Make A Difference Monday

A fellow blogger I’ve often talked about, Sarah, occasionally writes “Make A Difference Monday” posts. From what I’ve seen, these posts are generally about some cause, organization, or individual that is doing something to…make a difference! ūüôā

An event near and dear to my heart is coming up, so I thought I’d give it a try. I’ve often blogged about what Spinning means to me and how something as “simple”–though the class itself is anything but–as a group exercise class, completely changed my life almost 4 years ago. For those of you that have never read it, please read my post about Spinning here.

Four¬†years ago, the gym I belong to started a charity event called Pedal for a Purpose. The event was a 5 hour spin-athon¬†to benefit various causes important to both the members/staff of the gym, as well as the pediatric physical therapy clinic it is joined with. The first year: Spinal muscular¬†Atrophy (SMA) CT Chapter. The second year: United Cerebral Palsy CT Chapter (and yes, I cried my way through the entire day for so many reasons I don’t have the energy to get into tonight). The Third Year: Susan G. Komen¬†Breast Cancer Foundation CT Chapter.

This year: National Multiple Sclerosis Society CT Chapter/Team Jenifer. I don’t know that I would normally publish something like this on the blog, but with this cause I really could not pass up the opportunity. Not only is this cause so important for because of the number of people diagnosed with MS in the state (and country), but Team Jenifer honors one of our own.

Jen is one of the gym members I first met when I joined and also one of the Spin¬†instructors. She also happens to be diagnosed with MS. ÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅJen is one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met, and her and I instantly connected because of what our passion for spinning truly means to us as people who have a little extra challenge to overcome getting on the bike everyday. She inspires me in more ways than I can even begin to express, and I am so honored to be riding for her (and more importantly WITH her!!) for this event! In fact, she is so loved by all of us, that they had to add an extra hour in to make sure everyone got a chance to ride! She has already made a huge difference in my life, and continues to make a difference in the lives of all she meets, befriends, and rides with! Jen is someone who constantly reminds us of the importance of HOPE and the strength of the human spirit.

Riders get sponsorships for each minute they are on the bike (rides are 50 minutes in length) and all money raised goes to the CT chapter as well as Team Jenifer! As I’ve said, for more reasons than one, this event is so close to my heart and I couldn’t help but share with all of you who have also become close to my heart.

Pedal for a Purpose will take place on Sunday, March 27, 2011 from 8am-4pm.

If you’d like more info on this event, how to get involved, or how to donate please visit: Team Jenifer, Cheshire Fitness for Women, or contact me via comments and I will e-mail you back!

Thanks for your continued support everyone! ūüôā

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A Warm Welcome

To all my wonderful readers:

I have someone new to welcome to the blogging community. One of my best college, and for life, friends has started a blog. She is Lindsey over at Arms High, Heart Abandoned. Lindsey recently started this blog and, in her words, it is a blog about “the writings of a Roman Catholic girl trying to live her faith in this world”.

Lindsey is an amazing woman of Faith and I cannot wait to see, and read, more of what she encounters. So, if this interests¬†you at all,¬†you’re looking to expand your blogroll, or just looking for something new to read, stop by and and see what life is like from someone else’s perspective! ūüôā

Self-disclosure and hints of clarity

Hello!! I really do exist!!¬†Sorry it’s been so long since my last post. I have about 3 drafts sitting in a folder, but haven’t really felt compelled to finish any of them right now, and I’ve definitely learned that if the post doesn’t come to me right away it’s not meant to go up yet.

Where to start? What’s new in life? Snow, snow, and more snow. We’ve been getting attacked with it here in CT and I’ve had just about enough. Okay, I had enough about¬†30 inches ago. I think I would like the snow a lot more if it came in smaller bursts or if I were into any form of winter sports, but I’m definitely not. Although, I would like to try skiing one day! All this snow has led to far too much time being spent indoors lately, but it’s been somewhat of a blessing in disguise because it’s giving me the time, energy, and a little added motivation to stick to my semi self-imposed exercise plans (one month and 2 days! pretty sure that’s a new record in my life!). I’m so extremely happy about that. It’s still not everything and there’s still a lot more I need to get working toward, but it’s huge in my eyes.

The semester started up again on Monday. I was so ready for it. My family has always joked that I would go to school forever if I could and I can’t say I disagree with them. I’ve always loved school/learning. The reasons have changed over the course of my education, but the love has always been present. I’m taking 12 credits this semester, with one course being 6 credits, so I think it’s¬†going to be a tougher few months, but I’m looking forward to the challenge. We’ve talked a lot about self-disclosure in my classes¬†so far–as¬†it pertains to the client-counselor relationship, as well as self-disclosure in the classroom with our peers, and it really got me thinking about self-disclosure in terms of having a disability. I’ve, often, fully self-disclosed in pretty much every setting (friends, doctors, stangers, classmates, interviews, etc.). Most of the time I felt like¬†it was the right thing to do¬†because my disability was much more visible, especially because I’ve always used some type of mobility aid, and I’d rather confront the topic than leave people with unanswered questions. Even though I’ve always done this, I don’t necessarily thing self-disclosing is “who I am” all the time. I don’t like people knowing a lot (or anything at all really) about me, seeing my strengths OR my weaknesses. I keep my heart in an iron-clad box, and if you know anything about me, it’s because you’ve proven, over years, that you’re not going to leave. I know that’s hard to believe, especially with this blog, but like I’ve said, it’s all part of the Plan and I don’t necessarily know why the blogosphere is so comfortable to me, but I have a feeling it’ll be revealed in due time. Until then, I’ll keep blogging as long as I have readers.

The past month has been a really amazing eye opener and gift for me. Between PT, school, and life in general, I’ve been under some stress, but also been given some amazing chances from God¬†for clarity in my head and heart. And we all know how important and awesome those chances and moments are, no matter what your belief system is.¬†One of those moments came this past weekend when I went to visit one of my friends from college, actually my first roommate, who I have¬†stayed extremely close with over our 4 years. There is something so special about taking the time out of whatever is going on in your life to get away, both mentally and physically. It’s an even bigger gift when you can do that with someone who truly “gets” you and truly values who you are as a person and a friend. I’m lucky enough to have so many people in my life that have been there for me, will continue to be, and remind me of that daily. This weekend gave me the opportunity to kind of step outside and see the way others see me, instead of the often distorted view I see of myself (think, how we all feel when we look in the mirror, but on an emotional level¬†as well). Everytime I’m given¬†one of these¬†opportunities, it always ends¬†up leaving me a little lighter and a little happier.¬†

Another part of this clarity is starting to focus on the future, my career path, and my calling, meaning, whichever word you prefer, in this life. I have been shown so many new doors lately through others, through my own experiences, PT, reading materials,¬†lately and I am eager¬†(and incredibly happy!) to see if the big flashing neon sign that I keep seeing in my brain is really where I’m meant to be.¬†I’m still in the process of discerning much of this clarity out for myself and researching the various hints that He’s been dropping for me, so I’m not going to share it publically yet (sorry! ūüôā ), but I will say that it has to do with all the things I’ve mentioned in this post so far. Vague, I know. Also, for my family and those of you who know me personally; I will say that this is not currently a discernment of a religious nature. Not like that would really matter, or is anyone’s business!

I am continually amazed how much life changes for me on a daily/weekly/monthly basis, and I can truly say that I’m in a state right now where I am happy and content, but that contentment doesn’t necessarily feel like a negative thing or a standstill. It feels right; in every sense of the word.

Also, I feel as though this post was completely random and lacking in a point or any interesting content at all, but thanks for stopping by and reading as always! I appreciate it more than many of you know.

Boston bound

I can’t lie. I can’t think of anything of real substance to post tonight, but I refuse to break my committment of blogging for¬†30 days,¬†so here’s what I have for you tonight.

I can’t wait to be done with class and assignments for the week, because that means it’s time to head to Boston!! I’m¬†heading up for¬†concert with a friend from QU and we’re meeting my roommate¬†Katie who’s from New Hampshire! ūüôā¬†

NEEDTOBREATHE! They’re an awesome band. Kindof following the pattern of Lifehouse in that they started out as primarily a Christian band and have gotten a lot more mainstream play as their albums came out. This trip has been in the works for months so I’m pumped! I’ll leave¬†you with a few¬†songs of theirs (one from each album).¬† Katie and I first heard them during a spin class last year and it was love at first listen! They have 3 CDs and I strongly reccommend all of them!

ÔĽŅ

Sorry, only could find the live version! I love this one too much to not include it though!

but Freedom can never be found behind those walls

…so just let ’em fall, just let ’em fall.

Well, here we are! The official “Camp Care 5k Recap”. As I’m sitting in bed, still trying to stretch parts of my body I didn’t even know existed before yesterday, I’m still in a state of shock and awe over how amazing yesterday was. I’m going to try and walk (no pun intended)¬†you through as much as I can, but I’ll just say upfront that there is not much I remember after seeing the mile 3 sign, except praying my body would keep moving until I saw the timing truck and the finish line!

We arrived at the race about an hour early; plenty of time to get checked in, stretch, and let the nerves really start to build up! My sister had decided¬†to come¬†run the race with us (with jogging stroller¬†and 14 month old¬†in tow!) and my¬†mom, aunt, and uncle came to see us off at the start.¬†I met up with Dan and a few other friends that were running the race and it was nice to stand around laughing for a little bit before we had to part ways until the finish line. We were all standing around and out comes the video camera and Dan asks me what my goal time was. Something I had picked out in my head, but wasn’t planning on¬†sharing at all! ¬†I looked away for the camera for a minute, then thought of that saying “if you don’t declare your goals, they’re nothing but thoughts.¬† Armed with fear and anxiety, I declared 1 hour and 45 minutes as my goal.¬† I completed this race in 2:11:33 last year, so this seemed good to me. Plus, that meant an average of about 32 minute mile, so I figured I could try for it.¬† On this course, there is a .3 mile walk to the official start, so about 10 minutes before start time, I decided I’d had enough standing around worrying and stressing–it was time to go!

Heading down to the start line I had all sorts of thoughts circling around my head. What if things go wrong? Should I really be doing this? Again?¬†Why, exactly, am I here? Why is it SO cold? Wow. That old guy’s shorts are REALLY short! But most importantly, the last thought I really remember thinking was I belong here. I belong on this start line, with these people. I sent up a quick prayer to the Loving Father to watch over me and all of my friends¬†running the race, that we’d be safe and injury free, and that He’d show me my way if I started to lose my thoughts or feel like I was losing¬†Him, over the next few hours.¬†My aunt came through the crowd of runners to give me one more good luck hug before we started and my sister and I waved good luck to each other from afar. I decided to move up a little closer to the start line so I would waste too much unnecessary energy, and saw Dan one more time. We exchanged a “have a good race boss” and that was that.

I went into the day telling myself I was going to take things slow, save up my energy, and just focus on finishing, but as soon as that gun¬†went off pure adrenaline was coursing through my body.¬† I don’t know if it was that I was in the¬†middle of a pack¬†of actual¬†runners,¬†or that I was just so nervous I had to go, but I took off running. Literally. I really wanted to stay with people as long as I could, and that’s what I was going to try to do. I kept up a running pace for maybe a half mile, then decide it was time to back off a bit and just focus again on the end goal.¬† I also was going to try to only stop every mile if possible. So far everything was working out. We got to the mile 1 time check at 28:21; 4 minutes faster than my target time and 5 minutes faster that the previous year! I was ecstatic! ūüôā

All I really wanted was the time check at mile 1. I was feeling good and didn’t think that stopping for a real break was necessary yet. Half a mile later, we were reaching the main road of Rt. 66 with traffic speeding by us (luckily there was a wide shoulder) and the hellish 1.5ish mile hill up ahead. It was a good place to stop, take in some water, and mentally prepare myself for what was to come. This hill and I have a history, a very long, angry history. It’s slow, but painful. Yet I’ve now learned it looks much worse than it actually is. Last year on this hill, I cried. A lot! I was mentally and emotionally defeated before I was even halfway to the top. I stopped at least 10 times. This year, I took off head down, and was determined to push through. About a quarter mile¬†up the hill, I saw my sister running toward me, having finished the race and come back to make sure I was okay. I have never been more excited to see a member of my own flesh and blood. Just having her there gave me a little more energy to keep going. Fast forward to about half mile left, and I see a white hat coming over the top of the hill, running toward us. I had to wait until I saw something more than just a hat, but I knew it was Dan. In that moment, I’m pretty sure I started crying. Only for a second though, because my energy needed to be on the pavement beneath me. I was not expecting this at all.¬†I knew he was¬†going to finish with an amazing time, and expected him to be waiting at the finish with everyone else if anything.¬†I was doing fine, it wasn’t that I needed rescuing,¬†but we have a unique friendship in that we know what makes each other¬†tick, what buttons to push, and just what to say to motivate each other¬†in a time of need, whether it’s through pissing one another off¬†or lending a heartfelt comment (in my case, it’s usually¬†the first that works best!); something that’s innate within the both of us, and makes us both thank God we were luck to find each other as friends, and I knew I’d need that in this last leg¬†of the race. And I was right. I did need it.

FINALLY, we saw the stoplight indicating we were on the downhill and almost ready to turn onto the¬†little over half mile finishing straight (which was straight, but definitely not quite flat). My sister turned to me and said “Okay, Molly when you get here you can’t stop, you just have to finish” and I was going to try my hardest. My steps were getting slower at that point, looking back now, I think it was definitely a bit more mental, knowing I was at the end and wanting so badly to be done, but more on that later. Really the only thing I remember from that point on was all my friends and family around me telling me I could do it, to keep going, Dan telling me to keep turning over each step, and the State Trooper in the car behind us blasting Hey, Soul Sister. Yeah Train! When I saw the timing truck and the owner of Crossroads/director of Camp Care at the finish line, adrenaline kicked in again. I managed to squeak out one little run/sprint to the end and crossed the line with the biggest smile and sigh of relief known to man.

I heard the timing company report my time of 1:54:16 and, while I couldn’t be happier I beat last year’s time by 17 minutes! I couldn’t help but think I was only 8 minutes off of my goal time and thought of spots where I could have pushed myself harder. Part of this comes down to my training, or lack thereof, and how that would most definitely help my times and endurance. I tend not to train as formally as I should or could, solely because I don’t take the time to modify training plans to my needs¬†or don’t think that it matters since I’m not an elite runner.¬† The thing is though, it does matter, because I do go out to these races looking for my own PB times. Personal Bests. The other half of this is the mental component. As I blogged about prior to the race, I tend to shut things off mentally before I even give myself a chance physically because I believe I know how it is going to go. I was much better about not doing that as much this race, but old habits die hard and it definitely hindered me a bit!

One more piece of this 5k puzzle. The title of this post and opening line¬†come from another track off of Matthew West’s new album The Story of Your Life entitled “The Healing Has Begun”. It’s all about carrying the weight of the world and your struggles on your shoulders and finally realizing that you don’t have to do that. That there is someone else who holds the key to your freedom from those weights and those struggles, and sometimes you just have to let your walls fall down to find Him. It really hit me during and after the race yesterday, that I am starting to embrace that Freedom. In ways both large and small, the walls are slowly coming down, and I’m committing¬†myself to believing, working, and fighting until my battle is won; whichever way I find most important and for however long it takes. Maybe I’m not running full 5ks right now, but I’m going to start training as soon as I can feel my legs again. It may take a year, it may take more, for me to reach my goals…but yesterday I was led to a key that unlocked a door to one more way to Freedom in my life.

Thank you all for supporting me through this race. On Twitter, on the blog, phone calls, e-mails, and prayers. I felt every bit of it! I’ll try to post some pictures and videos soon! They’re being temperamental right now. Happy running, walking, or whatever it is gives you your Freedom!