Who’s Running for Who?

I applied to be a runner for I Run for Michael (IR4) back in the early summer of 2013. With IR4, runners are paired with people who have difficulty running due to physical challenges. By July I was matched with Gareth, a young man in Pennsylvania. The reason Gareth’s family had applied for a runner is because he has a mitochondrial disorder which makes it difficult for him to expend energy in a way that is equivalent to other boys his age.

Once you are matched, it doesn’t take long before you start dreaming of meeting your match. You share so much, on the private I Run for Michael page, in messages, cards, letters, and other types of communication. But nothing is the same as looking someone you have come to care about in the eyes.

When I started making plans to do the 2015 New York City Marathon on March 15, 2015, as part of Team in Training/Team SOAR, I started googling around for 5Ks in the area where Gareth lives, since it was within driving distance of NYC. Lo and behold, there was a 5K in his town on the Saturday before the Sunday half marathon! The event was the Warm Hearts 5K benefiting the Sam Vlasics Foundation for Heart Defect Awareness

On Friday, March 13, 2015 (yes, Friday the 13th!), I flew to Newark, and took one of the trip’s many buses into NYC. I dropped my luggage at a hotel room of a helpful friend, visited the race expo to pick up my number for Sunday’s half marathon, returned to the hotel room to consolidate my stuff into a small bag for the 5K with Gareth, and headed out to a bus for his town.

I should note that all throughout this traveling, and for days leading up to it, and until the moment my head hit the pillow that evening, I prayed that the 100% chance of rain for Saturday would be wrong (it wasn’t).

Saturday morning, Gareth, his mom Kim and his dad Nick picked me up and we headed to the race venue! Although I have done the race morning/packet pickup drill countless times, it was exciting to share it with Gareth. He wanted to take a “light jog” around the building and I was all to happy to oblige (because moving = warmth and it was quite chilly!!).

We snapped a few pictures before the race (unbelievably throughout the whole day we never managed to get a picture with Gareth’s parents in it — which is a disappointment but I suppose that gives us an excuse to get together again in the future!).

We did a bit of strategizing. Because Gareth’s mitochondrial disorder (MCAD) makes it difficult to use energy for an extended period of time, we decided he would run the first half mile with me, then wait for me to do the loop around an industrial park that followed the first half mile. We would meet up to run in together. Poor Gareth (and his dad, Nick) had the worst part of the deal … standing around in the cold rain FREEZING while I ran (and, sigh, walked some as I was dealing with the heart rate issues that have been cropping up lately).

Finally I made it around to the spot where Gareth was waiting for me. We had a little under a half mile to go. Having seen several pictures and videos of other IR4 children and runners sharing races together, I have to admit I had in my mind’s eye a picture perfect scene of Gareth and me crossing the finish line together, hands raised victoriously (NOTE: the picture perfect scene fantasy did NOT include freezing rain!).

Gareth and I started toward the finish line. He had lots of pent up spirit, having frozen to the bone while waiting for me. As we approached the finish line, my HR zoomed up (the preliminary diagnosis is Atrial Fibrillation but that is still getting resolved) and I had to stop and walk at what was supposed to be the big big moment!!! Given the choice of passing out (not picture perfect) and staying upright but walking, I chose to walk. It was awesome watching Gareth sprint through the finish line. He waited for me, came back to me, and we did cross the finish line together (chivalrous kid, this one!).

Gareth’s family took me out to breakfast at a local diner after the race. We were all happy to be out of the wet/cold weather and to share a meal together. (And yes, this southerner did have to ask what pork roll is!). As we finished up our breakfast, I checked the bus schedule and we came to the conclusion that we should try to get me to the 1:15 bus (which as it turns out is a Sunday bus (read schedules much, Paula?)). Good thing we arrived at the depot in time for me to catch the 12:45 at the last minute (hence the hasty goodbyes and lack of pictures with Gareth’s parents!). I was able to make it back to the city in time for a lovely warm shower and to get ready for a team dinner prior to my NYC Half Sunday morning.

TAKEAWAYS:

CHD

I loved the fact that the 5K I happened on to was a benefit for a Congenital Heart Defect cause. My friend Karen here in Tallahassee has taught me a lot about CHD (and she sent an awesome goodie bag from Broken Hearts of Florida for me to give Dana, Sam’s mom and head of the Sam Vlasics Foundation). Since our family has a history of Long QT Syndrome, we feel an affinity for all causes heart related. I liked helping a cause close to my heart (yes, I had to say it that way!).

It Takes a Village

I started emailing Dana quite some time ago when it appeared I may be able to do the 5K. I explained the situation with IR4, and the fact that we would possibly need to make some accommodations due to Gareth’s MCAD. Long story short: she said “whatever you need, we’ll make it work.” And she did. I am so grateful.

In addition, I am a person who tends to do things by myself first and ask for help second. I made a plan to stay at a hotel Friday night (because frankly, as wonderful as IR4 meetings seem to almost always be, that’s a lot of pressure on two sets of people who don’t know each other yet), and I planned to take a cab from the bus depot to the hotel. It wasn’t a long distance but not really walkable at night. Yelp reviews such as this one left me feeling a little leery. When Kim offered to pick me up at the bus depot, I agreed. We had such a nice visit, and a quick sandwich (no, I hadn’t thought ahead to plan dinner (ongoing joke of the weekend — you’re a veteran traveler??)). It was really nice to visit briefly prior to race morning and get in our first “getting to know you” moments without the race adrenaline playing a part. I know Gareth and family had to wait around for the bus (which was later than planned), leave early on Saturday morning to pick me up, and make other accommodations to make my visit so pleasant. They were awesome.

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You Gotta Have Heart

I was SO disappointed to have an AFib (if that’s what it is!) attack right before the “big finish.” At the times prior to meeting back up with Gareth that I had to talk to keep my HR down, and the times I had to stop and walk right before the “big finish,” all of the negative self talk I have struggled with as I have gotten slower and slower was swirling through my head. BUT of all the people around whom to accept the fact that I had to make accommodations for my health, this was the place to do it. That is Gareth’s life … making adjustments moment to moment to balance enjoyment and the thrill of using energy with the fact that the physical challenges necessitate doing things that don’t necessarily look “active” to unknowing onlookers. (And honestly…the scene of him running through the finish line by himself was priceless to me!).

I Get It A Little Better Now

You can read about mitochondrial disorder. You can tweet about it, try to understand, listen to people’s explanations. I still am no expert, but what I did “get” by being in Gareth’s presence is that like any boy he likes to go places fast. Even a trip to get a napkin involved a sprint or skip. When he and I were starting the race, I explained that I am running slower than usual due to trying to figure out this heart thing and appealed to him to pace me. But of course he wanted to run. Who wouldn’t? The challenge is the pain he may face later if he doesn’t parcel out the way in which his energy is used.

Love Love Love

I am struck, in ways I find difficult to express, with  how much these two parents love their child. Not that they wouldn’t love their child but seeing that love in action, on a day called “warm hearts,” warmed mine. I am sure they think they are just doing what any parent would do, but they do it well and clearly this kid is their heart.

Why is Paula Wearing a Skunk Hat?

This day coincided with the Idiots Running Club Skunk Run. That called for a skunk hat (and skunk shirt, of course). I was a little worried about that until I “got” Gareth’s sense of humor. It all worked out!

Lastly, more pictures:

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Race start (Gareth in blue jacket/shorts, me in pink)

 

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Gareth's Finish

Gareth’s Finish

 

Finishing together!

Finishing together!

Note: The I Run for Michael organization has many more runners waiting for children to run for! For more information, visit the site by clicking this link. (Or ask me! I am happy to answer questions!).

Look Up!

 

chrysler building

I am keeping tonight’s post short. I have a limited amount of time in NYC and will save a proper thank you for everyone’s generous support of my United NYC Half Marathon effort on behalf of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for a future post. I also have a lot to say about the joy of meeting Gareth (the young man I run for through I Run for Michael) and will hold that too.

For now, a reminder to look up. When I lived in NYC, I walked everywhere I could. I would peek in the store windows, people-watch, and marvel at the variety of languages and personalities surrounding me. However, days would go by that I would forget all of the “stuff” above. The beautiful, large-scaled, make-your-mouth-fall-open with awe stuff.

We can use a reminder to “look up” figuratively as well as literally. To be precise, I can. I have been struggling with more tunnel vision than I have disclosed to many people. I am not sure what the way out is or how soon it will come, but I know one of the keys lies in “looking up.”

Thank you for the reminder, NYC.

Goodbye, Mary Nell

Mary Nell's Casket Spray

Mary Nell’s Casket Spray

Today, I attended the funeral of Mary Nell.

One of the many floral arrangements was this one:

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When I first saw this arrangement, I was surprised to see seed packets and trowels. They implied there was still work to be done at a time when the focus was on one individual’s perpetual rest.

Upon further reflection, this was the perfect arrangement to marry a celebration of a life beautifully lived and the admonition that those of us who loved her must continue her legacy. One phrase Rev. Peterson used to describe that legacy was “she always remained exactly who she was no matter what was going on around her.”

My memories of being in her home when I was in high school coalesce into a blur of happy/family/poolside/laughter/plentiful food/togetherness all in one. Christmas, as Rev. Art Peterson said today, deserved its own category. There was truly nothing like the ramp up to Christmas at the Archer home, with mountains of wrapping paper, gift boxes galore, and music playing in the background, all tied up in curling ribbon and festivity. I loved being a part of it all. It felt like a second home to me, and being there fed my spirit in a way no other place did.

Now that I am a parent myself, I know the particular sting a parent feels when their child seeks out a “second home” somewhere else despite that parent’s best efforts to express their love. That may be why, despite her overwhelmingly gracious, fun loving, warm, open-armed welcome every single time in my high school years that I showed up, there was also a wisdom behind her eyes that went unspoken.

I don’t know how in all those years I didn’t realize how much she loved butterflies, but now that I do, I imagine her sailing weightlessly on the breeze, showing off her beautiful colors, free of the physical pain that came with the cancer she fought over the last two years and the emotional pain of leaving behind the family she loved so completely.

For her service, I wore this pin given to me by another wonderful woman, my mother-in-law Barb. For several years leading up to her sudden death from anphoto (3) aortic dissection, she gave away her treasures (such as this one). We would find them in our Christmas stockings. A particular piece would be given for a graduation. One by one she was divesting herself of items she loved, on the premise that a) she wanted to choose who some of these items went to and b) it would prevent us from having more work to do after she was gone (in truth, there might have been a hint of her needing to control the process (said lovingly of course!)). I’m honestly not sure if it’s a dragonfly or a butterfly (and I am sure someone will clue me in) but for today we’ll go “butterfly.”

I believe that Mary Nell, too, gave away treasures long before she left the earth. For me it was different than tangible items like this pin. It was the treasure of a home full of laughter, togetherness, generosity, sharing of meals, faith, and a spirit of looking adversity in the eye and saying “I will handle this.” It was a place to savor happiness and work through sadness. She planted seeds of love that took root and flourished far outside the walls of that house.

I am grateful to have been so welcomed in Mary Nell’s home, to have had the love and friendship of her mother-in-law, Lottie Lee, as well as Doyle, Jimmy, Duane, Rhonda, and the extended family. I am a better person, filled with perennial memories, for having been welcomed into this family.

I was telling my coach, Kristie, about Mary Nell last night and I happened to write, “if you see any butterflies they may be Mary Nell’s spirit.” She immediately wrote back: “Funny you should mention. We had a bunch in the front yard today. One landed on Ty’s [her son] nose. Would have given anything for a camera.”

I told Kristie that some moments in our lives (despite the ubiquitousness of cameras, selfies, and our tendency to share) are better spent not fumbling for a camera and being 110% present.

I don’t need pictures to remember the feeling I had being in Mary Nell’s home. I have the memories. Those memories are more than enough.

monarch

 

Five Questions for 2015

It’s the first day of March and I a doing a “look back at 2014″ post. Hmmm…..

It is a little late in the year for this, but I was attracted to these “5 Questions to Make the Most of 2015”  and their accompanying quotes so I decided to give them a shot. Retrospection is never really out of style especially if it helps you improve.

When did I kick ass?

“Celebrate what you want to see more of.” – Tom Peters

If I kicked ass in 2014, it was either:

A cumulative set of small things (like honoring the soldiers of Camp Gordon Johnston almost every day, demonstrating accountability in my workouts, consistently using Charity Miles to earn money for causes I love via my workouts)

StanleyDuPlanti

or …

Successfully biting my tongue during my daily drives with my father in law. It has been a struggle to “be the adult” when being told how to drive, having my motives for working questioned, or being berated for taking the time to lure the cat in after he (again) left the door open accidentally.

However – you know who’s the real badass in this situation? He is. For dealing with the loss of his spouse of 55 years, for dealing with decades of debilitating chronic pain, for waiting interminable amounts of time for diagnostic tests to explain the latest health issue, for having zero control in a world where he is accustomed to being in charge.

When was I most alive?

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman10409403_10152149271486315_2859153504720087386_n

Easy: the week I spent in El Salvador and the week I spent in NYC.

Also, any time I was on an FSU film set.

And when I was scared to death and completely out of my element auditioning for a musical (then when I took a lesson to try to at least improve the piece and redeem myself). It was still below par musically but clawing myself up from awful to mediocre felt very, very alive.

When was I bored?

“The opposite of happiness is not sadness, but boredom.” – Tim Ferriss

“Here’s a great definition of boredom: The absence of growth.”

I was bored at work. Therefore I left.

Note: At no time in almost 20 years was I ever bored with the cause of providing quality, affordable health care to children. I was bored with the way my responsibilities were playing out. I was feeling the itch to do more communications and incorporate social media into my work life. Neither of those were options. I have only written one blog post about why I left, and it’s not about boredom, but here it is.

Who were my teachers this year? Whom did I teach?

“You are the average of the five people with whom you spend the most time.” – Jim Rohn

I have actually had a placeholder to do an entire blog about this idea — I read about it previously in the blogs of one of the Lead Change Group Leading Voices.

The answer to the “five people” question is:

My husband, Wayne

My father-in-law, Wayne

My son, Wayne Kevin (do we see a theme here?)

The online community

My Toastmasters group

My husband has taught me to ask for things I don’t feel like I can get. My father-in-law has taught me to check and make sure the door is really closed so that cat doesn’t get out! My son has taught me that the people who seem the least observant are sometimes quite the opposite. My online community has taught me it is okay to ask for help. My Toastmasters group  has taught me to tell my story with fewer double clutches. (A double clutch is when a word or phrase is repeated such as “She played basketball played basketball well.”)

Who have I taught? I enjoyed being a first-time mentor to a new Toastmasters member. Maybe some other lessons I have taught will come home to roost. We’ll see.

What mattered most?

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena…who spends himself on a worthy cause” – Theodore Roosevelt

Family. Always has, always will.

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Do these questions pique  your curiosity as they did mine? Give them a look and let me know what you think!

Fred’s Drive-By Shooting

When Mama Kat proposed the following writing prompt a few weeks ago:

Write a 26-line poem using all the letters of the alphabet, where the first line starts with the letter “A,” the second “B,” the third “C,” etc., culminating with the final line starting with “Z.”

I knew I had to give it a go! We are at the starting line of my effort — see you at the finish!

Flash 2015 12K Race Shirt

Flash 2015 Race Shirt

At the 7.2 mile mark of my 7.46 mile race yesterday, I was sad that my heart was

Beating SO fast that I had to stop to

Collect data via my patient assistant, after which I

Decided to walk the last portion of the race

Except the

Finish line.

Grouped around the finish line were the volunteers and

Huddled clumps of finishers and supporters braving the cold to see the last runners

Ignite their muscles for their last victorious sprints.

Just after putting the patient assistant away, my mind

Kept grappling with the fact that I had not taken

Lots of pictures before the race like I usually do; no flat

Mama for my Moms Run This Town Facebook Page or Instagram,

Nothing. So many missed

Opportunities to share my excitement with friends and raise awareness for the

People for whom I am running the NYC Half Marathon on a date that is

Quickly approaching! Our

Running

Stories, though, are much deeper than pictures can tell. Even so, imagine how

Tickled and1585 Paula Kiger

Utterly surprised I was when race photographer Fred Deckert pulled up in his

Vehicle as he was leaving and did a “drive-by” shooting

Which resulted in a picture from day

XXI in February 2015 that has a bit of a “drive by blur” effect

Yet allows me to share my

Zeal for making every finish line count!

Finish Line Count

Why I Agreed to the “Human Microchip”

I have been doing heart rate-based (HRT) training since April 2012. HRT focuses on the athlete training to certain heart rate zones rather than focusing on pace, speed, distance, or perceived effort. Read this post from RunRunLive for a great basic explanation.

Setting your heart rate zones involves a max HR test and threshold testing (at least the way I have done it). Mine have been revised since I started, but they currently are:

HR Zones

Signs of an Issue

From April 2012 through February 2013, my HRT was going just fine. The first sign of any issue was the Flash 12K on February 16, 2013, when my Max HR was 229, well above my aerobic capacity of 186. I sort of wrote that incident off as a fluke.

I became less able to call my HR issues a fluke during the Summer Trail series of 2014. Granted, running in Tallahassee in the middle of the summer is an invite to strenuous running, but it did not feel right. I had to stop and walk several times to allow my HR to come down when it climbed above 200.

As I wrote in my Turkey Trot 2014 Race Report, the HR issues became more pronounced and more frequent, especially at the Boston Mini Marathon and the Turkey Trot (then at the Swamp Forest Race on January 3, 2015).

The Process of Finding an Answer

Right before the Boston Mini Marathon, I had been cleared by a cardiologist after a ten-minute stress test and a cardiac echocardiogram. After the Boston Mini Marathon, I called him back and asked to reassess. That is when he referred me to an electrophysiologist.

Twice (at least) the first cardiologist said “at some point you may have to get a loop recorder.” Twice (at least) I said “oh if it comes to that I won’t go as far as to have something implanted under my skin.”

When I met with the Dr. Silberman, the electrophysiologist, he reminded me that “you can still stay fit without running.” (I know, all you runners out there ……. I hear you laughing at the screen!). To his credit, he also recognized that running is quite possibly saving my sanity. (Also, I contend that as a runner I avoid so many health problems that would make me costly to CHP: diabetes, blood pressure issues, problems brought on by unhealthy BMI, etc.)

He explained that the implantable loop recorder really is the best option to help him gather information. One likely diagnosis is Atrial Fibrillation (which is described here).

Since the incidents occur sporadically, some diagnostic procedures will not yield the data he needs. Therefore, I agreed to what my teammates and I have come to fondly refer to as “my human microchip.” It looks like this:

LINQ

 

(And if you want to see exactly where it is, click this link. I am not a fan of subjecting people to “wounds” or other TMI pictures on social media but by the same token if it helps with education, I don’t mind. (This picture was taken the day after implantation; it is a tiny little scar now.)

So Much Waiting

And now I wait. I wait while my microchip records (and transmits data to my electrophysiologist’s office nightly). I wait for an incident to happen so I can use my handheld “patient assistant” to mark the incident.

Patient Assistant

Next Steps

After sufficient data is collected to give the Dr. Silberman the data he needs, I have a couple of choices:

  • An ablation, in which the short-circuit is corrected via radiofrequency energy
  • Plan B (ps – I don’t know what Plan B is…)

Medication is not an option because my blood pressure is already on the low side, and most medications would exacerbate that. I assume Plan B would involve life style changes, such as less caffeine and less racing. I really don’t know right now.

Putting It All Together

This title may be mislabeled because this situation does not feel “together” yet. I can tell you the questions/concerns swirling through my mind:

  • It is strange when people describe the various heart rhythm disturbances by saying “one kills you instantly and one only heightens your stroke risk.” I simply don’t see the value of that “only” before “heightens your stroke risk.”
  • I have stopped drinking caffeine prior to my runs. In 2005, during a previous set of cardiac evaluations, Dr. Batchelor advised me to stop drinking caffeine. About a thousand gallons of Diet Coke (before I stopped in January 2013) and coffee later, I have to admit that he may not have been making a passing suggestion.
  • I am so grateful for the people who look out for me and who share their stories. For Shannon Sullivan, who was basically going to put me under house arrest until I asked the cardiologist who had just cleared me to refer me on to Dr. Silberman, for Mary Jean Yon, who has been so  helpful by sharing her story (and telling me to not be so conservative that I don’t get data!), and to David Yon who is the best, most supportive researcher you could possibly want on your side. All of them have encouraged me to a) stay healthy and b) not throw the towel in on running.
  • All of the technology involved in this process is simultaneously reassuring and question-raising. When I had my loop recorder implanted, the Medtronic representative was present. When I had my first in-office visit, he was present. What happens if Medtronic changes hands? (I know there will be contingency plans but I have seen a few awkward situations among my relatives who have pacemaker/defibrillators and can’t resist questioning.)
  • I miss running free of worry. I know I am fortunate compared to the challenges many runners face. It is simply not a relaxing or release-filled time for me in my running life.
  • I have to “let go” of so many concerns about what others think. Dr. Silberman advised if I am having an episode to lie down and get in a sit-up position to break the cycle of whatever is going on electrically for me. That just sounds like an attention-getter (but if it saves my life, who cares?). I feel self-conscious about the fact that I represent my incredible team, KR Endurance, but with the fact that my times are getting slower, not faster, what kind of example am I of the incredible work our coaches do?

I love running and the running community. Now that I have shared my situation with runner friends, people are coming out of the woodwork to discuss their own experiences. I am not alone in having a health challenge, and I know wherever this process takes me, I am fortunate to have the support of many people.

Now that I have a microchip, anyone want to put a leash on me and take me for a run?

Don’t Be Poky About College Tuition Planning

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the Florida Prepaid College Board, through my role as a Believer Blogger. All thoughts are my own.

Don't Be Poky About College Tuition Planning

A friend of mine has a new baby daughter, and friends throughout the nation are donating books to the library at his town’s elementary school in her honor. When I went to buy the books I am donating, I went to our Barnes and Noble here in Tallahassee because they are participating in a statewide book fair benefiting the Florida Prepaid College Foundation.

I chose a Poky Little Puppy book because that little puppy always pulled at my heartstrings. I chose Flat Stanley because I loved doing Flat Stanley with my kids. And I chose Who Was Anne Frank? because it was The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank that first opened my eyes to the lessons of the Holocaust and instilled my drive to become a woman who believed, like Anne, “In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

My friend’s daughter will, in a blink, find herself moving on from the Poky Little Puppy to these books as she prepares for college:

Don't Be Poky About College Tuition Planning

As I wrote in my first Blogger Believer post, because my parents bought a Florida Prepaid plan for my daughter when she was a newborn, our family had the security of knowing that her tuition would be paid for when she enrolled at Valdosta State University.

As the February 28 deadline to purchase a Florida Prepaid College plan approaches, please take a minute to consider these two action steps if you are a Florida resident with a child in your life who plans to go to college.

Enter The Florida Prepaid Scholarship Giveaway by February 18!

The Florida Prepaid College Foundation is having a scholarship giveaway!  Ten winners will each receive a 1-Year Florida University Plan. You can enter the giveaway daily via this link. Don’t be poky like the little puppy; enter by February 18!

Enroll in the Florida Prepaid College Plan by February 28!

Open enrollment closes on February 28, 2015. Prices are currently the lowest they have been since 2007. There are five plans from which to choose, including a new 1-Year Florida University Plan costing as little as $43 a month for a newborn.

For more information, visit the Florida Prepaid College Plan by clicking here. If you prefer to speak with someone by phone, please call 800-552-GRAD (4723).

Now that Tenley is a freshman in college and Wayne is a sophomore in high school, I miss the days of the Poky Little Puppy, learning about the world through Flat Stanley, and helping my kids navigate those first forays into history. As a family, we have turned the page on that time of our lives.

If your child’s education plan has unwritten chapters, consider a Florida Prepaid Plan for a happy ending.

Don't Be Poky About College Tuition Planning

Becoming #BetterThanBefore

I was intrigued recently when a friend and co-worker shared Gretchen Rubin’s “Four Tendencies” Quiz. The quiz is intended to give us insights into our tendencies, which can then help us develop “habit strategies” which can help us improve our lives.

I find these types of tools interesting, and I especially find them interesting when coworkers map their results. When I have done this in the past, it has given me insight into the allegiances (and tensions) I experienced in work situations.

According to Gretchen’s post introducing the quiz:

In a nutshell, it [the quiz] distinguishes how people tend to respond to expectations: outer expectations (a deadline, a “request” from a sweetheart) and inner expectations (write a novel in your free time, keep a New Year’s resolution).

Your response to expectations may sound slightly obscure, but it turns out to be very, very important.

Four Tendencies

Upholders respond readily to outer and inner expectations 
Questioners question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense–essentially, they make all expectations into inner expectations
Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves
Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike

 

I will tell you that although this week had its tremendously affirming high points (like being a part of the #CYCLEFORFSUTLH team that raised more than $31,000 to benefit Ronny Ahmed and the family of Deputy Chris Smith), there have been multiple instances personally and professionally where I thought I could be a recurring subject of this twitter account:

You Had One Job

It came as no surprise to me that my quiz result was “upholder” (respond readily to outer and inner expectations) but in all honesty, there’s a lot of “obliger” (meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves) mixed in as well.

I suppose it is not uncommon to be more highly motivated by the things we want to do rather than the things we have to do. I have been fortunate since leaving my job in May 2014 to be able to change up the “want to/have to” mix, but the mix is constantly in flux and I suppose we never stop wanting to improve (this is why I like the hashtag associated with this quiz and Gretchen’s upcoming book: #BetterThanBefore).

A few observations from my detailed “upholder” report resonated with me (and a few didn’t).

Most Powerful:

Upholders may struggle in situations where expectations aren’t clear. They may feel compelled to meet expectations, even ones that seem pointless. They may feel uneasy when they know they’re breaking the rules, even unnecessary rules. There’s a relentless quality to Upholder-ness, which can be tiring both to Upholders and the people around them.

Why this resonates with  me: oh, the relentlessness. While I don’t feel apologetic about the things I choose to be relentless about, my execution sometimes could use refining and relentlessness can be pretty hard on a person’s energy budget. For the unnecessary rules, here’s an example. Back when our Healthy Kids offices were moving from one building to another, something was going on in the new building that had led management to say “don’t use the elevators.” The moving staff, who had a truckload of heavy furniture to get up to the second floor, laughed when I repeated the sign’s instruction to use the stairs instead. I am pretty sure I am recalling their words correctly when I quote: “Well, feel free to do it yourself then if the elevator isn’t available.”

The Big Big “But”

Gretchen Rubin points out that Upholders are actually somewhat rare and are frequently mistaken for Obligers, who struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves:

She writes: Upholders and Obligers are the two Tendencies that readily meet external expectations, so they have much in common. In fact, Obligers sometimes mistake themselves for Upholders. If this description of Upholders doesn’t quite ring true to you, as a description of yourself, you may be an Obliger. (Also, very few people are Upholders, and many, many, people are Obligers.) The key difference is: How do you respond to an expectation you impose on yourself?” If you readily meet that expectation, you’re an Upholder. If you struggle to meet that expectation, you’re an Obliger.

Take a stroll through my head (ha! have fun in there!) and you just may agree “obliger” is a better fit.

I know the point of Gretchen’s work is to understand ourselves better and then to change our lives by changing our habits. I frankly am not sure how to process the habits piece of it all right now, but am going to take a quick stab at it. There are three types of habit strategies Gretchen recommends:

  • Strategy of Scheduling
  • Strategy of Monitoring
  • Strategy of the Clean Slate

The scheduling strategy, I can see. Being a telecommuting worker and a caretaker makes my day feel like Swiss cheese often, and I think there are actions I can take to help make more sense of out my days even though there are some commitments that are inflexible.

The monitoring strategy — yes. At least in my fitness world, I love being accountable to my KR Endurance teammates, my fellow #Fitfluential ambassadors, and Gareth, who I run for. I think there are some concrete actions I can take regarding monitoring my own work responsibilities that may help me feel more in control.

The clean slate strategy. Well, leaving my job in May 2014 accomplished a piece of that. My daughter’s move away to college created a bit of a clean slate because it changed our family’s day-to-day dynamics so much. I have a fantasy of doing a spiritual retreat that will give me 24 hours to sit with all the thoughts in my head; maybe doing that would be a way to create a mental clean slate.

In closing, I am not being compensated for discussing Gretchen’s book. I do plan to read it when it becomes available in March (details here). I was simply intrigued by this particular way of looking at personalities and the role of habit in becoming the best people we can be.

If you are interested in your results, you can take the quiz here.

What are your thoughts on the four tendencies? Let me know in the comments!

better than before

What Team SOAR Means To Me

As I shared in this post, I am participating in the 2015 United Airlines New York City Half Marathon to benefit The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and honor my friend Mary Jane. I will be a part of Team SOAR. Today I am going to break down that logo as I share my efforts to secure funding to help find a cure, support those currently living with blood cancers, and spread advocacy.

What Team SOAR Means To Me

 

The “SWhat Team SOAR Means To Me” in SOAR stands for “spirited” and we’ve got spirits, yes we do! I am excited that details have been finalized regarding the Tequila Social to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS)! Join me at Madison Social on 2/7/15 at 6 pm or 7:30 pm for tequila flights, tasty food offerings, friendship, and the knowledge that you are helping this awesome cause (Madison Social is generously donating a portion of the proceeds to LLS).

 

What Team SOAR Means To Me

 

As the “voice” of The Optimism Light, you can bet the “O” for “Optimistic” means something to me! While I do not know all of the members of Team SOAR yet (I am one of the few team members who does not live in or around Long Island), I see their training. I see their spirit, I see the fact that despite the challenges that blood cancers bring, they face the future with optimism (as well as a heaping supply of love).

 

 

What Team SOAR Means To MeAre you wondering what I am going to do for AND? Don’t worry, I have a plan!! We have spiritsoptimism, AND other ways to contribute! There are still spaces available in the Be My Valentine Couples Circuit Class at 10 am on 2/7/15 (details at Badass Fitness) $10 will get you a workout and fun! Also, for every $5 donated from now until the sheet is full, you get a square on my Superbowl Squares sheet. Whoever matches the half time score gets $100 and whoever matches the final score gets $100. You can donate here and I’ll confirm that I’ve entered your squares!

What Team SOAR Means To Me

 

Finally, relentless. Mary Jane is not the only friend I have who has had to look cancer squarely in its ugly face and decide whether to succumb or choose to fight, relentlessly. For her, for my mother, for the legions of children, adults, relatives, and strangers who have been affected by cancer, I choose relentless.

 

 

Even though I won’t meet most of these people in person until March, I am proud to be SOARing with this team (and looking at this picture, I’m not so sorry my training is in Florida!). I appreciate any support you can give!

What Team SOAR Means To Me

Moose The Loser

Wow, if the title of this blog is a symbol of the way I treat my friends, they’re going to start dropping like flies!

I don’t want people to drop from my life like flies (of course) but I do want something to drop, and that is my friend the weight of my friend Greg (a/k/a Big Moose).

Tallahassee Health Kwest

Greg wants his weight to drop too, and that’s why he is applying to be the Tallahassee representative in the 5th Annual Genghis Grill Health Kwest. If selected to represent Tallahassee, Greg will get a free healthy meal at Genghis Grill every day for 60 days, will track his progress on social media, and will be able to compete to win $10,000 (by accumulating the most points).

I am positive that the $10,000 prize (awesome as that would be!) is not what is motivating Greg. He is motivated by something priceless: the ability to play with his young son and see him grow up.  This is what he said in his application:

My son is now almost 4 years old, and is getting to the point where he wants to go to amusement parks, play (and play HARD) at the park, and just run around like 4 year olds do. This is GREAT, my son is a very active 4 year old…I, unfortunately am not the average dad. Going on rides is out of the question as I just don’t fit, and playing at the park or running around is short lived because I just can’t keep up, and that’s just not fair to him.

Tallahassee Health Kwest

Greg and I first met on Twitter (that breeding ground of many fun exchanges that sometimes leads to great friendships). We did The Color Run together in 2012 and had a blast!

Tallahassee Health Kwest

Team WTF (Where’s The Finish?) September 2013

For Greg to be chosen to represent Tallahassee, Genghis Grill will be evaluating his awesome application in addition to his social media presence. There’s no reason we can’t all pitch in and help him make it into the finals!

Here are the ways to help:

1) Go to this link, comment, then pin, tweet, and share away between now and January 26!

2) Join us Tuesday night, January 20, at 7 p.m., at the Tallahassee Genghis Grill location (830 E. Lafayette Street) to dine together and show Genghis Grill that Greg has great potential to be a “loser“! Here’s a link to the event. Even if you can’t come, please share it with anyone who can!

3) Click here to tweet the following:

greg revised tweet

 

A last note from me: I have had so much fun with Big Moose on Twitter, in person at The Color Run and (ironically considering the purpose of this post) scarfing down food at Dunkin Donuts during a promotion! Behind all that fun, I so respect his work ethic, his devotion to his family, and the fact that he’s an all around good guy….

…..an all around good guy who I want to be a loser in the best way!

Tallahassee Health Kwest