Saturday, November 19, 2016

Ainsley's Angels!

I have some exciting news!!! After looking a couple different times over the last couple years and learning that there is not a local Ainsley's Angels chapter, I have decided to do something about it.  A few weeks ago I contacted the organization as someone who is interested in being an Ambassador. I received an e-mail, watched a video, and this week participated in a conference call. I was e-mailed the official documents and submitted my application minutes ago. I will, hopefully, be joining the next class of Ainsley's Angles Ambassadors-in-Training!!!

What is Ainsley's Angles?
The short version is that it is an awesome group that pairs athlete riders (in wheelchairs) with angel runners.  The angel runner pushes the athlete as they run a race together.  This group not only allows individuals with disabilities the chance to participate in a race, it spreads awareness!!

 Ainsley's Angels was started by the family of a little girl named Ainsley Rossiter, who lived with a rare genetic disorder called Infantile Neuroaxonal Dystrophy, or INAD. Her parents wanted Ainsley to live a full life, part of which was competing in races.  With the inspiration of Team Hoyt (Dick and Rick Hoyt; a father-sun runner/rider team), Ainsley's Angels was born. Her story can be found at the Ainsley's Angels of America website.  Also, her big sister, Briley wrote a terrific book, Born an Angle, which is all about Ainsley. I bought it to take to work to share with my clients, especially children, because I think that it's a tool to use to spread awareness of different abilities and the cool things everyone can do to help others.

 Ainsley passed away in February, at the young age of 12, surpassing an average life expectancy of 10 years. Ainsley's spirit is very much alive and lives on through Ainsley's Angels. Ainsley will continue to inspire and help others for years to come. She's touched the lives of many people, including those whom she's never met.

What is an Ambassador?
As an ambassador, I will bring Ainsley's Angels to my area!!! I will contact race directors, do fundraisers, recruit Angel runners, Guardian Angles (to help with various tasks/serve as chairs), and many other things to help spread the word and get people involved. This is the shortened version of what is involved in being an Ambassador.  

How do I get involved?
Just visit the Ainsley's Angels website to learn about different levels of involvement and choose which may be right for you! You do not have to be a runner to be a part of this amazing group.

Why I am doing this...
I first heard about Ainsley's Angels through the I Run 4 Michael (IR4) group. This is the group that connected me to my fantastic buddy, Maverick (who just turned 7 yesterday!!). I started seeing things about Ainsley's Angels and thought that it looked pretty cool.  At first, I saw runners who are part of the IRun4 family who were also involved in Ainsley's Angels. I thought maybe it was another way to connect with their buddies.  I researched it and learned what it was about.  As I mentioned, I checked into it a couple times and found nothing in my area (although in the book, there are stars in two Michigan locations, so I'm not sure what happened there). I feel that this is something that needs to be around.  People with different abilities should be able to cross a finish line; not just in a wheel chair division of a race. Learning about various disabilities is always a good thing. Awareness is important. Honestly, it's just something that I care deeply about and want to see in my area.

Of course, my little Maverick is always on my mind.  If it weren't for being a part of the I Run 4 family and being inspired by him, I probably wouldn't know anything about Ainsley's Angels. I have a friend who has a wonderful daughter who spends her time in a wheelchair. Her Mom bought a chair so that her daughter could be part of her running experience.

So why... Because I have been touched by some pretty cool people who I think should have the opportunity to cross the finish line.  I wasn't always a runner. I was morbidly obese.  I cannot find words that can describe the feeling of crossing a finish line. Even my first 5K was a huge accomplishment for me. My most memorable (and most emotional race) was my first half marathon. I'll never forget that feeling; the feeling of doing something that I never thought I would do; or even be able to do. That feeling is one that everyone should have the opportunity to experience.

Sometimes I have rough runs and remind myself that God gave me the ability to do this. I'll always be slow.  Right now, I'm not my slowest but I'm also not back to my fastest (however, I am working on that!). I may be faster than I ever was.  Or maybe I'll get to where I was and stay there. My goal is to at least get there.  I'm slow and some days the runs just suck... But you know what? Fast, slow, hard, or easy, I am able to do it.  We are all different in many ways.  Not everyone has a body that can carry them throughout a race. Just because they may have legs that don't work the same way mine do doesn't mean that they shouldn't be able to feel the excitement of crossing the finish line.

I'm so, so excited for this opportunity!! I'm hoping that they love my application! I'm hoping that my dedication, determination, passion, and love is evident when they read it.

They say that in life, everything happens for a reason.  There are reasons we do things. There is a reason for every person we meet. We're put through hard times for a reason. Life is full of ups and downs and every single one of those has purpose. We can get caught up in negativity easily. It doesn't seem to be as easy to choose to be positive. When you do it though, it's amazing. It's peaceful. Learning to work through the rough stuff, to let go of drama and negativity (and realize that it's not something fun to get sucked into!) is huge. If you choose to rid your life of that toxicity, life can be pretty amazing.

I found this organization and applied because it's something I'm interested in.  I am determined to make my chapter successful. There is a reason I've been drawn to it.  There is a reason I was connected to Maverick.  And little Ainsley.... There was a reason she was born with INAD. Look at what this little life started! How can you not believe that she was put on this Earth, her own version of perfection, for a reason. Look at all the good that one little girl has inspired.

I encourage you to go reflect on your own life. Find your reasons. Release the negative and embrace the positive. And just love...


Friday, November 11, 2016

Hello, Again!

I'll really try not to have a super long post since I have a habit of trying to cram several weeks into a blog post once every six (weeks) or so. I keeping thinking "ohhh I should blog." And then I don't. I think it's more of a time issue. I'm a busy girl these days.  Between work, working out, and social/fun things I don't take the time to sit and write. I'm also way more apt to sit and relax with the iPad than sit at a computer (after sitting at a computer most of the day during sessions/writing client notes). I guess the last thing I want to do at home is sit at my computer desk. I think the blog got to be "I need to" or "I should" more than "I feel like" or "I want to." That's probably why, over the last couple years, I haven't written as much.  That and the weight gain.

So... The update last time was mostly about the half marathon. I didn't find another that worked with my schedule in October and not so far in November. The next will be in February. Which means vacation! I started this round of training a few weeks ago and it's going well. I'm doing my "long" runs, which haven't been long yet, on the weekends. I've also been running with a friend once a week, on the weekends. We usually stick to the 5K length but last week I had four on the agenda and she did four with me. This week is five, but since I've already done five, I may not do five with her.  Or maybe I will.  Hmmm... I feel like I'm (somewhat sneakily) prepping her for a half too. If this one wasn't sold out, I'd try to convince her take vacation with me. RATS! We have talked about doing one this Spring, so that will be fun.

I already have one schedule for Spring, the Flying Pig, in Cinci. There are a ton of races in April and May that I want to do. Unfortunately many of them fall on the same dates or very close together. Given that I do training runs that build on miles weekly, I'm sure I could do a half one week and then another a couple weeks later. However, they're all over the place and all that travel gets pricey. So, I have some narrowing to do!

I've recently gotten into yoga again. This is something I've gone in streaks with - probably because I was doing it at home and that gets kind of boring. And it's not a huge calorie burner so I found it ten times easier to do something else. Huge calorie burner or not, it is necessary. Especially for someone who runs a few times a week. Speaking of which, so far, I'm doing better at sticking to a training schedule of only running three times a week, maybe four on some weeks. I'm really bad at that. I could run 5-6 days a week. I am trying to be very mindful of the bad things that result for that. Like over-training injuries. I don't want those.  I'd get super focused on it because I love it and it torches calories. Torched calories translate to pounds lost.  BUT injury and inability to do most activities results in (usually) pounds gained, boredom, and anger over not being able to run. SO, I'm working hard to stick to my training plan.

Well, that sidetracked me... Back to yoga.

I'm now going to yoga class at a studio. I can typically make some of the morning classes, and every now and then, I might be able to go to the more intense, evening class. I'm also considering adding spin for my cross training a couple times a week. I've heard it is really good cross training for runners. It's a great workout and calorie burner, but it doesn't add on steps and those damn fitbit challenges (and my own goal of 10K a day) keep me focused on steps.  But once or twice won't hurt!

So, AGAIN, yoga...

It's awesome. I love it ten times better in the studio than at home. The yoga teacher, Lauri, is awsome. And let's face it, an awesome yoga teacher in real life is far better than an obnoxious yoga teacher on a video. Videos also do not give you that live teacher element so that your poses or postures can be corrected or you don't have reminders and cues. Plus the cool down at the end is a million times better than on a DVD. And longer.  Plus, she gives us affirmation cards to read and essential oils to smell.  I leave class feeling relaxed but also refreshed.  Some days I can REALLY feel my muscle tightness (from cardio) which tells me "oh yes, you needed this today." I feel like I get a lot more out of class than a video.

My affirmation cards have been a little eerie.

Last Friday, I got some about bringing back a childhood dream.  When I was younger, I wanted to be a dancer. In High School, I longed to do color guard. Why? Because I didn't have confidence.  Writing is another thing I've always loved and been passionate about.  I write now and then... Typically through this blog, because as awesome as a novel would be, it would take me two years to write one, unless I quit working and did that full-time which is a risk I cannot take right now. Prior to getting that card, I signed up for the Saturday morning choreo-yoga class. It's a yoga flow set to music. It's beautiful. It's a little bit like..... Dance.

Monday's card was about getting rest because I work too hard. I don't usually think of my work as hard (mentally it is sometimes) but maybe that was more about sleep. I'm not always good at sleep. I also stress if I can't fit an intense workout in. I've eased up on that this week. Yesterday was just yoga. I didn't have time for an intense cardio because my day was so crazy. And you know what? I'm just fine today.

Yesterday's card was about love.  The day before (Wednesday), I thought a lot about love. I try not to get political on here, but dang there's a lot of hate right now. On both sides.  So on Wednesday I really tried to stay positive and stay away from the negative.  I didn't get into any hefty conversations. Instead, I simply spread the message of love.... That all this hate is doing us no good. I'm actually a little frightened because this is probably the time the "bad guys" would prey on us.  Hit us while we are weak and fighting with one another.... I haven't seen anything in the news but that's a scary possibility.

Today's affirmation was similar. It was about reflection.... Looking inside myself. Although I can't remember exactly what it said, there was also something about kindness or joy. I remember reading it and thinking "well that's weird... I was just looking up random acts of kindness cards and sayings while drinking my coffee this morning." I actually pinned a few ideas on Pinterest. And then went to class, where at the end, I received that card.

Okay, this is almost starting to creep me out.  These cards of affirmation are chosen at random. We just grab one (like when you grab a card at random and the magician says he knows your card). I find it interesting that these are pretty much fitting in with things I've done or I've thought about.  Apparently I must be on a good track with my thoughts and actions because these affirmation cards are definitely providing affirmation!

So I'm in love with yoga more than ever before.

Now, I need to go get a quick run in so that I can get back to work!

Hope life finds you well and you have a fantastic weekend!