Tag Archives: my team triumph

Roller Coaster…of Love…(Say What?)…(sing it with me!)


Happy 2014!

It’s that time of year again!  The time where we look back on the past and forward into the future.  It’s like being at the highest point on a roller coaster – that pin-dropping moment of silence after a ponderous, rickety climb, where your heart gained momentum faster than the roller coaster car.  And then as the car pauses – you hold your breath and you see your future ahead of you, and you begin praying that your harness holds you firmly in your seat and that you won’t derail on the hairpin curves.

grucoaster

Did I ever tell you I hate roller coasters?  I don’t trust the harness, I don’t trust the course, and I don’t trust the person who built it that insists it’s safe.  This is exactly how I feel about life.  God loves me but I must really test His patience.  I see the course He has set before me, but I am already arguing with Him that the harness He provided is going to give out, hurling me into space.  He knows I’m going to have a death grip on Him, eyes squeezed shut and screaming all the way down that first hill.

These last few weeks have had some unexpected twists and belly droppers and I can’t say I was overly appreciative of the final moments of the 2013 ride.   And now we are back at the top of the coaster and as I look down to the coming journey that will be 2014, I see a lot of question marks and unknowns, and it’s making me a little crazy.  I wish I could see the course ahead of time, to plan for each turn and belly drop.  To be prepared and know exactly how I will handle each situation.  I want the security of the KNOWN, of the quiet, mundane day-to-day living, that stretches no faith nor spirit.   God doesn’t see it that way.  He knows without stretching my faith, I won’t grow.

So God and I are having a talk.  He’s going to keep me secure in my harness, wrapped in his love and strength, and I’m going to try to keep my eyes open and enjoy the ride without barfing up my Slushie or screaming for the ride to stop.  I actually did that once – scream for the ride to stop, not barf up my Slushie – on the Matterhorn at Disneyland.  In my defense, I was only 9, and I was riding with my mom who was also screaming.  Gotta love those mother/daughter bonding moments.

I know I will be a stronger, smarter, wiser version of myself when it all shakes out.  The process is the tough part for me.  But like I said in my Christmas blog – life is precious and it’s important to live in the moment – even the crappy moments.  In a nutshell, that is my main goal for this year.  To embrace every second of joy, anxiety, fear, happiness, sorrow, humor, and love.

Therefore, besides learning to live in the moment, one day at a time, on the things of 2014 that I won’t be able to control, here is a list of the more mundane things I have a little more control over and hope to accomplish.

  • Mental Survival for this Sunday’s Packers’s/Niners game. I know I am being overly dramatic, but all my fellow Cheeseheads will agree that watching the Green Bay Packers play lately is enough to make you go running to your doctor for a prescription of Xanax.  At least the game will be at L-L-L-Lambeau, and it will be c-c-c-cold!
  • Increase my blog posts to twice a week.  I am planning on keeping Thursday, and then probably adding Monday – hopefully something humorous because Lord knows we need a reason to laugh on Mondays.
  • Pull my pal Joey Christensen on the Titletown Tour in another mTT (My Team Triumph) event – this time cycling.  As you may remember, I was one of his angels in the Bellin last year,and I would like to continue that relationship by doing the Titletown Tour cycling event with him in 2014.
  • As part of my involvement with mTT and hanging out with the Joe-meister – attend, learn and pass with flying colors the American Sign Language class that I signed up for thru St. Norbert College.  Gotta be able to communicate with Joe while I am pedaling him around this summer.  Hopefully I don’t crash when I am turning around to sign to him.
  • Clock 2000 miles on my bike.  No clue how I am going to find time to ride more than I already do with everything else on my plate but I’m darn well going to try.
  • Running the Fox Cities Half Marathon with my bestie, Dawn.  Although this is really her goal, I am along for the ride to provide motivation and encouragement.  Of course, I haven’t ran long distance in over two years, so she may be the one cracking the whip on me instead!

And that’s about it for now.  As a good friend of mine just emailed to me:  It takes less time and energy to pray than to worry.  I am hoping to pray more than worry in 2014, for all of our benefit!

May you all have a blessed new year!  And stay warm!

Sue

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Not Your Average Joe


Never Give UpI’ve been called a lot of things by a lot of people.  For the sake of this exercise, I am going to stick with the positive, however.  🙂  A long time ago, when I was struggling with a particularly bad bout of depression, I was talking to a friend and I must have mentioned something about not giving up on God – that I would keep praying even though I felt completely abandoned, because I knew that my feelings didn’t necessarily convey the truth.  She looked at me and said “Wow, you’re really tenacious.”  That surprised me, because I had never thought of myself that way.  Another friend told me that when I want something, I go get it.  Again, that completely didn’t sound like me.  At all.  I thought about all the unfinished knitting projects, boxes of beads and findings, and scrap-booking supplies sitting in my basement and had to laugh.

But all of those unfinished craft projects were because I was running around the house eating everything except the one thing I was craving.  I was seeking to express myself artistically when I should have been writing.  So finally…FINALLY…I started writing again.  I started a blog (ironically – about knitting).  And then I started another blog.  And then I started ANOTHER blog.  And then, I started Brick House.  And Brick House would be IT.  THE BLOG.  THE MINISTRY.  I was going to write about helping people and about making a difference and about spiritual growth and about motivating others to make positive changes in their own lives.  I prayed about this and it truly felt like God was pointing me in this direction.  (I was also going to buy the old De Pere library and build a coffee-house and my old school friend Caroline was going to come up and be my barista…I haven’t written this off yet – God could still make it happen). I knew it would be a long process but in the meantime….I was supposed to write.

A funny thing happened on the way to my blog.  I met my ego, and my ego was pretty upset about my lack of followers, the slow traffic to my site and that the main people who signed up to follow me were only trying to get traffic to their own sites or to get me to buy into their ponzi scheme.  My ego hated that.  My ego hated that I wasn’t famous, that nobody left glowing comments about my writing ability and that I wasn’t making any headlines.  My ego was Ron Burgundy (I don’t know how to put this, but I’m kind of a big deal), and I can tell you he can be pretty damn depressing to have around when he realizes he isn’t a big deal after all.

Ron Burgundy

I began to write less.  What was the point?  Nobody read what I wrote anyway. So this past summer, I almost quit.  I rode my bike more, ate more junk food, read trashy novels, and did pretty much everything but write.  Weirdly, even though I was doing whatever I felt like (when I wasn’t at my day job, of course), I was getting depressed.  And then, I remembered Joe. Joe – who couldn’t bike or run or drive or work a 9-5.  Joe who almost died when he was born and then a few more times after that for good measure.  Joe who had 8 surgeries just to be able to walk across a room.  Joe who always had a smile on his face.  Who never complained. Who looked opposition in the eye and kicked it’s candy ass.

And most importantly, Joe who followed his dreams and didn’t quit.  If you know Joe, you know about his grassroots organization called Handicapped From The Heart.  If you don’t know Joe, this is probably the first time you heard about it.  And you know what?  Joe isn’t going to quit just because most people have never heard of him or what he does.  He knows that even if he only changes one heart, then he has made a difference.  And he will keep trying until he changes another.  And another.  And another.

Handicapped From The Heart started as a tiny idea in the back of Joe’s mind.  He wanted to reach out to others and let them know what it was like to have a disability, while also encouraging them to stop thinking of the disabled as “disabled” and instead think of them as people with different abilities (“differently abled”).  However, he had no idea how to go about launching it or even who to talk to.  He kept searching, eventually speaking to Mark Heck, the director of Pulaski Area Community Education (P.A.C.E), who was willing to listen.  A few million meetings later, Handicapped From The Heart was founded.  Since that day in 2010, Joe has spoken to many schools, churches, and organizations, and some schools also use his message in their anti-bullying campaigns.  Joe’s thought provoking message about hope and tolerance has softened many hearts while helping to change the way people think about the disabled.  Joe is making a difference.

Handicapped From The Heart

Last summer I had the privilege of running the Bellin with Joe as one of his angels via the Wisconsin chapter of the My Team Triumph organization.  Joe was our Captain, and two of his other friends and myself were his angels.  Before signing up, Joe was nervous.  He wasn’t sure what to expect and he didn’t know any of the folks at mTT, and he really didn’t know me very well either.  But he reached outside his comfort zone and contacted Christian Jensen, the director at mTT, and talked to him.  Then he recruited his two other friends.  And he talked to Christian some more.  And we had training runs and Meet and Greets.  And Joe talked some more (to just about everyone, because Joe likes to talk and people like to talk to Joe -he just makes your heart lighter!).  By the time we crossed the finish line a few months later, Joe was one of mTT’s biggest fans.  Christian met with Joe afterwards and asked Joe to be an mTT Captain Ambassador.  Joe now helps to recruit new captains, angels, and volunteers for future events.  Joe is making a difference.

Bellin Run mTT My Team Triumph

On October 7th, 1988, the small community of Pulaski lost 5 young girls in a tragic accident. One of those girls, Jessica McKeefry, would have known Joe as her step-brother had she lived.  This year marks the 25th anniversary of their deaths and Joe’s response has been to start the footwork in establishing a scholarship fund in his step-sister’s name.  Joe never knew Jessica, but feels compelled to honor her and her friends by giving others a chance at higher education.  It’s been a slow process because he has never done anything like this before, and he is once again in uncharted territory.  But it’s not stopping him.  Joe is making a difference.

I suppose by now you see where I am going with this.  Joe is making a difference, and I am one of the people whose hearts he has touched.  In remembering that Joe didn’t quit, even when many people would have said he was perfectly justified to do so, I realized that I couldn’t quit either.  I remembered my tenacity and dug in my heels.  I kicked Ron Burgundy out of my head, and made a commitment to write and to publish my blog once a week until the new year.  And then I would go to twice a week.  Even if nobody ever reads it again.

Joe reminded me of my first love -to write and to be a writer – not just for my own mental health but for the purpose of reaching others with the same grace and acceptance that God has for me.  To be uplifting and kind and sometimes (hopefully) funny.  To help others take that first step towards health.  And to tell my audience about more people like Joe – to make a difference by writing about and becoming involved with other people who are making a difference.  I don’t need to be famous.  I don’t need to have accolades.  I don’t need to be a big deal.  I just need to change one heart.  And then another.  And then another. And then another.

And that is how Joe changed my life.  He reminded me to believe, to have hope, to push forward.  And that’s his gift – his very life is a reminder not to quit, and his message is that all people have worth – even me.

Next year begins a new chapter in my blog.  I upped the ante to TWO blogs a week for 2014, and of those, there will be at least one health or fitness, one human interest and one “making a difference” post.  I will still have my usual weirdness (trust me, that just doesn’t go away) on other days.  Maybe even a few surprises!!

Float

To close, I want to thank each of you who read my blog for your loyalty and encouragement.  I know you could easily spend your time playing Candy Crush or pinning funny e-cards on Pinterest (ahem), and I am grateful you choose to read my blog instead.  You are blessings in my life that I do not take lightly nor for granted.

Much love and friendship,

Sue

Driving Forces


“Never, never, never quit!” – Winston Churchill (paraphrased)

What inspires you? I ask this because I wonder if you are like me, in that you need almost daily motivation to keep you moving towards whatever goals you have in front of you.

A friend of mine once told me that I inspire her. While she was not specific I assume she meant it regarding exercise, and not something like blurting inappropriate comments at work (which I have done) or burning down the building with microwave popcorn (something I almost did). It made me pause because we have been friends for a long time and frankly she knows what a dumb ass I can be. But it also had the reciprocal effect of inspiring me back. I mean, if I am someone’s inspiration, then it motivates me to keep trying.

Me&Shari

Finish line with Shari – Fox Cities Half Marathon, September 2009

In turn, I have been inspired by a lot of people in my life-mostly friends and family. Like my dad who began running in his late 40’s or my mom who used to walk six miles a day. My friend Dawn who helps me to be more accepting of myself or my friend Amanda who gave me the courage to go after a job I was afraid to reach for. Or my friend Shari, who asked me to run a half marathon with her, planting the seeds of belief and confidence in my ability.

My second half marathon, the Cellcom, I ran as a member of Team In Training for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society, as a way of giving back for the research that saved my daughter’s life (she is a survivor). I had to fundraise, and for every donation I received, I asked if the donor had someone they would like me to run for. As the list grew, I became inspired by people who couldn’t run for themselves, and every step in every training run became a prayer for loved ones on my list. For my friend Lee, who was dying of pancreatic cancer (Miss you, Lee!), a co-workers sister newly diagnosed with liver cancer, a co-worker’s niece, a friend of my sister’s, a friend’s daughter who had already passed…the list was long. But each person on it kept me training, thru injuries, discouragement, and fatigue, until the day of the race.

Cellcom 2011

My shirt with all the names on it from the Cellcom Half thru Team in Training in 2011

My friend Vicki was recently diagnosed with Primary Progressive MS, for which there is basically no treatment nor cure. But instead of giving up, she has done her research and now uses a specific food plan, exercise, and natural supplements to help her keep moving forward. I am sure she has down days, but it’s not evident in her daily Facebook posts or in the positive way she greets these new challenges in her life. Reading about her journey (you can read about it too, here- Kickin’ MS) reminds me that each day is a gift and an opportunity for me to choose a healthy lifestyle.

Last November my good friend’s differently-abled nephew asked me to be part of his running team in the 2013 Bellin, through the My Team Triumph organization. This organization places differently-abled Captains with a team of Angels, who do the physical running while pushing their Captain in a myTEAM TRIUMPHspecially designed stroller. However, it is the Captain who provides the heart and spirit that fuels the legs of the angels, and I can already tell that Joey is high-octane! I want to be in the best shape I can for this event, not only to make it fun and memorable for Joey, a courageous young man who has faced more obstacles in his 26 years than most of us will face in a lifetime, but to have a physical body that can match the joy and determination he brings to the table.

I have this framed Erma Bombeck quote on my desk from the year I ran the Cellcom:

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say “I used everything You gave me”.

It was a Christmas gift from Shari, and I refer to it often when I want to quit. It reminds me of why I am here, why I try, why I keep fighting. I want my life to count. I don’t want to look back on time spent frittered away, but on a life where I have invested the gifts given to me by God, and turned a profit for His glory.

My final request in this post is to ask that if you found inspiration in my words, that you would return the favor and tell me what inspires you! What drives you? What are your talents? How are you using them or how do you wish to use them? Hopes and dreams will remain hopes and dreams unless you speak them into being. Let me hear from you!

Blessings,
Sue

Black Friday


Black Friday

Well, at least they are running…

Oh yes, I just shamelessly used the words “Black Friday” in my title, knowing it might give my blog a few more hits.  But for those of us trying to maintain a healthy weight, the day after Thanksgiving can indeed feel like Black Friday, should one be so stupid as to step on the scale.  Therefore, instead of being out shopping with the Crazies, I am at home, drinking coffee and writing an exercise entry in my blog.

coffee

Oh yes. This is exactly what I look like drinking coffee. Uh huh.

If you are like me, you know the holiday season can wreak havoc on the best laid plans of healthy eating and exercise.  In the long, dark days of winter, it’s very easy to choose sleep over an early wake up call to the gym, or to just go home after a late day at work, and watch the Big Bang Theory while eating your dinner instead of bundling up for a walk or run in the dark.  So, now is the time I encourage you to add some spice to your normal routine.  Boredom is the number one killer of exercise programs!

Bears

“You can’t make me go to the gym! You can’t make me, you can’t make me, you can’t make me!”

The first thing I did this year was to join the Y.  I haven’t belonged to a gym in over 3 years, choosing instead to utilize the gym we have at work with my co-worker workout buddies.  Very cheap (free) and it’s always more motivating to know someone else is depending on you to be there.  But lately, we find more and more excuses not to go.  It seems like such a chore – depressing even – and if one person backs out, it sucks the motivation from the rest of us.

Joining the Y has brought some spice back into my workout plans.  I can join a spin class, hit the pool, jiggle my love handles in Zumba, or run on the indoor track (so thankful I won’t have to think about running across ice patches this year).  It was just enough to bump my brain out of hibernation mode.  If you already belong to a gym, but are bored and find yourself not going, try creating an at home program.   Or find ways to exercise outside – like snowshoeing or cross country skiing if you have snow, or biking, running and/or walking if you don’t (be sure to read some articles on cold weather exercise.  There is a good one here:  ACTIVE.COM).  Or join a new gym – maybe one that offers some things you don’t have at your current gym.

Zumba

Totally.

The next thing I did was purchase an Ipad, which led me to justify said purchase by figuring out how to use it for reasons other than playing Spider Solitaire or Siege Hero.  I started looking for good workout apps, and found a few worth mentioning:  Daily Workouts, IPersonalTrainer, and Workout Trainer.  I’m not going to review them today, but brought them up because it was in my search for workout apps that I ran across a video called Plank Workout for Flat Abs and Toned Arms, led by a cute, perky girl who made doing a plank look oh-so-easy, even while adding in weights and arm movements.

blogilates

Even perky while planking!

Further investigation brought me to more videos and then her website –Blogilates.com.  Oh my goodness – so much more perkiness (really, I am 48 years old – not much of me is too perky anymore) and sweating.  Seems an odd combination, but this girl has some killer moves.  Her name is Cassey Ho, and despite her everlasting good mood, or maybe because of it, I absolutely love her workouts.  They challenge my strength, they teach new moves to this old dog, and they make me sweat like a pig.  (Hmm…maybe that last bit wasn’t very appealing…).

Plus, she makes new videos all the time!  And she has a clothing line!  And she has a monthly workout calendar.  And she has recipes.  And meal plans.  And inspirational stories.  And icing on the cake –  she is FREE (although you do have to subscribe to her newsletter for access to some things, like the workout calendar).

Her videos are about 10-15 minutes long, so perfect for those days you need something quick.  Or you can do two or three in a row, or you can do what I did.  I went thru a few of her videos, pulled out the exercises I wanted to try, and created an hour long workout routine that we did in the gym at work.  Holy sweat balls of fire.

And my last bit of advice – sign up for an event that will make you start training.  It doesn’t have to be grandiose (but it can be, if you want) – maybe as simple as just wanting to get personal best, or try something new.  Need some inspiration?  There are a lot of charity events and Team In Trainingorganizations (like My Team Triumph or the Leukemia Lymphoma Society Team in Training) you can work with to add some meaning to your training.  I have found I train better knowing I am running for someone who can’t run for themselves.  It adds a spiritual level to my workouts, and reminds me to be grateful and humble.

And that my friends, is that.  For now…

Sue