Friday, December 8, 2017

New Website, New Adventure

Check out the new Project Becoming our Best website: 

I have big dreams for growing this organization (see poem below) and will retire this blog as I start the blog on the new website. Thank you to all of you who supported our family through Phase 1!

You can also find Project BoB in the following places:

Weeks ago I took a scary leap
To leave my good friends at JetBlue.
After 11.5 years I left comfort and security 
For something I’ve long wanted to do.

To work with kids to teach them
The skills that will they will need 
To be compassionate and resilient leaders
Who will help their communities succeed.

You see, there’s way too much division
In the world we live in today.
When it’s “all-about-me” all the time
Helping those different from us just gets in the way.

So I’m starting a nonprofit 
To help families become their best
Through fitness challenges and meaningful volunteering
Growing the grit and empathy necessary for success.

If you believe in the potential of this effort 
And want to be part of this dream
Click on the link below on this #givingtuesday 
And join the empathy, passion, and perseverance-building team.   

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Phase 2 has begun!

So excited to bring Project Becoming Our Best to Bear Branch Elementary School this September. I can't wait to see how it might grow in impact and scope in the future.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

IRONMAN Texas 2017!

We did it! It was a day full of challenges and happy times. Short story: Jeff finished the 140.6 miles of IRONMAN Texas in 12:17 (49 mins. faster than 2014!) and I finished in 14:49. For more photos, click on the photo above.  For the long(er) story, keep reading:
Challenges (for me):
1) The morning rush--I had a technical issue with my bike that had surfaced sporadically during my training and on Thursday (the day before we had to check in our bikes), it was back.  Jeff fixed it a bit, but we wanted to have the bike techs look at it and thought they'd be at bike check-in.  They weren't, but I was informed they'd be there in the morning.  When we arrived in the morning, I got in the bike tech line as soon as I could but it was not moving.  Soon we were informed that they had gotten lost and were on their way.  Shortly after 6 (40 mins before the start), my bike was checked and we started the 20 min. walk to the start after saying a very quick goodbye to the kids.  It was not the start I imagined, but we made it.

2) The swim--I decided not to wear a wetsuit since the race was wetsuit optional and I was worried about overheating in the 78.8 degree water (it's never good to start out the long day dehydrated). I felt really good at the beginning of the swim and thought with the significant improvements I've been seeing in the pool that I'd have a decent swim. That was until the wetsuit wave caught up to me (they had to go last) and I suddenly found myself in the middle of a group of much larger men who were swimming over me. At times in open water I'm prone to panic and this situation brought it back. Luckily they have kayaks that you can hold onto so I took advantage and calmed down. After that, I was a bit shaken and I think my stroke fell apart and my tendency to veer left got even worse. Since that was about .4 miles into the 2.4 mile swim it made for a long time in the water. At the end, we swam down the waterway (canal) in The Woodlands and they had just laid mulch the day before so that smell was all we breathed in. Needless to say, I was thrilled to get out of the water. Looking back, I'm just so grateful I made the time cutoff, as I had no idea I was so close.

3) The WIND!: The course was 2 loops on a wide open toll road that runs north south. By the time I got out there, the winds from the north were in full force (~15 mph with 24 mph gusts). That made for a very tough ride each time we had ride the 20 mile stretches that headed north...but it sure was a lot of fun when we were heading south!

Happy times:
The rest of it! I literally had a smile on my face for every other time. I was just so happy to be out there and ticking the miles away. The run course of this race is AMAZING with spectators everywhere cheering you on, acting crazy, blasting music, and basically telling you how awesome you are (by name) every time you run by. The views are great and diverse...if you're not running by the lake or waterway, you're in a wooded path or running through a neighborhood with million dollar homes. The thousands of volunteers were so helpful and supportive. I got to run with one of my swim friends for a bit and also saw many of my other friends on the course. Last but not least, our family that came to support us made it such a special day.

I'm sure I will glean many more lessons as I take time to reflect on this first phase of Project Becoming our Best and let my body heal (overall it feels pretty good considering what I put it through) and I'll be happy to share. It's been a tremendous experience for our entire family and I thank you all for being part of it.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Pre-race Project B.o.B. (Phase 1) Learning

When I was young, my mom would frequently have me engage in what she called “growing experiences.” These were not my favorite, as they often involved me doing something that I was very afraid of (like going to the Icee counter at our neighborhood Kmart and ordering and paying my cherry coke slushy all by myself).  As I reflect on the last ten months of Project Becoming Our Best, many of the feelings associated with growing experiences come back to mind.

So, you may be thinking “sure, training for an IRONMAN is a growing experience; I get it; it sure must be hard to swim, bike, and run so frequently.” But really, that’s not it.  Sure, the training can be challenging and I love the results of spending that much time exercising my body.  However, the true “growing” aspect of that experience is much bigger than that.  Here are some things that I've learned:

Perseverance: This Saturday is much more than “having fun in my sport” or “participating in a race.”  It’s a way to continue to test my mental stamina; as a fellow triathlete said “to remove ‘quit’ from my vocabulary.” 

See, when Jeff finished his first Ironman in 2014, I remember realizing that when it came to sticking with anything and following it through, I was fairly weak.  Sure, I would get excited about new ideas and new activities, but would often lose interest and move on to the next thing (either because it got too difficult or because I got bored).  I am sure that Saturday will provide many more opportunities to see if/how I’ve grown in this area via efforts over the past 3 years.

Finding balance: I know that I said in one of my first Project B.o.B. posts that “consistency was key.”  There are numerous articles out there about the value of being consistent with your training.  Throughout the past 10 months though, I also learned how important it is to consider the cost/benefit of each decision.  Although there were many nights that I did leave my family to swim even though the kids would have preferred me to stay home, there were also times in which the right decision was to reschedule a workout or cut it short so that I could spend more time with them.  Jeff was instrumental in helping me to realize this and in finding creative ways to make training sessions fun family affairs.  There were also times where I knew my body needed emotional and physical rest more than it needed another training session. Although the butterflies for Saturday are incessant, I trust that I got in enough training to help me achieve my goals and I’m thankful for what I learned about doing the best with the time that I’m given.

Discovering new “Likes”:  No, I’m not talking about Facebook likes (although I’ll get to that later), but instead I’m talking about how participating in different family volunteering projects helped expose new interests for the kids.  If you can’t tell from my past posts, helping out with animals was a family favorite.  They’ve already asked if we can continue Project Becoming our Best after Saturday (hence the “Phase 1” in the title) and I look forward to the additional interests we can discover by participating in diverse experiences.

Learning how much people care: Whether it be my family members, swimming friends, neighborhood friends, or coworkers who show an interest in this endeavor and/or like our posts and/or donate multiple times, I’ve learned that I’m surrounded by people who care.  As I think of those who have made sacrifices to be at the race for us, I get especially emotional.  I’d love to have my parents there (I know that they’ll be watching from above) but having all of my siblings and Jeff’s parents there will be very special.

Putting myself “out there”:
First, let me say that I have a lot to learn about social media.  I was so surprised when I first started that not everyone saw my Facebook posts because I wasn’t a frequent user.  To be honest, I’m still not sure how the mysterious algorithm works which is why I’ve posted many more requests for donations than I usually would.  I have no idea if everyone has seen them (which is why I also sent out old-fashioned paper donation requests to everyone on my Christmas card list). 

However, more than learning that I didn’t know much about how Facebook works, I learned that sharing something I’m passionate about on Facebook is hard.  Asking for support (particularly financial) for something I’m passionate about is even harder.   If I relied only on the number of likes or the accomplishment of our fundraising goal as an indicator of the validity and/or social acceptance of my ideas, it could take over my mind and emotions.  But that’s not what Project Becoming our Best is about, it’s about showing people who we are and what we think is important, taking on uncomfortable challenges, sticking with something and growing as individuals and as a family as we journey to the other sideWhether that challenge is working through cramping legs as you try to run after a long bike workout, getting over nerves about what we’re supposed to say or what we might face as you walk into a senior center, or about asking people repeatedly to financially support a cause that we think is important, it’s about sticking our necks out and starting, enduring, and working through the challenge.  It’s only through putting ourselves in these “growing experiences” (thanks, Mom) that we can more fully develop the unique gifts that God wants us to share.  I’m grateful that for the luxury of getting to choose these experiences.  And I look forward to continuing onto many more phases of “Project Becoming Our Best” (aka “life”).

Friday, March 31, 2017

Be Brave (put to music)

A few weeks ago, Jeff challenged the kids to write and perform five songs about Project Becoming Our Best.  Here are two of the ones they wrote.  I'm proud of their creativity and courage.

Sometimes I wonder what is beyond the hills of limit. Maybe it’s nothing. Maybe it’s better. It’s probably your best.
To be your best is to beat the test
To beat the test you must beat the rest
To beat the rest you get an award
But to get an award is to hit a board
Maybe it’s just an obstacle to pass to get your best!
Now I know what is beyond the hills of limit
Beyond the hills is non-existent
The hills of limit is the hills of best
Which will get shorter as you get better
Until you are the best!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Grateful again

Grateful today for: 1) 100 mile (actually 100.42 because that matters) bike ride in the books on a beautiful day today. 2) Motivation from Courtney and Debi! 3) Jeff doing his workout in the wee hours of the morning on the trainer so this newbie could gain some confidence at this distance. #begrateful #bebrave #becompassionate

Friday, March 24, 2017

Be compassionate

One of my favorite books for teaching kids about compassion is Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud.  It's about sensing the feelings of those we see every day and finding a way to make them feel good about themselves.  I love the message about how you can't "fill your bucket" (make yourself feel better) by stealing from others buckets (making them feel badly) and that when you fill others' buckets, you actually fill your own too.

Compassion and kindness start with those who we see everyday.  This book provides a very concrete image to help kids understand that.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Be grateful

Great message from Henri Nouwen about being grateful: 

"Gratitude at its deepest level embraces all of life with thanksgiving: the good and the bad, the joyful and the painful, the holy and the not so holy. Jesus calls us to recognize that gladness and sadness are never separate, that joy and sorrow really belong together, and that mourning and dancing are part of the same movement. That is why Jesus calls us to be grateful for every moment that we have lived and to claim our unique journey as God's way to mold our hearts to greater conformity with God's own...
I am gradually learning that the call to gratitude asks us to say, 'Everything is grace.' Whether there is suffering or joy, I can say, 'Yes, I want to live this, and I want to discover in this more fully the gift of life.'

What are you grateful for today? If we get at least two comments on this post or my last one about being brave, we'll release the long awaited songs the kids wrote and performed about Project Becoming Our Best :).

Monday, March 20, 2017

Be brave

For the next couple days our stories will be about the first of our three focus phrases, "Be Brave." Bravery came alive to me this past week as I saw two IRONMAN Texas friends train (smartly) through injuries without complaining or even talking about them. Where did you witness bravery this weekend? We'd love to have you share in the comments.
More brave moments (including our kids writing and performing songs about Project Becoming Our Best) coming as soon as at least two people comment :).

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Be Brave, Be Compassionate, Be Grateful

The 10 month period we dedicated our initial focused effort to "become our best" as a family now only has 35 days left in it!

  • 35 days to get our bodies physically ready to power through 140.6 miles
  • 35 days to raise $1367 for Little Helping Hands and Doing Good Together
  • 35 days to reflect on the memories and progress we've made on this journey
  • 35 days to refocus on the key qualities that summarize what it means to us to become our best: bravery, compassion, gratitude
So, since I've been a little lax in posting lately, I'll give a little more detail about the top and bottom bullet point.

35 days to get our bodies physically ready to power through 140.6 miles
Training has been going pretty well, although we've had to make adjustments to our proposed plan due to work issues, minor sicknesses, and, in general, to make sure we have our priorities straight.  I knew that IRONMAN training would be a lesson in how to prioritize, but I anticipated that would mean finding a way to fit everything in.  However, sometimes it's been instead about making the tough choices about what I need to not accomplish so that I can stay mentally and physically healthy.  Although that's difficult for someone with a closet Type A personality (okay, some of my friends and coworkers would say there's no closet at all), it has been a really good lesson.  And I'm very grateful to my experienced IRONMAN husband for teaching it to me.  In terms of the three disciplines, I am feeling better (dare I say mildly confident) about the swim even though I've had to make adjustments due to my work travel, pretty good about the bike (although I still haven't ridden a century outside) and strong on the run thanks to Jeff pacing me so well.  Jeff has had to make adjustments too and although his motivation isn't exactly at the level it was before his first IRONMAN, he's hanging in there and getting it done.  We have about 3 more solid weeks of training and then the lovely taper begins.

35 days to refocus on the key qualities that summarize what it means to us to become our best: bravery, compassion, gratitude

Slightly discouraged that I haven't been posting much or doing many volunteer activities with the kids recently due to the 7 hours each weekend that we dedicate to training and the extra hours of sitting around recovering, I've started reflecting on the themes of our efforts to become our best.  What does it really mean to us?  What have our activities been about?  

As I reflected, the qualities of being brave, being compassionate, and being grateful came to mind.  Each activity and/or post that have been part of Project Becoming Our Best has focused on one of these.  So as we enter the final push, our family will be putting extra focus on these three words, sharing daily stories of experiences related to them.  We'd love to also do some crowdsourcing, hearing about each of your stories too and really keeping bravery, compassion, and gratitude top of mind.  We look forward to seeing what will come of this effort and to celebrating it on race day.  Stay tuned for more :).

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Our biggest challenge

10 weeks to go!!! Last night I had my first race dream, in which the order of the race was reversed, and during which I forgot several key supplies for the race...maybe I'm feeling a little unprepared after a week of "less successful" training sessions. All the more reason to remember one of my favorite motivational quotes:

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Celebrating the little victories

IRONMAN Texas training is in full swing with 10.5 weeks to go. It's been a series of ups and downs so far with many days recently that I wonder why I'm doing this and others like today when following three days of small successes (4-hour bike ride, longest run yet-16 miles-at fastest pace I've done, and a swim session holding a 100yd pace at about 15 seconds faster than a month ago), I'm enjoying this life. Now to get some rest...

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Teaching children to be "citizens of this world"

Love this: "We are focused each day on opening kids’ eyes and minds to circumstances different from their own...We want them to understand at an instinctual level that, as citizens of this world, we are responsible for each other and we must take care of each other every day."

Monday, January 16, 2017

Every donation matched!

Every donation matched!! As shared in the video, in celebration of me entering a new decade, all donations made until the end of January will be doubled! Don't miss this great opportunity to support he critical work of promoting kindness, family volunteering, and community building!

To donate: 
Remember to indicate it's for the "Schmidt Ironman." Thank you in advance for your support of these amazing organizations!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

More fun helping animals

We had a great time again volunteering with Operation Pets Alive again today.  Ty got to join us this time and we a good conversation about the work of the organization and how people are making sacrifices in their lives to make our community a "no kill" one.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Taking advantage of "small" opportunities

With two working parents (one who travels a lot), kids in school, sports, and before-school clubs, I knew that increasing our time volunteering in the midst of IRONMAN training would be a bit of a stretch.  Our weekends contain about 6 hours of training right now (which will only increase until our race) and weekdays are pretty packed too, starting at 4:30am and full of activity until around 8:30pm.
So, my search for activities that fit into our "free" time, had left me a little discouraged.  However, Mother Teresa's quote reminds me that it's not about planning the full day activities or anything too grand, but instead, it's about taking advantage of the "small" opportunities we have.

We got to enjoy one of those opportunities today as we visited a senior/nursing residential facility near us.  The volunteer coordinator was extremely flexible and gracious, allowing us to come at any time that was convenient for us and to stay as long as we wanted.  To be honest, I was a bit nervous about it given that small talk isn't a strength of mine.  I wasn't sure exactly what to expect and I knew I had to be a good model for the kids even no matter how uncomfortable I was.  Our brief time there was full of pleasant surprises.  The staff and residents were so welcoming.  We had fun conversations that led to the ultimate surprise...Megan didn't want to leave when we had to go.

I'm also so thankful to have Doing Good Together as a resource we're set up with some wonderful ideas for other "small" opportunities we can utilize to build and reinforce kindness habits in our family.  Their blog post 4 Elements of a Kindness Practice  has very accessible ideas.  As their blogger states, their "tools and resources are designed to help you launch a kindness practice with your family. Not all at once. Not in an overwhelming way. Rather, meaningful acts of kindness can and will become an essential part of your family’s routine one habit at a time." I think we might do their Helping Habits worksheet soon.

I look forward to finding more small ways to show great love as a family.

It's go time :)

Now it gets real...I made the decision to be a bit "flexible" with my training plan since our last race, but with less than 16 weeks to go, consistency now becomes king. I'm a bit nervous about what the next 4 months hold, but more excited to see what changes and growth they may bring.