Monday, September 7, 2015

What I discovered on a mountain trail

Start and looking up!
This weekend I did a trail run on a mountain in Vermont. This was not like the little 4-miler I did a few weeks ago, but a mountain run in the woods on various types of trails, rock, grass, dirt, creek crossings, etc.

The first thing I learned was holy moly but that mountain is tall and steep. But I made it up it! Overall, this was actually the easy part of the event. And by easy I mean, I was exhausted when I reached the summit. I’m talking bone weary, muscles burning, but I still had energy.

When the race director tells you repeatedly look for the flags and that there are flags everywhere, you believe him and your think, “Yea! I can handle this.”
Then reality sets in. Where were all the flags? Okay, there were flags in the overly tall and sometimes flattened down grass. Check!
Where were the flags in the woods? First wood trail there were flags. They guided me through, no problem. Made it over the creek crossing, my first, and was happy with myself.

The second set of woods, where were the flags? I’m all by myself at this point and I’m doing good, loving the weather and the scenery and then I enter the trees. I’m going along, following a trail and realize I see no flags. The race director instructed, "If you don’t see flags turn around because you probably missed them." So I get about a half mile in and turn around. Found the flags and said yeah, okay, this must be right. I turn back around and do it again. I see no evidence of people having been there before me except the occasional hiking boot print.
Then I start to climb. By climb, I mean traverse over rocks, which I had not expected. Pull myself up and over.  Oh, yeah, did I mention at this point that I believe I am lost. You recall when you were a kid how when you got scared your heart would race and your palms would sweat. Well, the same thing holds true when you are lost in the woods. Every few yards I would yell out to see if anyone was around. Nope. Just me and the bears.

Did I forget to mention the bears? Yes, it’s bear hunting season in Vermont. So now every noise that wasn’t a buzzing sound of a gigantic fly or bee was a bear. Talk about panic attack!
The only savior for me was the fact that I had my phone with me, thank goodness, and could post a message to Facebook or call someone if I really lost it. It was a close call.

Then I looked up....instead of down where the pink and orange flags were supposed to be located. I noticed a white marker on a tree. Thank goodness! That white paint indicated it was a marked mountain trail. Of course I couldn't tell you which marked trail. I just kept climbing and watching for those markers. Then I saw sunlight streaming in. Oh, hallelujah. A short hike later and I was out! Sunshine beat down on me and oh, look there’s the first place runner running past me.
Flags! I saw flags again! The bad part about the flags is that you didn’t know which way to go. In many spots you could have gone left or right and never know which way. Occasionally there were arrows but they were few and far between.

Cinderella Man
The next couple miles were good. For the record, a great downhill song to listen to is Cinderella Man by Eminem. That song on repeat made the downhill trek fun and rhythmic. All was good until I hit another wooded trail. At first I was smiling and happy. I saw other runners and hikers headed in the opposite direction but at least there were people. All was good until I reached the next aid station and had to head back up. No people. No flags. And yes, the mind went in the direction it should not have. It went with, “I’m lost and is that a bear?”
Can I just say, while I have a great imagination, you sorta have to in order to be a writer; I do not normally let my mind play tricks on me. But I SWEAR I was being tracked in the woods by a bear. At one point I was so freaked out that I yelled at the invisible bear, “Go find your dinner elsewhere!” Nope, not kidding.

I finally made it out of the woods only to find more flags and me wondering, “Which way do I go?” All I can say is this. Whichever direction got me off the mountain. Down! Go down the mountain.
Portion of downhill
Oh, and that was another trip in itself. Traveling over tall grass that was occasionally smushed down because the mountain’s million dollar lawnmower had broken down so they could not mow the path was not an easy feat. Discovering that while the sun was high and bright, the ground was far from dry made the trek all the more eventful. Do not ask me how many times I slipped and fell. Suffice it to say more than a half dozen and I have the grass stains and dirt stains to prove it.

And yeah, my feet kept sloshing around in my new trail shoes. No matter how tight I pulled the laces my feet kept moving around and going downhill my big toes kept hitting the front of the shoe. Thank goodness my toenails are painted hot pink right now; otherwise I’d probably see the nails are black and blue.
Did I mention while I was at one of the aid stations I heard about a guy who fell and broke his leg on the trail?

Get me off this mountain! At this point while the body was willing, plenty of energy and strength in the legs, the mind had gone haywire. The mind had shutdown. I was no longer enjoying the beautiful scenery, the mountain views, and the fresh air. I couldn’t even put in my headphones and tune out the world. As my ex would say, “If it ain’t fun, don’t do it.” It was no longer fun.
When I reached the bottom of the mountain I was grateful that I was in one piece and vowed that I would never do that again.

It’s a day later and you know what that means? It means I’ve had an opportunity to reflect. 
I’ve learned a couple of things. I learned I’m a lot tougher than I look or tougher than I think I am. I may have been lost, but I found my way out…twice. I may have been scared but I told that invisible bear I was not dinner. And I made it out in one piece. I’m stronger both mentally and physically for the experience.

Would I do it again? Yes.
Did you see that? No hesitation.

But before I take on another mountain trail I need to do more hiking so I can go up a little faster and be comfortable with following a trail without markers. I need to get better fitting shoes so I don’t get black toes or bruised arches. I need to take bear spray in case it is bear season. Cuz there is no way this girl would be outrunning a bear. I need to embrace the trail, no matter it cinder, dirt, grass, single track, technical, marked or unmarked, flat or not so flat (in this case 17% grade).
Side note: Although I did get lost and was a tad, okay, a lot freaked, there were moments where this peacefulness came over me and I would pause to soak it in, tilt my head back, take a deep breath and let go. I also had to laugh at myself. Climbing over those rocks in search of sunlight and the aid station I felt like a kid…when I wasn’t biting my nails. When I fell and slid down the mountain I had to laugh or cry. I chose to laugh. I mean how many adults slide down grassy hills on their butts like they did when they were kids. Did I mention going pee in the woods? That was a first. No port-a-potties on this run.

Life is an adventure. Live it. Embrace it. All of it.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Thanks to my ulra-marathon running crew!

Many ultra-runners have a race crew that goes along to the races and meets the runner at various points to provide support, encouragement, nutrition, and sometimes a pacer on the long run.

I do, but my crew is a virtual crew. My crew helps me get to the race start, prepares for the long run, and helps me recuperate afterward.
I want to thank my crew for their hard work and dedication to helping me achieve my 50 mile ultra-marathon goal this year.

Let me start with my trainer, Jon Tobey of The Fitness Factory ( Jon and I started working together a few years ago when I first started running and my first goal was to be able to run a half marathon in Ireland without dying of pain. I did! Now, Jon and I work together each week and each week we work toward a combined mission of making me more fit and achieving an annual running goal. This year’s was to run a 50-miler. Mission accomplished! But it’s not the last.
Jon Tobey will tell you my main weak spots are my hamstrings and IT bands. There are others, of course, but when it comes to running, especially up hills, these are my “you need work” zones. By the end of too many races and long runs my upper legs want to give up. Not so in my 50-miler last weekend. A 50-miler that consisted of 7500 feet of elevation gain and loss. As a matter of fact, at mile 30 my legs felt so good I was running the descents like I hadn’t a care in the world. And loving it!

After a long run the discomfort and pain in my legs is usually so uncomfortable that I spend half the night awake and whimpering. Not so on this run! This achievement is a direct correlation to the hard work with my fabulous, can’t say enough about him, my trainer, Jon Tobey. If you want to reach a fitness goal, I highly recommend Jon Tobey of The Fitness Factory ( Tell him Denise sent you.
Another great team member in this long-term goal of running and fitness is my chiropractor, Mark Stagnone of Stagnone Chiropractic ( I found Mark about a year and a half ago, maybe more when I woke up one day in excruciating pain in my lower back. Thank goodness I found Mark! He made the pain go away almost immediately. Turns out I have a problem with my SI joint. Basically, it just doesn’t like to stay where it should. Unless, of course, when I’m running. No joke! My body likes to run, but it doesn’t like to sit. Unfortunately, for my job and my commute I do a lot of walking.

Mark has been an amazing asset to my crew in that he keeps me upright and without pain. We discuss my insane running schedule while he manipulates my spine to help me achieve my goals. If you want someone who knows about athletes, who cares about his patients, and wants to help you achieve a health goal then I recommend you contact Stagnone Chiropractic (, ask for Phyllis and have her get you an appointment with Mark Stagnone.
The third member of my race crew is my massage therapist, Amie Anderson of Cassandra Salon and Spa ( Amie has the magic touch when it comes to working the kinks out of sore, tight, and often obstinate muscles. What I like about Amie is that she will try different techniques to get those muscles to loosen up. A little elbow here, a knucle there, or a heated stone in that muscle. Amie has seen me crawl onto the massage table, seen my calf muscles so tight she probably wanted to weep, but she has been there for every pre-race massage and every post-race ‘please help me I can’t move’ massage.

After I did my first half marathon a few years ago I think both Amie and I wept as she kneaded every muscle in my legs. HA! She has helped my poor calf muscles go from being tight as a pulled bow to being somewhat pliable. And after this 50-miler, Amie was pleasantly surprised that I not only walked in to the salon, but I didn’t yelp in agony when she dug in.
Amie Anderson, massage therapist is the best! She will talk you through the pain and get you to that relaxation zone. She will remind you to hydrate, which is good because who doesn’t need a little reminder. She will ask you if there are any zones you want her to concentrate on. For me, always the legs, especially calves and then the back. Thanks to Amie my recuperation time has shortened to days instead of weeks.

If you need a massage whether to relax or recuperate, please contact Cassandra Salon and Spa ( and schedule an appointment with Amie Anderson.
To these three professionals, I cannot thank you all enough for your effort on my behalf to help me reach an unbelievable goal. A year ago I would never have attempted an ultra-marathon, let alone a 50 mile ultra-marathon. But with you all as part of my team and your encouragement, I was destined to succeed.


Monday, May 4, 2015

Why take a car when I can run 50 miles?

I completed my first 50 mile race. It was exciting, fun, scary, nerve wracking, painful, but absolutely the best challenge both physically and mentally.

On Saturday, May 2 at 6 AM I started the Rock the Ridge 50-miler at the Mohonk Preserve in Gardiner, NY.
I was up at 2:30 AM to eat and get ready then left the hotel at 4 AM to get to the parking area where a bus picked up the runners and dropped us off at the start. The start was at the Gatehouse of Mohonk Preserve. There all the runners stood around talking, taking photos, eating more, making last minute gear checks and changes, checking in bags for drop-offs to be used later in the race, and of course used the port-o-potties.

After the National Anthem was sung the race director kicked off the race and everyone took off, everyone with their own plan of attack. My ‘attack’ was to finish, preferably in one piece and standing upright. You think I am joking? Nope. Since this would be the farthest I would have gone on foot then my goal truly was to complete it.
With that goal in mind, I put a couple of audiobooks on my headphones to help keep me at a slower pace. That worked pretty well until the headphones died at about 10 and a half hours into the run. Luckily, I was mostly prepared for this as I brought a second pair but those had music on them, but that was good. I needed a little kick in the butt to keep me moving.

I wore two sport watches; one was my fitbit surge (which is supposed to last 7 days…and never has) and the other was my Garmin 910. The fitbit only lasted 10 hours, but until then it was right on the money and tracking. The Garmin lasted the entire time, but it’s tracking on distance seemed to be about 1.5 miles behind from the fitbit and the actual distance markers on the trail. That was annoying when trying to gauge one aid station to the next and of course that last push to the finish line.
I had some great advice from a group of ultrarunners who said to break the race up into pieces and to do that aim for each aid station. This worked fabulously! Kind of like baby steps for fifty (50) miles.

The aid stations were terrific. Plenty of fluids, fruit, chips, and various other snacks including potatoes and chili to help fuel the body covered the tables. I did bring my own energy food, like squeezable applesauce, beef sticks, chia granola bars, and lifesavers so I didn’t have to rely on the aid stations, but I did partake. The volunteers were fabulous, helping you reload, get your drop bag, or just plain give up a chair so you could change your socks. Thank you volunteers! This message can never been said enough, especially to those that were out there in the wilderness late at night to give us a glass of Gatorade or water and generally make certain we were moving forward with a little cheer of encouragement.
Lake around mile 30-something
A cell phone was absolutely necessary during the race. Why? Obviously for some sense of security especially when aid stations were as much as ten miles apart. The camera in the phone was also good to push myself to enjoy the scenery as I whizzed or more likely walked by and not focus solely on the finish line. It was fabulous as evidenced by the images of the waterfall, the lake, and the hills. Besides those, I had the experience of almost stepping on a black snake. Thanks goodness it made its hissing sound just in the nick of time. But boy, you’ve never seen this girl run so fast up a hill in your life. Hands flailing and yes, I probably screamed. But I also saw the most beautiful white-tailed deer that stopped, stared and then bounded off before it even crossed my mind to pull out my phone for a photo.
I would have paid anything to jump in!

I learned a couple of things during this event. First, wear your hydration pack BEFORE actually using it so you know where it is going to rub. My shoulders paid the consequences but luckily I had Body Glide with me and applied that everywhere and that alleviated it somewhat. My shoulders are a tad sore today from the weight of the pack and not the actual chafing so that’s good. However, a hydration pack was the perfect idea because I never ran out of fluids and when eating a beef stick to get sodium and protein in my body I had liquids to flush it down.

One of the most important lessons for me was to learn that when they say cinder trail that means cinder block, that means hard, and that it is not softer than asphalt. Tip to myself: wear trail shoes! I thought my typical shoes would be good and cushy. NOT!
When night descended I resorted to a headlamp. Like the good runner I am I attached it to my head over my very vibrant yellow hat. Great! Bring on the darkness. Except, just FYI, if you have vertigo the use of a headlamp is not so cool. My depth perception got completely skewed where I thought the grass (where there was grass) was a foot tall when in fact it was a couple inches. And my vision was so weird that it was like I had tunnel vision. Carrying the lamp in my hand resolved those issues. Thank goodness!

Sunset after I reached mile 42.2
I probably should have done some late night runs BEFORE this race as well because let’s face it; running at night, in the woods was a little creepy. Remember when you were a kid out on a walk with your friends late at night and you heard something rustle the leaves? What did you do? You screamed and bolted for home. Okay, I’m no longer that little girl, but my heart raced and I kept flashing my light around making certain the bear was not actually following me. It was a tad unnerving. Plus, since the mile markers were only every 5 miles apart, and the arrows marking the direction to go were not abundant I became a little worried that I would go the wrong way. Day time that was no issue. Sunset, well, the mind does play tricks. Cruel, evil tricks. But since I am writing this I obviously survived and got out of the woods.
Let’s talk hills. I HATE them! But honestly, because I went in with the right attitude I walked most the inclines and jogged the downs. Okay, the descents to me are like slides at a park. Wheeee! This race had some of both with over 7500 feet of elevation gain and loss, the most I have ever done. My body did well. Legs were great! I could have kept on going…except the BLISTERS!

No matter the amount of sock changes (three in this race) and the amount of Body Glide I applied, I still managed to get blisters. No, not your teeny tiny, oh aren’t they cute blisters. I got blisters between toes, on top of toes, and the mother of all blisters at the joint of the big toe where it meets the actual ball of the foot. Excruciating! In all seriousness, this was the only issue for me physically. And when I hit mile 40 every time I didn’t pick up my foot high enough and I stubbed my shoe on a rock I was no longer a lady, but the foul-mouthed brawler who wanted to cry. How’s that for an image?
One of the many hills.
You know what though? Besides wanting to punch every rock that bit at my blisters, and the pain of every step, I mentally pushed past it and willed the mind to close out the pain. It worked off and on and worked even better when a couple of runners who were behind me caught up for the last five miles and we pushed each other on to persevere.

I will state for the record when we saw the sign that said ‘Home Stretch’ we all wanted to know how far that meant. A mile, half a mile? In this case it turned out to be a little over two miles. You probably think, two miles, no big deal. WRONG! After 16 plus hours on your feet, two hours is an eternity. I think the three of us will state that the home stretch was by far the longest section of the race. It was never ending! And the finish line, when we finally saw the lights never felt like it was getting closer.

But it did! And we crossed the line. At the finish there were more race volunteers to cheer us home, offer us a hug, a smile, and a boxed lunch. The race director spoke with me at the finish and because I was a late entry he felt bad that my name was not going to be on the bib so he printed a label with my name on it and affixed it to my bib. It sounds like something so small, but when you are on a course and someone yells out your name, it gives you the warm and fuzzies all over. Thanks, Ken!
To the couple who hooked up with me in the last five miles, I cannot thank you enough for helping take my mind off the blisters. And to all the other runners I met and spoke with that day. It was a pleasure.

If you are looking for a 50-miler, whether your first or your fifteenth, I would highly recommend the Rock the Ridge Endurance Challenge. The funds raised are for a worthy cause and it’s a well-run event with amazing volunteers. Thank you volunteers!

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?

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