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Monday, May 21, 2012

My Day As An Almost Rock Star

{Caution: This is (another) very long post! Got your readers ready? Let's do it!}

After my epic and amazing Thursday and Friday I was on a happiness high already, but that did not make the alarm clock at 6:00 am Saturday any easier to hear! I know if you read part one you are wondering why I set my alarm that early!

For those of you who do not know, I have the honor of serving as President of our church's ladies group, Philoptochos. Essentially, our name means, "friend of the poor" and we try our best to serve our community in that way. Saturday morning we hosted a hands on serving event, we made blankets for the local children's home.

I was amazed at our turnout, though some may think five ladies is a small group, in comparison to the size of our church and our Philoptochos roster this was a great turnout! We finished four no-sew blankets and made huge progress on three quilt-like blankets. All in under three hours!

I love these ladies with all my heart, and being that I have no 'family' in North Carolina, my church makes up a big part of who my local family now is. I started off my Saturday being reminded of why just knowing these amazing women has blessed my life immeasurably! As I locked up the church and walked to my car I thought even if nothing else great happened that day I would have had an epic weekend for that interaction alone!

We loaded up our van and were off to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the second time in two days. Just that morning alone was epic enough for me. I was not expecting anything super special, just some good fun with some great friends. I had no idea that it would turn out to be the best day I've ever had at a race track!

We arrived, parked, turned off the car and called some friends we were supposed to meet. They had saved us a parking spot! So we hopped back in and drove a few rows down to where they were tailgating. After some happy dances, tweeting and pictures I tried to text another friend I was supposed to meet. He tried to call me but I had no signal. I tried to climb on top of the van to get one. Literally! I tried this at least three times throughout the day, it made my friends laugh. I like to make my friends laugh, maybe next time I'll actually get up there and dance! Ha!

I used my friend's phone to call him back, left a voice mail, then hubby and I decided to head to the infield for what was left of the Blake Shelton concert. When we got inside I got a text from my friend Jordan. Finally, I had enough signal to call him, we met up, hugged and went in search of Jeff Gluck's infamous tweetup! The hug is epic that's why it made it in here, I love hugs - just warning you now that if we've never met and we someday do meet there will be hugging involved!

We're walking back and forth near the scoring pylon because that's where this tweetup is supposed to happen when I make eye contact with someone who looks at me like they know me. They said, "Are you..." and as they trailed off I said, "Looking for the tweetup? You bet!" They said, "No, I was going to ask if you're Momma Bear?" (For my non-Twitter friends, I'm Momma Bear to my Twitter family!) "Oh my gosh, yes I am!!" "You'll never guess who I am." At this point I am trying to scroll over 800 faces of people who follow me and I'm coming up with nothing. "I'm sorry, you'll have to tell me, I don't know." They gave me a big grin and said, "I'm A Checkered Flag!" More hugs!!!

After a little more walking around the general vicinity of the scoring pylon, we found the tweetup! David Ragan was there! He signed my hubby's hat!! It now has James Buescher, Miguel Paludo & David Ragan's autograph's on the front of it! We saw Mike Calinoff & Brandon Igdalsky. Mike said hi from across the crowd. Mr. Igdalsky shook our hands and told us to come on up to Pocono!

Jordan took the lead with getting Jeff Gluck's attention. Jeff was gracious enough to listen to our whole spiel about the #TMSFanCrew. Then he asked me to send him an email with the #TMSFanCrew info in it on Monday (already sent BTW) and he would see if he could at least get a tweet out for us. Considering the man has a following of over 28,000 awesome people this is pretty epic in and of itself but add to that how cool he was plus the picture I now have with his arm around my shoulder, just wow!

As if the day wasn't amazing enough already, I can't stop there, nope, don't worry there's more! So, I'm talking with Jordan about the wow factor of the epic (yes I use this word a lot!) conversation with Jeff Gluck...and I'm laughing about how I told him to watch for tweets from Momma Bear...when I hear some one give an excited OMG to my left. Well, I immediately start looking around thinking someone super famous has showed up! But a second later I hear, "You're Momma Bear? OMG You're Momma Bear! I totally follow you!" Can I tell y'all that between@acheckeredflag & this follower who I'm so sorry I didn't catch their name (message me if you're reading this so I can fix??? Please???) I was feeling so honored and humbled. My Twitter family makes me feel like a rock star for real. In fact, in honor of how y'all made me feel I barely took my sunglasses off the rest of the day!

We're looking around trying to decide if we see anyone else we know or know of when I looked over and saw someone who looked familiar. I asked Jordan who it was. He took a minute to follow my gaze, then said it was none other than Bob Pockrass! While Jordan made his way over to try to get a chance to speak with Bob, I ran into another friend, Crystal. More hugging! I made my way over to Jordan and Bob just in time for me to fill in a little bit of the 'who we are' for the #TMSFanCrew. Another picture was taken and another email was requested!

Jordan and his buddy Alex headed in search of food while George and I headed back to the tailgate party, more epic hugs first of course! We got to the van as our friends were packing up to head inside and I got a call from my awesome friend Amber (more standing almost on top of my van!) and she headed over to hang out with us. We met up with Amber and walked around a little bit before she had to head in to work and we had to head in to the track for the festivities. Of course there were some more epic hugs here!

All these epic hugs and pictures and conversations just kept making this day more and more epic. When I thought it could not get any better I get a text message from none other than my dear Twitter friend, Laura! We met by my gate and let me tell y'all: she gives the best hugs, like ever! I only wish we had been able to spend more time together. But we all had a race to go see!

We found our section and before going up we noticed they were letting people stand by the catch fence. We walked over and took some fun pictures to tweet to @TheCatchFence (if you're not on Twitter just ask me later! LOL). We asked the Guest Services man if we were allowed to stay there and he pointed to the yellow line and just said that while the cars were racing we had to stay behind that line. Really? SO COOL!!!

The rest of my night is a blur, but here's the highlights:
*Met a guy who's sister works in NASCAR, I now follow him on Twitter!
*Chatted for a few minutes with some sponsors from Carlisle (Brad K & AJ Dinger's cars)
*Made friends with two Guest Services guys, got pics, handshakes & hugs
*Screamed my head off with what little voice I had as JR raced his way in to the All Star Race!
*Chatted & cheered with a guy who said he used to race with Trevor Bayne way back when (said he  knows my buddy too, have not confirmed but cool nonetheless!)
*Got a golf cart ride back to my van "rock star style" for the 'after party'
*Last but not least, our after race tweetup/taligate party was crashed by the obligatory drunken fans who could not find their car (they said they were parked a few rows over but I'm not convinced!)

So here it is two days later and I still haven't found my voice, I'm still flying high on the memories and I'm even more stoked about the #TMSFanCrew than I ever imagined I could be! I can't list all the people and blessings I am thankful for. I am too blessed, I cherished every moment, every interaction, everything!!!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

EPIC Memories!

{CAUTION: Very long blog post! Put your readers on!}

Where do I start? At the beginning I suppose...way back, a little over thirty years ago on a beautiful Palm Sunday evening...oh, too far? Ok, how about I start with last Thursday? 

Alright, when my epic adventure began was really last week. I retweeted a post on Twitter from Miss Sprint Cup (@MissSprintCup) without really thinking about it. Turns out I was one of the first however many to retweet the post. I won two tickets to the Sprint Cup Pit Crew Challenge. We've always wanted to go but have never had the chance.

A dear friend, Sara, came down from Kernersville, NC to spend the day with us and attend the event together. We had an epic lunch, sitting on the bus inside the legendary Lancaster's in Mooresville, NC. After that we headed over to the NC Auto Racing HOF & Museum. We looked around a bit but realized we were short on time so we made a quick pit stop at Wal-Mart and headed home. 

After making some neon signs to try to get on tv with, we scooped up my daughter and headed over to Turner Motorsports. We delivered some goodies to Ted Bullard, their Chief Marketing Officer and dare I say a good friend? Well, on the way to that status I hope! We were sitting there waiting for Ted to come out to say hey and who walks out? None other than James Buescher and his adorable wife Kris! 

They said hey as they walked out the door and my husband says, "Wasn't that James Buescher???" I said yes, he got so excited he knocked his sunglasses off his own head! James & Kris walked back in and came over to us! My hubby got James' autograph! Kris told me that she had said to James outside, "I think he wanted your autograph but was too shy to ask." Tell me that is not the most awesome couple in racing y'all!!!! Then Kris took a picture of us & tweeted about how sweet WE were! WHOA!!!!!

They chatted with us for a few minutes, during which my son told Ted that he wanted to sit in the race car (show car). Ted, being the awesome guy he is, picked up my son, Baby Bear, and put him inside the car/truck. Kris took a picture I think. There was so much going on and honestly I was a little star struck at how amazing the Buescher's were/are! Baby Bear totally tried to put the belts on, he wants to drive so bad it's almost scary! Too expensive! But if it's his dream, well hopefully we can make that happen!

Next into the truck was George. If you have not already, you need to check out this picture of him as he was climbing out:

We had a great tour around the shop, it was so different to see some of the cars not in there where we had seen them lined up before...made it sink in how it was race weekend and all. My daughter, Honey Bear, was in heaven as she stood next to Kasey Kahne's truck and his car. George got a second autograph, from Miguel Paludo! Have I mentioned this was our most epic trip to Turner to date? 

We all hung out in Ted's office till literally the shop was closed and locked up for the night. We had some great conversations about the #TMSFanCrew and more! Every time I get a chance to talk with Ted it is an epic good time, I have such respect for positive people who know their passion and go for it! We got to sneak in a quick hug with the amazing Ted's even more amazing & beautiful wife, Merrily before we scooted out the doors!!

After our scramble to find a sitter and get the kids there, we headed out to Time Warner Coliseum in Charlotte, NC, barely making it in time to see the first challenge. I was hooked the second the buzzer went off. I was screaming like a die hard fan from way back. To be honest, I kinda am one of those.

I think the pit crews are the real rock stars of our beloved sport of NASCAR. Oh, and if you dare to disagree with me that it is a sport than I point you to exhibit A. Go to the pit crew challenge yourself, sit close enough to see the action first hand...than come at me with your theories. I dare you. No I double dog dare you. But I digress! (For the record, even if you're wrong, you are entitled to your own opinion.)

So yea, I always knew that the pit crews were the superstars who make the drivers look good but I will never forget the amazing skills being highlighted that night. I feel so incredibly blessed to have been able to witness that. It made it totally worth completely losing my voiceou. I'm seriously not kidding y'all, I couldn't even squeak Friday morning!

We're up to Friday morning now, right? We lounged around a little after getting my daughter off to school. I remembered talking with Sara about Penske's Race Shop and since it is literally down the road from us we decided to head up there and look around. It was really cool, in my humble opinion. Of course, walking around the shop one on one is the best experience, but the observation deck at Penske is wild. It's a walkway that literally goes almost the length of the shop and you can stand up there to watch the guys work. Plus it is an open air experience, you are in the race shop while you're above it and so you still get all the smells you get on a traditional tour. Mostly. 

Since we were out and about, and since we're part of JR Nation, we decided to head the few minutes down the road to JR Motorsports next. We were walking around their gift shop when the gals behind the counter announced they had free tickets for that same night's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race! No purchase necessary! Um...YES PLEASE! Double bonus? Free shop tour! 

Now, this shop tour was pretty inclusive, we walked past the offices of the likes of Tony Eury, Sr as we headed into the shop. We saw so much I can't begin to describe it all. I will admit, when I saw the #3 Wrangler tribute car I got chills...and when the tour guide reminded us that it was the last ever tribute that Jr did for his dad I felt a few tears escape. 

I am in love with the sights, sounds and smells of the inside of the race shops. If I could go every day it still would not be often enough. I know my passion, It is NASCAR. More importantly, it is the behind the scenes heroes who work on making those cars rock, and the pit crews who win races a few seconds at a time!

We got home just before my daughter came bursting through the front door with her own epic news! She passed her EOG's! (NC's End of Grade standardized tests) So when we shared our plans for the night we asked if she wanted to invite a friend to come with. Her friend was jumping up and down excited about it. Score one for the parental units!

Packed up and ready the five of us head off to Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, NC. We hit up the Will Call window and left extra tickets for Merrily who would arrive in a little bit. We headed inside to find we were seated just before the Start/Finish line on the front stretch. Not bad! After a mix up with kids tickets (my bad!!) Merrily, her mom, her son, her neighbor & neighbor's son all joined us.

I was still nursing my voice back when our boy, James Buescher, took the lead! It was all over for my vow of silence at that point. I would buy a bottle of Chloroseptic the next morning. Or two. Hey, they might make a good sponsor for our guys at Turner...oh, but I digress!

In the end, all three Turner trucks would end up with some bad luck but we cheered them on to the end. We know that our team is dominant this year in both its main series and we look forward to many more trips to victory lane regardless of how the 'hometown' race went!!

I stayed up too late talking with all my amazing friends on Twitter about my epic night until the internet went out. The alarm clock at 6:00 the next morning was a harsh reality but I drug myself outta bed and got ready for another memorable day. I had no idea it was going to turn out as insanely epic as it did! I have to say since this is getting so be continued! 

Thankful for: too many blessings to list! My cup & saucer overflow!
2nd thanks: NASCAR fans who rock my world!

Lessons Learned:
*Even if you think you left early enough on race didn't!
*I will never get tired of chatting with my friends about #TMSFanCrew & NASCAR in general!
*My husband has a silly side!! He may have missed his calling! LOL
*My son has discovered a passion for racing! We may be in trouble! Ha!
*My daughter has discovered her as well & is making plans already to achieve them! So proud!!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

How Do You Find What You're Passionate About?

I'm not entirely certain there is one set way to do this! But I'll tell you what I know!

I think you need to be open minded first and foremost. What you want to be passionate about and what you are passionate about may be two ends of a crazy spectrum. Be prepared to learn things about yourself you never expected! 

You've got to ask yourself some important questions, and you have to be honest with yourself about the answers! What is it that you have the most fun doing? If money were no object what would you be doing right this minute? What is it that you could talk about all day every day and never run out of things to say about? 

Did you answer those? Go ahead. We'll wait for you.

So, were you surprised? I know I was!! My biggest surprise is that I have more than one passion. I just wish I could split myself into three or 4 people so I could pursue all of them at the same time!! 

There's something else to consider, when you have decided to go for it then you won't struggle to find the time to do what you are most passionate about. It will rise to the top on its own as naturally as oil floats to the top of water. It's not going to be pulling teeth, it's going to be fun! Well, unless pulling teeth is fun for you? Maybe that's your passion!

Dreams are what gives us hope, passion is what fuels our drive to get there! Passion is the ultimate motivator! So...what are you waiting for? Go find your passion! Now!

Thankful for today: People! All people! I love people! Y'all rock!!
Today's 2nd Thanks: Grace! Being blessed with that which I do not deserve!

Lessons Learned:
*Read the local events in the paper before picking your garage sale date!
*Be willing to compromise, forgive and be generous w/ your time & talents.
*Being honest with others comes naturally, being honest with myself is a huge struggle!
*There is NO corralling a 3-year-old on garage sale day, no matter the bribe!!
*A lizard in the garage will make 3 out of 4 family members scream & laugh simultaneously while the 4th tries to catch it!