World Champions!

My sister and I ready to cheer for the Seahawks in MetLife Stadium at SBXLVIII.

My sister and I ready to cheer for the Seahawks in MetLife Stadium at Super Bowl XLVIII.

Now that 12 days have passed since my beloved Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl, I’m finally able to focus on life outside of football.

Granted, the Seahawks have been a part of my life for more than 30 years, so it’s no easy feat for me to put their recent monumental accomplishment aside. But, smiles and joy alone don’t pay the bills, so I’m forcing myself to focus on my latest venture…my communications consulting business.

But first, can I just share with you how fabulous it was to be in MetLife Stadium cheering for the Seahawks as they won their first Super Bowl? I’ve never yelled so loudly with the 12th Man. I’ve never danced or jumped that much as a fan. I still can’t wipe the smile off my face.

It was sheer jubilation. Chanting SEA-HAWKS! L-O-B! Omaha Omaha! (Haha!) Bouncing with the sea of 12s to Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us” after every score. It was pure bliss.

I couldn’t have scripted a better game. Twelve seconds into the game Denver’s ball snap went awry, right in front of us. From there the Hawks kept scoring and scoring and scoring. The 12s kept cheering and jumping and dancing. It was camaraderie at its finest.

I love the personalities on this Seahawks team – the class of Russell Wilson, the spunk of Richard Sherman, the determination of Doug Baldwin, the confidence of Golden Tate. From the beginning of the season I felt this was their year. I love these Hawks!

I’m happy for them. I’m happy for the city of Seattle. I’m happy for the Seahawks employees who have worked for decades for this championship. And obviously, looking at the number of 12s who showed up for the Victory Parade, I’m not the only one who feels this way.

Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks! You deserve to be World Champions. I feel so blessed to have shared your magical win with you.

Can we do it all again next year?

GO HAWKS!!!

Okay…now I’ll get to work.

Can anyone use the services of a smiling communications consultant with a Seahawks hangover?

Seahawks are Super Bowl Bound!

Photo from Seahawks.com. Photographer: Corky Trewin

I’d like to be productive today, but I’m still reeling from the Seahawks’ NFC Championship win on Sunday.

At least I’ve finally stopped shaking! What an emotional day.

After viewing hours of postgame reports and interviews, I have 10 thoughts to share:

 

  1. The Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl! Euphoria has swept over our city. I’m thrilled for the players, the Seahawks organization, the fans and the Pacific Northwest.
  2. I’m going to the Super Bowl, too! All season I knew this team was magical and I can’t wait to immerse myself in the midst of NYC’s Super Bowl festivities chanting “SEA-HAWKS” with my fellow 12th Man.
  3. Richard Sherman is awesome! Sure, he may be loud, brash and confident, and perhaps he didn’t exhibit much sportsmanship in the Erin Andrews interview. But, check out this video, which shows Sherman leading into the Andrew’s interview, for more context. Perhaps if you knew him better, or if he played for YOUR team, you’d enjoy his antics and admire his athleticism, commitment to be the best, and selflessness in the community. He’s an animated guy and Andrews happened to grab him at an exhilarating moment immediately after he beat a bitter rival on a game-winning play. He publicly let loose his built-up aggression toward Michael Crabtree, and that was unfortunate. The hatred and deluge of racially-motivated comments that followed were inexcusable and disheartening. Even Andrews said she was glad he was as lively as he was, and she wasn’t offended in the least. The interview provided great fodder for the media, but like he said, it didn’t represent who he is off the field. Sherman is the Seahawks’ Muhammad Ali. He’s confident, aggressive, focused and competitive. I agree 100% with this commentary by KING 5’s Paul Silvi. I look forward to watching Sherman on Feb. 2 as he shows the world why he is the best cornerback in the NFL.
  4. Kudos to the 49er fans who attended the game. They were a much nicer group than I encountered at Candlestick Park in December. The fact that San Francisco chose to shut down their cable cars during and after the game due to fear of what damage their fans might do to them is a testament to what I experienced when I was there. I’m glad a different group followed the team to Seattle.
  5. I was sorry to hear that some Seahawks fans threw popcorn at the injured NaVorro Bowman as he was carted off the field. That’s just plain disrespectful and not representative of the 12th Man. Those of us who watched Bowman’s knee bend backward on the one-yard-line have that painful image embedded in our minds forever. I wish him a speedy recovery.
  6. However, speaking of Bowman, I must sadly add that I find his pregame behavior of tearing up a poster belonging to an autograph-seeking Seahawk fan to be utterly disrespectful. Fans are the reason you have a job, Bowman. Hmmm…do you believe in karma?
  7. The Sea Gals are beautiful, entertaining and full of energy! I’m disappointed ESPN didn’t show them once during the telecast. Hopefully their hard work will be recognized with some exposure during the Super Bowl.
  8. Seahawks-mania is rampant in Seattle! The Seahawks have united our community. It’s healthy for our souls and our economy. Blue, green and 12s are found everywhere you turn. What fun.
  9. The Seahawks still don’t get any respect at the national level. Even after beating the 49ers to win the NFC Conference, there’s no respect. As Governor Inslee said, “We don’t drive covered wagons out here anymore!” Lookout negative-Nellies. I’m pretty sure this “pedestrian” team will be able to “squeak out” one more win this season and prove all of you wrong. Doug Baldwin says your lack of respect has turned the chips on the players’ shoulders into boulders, and fires them up to play even harder. That’s the Legion of Boom, baby!
  10. I love this 2013-2014 Seahawks team – their talent, personalities and community service. They’ve earned their place in Super Bowl XLVIII and I’m going to have the time of my life supporting them “loud and proud” in NYC and New Jersey. Go Hawks!

Keep it classy, Niners

Sunday I attended the Seahawks vs. 49ers game with my family in Candlestick Park. Numerous friends and strangers warned me to be safe and be careful. I shrugged off their concern.

Game day in Candlestick!

Game day in Candlestick Park!

I wasn’t worried because I’m a nice fan. I’m not one who provokes anger from the opposing team’s fans. I simply cheer for my team and its success. I don’t belittle the other team or their fans.

Sadly the Niner fans take competitive bantering to the level of vulgar swearing, “in your face” insults and physical intimidation. We truly were concerned for our safety.

We saw this sports bar readerboard while riding a cable car in San Francisco. It perfectly illustrates the classless Niner-fan mentality.

This sports bar readerboard we saw while riding a cable car typifies the classless Niner-fan mentality.

We felt comfortable when we were surrounded by the 12th Man at the tailgate party, but other than that our eyes were wide-open. Someone told me Candlestick Park was nothing more than a glorified penitentiary, and that is how it felt! I told my kids I should get them a T-shirt that says, “I survived Candlestick Park!”

Diehard 49er season-ticket holders who reflect the class of the past. They're giving up the tickets they've had for 50 years at the end of this season.

These diehard 49er fans have held season tickets for 50 years. They reflect the class of the past, and are giving up their tickets at the end of this season.

Perhaps when the Niners move to their new stadium next year their fan base will change. I hope so. The sweet couple in their 80s who sat behind us Sunday are such devout Niner fans they have a “49er shrine room” in their home. They said they’ve been season-ticket holders for 50 years but are releasing their tickets after this season. They said the team and fans have changed over the years and the class is gone. The glory days when the team was led by Joe Montana have passed.

So now I understand why my friends were concerned. Thankfully I believe all of the 12th Man in attendance made it out safely. Of course we were disappointed with the last-minute loss, but at least we made it out physically unharmed.

Most likely the Seahawks will play the Niners in the playoffs next month, and that game will be on our turf. The 12th Man won’t have to be told what color to wear to the game, when to cheer, or when our team has scored. (“Listen for the foghorn Niner fans – that means your team has just scored.”) Really? Are they not watching the game?

I could carry on with more negative Niner experiences, but I won’t. I’ll wrap up with one final thought. Hearing the SEA-HAWKS chant on our flights, throughout downtown San Francisco, in Candlestick’s parking lot and inside “The Stick” made me smile. I’m honored to represent the Seahawks and their class organization.

Niners – you have some work to do.

GO HAWKS!

A Beautiful Reunion

2013 Sea Gals with alumni in the locker room at the Seahawks vs. Bucs game 11-3-13.

2013 Sea Gals with alumni in the locker room at the Seahawks vs. Bucs game 11-3-13.

I couldn’t get to sleep Saturday night. I knew the next day was going to be one I would remember for the rest of my life.

Reunions inspire reflection – remembering how things were “then,” reminiscing about all that has happened since, and embracing how things are now.

Sunday I reconnected with friends I hadn’t seen in 30 years. I was the choreographer for the 1983 Sea Gals squad and the Seahawks recognized the 1983 Seahawks and Sea Gals during halftime at yesterday’s game.

Some things never change. The gals looked the same. They acted the same. They moved the same. I guess we are who we are despite the passage of time.

Even though three decades have elapsed since we cheered for the Hawks, as we walked around the field rallying with the 12th Man, it seemed like yesterday. The fans cheered, took pictures, shared kind words. It was heartwarming. It was like yesterday.

I’m so grateful for the reunion. I loved rekindling lost friendships, sharing joy with others who share a similar bond, and feeling at peace with myself and my life.

Yesterday was beautiful. And I slept great last night. Bring on tomorrow….GO HAWKS!

Personal Branding

SheriLeonardKOMO4BiteOfSeattleI just read a blog that discussed personal branding and it prompted me to ask myself, “What is my personal brand?”

After some reflection, I decided my brand is “Positively Professional.”

I was born with a positive disposition and a drive to be the best I can be. I didn’t develop these traits; they simply are part of who I am.

And trust me, being a perfectionist has its drawbacks — just ask my kids about my level of expectations.

But, being positively professional defines me!

I take pride in my work and in my relationships and I never want to let myself or anyone else down. Ever.

I love to work on projects — learning the objectives, creating a plan to meet those objectives, implementing the plan (making sure to enjoy the process), and reaching an end result that surpasses expectations.

I like to work on fast-paced, high-performing teams consisting of fun, smart and creative people with high integrity — collaborating and brainstorming to take projects from good to great.

I like to improve inefficiencies. I like to meet new people, build relationships and promote a positive culture. I like to bring joy to my little slice of the world. I like to make life better wherever I am.

I am positively professional. It’s in my DNA. And it’s my personal brand!

What is YOUR personal brand?

Go Seahawks!

My daughter, Kristi, as a 1996 Jr. Sea Gal.

1996 Jr. Sea Gal Kristi

Patience is not my strongest virtue. I’ll admit it. And waiting for tomorrow’s Seahawks game is killing me.

I know it’s just a football game, but this season the Seahawks unified and electrified our city. They evolved into Seattle’s sweetheart team. It’s more than just a game to fans like me.

Throughout the city, fans are dressed, tattooed and dyed blue; city lights are twinkling green and blue; the 12th man flag is flying everywhere. The buzz is all about the Seahawks.

This game is a big deal. Winning will take Seattle one step closer to the Super Bowl; one step closer to winning that pinnacle game, and shedding the negativity stemming from Seattle’s prior Super Bowl experience. Ugh…it pains me to even think about THAT experience.

So as I wait impatiently for tomorrow’s game, I am doing my best to revel in the camaraderie, the fun and the excitement in the city. I am grateful for the wild and winning 2012 season and the joy it brought to Seattle fans. And, I optimistically anticipate a continued path to the 2013 Super Bowl.

Bring on the Atlanta Falcons, and let’s see how the Seahawks fare. My guess is they will do quite well.

GO HAWKS!!!

Puppy Love

IMG_1809 EditThere’s nothing like the love and joy a dog brings into your life. Does anyone else run sprints and circles when you walk through the door? I didn’t think so.

Angel, my daughter’s dog that I seem to be the caretaker of, wants nothing more in life than to be with me, go for walks, and devour treats. Her life plan is simple: provide unconditional love to her master. Wow. Lucky me!

Of course, caring for a dog can sometimes be inconvenient and unpleasant. Doggy do-dos, doggy hair accenting every outfit, limited time on outings because you need to let your dog out, etc.

But, all-in-all, there’s nothing like puppy love to make your day brighter. Thank you, Angel, for bringing joy into my life!

Memorial Stadium Memories

Shoreline Wins Turkey Day Game
Our joyful Shoreline cheer squad celebrates winning the prep football metro title in Memorial Stadium.

Ah yes. Reading Bill Kossen’s story, “Turkey Times – 50 years of tasty Turkey Day Game memories and my love of prep football” printed in the Seattle Times Nov. 22, 2012 brought back many happy memories.

Kossen said he went to his first high school football game 50 years ago at age 7, and every year since has made an annual pilgrimage to Seattle’s Memorial Stadium (in the shadow of the Space Needle) to catch a game. That game 50 years ago hooked him into the world of prep football, and now as an editor and writer for The Seattle Times, he shared some of his fond memories.

I, too, have fond memories of Memorial Stadium and prep football. My father was a football referee, and oftentimes my sister and I would go to his games. We loved the energy of the crowd, the excitement, the band, the colors, the lights, and mostly, the cheerleaders.

We were young – pretty sure I was in elementary school and she was in middle school, yet we had a great time evaluating the cheer squads’ choreography (and picking up some new moves). We chose who we thought was the prettiest, who had the most pizazz, and who had the coolest uniforms.

Little did I know that those memorable childhood nights were setting the foundation for my lifelong part-time career. My sister and I both were high school cheerleaders and twirlers at Shoreline High School. I then became the only person on earth to be a featured twirler at both WSU (freshman and sophomore years) and the UW (junior and senior years). I loved the thrill of game day so much that my senior year I twirled for the Huskies on Saturdays and cheered for the Seahawks as a Sea Gal on Sundays. (And somehow I still managed to graduate in four years.)

At age 23 I became the choreographer for the Seattle Seahawks Sea Gals, and I’ve judged Sea Gals tryouts for over 20 years. I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that those exciting nights in Memorial Stadium would lead to decades of dance, cheer, coaching and choreography, but I never thought it was a talent. I always thought everyone could do it.

To this day, I love watching football. And I love watching the cheerleaders.

Recently my daughter asked me, “Mom, can’t you ever just sit back and enjoy a performance without critiquing it?”

“No, Kristi. I can’t. I can’t help but see ways to make it better!”

I try not to be judgmental in everyday life. And I certainly keep life in perspective and realize that cheerleading, dance, twirling and football are all just hobbies. But I am thankful for them because they provide a brief escape from my daily routine. They’ve brought joy, fun, friends, excitement, and hundreds of cherished memories into my life.

As far as this weekend goes, I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s Seahawks game. Yesterday’s Apple Cup matchup between WSU and the UW was one of the closest ever. And as for my high school alma mater, I can no longer cheer for it. The Shoreline Spartans, who reigned supreme in the Turkey Day battle when I was one of their cheerleaders, are no more. The school is now the community’s senior center. Ouch!

Jordyn Wieber’s Dream of All-Around Gold is Dashed

Jordyn Wieber 2012 Olympics

Jordyn Wieber performing at the 2012 Olympic Games. (AP Photo / Gregory Bull)

What a travesty! I must agree with those words spoken by Bela Karolyi last night after the women’s gymnastics competition at the Olympic Games. My heart hurts for Jordyn Wieber.

Last night, due to a Federation of International Gymnastics (FIG) rule allowing only two gymnasts per nation to compete for the individual all-around title, current World Champion Wieber was eliminated from the competition.

It doesn’t matter that she finished in fourth place and the final competition includes 24 gymnasts. Since two of her teammates scored higher than her, 21 gymnasts who finished below her will get the opportunity to compete for gold – just because they aren’t on Team USA.

What a shame for Jordyn, and any other competitor who could get cut in the future because of this rule. It’s not right to eliminate the world’s finest from an Olympic competition because they are a member of a strong team. Isn’t the goal of a team, and each individual, to be the best they can be?

Until last night I thought the Olympic Games represented the best of the best. I thought it was a fierce competition representing the world’s finest athletes. Last night I learned otherwise. The all-around competition in women’s gymnastics will not represent the best in the world. Instead it will represent SOME of the top gymnasts from a variety of countries.

It’s as if the FIG said, “Congratulations on being fabulous and placing fourth in the all-around competition. But, since we would like to see athletes from a variety of nations in the competition, we’re going to let women from other countries who finished below you compete for the Olympic title in your place. You don’t mind do you? It’s nice to share.”

I don’t believe the Olympic Games are about sharing. The Olympic Games are the ultimate competition for athletes demonstrating unfathomable excellence. Athletes who have devoted their lives to training for the games should not have to step down from the competition to allow others who score below them to participate. If there are 24 slots in a final competition, the gymnast who qualifies in fourth place should certainly have the opportunity to move forward in the competition.

The FIG needs to get rid of their 2-per-country rule before the next Olympics so no other team has to go through what Team USA experienced last night. Like Jordyn’s coach John Geddert said, “It’s an injustice Jordyn will be excluded from the all-around finals.” He posted on Facebook, “We have always known the 2 per country rule, we are not crying of spilt milk, yet it makes it difficult to explain how the 4th best AA finisher, the former world champion, does not get a shot at fulfilling her dream, just because her country happens to be incredibly strong. The sting of this injustice is painful and for the record I have voiced this opinion time and time again …. To penalize an athlete or country for being OUTSTANDING is not in the spirit of sport and certainly not the spirit of the Olympic Games.”

I agree with Geddert. But for now, the rule stands. And despite Jordyn’s tremendous disappointment she’ll need to set aside her pain and take pride in representing Team USA in the team competition and the individual floor exercise finals. Kudos to her for handling her disappointment with grace while in the world’s spotlight, and I hope she performs flawlessly as Team USA vies for the gold.

I don’t want to take anything away from the amazing USA gymnasts who qualified ahead of Jordyn – Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas. Congratulations to them! I simply feel badly that because of the 2-person per nation rule, Aly couldn’t celebrate her great accomplishment with gusto because she knew that her accomplishment meant extreme disappointment to her teammate, roommate, and best friend – Jordyn. Talk about a joy killer… Imagine the celebration they could have enjoyed had all three who qualified been allowed to move forward in the competition.

Tomorrow we’ll get to watch the drama unfold during the team competition. Good luck to Team USA and ALL FIVE of the “Fab Five.” I’m pretty sure the crowd will cheer extra loud for Jordyn. I can’t wait to hear them.

Happiness

Hawaiian Sunset

Beautiful photo courtesy of Karen Warner.

How do you “find” happiness?

You don’t “find” it, folks, you create it. The key is to realize what brings you joy and inspires your passion…and what doesn’t! Then, do more of the good and ditch the bad!

This soul-searching may take some time, but it is time well-spent. Once you figure it out and start bringing those things that bring you joy into your life, you’ll start loving life more than ever.

We all have gifts and talents, and we need to put them to good use. Think about the five “W’s” – Who, What, Where, When and Why:

WHO do you enjoy being around; who inspires you to be your best; who makes you smile? Whose life can you make better by helping them in some way?

WHAT activities, hobbies, or work are you passionate about? What work do you enjoy so much you’d do it for free? What do people tell you you’re good at? What are you excited to learn more about? What can you do to make the world a better place?

WHERE are you when you feel at peace? Are you at the top of a mountain or on a Hawaiian beach? (Both work for me!) Are you in a luxurious hotel or a rustic cabin? Are you energized in a warm, sunny climate or in a cooler climate?

WHEN are you the most productive? When can you fit joyful activities into your life? When do you prefer to sleep, work, play? Try to mold your schedule around your preferences.

WHY are you trying to live the way other people think you should live (or how you think others want you to live)? Why not start making yourself happier NOW? Why not start doing one thing every day that makes you happy?

I loved an article I read today by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nocodemus. In it they said, “Happiness, as far as we’re concerned, is achieved through living a meaningful life—a life that is filled with passion and freedom, a life in which we grow as individuals and contribute to other people in meaningful ways. Growth and contribution—those are the bedrocks of happiness. Not stuff.

“This may not sound sexy or marketable or sellable, but it’s the cold truth. As humans, we’re happy if we’re growing as individuals and contributing beyond ourselves.

“Without growth, and without a deliberate effort to help others, we are simply slaves to cultural expectations, ensnared by the trappings of money and power and status and perceived success.”

(Click here to read the complete article.)

The choice to be happy is yours; no one else can MAKE you happy. Best of luck to you as you create your own happiness!