Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Looking up

This quote struck me today.  As I read it, I wondered if I instead of looking around me or looking at the summit on this journey, I've instead just been looking down at the path.  New work opportunities and challenges have stretched me in ways that have been mentally, emotionally, and physically draining.  Although I've gained valuable experience, my desire to exert effort to "become my best" through this project has waned.  Both training and my efforts to spread the word about the work of Little Helping Hands and Doing Good Together have suffered.

I guess it's all part of the journey and have faith that my energy will come back after some much needed rest.  I look forward to the time in the near future when I not only am able to move forward effectively on this journey but also enjoy the vantage points and the occasional glances at the IRONMAN Texas summit.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Gratitude leads to kindness

One of my favorite family traditions is very simple, low cost, and (according to the quote) can lead to kindness.

Each year, we go outside and find a stick that looks like a mini tree.  We bring it inside and get out the envelope that contains leaves from past years.  On the front, each leaf has something that someone was thankful for.  On the back is the name and then person's name.  Not only does it encourage us to bring to mind specific things we're thankful for each year, but it also leads to so much fun as we remember the happy memories of our family and friends (who are encouraged to add leaves when they visit).

Taking time to be grateful for all that we have is a great way to inspire us to do acts of kindness for others.  My hope is that this fun tradition builds habits of gratitude in our family which result in more kindness in the communities in which we live.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Volunteering with Operation Pets Alive

Megan and I have been enjoying some girl time this week as Jeff and Tyler have been on their hunting trip with Jeff's dad, uncle, and cousin. This evening, after Megan got home from school we headed over to Petsmart where Operation Pets Alive was hosting an adoption event. This was Megan's favorite activity so far. We got to pet, walk, and hold (and simply give love to) the dogs. The head volunteers were very caring and obviously very committed to what they do (fostering and advocating for adoption). We look forward to supporting this organization again in the future.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

How Family Volunteering Helps Combat Bullying

"Kids who believe they have the power to make a difference are less likely to stand by when they encounter a bully, according to the Pacer....Parenting isn't about toughening up our children for the real world. It's about raising our children to be thoughtful, confident, respectful, and brave. The sort of adults who get involved when they notice injustice."

I love this post by DGT for many reasons:  it's honesty, the practical ideas, and the resources shared. Mostly, I love it for how it shows how doing acts of kindness with our children can help prevent bullying.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A great resource for weekly kindness

A great resource for easy ways to spread kindness each week, complete with related children's books and resources! Thank you, Doing Good Together!

"Interview with a Triathlete"--produced by Tyler and Megan

The kids wanted to interview me this time! "Interview with a Triathlete" produced by T & M. :) 40 days left to reach our interim goal of $500.00! Our focus organization for the next 10 days is Doing Good Together. To make your tax-deductible donation click here: Thank you!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

$500 in 50 Days

As we prepare for our first, short(er) race in 50 days (Oil Man Texas: 70.3 miles long), the kids have a message to share with all of you in the video below.

Here are the links to help support the wonderful organizations Doing Good Together and Little Helping Hands:

Remember to indicate it's for the "Schmidt Ironman. 100% of your donation goes directly to their organizations and all donations are tax-deductible.

Thank you in advance for helping us to reach our goal of raising $500 before the Oil Man (Nov. 6th) and $2812 ($10 for each of the 140.6 miles for each organization) before IRONMAN Texas. Together, we can help spread the kindness that is so needed in our world today.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Community: The second key "C" in family volunteering and IRONMAN training

A little while ago, I wrote about how consistency was a key ingredient in family volunteering and IRONMAN training.  At that point, I had no idea it would be the start of an alliteration theme, but as I thought about our volunteering experience today, another "c" word kept bubbling up in my thoughts.

This morning, Megan and I had an opportunity for some mom-daughter time helping out Interfaith of the Woodlands in their Veggie Village, getting the plots ready for the fall planting.  Veggie Village is a community donation garden where people work together to grow fresh food for the Interfaith Food Pantry.

After we were done, I asked Megan what her favorite part was.  Even though I thought she might say spreading the compost with her bare hands (that was the one job that she REALLY seemed to love), she responded back "the team we got to work on."  

With that simple response, I was reminded of another aspect of Little Helping Hands and Doing Good Together that makes me believe in them and drives us to support them through Project Becoming Our Best.  In their own ways, they both provide supportive communities for growing kindness in our children.  Each of the projects Little Helping Hands plans (more than 70/month!) involves multiple families working together.  Through the Big Hearted Families community and Family Volunteer City Listings, Doing Good Together provides a place where families interested in growing kindness can connect.

Supportive communities, even if they consist of two people that we have never met before (as was the case today), can make all the difference when the work gets particularly draining and they can multiply the learning and joy experienced when volunteering.

Come to think of it, I could easily say the same about triathlon training.  The triathlon community I've come to know here, particularly through Magnolia Masters, (and not to mention having Jeff training with me at the same time), has lifted me up when I didn't feel like jumping in the pool one more time or getting up for one more 4am workout.

Who knew that family volunteering and IRONMAN training had so much in common?  Here's to discovering what the next "c" will be :)...

Friday, September 9, 2016

Without words, this little girl showed why I believe in family volunteering

The range of expressions on this sweet girl's face throughout the video express perfectly without words why we support Doing Good Together andLittle Helping Hands. It's definitely worth a watch.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Teaching our children to avoid being "passive bystanders"

Doing Good Together shared both of the articles below.  They were tough (in a good way) to read. Both the Huffington Post article and the DGT newsletter talk about how easy it is to be passive bystanders in our lives and the impact of modeling that to our kids. In some ways it's easier to reach out to others during a structured volunteering activity, but it may even be more important to focus on ways we can reach out during everyday experiences.  I really liked the practical tips and advice that were shared in each of the articles.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Growing kindness and mental toughness while on vacation?

This last week was a little different for training sessions on the bike or in the pool, no organized volunteer activities...just a wonderful vacation to Leavenworth, Washington and Mount Rainier (where Jeff proposed 15 years ago).

I was thinking the week would also be a vacation from Project Becoming Our Best...we had almost no cell phone service and were, well, on vacation.

However, opportunities to talk about topics relevant to Project Becoming Our Best came up in surprising places and at unexpected times.  There's something about being in the backcountry, having to pump all of your water through a filter and having to carry all of the food that you plan to eat that leads to natural conversations about conservation and caring for our planet.  Similarly, there's something about feeling the burn in your 7 year old and 10 year old legs that comes with hiking uphill with a pack for the first time that easily flows into conversations about the mental toughness that is so necessary in endurance sports.

Opportunities to teach kindness and learn the skills necessary for endurance sports seem to be everywhere, if only I can stay in the moment and keep my eyes and ears open.

In case you're interested, below are some highlights from our trip.  For even more pictures (the views were amazing!!  We saw the summit more times in our 3 days than we did in our 2 weeks there 15 years ago), click here.

Trip Highlights:

"Mini-golf" that was part of the Enzian Inn where we stayed in Leavenworth:

Icicle Brewery 

Renting one HUGE paddleboard and one small one and taking a trip down the river

Awesome "free" breakfasts with made-to-order omelettes and a spectacular view at the Enzian Inn

Backpacking to Glacier Basin and spending a night in the backcountry

Camping and hikes at Sunrise and Paradise that truly had me in heaven

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Mindsets that help us become our best

This article has great tips for sticking with any goals that we set on our journey to become our best.  Not only do I love how Doing Good Together tied together the articles mention of triathlon goals with the key ingredients for growing kindness in our families, but I really like the focus on the the "growth mindset":

We can help ourselves adopt a growth mindset—and it’s particularly important to do so when beginning something new. If you go out for a run and find that you can’t jog for longer than a minute (like me!), resist the instinct to say, “See, I knew I wasn’t meant to do this!” and head back inside to sprawl on the couch. Instead, use a growth-mindset response. Tell yourself, “I’m on day one of getting stronger and faster. Go me!” It’s important that you’re patient and kind to yourself. You’ll be making serious progress before you know it.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Our family wants to volunteer for a cause you believe in!

Want our family to volunteer for your favorite cause/organization? For any donation of $20 or more made by Aug. 20, 2016, to Little Helping Hands or Doing Good Together, our family will do a volunteer project for a cause/organization you select. 

Click and/or to make your tax deductible donation. Remember to indicate it's for the "Schmidt Ironman" and note the cause/organization you'd like us to support (e.g., environment, senior care, animals, poverty/hunger, education, health-related, etc.). If this isn't a good time for you, there will be other opportunities :) .

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Avoiding the "Othering" of Need

I feel that the topic of this article, written by Jenny Friedman of DGT, is critically important when working to develop empathy and kindness, not only in children, but also in adults.

30-Day Kindness Challenge

What a great way to establish a kindness habit in our families!  I love how easy and accessible the daily activities are in this 30-day kindness challenge that Doing Good Together posted.  We're going to get started on it today!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Consistency: The Key Ingredient in Family Volunteering & IRONMAN Training

I've listened to multiple podcast episodes about triathlon training where the host will ask his/her super-successful guest the all-important question:  What is the one thing that is the key to your success?

Without fail, it seems that the answer is...Consistency.

It's not really the answer a newbie triathlete wants to mean there's not a magic training plan that makes everyone successful?  No magic bullets?  No way I can instantly cut 30 seconds off of my 100yd swim time by changing something in my form?

So what does this have to do with our family volunteering experience yesterday?

First, let me say that we had a great experience and were honored to have the opportunity to support an organization that does important work for individuals in need in our community. Jeff, the kids, and I spent time at the Society of Samaritans (SOS), an organization focused on providing food, clothing and emergency financial assistance and other necessities to the needy of the Greater Magnolia area. We worked in their clothing and distribution center where clients can get a voucher and use it for clothes, household items, appliances, and furniture.   

We were immediately welcomed and Miss Betty who did a wonderful job teaching the kids about how even the small jobs (like sorting hangers--which is what Ty and Megan spent most of their time doing) made a big impact on the organization by allowing them to provide a nice environment for their clients that might be going through very difficult challenges in their lives.

On the way home, knowing how reflection is so important to help the kids learn from the experience, I asked questions about the experience and was reminded of a blog post from Doing Good Together in which she talks about her challenges and how maybe 1 in 4 attempts at a meaningful kid conversation results in a "wow" moment.  Our conversation yesterday was fun but was more about the hangers and how tangled they were than anything to do with the people that needed help.

So, back to the question of what the consistency necessary for effective IRONMAN training has to do with family volunteering..

Well, maybe just as there's no "magic bullet" for triathlon training, there is no one volunteer experience or technique that will develop empathy and insightful reflection.  Maybe, just like in triathlon training, success (reinforcing "big-heartedness" and empathy in children) comes from showing up again and again, choosing the approach that works for you, and surrounding yourself with a supportive community focused on similar goals.

Both Little Helping Hands and Doing Good Together support just that...they offer different approaches, a supportive community, and ways to "show up."  I am excited to be on this journey with all of you , and to support the organizations that make similar journeys together for so many families.

To join our journey and support the work of these two organizations through a tax deductible donation, click on one of the links below.  Any size donation helps!  Remember, if you're able to donate $50 or more, our family will "match" your donation by supporting an organization/cause of your choice with our family's time or money.

Thank you in advance!

What we can teach by doing acts of kindness together as a family

This quote says it so well...this is why we're raising money and awareness for Doing Good Together and Little Helping Hands...practicing kindness and serving others with our families has so much power. Click on the links below to donate, indicating it is for "Schmidt Ironman." Every dollar helps and remember, if you donate $50 or more, our family will "match" by volunteering for or donating our own $ to an organization/cause you select.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Focusing on the next small step

This is one of my favorite motivational clips. I've used the quote many times for myself and have even had opportunities to use it with the kids when they're feeling overwhelmed or nervous.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

How Family Volunteering Can Help Our World Today

As displayed in this video, in a world with so much fear and violence, family volunteering has potential to bring inspiration and connectedness that can lead to greater peace.‪#‎familyvolunteering‬‪#‎projectbecomingourbest‬

Monday, July 25, 2016

Why I Tri

In the early hours of the morning on the treadmill or the bike trainer, inevitably the question that sneaks into my mind is “Why am I doing this?” I started triathlon for various reasons, none of which seemed to hold up in the tougher moments of training and racing. After my last race as I was thinking about what I wanted to do next, I came to the realization that I do it for the reason that is shown in this video: I "tri" to attempt to prepare my mind, body, and spirit for the rough times that will come in life. Training, while at the same time trying to be the best mom, wife, and coworker I can be, pushes me to my limits where I have to have focus and faith.
I feel so blessed that I get to do this life preparation while having fun, getting fit, and hanging out with a community of some of the most supportive people I know.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Why I Support Doing Good Together

I first met Jenny Friedman, the Executive Director of Doing Good Together several years ago when our kids were young and I was looking for a way to do good for others with young children and a full-time job in a new city.  Although Doing Good Together is based in Minneapolis, they have a nationwide reach with their Big Hearted Families program which offers ideas for projects that can be done from anywhere, in addition to resources (e.g., recommended age-appropriate books in their Big Hearted Book Club) and a community of like-minded parents.  Jenny is an expert in youth development and family volunteering and her organization does great work that has had a significant impact on my family, as we've been able to do several of the projects on the site and have used several of the resources.  You can learn more here and here.

Why I Support Little Helping Hands

When we moved to Texas almost five years ago, I was thrilled to learn that there was an organization a short distance away in Austin focused on family volunteering, as I had a budding dream of starting a family volunteering organization myself.  When I had the opportunity to meet Marissa Vogel, the founder and Executive Director, I was even more excited.  She not only had the passion, heart, and drive necessary to run a non-profit, but she also had a great business sense that I knew would help Little Helping Hands to succeed.  Little Helping Hands runs volunteering projects for youth ages 3 and up almost every day of the week, year round.  (This month, they are conducting over 80 projects!)   For older children and teens, they offer educational and leadership programs to help them reach toward their vision of “developing generations of community-minded leaders and citizens.”  You can learn more here and here.  Someday, maybe my budding dream will become a reality and we can bring what Little Helping Hands offers to our area.

Why Family Volunteering Matters to Me

I was blessed enough as a child to have parents who gifted me with a faith that taught me about the worth of each human being.  In a world with so much fear, anger, and divisive language, I believe that providing our children opportunities to experience and connect with those who are different from them and who may have different needs from them is one of our greatest tools.  In my experiences, helping our children to think about the ever-present needs of others develops an empathy that can only lead to an even brighter future.