Wednesday, April 22, 2015

50-mile Challenge for Team RWB and Veterans

In just ten days I take on the Rock the Ridge 50-mile Endurance Challenge. Sounds daunting doesn’t it? Hills, both up and down. . .lots of hills. Which will, of course, lead to sore muscles, aching feet, and exhaustion. Wow! I look forward to it. The adventure and the beauty of the Mohonk Preserve will even out the challenge of the elevation, not to mention the overall time on my feet.

But why am I really participating in the 50-mile Rock the Ridge? I’m participating as my way of paying it forward to our Veterans.
This 50-mile challenge is nothing compared to the challenges our Veterans faced every day while they were active in the military and serving to protect us and our freedoms. This 50-mile challenge is nothing compared to the re-acclimation of the Veterans back to life after active duty, the task of finding a job, of dealing (in many cases) with PTSD, of becoming part of another type of family and an active part of the community.

This is where Team Red White and Blue comes in. Team RWB's mission is to enrich the lives of America’s Veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity. Physical fitness and sports are proven ways to bring people together and set the conditions to build meaningful relationships. In Team RWB's case, they provide veterans with renewed camaraderie, a sense of purpose, and shared accomplishment.
My goal is to play an active role in helping Team RWB accomplish their mission and to give back to our Veterans by being participating in these events and helping raise funds and awareness. Fundraising is an even bigger challenge because it doesn’t rely on me and my feet and my determination. I have that well under control. If Veterans can stand the wall to protect me then I can surely spend sixteen hours on my feet walking and moving forward toward a finish line that has food and new friends waiting my arrival.
Yes, the challenge for me is the fundraising as it relies on me to reach out to people and convince them -  you to help. It relies on me to twist your arm (figuratively speaking) to reach deep in your pockets and pull out what you can afford to donate. It doesn’t have to be a fortune, but a few bucks. Do you buy a cup of coffee from Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks in the morning? Then think of this as a cup of coffee with a Veteran. Maybe you treat yourself to lunch or dinner out once a week. Why not skip it one week and donate that amount to Team RWB and the Veterans.

Click here to donate.

Think of donating as a way of saying thank you to a Veteran. If you want to call out a Veteran when you make a donation, leave a comment on the donation site and tell that Veteran that the donation was made in their honor. Or leave him/her a note on my blog in the comments.

On behalf of myself, Team RWB and Veterans, we thank you for your generosity and support.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Happy birthday to my mom!

Happy birthday to the best mom!
Let me tell you about my mother. She is the fabulous!

Oh, you want to know more? Well, okay.
My mom is a creative and talented woman. Since the time I was a kid she was making clothes for us (me and my sisters) and our dolls. Now that I’m grown she no longer makes clothes for me, but she does make quilts. As a matter of fact, I am waiting on her latest creation any time now. (No pressure, Mom.)

This same woman taught me to tie my shoes. We did not do the bunny ears in the hole trick. Nope. My mom showed me how to do it several times. Then one day when I asked her to help me she decided it was time I figured it out. Mom went into the bathroom and shut the door all the while encouraging me that I could do it, talking me through the steps, but she would not open the door until I tied my shoe. Did I tell you how smart she was? Cuz, yes, that is exactly what I needed and I tied my shoe. I’ve been tying them ever since.

She also taught me to make my bed. To this day, the minute my feet hit the floor I turn and make the bed before doing anything else. See what moms do? They influence you throughout your life.

Mom taught me to bake and cook. Let’s face it, who doesn’t love the baking or eating baked goods. I recall the very first thing my mother taught me to bake was chocolate chip cookies. Our first house had a kitchen with counters that were Pepto Bismol pink with gold specks. Can you imagine? That would be considered retro today. Anyway, she pulled up a step stool and I stood on it while she handed me ingredients, let me do the stirring, and together we put the spoonfuls of dough onto the cookie sheet. Then waited, watching the timer. Tick-tick-tick. DING! When the cookies were baked, mom and I ate the first two and shared a glass of milk. Wow! Can you believe I remember that like it was yesterday?

Mom was my number one cheerleader at all my events. Whether soccer or softball games, or spelling bees, you would find my mom in the stands or on the sidelines yelling and cheering, and probably even praying. As an adult this hasn’t changed. She supports my desire to run as far as I can, even if she thinks I am a little off my rocker at wanting to do a 50 or 100-mile run. Then again, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

My mother is the strongest woman I know. Here is a woman who after suffering for years with some unknown skin irritation was finally diagnosed (6 years later) with a very, extremely, we’re talking only about 2500 people have this rare form of skin cancer and has been fighting it and winning the battle for more than 10 years now. She doesn’t sit around feeling sorry for herself, she stands up and battles the disease with both fists, a kick to the groin, and since she is a girl I say she even pulls hair. No doubt, my mother will kick cancer’s backside and she will do it because she knows she has her family behind her. The family she created and nurtured. And we are all the luckier for it.

So, on this day, I want to wish my mom, the strongest most influential woman in my life a very special and happy birthday.

Happy birthday, mom! I love you.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Feed your soul, pay it forward

"It is in giving that we receive." -Prayer of St. Francis, 13th century saint. "When you give, you begin to live, you get the world."

When we give we think we are helping others. While that is true, we are helping ourselves and feeding our soul. The interesting part is that to give and at the same time receive doesn’t take a lot. It doesn’t have to cost you monetarily. It wouldn’t have to cost anything more than a kind word, a smile, or your time.
The effort for many is an unconscious effort of a friendly gesture to a stranger or a friend that lifts something inside the other person. A simple act of smiling at a stranger on the street or saying good morning to a homeless person acknowledges that you see them and that they are human. Not so difficult is it?

If you know me you know I am a firm believer in paying it forward. Paying it forward feeds my soul. Paying it forward turns the focus away from ourselves, gives rather than receives, and generates joy.

Pay it forward through random acts of kindness. Here are some examples of random acts:
Smile at the person walking down the sidewalk in your direction. It’s funny, but where I grew up we did this. Now, it’s as if everyone is interested in their feet as they pass you by. Even if the person is staring down, having a conversation with their feet, say hi and see if they don’t smile.

Put change in an expired meter. If you see a meter expired and you have change in your pocket, drop a couple coins in and save the unknown recipient of this kind gesture from getting a parking ticket.
Let a car cut in front of you. Now I know many of you think that getting to your destination is far more important, but that little act of kindness could result in that person getting to the hospital in time to see a sick one before he/she goes into surgery. Didn’t consider that, did ya?

Leave a copy of a good book at your favorite cafĂ©. I am a HUGE reader and I do this quite a bit. I’ll be darned if I am going to hoard all those books, so why not share your favorite author with others and just maybe that person can’t afford to go buy a book for $8 or more.
Thank the customer service person who helped you and use their name whenever possible. If you are like me you are probably a creature of habit. There are certain places that I frequent and you can bet I know the names of all those people who provide a service to me. You know what else? They know my name too.

Tip a server…generously. These folks work hard for those tips. I know! Been there and done that. Even if you go in for just a cup of coffee, leave more than the cost of the coffee.
Mentor someone. Share your knowledge and experience with others. Maybe a friend has a computer and doesn’t know how to use it. Take some time and give him/her some pointers. Help a teenager with his/her first car change the oil or brakes.

Make a donation. Pick your favorite charity and donate the extra $20 you have left from your paycheck. As a runner, I know most race events are for the purposes of raising money for one charitable organization or another. Make a donation beyond the entry fee. Or my personal favorite, if there is race day registration pay for the next person who walks up to the tent.
Compliment a stranger. If you see a nice haircut or a beautiful scarf on someone then tell them. It costs nothing and you probably put a smile on their face.

Give a used coat or shoes away. If you see a homeless person in need of a coat and you have one that’s been hanging in your closet not used, give it to someone who will benefit from the warmth of the coat and your generosity. As a runner you probably have boatloads of shoes you have barely worn or didn’t work for you. Rather than leave them in the closet clogging your floor, or in my case, my entryway, donate them.

Volunteer. Such a simple word, but probably the most difficult for some because it involves time. But that time you give will make such a difference. Volunteer at a sporting event or a food pantry.
Thank a soldier. These are the people who put their lives on the line for all of us and our freedoms. Thank them for that service and sacrifice. Heck, do what I do. If I park next to a vehicle that has military veteran plates on the car, leave a note thanking him/her for their service.

Hold the door open. It used to be this was second nature for folks but in the last years I have noticed a trend of everyone in a hurry and never stopping to look behind them. This is such a simple act. Look over your shoulder and if you see someone coming take the extra five seconds to hold the door.
Pay the toll. This happens to be one of my favorites. If you’re going through a toll booth why not offer up an extra dollar and pay for the vehicle behind you.

Redirect birthday gifts. If you’re like me, there’s probably not much you REALLY need, but there are others that do. Tell everyone to make a donation to your favorite charity.
Spare your loose change. If you see a person in line at the grocery store a little short on cash, stick your hand in your pocket and pull out that change or a dollar and help them out. Even the little kid just trying to buy a candy bar or soda pop. While in the Chicago airport the woman in front of me card was turned down and she didn’t have cash. I paid for her caramel popcorn. You’d have thought she won the lottery. She thanked and hugged me and wished me safe travels. Hey! Who am I to come between a woman and her popcorn? I can relate!

Donate blood. It’s a lifesaving act.
Drop off your old eyeglasses. Check around your house and I bet you will find at least one or two pair of old eyeglasses you no longer can wear. Take them to LensCrafters or another eyeglass place and donate them to those who can’t afford them.

Tweet something positive. Social media has a huge impact on us all so why not use it for good. Tweet a positive experience with a business or a person and help spread the word.
Donate food to local animal shelters. Cats and dogs are people too and they need help.

Offer up your seat. If you take a train or a bus give up your seat. You probably just made some tired person’s day.
Buy a lemonade. When summer hits, and it will with a vengeance after this winter there will be plenty of kid lemonade stands. Instead of walking or driving by, pause for a few minutes, have a chat with the kid and buy a cup of his or her lemonade. You are helping a young entrepreneur.

Donate to a project. Speaking of young entrepreneurs...donate to a project or Kickstarter and help an aspiring business get off the ground.

Hug a friend. Some days all it takes is a hug.
Buy a cup of coffee. At your local coffee shop and have a few extra dollars in your pocket? Hand them over to your barista and ask them to buy the next person in line a cup of coffee. If you’re in the drive thru ask the cashier what the person behind you ordered and pay for their order. Want to go to a bigger scale? Start a fund at your local coffee shop so others can donate and help give the gift of caffeine.

Pick up litter. Yes, this requires you to bend over and to possibly get dirty, but think of how nice the area where this trash is will look.

Help a sick person out. Take some soup or a box of Kleenex over to a sick neighbor.

Donate old blankets. There are plenty of shelters out there that would love to see you walk in with a pile of lightly worn, clean blankets. And the people who snuggle up under them will have a warm night.

Send a care package. Send a care package to a military troop overseas.  What a nice gesture and a way to remind them that there are people at home who care.

Support a friend. I have many friends that are authors so it’s fun to show support by attending a book signing. Or maybe your friend’s kid is raising funds for a field trip. Buy that candy bar or wrapping paper. Every little bit helps.

 Got any other ideas?  Share them.
Pay it forward and while you’re at it feed your soul.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

What the contents of your vehicle says about you

What’s inside your vehicle?

I was driving to do my usual Sunday morning breakfast and writing when I glanced around my truck and decided that what’s inside a person’s vehicle must say something about them. So let’s see if that’s true.
Here’s what you’ll find in my truck and in my car:

Safety pins…lots of them. And no, they are not the kind you use on kid diapers. Uh, yeah, these come from all the race bibs I wear and then discard when I get in the truck.

Starbucks coffee cup spill stoppers; you know those green things you stick in the hole of the to go cup so coffee doesn’t spill out.
Dollars. I am a firm believer in being prepared so I always have dollar bills in my car for tolls, plus I do like to pay it forward so I usually pay for the person behind me at the dollar toll.

Music CDs, country. Although there is an Albannach CD so I like superb Celtic music. Audio books. At least two or three and sometimes up to ten in the vehicle.

A book or two. Or more. You could ascertain by these and the audiobooks that I like to read. And if you look close you will see that I like mystery, suspense, and romance. Oh, and in my car you will find copies of my latest novel. So you will know that I am also an author.
A box of Kleenex and a roll of paper towels. Don’t ask…I have no clue why, but the paper towels have definitely come in handy when I’ve spilled so I leave them.

A snow/ice scraper so I guess that means I do not live in the south or in California.

Glasses and sunglasses. Hm…if it were just the sunglasses then it would be all about the sun, but since I have both in the car it means they are prescription glasses and sunglasses.

A can of bug spray. Well, either I’m afraid bugs will get in the car or I tend to take the truck to where I spend time outdoors and don’t want bug bites.

A microfiber cloth. Similar to the paper towels only this one is cuz of the dust that gets in the truck so I use it to wipe the dash.

A pair of running shoes. Filthy dirty. This says I didn’t want to take them inside until they dried out after running the Rugged Maniac obstacle course. Last September.

A box of hand warmers. Another hint that where I live gets cold and probably snow.

A cheap, black windreaker. This pretty much goes along with the safety pins and running shoes. If there is one thing I have learned, it is to always bring a jacket to a race because you just never know what the weather will be.

Burt’s Bees lip balm, the peppermint kind. What do you think? I like kissable lips! What else does this say? I like natural.

A hairbrush. So what do you want, I’m a girl. Besides, sometimes you have to go someplace after a run and you just need to try and make the hair look better even if it’s to make it look better in a ponytail.

Ponytail holders. Along with that hairbrush there are several ponytail holders in various colors of the rainbow. When I run I wear my hair up and usually under a hat. But I love the colorful bands that hold the hair up.

Aside from the obligatory registration and insurance information, what is inside your vehicle?

Monday, January 12, 2015

How to live by life’s little ditties

Here are a few ditties I live my life by. They are in no particular order, except number one.

#1. Life is too short, so live it!
See how simple that is? Let me put it another way. If you’re worrying about “what-ifs” then you’re not living, you’re worrying.

#2. Anything worth doing is worth doing well.
See if this explains it better. If you’re going to have sex, ladies, don’t you want hot, sweaty, heart-pounding, orgasmic sex? You know, the kind when you finish you can’t breathe, but are so exhilarated you rollover on top of the guy so you can begin again. Or would you rather have the kind where you don’t reach that ultimate high, but when the other person gets theirs you say “Gee, that was nice.” Nice is not done well. Nice is nice. Hey, if he isn’t getting it right, show him. If you want to write a book, don’t just write a book, write the best dang book you can! Live the best life you can!

#3. Life should be an adventure.
This one seems to trip up a great many people. This means go outside your comfort zone. Think outside the box. Push the envelope. Whatever you do, try something. Do something! Experience something new. I live by this creedo! Once a year I come up with something new to try and do it. It could be taking singing lessons, scuba diving, running a marathon, or as simple as trying a new type of food. This year I will experience a 50-mile trail race!

#4. Bucket lists belong in a pail.
Bucket lists are just that, lists on a piece of paper. You don’t need a list to know what you want. Just wake up one day and say, “Today I’m going to bungee jump.” Then go do it. You have to make it happen and writing it down on a little piece of paper and squirreling it away is not going to make it happen. You have to take the bull by the horns or in this case the bungee by the cord and go for it! So if running a marathon is on this proverbial bucket list…take it off and just do it. Who cares if you walk the entire race. You can say you did it as opposed to, “It’s on my bucket list.” Basically, if you take it off the bucket list then you are adhering to Life ditty #3.

#5. Body and mind need restoration.
I never used to believe in this, but have learned the hard way. You see, it used to be that every time my husband and I took a vacation one or both of us would come back to not having a job. So we stopped taking vacations. We thought we were jinxed. However, without following this motto you never give yourself the time to recuperate from the forty-hour work week or if you are a homemaker, even longer hours. You need the time to get away to relax and rejuvenate. Now, it does not mean you need to fly off to Never Never Land or my favorite place (Ireland), but you have to do something so you are not amidst your everyday as this will only suck you back in. A couple of suggestions: Go camping with no cell phone and oh, yeah, no laundry or bills to pay. I once spent a week in the middle of nowhere, Georgia with no phone, no TV, and it was snowing. Best time of my life! Spend a day and go to every movie in the movie theatre. What a great escape! For a short, daily escape, take up running, walking, knitting, and oh, yes...reading. Give yourself time away from the daily grind.

#6. Life does not revolve around work.
This is probably one of the hardest ones for all of us to get past. We, as a society, work too many hours and in my opinion for too little. Yes, it pays the bills (sometimes). But honestly, is that what you were put on this earth for, to pay bills and make money for someone else? That is a resounding NO! Most, if not all of us, at one time or another, have been workaholics. To my great chagrin, I will admit to being one of them. I was actually one in my early twenties. Which, is perhaps, why I learned at a very young age that life was too precious and oh, yeah, meant to be lived (see Life ditty #1) so early on. Life should revolve around family and friends. They are your backbone, your source of inspiration, your rocks. Life is too precious to put a job above all else. And should you be so short-sighted to do so you will miss so much. Do you want to miss celebrating your tenth anniversary because of a board meeting? Or miss your daughter’s soccer playoff because you had to fix a bug or a delivery problem that could have waited another twelve hours? Of course you don’t. And neither does that family member or friend. Don’t let work get in the way of life passing you by. And if you have children, don’t show them the path of least resistance and that an unhappy life is normal. Show them that what life has to offer is what surrounds them, not the paycheck that pays the bills (sometimes). Play hookie!

#7. Live YOUR life and not someone else’s.
Every day, in every walk of life, you will see something or someone you admire and think, “I want what he or she has.” Really? How do you know they are happy? How do you know that they don’t go home alone or depressed or dread the next day? Life isn’t always greener on the other side. At least that’s what my mama always said. You don’t want someone else’s life you want yours. But to do that, you have to know what you want and go after it. Take it! Sitting on the sidelines and wishing you were someone else, had what someone else has, is not living your life. It’s not, in my opinion, even living. It’s wishing. And while I love wishing on a star, I also chase that star to the ends of the earth.

#8. Never regret ANYTHING.
Some people, maybe a great many will be shocked and horrified by this ditty. People believe mistakes are a sin or should be prevented in any way. Me, I have a different belief. Rather than regret any action, learn from it. Seriously! Once, my ex-husband and I moved to New Jersey. It didn’t last long. It was not a great experience. Thom’s mother said something about regretting it, and I said, “Why should I regret it? I learned I don’t like to live in New Jersey, and I learned what I do like.” See, silver lining. If you live your life by learning and not regretting, you grow and experience more. Regret is like a ball and chain. The more you regret, the more regret weighs you down in fear. You begin fearing making mistakes. Fear of mistakes will prevent you from living life. (see ditty #1) Do not fear mistakes. Embrace them! Grow! Live!

What little ditties, mottos, or creedos do you live by?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Writing prompt Wednesday

Another week means another writing prompt, a little motivation to kickstart your muse.

I give you the beginning of a sentence and you run with it. Write the first thing that pops into your head and see how far it takes you; a paragraph, a page, an entire chapter. Who knows, it may be the beginning to you next great novel.

Whatever you come up with, just have fun with it and enjoy the free writing time. If you feel like sharing then send your writing in the comments. If you feel like keeping to yourself then that's okay, too.

Our last prompt before the new year. Have a happy and celebrate!


Writing Prompt: Noise makers. . .

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Writing prompt Wednesday

Another week means another writing prompt, a little motivation to kickstart your muse.

I give you the beginning of a sentence and you run with it. Write the first thing that pops into your head and see how far it takes you; a paragraph, a page, an entire chapter. Who knows, it may be the beginning to you next great novel.

Whatever you come up with, just have fun with it and enjoy the free writing time. If you feel like sharing then send your writing in the comments. If you feel like keeping to yourself then that's okay, too.

Since we're celebrating Christmas Eve, I thought we'd go with a holiday theme.


Writing Prompt: There was one present left under the tree. . .

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