Sebring, Racing, and Camping Culture

I am a sports fan. Underneath that very broad umbrella lies the category of motor sports. I follow motor sports – peripherally – but in no way would I all myself an avid fan.

I am, however, a fan of taking time off of work and taking part in new experiences with my friends. That is how I find myself at Sebring International Raceway this weekend taking in the 12 Hours of Sebring race. I won’t go into specifics about the race except to say it last twelve hours. When you’re sitting out in the sun, drinking beer, and watching cars scream by, twelve hours feels like twenty four.

But for my wife and me, this is less about the race and more about the time shared with friends. For us, it’s about fellowship, and considering we’ve been here since Wednesday, sharing the close confines of a 30-foot camper (i.e. one bathroom), it’s very safe to say we really like our friends.

Our Camper

 

In addition to the good times, grilled food, and empty beer bottles, I have learned a lot these last several days. Here’s a recap in no particular order.

  1. I know very little about camping, campers, RV’s, and the entire culture that goes with it. I am 42 years old, and I feel there is a slew of life lessons I still need to learn like; how to empty the tanks on an RV (I’ll just pay someones else to do it for me, thank you very much), and how a refrigerator can run off propane (I am still perplexed).
  2. Corvettes are beautiful. Prototype Corvettes are bleeping gorgeous. Vette Prototype
  3. The logistics that go into a racing team – specifically for endurance racing like Sebring – are amazing. From scheduling how long a particular driver will be out of the track to tuning the car to account for weather, wind direction, surface temperature, to the crew involved with loading and hauling the cars; it’s all mind-blowing when you stop and think about it. I know all motor sports teams deal with it, but to see it so up close makes it a more tangible experience.
  4. Green Park at Sebring is Spring Break for old men. Yes, there are many who partake in the festivities of the free-for-all that is Green Park (an open camping area on the north end of the track), but for the most part, it seems to be dominated by dudes looking at 40 in the rear view mirror and still trying to drink as if they were 20. If you’re looking for a crazy party atmosphere, Green Park is something you may want to experience. If you’re looking something a bit more family friendly, then Green Park is something you’ll want to avoid. Green Park Party Animal
  5. There’s no escaping the sound of the race cars. They wake you up in the morning (practices start at 8:00), and the high-pitched whine of a car accelerating out of a turn will seep into your subconscious. Even in the moments between races and practices, you’ll swear you can hear cars running. It’s akin to having sea-legs after a cruise. I will probably hear the buzzing of race cars in my brain for the next week.
  6. There are a lot of innovative campers at Sebring. From makeshift disco lounges, to tents anchored by pickup trucks, to elaborate party zones, the campers at Sebring have merged the best of function, imagination, and craftiness when it comes to watching the race.

As the race comes to a close, I look back with a relatively proud, “been there, done that” attitude. Growing up in Florida, Sebring was something I’d always heard about, and it’s cool I am now able to say I’ve experienced it. In many ways, it reminds me of when I finally got around to watching a shuttle launch.

I’m eager to continue to check off the list things to do in Florida, and we’re already planning to do the 24 Hours at Daytona in 2016. But whatever the event or the destination, what makes it all worthwhile is being able to share those experiences with the people you love.

Team Sebring

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Friendly Friday – Danielle Lanier

There are some friendships that can only be described as serendipitous. And in my experience, if there is one thing that tends to create serendipitous moments, it’s music.

I’ve been so very fortunate to be surrounded by such a wonderful collection of friends, all of which share the same passion and affection for music (specifically live music). I like to refer to these people as my music family, and one of these individuals is Danielle Lanier.

Danielle is currently the Director of Program and Family Services at Children’s Cancer Center in Tampa. The Children’s Cancer Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to serving Tampa Bay families of children with cancer or chronic blood disorders such as Sickle Cell Anemia. Their mission statement speaks to helping families cope, and they could not have a better member on their team than Danielle.

Danielle is full of life and just screams vivaciousness. Her smile can light up a room, and she’s simply a joy to be around. But what really sets her apart are her absolute love for music and her selfless sense of giving. Danielle has merged those two by incorporating music into the many support programs offered at the Children’s Cancer Center. From live performances to field trips to a concerts to simple music instruction, Danielle is helping make the lives of children battling cancer a little bit brighter with every note, melody, and lyric.

And it is lyrics that hold a special place in Danielle’s heart. In addition to her day job, Danielle is also an artist and creator of Lyric Inspired Art. The works are exactly as the name suggests; artwork that is born from the inspiration received by music and the lyrics contained with in. As Danielle states, “I may not be able to perform music, but I am able to pay respect to it on canvas. I am moved by music, the expression, the emotions, the lyrics. My art is a physical recreation of what I feel when I hear songs that evoke an emotional response.” [Be sure to visit and Like Lyric Inspired Art on Facebook.]

I’m honored to be able to call Danielle a friend, and I am inspired by the fact that she wakes up every morning to go something she genuinely loves doing. At the end of the day, that really is what life if all about.

Danielle Lanier with Ken Block
Danielle Lanier with Ken Block

To donate to the Children’s Cancer Center, click here.

Here is a slightly dated article about Danielle in The Examiner.

Friendly Friday – Kendall Lyons

Have you ever had a tough time explaining how you met someone? “Hey, how did you guys meet?” You stumble across um’s and awkward pauses until you figure out the best way to explain a peculiar story. That’s pretty much the case with my friend Kendall.

I had the great fortune of traveling to Colorado last summer to attend the Wild at Heart Boot Camp hosted by John Eldridge and his Ransomed Heart Ministries team. It was a great men’s retreat the opened my eyes to all types of new directions in my faith walk with Jesus, and allowed me to realize the warrior that lives in me, fighting everyday here on earth for the kingdom of God. It was four days of reflection, introspection, and fellowship with the hundreds of other men at the retreat.

In those moments of fellowship, we’d congregate around the fire, introducing ourselves and sharing life stories. I traveled to the retreat with my friend Jeff, and I told him I’d meet him down at the fire once I grabbed some stuff from our dormitory area. Upon my arrival, he peppered me with questions.

“Hey. Do you know this guy named cartoon daily?”

“Cartoon daily? His first name is cartoon?”

“No. That’s his Twitter handle. Cartoondaily ….. something.”

“What? What are you talking about.”

“I met this guy and he happened to mention he’s a blogger. I told him I was here with a buddy of mine who also is a blogger. I mentioned you’re danaCreative, and he said he knows you.”

“Wait. What? He said he knows me?”

“Yeah. Says he follows you on Twitter … or something like that.” (my friend Jeff was not very keen on the details that evening)

So after the sketchy conversation and upon returning home, I did some research and found @CartoonDaily1, better known as Kendall Lyons.

The Internet is a great tool. So much so that it allowed two complete strangers, both with a penchant for writing and a mutual love for Jesus Christ, to come together in a really unexplainable way. I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Kendall in person, but we’ve interacted quite a bit since the retreat, and I am a fan of his work.

Kendall is a youth minister and a writer – he just released his book “22 Life Lessons for Personal Growth” – and a dedicated man of God. In addition, Kendall is a talented artist and self-proclaimed cartoon fanatic. I look forward to growing in this friendship with Kendall, and I smile knowing there is another warrior out there working hard to kingdom build here on earth.

You can find Kendall via his blog at KendallLyons.com. Please take a moment to check out Kendall’s animated mini-bio for Draw My Life. It’s excellent.

Happy Friday!

Friendly Friday – Sue Markovitch

Part of my goal for 2014 is to have a post on my blog site every day. As I mentioned on the first of the year, I don’t want to necessarily write every day (although that would be great). Rather, I want to post something. Pictures, videos, something.

Although I am still working out a ‘subject schedule’, I think I will devote my Fridays to promoting people I know and their works and success. Hence, welcome to the first ever danaCreative Friendly Friday. Okay, I guess you can say the idea is somewhat borrowed from Twitter’s #FollowFriday, but I am going to give you more than just a Twitter handle to follow and forget.

Instead, I will share a little bit about how I know the person I’m highlighting, as well as information on where you can find them on the Internet.

With all that as the backdrop, I would like to introduce you to Sue Markovitch. I first met Sue via what I affectionately refer to as my music family. That is, the collection of music fans with whom I interact, most of which came together through the music of Sister Hazel. It started with us interacting on the old Sister Hazel message board. Her avatar was the tattoo she has of the Lyrics for Life logo. We got to know each other, and we soon came to realize we were, at the time, living parallel lives with regards to love and heartbreak. We were kindred spirits, finding in each other strength, guidance, and encouragement through the emotional tough times. Our friendship was purely virtual and online, but it was, off the bat, something special.

Sue was there for me, specifically when I had an emotionally devastating setback in summer of 2006. I was driving back home from a day trip to Miami, and I remember spending hours with her on the phone and she calmly talked me off the proverbial ledge. This is someone whom I never met in person, but she made the time for me to help me when I needed it most. When we finally met in person a couple of years ago on The Rock Boat, all we could do was hug, laugh, and cry; cry the tears of joy you shed when you see someone you’ve missed for such a long time.

In her own words, Sue is a, “writer, fitness coach, personal trainer, spiritual guide, seeker of truth, child of God, (and) student of life.” She is also the owner of Clear Rock Fitness in Ohio. Furthermore, Sue just released her first book “I Know What to Do, I Just Don’t Do It: How to Break Free from the Lies that Keep You Frustrated, Overweight, and Out of Shape.” I am looking forward to reading it, and I am so incredibly excited for Sue and the success she’s having with both her fitness studio and book.

I Know What To Do

And if you’re looking for a daily boost of motivation, be sure to check out her Twitter feed at @SueMarkovitch

Sue is one of the many people in my life whom I consider a blessing and a great friend. I hope you check out her sites, and that she provides for you the same inspiration she does for me.

Happy Friday!

Sue Markovitch

192/365 Angel Investor

There are times when everything just seems too overwhelming. Work, schedules, kids, diet, finances; it all just adds up to one big ball of stress.

Yet there are time when thing happen unexpectedly and from outta’ nowhere a the solution to problem or situation presents itself.

I am so very lucky to have the collection of friends that I do, and I am so very blessed to be surrounded by such amazing and giving people. It’s a reminder that when you put it all in God’s hands, He will provide an answer to your prayers.

 

Many thanks to my friend CG for the love and support.

152/365 Duuuuuuude

Lee went out to dinner with our friend Michelle tonight. Michelle and her husband Matt are joining us on our trip to Mexico next month.

Matt: Do you know at what time the girls are getting together tonight?

Me: Six o’clock.

Matt: We need to get together, too, to talk about the trip. I have a couple of questions.

Me: What are you doing now?

Matt: Nothing.

Me: Want to get together tonight?

Matt: Sure. You want to come here? I’m making quesadillas.

Me: Coolio. What time?

Matt: Whenever.

Me: On my way.

Matt: Don’t forget the beer.

Me: It’s already in my hands.

Matt: Awesome.

That’s how dudes roll.

Keeping My Eyes Open

Random Writers: Write about a new beginning in your life.

I recently told a friend of mine, “Pain is when we look at God’s will through human eyes.”

As I look back on the event of my life that lead me here today, the vast majority of them occurring in the 2004 – 2005 timeframe, it’s clear to see that every new beginning was preceded by a moment of pain or crisis.

There are so many metaphors and analogies bouncing around in my head right now, it would probably take me hours to write them all down. Still, they all can be summarized with a simple formula.

Pain + Time = New

Yes, it really is that simple.

Pain (or disappointment or crisis or burden) plus the time you spend experiencing it, learning from it, and healing as a result, equate to new beginnings and new opportunities.

True, there are some opportunities that came my way either as a result of hard work, sheer determination, or dumb luck. But the moments in my life that I can honestly qualify as new beginnings all stem from an event that was not fun to go through.

I feel I’ve always lived my life as an open book, and those who know me also know my story. For me, I will always have the one life event that served as the BIG domino that fell and set in motion all the other dominoes that make up my life journey.

Here’s my story, from right to left.

I live my life surrounded by my core group of friends. These are the people whom I trust and whose opinions I value the most. They serve as my gauge as to how I am doing and whether I am doing it right. When I think about that inner circle, I am still amazed at how I came to meet and know those individuals.

We met through our mutual love for music. Specifically, the music of Sister Hazel. The genesis of how we came together was a beach weekend the band put together back in 2006 in South Carolina. It was an event called the Hazelnut Hang, and it was an event that has proven to change my life.

What lead me to go to that event was dinner conversation with my girlfriend at the time – Lee, who is now my wife – and our mutual friend. Our friend was going through a tough time so Lee and I decided to take her out for a bite and be there for her. In the course of conversation, our friend mentioned her mother’s house in South Carolina which sparked the idea of going to the Sister Hazel event.

Lee and I became exclusive in January 2006 following a very tumultuous 2005 in which Lee would learn to open her eyes to the idea of something new only to find me continuing to struggle with the idea of letting go of something old. That something old came to a head in December of 2005.

That was the moment of the big domino.

It’s evident to me, as I trace back the key moments of my life, that I would not be where I am today had the door I had so desperately wanted to run through back in 2005 not been slammed shut in my face. I could not see where I am today through those tears I was shedding that painful December evening over six years ago, yet here I am nonetheless.

I’ve learned that in those darkest and most painful of times, we must have faith that a new light will clear the darkness, and a new path will be revealed. It’s not any kind of easy and everyone learns that lesson at their own pace and in their own way, if ever at all.

Another band that has been influential to me in my life journey is NEEDTOBREATHE, and they have a song that succinctly sums up my life events from 2005. It is what Lee was trying to tell me all along that year. What I didn’t know back then, which is clearer to me now, is that I needed to keep my eyes open. What I also failed to see is that God was directing me every step of the way.

Yes, I believe everything happens for a reason – His reason – and I believe coincidence is our human way of interpreting God’s will. And yes, pain is when we look at God’s will with our human eyes. Instead of allowing the pain to govern our experience, we should remind ourselves that with time and with faith in God, the new beginnings in our lives will be realized.