  The first time I heard her voice on the phone she had me.  No question about it.  It was a magical moment.  After years apart, our souls connected.  We found what we were missing when we found each other.  We had no trouble saying “I love you” in fact, it took incredible restraint NOT to say it.  We just knew.  It has been an amazing experience.  People have criticized me for going after the fairy tale and believing in a happily ever after.  That’s okay.  Those critics can stay in their miserable marriages and enjoy playing the lead role in their life’s drama.

Do I believe in true love?  Absolutely.   Soulmates?  I do because I found mine.  I know people like to toss around that term.  Soulmates.  People scoff at that too.  You mean there is one person out there for everyone?  Well, I can’t say that about everyone.  I can only say it for me.  Crystal has made me a better man and gave me another chance at being a better husband.  You see, I wasn’t a good husband before.  I failed at it.  That’s what happens when you are living in the wrong life.

The moment I saw Crystal, I knew.

A fairytale sometimes doesn’t happen without the rough parts leading to it.  I went through that rough part.  I just didn’t know where it was leading to.  Sure, I wish I had gotten it right the first time and made the right choice in my early 20s but that’s not how it happened in my story.  I’m not proud of that part but my years of sorrow was turned into joy.   I did that.  I found her.  Now I am living the life I was always destined to live.  My own family, former friends and co-workers can have their judgment about it.  They didn’t live my life.  It’s easy to judge something you don’t know or haven’t experienced yourself.

I stepped into the life of the real me when Crystal entered my life.  I lived in fear in my previous life.  Constant pressure to measure up to everyone’s expectations and the fear of letting people down.  That stuff will kill you.  It nearly did.   I found a new life with Crystal and now I have my happily now.  Everyday.  So forgive me if I’m a little sappy on Valentine’s Day.  You don’t know my journey.

Sure, call me a romantic.  I am not ashamed of that admission.  When you have found it, you know it.  When you get to that happily ever after you just know.  No one has to tell me.

We don’t live in a fantasy world.  We still deal with every day life just like everyone else.  We have to work jobs and deal with the pressures of finances and all the rest but the difference is that we have each other.  The Bible calls the person our “help meet” and Crystal is that to me.  She is always on my side and my biggest supporter.  You can’t imagine how huge that is.

Serendipity is finding something good without looking for it.  My life found that serendipity.  Today I celebrate my happily now.