Back in early April, I took a leap of faith and headed north to participate in a joint training exercise/community service project with Team Rubicon and Habitat for Humanity Omaha. MOBEX Trigger was my first real foray into Team Rubicon and I had no idea where it would lead. Actually, I'm still trying to figure that all out. All I know is that I've found my tribe. That's really I need to know right now.

This past week, The Girl and I were able to head back up to Omaha for Olympic Trials and we had time between the morning and evening sessions to head over and check the progress on the house I worked on. And I was able to show my girl some of what I had been involved in and give her an idea of not only what kind of impact it had on me, but more importantly what kind of impact it (and everything that HFHO is doing in the neighborhood) had on the community.

When we were there in April, the tentative plan was to have the redo of the house complete sometime in late May. However our site lead, Mona, cautioned us that these old houses often have surprises waiting for the teams so that timeline was very fluid. And she was right. Here it is the end of June and progress on the old house hasn't gone as quickly as was anticipated - partly because of the house itself and partly because HFHO was really busy with their mission of completing FIFTY homes in the North Omaha area by the end of the summer.

The transformation in the area is remarkable. Just in the 2.5 months since I was there, the neighborhood's feel has changed significantly. What used to be empty, barren lots filled with brush and debris are now home to brand new homes with bright windows and wonderful landscaping. There were kids out playing everywhere and an energy present that wasn't as strong last time I was there. The transformation is remarkable.

The back side of the house. They finally peeled the LAYERS of siding off and got down to the bones.

The garage was on its way to completion.

The front of the house. That upper story and front porch were almost the death of us. Literally.

Back in April, we were given a tour of this house and, while standing in the upstairs front bedroom, you could see the slope of the upper floor toward the front of the house. As we're being given the tour, part of our crew was at work demo'ing the porch. Thankfully they didn't get very far. Come to find out, the upper floor/porch wasn't really support by footings of any substance - just the pillars that they had been working on with sledgehammers. Additionally, when the floors were torn into upstairs, it was found that, at some point, someone had poured CONCRETE into the floors - possibly as an insulation attempt.

All of that to say that, had our team actually succeeded in demoing the porch at that point, things would have ended poorly for us.

When all was said and done, they had to jack the upper floor up about 5 inches using three jacks - a 5-ton, a 3-ton, and a 2-ton (L-R in the picture) and even then, the 2-ton jack kept kicking out. Craziness.

But she's coming along nicely and Mona says they do have a family selected for this house. They didn't have a timetable for completion yet. The kids and I are going to head back up to Omaha at some point before school starts and hit the zoo. When we do, we'll make sure to swing by and grab an update!

Cool side note: one of the gentlemen that was working on the house the day we went by, and who gave us the 10 cent tour, is actually from the town I currently live in and still has family here. So the invitation was extended to have him swing by and at least say hi or sit down for a mean with us when he's in town next.

Small world! I love it!

Olympic Trials

I came about as close to experiencing nirvana yesterday as I think I've come in a very long time, if ever. The 2016 Olympic Swimming Trials are currently taking place just a few hours from my house. I cannot be this close and not go so I managed to get tickets for a day and The Girl and I drove up. The schedule for the day was as follows:

Morning Session (Prelims):
Women's 200m Butterfly
Men's 200m Butterfly
Women's 200m Individual Medley

Evening Session:
Women's 200m Freestyle (Semis)
Men's 200m Freestyle (Final)
Women's 100m Backstroke (Final)
Men's 100m Backstroke (Final)
Women's 100m Breaststroke (Final)
Men's 200m Butterfly (Semis)
Women's 200m Individual Medley (Semis)

It was quite a full day. We saw all sorts of big names swim: Michael Phelps, Katy Ledecky, Tyler Clary, Missy Franklin, and Natalie Coughlin. Just to be in the building with swimmers of that caliber was enough to about send me over the edge. I was like a 13 year old girl at a Justin Bieber concert.

In addition to all of that - and even more exciting to me - was the fact that I was able to meet up with an old friend from high school. Mike was a senior when I was a sophomore and we both swam on the high school swim team - he just did it a hell of a lot better than I ever did! He's now the head coach for a Master's program back in SoCal and FIVE of his guys qualified for Trials. We were able to meet up briefly between the morning and afternoon session. I would have loved to have spend more time with him but I had a house to go check on and lunch to grab. More about the house HERE.

On top of all of that, I was also able to watch several swimmers from my former Colorado team swim in these Trials. That was also amazing in its own way - that team was a solid team when I was coaching there (not because I was coaching...just because it was a solid team) and to see what it is grown into and produced was wonderful.

The whole experience was simply amazing. I'm not sure I can even put in to words all of the emotions I experienced. It's a good thing I had a long drive home that evening - left me time to get my head straight.

The other side of it was that I was able to take my girl with me and watching her experience all of it was almost better than my own experience. Almost. It's really fulfilling to watch her fall in love with the sport I love so much.

The view from the mezzanine level.

Men's 200m Butterfly. Michael Phelps is in the red toward the center.

More Men's 200m Butterfly.

Aqua Zone had memorabilia from earlier Olympics.

American flag made from lane lines. And 66 states...

Left Shark!

Gary Hall, Jr. I was too impatient to wait in line for his autograph.

Opening of the evening session. Incredible light show.

A pillar of water with fire at the top. I am confused...

Traffic getting out of the lot was bad so we grabbed books and snacks and went down to the river to sit.

It was an incredible evening to just sit and enjoy.

I have been to Omaha twice in my life now and both times, I have left feeling so full. Not literally, but metaphorically. In April, I left after having spent 3 of the most incredibly fulfilling days of my life serving with Team Rubicon and Habitat for Humanity Omaha. I had found my tribe and I am still learning what that really means to me. This time, I left having felt more at home that I have in a very long time.

It was good to be home.

 - hfs


A Day Off

Today was a rarity - an actual day off. The Girl wasn't feeling well so she didn't go to before-the-crack-of-dawn swim practice and I have the start of a cold brewing so I opted to sleep in as well. rather than go to morning jiu-jitsu class. We have a big swim meet this weekend and I have a stupid packed week next week so I can't afford to be sick. Rest is my biggest (and most underutilized/poorly use) weapon so it was incredible to be able to do so today. As I am typing this, I've not left the property yet today and, if it weren't for my people demanding to be fed, thereby necessitating a run to the grocery store, I wouldn't do so until tomorrow.

I've spent the day catching up on some household chores, watching all six episodes of Mob City (which starred my current obsession, Jon Bernthal), chatting with friends online, keeping tabs on another friend whose close family members were killed and injured in a horrific car crash earlier this week, and reading. If it weren't ridiculously hot outside and if the rope holding my hammock to the tree hadn't broken (with me IN it!), I'd be out in the backyard reading a book. Need to pick up some more rope so I can set the hammock back up.

Now that my resume has been sent in, I can let the cat completely out of the bag with regard to Team Rubicon. I've been approached to be the State Membership Manager! I will be in charge of mobilizing our state members for operations as well as enhancing the membership experience through orientation, engagement, and administrative actions. I have no idea what all that encompasses but I'll learn. They are standing up MMs in each state within the region and, I'm assuming, in each of the 50 states if they don't already have one. I'll be working in conjunction with the Regional Membership Manager as well as the rest of the state and regional leadership teams.

I'm so freaking excited that I can barely contain myself! My family is SO tired of hearing the words Team Rubicon come out of my mouth :) It's not going to get any better. Sorry, peeps.

Time to go enjoy the fireflies in the backyard.

- hfs


Over the moon

When I finally got my act together and found room in my life for time to volunteer with Team Rubicon, I only ever envisioned doing ground-level work: what they call 'Strike Team' work. Mucking, clearing debris, hauling trash, throwing the occasional sledgehammer at a wall. I got a small taste of that up in Omaha at MOBEX Trigger a few months back and I loved it. I learned a ton and was able to work with some pretty awesome people.

I never envisioned anything beyond that level of engagement other than being the perpetual Team Rubicon cheerleader (seriously, TR, when are y'all going to stock a cheerleader's outfit in your store?) in real life and on social media. I mean, what more could a girl ask for? Hanging out with some incredible people while helping out those dealing with natural disasters - it doesn't really get any better than that, right?

Until yesterday when an email landed in my inbox that had me squealing and startling the people I work with. Parts of it read:

My name is XXXXX XXXXXXX and I am the Membership Manger for Region XXX. 
I would love to see you in leadership with Team Rubicon. 
I am telling you all of this, because I would love to have you on my team.  I would love to have you helping me engage our members, and help our members. 
Would you please consider applying for the XXXXXXXXX? 
To apply, send me your resume and cover letter.  Thank you for your consideration!! 

I about came unglued right there at work. They want me? To work at the state level for TR? Combining two things I am passionate about: military veterans and helping others? Hell yes! Sign me up! 

But I needed to take some time to talk about it with MacGyver and think it over. Summer time is ridiculously hectic in our family: early morning swim practice, jiu jitsu class for me, baseball, hitting the pool, work, work, swim meets, tackling our 'not bummer summer' TO DO list, etc. I can half-ass a lot of things in life but working with and for Team Rubicon is NOT one of those things. The time commitment isn't huge but it's still hours in the week I have to find somewhere. 

I sent my resume in this afternoon. I will sacrifice sleep or time at the pool or something in order to make this happen. 

I am over the freaking moon and thrilled to be considered for this. I've not done a single thing to deserve it but I will do my best to prove I am worthy.

- hfs


Wrote this six years ago. Nothing's changed.  One of my favorite movies is 'Bull Durham'. And one of my favorite scenes in ...