10 Things About My Past: Getting to Know Me (Contest Entry)

BY Lisa Friedman

1. A simple softball game 25 years ago brought me to Vermont today.  I was working a temp job at AT&T in New Jersey when I was 19 and overheard someone on the phone talking about playing softball after work that day.  I told him “I love to play softball.  Can I join you guys?”.  After the softball game (which was on a Thursday night), we all went out for ribs and beer (yes, I know I was underage).  One of the guys at the table mentioned that he belonged to a ski club and that the club was going on a whitewater rafting trip the next day for the three day Labor Day weekend. He said that I was welcome to come along. I had a great time whitewater rafting and camping on the Upper Hudson River in upstate New York and, having never skied, joined the ski club that weekend in 1988. The ski club had a lodge at Sugarbush Ski Resort and thus began my 25 year love affair with this beautiful state of Vermont that I love to call home. I am still friends with the same people 25 years later.

2. Through the same ski club, I learned to scuba dive, to sail, horseback ride and begin my adventurous streak in life.  The ski club did everything in the book in addition to skiing and a 19 year old with lots of disposable income went on trips just about every weekend for a few years solid enjoying many destinations inside and outside of the country.  I credit so much of who I am and all I have enjoyed in life to that fateful night that I played softball in 1988.  My friend who invited me on that whitewater rafting trip lost his wife a few months ago and I spoke with him yesterday.  I am going to write a story of how much his simple invitation the night of that softball game changed my life.  I am sure he will enjoy reading it.

3. As a child, I was the only girl on the Little League team.  Think Tatum O’Neal in Bad News Bears.  I once hit an inside the park home run and once missed a home run by one inch on the wall.  I played softball throughout middle and high school and joined a women’s baseball team in New York.  That was a grueling 3 hour drive into the city with traffic a few nights a week for practices and games as I was the only player from outside of New York.  I would leave NJ at 2:30 in the afternoon and return around 2 a.m.  Its a good thing we Realtors have flexible hours!

About ten years ago, I managed, coached and sponsored a Little League team.  The first two seasons were 9 & 10 year olds and the third season was 11 & 12 year olds.  I worked for RE/MAX at the time and sponsored the team with my own money, not the companies.  All the kids had these great RE/MAX t-shirts.  Here’s the best part of the story – The town that I lived in was rather affluent and they had more than enough coaches.  I really wanted to coach so I called around to other towns to see if anyone needed coaches and told them that this would be my first time coaching.  Someone from the second poorest town in the county called me and said that they could use the help.

I showed up to the first managers meeting and it was a very tough crew!  Needless to say, I was the only woman there and the only out-of-towner.  All of the other coaches had an advantage over me because they knew all of these kids growing up.  I didn’t know any of them so it was hit or miss on choosing players.  I had the only team with two girls.  The other coaches weren’t all that nice to me.  They accused me of ‘buying myself a team’ and definitely made me feel like an outsider.  Well, the team that was coached by a woman and had two girl players practiced really hard.  We kicked the pants off of the snot-nosed coach who had been coaching for 13 years and we made it all the way to the final game of the playoffs.  By my perseverance, I earned the respect of the 13 year coaching veteran and he asked met to be his co-coach for the traveling All Star Team that summer. We coached together for the next two years and were unstoppable.  Oh, and by the way, Krissie was our star pitcher and out-pitched just above every boy in the league.  I know that I taught the kids a lot those three years about how with practice, hard work and perseverance you can do anything.

I have also volunteered a few years helping with skiing events for Special Olympics teenagers at what was Vernon Valley Ski Resort which is now Mountain Creek.  I assisted Special Olympiads with getting on and off of the ski lifts and helping them get situated with tightening their ski boots, retrieving dropped ski poles and riding the lifts with some who needed help.

I have also volunteered with walking dogs at animal shelters occasionally, although not on a regular basis.

4. As a child, I absolutely loved baseball.  As a 7-9 year old, I would wear my baseball jacket constantly as long as it still fit.  A sentimentalist, I still have that baseball jacket today.  I watched every game, including the twilight doubleheaders in California that sometimes kept me up until 1 a.m. on school nights.  I knew every starting line up, batting order and every position played for every major league team and had over 10,000 baseball cards.

5. I love to travel and have been to 25 countries including England, Scotland, Russia, Estonia, Poland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Italy, France, Spain, Holland, Mexico, Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Bahamas, Jamaica and Canada.  It was neat being in St. Petersburg, Russia for white nights where the sun is up 24 hours a day.  The river cruise along the Neva River was unforgettable.

Some of my best vacations have included scuba diving, skiing and a 3 day camping/kayaking trip.  I have been horseback riding in the ocean with my horse doing the doggie paddle (or should I say the horsie paddle)!  I have scuba dived with a school of 30 sting ray, dove with large barracuda, swam in underground rivers through caves, swam in the moonlight with a large sea turtle and with a 1,000 pound fish on a shipwreck 110 feet below.

6. I love long distance bicycling.  Some of my favorite trips have been a 4 day 220 mile bike ride from Northern Vermont to Montreal and a 5 day 350 mile trip from the West Virginia – Virginia border across the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I have done a few century bike rides which is 100 miles in a day and several MS170 bike rides.  Those are 75 miles each day Saturday and Sunday with an optional 25 mile loop added onto Saturday’s 75 to make it an even hundred.  I have done MS rides in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Virginia and raised over $8,000 for Multiple Sclerosis.

7. I love to read.  One year I started writing down the name of each book I read, the author and number of pages.  I had forgotten so many of the books I had read so I thought it would be nice to make a list so that every now and then I could look back and fondly remember the books I had enjoyed.  At the end of the year, I found that I had read 8,300 pages.  I set a goal to read 10,000 pages the next year.  Well, I got busy and only read 8,800 pages that year.  Then I set a plan and divided the number of pages by days in the year, accounted for a number of days where I probably wouldn’t read and came up with a weekly goal of pages to read.

Well, by August I had already met the goal of 10,000 pages and with four months left in the year, 12,000 pages (1,000 per month) just seemed too easy.  So I changed my goal to 15,000 pages.  Wouldn’t you know that I completed my goal and hit 15,023 pages on New Year’s Eve!  Can you tell that I am goal oriented?  🙂

8. I love animals and have adopted many animals from shelters or found them outside needing homes and taken them in. I have had a blind dog, an abused dog who bit everyone but me, and a cat with feline HIV.  I rescued a pigeon once and brought it to a bird hospital.  I always carry a leash in my trunk in case I see a stray dog so I can rescue him before getting hit by a car.  I recently returned two dogs home in the middle of the night.  I had left my office around midnight and saw two dogs running the opposite direction down a main road.  I was tired, but couldn’t let anything happen to them,  I turned the car around, drove past them, pulled into a driveway, got the leash out of the car and one of the dogs ran right up to me.  I put him in my backseat, took the leash off, locked my car in some unknown person’s driveway and went out looking for the second dog.  This dog was scared and didn’t want to come.  Finally, after about twenty minutes, I got the leash on her and got her to the car.  I checked out the tags on their collars and they were over a mile from home.  It was now around 1 a.m.  I rang the doorbell and the woman didn’t want to answer the door.  I tried telling her though the closed door that I had her dogs.  She must have been in a stupor from having just woken up.  She said “My dogs are right here.  They always bark when the doorbell rings”.  Then it hit her, they hadn’t barked.  She opened her door and began crying as she saw that I was standing there with one of her dogs and told her that the other one was in my car.  Her door from her kitchen to the garage had blown open and her overhead door was not closed.  She started crying and hugging me and hugging and kissing her dogs and it was a wonderful reunion.  I can never let an animal suffer if I can help.

My best animal experience was at the Tiger Preserve in Myrtle Beach where, for an exorbitant fee, you can play with baby tigers and have them run across your lap.  I held a juvenile orangutan who posed for a picture with me.  I also held a baby chimpanzee and petted an infant kangaroo.  The neatest thing was when I returned to the same preserve a year later, my picture was on the ticket!  One of the staff had taken a picture of me laughing when the elephant was playing with my hair and tickling my neck.  They liked the picture so much that they put me on their ticket.  Now that is an honor!

9. I am a child at heart and love, love, love amusement park rides!  I can go on every rollercoaster all day and never tire of it.  Same for water parks.

10. I really enjoy having a fish tank.  I find it very relaxing to sit back at night with just the fish tank light on and watch the fish swim.  For someone as high energy as me to enjoy something so passive seems odd, however I really like it.  I have had 90, 70 and 55 gallon tanks all at the same time.  Again, no moderation!

11. When my adventure called life is over, I would like my ashes sprinkled atop a mountain at a ski resort. Then people would have fun and experience the wonder of the view at the top of the mountain when visiting me.  It wouldn’t be anything sad, but a celebration of a life well lived.

So, I hope that tells you a little bit more about lil’ ol’ me 🙂

If you have enjoyed this post, then you may want to view it’s companion post 10 Things About My Present – Little Known Facts About Me.

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