When you go for it

I love when football teams go for two-point conversions.

Sure, you could get the easy extra point, but why not get two the hard way, instead?

I went to Chicago over the weekend, where it was much colder than what I define as freezing in Texas—and the locals tried to tell me that it was a good thing I came when it had warmed up. The high was 35, people. Where’s the warm in that?

Chicago is cool but so very cold. At least I got to see sweet Elle!

When I went running Saturday morning, it was 30 degrees with some wet streets from the melted snow. Unfortunately, that meant that I had to pay a lot more attention to each step I took, because there were random patches of ice all over the place. I had come prepared with my ski mittens and warm clothes, so the run actually ended up being pretty nice.

As I was making my way back to my hotel, I ran past two bundled-up men walking to a bus stop, and one of them offered me a bit of encouragement: “Go for it, girl!” I really appreciate when people cheer each other on, whether it’s in sports or simply life in general, so I’m very grateful for that man.

And he reminded me how I want to continue to live.

I probably wouldn’t make a great head football coach. There’s a lot of strategy in the game that I would likely want to throw out the window when it came to fourth-down situations. I would want to go for it as often as possible, putting complete trust in my players to get the job done. (Although, according to this article, it looks like some coaches are embracing my beliefs.)

I’m not exactly sure why, but I’m fascinated by public transportation. Like, I freaking love it. I became a user of the “L” train (which I’ve wanted to ride ever since I saw this classic Oscar-worthy movie) while I was in Chicago, and I’m going to be perfectly honest with you: I felt pretty darn cool riding that thing. I felt so city. I can’t wait to go to New York City one day and spend some time on the subway.

I had downloaded an app that tracks the “L” and tells you when one of the trains will arrive at whatever station you specify. I was on my way to the station near my hotel and getting closer, but Google Maps said that I was six minutes away, while the train app was telling me that the next train would arrive in four minutes. No bueno. I had somewhere I needed to be and didn’t want to be late, but I felt a little defeated. But then I thought of the man I saw on my run.

Go for it, girl.

I heart Lake Michigan.

I started running, which was challenging in all of my layers and the boots I was wearing at the time. As you know, boots are made for walking, not running. I darted to a ticket kiosk as soon as I got to the station and quickly punched all of 14 thousand necessary buttons to charge my card. I grabbed the ticket and dashed through the gates toward the escalator, which just happened to be broken—OF COURSE IT WAS. I hustled up the stagnate metal steps, and just as I made it to the top, the trains doors were closing (it had arrived a minute early).

It was time for my movie moment.

I yelled “NOOOOOO, WAIT!!!!” as I ran toward the train, and I guess the driver must have seen me and felt a little gracious, because the doors suddenly opened as I made somewhat of a dramatic entrance and found an open seat. It was a nice moment that made me smile.

There are plenty of risks in life and too many setbacks and obstacles to count to go along with them, but there are often greater reasons to go after what you know in your heart you’re meant to go after.

It might be 4th and inches or 4th and long—sometimes you simple need to go for it. Submit the application. Send the text. Register for the race. Go talk to that cutie across the room. Book the trip. Sign up for the class. Address the issue. Audition for the production. Go on the date. Sing out loud. Say what’s on your heart. Dance. Ask the question. Tell your fears “no,” and do the thing you know you’re meant to do.

Go for it.

Trying to be a good role model for these angels

I spent far too many years being hesitant and thinking that I wasn’t good enough or pretty enough or whatever enough to take big risks. I can say with complete certainty that life is much more enjoyable when you’re confident enough to know that, even if things don’t pan out the way you hoped they would, at least you were brave enough to try.

Don’t let fear hold you back from anything. Look it straight in the face, and say “not today, not any day.” Then go for it, my friend. You’ll likely be glad you did.

And you just might find that you’re much more capable of doing the hard things than you ever imagined.

Because choosing love is worth the risk

There are supposedly five love languages (in case you’re wondering, or even if you’re not, mine is quality time), but there’s one that’s missing from the list.

Sports—sports are my true love language.

On more than one occasion, I’ve sat in the exact same spot for nearly 12 straight hours (minus some bathroom breaks here and there) watching college football. I’ve painted my entire body blue (also on more than one occasion) to show my fandom and win a spirit contest at Dallas Mavericks games. And now that I can watch basically any sport on my phone in any location, my life has changed significantly.

There are so many exciting moments in all sports, especially in college football. If you watched the West Virginia-Texas game a couple of weekends ago, you know exactly what I’m talking about. West Virginia was down 41-34 with the clock ticking down at the end of the fourth quarter. The Mountaineers scored and then had a choice—kick the extra point to send the game into overtime or go for the two-point conversion and win the whole thing right then and there. The commentators mentioned that the West Virginia coach is a bit of a risk taker in those types of situations and thought he’d go for it. Sure enough, they were right—Coach Holgorsen called for the two-point play.

A man after my own heart.

Those West Virginia players walked away with that 42-41 win because they had trusted their coach and his plan. He knew their abilities, and he knew that he had prepared them for that moment. I love seeing moments like that as they’re happening (unless it’s against my team, of course). They’re reminders that life is full of opportunities that we can either seize or let pass us by far too quickly.

I honestly have more moments of kicking the extra point instead of going for the two points than I’d like to admit. I can think back to exact instances when I wish I would have said something that I didn’t or do something differently than I did. It serves me absolutely no value to dwell on those missed chances, but they do motivate me to take more risks in my present.

The sign speaks for itself.

I think one of the greatest risks of all is loving people. Whether it’s giving your heart away to the one who makes it beat out of control or giving your heart to show others that they matter and that you care, there are significant risks involved. There’s the risk of that love being unrequited. There’s the risk of that love being questioned and frowned upon by society. There’s the risk of that love being given to individuals who have been labeled as undeserving.

Here’s the thing, though: No matter what the risks are, everyone needs love.

One day recently when I was at the beach, I was watching the waves come in when I noticed a man and woman and their precious daughter. The little girl was playing in the water with her dad and begging her mom to come join them. I watched as the mom barely let the water touch her toes before telling the sweet pig-tailed cutie that it was freezing. (The Pacific Ocean is very cold, especially this time of year. For some reason, kids never seem to notice things like temperatures.)

But then the little girl said “Please, will you, Mom? It will be so fun!” The woman had a sudden change of heart, went for the two-point conversion, and dashed out into the icicles—because she knew that the risk of freezing was nothing compared to the memories she was making with her daughter and husband and the joy they were all experiencing together. She chose love, and it was worth it.

Sure, not every risk you take will end the way you want it to. Sometimes you’ll go for that two-point conversion and walk away empty-handed. But sometimes you won’t. Like those West Virginia Mountaineers, maybe you simply need to trust the ultimate Coach and His plan. And maybe that means you choose love with the complete confidence that it’s worth it.

Don’t settle for the extra point when you know that you’re capable of getting two.

Because paper towels can be shower towels

I really appreciate good life reminders from unexpected sources.

You know, like ‘90s romcoms and gyms without towels.

I’ve been thinking a lot about change lately and how it’s such a constant in life—which is kinda funny if you think about it. One of the things that it most consistent in life is the thing that ruins consistency.

Two of my gal pals and I were watching You’ve Got Mail the other night (call us basic—whatevs), and there’s a line in there when Kathleen Kelly admits that she needs to close her bookstore that stuck out: “Closing the store is the brave thing to do. You are daring to imagine that you could have a life doing something else.” (P.S. I’m sorry that I forgot to mention the spoiler alert, but if you haven’t seen that movie by now, that’s another discussion in itself that we need to have.)

I had never really thought of it that way. I think that because I grew up playing sports, and one of my favorite things to do now is play and watch them, I’ve always thought of quitting something or giving something up as failing and everything that’s the opposite of brave. Yet here Birdie is telling the world that sometimes admitting defeat and moving on is brave.

I guess being brave looks different for everyone.

Just calling Taylor Swift so that we can write a song about my broken heart.

I’ve mentioned probably more times than anyone cares to hear that I went through a pretty rough heartache not too long ago, and the healing process took (and maybe even is still taking) way longer than I wanted or expected. But there was this huge part of my heart that wanted him to be the guy for me. It crushed me even to think that he wasn’t, and it made me feel like I would never find anyone like him.

For me, being brave meant finally admitting that it was a good thing to find someone not like him. Sure, he had a lot of the qualities I love in a person, but the bottom line is that he didn’t love me or even care about me the way my forever person will. Being brave meant closing the door to that book store, so to speak, and daring to imagine that someone else will captivate me more than he ever did and make me feel things that he never did.

Former NFL wide receiver Eric Boles was a guest speaker at my church over the weekend, and he always brings a good word. If everyone spoke about life in sports analogies like he does, I think that I would understand a lot more. I mean, the guy said that “yesterday’s home runs do not win today’s games.” That’s gold, people. He also said something else that really stuck. He was talking about when a quarterback is looking to throw to his receiver while the opposing team is charging at him and trying to distract his focus. Some quarterbacks will just heave it out there with the faith that their receivers will be where they’re supposed to and make the catches. If they wait too long to throw the ball, though, things might get ugly—and painful. Then he let his next words sink in: Don’t hold onto the ball too long.

Just like quarterbacks, sometimes we just have to let go with the faith that what will happen next will be better than holding on.

This is how I felt about using paper towels after my shower at the gym.

One day last week, I went running at the beach and then had somewhere to be but didn’t have enough time to drive back to my apartment. However, there was an LA Fitness in the area, and I convinced the guy at the front desk to let me borrow a shower without paying a guest fee or being forced to talk to anyone about a membership just to get a day pass. What I didn’t realize until I got into the locker room, though, is that this LA Fitness didn’t have any towels. None. Zero. Zip. So I did what any reasonable person would do: I used a bunch of paper towels to dry myself off.

In situations like that one, I’m pretty good at adapting. Sure, I would have much rather had an actual towel and not felt like I’m a walking sitcom in many regards, but I didn’t think twice about taking a new path and didn’t dwell on the no-towel issue. I had faith in those paper towels to get the job done.

Why can’t it be that easy when other things don’t go the way we wish?

It can be tough to believe that there’s something else out there for you when you’ve always believed your life was supposed to go a certain way. Whether it’s with your career or a relationship or where you live or whatever—sometimes there are moments when you simply have to face the facts that what you’ve been planning might not be what God has planned for you. It might hurt your heart to say goodbye, but it also can make even more room in your heart for something that brings it more joy than you ever could have imagined.

And whether it gets you a Super Bowl win or not, launching that ball into the air just might be the brave thing to do.

When people live for the love

Some Disney movies are more real than we might think.

Even when they involve hair that becomes magical when a girl sings.

Tangled is one of my favorite Disney movies for so many reasons, but I think one of the things that is most appealing to me is the way Eugene falls in love with Rapunzel and finally cares about someone more than he cares about himself. At the end of the movie (if you haven’t seen it, 1. WHY? and 2. spoiler alert), Eugene is stabbed and about to die, and Rapunzel is going to save him with her hair but must never leave her pretend mother/wicked old lady if she does so. Eugene chops off her hair—knowing what his fate will be—so that Rapunzel can have her freedom, instead. (Thankfully, homeboy ends up living because her tear somehow saved him after that act of true love.)

And this reminds me a lot of real life.

I’ve seen a lot of examples of those “for the love” actions lately, though they didn’t involve magical healing powers and life-or-death situations. But I’m pretty sure they’re just as important.

I was at the pool over the weekend, and there was a man there with his two little daughters. Over the years, I’ve seen quite a few dads do goofy things for their kids (especially their daughters), and this guy was no exception. When he entered the water, he was informed that he was now a mermaid, and he didn’t take one second to question it. He instantly became a mermaid and was part of some alternative world that only those three knew about. It was adorable. That dad didn’t care what anyone else around him thought—he simply wanted his little girls to be happy, and the joy on their faces showed he had accomplished that for sure. He put aside his pride for the love, and it was beautiful.

I was at a bar with some friends not too long ago, and I overheard a conversation when I was walking past a group of guys. A few of them were making fun of their buddy for getting schooled in some arcade game by the gal I assumed is his girlfriend. He said something about it being embarrassing and then said, “But look how happy she is.” Based on the way he was looking at her, I’m going to say that fella is in love. And he couldn’t have cared less whether or not he won that silly game. He put aside his pride for the love, and it was precious.

for the love
This gal knows what it means to do things for the love.

My dad was out of town hunting with my uncle over the weekend, and my sister and my mom were planning to hang out on Saturday night. My sister asked me if I wanted to come, and I asked if they would have the USC-Alabama game on. She said they definitely would not (my sister doesn’t like watching football much). I tried to stress the importance of the game to her, but she wasn’t having it. A little bit later, she texted me to say they would have the game on and that I should come over when they got home from dinner. She didn’t even complain once the entire night about having to watch the game. It’s even the small things that matter. She put aside her wants for the love, and it was heartwarming.

There are a lot of times when it would be easier to be selfish and do the things we want to do, but it’s often in those moments that people need us to be there for them and put aside our original plans and do what they need us to do, instead—for the love. It can be humbling, and it can certainly be challenging, but it can also be absolutely worth it.

You make your daughters’ day. You see the person you love happy. You show your sister you care.

And those are moments that truly matter—because they’re genuinely done for the love.

The pains of being a Cowboys fan

My name is Natalie, and I have a problem.

I’m a Dallas Cowboys fan.

It’s a rough truth to admit and reality to face. Sure, there’s some pride involved, but where does that pride come from now? Yes, still from the 1990s—you know, the last time we really knew what it meant to be a winning team.

By now I’m sure you’ve heard that our quarterback is out (again) because of another broken bone. I’m not positive of this, but I really think they need to look into Romo possibly suffering from osteogenesis imperfecta. Just a thought. It would explain why he seems to end up sidelined each time he gets touched. We’re starting the season with a fourth-round draft pick who was good in college but still has a lot to learn about playing with the big boys.

And for some reason, I still have hope.

How dem Boyz make me feel most of the time

When I was a teacher, I used to take part in season predictions with the social studies crew, and I always overestimated how good we would be. I don’t know why I continue to believe in these guys, but I’m never quite ruling out the Super Bowl—even though they usually act like they’re opposed to winning playoff games. Season after season, they make us believe that things are different and that they’ve really changed, but then they leave their overly optimistic fans crushed with disappointment.

And for some reason, I still have hope.

Years ago, I worked in promotions for the Cowboys, and I was able to attend all of the home games (back when they were at the beloved Cowboys Stadium before the whole implosion thing), and I remember getting even more excited being so close to the action and meeting some of the players at events and thinking, “Yes, this is the year.” It’s been eight years, boys, and I’m still waiting.

And for some reason, I still have hope.

Then there was that morning two seasons ago when I was unknowingly running down Jason Garrett’s street, and he was getting in his car right as I ran by and said to me, “Well, that’s inspiring!” I think I said something like, “Thanks, now go coach ‘em up,” and I became even more hopeful in that moment that he really would lead them to success that season. We won the NFC East, beat the Lions in the wild card game and then lost to the Packers in the divisional playoff game (it was a catch). It was a sad ending to what seemed like a promising season.

And for some reason, I still have hope.

The Cowboys remind me of the guy who led me to believe he was going to ask me out (and told all of my friends he was going to) but then went out with my friend, instead. He had gotten my hopes up and then let me down. Just like the Cowboys do every season.

And for some reason, I still have hope—and I’m going to have that same hope going into this season and every season after this one.

I think it’s important not to give up on your people. I know the Cowboys have a lot of issues (both on and off the field), but we can’t just turn our backs on them when things start to go south. If we don’t believe in them, who will? They’re people, just like us, and they need others to walk alongside them through the good times and the bad times—people to cheer for them when pretty much everyone else seems to be booing.

Romo is out. Dak is up. Dez is good. Jerry is still around. Troy is still providing obvious commentary. The haters are still hating. We open the season in two weeks against the Giants with a lot of eyes on us that are wondering what we’re made of with a bit of adversity thrown in.

And for good reason, I still have hope.