Szymanski: Just Do It! A little spontaneity usually turns out great

Szymanski: Just Do It! A little spontaneity usually turns out great
Sue Johnstonbaugh, dressed as a butterfly, takes the Polar Pony Plunge off Chincoteague Island on Jan. 1, 2019. (Courtesy photo)

Have you ever waffled between doing something and not doing it, and then, at the last minute, told yourself to “Just do it”?

How did that work out? I am betting it turned out great, because somehow, it usually does.


This year, on New Year’s Eve, my friends, Trish and Tom, who live in New York state happened to see something on Facebook about the New Year’s Eve celebration held on Chincoteague Island. Each year, a large crowd gathers outside on the carnival grounds for food and drinks and music and to cheer on the giant horseshoe drop. The countdown is loud and wild as the horseshoe slowly moves down the pole, ringing in the new year.

Trish told Tom about the celebration and his response was. “Let’s do it! It’s 3 p.m. now. It takes 7½ hours to get to Chincoteague. We can make it!”

Trish jumped on the opportunity without missing a beat. The two of them packed their bags faster than their kids could have ever imagined. It was a date! No kids on this foray — it was an opportunity for this loving couple to take a break from the real world.

I know Trish and Tom because their daughter, Laura, was awarded a little Chincoteague Pony foal by the Feather Fund at the annual Pony Penning auction. I am on the board of directors for the Feather Fund. They are a member of my “other” family — the Feather Fund family — a much loved group of very special folks.

Adding to the trip’s appeal, Chincoteague Island holds their Polar Pony Plunge on New Year’s Day each year. Hundreds of people dress in wild costumes to plunge into the ocean at the National Chincoteague Wildlife Refuge on Assateague Island. There are prizes for the best costumes of the day, so people go all out. Participants are encouraged to shout a famous quote or famous last words as they enter the ocean. You can learn more about the Polar Pony Plunge st

Trish and Tom’s New Year’s Eve jaunt was a great, fun time because they just did it! Dates like this keep the love alive and are so important for married couples. This couple has four children who are all either adults or almost there, but special dates are just as important to seasoned couples, no matter how many years they have been together.

My husband and I frequently “just do it,” but usually only when it comes to the small stuff. Just this past September, after a wonderful day at the Schiffer Books author picnic in Atglen, Pennsylvania (near Lancaster), we found a sweet little place off the beaten path. It all started when I said to my husband, “Instead of going right home, could we explore some back roads?”

Dan agreed and soon he was telling me, “Turn there! Now turn there!” I was laughing as I followed his off-the-cuff directions. We traveled down one back road after another without a worry. After all, we had GPS to untangle the route for us when it was time to head home.

Along the route we saw Amish children playing in a farm yard, a young Amish boy riding an odd scooter-bike down a back road, two young boys helping their father harvest corn by hand, and many, many Amish buggies in route. We were just about to wrap it up when my husband said, “Go back! You need to down that road we just passed on the left.”

Dan had seen a tiny sign that I had missed. When I turned around and headed back, I found the sign, nearly buried in the corn. “Miniature Horse Farm and Amish Market — two miles,” it said.

Of all the things to find in Amish country, a miniature horse farm was not one that I expected. If you are a regular reader of my column you might already know that I have two miniature horses that I am in love with — Georgie McLittle and Princess Hazel.

And so, we ended a perfect day by visiting an Amish farm with rows and rows of tiny stalls, with a miniature horse in each stall. Two stalls had an added bonus — tiny miniature horse foals!

The sun was setting over the cornfield as the last wagon ride of the day returned to the market. I looked over the Amish foods sold there, but because I’d already purchased cinnamon buns and a cake at another market we’d stopped at, I only looked. I was so happy that Dan had agreed to “just do it,” and explore back roads.

I feel the same way about community service. As a member of the Silver Run–Union Mills Lions Club and a co-founder of The Feather Fund I see the difference it makes when we look at the needs in our community and “just do it”!


Coming up in a few weeks, all the Lions Clubs in Carroll County are holding a day of service on Sunday, Jan. 27, that they hope will be the largest day of service on record in Carroll County.

Every single branch library in the county is participating with multiple Lions Clubs, who will have a long list of service projects on tables throughout the library. Anyone who drops in from 1:30 to 4 p.m. can give service to their community by helping out.

Projects on the Roar Like a Lion Day of Service will be many and varied and will include making pet toys for animal shelters, making cards for veterans and service personnel, making winter scarves for the homeless and people in need, making roses for the lunch trays of seniors in rehabilitation, putting together busy boxes for kids in hospitals, doing Linus blankets for hospitalized children and so much more.

Even though it is important to weigh the odds and always choose something safe and beneficial, sometimes “just doing it” feels good. I hope you get to “Just do it,” in the new year, and make it fun!