The Gift of Security

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

prepaid college

Photo Credit: Sarah Stephens Photography

At 18 months, my daughter Tenley had the security of a favorite stuffed animal. At 17 years, she was poised to enroll as a freshman at Valdosta State University, with her tuition already taken care of through the Florida Prepaid College Plan.

My parents bought the Florida Prepaid College Plan for Tenley with a lump sum payment of around $7,000 when she was an infant. That investment will result in approximately $32,000 worth of college education. The ultimate security.  

A Grandparent’s Gift

When I asked him about his choice to purchase Florida Prepaid College Plans for my children when they were infants, my dad said, “I am not a financial genius; however, I was fortunate enough to have the money to invest in our grandchildren’s future.”

Maybe it isn’t genius level to make such a stellar and long-lasting investment, but it is certainly smart if you ask me!

More About Florida Prepaid

The Florida Prepaid College Plan kicked off Open Enrollment on October 15. The Open Enrollment period closes on February 28, 2015. There are two incredible new changes this year:

  • Prices are at their lowest point since 2007 (as much as 50% lower)!
  • There is a NEW 1-Year Florida University Plan with a monthly payment of $43.30 for newborns.

In addition, the $50 application fee for newly opened plans will be waived through December 31, 2014!

Although my parents chose the lump sum option and started when Tenley and Wayne were infants, there are a variety of payment plans for children of all ages. (And payments don’t begin until April 2015.)

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).

I am a Blogger Believer because a Florida Prepaid College Plan has been one of the primary factors in securing my children’s future.

What are your dreams for your child’s future?

prepaid college

 

An iPhone6 Giveaway From Baby’s Brilliant

Before we talk about the iPhone6 giveaway, I have a few words about Baby’s Brilliant.

When I participated in a Twitter party recently, I jokingly tweeted this:

delta labs tweet

After my babies were born, we lived in a (wait for it…..) world without apps! To find out what developmental stage was coming up, I would pull out my copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. To educate or entertain a baby, I would dangle a stuffed animal in front of their face or pop in a Spanish kids’ songs tape and sing at the top of my lungs (they may still hate me for that!). There were no apps in 1996 and 1999 when my kids were little. How things have changed!

Now there’s Baby’s Brilliant, which offers a variety of short videos, music, languages, and night lights via its app which is available on iPhones and iPads. (The iTunes link is here.)

iPhone6 giveaway

The Baby’s Brilliant app looks promising, and its creators are committed to worthy causes (for instance, they recently donated iPads to a Los Angeles Children’s Hospital). Both of those are good …

What’s also good is the fact that Baby’s Brilliant is currently conducting an iPhone6 giveaway! The Rafflecopter is below, and the giveaway ends November 4.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wishing you the best with the giveaway!

iPhone6 giveaway

Pick My Get A Shot Give A Shot Band-Aid!

Welcome to the 2nd Annual Band-Aid Showdown for Get A Shot. Give A Shot. ® It’s a “flash” vote this year because tomorrow’s the day. (Last year’s post is here.)

(I am a champion for Shot @ Life, the United Nations Foundation program that educates, connects, and empowers Americans to help protect children in developing countries from vaccine-preventable diseases*.)

For the second year, Walgreens is sponsoring the Get a Shot. Give a Shot. ® campaign. When you receive a flu shot or any other immunization at Walgreens through the campaign, they will help provide a vaccine against polio or measles to a child in a developing country through Shot@Life.

Although the program has been expanded this year (Walgreens will provide vaccines to children in developing countries for every flu shot or immunization administered here in the US between now and June 30, 2015), the BIG push ends on Monday, October 13.

Around our world, 1 in 5 children do not have access to life-saving vaccines. Shot @ Life is developing and maintaining the momentum to help prevent the deaths that occur every 20 seconds among children under age 5 from vaccine-preventable diseases.

A few features to note about Get A Shot. Give A Shot ® :

  • No appointment is necessary (although you can make an appointment here)
  • Most insurance is accepted**
  • You receive 500 Balance Rewards points for every immunization

I have made my pledge:

gasgas pledge

and will be getting my flu shot tomorrow afternoon, on the last day of the fall flu shot campaign. You can make your own pledge by clicking here.

For my flu shot, I need your help selecting a bandaid! Here are the options:

first six bandaids

second six bandaids

third six bandaidsAnd (drum roll please), one that deserves its own mention:

veteran bandaids

I know this is a *quick* turnaround, but please let me know your choice before 3 p.m. tomorrow, October 13. (You can comment on the blog itself, on my Facebook page where I post the link to this blog, tweet me, or comment on Instagram.)
(And thank you to Johnson & Johnson Band-Aid for the $3 off coupon they sent for me to use in purchasing the favorite!)
coupon

I’ll be interested in your thoughts about the BandAid choice but most importantly I would LOVE your participation — either through getting your flu shot at Walgreens (and by doing so getting a child vaccinated through Shot @ Life) — or by simply sharing the important message of Shot @ Life: that $20 (what some of us spend per week in coffee) can immunize a child against pneumonia, diarrhea, measles and polio!

For more information:

Shot @ Life website: www.shotatlife.org

Shot @ Life Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shotatlifecampaign

Shot @ Life Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShotAtLife

Shot @ Life YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/shotatlifecampaign

Shot @ Life Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/shotatlife/

Shot @ Life Donation Page:  Click here.

Walgreens-Joins-ShotAtLife-e1378630405410

LET ME KNOW YOUR FAVORITE BANDAID. THE ONE WITH THE MOST FANS WINS! AND IF YOU PLEDGE TO GET YOUR FLU SHOT, TAG ME ON THE SOCIAL MEDIA SHARE, AND USE #GETASHOT, I GUARANTEE I WILL WEAR YOURS EVEN IF I HAVE TO WEAR 20! 

Epilogue: The “Veteran” themed bandaids one overwhelmingly! Support Our Troops, Y’all! (And thank you to pharmacist Tammy and store manager Vernon for their help.)

SAL 2014

*Some verbiage taken from Shot @ Life materials.

** in full disclosure I need to let you Capital Health Plan/Tallahassee state employee folks know it is not covered under the state employee contract. I paid the $31.99 cost.

 

The Cancer Color of October Is …

The Cancer Color of October is … not always PINK.

SONY DSC

It is October, and pink predominates pretty much everything because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is important to me because I am the daughter of a survivor and have seen countless friends, acquaintances, and fellow humans (women and men) be diagnosed with this disease. Some are (blessedly) still alive and thriving; others have passed away. As a woman, I face a 1:8 chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in my life. Therefore, for selfish reasons research should be supported. However not all “pink” is effective “pink,” and there are many other causes out there of which we need to be aware and for which we need to take action.

When Pink Makes Me See Red

I am wearing a lot of pink this month, and having been a multiple-year captain at Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, I am in full support of many efforts to raise awareness of breast cancer and fundraise toward support and research. Here in Tallahassee, October 2014 is fully in pink bloom, with many our our city’s leaders and brightest lights leading the way. However, it is important to know that not every product robed in pink does much good and to make well-educated purchasing decisions.

When Pink Has Gray Areas

It is also important to respect the connotations all that pink carries for people currently dealing with breast cancer, either for themselves or a relative. Sarah Thebarge writes eloquently of the evolution of her feelings about pink as a color representing breast cancer here.  She also wrote a superbly useful list of 31 Ways to Help a Friend Who Has Breast Cancer (visit it here) which goes beyond wearing pink.

But Paula You Said This Post Wasn’t Just About Breast Cancer!

It’s not. I want to encourage you to add some “blue” to your October observances (I know, now it’s feeling baby shower-ish up in here, isn’t it?). My friend and former coach, Jeff Kline, has stage 4 prostate cancer.

jeff running

Jeff Kline of PRS Fit

Jeff has devoted October to running across the United States with a goal of motivating men to get screened (his point is that if he had done a simple screening a few years ago, his cancer would have been caught at a time when treatment would have been simpler and the prognosis would have been much more hopeful). One of Jeff’s initial blogs about his diagnosis and decision to run cross country is here. Jeff and a team of supporters are running the Marine Corps Marathon on October 26, 2014, to raise funds for ZERO (an organization dedicated to ending prostate cancer).

M2EPC

In support, I will be participating in a virtual half marathon on Saturday, October 25, 2014. It occurred to me one day that the drive from my house to my favorite traffic light, The Optimism Light, is roughly half of a half marathon, so my route will either begin or end at the O.L. to symbolize optimism that men will commit to getting themselves screened so they can be around for their families and friends for a long, long time. (Early detection can involve a simple blood test. Read more about detection options here or visit this site to donate.)

Got it: PINK, BLUE, and … GRAY?

I have had this “pink and blue” post planned for weeks. One individual’s story presented itself to me via friends, though, and it is important (and time sensitive) to add it here. Andy Nichols is the brother-in-law of a friend (as she puts it “the brother of my heart.”). Andy has an aggressive glioblastoma brain tumor, which is in the same family of brain tumors as the one my friend Dustin had. When I learned that Poplar Head Baptist Church is holding a 5K race in Blountstown on October 11 in Andy’s honor (to help with expenses not covered by insurance as well as raise awareness), and that his friends wanted help getting the word out and generating as much participation as possible, I knew in a heartbeat that I would be heading west that day. If you are here in North Florida, please consider coming over to Blountstown and participating in the race. You can register via this link.

Andy and his family chose the "I have hope" phrase to symbolize hope for a cure for ALL forms of cancer, not only brain cancer.

Andy and his family chose the “I have hope” phrase to symbolize hope for a cure for ALL forms of cancer, not only brain cancer.

If you are not able to participate in the 5K or mile Fun Run, but would like to show your support by purchasing a t-shirt, sponsoring the event, or making a donation, you can contact Tiffany Nichols at run4andy@gmail.com or Clint White at 850-643-8584.

So Many Causes … Where Do I Go From Here?

I wish I knew! I have only scratched the surface, with a bias toward the fact that it’s October, that my mom (pictured in this post with a pink bird of hope) is a breast cancer survivor, that Jeff is running across the country to encourage men to get screened for prostate cancer, and that Andy and his family need our support on October 11. My friend Mary Jane, a multiple myeloma survivor, is organizing a team for the NYC Half Marathon in March via Team in Training so you’ll be hearing about that, for sure. As to “where do I go from here?”

cancer colors

This graphic is from www.crochetforcancer.org.

In a sea of choices, the best recommendation I can make is the same one I would make if you were drowning in a literal sea: clear your head, get your bearings, look for the surface, orient yourself toward the shore, and take action. Your action may be donating funds, running in a race, running for a cause (hello, Charity Miles and Stand Up 2 Cancer!), or simply telling someone who has cancer “I am here for you” or asking their family what you can do to help.

Whatever you choose, don’t for a minute let yourself believe that your contribution is too small or won’t matter.

My mom, Jeff, and Andy would surely feel differently …

photo by:

“Wheel” See About That

Since late May, my father-in-law (FIL) has been living with us (he sustained subdural hematomas and other injuries in a May 2014 fall and it became clear that living alone was no longer an option for him).

He makes frequent visits to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital (TMH) for diagnostic testing and to the Professional Office Building (POB) attached to TMH for appointments with his neurologist, his balance doctor, and a physical therapist.

When you take a patient to TMH/POB for an appointment, you park in the attached parking garage. The attached parking garage has a fantastic valet service, which only costs $3. The valet service is administered by ABM Healthcare Support Services (ABM for the purpose of this blog). The employees of ABM are unfailingly polite and helpful.

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Wayne’s dad has difficulty sustaining his balance when walking any distance at all. For this reason, I take him into TMH/POB in a wheelchair obtained from TMH.

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It is the procurement of a wheelchair to transport the patient from the parking garage into TMH or POB that presents a WHEELY, WHEELY frustrating problem (sorry, couldn’t resist a play on words!).

It is extremely difficult to get a wheelchair to use when transporting a patient from the parking garage to their destination. On my most recent visit, I waited 18 minutes.

wheelchair wait

The 18-minute wait was the longest of the visits (approximately seven visits over three months) I have made this summer, but a lengthy wait is typical. The valet staff (always polite) are apologetic and courteous in the way they say “it may take a while.” They have told me that this wheelchair drought situation is unique to TMH (their organization services the other hospital in town and the wheelchair situation is not this bad according to them). They have essentially told me since the transportation staff at TMH is “a different department” (which is true), there is a basic lack of coordination.

Then there is the companion issue of getting from POB back to the parking deck. You (as the patient’s caretaker) have to have the physician’s office call “transportation” and wait for them to arrive (another situation where I was courteously told by a physician office staffer “that may take a while”). Recently, I asked the staff to call transportation when I knew my FIL would be done at a certain time (he was in a therapy appointment so I knew it had a fixed end time). When transportation arrived, he was not quite done. The transportation representative said “I can’t stay here.” I asked if he could leave the wheelchair (no). He said to have the doctor’s office call when my FIL was out. Once my FIL was out, the new staff person in the office did not know how to call transportation (obviously not transportation’s problem) so I walked down to the information desk myself. Since there was no one there, but there was a wheelchair, I absconded with that wheelchair in a split second, feeling totally renegade.

Most recently, my FIL was in a physical therapy appointment and the office did not have a receptionist. With 15 minutes left before his appointment was scheduled to end, I went down to the information desk to request a wheelchair. The representative said “come get us when you need one.” I replied “that is what I am doing.” This back and forth (“get us when you need it” “that’s what I’m doing”) went on for a while. I asked if I could just take a wheelchair (no). Eventually the information desk individual said he would arrive at the designated spot in 15 minutes (which he did, and for which I am grateful).

If you arrive to the hospital on a day when valet is full, you face a different set of issues: depositing your marginally mobile, short-term memory deprived, impatient elderly person on a bench while you find a parking spot, then return to your patient and try to obtain a wheelchair using the “lift the yellow phone” method (note: there is not a yellow phone within ten feet of this sign that I could find).

wheelchair sign

This situation needs a resolution. While we could theoretically buy a wheelchair (or possibly obtain one through insurance) to have for occasions like this (he doesn’t need a wheelchair for general getting around, just for navigating the hospital or other walking-intensive settings), there have to be other patients out there who don’t have the resources to do so.

On one of my first visits, after a lengthy day at TMH that ended up with an unexpected visit to radiology, a radiology employee escorted my FIL down to the parking garage via wheelchair and remained with him until I was able to get my car and pick him up. I was impressed. As he saw my FIL into my car, he handed me one of those “how am I doing?” cards that provided an email to use for comments. He encouraged me to email his supervisor with feedback. Because it is important to me to recognize great situations as well as complaint situations, I promptly emailed his supervisor to commend him. When his supervisor responded, I asked who at the hospital I could talk to about the rest of the wheelchair situation. She referred me to “Patient Advocacy.”

I emailed the patient advocate, and received a response rather quickly. The representative who called back said she would “look into it” and if she found any useful information would get back to me. That was in June.

Before I move on to my theory regarding how this can be fixed, I want to reassure you that I’ve asked myself the same questions I encourage anyone to ask before they complain on Twitter:

Am I right? I am right in the sense that 18 minutes is too darn long for an elderly, infirm individual to have to wait for safe transport to their appointment.

Did I attempt to handle privately? Yes, via the Patient Advocate.

Was I civil? Always, even though it was tempting not to be.

Can it be fixed? Well, now there’s the 18 minute question! Of course it can; it’s a matter of priorities, values, and communication.

If the arriving individual is not a patient of TMH (but rather of one of the doctors in the adjoining POB), they aren’t really a “customer” of TMH. They aren’t going to end up being on any follow-up quality questionnaires. They have nothing to do with TMH’s bottom line. They’re just there, needing to be dealt with. I believe that moves them down to the bottom of the priority list.

For values, I re-visited Dan Rockwell/Leadership Freak’s blog about 5 Structures That Shaped Zappos Culture. As part of this post, he defined 5 behavioral expressions of culture:

1) habits

2) routines

3) shared language

4) common beliefs

5) mutual decisions

In the case of my wheelchair quandary, the various entities involved (valet, transportation, TMH staff) don’t have issues (as it relates to this question) with habits, routines, shared language, or common beliefs (I imagine they all at some level want satisfied patients) but there are no mutual decisions (therefore this is poor communication) because they are (as stated so eloquently by one of my valet friends) “different departments.”

It also seems to me, knowing how risk averse health care institutions are, that it is as much a liability to have a marginally mobile, short-term memory deprived, elderly person sitting alone on an outdoor bench in 95 degree weather as it would be to have hospital wheelchairs either more plentifully available in general or at least available to responsible caretaker family members.

This post has been composing itself in my head for a few months now. I have asked myself multiple times if I am just seeing this all through the filter of the frustrations I feel about caretaking. If that’s the case, then feel free to label me high maintenace.

Ultimately, whether it’s my relative or someone I’ll never meet, I just think these patients deserve better.

I “WHEELY” do…..

Awkwardly angled parking garage selfie (WITH WHEELCHAIR HOORAY!)

Awkwardly angled parking garage selfie (WITH WHEELCHAIR HOORAY!)

 

The Newspaper

I saw this prompt last month (from SITS) and decided I needed to respond to it. The newspaper has been such a big part of my life, from childhood to now.

Do you still get a newspaper delivered to your house? What role do you think daily newspapers play in today’s society where we have access to so many other forms of news 24 hours a day?

The answer to the first question, “Do you still get a newspaper delivered to your house?” is “yes, currently.” However, for quite a few years (the past five, perhaps?), we only got the “paper” paper on Sundays and got the digital version the other days. I think we did this is a cost-cutting measure, despite my years of saying, “I’ll never move from the ‘paper paper’ to digital … it just wouldn’t be the same.” When my father-in-law moved in with us in June, however, we discontinued his “paper daily” subscription at his home and moved it to our house, so we now get the “paper paper” every day as well as the digital version. He really enjoys getting a “real” paper daily, and he is one of those readers who would not be getting any access if he had to rely on digital.

The first question is easy; the second one is more complex.  In all honesty, I believe the newspaper as the institution I grew up with is in its death throes. Much of the collapse of the “newspaper as institution” is a function of our ability to get real-time news (and opinion) via so many other avenues. For example, why wait to get a report of what happened at a City Commission meeting if I am immediately able to view the livestream, if attendees are live tweeting, and if I can follow the meeting’s progress via my various social media connections? (Granted, I am getting their portrayal, which is different than a professional journalistic opinion, but perhaps I am more capable of forming an analytical opinion than I previously thought possible.)

I do have an observation about the difference between “paper papers” and digital. I miss the “random news and tidbits” that a reader runs across when browsing a “real paper.” (And yes I know that is possible in to view a literal pdf of the newspaper (as opposed to the digital/web version), since that was just recently pointed out to me (hooray)). But if I don’t have paper to flip through, I’m not going to flip through the e-newspaper like I would the real thing. I think it is a true loss to read only the content we intended to read, in the same way that I think it is a true loss that we can now create our own playlists on Pandora and other providers, meaning we don’t ever have to hear a song we don’t prefer … I think back on music I discovered only because I was forced to sit through it as a part of a radio station program … sometimes is is fortuitous to be exposed to something you didn’t think you wanted in the first place.

We will keep getting the Tallahassee Democrat daily as long as my father-in-law is living with us, but I seriously doubt we will continue getting a daily paper version after he leaves our home someday. Here are a few reasons why:

Dilution This newspaper is not what it used to be. The addition of the USA Today material, and the general attrition of in-depth journalism is leaving me underwhelmed.

Quality The quality of the newspaper is declining. I realize the pressures they are under but when you stop attending to the quality of your product, you start losing me. I dislike typos, of course, but I especially dislike typos in obituaries. In a recent obituary, the gentleman must have been a “site manager” of his business. The obituary described him as a “sire manager.” On the day the Democrat announced its upcoming reorganization, the front page included this typo (“infront”):

infront

Access This seems to have gotten better lately, but for years, every time I wanted to read something on the Democrat’s website, I had to go through so many contortions to prove I was a subscriber that I often gave up. If the product has become diluted and the quality has deteriorated, I won’t be struggling to read it.

This question elicited quite a few responses when I posted it on Facebook. Check out the opinions here.

Today's News is Tomorrows History

Perhaps the reason I waited so long to write this post after seeing the prompt several weeks ago is the fact that although I feel confident in my opinion, I have connections to the people and the processes behind the “paper paper.” I have been a staunch advocate. I have been grateful when the Democrat published my Letter to the Editor and my Chronicle pieces. I think Bob Gabordi’s MOVE Tallahassee initiative is fabulous. I think Bob Gabordi was fabulous the day I called him on a Sunday afternoon in a panic because my mother-in-law’s obituary was not going to run the following Monday (due to series of communication errors between the funeral home and me about the deadline). I have been here since 1982 (except for the three glorious New York City years) and this seems like one of the most difficult changes to absorb in the life of our community. The Democrat has announced my children’s births (they don’t do that anymore),my engagement, my wedding, my children’s first birthdays. They have been as much a part of Tallahassee to me as live oaks and Downtown Getdowns.

I simply have my doubts.

crumpled newspaper

photo by:

Miss Georgia on My Mind

This is one of the least “evergreen” posts I will ever write. I am writing in support of a particular candidate for Miss America 2015. Within 48 hours, she will either wear the crown or not. In the lead-up to tomorrow night’s contest, though, I want to share what it is about her that made me a fan, and that is the most evergreen characteristic of all.

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Tiara Cookies by Crave Eatery Bainbridge, GA

I am supporting Maggie Bridges, Miss Georgia, in her quest to become Miss America. (The pageant airs the night of September 14, 2014, on ABC, at 9 p.m. EST). Here’s why:

Seven years ago, Tenley (around 11 years old) and I were returning from New York City to Tallahassee. On the Atlanta to Tallahassee leg, I was in a single seat and Tenley was across the aisle from me, seated next to another passenger. I tend to withdraw into a shell (and often sleep) on planes; I half-noticed that Tenley was chatting the whole time but didn’t think much of it.

As we were departing the airport, Tenley explained that she had been sitting next to Maggie Bridges, who was returning, traveling solo, from a modeling assignment (I think Maggie was 16 or so at the time…). I don’t know the content of their conversation, but I think it touched on modeling, fashion (maybe pageants?), and shared interests. It was a conversation mutually enjoyable enough that they went on to become Facebook friends (they are also now both Alpha Delta Pi sisters which is pretty cool!). Once Maggie won the Miss Georgia title, Tenley reminded me of that conversation all those years ago, and I instantaneously knew I would be supporting the confident and friendly young woman who gave my child her undivided attention, friendliness, and expertise.

From a pageant perspective, Maggie has going for her (among other achievements):

Photo Credit: Matt Boyd Photography

Photo Credit: Matt Boyd Photography

Intellect (She is one of ten finalists for the Miss America STEM scholarship.)

The Ability to Mobilize Support (She was one of the top three fundraisers among the Miss America contestants for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMNH), the official charity of the Miss America Organization).

Talent (I had the opportunity to hear her sing at an event benefiting CMNH back in August and she sings beautifully).

Beauty (She would not have made it this far without that!)

I know the pageant system isn’t for everyone. I participated in a pageant in college (not affiliated with the Miss America system). Although it rapidly became apparent that I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, I still, to this day am happy I had an opportunity to be in a pageant. I won’t ever forget how hard it actually is to smile without your face running away off of your head for all of the quivering your lips are doing. How energizing and adrenaline-filled it is to participate in a situation where you have to bring your very best public self. As a parent, I have always been disappointed that I did not muster up the funds and resources for Tenley to participate in a pageant like she wanted to (maybe that can still happen).

The pageant system isn’t for everyone, but it certainly is a good fit for Maggie and she for it. Maggie would make an exemplary Miss America, and I would love to see her win the crown.

Although this post won’t be evergreen, Maggie’s qualities of generosity, humor, faith, and kindness will go on and on long past September 14, 2014. They’ll continue like the pine trees of the South Georgia community where she grew up … tall, timeless, and rooted “down to earth” as far as the eye can see.

Photo Credit: Brian Brown

Photo Credit: Brian Brown

A few footnotes…

The title of this post was inspired by the “Miss Georgia On My Mind” limited edition candle created by The Refinery in Bainbridge, GA. Proceeds benefited the Still Waters program for women as well as the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Check out their website here (I don’t think they are still making Miss Georgia On My Mind but they have other pleasant-smelling (and cutely named, such as Bless Your Heart!) candles).

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I have become skittish about blog posts that sing the praises of public figures. My post lauding Oscar Pistorius didn’t have the happiest of outcomes, and my post featuring Jameis Winston frankly just makes me crabby every time I think of it. The third time will be the charm with this post!

Being a Floridian (and a Seminole!), I also want to extend best wishes to Miss Florida, Victoria Cowen. I know she has worked very hard to represent Florida well and to do a wonderful job at Miss America. Good luck to you also, Tori.

Lastly, I hope karma treats Elizabeth Fechtel very, very, very kindly. She was originally crowned Miss Florida and then a calculation error was discovered which led to the title being awarded to a different competitor. I personally have been bitter over life events much more trivial; her blog post after those events will always remain in my mind as among the classiest pieces of writing I have ever read. She’s tremendous.

Shoes designed by The Sash Company for Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri to wear in the "Show Us Your Shoes" parade -- perfect image for the "footnotes" section, right?!

Shoes designed by The Sash Company for Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri to wear in the “Show Us Your Shoes” parade — perfect image for the “footnotes” section, right?!

Epilogue – 9/15/14 – 12:19 a.m. Maggie was not selected as a finalist in the pageant. (Congratulations, Miss New York.). I stand behind every single word I have said in this post. Class and kindness will never go out of style; Maggie epitomizes those to me.

Epilogue Number Two – 9/23/14 – 2:10 p.m. Maggie discusses her experience at the pageant on her blog. You can read the post here.

Epilogue Number Three – Maggie participated in a Google Hangout with the other Miss America STEM scholarship winners. Each of them presented an image of intellect and humor I would be proud for my daughter (or son) to emulate. You can watch the Hangout here.

 

Silly (Selfless) Selfies for “Kids Are Heroes”

“Tree Hair”

It started as a joke. I used to take post-workout pictures to share on a private team page. One morning, there happened to be a tree behind me and it happened to look like my hair had grown a tree afro and … a theme was born!

One of my first tree hair selfies.

One of my first tree hair selfies.

I am sure my teenagers would strongly prefer less mom selfies, especially silly ones with trees or signs or animals or mailbox art growing out of my head.

In the case of the “Kids are Heroes” Silly Selfie Contest, at least one of my nutty selfies can help a cause.

Kids Are Heroes® is a ground-breaking, non-profit incubator for very young social entrepreneurs. By showcasing hundreds of stories of kids from all over the world who are actively making this a better planet on which to live, and sharing their humanitarian efforts, we empower children who visit our site to become compassionate leaders by engaging them in youth volunteerism.” (This description is from their “about” page.)

Now, about that silly selfie. Here’s my entry:

Tree Hair One

Honestly, what teenager WOULDN’T want their mom to do this and publish it on the interwebz?

Although there is a prize (a GoPro camera), I’m not in this for the prize. If I won, I would probably donate it to a charity. BUT I like a good competition as much as anyone else and I like helping kids even more. Here are the ways to vote:

1. Go to this link and vote for your favorite silly selfie (I am #12). The cost of votes is:

  • $5 for one vote
  • $10 for three votes
  • $25 for ten votes
  • $50 for thirty votes
  • $100 for one hundred votes

2. To help make a difference free of cost, upload your own silly selfie and put my full name (Paula Kiger) in the “referred by” field, and I will get an extra five free votes. (Hey, if I can do silly eagle-head-while-sweaty, you can rustle something up equally silly, right?!).

The contest runs through September 30 but if you’ve got a silly selfie begging to be uploaded and/or $5 you want to put toward this great cause, why delay?

Enough about me. Before I close things up, let’s meet one of the heroes, Sanah:

Sanah, Founder of "Natural Day," which encourages kids to let go of physical and mental chains.

Sanah, Founder of “Natural Day,” which encourages kids to let go of physical and mental chains.

According to the Kids are Heroes site, “After being diagnosed with Alopecia at the age of three and losing all of her hair in the seventh grade, Sanah Jivani faced severe bullying and self-image problems. One of her worst days was when she received a note in her locker titled ’50 ways to go kill yourself'”. (You can read more about her organization, International Natural Day, here.)

As I wrap up, I will point out that space #13 (next to me!) is wide open. Who wants to fill the gap with their own silly selfie? It’s about more than silly, it’s about silly selfless selfies …

space 13

 

Saving Green On The Color Run 2014

Baby, The Color Run is Fun!

Baby, The Color Run is Fun!

You’re never too young to strike out on a beautiful fall morning to indulge yourself in fresh air, fun, and friendship. The Color Run is coming to Tallahassee again this year (on September 13 at 9 a.m.).

I participated in Team WTF (Where’s The Finish — what else would we have meant?!) last year and had a blast.
Team Where's The Finish September 2013

Team Where’s The Finish
September 2013

Here it is a whole year later and time for more colorrific fun! The race has all-new goodies this year:
color run race kit
The goodies are new but the distance (5 kilometers/3.1 miles) is the same. So is the goal behind each Color Run: to give runners one of their Happiest 5Ks ever.
The Color Run Kaleidoscope tour has given me a discount code to help you save a little “green” on the entry fees:  COLOR5OFF (please read the legalese stuff at the bottom of this post!).  
color run discount
To register, click this link.
color run magic
**This code is valid on any The Color Run 2014 race. This code will give $5 off a registration to ANY city. The code must be be entered at time of registration and cannot be retro-applied (not my rules, I’m just a humble blogger!). Also please type the code in, do not copy/paste. This code is not valid with other discounts or promotions. 

But I’m A Runner … Why Do I Need Barre?

The barre below is far from the roads, trails, or track. It can, however, bring you closer to being a better, less injury-prone runner. Read on …

2014-08-02 11.59.10

In April 2012, I had an open spot on my training schedule (because I had just started being coached and a few particulars had not been firmed up yet). I used that open spot to go to a pilates session with Laura Ring of Laura Ring Pilates (now CORE Aspirations). At the time, I was impressed by the session and the benefits I believed pilates could bring to my running. Although I did participate in a few other workouts after that first session (such as Core at Journeys in Yoga) which incorporated some pilates principles, I did not pursue the pilates route with any consistency.

I was finally able to reconnect with Laura on a recent Saturday when I took her “Pilates Total Barre” class. Before I even talk about the benefits of barre work for running, I must first mention how much I loved the Beatles playlist. So fun to work out to something a little different.

As I see them, the benefits of barre work for runners include:

Strengthening The Core

We are chronically guilty of overworking the obvious running-related muscle groups (hello, quads) without making sure the complementary muscle groups are equally strong. When there is an imbalance between the two muscle groups, we are more prone to injury.

Feeling Dance-y

I know this isn’t something everyone is looking for but just sharing what it does for me. My daughter is a dancer, so for about 15 years I have watched beautiful, gifted, acrobatically proficient women (and men) fly through the air and make their bodies their instruments. I will never be able to do that, but I love the feeling I get once in a while of being a bit balletic in my movements.

Balance

You may ask what balance has to do with a sport that involves propelling ourselves forward relentlessly, but so much of a runner’s form can hinge on where their center of gravity settles. Having to balance in pilates barre helps us be more familiar with our bodies and more able to adjust them to be more efficient on the roads and trails (and treadmills).

Focus

This concept is always making itself apparent to me in yoga, and similarly in pilates. They say a runner should focus ahead of them on where they want to be (as opposed to down at the road in front of them). Pilates forces the participant to learn to focus their gaze at a spot that helps them retain balance and have an intent to move forward.

Targeting.gif [animated]

I really encourage you to consider making barre a part of your training plan. For information on the options available at CORE Aspirations, please use the contact information below:

Phone:        850-228-8545
Email:          laura.n.ring@gmail.com
Web:           www.CoreAspirations.com

Facebook:   Click here.

Here are some additional pictures of the studio. Other offerings include TRX and Pilates Reformer……
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photo by: