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Wounded Warrior Project event

I want give a BIG THANK YOU to all of the families who contributed to my run in the Tough Mudder this past Saturday — Over $500 all together! Not only did you show your support to me, but you donated to a fantastic cause called the Wounded Warrior Project. This project ‘s mission is to reintegrate injured soldiers into society through therapy, treatment plans, and the provision of medical equipment. A person’s service to our country is a huge sacrifice – those deployed give up their family, a lot of their freedoms, and sometimes their lives – to ensure that we have ours. Thanks to all of our service members (police, firefighters, military members, and more) for all that you do!

So let me tell you: 11 miles through the mud, obstacles, and a severe thunderstorm was… Tough! Crossing the finish line was only possible with the use of  Teamwork, Courage, and Discipline — All characteristics that have been discussed at BLS as Word of the Month.

Teamwork is integral to the very foundation of the Tough Mudder course. “Teamwork and camaraderie before my course time” and “I help my fellow mudders complete the course” are some of the phrases pledged before and throughout the course of the race. The Mud Mile was an obstacle of a dozen steep slopes of muddy clay separated by deep trenches of muddy, clay water. It takes teamwork between all participants to push and pull one another over the slippery slopes to continue trudging through the mud. At the end of the 10th mile when you think all of your energy is spent, the Everest obstacle requires you to sprint with no hesitation up a quarter pipe ramp then leap upwards with all of your strength, and at the last second grasp hands with another mudder who pulls until you’re able to clamber over the edge. It really takes everyone working together to cross that finish line.

During the competition, I witnessed amazing displays of courage by some of the participants. It is a common understanding that the Tough Mudder is “not a race, but a challenge” and mudders commit to “overcome all fears.” Samantha, a teammate of mine, took a leap of faith plunging 20 feet down into cold and muddy water below. Although she has faced bigger challenges before, it always takes a renewed sense of determination to overcome a fear. Seeing so many injured soldiers participate was truly inspirational! The most courageous act I saw was from a fellow competitor making his way through the course on two prosthetic legs that he acquired after a deployment over seas. I struggled to keep my legs moving — I cannot fathom the internal strength and determination it took for that man to overcome those challenges.

All 24,000 Mid-Atlantic runners (a record registration number!) showed a great amount of discipline. It takes a lot of mental grit to complete that race. The promise of Tough Mudder sponsor merchandise and hot food at the finish line does not motive a person enough to push through 11 miles of rain and mud going over, under, and through a series of 16 obstacles (5 got closed down). As so eloquently relayed on signs posted along the path, Mudders “do not whine…” It takes a great deal of mental and physical discipline for each person to push themselves to the finish line – I watched my dad limp through over 8 miles on a bad knee without a word of complaint and smile on his face at each obstacle to overcome. That type of discipline is a commitment to yourself, which gives you the strength to is push a bit further. Internal discipline is putting mind of over matter, so you get done whatever it is you need to do.

Anyone who is interested in testing out their teamwork, courage, and discipline should consider registering for the Tough Mudder on April 20 & 21, 2013! Our military men and women serve, protect, and sacrifice for us; what are you willing to do to give back?



Habitat for Humanity Build in Baltimore

Sunny and breezy, with beautiful mid-70 degree weather… this past Saturday was a terrific day to spend outside. Instead of hanging at the beach or lounging in a downtown coffee shop, I arrived bright and early at a build site in Baltimore City to partake in a house demolition and reconstruction job!
Volunteering for Habitat for Humanity has been a dream of mine, but taking off for a week to build a house abroad just never seemed feasible with work and school. Who knew that Habitat for Humanity has local chapters that allow you to volunteer for day jobs (about 7 hours) during the week and/or weekends? I didn’t!

That is, I didn’t know until I came across Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake during a routine internet exploration. Registration is a breeze, and the site offers information about lots of different volunteer opportunities. If you’re not interested in labor-intensive work, maybe volunteering in the office will suit you better! You can request to do gardening and landscaping, or offer up your muscles for power tool duties. Either way, as long as you’re 16 or older, there is a job available for you!

The local chapter, Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake, has about 6 different sites in Baltimore city that they are focusing on over the next few months. In addition to novice volunteers (like myself) at the sites on build days, there are Red Hats who are veteran volunteers that have gone through additional safety courses and commit to two build days each month, Americorps members who are on job assignments with Habitat for 11-month contracts, and site supervisors who are employed by Habitat for Humanity and provide volunteers with wisdom, friendliness, and tasks!

I had a WONDERFUL experience getting to know other volunteers and spending the day ripping out old windows and frames, and reconstructing the exterior walls! The experience was so wonderful that I have already gone online and  signed up for four more jobs over the next two months! If you, or anyone you know, have an interest in volunteering in your community, I highly recommend Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake.

“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.”

—Marjorie Moore




Leadership: skills & 3 types of leaders

One of the most important skills that a leader needs is one of communication.  Communication is made up of two parts both of which are very important, but the first one is vital to the second.  That first skill is listening.  The focus and attitude for listening can really make the difference in a leader that is respected by others or not.  

How do we teach our children about listening.  There are several ways of showing that we are listening to others including, looking at them in the eyes, nodding from time to time, being able to repeat what they say back to them, keeping our bodies still and not fidgeting, and not being distracted by electronics, noises, others, or even worst – our own thoughts.

When I was talking to our students about this subject, I told some of them that sometimes I find my eye wandering to see who is next in line to speak to me.  Have you ever done that?  Well I have and I am working on practicing keeping my eyes, attention and thoughts on the person and the message they are delivering to me. 

Being a good communicator also includes being able to speak well.  For many of our students it may start with speaking loud enough for others to hear them.  Now when we get the volume up we have to think about the attitude of the voice and person.  Which of the following 3 types of leaders are they;  passive, aggressive, or assertive?

A passive leader is one that seldom does the work and finds it difficult to make decisions.  They may even agree with everyone but not want to be responsible for making a call or decision.  The aggressive leader is full of opinions, generally their own, and are more than happy to push them on everyone around them.  They seldom are good listeners. 

Then there is the assertive leader.  This person is a good listener, willing to hear out all opinions and ideas before drawing a conclusion and making an advised decision.  This assertive leader would ask others to help them in a kind way and would always be willing to say thank you.  They would recognize to others the work of his group and be willing to share the rewards.  This is the kind of leader most of us would like to work for, this is the kind of leader we all want to be. 


Charity: acting on our desire to help others

Have you ever noticed that sometimes it takes a natural disaster to move people to open their hearts to give to others.  We saw this great outpouring in the hurricane that destroyed New Orleans, the Tsunami that struck in Indonesia, a fire that strikes a neighbors home, a disease that hurts a child.  But when we take the time to be aware of the needs of others, even when there is not a tragedy involved, and give of our things, talents or time, we not only make the world a better place, but we also are helping ourselves.

Philanthropy is about making the  world a better place.  I have noticed that when I speak to children about this idea of giving to others without expecting anything in return that they are a bit quiet at first.  It is like they are absorbing it and trying to grasp the concept.  Then they many times want to act on it.  Just this week I have heard of our students setting up a lemonade stand to raise money for a cause.  Others have been talking about things that they could create – and give all the money to a cause. 

As parents the example we set in giving, using our talents and time to the advantage of others, will have a long term impact on our children.  What can you do to make a difference with an individual, in your community, or in the world?  Every good act – Every act of kindness is charity.


Attitude: 3 things that control our attitude

I know of no parent that has not said to one of their children, “ Don’t give me an attitude!”.  We all know that we are talking about a bad attitude – one that is negative and disrespectful.  Yet most of us if we were truthful with ourselves would have to admit that from time to time we too have that “bad attitude”.   Interestingly in a recent article in the journal; Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics (April, 2009) that it is true that there are some people who are just more positive than others, but that only 50% of happiness is determined genetically.  Where do you think the rest of ability to be positive and happy came from?  Yes it was ourselves.

There are three things that only we have control over that have an affect on our attitude, whether we are 5 years old or 85.  They are how we feel, think and act.  I am sure you have seen this before.  If someone is thinking and feeling things in an optimistic way, they also act in a positive way.  If they think and feel more pessimistically, then they act in a negative way no matter how hard they try to cover it up and “act” positive.  

The way we see the world, how we feel it is treating us, the way we think and act influences in a great way our Attitude.  It affects our relations with others including our closest friends, to how we respond to events in our lives and even the very mundane day to day life.  

So what is attitude and can we choose the attitude we want to have?  What influence do we have on our children when it comes to their attitude?  Can we help them to approach their day in a more positive way?  As parents we influence how our children see the world, so what are strategies do you use to have a positive attitude?

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