Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Birthday Reflections

Though my actual birthday was last Friday - the 13th - birthday celebrations in our family tend to start a few days early and end a few days later. It is just more fun that way. It started with a big birthday celebration with family (8 birthdays in all in October/November) when family was in town visiting in late October, included a 4.4 mile group trail run on Saturday and ended last night with my favorite birthday dinner of my youth made by my mom (breaded chicken tenders, egg noodles, cranberry relish and green beans - with chocolate muffins/ice cream for dessert!).

This year I helped my husband and dad lay laminate flooring in our family room on my actual birthday - just one part of the main level flooring project we tackled this fall. My husband took the day off from work, my mom took our daughter to the Tiny Tots program sponsored by the Seattle Symphony and our son was at school. The previous 2 days of the flooring adventure (the last 2 Saturdays) I was on kid patrol while the guys worked. Helpful? Absolutely. But I'm a hands-on gal, so I really enjoyed putting on those old jeans and a running t-shirt from 2004 to help out with the actual installation. I was in bed by 9:30 on my birthday, but I'd still call it a successful and happy day. I love my new floors!

As the day allowed, I did my usual birthday reflecting. I thought back to birthdays past:

1. In 5th grade I had a joint birthday party with my best friend (her name is Briana and her birthday is the day after mine - no joke!). We made cookies at my house and then we all headed down the street and around the corner for a sleep over at her house.
2. My 25th birthday weekend was also my marathon weekend at the SunTrust Richmond Marathon.
3. Last year was a pretty day and I celebrated it with a run! This year I did a quick 2 miles on the treadmill before it was time for the floor fun.

And I thought about how intimidated I was by the number "30" last year and how welcoming I find the number "31" to be this year. So now I give you a quick 5K version of what I'm thankful for as I round out my birthday celebrations (3.1 things!):

1. My body, mind and spirit continue to enjoy running
2. My children are adventurous & energetic souls like their parents
3. My husband and I are making reading a more regular part of our evenings
.1 The thrill of discovering what this next year has in store for our little family

How about you? Do you have something you do every year for your birthday?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lost in the Pages: Review of 2010 Calendar What a Day for Running!

2010 Calendars. They're everywhere these days - shopping malls, bookstores, drug stores and grocery stores. Cute bunny noses catch the attention of my daughter while superheroes mid-flight beckon my son to take a look. Every year the calendar selection seems to be the same: animals, comic strip characters, international destinations, and special calendars for "Moms on the Go". I don't know about you, but I don't need a reminder that I'm a "mom on the go" (my life tells me that daily) and puppy calendars just remind me that my sweet pup is getting old.

I've tried on-line calendars, but I really rely on the good, "Old School" wall calendar. I write down EVERYTHING in it. When I talk on the phone to schedule doctor's appointments I carry it from room to room to multi-task and minimize sibling rivalry. I can even toss it in my car to take to my kids' schools to set up play dates. I lose pocket calendars and day planners are bulkier than I like. So for me, a yearly wall calendar is a must - even though you'll never find mine on the wall.

A month or so ago I saw that my author friend Carol Goodrow created a wall calendar for 2010, I ordered one on the spot. Instead of wishing I could be back in Venice, Italy (as I did with my calendar 3 years ago) when looking at my schedule for April, I'll have the pleasure of thinking about the great springtime running sounds as depicted in the illustration of a boy "jammin' with the rain" as he runs through mud puddles ("spat-ta-pa, spat-ta-pa, splatter, SPLASH!"). While it doesn't look like I'll make it to Italy again soon, you can count on me making my own running music on a regular basis here in the drippy Pacific NW. I knew there was good reason for me to ignore the pleas from my children asking for Hello Kitty and motorcycle calendars!

In May I'll be treated to a reminder of the sights of running and how numbers play a role in this favorite sport of mine. Carol's illustration shows a young girl out for a run "Counting Petals" and everything else as she runs: miles, time, footsteps, geese, horses, trucks, heartbeats . . . This reminds me of my marathon way back in November 2003 when I was counting orange cones to make it through my "wall" around mile 24. Some days running takes focus and it is the numbers that push you to your goal . . . other days the numbers are simple celebrations of what running shows you that you otherwise may have missed. This page shows what I already knew - Carol GETS it!

And without giving away TOO much more of the treasures in Carol's What a Day for Running! calendar, I'll let you know that moms who are runners will appreciate the illustration for November in which a daughter joins her mom for the final mile of a marathon. As a mom whose children are starting to discover the joy of running and a woman who organizes Saturday morning trail runs in my community, I can appreciate the caption: " . . .Cool weather can make a very long run doable. Throw in the bond of family and friends then VOILA! Even a cloudy November day shines."

If you are looking for something inspirational and heart-warming for a 2010 wall calendar, head on over to PE Central to get your copy(ies) of What a Day for Running! or order them directly through Carol. I promise the calendar will make you smile and provide your family with encouragement throughout the year better than any ol' farm animals can (though I can appreciate their beauty and cuteness, I just need a break from them!).

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sharing my Passion

So November is in full gear, I'm just a few days away from celebrating my next birthday and Thanksgiving is right around the corner. If you know me, you know I use birthdays for reflection. Starting about a week before the birthday and lasting for a good week after, I ponder the previous year's adventures, look back 5 years (or some other appropriate number - like 2, when my daughter celebrated her second birthday) and look ahead to plan new goals. I'm also goal driven, but you already know that.

Through our business, Balanced Steps, my mom and I have sold over 1,000 copies of We Are Girls Who Love to Run. While this is nothing to sneeze at, especially for an independent publishing company, we are looking to make more of a ripple with the message in the book. We are thankful for the families and libraries that have made our little book part of their collection. We also know that there are readers who don't have access to uplifting books like ours. So this week we're shipping out cases of books to non-profit organizations nationwide to get the book into the hands of girls who really need extra encouragement and affirmation that they are strong and important members in their community. Each of the groups we are reaching will be able to give 24 girls a copy of We Are Girls Who Love to Run to add to her bookshelf. Many of these girls don't have many books on their shelves, but thanks to organizations like Nashville's Book'em and Boston-based Fit Girls, high-quality books will become part of their lives.

As much as our little business counts on book sales to survive, we know that giving back to the community is an important part of what we set out to accomplish when we established Balanced Steps. These non-profit groups share our mission of inspiring youth to find and follow their passions through literacy (and fitness). As women, moms, educators and members of the book industry, we couldn't be more pleased to support them in their work.

Inspired? Check out the websites for the groups who will be receiving books from us. These non-profits, and many regional groups like them, are working tirelessly this season to get books into the hands of youth (and not just this winter, but year round!). Some groups want new books, while others pledge to find good homes for gently used books - the websites have the details!

Fit Girls - a program for 4th & 5th graders that started in the Boston-area that promotes healthy bodies, healthy minds and healthy hearts. Participants run, read and participate in community outreach. The Boston Fit Girls Project is supported by the DMSE Children's Fitness Foundation.

Book'em - a Nashville-based nonprofit organization focusing on the collection and distribution of books to children and teens in lower-income families who might not otherwise have books of their own. They also provide volunteer readers to local preschools and elementary schools.

Page Ahead - a Washington State-based nonprofit organization guided by the fact that literacy is essential to lifelong success. They provide new books and develop reading activities that empower at-risk children.

The Hall Steps Foundation - founded by the elite running husband-wife duo Ryan and Sara Hall, the foundation seeks to take small steps toward the marathon goal of ending poverty. Internationally the Foundation partners with existing charities. Their US work uses running and mentoring to reach at-risk youth.

How do YOU share your passion? How can you turn your gratitude into a gift for others?