Girls on the Run (is still) So Much Fun!

The school year feels like it has flown by already, including a season of Girls on the Run! This was my third season with GOTR and it was, as always, so much fun.

For my third season, we ended up with a full team of fifteen girls. Michelle was my co-coach and it is honestly so much fun to coach with your best friend. We are able to throw ideas around pretty easily and we usually tend to agree on most things.

Our girls were a nice mixture of old and younger girls. The program is for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade. Since some of our girls aged out last year, we were open to some younger ones. Also, some of them were my students from the previous year and they signed up to be with me. We also had a nice mixture of previous GOTR girls mixed with new ones. It’s always nice when you have a few girls who can help to lead exercises and discussions because they’ve done it all before.

This season was full of lots of laughs, learning about ourselves, and running. The girls were able to work together in a big way and made holiday cards for people in hospitals and veterans as our final community project. They did an amazing job all season, practicing and setting goals. It’s so cool to see young girls set and achieve (or crush!) their running goals. Sometimes it makes me jealous that they are so committed!

Last month we finished out our season with our 5K and, of course, the girls crushed it. It was so much fun to see them out on the course with their buddies knowing that they could do it. Yes, they struggled. Yes, they walked. But in the end, they finished, and it was amazing!

We also have such a great support system with our parents and staff members. Everyone was there to either  run with or cheer on a girl. It was a great ending to a great season!

 

 

Some of our amazing teachers/running buddies

 

My Kid Rocks

Once upon a time, back in 2013, I wrote this blog post.

The kids are watching… and that’s a good thing.

Let’s all take a moment to marvel at how small my kid was…

And how huge is he now…

Why yes, I AM feeling a little verklempt.

Anyway, nearly a year ago, Lucas told me that he had a dream of running over a bridge. I told him the possibility of that was real; Cooper Norcross Run the Bridge is an event that happens every year here in South Jersey.

The only catch (for him)? It’s a 10k distance. Until that point, the longest he’d raced was a 5k.

Something you should know about my son is when he sets his mind to something, he’s going to do it. Therefore, when he said he was going to run the Ben Franklin Bridge, I knew it was going to happen. We registered him for the race as soon as registration opened in May.

And then? Then we started to prepare. In April we ran the Atlantic City 7k together.

We did shorter distances throughout the summer and focused on strength training.

Once September rolled around we crept our way up in mileage. From 4 to 5 to 6, and then finally during our last training run 6.2.

He has the tendency to go out too fast and then feel crappy the second half of his run. When introducing a longer distance, I encouraged him stick with me the first time so he wouldn’t get down on himself.

Once he was comfortable with the distance, off he went. Leaving me in the dust.

That’s okay though, because he was running this race solo.

Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that earlier? I ran the Mushroom Cap Half Relay on Saturday and I knew my legs were not going to want to run the next day.

And I knew that he’d be ready for it. And he was.

My 14 year old (baby) was going to run the bridge and live his dream!

Mile 3, after he ran across (and back) the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

The second half of the course is through Camden – sprinting to the finish.

Bridge run and done!

I recently saw this quote on Facebook: “Prepare your kids for the road, not the road for your kids.”

Granted, it might not have been meant to take this literally but there we go.

I’ve been running for nearly 9 years now, most of his life, and it fills my heart with joy that we share this together.

Next up we’re doing the Tin Man 5k this weekend and the Philly Marathon Rothman 8k the following weekend. Who will be see there?

An Attitude of Gratitude

I don’t know about you, but lately things have been kind of stressful. I’ve noticed with a lot of my friends, in real life and social media, that life is just…rough.

I get it. I posted a couple of weeks ago about struggling with some weight gain, not wanting to work out, and so on and so forth…

Although it’s already November, I feel like 2019 has been a million years long!

It’s easy to focus on things like that, though. Being in a rut is something some people never get out of and I know, for me, it takes a lot of willpower to get out of it. I’ve been thinking a little more lately, however, about trying to be thankful instead of…meh.

Life is definitely not easy. We live in a time where all we see and hear is bad news and sometimes that is truly discouraging. There is always suffering, there is always pain…but there’s also always hope.

Why is it so easy to forget that? It’s so easy to forget to be hopeful? To be grateful? 

I mean, we moan and complain about things that disappoint us on a daily basis, right? Why don’t we do that for things that make us happy! I don’t even mean talking to people about it, or tweeting, Facebook-ing, or Instagramming it. Just us, alone. Talking to our closest friends maybe. Why is it so easy to focus on what pisses us off rather than what makes our hearts happy?

That is something I really want to focus on for the rest of 2019 and into 2020. Life is good, y’all. Any day I get to wake up under the roof I’m able to pay for, go to the job I love, and be with the ones who care about me, I should be grateful…and so should you be. I started a gratitude journal a while back, but never got passed a day. I’m going to make a conscientious effort to do it every day. Or every other day. Once a week? I’m a work in progress, guys.

So, today, Veterans Day, let’s be grateful.

XOXO

 

 

 

Meh.

I been thinking all day with what to post about, so here it is. We usually like to have our posts ready in the morning and I’m usually pretty good at that, but you can probably guess what I’m going to say about it all:

I’m struggling, y’all.

It’s normally around this time of the school year (the beginning) that the teachers start to look a little less bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and a lot more…stressed and tired as hell. Well, I say “normally” and “the beginning” but in reality we’re like that all year round. Teaching is great and rewarding, but also hard and stressful as hell. I feel like the consensus down my hallway is…tired. We’re all just tired. It’s been a rough year and it’s only October. We’ve got a long way to go.

Right now we’re in the early stages of Girls on the Run, which is two days a week. I love coaching the girls and Michelle and I have a great group this season. A few of the girls are my former students and it’s so much fun to watch them grow and learn in this program. While the girls are learning about positive body image and running their little hearts out…I’m trying to get it together.

My workouts and running have seriously declined since school started. Michelle and I were doing a good job of completing some long runs on the weekends to get ready for a few races we have coming, but that’s stopped too. Real life keeps getting in the way: families, trips, other engagements, life.

Last year at this time I was recovering from Chicago and getting my life back from six months of marathon training. I feel like I’ve taken this year off to “find my love of running” again. I’ve done a race every month this year and it’s been a lot of fun to just kind of get out there every once in a while, run a 5K, grab a medal and an Instagram pic and be done with it. We’ve got a couple of big races coming up through the rest of the year and I know I need to get my head on straight, especially if I’m going to be running a trail Ragnar in a month and a half.

I’m definitely looking forward to getting things back on track, but I’m also still trying to figure out the “how” of it all. I know it all starts with me and that I’m the only one that can control my actions. Sometimes I’d like to have someone follow me around and slap snacks out of my hands or tell me to workout or run!

It’s not always perfect, but I know I’ll get there one day. It feels like a lot of my posts are about how I can’t get my fitness life together, so if you are a struggler, just know you’re not alone!

Any tips for getting back on track? Comment them below!

When It’s Time To Heal and Grow

April Fools Half 2015

I don’t know how to start this post because I hate goodbyes. I should’ve written this a while ago but some things are much harder to do than others. Every time I tried, I found an excuse to walk away from the laptop and do something else.

When I first told the other ladies here at Scoot that I was leaving, the main reason was that I’m going to start school in January and get a B.S in Environmental Studies. It’s an online program and I’ve been told to expect to spend 20 hours a week per class. I’m really not a fan of school or homework, so I immediately felt overwhelmed by this. That said, if I want to be paid for the level of work I’m currently doing, I need this degree. Adulting is dumb. Actually, no, money is dumb. Yet, I am fortunate. I am extremely privileged and lucky that my company will pay for this degree. Therefore, it also seems dumb not to take advantage of that opportunity.

I needed to clear my plate a bit because my anxiety was already vibrating super high. I’ve always thought of myself as a bit high-strung, so this feeling was nothing new to me. Still, it’s not fun, and it’s one of the reasons I was seeking mental health help. After a summer of searching, I connected with a therapist. She’s helping me understand my C-PTSD, Developmental Trauma, and ADD so that I can learn not to feel like a clock wound too tight.  I need space to work on this stuff, though, a plan my therapist strongly agreed with.

Not really. This is just one of my favorite gifs.

One way I can make space is by stepping away from Scoot, as much as it hurts. People tell me that I’m the busiest person they know, so maybe that’s a hint it’s time to focus on a few super important things, instead of half-assing many things. I’ve narrowed those things down to the ones that are necessary and feed my soul purpose.

  • Finish the first draft of my novel
    • I’ve been working on this for years and my self-esteem can’t handle not getting it done before I start the degree. Plus, creative writing feeds my soul.
  • Begin My Childhood Trauma Recovery Journey
  • Get my First Bachelors Degree

That’s it. That’s all I have mental and emotional space for outside of the necessities of daily living. I’m learning to be okay with that. It’s not like it’s not a lot of stuff. I don’t need to do ALL the things.

I loved my time here. I made many friends and accomplished feats I never dreamed of attempting. Maybe my absence won’t be forever. Promises were made that if I do anything exciting or beautiful in that Colorado-esque sort of way, to guest post about it. If you want to follow my writing or mental health journeys, you can find me on my website, Author J.L. Perez. I’m not far away. Thank you all for your love and kindness over the years, your support pushed and inspired me to be the best version of myself.

 

It’s Fall Y’all

Actually, if we are being technical, it’s the 5th day of fall.

It doesn’t FEEL like fall here in the Northeast, and I kinda sorta absolutely have been slacking on blogging the majority of summer. Usually I blog about what my family is up to and how training is going and well, I just didn’t do any of that this summer. THEREFORE, it only seems right that I share a quick wrap-up of summer with the Daniels.

First off, there are two non-profits that I throw my everything into and this summer was no exception.

The Bullock Garden Project, Inc.

I am a board member for the Bullock Garden Project, Inc. which is dedicated to promoting and assisting in building school gardens.

Having formed BGP two years ago, it is still in its infancy stages. I’ve been its Director of Social Media and Communication from the get-go. We’re trying to figure out what works (and what doesn’t). At the beginning of the summer, CEO Sonya and I started a podcast at it’s been fantastic, consuming, and a whole lot of fun.

We have big ideas and upcoming projects – it’s been a learning experience all the way around and one that I’m loving!

Healthy Kids Running Series – Mullica Hill/Mantua

This is my 4th season as a coordinator for the Healthy Kids Running Series (HKRS) of my town and the first time that I have a co-coordinator.

Which just makes me wonder… WHY DIDN’T I HAVE A CO-COORDINATOR BEFORE? We bounce ideas off of each other and check in to make sure we’re both on the same page. I’m actually able to breathe during the races!

With nearly 200 runners this fall, it’s important to have that type of environment!  There’s a lot of planning and moving pieces at each of our 5 race events; it’s time-consuming but the reward is so great.

Besides non-profit work, summer is always a great time to spend with friends and family! The City Fit Girls Fit Retreat is held each August and I was excited to be there again for another year.

New favorite tank top: Empowered Women Empower Women! (Yes, yes, yes!)

Thanks to @cityfitgirls @fitretreat #FitRetreatPHL for the photos!

Stretching with my meatball, Rachel! Thanks to @cityfitgirls @fitretreat #FitRetreatPHL for the photos!

I even won a Patagonia wayfarer pack from The Circuit Trails! Thanks to @cityfitgirls @fitretreat #FitRetreatPHL for the photos.

At the end of August we took our family vacation – a road trip to MAINE to visit Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, and family!

Swimming at Sand Beach. The water rarely exceeds 55 degrees but there was some betting involved with the grandpas and the kids and in they went. Anything for $20!

We went on a lobster boat and also got to see adorable seals sunbathing on the rocks. (Yes, I wanted to take all the seals home with us.)

But we have a “land seal” in Gemma so I suppose she’ll do!

We did an amazing family hike around Jordan Pond (including our pup, who came with us) and surprisingly, everyone actually enjoyed experience! Not naming any names but we have done hikes where this is not the case…

We also went up to the peak of Cadillac Mountain, that was a drive, not a hike. Reminder that if you’re riding with someone how has a fear of heights, it might not be the best idea to have them driving.

(Looking at you, dad.) (Totally naming names here.)

After our trip, we started school a week later. To be clear, the boys started back, not me but I feel like it’s a WE type of event. A few weeks later, my parents who live with us for the summer went back home to Florida.

And now…

NOW…

NOW, I’m finally back into my ROUTINE. I enjoy the summer days but oh my word, there’s a lot of things I’m not in control of and that is a struggle for me.

I know and accept this about myself. 

Welcome fall!

Ain’t No Cure for the Summertime Blues

I have mixed feelings regarding summer. On one hand, I love the ease of it, not HAVING to be anywhere at any particular time.

Summer me: summer hair, no makeup, tank top because it’s hot outside.

Except wait, no. That’s not true at all. My kids weeks are scheduled to the brim. In fact, I think I might actually be more busy carting them from place to place in the summer than I am during the school year.

As a person who thrives on routine, this proves summer time living… not easy. I enjoy the routine of the school year. During these pesky summer months, things fall by the wayside.

Case in point, I’m just now writing this blog post at 10:30pm on Sunday night. For reference, I usually schedule my Monday blogs for early hours on the blog. (And honestly, I’m considering just putting the computer away and finishing it when I wake up.)

This is so not me.

I’m trying so, so hard to get myself into a summer routine and to find myself a way to make these next 8+ weeks productive, not-too-stressful, and hopefully (mostly) fun.

Ashley mentioned in her blog post last week that she spends most of her summer days alone. On the flip side over here, it’s hard for me to be alone in my house in the summer. My kids are here, my parents are here, and lately my husband’s travel schedule for work has been a little last minute.

Yet, I’m feeling surprisingly good for being a week into July. I’ve gotten a lot accomplished these past 7 days in my home life and volunteer life. While I have been going to the gym, I’m lacking balance in my running life (practically nonexistent the last 2 weeks; I’ve also been dealing with a reoccurring injury).

I’m attempting to train my brain to focus on what I’ve been able to accomplish rather than what I’m skimping on. Jenn shared her love of the Clever Fox planner and I got one too. It’s purple, of course. Colored pens, bullet lists, and introspection are my friends.

A few things I’ve been successful at lately:

  • Home ownership
  • Podcasting
  • My kids being more self-sufficient

Home ownership

Ah, the never-ending fun of home ownership. We moved into our current home 3 years ago and it will never be done. It’s a continual work in progress, filled with bathroom renovations, updating light fixtures, lawn care, pool maintenance, and more. There is never NOT a project. Some are bigger than others.

This week’s huge project? Replace the largest window in the house.

Before and After

New light fixture and window.

New light fixture and window.

To be clear, it wasn’t anything physical for me in terms of the replacement, but it was not a cheap venture. It’s crazy that replacing a window can be so exhilarating but here we are. We’ve been marveling at the window for the past week. Adulting.

On a smaller scale, we also finally found a ladder shelf for our bathroom at Home Goods!

There’s so much else to do including another bathroom renovation, painting, organizing, blah blah blah, until forever. But PROGRESS!

Podcasting

Podcasts are my jam. I love listening to them; it helps mundane chores go quicker and I’m always learning something new.

As the Director of Social Media & Communications for The Bullock Garden Project, Inc. non-profit, I’m always trying to think of good ways to share our story and get our message out to our target audience.

The more I spoke with my friend and CEO of BGP, Inc., Sonya Harris, the more the idea of creating a podcast grew. Sonya is so animated and we are both passionate about educating and bringing gardens to every school, the podcasting forum makes sense.

 

Not only have I been working on that but I also had the pleasure of being invited as a guest to my BibRave bro, Corey’s podcast!

Having the opportunity to chat with him about life and all the good things going on was so much fun. (Plus, we both have kids going into HIGH SCHOOL, which is sort of bananas.)

Click on the picture to listen!

Kids

I didn’t take this pictures of my son in Florida.

Nor did I take this one.

Because I sent my 14 year old alone. On a plane. By himself. (To my parents house.)

I suppose this is partially my success but more so, his. Last week it was Florida. This week he’s off at Boy Scout camp. Maybe one day I’ll see him again.

Part of growing up is becoming more independent and I’m glad that he has the confidence to do so. His younger brother is taking great strides too, not relying on me as much.

I’ve seen a meme floating around on Facebook recently about only having 18 summers with your kids. You guys, that’s not true. It’s not. Because hey, my parents are spending the summer with me and I’m 42 years old. #truthbomb #perspective

You grow, you mature, but unless something goes amiss or you choose to cut ties, you don’t stop having a relationship with your child after they become an adult. You just hope that you’re doing right by them and that they’ll want to spend summers with you forever and ever.

PS – Yep, I totally finished this on Monday morning.

Celebrate Your Independence

With tomorrow being Independence Day in the good ol’ US of A, I thought I’d take some time and think about about how we can celebrate our own independence. Right now I’m on summer break, so most of my days are spent alone. It’s not so bad, but sometimes I get bored and sometimes there is only so much TV I can watch. Obviously I sometimes do other things, but right now I’m really into the “relaxing” part of summer. It’s hard because I feel like I’m on for nine months out of the year, so the change to summer is always an interesting transition.

If you don’t know what it’s like to be a teacher on summer break: sometimes I have to force myself to leave the house at least once a day.

Some days are more productive than others, obviously. I’ve managed to workout or run almost every day which is kind of a big deal for me. Sometimes summer brings a twinge of depression which basically stems from me not having anything to do and my mind getting away with me. It’s fun finding things to stay busy, though, and here are a few things I’ve been doing.

Crafts

I don’t tend to be a super crafty or patient person, but I’ve recently been in the business of making little button portraits of my favorite characters. I can listen to a book or binge watch a show while I work with tiny buttons and a lot of glue.

Thrift Stores

I’ve been in the market for a new bookshelf for my classroom and I’d rather grab something secondhand than something brand new. Of course, when I can’t find what I need, I find things I want. Like some cute new shoes or a final book in a trilogy I was collecting.

Workout

I touched on this earlier, but I’m having a lot of fun with the Nike Training Club workouts in my garage. They have a great variety of different workouts for different levels of athletes.

Movies

The only movie I’ve seen this summer is Avengers: Endgame and I’m okay with that. I love going to the movies alone and matinee prices are always a little bit better than regular movie times.

Parks/Beach

Living in South Florida we had no shortage of nature preserves, parks, and beaches. The heat index has been at least 100-110 these past couple of weeks, so I haven’t really been outside much.

Reading

Last summer I started an book club on Facebook and picked that up again this summer. We’ve already read one book together and are getting ready to start a new one. I read a lot of books during the summer and I usually blog about them over on my book review blog. It’s nice to have someone to talk about the book I’m reading with.

Those are a few things that I’ve been trying to work on.  I’m  still managing to be lazy and not do much of anything, however!

Oh, and naps. I take a lot of naps.

What are some things you do alone or to take care of yourself?

Forget BMI, What’s Your ACE Score?

School was not my favorite place to be. And tests were never a fun thing unless it was an essay test on Pride & Prejudice, AMIRITE?! Just me, eh?

Oh, Lydia.

Well, I recently took another test called the ACE Quiz. ACE stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences, and I scored really high an 8/10. Only, this is one of those tests where you don’t want a high score. At all. A high score on this test can indicate the likelihood of allllll kinds of negative health problems, like COPD and lung cancer, to name a few.

If you aren’t familiar with the ACE Quiz, let me summarize for you. The ACE Quiz (it’s more of a questionnaire) consisted of ten questions about your experiences with traumatic childhood experiences. Your score can indicate your propensity to develop a plethora of adverse health outcomes. To learn more, watch this TED Talk from Dr Nadine Burke Harris. Basically, the study determined that childhood trauma influences your lifelong mental and physical health.

Yeah, of course, it does. I knew that before I took the quiz. What I didn’t know is that I’m three times more at risk for heart disease and lung cancer than someone with an ACE score of zero. It affects mental health, too. People with high scores are TWELVE TIMES more at risk of suicide, and their life expectancy is shortened by twenty years.

What I want you to take away from this post is to take the ACE Quiz for the sake of your kids, and try to take it as if you were your kid, too. I like this one NPR shared because the questions were worded clearly. See if there are things in their environment that you can change for the healthier. Coming from divorced parents gets you one point on the test, so basically, almost everyone in America can claim that adverse childhood experience. Yay us.

I will continue to keep on doing what I’m doing in terms of fitness and nutrition, despite learning this new information. What I can do is try to reverse or mitigate the risks by being as healthy as possible, while still balancing the enjoyment of what makes life fun. Including donuts sometimes.

I also want you to take away how very proud I am of myself for my gif choices in this post.

You Can Help Save the Planet, Too – Baby Steps First

Anyone else feeling downright dismal about the state of our planet lately? Has anyone, like me, actually been thinking about it for quite a long time?

Well, fam, I’m here to tell you things aren’t looking great for good ol’ Planet Earth.

After posting a (surprisingly controversial) article on facebook last week… I figured there’s no time like the present to chat about all of the ways we can reduce our environmental impacts.

You can read the article here: How to Get Over Baby Fever by Remembering the Earth is Dying

The debate that it sparked was interesting – and educational.

from Sophia Bush’s Instagram last week – not sure who the original author was, but they were spot on.

It also got me thinking about the other ways in which I am currently, or can work towards, reducing my impact on the environment. I figured I’d share a few of them with blog readers, since many are inexpensive and easy to implement in your own lives.
Reusable Grocery Bags
This one is a no-brainer. In California, plastic bags cost extra. This is true in other places as well, but it’s the first time I’ve lived somewhere that does so. Plastic bags don’t break down and will live in landfills forever. They can also escape on the wind and cause potential harm to animals. Not to mention the fact that I’m sure they are a significant contributing factor to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. We now have a decent collection of reusable bags and I even keep a couple in my car for unplanned errands. I’ve also just gotten really good at carrying everything. One of these days that plan will fail me though. Reusable bags to the rescue.
Reusable Produce Bags
In the same vein, I HATE those filmsy plastic produce bags you find in the grocery stores. Loathe entirely. These stupid bags rip and can’t even be reused around the house (which is like, the only thing plastic grocery bags have going for themselves). So I found some cotton mesh produce bags that can be washed and come in three different sizes. Now, I just toss them in with my reusable grocery bags, and make sure I bring them to the store or Farmer’s Market with me. No more plastic!
Beeswax Food Wraps
YOU GUYS. These are probably my most favorite purchase ever. Instead of using saran wrap or ziploc bags for food storage, these beeswax-coated wraps get the job done with NO issues and no waste. Beeswrap is washable and the wax warms at your touch, so it sticks to itself and seals! We use it for wrapping cheese, covering bowls, keeping bread from going stale… truly genius. And they smell really good too. I’m obsessed.
Bamboo Toothbrushes
Full disclosure, I haven’t bought these yet, but they are sitting in my Amazon cart as we speak. Traditional toothbrushes? More plastic that will live in a landfill forever. These bamboo options are a nice change. The handles are biodegradable and the bristles – while nylon – are recyclable. Just pull them out with pliers! I’m looking forward to being able to get rid of another sneaky plastic item in our home.
I’ve made a few other product changes around the house to move us toward safer and healthier options (shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, make-up, etc.), but I want to give each product a few weeks of use to develop opinions. Generally, though, I’m of the belief that if it goes on or in my body, it doesn’t need to be full of ingredients that have significant adverse effects over time. Stay tuned for that update!
How are you working to reduce your environmental impact?