Thursday, March 17, 2016

Pounding heart. Sweat. Speed. Laughter. The joy of the run.



"Be the change you want to see in the world."

I love this quote. It is my email footer at work. It's a constant reminder on those days, those tough days. After being up with my own kids throughout the night, having my other 83 kids meltdown, getting a walkthrough, unjamming the copier for the GAZILLION time. Having a day. It's there… "Be the change" ..One of my mission statements. Changing something in the world, I want to be different…having the mindset, it's not about me.

What I wanted this year was movement…...


I wrote about this awhile ago on one of my Facebook posts, but I wanted to share a bit more because of the positive impact this program has had on kiddos, parents, and others in the community.

I wasn't okay with one of my students not being able to fit into a sixth grade desk due to his size. Seeing it was a problem for him, we had to request that the custodian bring a different desk upstairs. I felt so uneasy, sad, helpless, for him… what can I do for this year to be different? Literally, day 1 of meeting him…he was my goal; some sort of change needed to happen. 

“The biggest takeaway we want the kids to get from this partnership with Marathon Kids is that they're athletes, too. By helping kids fall in love with sport, we’re helping break the cycle of inactivity.”

This was one of the first quotes that caught my eye when I read about "Marathon Kids," through Nike. YES! Inactivity is the nemesis of this generation. Look around; screens galore (that's a different post for another day). 
The more I read, the more I was hookedand decided, this program was my answer:

The Marathon Kids program engages kids in a positive, simple, goal-driven running program that challenges them to run the equivalent of up to four marathons (from 26.2 miles to 104.8 miles) over the course of a three-, six- or nine-month running club season or school year. 
Upon reading this, how could it all work? I didn't want to single out one student…
I teach reading, not gym. 
Would other students want to do this? 
Should I apply for the grant…(something on my teacher bucket list that I never did before)… probably won't get it because my "why" isn't captivating enough, not what they are looking for….
Will any other students care about walking a marathon, or will they think it's lame?

With a lot of late nights, and searching through other school walking/exercise programs, the following things starting falling into place: 
*Receiving the grant: Nike waived the $15 fee for all of my students so they receive all rewards for free
*Asking if the gym was available Tuesday and Thursday mornings for walking.

 *Telling my kiddos the plan- (one class applauded).. "This is awesome!"  "We get to exercise BEFORE school?" "I'm getting more miles than you!"  "Thank you."
*Figuring out to calculate the laps to miles to rewards. One lap is 0.05 miles. Students grab popsicle sticks each time they take one lap around the gym. Girls pick up sticks from one side, boys from the other. 

                                                         Handy Dandy Conversion Chart

        Students record how many laps they walked/ran in one session on the Nike log: 


    Shirt for 1 marathon; shoelaces for 2;
shoe tags for 3; bracelets for marathon 4! 


 Kids aren't required to walk of course, but guess who shows up every time it's his scheduled session. Watching him consistently walk 8 laps, and now he is up to 12, I get teary-eyed. He's doing it. He's walking. He is making the choice to move. This movement could be the start of a new life for him, and that is why I'm so grateful for this program. 

Thank you to my teammates who have been supportive since lap one.


Thank you to the runner who completed her own Runner's World running log; wanting to experience the same inspiration and accomplishment of marathon runners for having this initial idea in 1995, which propelled Nike's idea for this program. 

Thank you to Chad Mann, the representative I've been in contact with, and told me the good news of the grant. Thank you for making sure my kiddo received his size 4XL shirt, which will hopefully be big on him when he earns it. 



Thank you to the kiddo who just reached mile 8 today.
 Thank you for not giving up as other kids are lapping you, but you keep smiling and walking. 



       Thank you Nike for allowing my team to be representative in this number:










Saturday, February 20, 2016

Head-On Collisions and Feather Moments

 
     We have all experienced a loss of some magnitude; relationship, job, situation, or an actual person. I don't know how without three main things: God, friends and family, and exercise, I would be able to go about each day, functioning. People turn to substances and other things to help them with their feelings of despair. It makes sense; if you feel numb, you can't feel pain. If you allow yourself to be consumed with drugs and alcohol, you can't be consumed with grief. I pray for people to not "stuff their stuff." It will resurface and turn its ugly head.
      If you have ever experienced losing someone, my heart breaks with yours. I won't say, "Give it time to get over it," because that doesn't make sense. What I would say is, "Give yourself time to get used to life without them." "There is no timeline to loss-take each day one at a time." When someone loses someone, I want to talk to them, whereas other people may avoid the topic because it's uncomfortable, or awkward. I felt this way before I lost my mom, so I understand. I know for a long time, my husband thought avoiding the topic was the best thing. "I don't want to upset you," he would say. But, I'm always thinking about her. Not talking about her makes it seem like I'm forgetting, which couldn't be farther from the truth.
     I read an article that described a man's experience with losing his wife, and having to raise his daughter by himself. He talked about "head-on collisions" and "feather moments" and it was such an interesting concept. I've always tried to find the right words to encapsulate what he described, and these are a perfect fit. "Head-on collisions" are those days you know are approaching, and well, suck, because they aren't here to celebrate with you: Christmas, your loved one's birthday, the day they passed, an anniversary, etc. The head-on collision in front of me is next week… Wednesday. All month it looms over me like a dark cloud, and then it's here. I can't avoid it, dodge it, wish it away, imagine it didn't happen. The morning of the 24th, I wake up and still get that surreal feeling. How have I gone on for the last 13 years without my mom? How will I continue? One good thing about these h.o.c. is that I know they are coming….they don't catch me off guard; not like the "feather moments". That isn't to say they aren't overwhelming and sometimes, all-consuming.  It's not any other day. Some years I don't work, other days I work. I really think every profession should allot a "mental health day" for employees. When I've taken off work in the past, and I see my list of options: personal day, sick day, professional day, none fit the reason I don't, or even can't go to work. I've thought, if I could choose "mental health" day, that's the perfect description of my absence. I am taking care of my mental health, by taking care of myself. However it seems fitting on that day to do so….
       Sitting in the White Rose last weekend, celebrating my sister's 30th, the first song we heard was "Hotel California" by the Eagles. It was faintly playing in the background once we were seated. Of all the songs that could have played, that was a reminder of her on such a special evening. Last week, driving home after work, I saw the most beautiful cardinal literally flying next to my car; feather moment. Every time, not kidding, EVERY TIME, I either order spaghetti, or open a box of spaghetti, there is one noodle that doesn't belong..to me-feather moment. The month after she passed away, in college, I was in a kindergarten classroom… preparing for the next step in the education program. This sweet, little girl pulled at my leg and asked, "Do you have a mom?" Of all the questions (and there are many from 5-year olds) she could have asked, that feather moment was perfect. "I do have a mom; she's wonderful," I replied.
     Even though I know head-on collisions will continue to pop up on my calendar, my hope for myself, and all of you, is that the heaviness your heart feels on those days, is softened by those feather moments that graciously appear as well. 


Thursday, December 31, 2015

If Not Now, When?




Oh Oprah, you wise woman. I heard this quote from her last week, and it has resonated with me since…. and as cliche as it is, with the new year ringing in, it's short, sweet, and smart.…. so I ask you, "If not now, when?" What are things you have not followed through with because of time, money, fear of failure, work, busyness with schedules, kids, etc.? I also read a hashtag I loved the other day too:  #weallhave24hoursaday

I hear all the time (and maybe sometimes say)…. "I don't have time," "I was too busy," "I couldn't fit in in the schedule."  I understand all of these, BUT #weallhave24hoursaday  

How do some people have time to do certain things, and others don't? You make time for what you value, and what's important to you, and other stuff gets pushed to the side, and maybe you'll "get to it." 

If you had to make a top ten list of 2016, goals, resolutions, ways you could grow, ways to be a better person, what would your list look like? Those that fail to plan, plan to fail… how are you planning not to fail in 2016-what will you do differently? 

The new year is exciting because it is a fresh start. 2015 for some was an amazing year with new babies, jobs, houses, promotions, weddings… but for others, it was, to quote an article I just read, "The Year I Fell." I had a year like that before…well, more than one. Those are tough. January 1st after those years I fell, couldn't come fast enough. So maybe tomorrow can't come fast enough for you because your year wasn't great. But guess what? This year can be. Some of my 2016 (or life) wants/goals/hopes are as follows, what's on your list? 

*Go on a missions trip
*Blog weekly
*Budget ;)
*Use coupons
*Run a 6:00 mile
*Be a surrogate for someone (def. not this year but some time)
*Watch a TV series with my husband
*Go to DIsney 
*Adopt a dog
*Make a scrapbook
*Cut out all processed foods
*Write a book
*Win money for placing in a race
*Write another book
*Create makeup tutorials
*Lead another life group at church
*Counsel grieving children

Sometimes if things are written down, there is more accountability to them. If you've never had a steady exercise regimen, and you say, "I'm going to start exercising," that's great, but what's your plan? Do you have a gym in mind? Are you someone who does well working out at home? Do you have an accountability partner with diet and exercise? Think through your goal-where you will struggle, and who can help you be successful.

So, I hope when you ask yourself, "If not now, when?" the answer is THIS YEAR. Make this the year you were the BEST you possible. :)


Monday, August 10, 2015

What is Your Fitness Story?

      I find it interesting how people live in terms of working out, eating, etc. Some people I know eat fast food multiple times a week because it's convenient. They didn't know what the "baby food looking stuff" was at the party last year, (hummus), and have never tried almond milk…. wait, nuts in milk? They repeat how they need to make a change, feel tired and depleted, but don't know how to start working out or making changes that will positively impact their bodies. They know fast food isn't the best choice, but it tastes good, and it's part of their routine. Other people I know are vegetarians, and have been for years. They have their own reasons for this lifestyle, and say they feel better overall, without consuming meat. 
     I remember singing a song in fifth grade called, "Knowledge is Power" on stage for a program. How true that is…sometimes the more I read, the more I want to change. However, it's not realistic for me to buy every single thing on my grocery list at Whole Foods, or to purchase organic everything. I want to be informed, but not neurotic with labels, food blogs, exercise regimens and so on. There are so many fads and diets that look so appealing, but with these quick fixes, comes negative health effects and other risks.

     I think back to what a typical meal day was for me in high school: 
Breakfast:  Two bowls of Cocoa Pebbles and a glass of O.J. #delicious 
Lunch:        A sandwich baggie full of Smart Start, an apple, and raspberry tea
Dinner:       An enormous plate (or two) of whatever my mom or dad cooked
There were no snacks, not a lot of water consumption, and minimal protein, besides dinner. 

A typical meal day for me now is: 
Breakfast:  A smoothie with almond milk, protein, spinach, banana, cocoa powder, and peanut butter
Snack:       Almonds 
Lunch:      Some sort of salad, fruit, and a piece of Ezekiel bread
Snack:      Hummus and crackers or vegetables
Dinner:     Chicken, vegetables, and some sort of rice or potato
Dessert:    Ice cream or graham crackers with Nutella…yummo! :)

Do I eat like that every day… no… but if I actually have food in my fridge and pantry, that's what I'm eating. What a change from a decade ago.

      This last year has been a very humbling experience in the physical sense. I wanted to take a picture of my stomach as soon as I could after delivering Jonah to show people that mommy's tummies don't just snap back in place the minute the baby is birthed. I also wanted to take a photo timeline to show that with consistency, having an 80/20 mentality with food, (80% of the time eating well, 20% indulging), you CAN see results with time. I want to encourage people out there, women especially, you can do it. Do I think I look great in a bathing suit, no…. do I look better than I did September 2nd, I would say yes.
     Breastfeeding is a great way to kickstart weight loss post baby (along with so many other advantages for you and baby), but you really need to make eating healthy and exercise a lifestyle. Some nights that meant at 9:30 I was going for a run after a long and draining day. Other days, that meant during nap time when I wanted to sleep, I would force myself to workout downstairs. Some weeks when I knew working out wouldn't happen as often as I'd like, I would really watch my eating. That doesn't mean I wouldn't eat, I would just be mindful of how many times I put my hand in the pretzel bag as I made dinner, or I wouldn't have as much ice cream that week. (Ice cream is my downfall).

 Here is a timeline of two days before I delivered Jonah, to today….
August 30th




September 2nd- one day after delivery- #coneheadbelly




                                                                         October 6th 




                                                                       October 27th




                                                                      November 15th



                                                                             Today


I guess from November 15th to today, I didn't have time to take stomach bathroom selfies, but you get the idea. Being a mom doesn't mean death to your body… your fit self is in there, you just have to work harder for it to emerge! My Jonah pooch didn't disappear overnight, and it's still not 100% gone, but I wanted to feel comfortable in a bathing suit this summer. That was the goal I set for myself last summer as I waddled and waded in pools. I think I met this goal, and I also think you can set a goal and reach it. Here's to a healthy lifestyle!
















Thursday, June 18, 2015

I Know You're In There…..





I've heard of Alzheimer's, dementia, memory loss…. but like many things, until these words become your reality, they are just words. I've had friends experience this with their grandparents, but I couldn't relate at the time.

When these words happen to someone close to you, and you read things like, "not reversible," incurable," and "degenerative"…. it becomes a different story, because someone close to you is becoming a different person. 

This is a letter I would want to give to my Grandma….

Dear Grandma, 
At times, I know there is clarity, and that's when the tears start. Yours on the outside, mine on the inside. Your words stop as quickly as they start because they don't make sense. I try to guess what you are trying to say, but your frustration stops me. I try to make the conversation light when I see you, because I feel guilty. I can drive, walk, punch in the code to the elevators in your building….. to leave. So many things you can't do. Behind every laugh and comment I make to you is a wanting… a wanting for the old Grandma to come back, just for a minute. 

You had nail polish on yesterday. Bright, coral, summery polish. In your 93 years of life, I've never seen a picture, or in person, painted nails. It made me feel sad to see your nails painted because, I'm sure someone asked you, and you nodded, but you didn't know what they were going to do. Maybe you look at your nails now and are sad because you don't know how to take the polish off. In the memory care unit, there aren't cotton balls you can use. They don't even have tissues out in fear of patients eating them, or real silverware for meals. Maybe I should look at your nails and be happy someone took the time to paint them, and make you feel good. To me they are a reminder of one more decision made for you, and at one time, you were so strong willed you made all of your own decisions. 

When I walked into your room yesterday and you weren't there, but a man who had stripped down to only his underwear was lying there, I wish I could have told you how funny that was, and you could have made some hilarious comment about the situation. But the truth is, he thought it was his room, so it really wasn't funny.

Despite all of that…..

I know you're in there Grandma. When I'm talking to you, it's as though you are another person, but I know you hear me. I know a piece of you has to remember. Behind those sad, brown eyes, that stare ahead, I know you see me. I see the corners of your mouth turn upward every time I say, "I'm Natalie, don't forget Grandma," while I squeeze your hand. 

I see you use your hand in a "shooing" away motion to other residents when you've had enough of them talking to me, or you say "goodbye" when someone is irritating you. I know you're in there. 

I see you calling after the man with the white hair and flannel pants, "Sam, Sam, get over here," because that's what you used to say to Grandpa.

I know you're in there Grandma, and that's what keeps me coming back. 

I love you,
Natalie

 

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