Focus on the Phenomenal

I wrote a few weeks ago about my sources of distraction during workouts, but I’ve been thinking more and more lately about who and what I find myself thinking about in my free time throughout the day as well.  This might be while commuting to work or while working on secret projects at home or while just sitting still and relaxing. Okay, so that last one never happens… but theoretically, it would be an example.

Anyway, I always seem to find myself drifting in my mind to those people I know that are taking chances, helping others, and doing life in such a way that is making an impact. And it’s funny how we have those people in our lives we rarely talk to directly anymore, but who we stay so connected with because of digital and social media. And I may not have talked directly to these people in years, but I find myself admiring them from afar… in a completely non-creepy way. It’s a few of those people I want to brag about for a minute because they would never do it themselves.

Don’t get me wrong, I think my day-to-day friends are incredible as well, but this is a blog about a few “outliers” in my life that are doing spectacular things worth sharing. And these few, short examples are by no means inclusive, but they are just some of the people whose current choices in life are affecting mine. For privacy purposes, I’ll change names but if any of you reading this want to know more or want to help their causes, just let me know via comment on this blog or Facebook, or by messaging me and I’ll get you the contact information.


The first of my phenomenal friends is a guy I met once, three years ago, during a spring break trip. He is a friend of a good friend of mine and serves in the military. He recently started distance running and triathlon training, and signed up for Ironman Lake Placid. This alone would be reason enough to be considered phenomenal, trust me. But what I find so admirable about this friend, is that while training he decided to try to raise $100/mile for the Wounded Warrior Project. That’s a lofty goal of $14,060. In an earlier marathon he had been inspired when passing a wounded warrior at mile 24, because it took him that long to catch the guy. And WWP is an incredible organization that helps injured veterans recover and live their lives to the fullest.

My friend successfully finished his race last week and will forever be an Ironman, but I think his greater success was raising over $11,000 to date for the WWP.  His story not only encourages me to think about bigger and longer races (if I survived mine this weekend) but to find an organization to benefit while training. What an incredible way to pay it forward and raise awareness at the same time.


Briar Woods/Briarwood

Those of you who have followed my blog for a while know that I used to teach and coach at Briar Woods HS in Ashburn, VA. This next story is about one of my former students who is phenomenal in so many ways, but for right now it’s because of what she and her family are doing to help a school in need. After the recent tornadoes ripped through Oklahoma and destroyed entire towns, she decided to do something to help. One of the schools most affected was Briarwood Elementary and my student couldn’t help but notice the similar names. She then decided to start raising money, collecting donations, and doing what she could to help the students and teachers at that school.

A Facebook group was created and teachers from Briarwood began to send out their supply lists. Almost daily my student or her mother post items being requested and almost instantly one of the close to 1,000 members of the group replies that they will take care of it. As a teacher, and one who has never suffered such loss, it is hard to imagine how grateful the teachers at Briarwood must feel for each donation. I’ve seen sets of books, dry-erase boards, math games, supply carts, basic supplies, number lines, etc. all be requested and donated. That doesn’t count the numerous gift cards and monetary donations which are being used to purchase even more materials to help these teachers and that school get ready for another year. It’s astounding to me what one teenage girl can do when she puts her mind to it and has the support of her family, friends, and community. And it’s humbling to think that I was originally the one teaching her, but now she’s the one teaching me.


Inspiring Parents

This last story is about parents who are doing it right, in the face of great trials. They are a couple who are family friends and whose daughter was diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma when she was three-years-old. To read her story through the eyes of her loving parents has been a blessing in disguise for me. Their unwavering faith in God and devotion to Him, each other, and their child has continued to give me hope in this world. While not all updates are positive, because cancer is such a nasty beast, they are all rooted in the belief that God is bigger and He will provide. I’m happy to be able to say that she is currently leading a happy post-cancerous life, but that hasn’t come easily. Seeing the devastated and determined faces slowly turn into elated smiles warms my heart each time.

They are now getting to enjoy their time together as a family, outside the hospital walls, and they couldn’t look happier just to be together. They’ve also begun to give back to the people and the places that helped them when they needed it the most, and their daughter is right there with them, following their perfect, loving examples. Their family will be forever changed from this disease, but I pray with all my heart that the last three years will be their worst, and that there is nothing but happiness in their future. And I know that either way, they will continue to be strong and shine as bright examples to the rest of us.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Liz @ ourbusybee(s)
    Aug 06, 2013 @ 09:13:51

    I hope you saw my post a while ago where I mentioned YOU and YOUR amazing upcoming challenge 🙂



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