Lessons From a First-Timer

I started running back in December.  Frankly, it started with a burning desire to reclaim my body from years of child-bearing, child-rearing and neglect.  I never thought I would actually enjoy it. Somewhere along the way, something changed.  Running has become less about wanting to change my body and more about the feeling of strength and power that I have after a run. I love that I feel healthier, more invigorated and less-stressed with each step.  More importantly, I love knowing that I am teaching my children valuable life lessons about physical fitness, working towards a goal and perseverance.

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On Sunday, I ran in my first-ever 5K – the Graffiti Run in Camden/Philadelphia. I finished in 27:28 and immediately began to wonder if the course was really 5K because that is way faster than I ever do on the treadmill. All you runners out there – is that normal? Regardless, I felt great after the run and thought I’d share my tips for others who are about to embark on their “first-time” too.

Pick Up Your Runner’s Packet Before Race Day: I got the emails from the Graffiti Run organizers telling me to go to packet pick-up on Saturday to avoid long lines on the race day. I even gave serious thought to going since the location they selected was only 15-20 minutes away. But, the time frame didn’t quite work with our Saturday activities. We spent the afternoon at the zoo and I was so tired when we got home. I was definitely way too tired to extricate myself from the couch at 5 PM and go get my stuff before they closed at 6 PM. Big mistake. I ended up waiting in line for over an hour to get my bib and shirt. Is this how all races are?? I will now do whatever it takes to get my registration materials before race day. Lesson learned.

Don’t Be Afraid To Go It Alone: The original plan was to run this race with someone else. That plan changed on Saturday when my running buddy decided she wasn’t ready, despite my offer to walk with her when she needed it. This almost derailed me.  It would have been so easy to skip the race – I had the perfect excuse. But, I made the decision to go and I am glad I did! If my friend was with me, I would have stayed with her and walked and ran at her pace. I would not have pushed myself physically and mentally to see what I could do. I walked away with a time of 27:28 and I am proud of that. Running alone did that for me.  When you run a race with friends, do you stay together or do you run at your own pace and meet up after? What is the runner’s etiquette?  I definitely want to run with friends in the future and I’d love to hear how your strategies for running with friends!

Pick A Good Soundtrack: Music motivates me. If I am running on empty, I tell myself to just make it through one more or two more songs and I usually make it over the hump. I don’t actually have a static running play list that I listen to – I like to be surprised along the way. My recent go-to running soundtrack is the Blurred Lines Pandora Station. It offers up a great mix of upbeat songs that put a smile on my face and a pep in my step. On this particular race day, Bruno Mars Treasure carried me to the finish line – love that song! What are your favorite running songs?

You Can Do It: Simply said, put all your fears aside, make like Nike and just do it! If you are not able to run the whole course, there is no shame in walking. You will feel so accomplished and strong and powerful when you cross that finish line. I promise.

 

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I Intend To Be Happy

It is Mother’s Day 2014. Today, I celebrate that I am blessed to awake to the choruses of my sweet girls calling “Mommy, Mommy” each morning. I celebrate that when one of those little girls gets a boo-boo, I am the person she calls for. I celebrate that, sometimes when my oldest does not get her way, she says that I am the “meanest mommy ever” because that means I am doing my job. I also celebrate that my youngest is not at the age where she says things like that yet. I celebrate the over-the-top, out-of-this-world days with my girls, when I feel like the three of us are in total sync; when we smile and laugh and you wouldn’t know that tears exist; when I raise my voice out of excitement rather than anger. I love those days. I also celebrate the days when we all need a do-over; the days when we wake up late and have to rush around in the morning; when my patience is exhausted by 8 AM; when a simple thing like what shoes or dress to wear leads to the most earth-shattering tantrum; when I use the television to be my sitter because mommy just needs a minute. I don’t love those days, but I do understand that they are a part of motherhood. I celebrate the good days and the bad, the smiles and the tears, the triumphs and defeats because I have the privilege of being their mom. And it is most definitely a privilege.

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Being a mom is a huge part of my identity now. But, I am not only a mom. I am an athlete. I am a writer. I am a friend. I am a daughter. I am a lifelong learner. I am a do-gooder.  I am a professional. I am an avid reader. I am a volunteer. I am a woman and a wife.  Yet, as I look at this list, I realize that I have let so many of these parts of me languish. It is what we do as mothers, isn’t it? We focus on the babies who stole our hearts and their joy becomes our joy. Their hurt becomes our hurt. Their victories become our victories. We put aside our wants and needs to accommodate theirs. We forget to nourish our souls with the things that once held such an important place in our lives. This year I intend to make time for the things I love. I intend to rekindle my passion for writing with this blog. I intend to run several 5Ks. I intend to read more books and learn something new. I intend to volunteer and find ways to do more good in this wonderful world in which we live. And I intend to love my husband and my children, to be more present for them and to show them that by nourishing myself, I am nourishing our whole family. In short, I intend to be happy.

Shop Small. Buy Local. Do Good.

A few weeks ago I visited Linvilla Orchards, a kind of wonderland in the world of farm markets.  In addition to fresh, homegrown produce, fresh baked goods and locally produced products, they have an array of family activities that keep the children happy while visiting the farm.  My girls loved the train ride, petting zoo and playground and were totally tuckered out by the time we left.  While buying our goodies on our way out, my eyes were drawn to the Buy Fresh, Buy Local signage that was hanging all around the market.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about the Buy Local movement lately and this was just the push I needed to look into it further.  You see, though I have heard a variety of campaigns that push consumers to Buy Local, I never really paid attention to the reasons behind the campaigns.  Instinctively, it just seems “right” to buy from small, local businesses, but how do these campaigns compel you to do so?

The Buy Fresh Buy Local program’s goal is to make it easier for consumers to find, choose, and appreciate great local foods while supporting the farmers and lands that produce them.  If a store, restaurant or market features a Buy Fresh Buy Local® sign or label, the consumer can be certain that the business has committed to feature local foods and support local producers.  This is one of many programs across the nation that encourage consumers to purchase locally grown and produced foods.  Consumers who patronize local farm markets or restaurants that utilize local foods are directly supporting the local agriculture community.  Further, consumers who buy local produce are reducing their carbon footprint because locally grown fruits and vegetables require far less transportation than those shipped in from great distances.  So, get out there and buy some local produce.   I prefer farm markets or CSAs, but you can also shop the “Buy Local” section of your grocery store and support the movement too.

Shop Small

Shop Small (Photo credit: afagen)

The Buy Local movement stretches well beyond agriculture though and encompasses small business in general.  I’m sure you’ve heard of Small Business Saturday. Conceived by American Express in 2010, it is a “shopping holiday” on the equivalent of Black Friday for big box retailers and Cyber Monday for e-commerce retailers.   Small Business Saturday’s purpose is to drive consumers to local business in an effort to help stimulate the local economy.  Small Business Saturday has morphed into a Shop Small movement that encourages local shopping all year round (though I am sure there will still be a push for that Saturday after Thanksgiving.)   This makes sense.  After all, these businesses need to pay their employees and keep the lights on throughout the year, not just during the shopping season.

Still, I wanted some cold hard facts about why this is an important movement to get behind.  Here is what I found on ELocal.

– Throughout the United States, only about 33.6% of the revenue from national chains is reinvested into the community, which is very low compared to the 64.8% return from local businesses. (2009)

– A study in Austin, Texas found that $100 spent at a local bookstore produced $45 worth of local economic activity, and $100 at the chain store Borders brought back only $13.

– National chains often bring loss of employment. The opening of a Wal-Mart reduces retail employment by an average of 150 jobs in the county of its location.

– If the people of an average American city were to shift 10% of their spending from chains to local businesses, it would bring an additional $235 million per year to the community’s economy.

These numbers are pretty compelling.  Small businesses create local jobs.  Small businesses return more money to the local economy than larger chain retailers.  Small businesses are more likely to be active members of the community, supporting local causes and participating in local events.  And, in patronizing small businesses, you are supporting your neighbors who work there or the family that owns it.  Shop Small.  Buy Local. Do Good.   Now that is a campaign I can get behind.

How does small business fit into your life?  Do you work for one?  Shop at one?  Tell me about it!

Reading Challenge Starts Monday!

final sum read chall

Summer Reading Challenge Rules:

  1. Display the Do Good, Read More Summer Reading Challenge Image on your website and link it back to this post.
  2. Read one blog that you have never visited each day from June 24th – August 18th. Explore other blogging platforms, click on suggested posts, ask others for suggestions – the only rule is that the blog must be “new to you.”
  3. Leave a comment for each of the bloggers whom you have discovered. You can offer support and constructive criticism or share knowledge and ideas.
  4. Share the blogs you have discovered in any way you see fit. Blog daily, compile weekly lists, or write a “This is How I Spent My Summer” post sharing all the links.

Follow these rules and by the end of the summer, you will have connected with 56 new bloggers and your exposure will have grown considerably. Better yet, you will be supporting your fellow writers who, like you, take the time and have the courage to share their thoughts and ideas with world using blogging as their medium.

via Do Good, Read More Summer Reading Challenge.

Tea Party Chats – On Summer, Kindness and Helping Others

Josie and I rang in the first day of summer with one of our famous tea parties while little sister Lily was napping.  Thanks to Fancy Nancy, our conversations are typically of the hoity-toity variety, using fancy words like scrumptious and spectacular.  But today, I decided to interview Josie to spice things up a bit.  Enjoy Josie’s musings on summer, kindness and helping others, especially her extremely sincere, beautifully spoken sign-off.

Don’t Worry Honey, That is Just the Sky Farting

Thunder

Thunder (Photo credit: mhaller1979)

 

Let’s file this one under things I never thought I’d say.  We had thunderstorms today and there were some wicked booms of thunder that caused my girls to cry and cower in fear.  So, I did what any mom would do and tried to soothe their fears.  I could have gone into the scientific explanation that lightening causes vibrations in the air and a rapid heating and expansion of air particles that causes a loud rumble of thunder. But, given that my four year old loves “poop humor” these days, I thought it was a surer bet to say, “Don’t worry honey, thunder is just the sky farting.”  Guess what, it worked.  The rest of the afternoon, they giggled when it thundered.  Sure, their future science teachers are going to have their work cut out for them, but we’ll worry about that in a few years.

What’s the wackiest thing you’ve ever said or done to comfort your child?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do Good, Read More Summer Reading Challenge

‘Tis the season of summer reading lists….do you have yours ready yet?  I am an avid reader and am looking forward to reading some books that have been buzzed about: Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight, We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo and Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld have made the list, all books I discovered on this excellent summer reading list.   But, I have decided to go on a entirely new reading adventure this summer and you are invited!  My blog’s purpose is to inspire adults and children to improve their own lives by doing good, being kind and making a difference in the lives of others. The Do Good, Read More Summer Reading Challenge provides each of us with an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our fellow bloggers, and, in the process, improve readership and exposure on our blogs too.   Will you join me on the challenge?

final sum read chall

Summer Reading Challenge Rules:

  1. Display the Do Good, Read More Summer Reading Challenge Image on your website and link it back to this post.
  2. Read one blog that you have never visited each day from June 24th  –  August 18th.   Explore other blogging platforms, click on suggested posts, ask others for suggestions – the only rule is that the blog must be “new to you.”
  3. Leave a comment for each of the bloggers whom you have discovered. You can offer support and constructive criticism or share knowledge and ideas. 
  4. Share the blogs you have discovered in any way you see fit.  Blog daily, compile weekly lists, or write a “This is How I Spent My Summer” post sharing all the links. 

Follow these rules and by the end of the summer, you will have connected with 56 new bloggers and your exposure will have grown considerably.  Better yet, you will be supporting your fellow writers who, like you, take the time and have the courage to share their thoughts and ideas with world using blogging as their medium.

Are you ready for the Do Good, Read More Summer Reading ChallengeJoin today and then share this invitation with your network!

 

**Note: This challenge is clearly targeted towards bloggers, but you don’t have to be a blogger to participate.  Simply read a new blog and comment on it each day and you, too, will be making a difference in the lives of bloggers!**