Sunday, November 17, 2013

I am a Chiefs Fan

By Terri Lively

I was driving to my new apartment in Huntington Beach, CA, just a California resident for two weeks. With white knuckles gripping my steering wheel, eyes wide with dismay and shock staring out my windshield toward the ocean, I listened to the news roll out from my dashboard. The Pacific was dark and rolling, grey-blue and stern as it crashed and retreated from the shore when I heard the announcer say: “Derrick Thomas, Future Hall of Fame Linebacker and Defensive End for the Kansas City Chiefs has died after complications suffered in a car accident.”

I am a Kansas City girl, the one that’s in Missouri not Kansas for those of you that don’t know the difference. In a town that has hardly any claim to fame besides its barbeque, Kansas City is a tough town to explain to other people. Especially once you leave and find out that most people think it’s in Kansas and that Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz was from there (neither is true).  But it is my misunderstood hometown that I claim, even though I left it back in 2000.

No self-respecting Kansas City girl could be anything other than a Chief’s fan.  So to hear that Thomas had died was a serious blow. I had a morose cloud of grief in my heart for a few days, even though Thomas was not a friend of mine, or even someone I had ever met personally. He was our hometown hero, better than any other Linebacker before or since. His loss was devastating to our town and our team. The Chiefs have never been the same since his death. It seemed that their magic, the small town team that could, was lost on the icy freeway that fateful February.

Over the past decade or so here in the land of fruits and nuts, I have always claimed the Kansas City Chiefs. I believe to be a fan you have to love them even when they stink. And I doubt anyone can argue that for the past decade they have really stunk. In fact, when I tell people out here that I am a KC fan, I usually get looks of sympathy or incredulity. One person asked me if they were arena league.

To be fair to that dopey person, we don’t see a lot of Kansas City games out here. We see plenty of Cowboys’ games though, although why is still a mystery for me since they seem to be mediocre at best and that even that feels like a generous description of their organization. We also see a lot of Giants, Broncos, Chargers, and lately, Indianapolis. I guess that’s because of Andrew Luck and the Stanford connection to California.

Every once in a while the Chiefs would be on, usually playing the Raiders or Chargers. I would watch with hope in my heart, looking for signs of a team that I once knew in the 90s when a whole town would rally together to cheer on our boys in red even when it was 25 degrees below zero. (That’s right, weather wusses, below zero. I wore hunting clothes to that game that were so huge you couldn’t tell if I was a girl or boy and was still so cold that I lost the feeling in my toes briefly.) But I was always disappointed. The magic was gone.

So even though Kansas City was my team, I never really saw them play anymore. The majority of my knowledge of my hometown team came shouted by my husband through the bathroom door from the sports headlines or the score alerts scrolling along the bottom of the screen of another confounding Cowboy’s game.

But this year is different. Kansas City has magic again. They are undefeated. They lead the division. They have forced the ESPN and FOX sports analysts to look again and give them credit. In fact, I joked the other day on Facebook that I was concerned about the skies falling and the seas boiling because positive coverage of the Chiefs at a national level was surely a sign of the apocalypse.

The truth is, it’s not magic. It’s great coaching from a veteran coach who truly loves the game. It’s the heart of young players that are finally getting the chance to show what they can do in an organization that works with their strengths and has patience for their weaknesses. It’s a town that has had very little to cheer for in the past 13 years awakened once more to make Arrowhead the loudest stadium in the NFL.  It’s an underdog story that we all love, for an organization that had all but died with the loss of Thomas in February 2000. 

Tonight they face the Broncos, a bitter rivalry that has been very one-sided for over a decade now. The Broncos are excellent. Unlike the Chiefs who win on spectacular defense, they win with spectacular offense. Plus, let’s not forget the reason their offense is spectacular has just a little bit to do with the man that heads it up, a quarterback that has given everything he has to the NFL, including his neck, the formidable and lovable, Peyton Manning.  Even I, a life-long Broncos hater, have a hard time cheering against Manning.

So I will watch tonight –probably peeking out behind my hands on every snap -- hoping for victory for the boys in red.  Whatever the outcome, I will be proud of my team. For I am a Chiefs fan, a Kansas City girl, part of a world that believes that underdogs can win, even when facing incredible odds and superior talent. For we Chiefs fans know that winning is only part of the victory and never giving up on your team, even when they stink, makes winners of us all.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


By Terri Lively

As human beings we are constantly challenged by our lives. Problems are the one thing you can count on in your journey. The constant barrage can be exhausting and overwhelming at times.

Today I learned a little about life and its meaning in a task that challenged me more than it probably should have. I can’t say I have found the answer to life’s problems, but I certainly recognized some important tips for tackling them.

The Task:
 Untangling a three of Hayden’s necklaces that had twisted and tied themselves together in a series of formidable knots.

Here are 10 lessons I learned about life’s problems while unsnarling the necklaces:

She asked me to do this a couple of weeks ago. I said yes, but then put them up on the top of the dresser and ignored them.  I walked by them from time to time over these past two weeks recognizing that I needed to tackle that project, but quickly moved on to the other task on my to-do list that was more pressing. Today I saw them again but this time I decided I would tackle it, so I went to work.

Lesson #1: Don’t start until you are ready to face the challenge.

So I started trying to untangle them with my big meaty fingers. Not that my fingers are not any meatier than most women’s; I have average-sized fingers. But relative to the chains, they were gargantuan and no match for their slender, sinewy strands. So I got the orthodontic tweezers that were laying around my house, a by product of having a spouse who was “in the business.” I had a much easier time manipulating the knots after that.

Lesson #2: Recognize when you need better tools and make sure you get them in hand before you continue.

Now I had the right tools, but found that my aging eyes were having a difficult time discerning each of the strands in the light of my kitchen. It didn’t help that two of the strands were the exact same color with the exact same loop size. My frustration was mounting, as I was unable to see what I was doing. So I moved to my office where I have a lamp that can shine directly on the gnarly knots that I was trying to undo. After that, I had a much better idea, of which strand was which.

Lesson #3: It’s always better to have a good light to help you see things more clearly.

Now that I could see what I was doing, I really went to work. I started pulling on different ends and loosening and tightening knots to disentangle each of the chains from each other.  Unfortunately, when I would unloop one of the chains from one knot, another one would invariably tighten up, taking away all my “give” from the chain. So I would loosen the second knot to get my give back only to discover the first knot would then be too tight or that a third knot would be forming as a result of my work on the first two. I started to feel like I should give up because I was just making it more tangled instead of less. As a swear word was forming in my mind and racing to the tip of my tongue, I pictured the chains at the bottom of the trashcan and started formulating my apology to my little girl. But instead of moving forward with the swear word or the apology, I put down the tools and the chains and took a drink of coffee before continuing.

Lesson #4: When you are ready to give up, take a coffee break.

After a sip of coffee, I looked back down at my project determined to make it work this time. But before I started tugging and pulling at the knots, I decided that I ought to come up with system for disassembling these knots. I found each of the ends. I fanned them all out so I had an idea where each of them was. Then I chose one of the ends for my focus.

Lesson #5: You have to start somewhere, not everywhere at once.

Using that as my anchor, I worked my way through the first entanglement with that end until it was free and then moved on to the next. In doing so, some of the other ends got tangled again but I didn’t let that stop my progress on the end I had identified as my project.

Lesson #6: Sometimes when you solve one problem, some others get worse, but it’s important to stay focused on the one goal for now.

Eventually using this process, I was able to free one of the necklaces entirely. My feelings of success and satisfaction made me more determined to tackle the other two chains now.  Also, the knots were not as tight anymore. Plus, I had freed one of the chains that was the same color as another, so now I had an easier time separating the two remaining chains. Soon, I had all three chains free and clear.

Lesson#7: Take what you have learned from that process and apply it to the next problem and you are that much closer to solving all of the problems.

I was ready to celebrate my victory until…I saw that one of the chains still had numerous knots in its individual chain. While it was no longer knotted with another, it was still a mess and needed to be worked on some more. The swear word was back as was the temptation to pitch it. But this time, I did swear and I picked up the chain to toss it in the trash tucked under my desk.

Lesson #8: An individual’s problems can sometimes be the most frustrating ones.

I didn’t toss it. Instead, I closed my eyes and cleared my head. Then, I picked up my tools and went back to work, using the method I had developed on the bigger project. Before long, the chain was straight again. I was truly done and had three individual chains lined up on my desk to show for it.

Lesson #9: Don’t give up. Finishing completely is way more satisfying than giving up near the end.

My daughter just came in and I was rewarded with shining eyes of gratitude and a heart felt thank you. We picked a necklace for her to wear today; the teddy bear necklace with a turquoise stone that she is convinced is valuable (it isn’t).  As I was fastening it around her neck, I noticed that it had a tiny knot in it still. I sighed.

Lesson #10: Nothing is perfect.

Chances are that I will find myself facing these knots again. My daughter’s organization and necklace preservation skills are still just six-years-old.  I feel confident, however, that what I learned today will help me untangle them again with less frustration and time invested than today.

What the necklaces taught me was a way to cope with the problems life throws you. My hope is that these lessons will help me untangle the chains of my personal journey, with less swear words and more gratitude.