Tag Archives: blogging

Lessons From a SeaWorld Slumber Party

17 Nov

This weekend, I was fortunate to be invited to spend the weekend with a dozen other bloggers from around Texas, plus one token New York goddess, for a sleepover at SeaWorld San Antonio.

I mean, these were brilliantbeautiful, accomplished women. I am still befuddled as to why I was invited. Maybe SeaWorld’s teacher had a rule that you have to invite all the kids in the class, even the awkward one. But you know, despite my fifth-grade experience, I was not about to pass up a chance to sleep at SeaWorld. So I didn’t question.

Lesson 1: Sometimes, You Have to Fake It

Jellyfish in the aquarium at SeaWorld San Antonio

Our first stop on the SeaWorld private tour was the aquarium with its amazing coral reef display. One of the other bloggers asked our camp counselor, Chance, if the coral reefs themselves were live coral.

Chance, who by the way is working on his Ph-flipping-D, explained that, taking that much live coral from the wild would be devastating to the environment. So SeaWorld fakes it for the big tank, and has a few small aquariums with real coral. They also send scientists to coral reefs use their aquarium research to combat reef bleaching in the wild.

My lesson? Whether it’s telling someone who gave you the weirdest gift in history that you LOVE it, or making a coral reef from artificial materials, sometimes faking it is the gentlest choice.

Lesson 2: If You’re Going to Swim With Sharks, Make Sure They Aren’t Hungry

Of course, when we got to the sharks, we had another crucial question for Chance. “Why don’t the sharks eat the fish swimming around with them?” Despite their fierce reputation, turns out sharks are pretty lazy. Chance’s “I almost have a PhD” answer was worded fancier. He said “sharks are opportunistic predators.” They figure out they’re going to eat regularly, and they stop murdering their aquarium-mates.

If you don’t see a life lesson for this, you’ve never had a job. Seriously. Keep your boss updated, do your work on time and be productive, convince them that “Fish are friends, not food,” and they won’t bite your head off.


Lesson 3: Sometimes, The Opposite Sex Is More Trouble Than They’re Worth

I stole this picture from Colleen Pence. Visit her here: http://voices.mysanantonio.com/colleenpence/

We learned from trainers in the Sea Lion and Harbor Seal exhibit that only the male sea lions get to be in the shows. Not because SeaWorld is a sexist operation, but because male sea lions are way bigger and look more impressive on stage. Also, if they had girl sea lions in the show tank during mating season, the boy sea lions would just fight with each other and chase the girl sea lions around.

Then, the little otter and the walrus would have to do the whole show by themselves.

So, you know, there’s a reason Human Resources discourages inter-office dating. It starts with sharing a mackerel and the next thing you know, the otter and walrus are talking about you, and resenting your three-hour lunches where you come back with your hair all messed up. If you’re going to do it, be cooler than a sea lion.

Lesson 4: Sometimes,  What We Don’t Have Is A Blessing

Beluga Whae at SeaWorld San Antoni

Emily McHann took this adorable picture. Her site, http://TheMotherhood.com is very awesome.

One of the most captivating stops on our trip was backstage with the beluga whales, who were so amazing and adorable that all 13 of the bloggers on the trip basically just squealed and took pictures and ignored Chance while he tried to educate us. Sorry about that. Did I mention Chance is about to get a PhD? In patience, apparently.

But between squeals, I did learn that belugas, unlike most of the whale family, have no dorsal fin. That’s because they spend a lot of time swimming under arctic ice sheets, and fins on their backs would be a liability.

I believe in a Master Designer, who knew fins and ice sheets don’t mix. I believe, too, that sometimes He doesn’t give me what it seems like everyone else has, because He doesn’t want me to be like everyone else.

I wish, sometimes fiercely, that our daughter had been born with both sides of her heart developed. But I have seen purpose in what we weren’t given, gained perspective and faith that lets me move under the ice of uncertainty without getting battered.

Lesson 5: If Mama Ain’t Happy…

SeaWorld San Antonio

Emily took this, too. Of the beautiful Debi Pfitzenmaier chatting with Shamu. You can find Debi at http://sabusykids.com.

Orcas, Killer Whales, the fiercest predators in the ocean? They are a matriarchal society. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

We learned that if the oldest female in the pod at SeaWorld sets the rules. If she decides the show is not happening, it doesn’t happen. You can’t *make* a 9-ton animal with 56 sharp teeth do anything.

The alpha woman killer whale also decides who fits in the pod, and who doesn’t. Sometimes whales have to go to a whole new park if she doesn’t bestow favor.

I’ve noticed my house works this way, too. If I am stressed out and snappy all morning, pretty soon the little orcas are biting each other’s heads off. If I get on one kid’s case in front of the other, we get a case of sibling piling-on. If I want the show around here to go on as scheduled, I gotta be jumping for mackerel like my life depended on it.

Even if you’re not an orca, or a mom, that principle works in business, too. If you’re in a position of power, use it for good. Sure, you can bully people into heading to another park. But you can choose to use your influence to include and build up.

Lesson 6: If You Can Get Excited About The Mundane, People Will Love You

SeaWorld San Antonio - Bottle-nosed dolphin


Our final stop at SeaWorld before heading home was a chance to feed the dolphins. As soon as they saw their trainer, they started flipping like crazy, leaping out of the water, swimming up to greet us, chirping and clicking and I swear, even smiling.

All this excitement, and over what? The fish they get every freaking day.

I tell you, though, that they were my absolute favorite animals of the trip. From the squeals and laughter and camera-clicking going on, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. Their enthusiasm was contagious.

No one said “no thanks, I’ll just sit over here and check my email.” Even moms who were a little nervous about those dolphin teeth were grabbing those slimy dead fish faster than swag bags at BlogHer. Because those dolphins were working it.

News flash: A smile and some enthusiasm gets the same response for people. Don’t fake it and get annoying, but find a reason to be happy and treat people like you’re glad to see them, even when holy mackerel, you’ve seen these fish before.

SeaWorld San Antonio - bottlenose dolphins

Special thanks to SeaWorld San Antonio for the invitation. They’ve got a cool behind-the-scenes blog worth checking out. And Erica, Kelly, Joy, Heather, Dwan, Colleen, Debi, Rachel, Julie, Emily, and Kami, it was an honor to spend the weekend with you. I’ve got more to say on the experience of being gifted with such talented and creative friends, but that’s a post for another day.

The One I Didn’t See Coming

26 Mar

She likes me. Right now, she likes me.

The very beautiful and talented Ingrid at Baseball, Baking and Books has given me my first-ever little blogging award. Isn’t it pretty?

She was just sharing the love all around, and in this post she also names some other lovely bloggers that you should check out.


If I was not a total dork (look, I learned from President Obama, I did not say “in the blog Special Olympics!”), I would put the pretty graphic in my sidebar. But I don’t actually know how to make that happen. I just joined Twitter a week ago, people. And I told my mom and dad all about my blog. I am an AMATEUR.

(Aside on the mom thing, I love her so much and she and my dad are the awesomest. But I may have actually *died* when she called this week after reading a post and asked why my dogs would call each other douche. Lesson learned there. Also, I may have suggested urbandictionary.com for her BEFORE reading the douche entry. And now I may be disowned. Another lesson learned there.)


Ingrid is so sweet, and she along with a number of other food bloggers have really welcomed me to this whole blogosphere thing.

Starting, of course, with my long-time friends Elle from Elle’s New England Kitchen and Nikki from CanaryGirl, who linked to my blog and tweeted and everything when I only had like 3 posts up.

These women are the sisters I would have chosen if God had asked my opinion. I like to think He purposely didn’t give me any sisters so I would find the women I needed in my life to make me a better friend, mother, wife, daughter and yes, help me better understand the gift of His Grace.

Have you ever seen those amazing mosaic pictures made from a thousand other pictures? When I take a magnifying glass to my picture of who God is, I can see Nikki and Elle. They, along with some other amazing  women, came into my life at a time I was deeply struggling with my sense of my value and worth.

I know the verse that we are all God’s treasure in jars of clay. But I met these women at a time that jar was shattered, and I didn’t really believe there was much treasure left. And they, even when they knew about all the cracks and the sharp edges and everything else, found treasure.

Showed me. Reminded me. Saved me.

And even though they don’t all blog, Jane and Bethany and Claire and Molli and Juanita and Deb and Denise and Shaye and Jen and Ginny and Shannon and Kerrie and Lizzie and Amanda and Sherri and Hae and Vicki are in that picture. All women I met on this crazy thing called the Internet.

And she doesn’t know me aside from a few comments and tweets, but I want Yvonne from Joy Unexpected to know I find her in that picture of God, too. I came to a post about the queen of aerobic dancing, and stayed because of her willingness to flay her own soul open and show the struggles inside.

I see this laughing, beautiful, insightful woman, and when she is heartbroken, I pray that she would see herself as precious as God sees her. And sometimes, Yvonne, in those prayers, I realize He wants that for me, too. So I thank you for that.

I feel the same about Jennifer Mattern at Breed ‘Em and Weep. She has the kind of insight that is only gained through excruciating heartache. I wish her warring heart peace, but I am grateful that in the midst of its battles, she opens it up and creates such achingly beautiful words.

The whole idea of these blog awards is to pass them on, so I offer this list, not exhaustive, of some women and one cool guy I have “met” since I started writing a couple months ago. Already, in some way, they are in my mosaic.

Neil Kramer at Citizen of the Month

Kelly Pea at Sass and Veracity

Jenn C. at Unmarried Wife 

Dawn at Vanilla Sugar

Cathy at Where’s My Damn Answer

Mrs.Messiness at This Blessed Mess but WordPress is giving her site fits today so be patient.

RJ Flamingo at Flamingo Musings

and Casey at Butter My Kitchen

Note: I know there are people I should have put in here and I’m just an airhead who’s running out of room.  And also, I went on a big sentimental grateful crying jag while writing this and my eyes are too puffy now to see your link. So I’m sorry and I’ll write another post about you and what a doofus I am.



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