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Build Relationships on the Path to Your Dreams

De La Salle Spartans

As a senior player on a team, it is important to build relationships with younger players, to further improve team comradery. I build relationships with the younger players by becoming friends with them, and by helping them make the transition to varsity football.

When I made the transition to varsity before my junior year, it was the mentorship of seniors that helped ameliorate my early nerves.

Building relationships with other players helps improve the overall atmosphere, and leads to a stronger team. Having friends on the team only helps make the rigors of workouts and practice easier. When you know that you are playing with a friend, you know that you can count on that person with it matters most.

As a younger player, nothing is better than to have a few upperclassmen look out for you. The transition into a program like this is a difficult one, and the help and advice of the upperclassmen makes the transition an easier one. Having someone to help you through all workouts and practices really makes a huge difference.

With improved comradery on the team, the team is in a better position. These friendships enable us to push each other more, which makes us a better football team as well. To achieve our goals, we have to be a tight-knit unit, and that all starts with a basic relationship.

Commitment cards

Editor's note: Declare a commitment to your dreams
The De La Salle Spartans football team knows achieving dreams takes dedication. At the start of every season, players fill out commitment cards declaring what they will accomplish during the coming months. It’s an approach you, too, can take as a first step to achieving your dream. Get started now by downloading a commitment card, just like the ones the Spartans use. Then, snap a picture of your declaration and share it with your friends – and use the #longlivedreams hashtag – so they can help keep you motivated. 

 Then catch “When the Game Stands Tall” – in theaters Aug. 22 – for the story behind De La Salle’s trek from perennial sub-.500 performances to undisputable national powerhouse. It’s a journey filled with hard work, dedication – and a commitment to a grand vision.

“Winning is just a by-product of many, many short-range goals that must be accomplished along the way.” – De Le Salle High School football coach Bob Ladouceur

A Matter of Life and Death

food allergies

Jan. 22, 2014 was the last time I cheated death.

I was out to lunch with some friends at a restaurant I’ve been to several dozen times. I considered it “safe” for this reason.

But that particular day, something was different, and it almost cost me my life. While there, I had a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) due to cross-contamination of the food I ate with an item I’m allergic to. Although I am very diligent in reading menus and talking to my servers, cross-contamination remains out of my control. I have to rely on the knowledge and training of employees, and it is a risk I take every time I eat in a restaurant. 

Anaphylaxis is a severe and sudden allergic reaction. It occurs within minutes of exposure to an allergen. If not treated appropriately, anaphylaxis can turn deadly within 15 minutes. Basically, your body releases a lot of chemicals intended to combat the allergen, which sets off a chain reaction of symptoms.

These initial symptoms – and I experienced all of them -- include:

  • Chest tightness or discomfort.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Cough.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Skin redness.
  • Itchiness.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Mental confusion.

I injected myself with an EpiPen (I always carry two in my purse) to counteract the anaphylactic reaction. Someone called 911, and I spent the next several hours in the emergency room. Along with my EpiPen, I received anti-nausea meds, steroids, a nebulizer treatment to help get my breathing under control and oxygen. The after-effects are very unpleasant, and each reaction I have is worse than the last.

Growing up with these food allergies was difficult, and it still is today. My mom could not cook fish for fear I’d have a reaction. There were no nuts in our house.  I will never go to a Red Lobster, and visiting countries where fish is a main staple is out of the question. I’ve had to leave restaurants where the odor of fish was prevalent because I would start having a reaction.

I do a lot of label reading, and due to legislation that passed several years ago, all food products are required to have allergen labeling on them. The next time you buy something, read the label. You’d be surprised at what is in there. There is a beef au jus product that actually contains fish.  Who would ever think beef au jus would have fish in it?

My co-workers in Commercial/Farm Ranch have been great when it comes to my allergies. They have asked a lot of great questions. a staff meeting I demonstrated how to use an EpiPen correctly in the event I have a reaction at work and cannot use it myself. They are becoming very allergy-aware, and I appreciate all their efforts so I can come to work in a safe environment.

Learning about food allergies is a lifelong process, and it affects more and more people every year. If you have a co-worker who has a severe food allergy, take it seriously and take the time to learn about how to help have a safe work environment.  Learn to read labels when bringing treats from home so everyone can have a taste. Be aware of cross-contamination in your own kitchen when bringing in homemade treats.

I’d love to hear what experiences you’ve had with people who have life-threatening allergies. Do you have allergies yourself? What precautions do you take?

Each day I wake up is a gift that I’ve been given … even Mondays! Carpe diem!

Achieving Your Dreams

Simba ShortIt was early on a Sunday. I didn’t have preschool on the weekends, which was great because there was no stress of having to learn the alphabet or protect my animal crackers at lunch time.

I woke up thinking it would be a normal day. I thought I would get some waffles, maybe play on my new train set. My day went like that with a little variation.

My life was changed on that day.

I made my way downstairs with sleepy eyes. My dad and a few of his friends were downstairs, and I was wondering what they were doing over so early on a Sunday. They were cheering. I looked at the screen, and observed some sort of barbaric game, some abnormally large men throwing a ball around and destroying one another every other cut. I didn’t notice too much of the game, though. What I noticed was how inspired my dad and his buddies were by these men.

I suddenly realized that I wanted to be an inspiration to people like my dad, because he was inspiring to me.

I was signed up for flag football a few years later, and quickly began to nag my parents to upgrade me to the ranks of tackle. Flag was fun and all, but I figured that if I wanted to be like the inspiring guys on TV, I would need to learn how to hit people. The next year they signed me up.

During my Midget year of youth football, which was to be my last year, I made a decision that would steer my life in the most positive and uplifting direction it had ever gone. I decided to apply to De La Salle High School. I knew they had a great football program, but knew little else about the school. I was accepted, not really knowing what to think. I soon found out.

Simba Short Jumping from freshman football into a very prestigious varsity program was one of the most challenging experiences of my life. However, looking back, the beating I got sophomore year was one of the driving forces for me to become a dominant linebacker as a junior. I understood that if I wanted to be one of those men on the TV I idolized as a preschooler, I had to improve. I came out and had a better year, and earned scholarships from a few Division I schools, including the school I’ve since committed to, Northwestern University.

Now I realize that my dream of the NFL is every kid’s dream, to play in front of thousands, with the best of the best. My dreams have since developed from “wanting to be in the NFL” to “wanting to be successful”.

The truth is, I just want to inspire people as people have inspired me. Whether my place in life is to be a big-time businessman, a doctor, or an NFL linebacker, I am forever grateful for the people who inspire me and help me achieve my dreams. 

Commitment CardsEditor's note: Declare a commitment to your dreams
The De La Salle Spartans football team knows achieving dreams takes dedication. At the start of every season, players fill out commitment cards declaring what they will accomplish during the coming months. It’s an approach you, too, can take as a first step to achieving your dream. Get started now by downloading a commitment card, just like the ones the Spartans use. Then, snap a picture of your declaration and share it with your friends – and use the #longlivedreams hashtag – so they can help keep you motivated. 

 Then catch “When the Game Stands Tall” – in theaters Aug. 22 – for the story behind De La Salle’s trek from perennial sub-.500 performances to undisputable national powerhouse. It’s a journey filled with hard work, dedication – and a commitment to a grand vision.

“Winning is just a by-product of many, many short-range goals that must be accomplished along the way.” – De Le Salle High School football coach Bob Ladouceur

Why DIY? 6 Reasons to Tackle That Project

I’m guessing you know the type of ‘tired’ I’m talking about. Nope – not the ‘I stayed up too late’ or the ‘I just ran a marathon’ kind of tired.

The type of weariness I’m thinking of is a rare form that comes only from tackling a DIY project. It is a satisfying tired – the kind that centers you, brings you to a contended place, and makes you feel full of life.

To me, this type of tired is so fulfilling. The times I’ve emerged paint-splattered from the garage, or muddy from the garden, I find myself smiling - feeling content and authentically ‘me’. DIY projects have helped me experience life in a more hands-on way – and better yet - the skills, confidence and soul-searching I have gained in the process have empowered me to more actively go after my dreams each day.

Here’s why trying your hand at a new project today could help your dreams tomorrow:

Money in your pocket
By relying on your own two hands to create, fix, or remodel, you can often skip out on wallet-draining labor or service costs! Plus, DIY projects can help you develop a better understanding of what makes certain skills or materials more expensive than others – helping you choose projects more carefully.

Boosted brain power
DIY-ing is a terrific way to gain new skills or knowledge. Whether reading up on techniques online, or discovering how a broken appliance ticks - each project you tackle will teach you something new and improve your problem-solving abilities for the future.

Illuminating self-discovery
From helping you uncover your natural talents to pointing you towards your true passions, DIY-ing is an illuminating way to find out what matters most to you. Plus – DIY projects offer a great way to express your personality!

Health and happiness
It’s been my observation that the happiest and healthiest people keep their minds and bodies active – and DIY activities are a perfect way to do both. Working with your hands is an easy, natural way to get your heart rate up – and who doesn’t love that incredible feeling of creating something on your own?

Richer relationships
Few things bring people together like shared interests, and DIY projects encourage these special connections. Whether you enjoy cooking, crafting, or remodeling – chances are there is a larger community of people who can offer friendship and support.

Newfound freedom
Amidst life’s uncertainties, DIY-ers rely less on the products, services and expertise of others – and instead find an exhilarating sense of freedom through the new skills and confidence they have cultivated.

Have you ever attempted a DIY project? How did it make you feel? 

Editor's note: Read and share our infographic on the benefits of DIY, and discover why tackling new projects today could help fuel your dreams tomorrow! 

6 benefits of DIY infographic

Keep Life Insurance Top of Mind and in Force

Keep life insurance top of mindI’ve had my life insurance policy since my parents purchased it when I was a year old. I actually didn’t know about it until I turned 18. The whole life policy was a gift from my parents, the same way my grandparents purchased a life insurance policy for my mother and told her about it when she was 18. I’ve also purchased life policies for my children and grandchildren, although they are aware of them.

As a result, from an early age, I’ve known life insurance is a “must have” – and I learned its value and how to manage it financially by understanding how a policy works, keeping up premiums, etc.

When I married, I knew my now-late husband had a life policy from another life insurance company. During the 15 years we were married, he was the one in the household responsible for paying the premiums. He became sick in 2009, and was hospitalized on and off for eight months. I never gave a thought to checking to see if he had paid the premium. He passed away three weeks after he returned home. 

In checking on the life policy after his death, I found out the last yearly premium had not been paid. At the same time, we received a bill from the hospital for more than $275,000. The funeral had to be paid for by the family, as did a portion of the medical bills and the remaining mortgage. Luckily, we were able to use retirement funds. But if they hadn’t been available, it would have drained all the funds from the family savings very quickly. As it was, it put a strain on all family members, including my husband’s three children, at a time when stress was already at its highest. 

All this could have been prevented.

While this was an almost-drastic situation, I’m telling my story about how important it is to have, and to keep, a life policy in force. In my job as a life-licensed agent assistant, I’ve heard many real-life stories that didn’t turn out well because a customer didn’t have life insurance.

If my story touches one person and inspires someone to get a life policy, or keep their existing life policy top of mind, I will be happy. 

Editor's note: What kind of life insurance policy is most appropriate and affordable for you? Find out by contacting an American Family agent today or visit our website

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