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.

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