Lifestyle

Sara Daigle, Clarity Coach & Strategist

Meet "powerhouse" Sara Daigle, a clarity coach, and success-driven strategist who believes in the power of mindset work. After shadowing corporate millionaires, Sara decided to take the entrepreneurial path and start her own business. She advises us to stop caring so much about what others think. "Stop waiting for something to happen for you. Take the initiative to construct the life you want. You can start today."

You worked several years in corporate marketing and finance environments. What nudged you to build your brand and business? 

I worked in the online coaching and marketing industry in a consulting realm and have been in the personal development business for over a decade.

Taking the leap to start my own business was a long time coming. I witnessed the work of entrepreneurs and began taking notes about how they were passionately making millions. 

It took me over ten years to start working on my mindset and shifting my belief system to understand I too can be successful and survive without struggle and constant grinding.

 "I made the best decision of my life. ❤️❤️❤️I left a situation that was no longer serving me. I stayed home with my daughter while I slowly made my way back to my career. I didn't exactly know how to make it work, but it all fell into place perfectly."

"I made the best decision of my life. ❤️❤️❤️I left a situation that was no longer serving me.
I stayed home with my daughter while I slowly made my way back to my career.
I didn't exactly know how to make it work, but it all fell into place perfectly."

I managed to change my belief systems and even how to identify myself. I recognized myself as a coach and entrepreneur way before my business launched. It made me realize a life without time, freedom, and the ability to make money from your passions was like a jail sentence.

What does it mean (to you) to be a clarity coach and strategist and what are you most passionate about today?

Being a clarity coach is helping people who may be living an "ok" life but know they aren't living up to their full potential. I identify what clients want in life and how to step into their power to obtain it. I am passionate about mindset work, teaching clients to control life decisions, and shifting belief systems to achieve their goals. 

Do you believe you were born with the innate qualities to help others or has this evolved through your work and life experiences?

I believe I was born with a massive fire inside (we all do), but it took work and life experiences to draw out that fire. I do believe, however, if I had learned about mindset work earlier on I could have taken the road to get here much faster. It doesn't take years of experience to step into your real potential; it requires learning how to control your mindset.

I set out on a mission a couple of years ago. To seek clarity and find what fires me up. It turns out my purpose was there all along and I had to do the work to unearth it.

Can you explain the difference between growth and fixed mindset? How critical is paying attention to your mindset in daily routine?

A fixed mindset to me is something we have adopted since birth and early childhood (what we learn in our first three years of life shape our perceptions). We tend to think we have a set amount of intelligence, skills and talents, and that's all we have to utilize in life to achieve success.

A growth mindset is becoming aware of possibilities and to continue learning, developing our talents, and even uncovering new ones. By continually educating ourselves we expand with no ceiling to our potential. 

Mindset work is important, and I work on it every day. Even when you *uplevel, you will have limiting beliefs to work through. Motivation slumps are common, but if you do the mindset work, you can get out of them quickly and back to creating.

*Uplevel refers to transformation and growth in an area previously stagnant.

 
 Mindbosa (Mind, Body, Save) is a new concept. We are connecting personal gain with personal growth and doing so through mindfulness. When you track goals on  our web app , you are not only consciously working towards a better self, but also building motivation and reward by saving money. This is an exercise in mindfulness. We are confident while using Mindbosa you will enhance your overall wellbeing.

Mindbosa (Mind, Body, Save) is a new concept. We are connecting personal gain with personal growth and doing so through mindfulness. When you track goals on our web app, you are not only consciously working towards a better self, but also building motivation and reward by saving money. This is an exercise in mindfulness. We are confident while using Mindbosa you will enhance your overall wellbeing.

 

What has been an invaluable resource for the growth and development of your brand? 

Knowing the possibilities and surrounding myself with people making leaps, bounds and obtaining success. I have to be careful not to compare myself, but by having life coaches, mentors, and internet friends I can follow their journeys and remain in a headspace of knowing I too can achieve my own versions of great success.

 "AT TONY ROBBINS - There are 12,000 people here who step out of their comfort zones, are willing to put in the work to grow, and take risks to be extraordinary." 🔥🔥🔥via  Sara's Instagram

"AT TONY ROBBINS - There are 12,000 people here who step out of their comfort zones, are willing to put in the work to grow, and take risks to be extraordinary." 🔥🔥🔥via Sara's Instagram

What is one challenge and lesson learned from your experience?

Not caring what others think. I had a notion (whether real or not) that people were watching me to see if I would fail. I had to stop thinking about other peoples opinions. By no longer acknowledging this notion, I have been able to embrace my purpose, put my truth out there and share my story, which is the crux of connecting with people and building a business.

If you had a magic wand to wave and change one thing in your life, what would it be and why?

I would go back in time and learn about mindset work so that I could’ve begun this journey of life and passion earlier. I believe experiences are necessary to grow and become leaders, but we are BORN with experiences, so there is no need to wait to step into your true potential.

If someone is seeking to make changes in their life, what step in the right direction would you send them first?

The personal development journey is a profound and unique process. To start, sit with yourself for a bit and get introspective. Pull out a journal and write down what your dream life would look like in one year, five years and even ten years. Begin with the statement “wouldn’t it be nice if I had________.” Answers can be freedom, money, travel, a significant relationship, etc. 

Next is to find someone who has accomplished or is doing these things that ideally you would love to do. Learn about their journey, and you will see it's attainable and not just for a select few. The first step in shifting limiting beliefs was surrounding myself with people who have done it so I could see it was possible for myself. 

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What is something not many people know about you? 

I was adopted at six weeks old after being born on the streets of Calcutta, India. My adoptive parents had received signs from the universe to adopt a baby girl after already completing their family. I am here for a very distinctive purpose just as we all are. I do not know its entirety as messages are being revealed to me step by step. This truth exists for everyone; we don’t need to know our whole path just the next steps.

I'd like to share a message repeatedly to the world on your behalf. What should I share?

Stop waiting for something to happen for you. Take the initiative to construct the life you want. You can start today.

What is your favorite inspirational/motivational quote?

Don’t join an easy crowd; you won’t grow. Go where the expectations and the demands to perform are high.” - Jim Rohn

In one word describe yourself:

Powerhouse

Did you enjoy this blog?

Please share and help us spread Sara's story. We can use technology and social media for greater good and make a positive impact in the world we coexist. 

Thank you for reading!


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Jae Russell, Founder of PATYL & Grateful Human

As an occupational therapist for nearly 10 years, Jae has worked in skilled nursing and mental health facilities and currently provides home care to Veterans who have served as far back as WW II. One year ago, Jae self-funded and launched PATYL (Pay Attention To Your Life) with two simple goals in mind: 1. To share positive messages and impact lives 2. To create a platform to make a difference. She is selflessly doing just that. 

What led you to this path? Do you believe you were born to help others? 

Yes, I believe that I was born to help others.  I’ve always had a strong belief in altruism.  As far as my career is concerned, it’s never really made sense to me to spend my time doing anything other than something that will improve the life of someone else, and I’ve truly enjoyed the work I’ve been fortunate enough to do for the past decade.

I came to OT after I was given a unique opportunity to teach special education for severe and profoundly disabled high school students in a small border town in Arizona.  I worked with students and their families to help students improve their basic daily living and communication skills and loved the work. But as a teacher, I was not able to spend as much one-on-one time with students as I would have liked and started considering an alternate career that would keep me on a similar path. That’s when I started investigating OT, went to graduate school, and the rest is history.

In graduate school, I became keenly interested in the mental health aspect of the profession and completed two internships at the Arizona State Psychiatric Hospital. In addition to developing a passion about mental health and well-being, I also developed an interest in public service and wanted to continue my work as a therapist in this way. Working as an OT with the Department of Veterans Affairs allows me to give back to those who served, and I am honored to do this work every single day.

One year ago you launched PATYL (Pay Attention To Your Life), a "platform for making a difference." How did you come up with the name PAYTL, and do you remember your Aha moment when your idea formed? 

I was driving home from my job at a state psychiatric facility with the Ohio Department of Mental Health and listening to the “You Are A Badass” audiobook by Jen Sincero during my commute.  At one point in the book, the author asks the reader/listener what their personal motto would be, and in an instant, “Pay Attention to Your Life (PATYL)” came to me.  These five words really represented what I was hoping to instill in the patients I was working with at the time. I hoped (and still do hope) for people to learn how to appreciate the awesomeness of what it means to be alive and to start to pay attention to how they live.  

Paying attention to your life means developing good self-care habits that make you happy, it means taking care of others and giving back, and it means overcoming personal challenges and learning how to thrive.

It was then that I knew I wanted to take this motto and share it in a way that would make an impact in other people’s live.  I came up with the idea of putting other people’s personal mottos on shirts as a way to both give back to that person and as a way to put inspiration out in the world, so that when you see someone wearing a PATYL tee, you too become inspired to pay attention to your own life.

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You select a different VIP (Very Impactful Person) to share their inspiring story and to represent PATYL T-Shirt Collections. Can you share with us how this works and a favorite VIP collection and story you featured? 

The three main criteria for being a VIP are that you take care of yourself, you face challenges in a positive way, and that you give back to others.  I’ve connected with people from all over the world and have asked them to share their stories with me.  When I find one that resonates with me and that I think will resonate with others, I invite them to be featured as a VIP. It’s been an honor, and I am truly humbled that in the year since we’ve launched that over a dozen strangers (now friends) have said yes to being a part of this journey with me.

Our VIP collections rotate seasonally which means that every VIP collection is only available for a limited time.  

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Every PATYL VIP tee is a direct representation of that VIP.  I collaborate with the VIP on their motto and their design.  VIPs always have a say in the final design. 50% of the proceeds from the sale of every single VIP shirt go directly to that VIP to help them continue doing good things. PATYL does not in any way dictate what VIPs do with their half of the proceeds. Since PATYL VIP collections are so collaborative, I can’t imagine sharing the proceeds any other way. There are a lot of social impact companies out there who donate profits for great causes, but you’d be hard-pressed to find many that give away half!  Plus, the majority of VIPs being the awesome people they are, have chosen to donate their proceeds to the do-good-change-the-world causes that matter most to them. 


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Jeremy...

is a father, a husband, a youth basketball coach, and a motivational speaker whose struggle with depression led him to seek a new direction for his life and to inspire others to do the same.

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Leigh...

is a mom, an advocate, and community leader who found out just how brave and courageous she could be after losing her husband to suicide.  She now works to help parents and children find their own voices and to use them to influence change.

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Jason...

is a former Marine who overcame tragedy at an early age and grew to be a leader. He now gives back as a nutritionist and personal trainer working to help his clients embrace wellness and build resiliency.


I’ve loved all of the VIP stories that PATYL has featured, but the first will always be the most meaningful to me.  When PATYL launched in March of 2017, we did so with a young man named Kevin Martin whose message was “You Are Loved.”  I mean, what an incredible message to start with!

Kevin’s story of his own personal struggle with anxiety, depression, and self-hatred (due to being a gay man in a very conservative community) is powerful. He tried committing suicide in his early 20s and shortly thereafter was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder II. But he came out on the other side of all of this having learned to embrace positivity, kindness, and community. By day, Kevin is a social worker committed to improving the lives of at-risk youth. In his “spare time,” Kevin runs a non-profit organization called To Love and Inspire.  TLAI partners with a variety of causes seeking to resolve social issues and inequalities through empowerment and collaboration. They are committed to helping people. A mental health professional is available via chat on their website 24 hours a day for anyone that needs someone to talk to. They hit the streets and share tangible messages of love, inspiration, and kindness with others. PATYL has an ongoing relationship with Kevin and TLAI for which I am incredibly grateful, and we continue to feature his “You Are Loved” shirts to benefit TLAI. 


A Message From Kevin

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Jae is the epitome of an inspiring human being. In all of her work, particularly her role as the founder of PATYL, an organization designed to support good people and good causes, Jae always goes above and beyond to help those who help others, bringing awareness to global issues and the people who are making positive impacts in the world. Jae encourages us all to pay attention to our lives, and in doing so, she has launched an incredible world-changing movement. The one word I would use to best describe Jae is “woke.”
— Kevin Martin (Founder of To Love and Inspire)

Tell us about bootstrapping a startup. What has been one challenge and lesson you've learned? 

I work full-time as an OT for the VA and then pick up extra shifts at another local hospital on the weekends to fund PATYL.  People talk about the grind as it relates to being an entrepreneur, and they aren’t exaggerating.  It’s time consuming, and it really can be draining.  The biggest challenge for me has been to maintain my level of attentiveness to my own life while not letting my commitment to PATYL fall too far to the wayside.  When it comes to PATYL, it’s really important to me to practice what I preach. I rely heavily on my mindfulness practices to keep me grounded and to help me achieve perspective. I have to make an effort to balance my time and my attentiveness to all of the things I love about life and doing this with some semblance of grace has been challenging for sure, but it’s a challenge I’ll happily accept.

What is one invaluable resource that has helped in the growth and development of PATYL?

Friends and family.  Hands down. When you’re bootstrapping a business with zero funding from banks or investors, and it’s just you and your idea, you have to rely on the people around you.  PATYL doesn’t exist without the support of those close to me who keep reminding me that what I’m doing matters and that it’s making an impact on other people’s lives. 

There have been a few instances when I’ve thought that this might be more work than it’s worth, but then people will tell me they were wearing a PATYL shirt while out and about and someone told THEM one of our messages like “You Are Loved” or “Keep Your Thoughts Positive” or  “Remember Your Brilliance” was exactly what they needed to see in that moment. For me, that’s really what it’s all about.  More than selling t-shirts, PATYL is about putting good into the world and making a difference in the way that people approach their lives.

 "The world becomes a better place when we choose to do things for the good of the people around us.  @patyl  we sell t-shirts that always benefit the greater good."

"The world becomes a better place when we choose to do things for the good of the people around us. @patyl we sell t-shirts that always benefit the greater good."

How important is goal setting in your everyday life and work? 

I would say that goal setting is very important. In both life and work, I like to see what I’m capable of, and I can’t do that if I don’t keep setting and re-setting goals.  Goal setting keeps me focused and keeps me motivated.  

November is National Gratitude month, and Mindbosa is partnering with PATYL for a 30 Day Gratitude Challenge. Please enter your email, and you'll be notified of updates as the date approaches. 

Outside of work, what do you enjoy doing most? 

Sleeping, ha ha ha ha ha!  But in my waking hours, I love spending time with my wife and our three rescue pups, Rebel (after the David Bowie song), Bodhi, and Gibson.   I absolutely love riding my bicycle.  I’d ride it around the world if I could (maybe someday). I also love hiking, traveling, cooking, yoga, learning, and spending time with the people I love. 

 "A 2017 study found that biking to work burns as much fat as spending 40 minutes at the gym five days a week. · A 2011 study of Barcelona's bike sharing program (Bicing) found that the health benefits of using the system outweigh the risks by a ratio of 77 to one. The study also estimated that Bicing reduces carbon dioxide emissions by more than 9,000 metric tons every year. · Cyclists on average live two years longer than non-cyclists and take 15% fewer days off work through illness." Via  Patyl's Instagram

"A 2017 study found that biking to work burns as much fat as spending 40 minutes at the gym five days a week. · A 2011 study of Barcelona's bike sharing program (Bicing) found that the health benefits of using the system outweigh the risks by a ratio of 77 to one. The study also estimated that Bicing reduces carbon dioxide emissions by more than 9,000 metric tons every year. · Cyclists on average live two years longer than non-cyclists and take 15% fewer days off work through illness." Via Patyl's Instagram

What is one thing not many people know about you? 

This isn’t something I share with very many people because it’s not something people like to talk about, but a big part of my mindfulness practice is a daily contemplation on my own mortality. Reflecting regularly on the impermanence of my own life keeps me grounded and keeps me grateful.  It really helps me have perspective on the day-to-day problems that I face, and it allows me to get less worked up about things beyond my control. 

What is your proudest personal and professional accomplishment? 

Eight years ago I quit smoking cigarettes, and it’s hands down the thing I am most proud of.  Beating that addiction was the catalyst for the path I’m on now.  It spurred my commitment to my health and my own well-being, and it completely changed the way that I approach my life.

Professionally, I spent five years working in a state psychiatric facility. I was very proud to have developed and implemented yoga and mindfulness-based interventions for the patients at that facility. 

I truly believe that if everyone learned to bring a little more mindfulness into their day, the world (especially here in the US) would be all the better for it. 

Many of the patients in that hospital didn’t have many resources either personally or financially on which to depend, but if they could learn to depend on their breath and their own mind-body connection, they could learn to recover and thrive. I was really proud to be able to share that skill with others. 

What message can I repeatedly share with the world on your behalf? 

Pay Attention to Your Life.

Pay attention and stop making excuses and start making plans. Let go of doubt and go for it. Start believing in yourself. 

Pay Attention and stop attaching to things you can’t control. You can’t control any of it. 

Pay attention and stop being so serious. Let yourself have fun and remember to do it often. Laugh and be silly. 

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Pay attention and stop being stagnant. Make those travel plans. Save up and get on that plane. Go somewhere new. Explore. 

Pay attention and stop putting other things first. Take care of yourself. Breathe. Rest. Meditate. Practice gratitude each and every day. Slow down and notice all the good that’s around you.

Pay attention and remember that we are all in this together. Recognize that what we do and how we treat each other matters, and make choices that make others feel appreciated and loved. Know that you are capable of making a difference; do it and be proud. 

Pay attention to your life and make an impact.

What is your favorite motivational/inspirational quote? 

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” ― Jane Goodall

In one word, describe yourself:  

Compassionate

 “I am so grateful that surrender had taught me to willingly participate in life’s dance with a quiet mind and open heart” -Michael Singer, author of The Surrender Experiment (PATYL VIP  @gigimarieb  ‘s favorite book!)"

“I am so grateful that surrender had taught me to willingly participate in life’s dance with a quiet mind and open heart” -Michael Singer, author of The Surrender Experiment (PATYL VIP @gigimarieb ‘s favorite book!)"


YES

Did you enjoy this blog feature? 

Please help us spread Patyl’s message by sharing Jae’s story. We can use technology and social media for greater good and make a positive impact in the world we coexist. 

Thank you for reading.


To Connect with Jae Russell (PATYL Founder / Grateful Human) 

 

Ian Tovell, Ironman Athlete, Founder of I-Tri Performance & Volunteer Director at Propel

A swimmer at age 5 and a runner at age 12. Ian Tovell has completed a full Ironman in under 12 hours, several half Ironmans and hundreds of races over the years including 10 Half Marathons and 6 Marathons. Last year he set the course record at Peaks to Portland, swimming 2.4 miles in under an hour. "Because he's a beast." Meet Ian, our newest Mindbosa brand ambassador.

What keeps you going? What are you the most passionate about today at age 29? 

That is a great question. Sometimes I ask myself the same thing, why do I keep doing these things. I think when it comes down to it what keeps me going is trying to push myself to the limits both physically and mentally every single day. That is why I continue to do races whether it be a 5k, marathon or even Ironman competitions as I believe I can always improve and get faster. Over the past 15 years, I keep finding new things that keep my love for competition strong. Currently, running is what I am most focused on right now and am working to qualify for the Boston Marathon this fall at either the Chicago Marathon or the Dublin Marathon. I am fortunate enough to be raising money for St. Jude's Children Hospital for the Chicago Marathon. My fundraising page can be found below. 

To qualify for Boston, the time I have to run is 3:05. I have some work to do this summer to ensure I am reaching my goal. But overall at this point in my life, I am passionate about being the best I can be whether it be professionally, or personally, and trying to find my place in this world and continue to grow as much as I can.
 
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What opportunities has being an athlete provided you? 

I think being an athlete opens a ton of opportunities no matter what level you are competing at. Personally, some of my closest, lifelong friends are people I have met through sports whether in High School or during my college career as a D1 runner and triathlete. In addition to the people you meet along the way, being an athlete has taught me a lot about discipline and helped me focus more in school and be a better person and a better student. Being an athlete also prepared me for failure and taught me how to be adaptable which I have been able to take into my professional life. The other opportunity being an athlete has provided me is that I have had the chance to travel all over the world including places like Austria, Finland, Germany, Brazil, and other amazing countries. Being an athlete has molded me into the person I am today and is a big part of my personality. I don’t think I would change anything about my experience.

What is I-Tri Performance? 

I-Tri Performance is my personal running coaching site I started about a year ago. I started my business in response for a few friends looking for running help and training plans for specific races they were doing. I wanted to give back to the running community and try to help people who need someone to hold them accountable or just need a little more guidance with their training plan. If you or someone you know needs some guidance or a customized plan, feel free to check out my site and plans.

How has running affected your relationships with family, friends, and community?

Running has had a significant impact on me and everyone that is in my life. Running has shaped me into the person I am today and has given me the opportunity to meet so many awesome people. It has helped me engage with the local Maine community and foster new relationships with those who share my passion for competition. Training takes up a lot of time, and without the support of my friends and family, I wouldn’t have been able to put in as much time as I do. Being part of the running community has been a great privilege, as everyone is so supportive of each other.


A Message from Ashely Robinson Tovell (Ian's wife) 

Ian is not only the most selfless person I know, but with everyday that passes those around him find countless more ways to love him. I am so truly lucky to call him my husband. He is my inspiration.

In one word, Ashley best describes Ian as "Authentic."


What's a hurdle you've overcome? What lessons did you learn and can you share advice for someone experiencing something similar? 

I have been fortunate enough throughout my athletic career as I have never had a serious hurdle I have had to overcome as others have. But I think every athlete no matter what level you are at you go through peaks and valleys when it comes to physical and mental motivation and health.  The real struggle is when you are in a valley how are you going to get through it and make it to the other side to enjoy the peak that we all love. After I completed an Ironman last August, I have been in a constant valley when it comes to both mental and physical strength. I have not had the motivation to get out and train at the level I was, and mentally I felt drained. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me since a huge part of my identity is being an athlete. But it is this time where mental toughness takes over, and you need to remind yourself you are going to get through this and make it to the other side. The way I dealt with the valley was to dial back and fall back in love with training and racing by doing different workouts that were fun. The main thing I focused on was not to put pressure on myself to train or get that workout done, by doing this I was able to enjoy everything I was doing and start to have fun with training again. I think if I had any advice for someone going through something similar is that this time will pass and you will get through the low point. You need to stay strong and find ways to make training fun and new because if you keep pounding the pavement, you will lose yourself and lose the love of the sport.  

I think Ian forgot to mention this hurdle! Ouch! 

 "Always be careful and mindful when biking!"  #nofilter   #fightclub   #bikesafety

"Always be careful and mindful when biking!" #nofilter #fightclub #bikesafety

Is having a daily routine and setting goals vital to you? 

Yeah, I think it is very vital for me to have a routine and a goal I am working towards. By having a daily routine, I can make sure I am giving enough time to my training as well as my personal and professional life. I keep a calendar of everything I have to do that week to make sure I do not over schedule myself or get involved in too many things. By following a written calendar, it holds me accountable and serves as a daily reminder of my goals. I try to make sure I go to bed at the same time as well as get up at the same time to get my body in a routine. As far as goals, I think goals are essential to have not just in athletics but in your life as a whole. I think we always need to be setting goals, so we push ourselves to be better, and if we accomplish one goal, we set another one. For me, goals have helped me become a better overall person and has helped me achieve a lot of my athletic and professional goals.

Many people associate running with not being able to breathe. Would you say running has allowed you to breathe easier in everyday life? 

Running for me is my release, it is my happy place. If I ever have a bad day, I am angry, sad, etc., running helps keep my head clear and think my thoughts out. I can’t tell you how many times I have made major decisions while out running. Running has become part of my daily routine, and if I miss running a few days in a row, I start to get very anxious until I go out for a run, and then all my worries and nerves go away. Running has given me the ability to “breathe” and deal with everyday stresses.

Do you have a mantra you repeat during training or racing? 

It is funny I don’t think I have one go to saying that I go to, but there are many things I think about while I am training or racing. It usually is an upbeat song, something that has a good beat to keep me distracted and to give me a good pattern to run or bike to. When I swim, it tends to be internally singing 'Staying Alive' by the Bee Gees because it gives me a good pace for my arms to be moving. It's important for me when I am working out to try to stay relaxed as possible and let my brain go wherever it needs to. A lot of my thinking comes when I am training, and usually near the end of a tough workout, my mantra usually is something along the lines of, “just get to the next telephone pole,” then repeat that until I am done with the training. 

Aside from being a competitive athlete, you are the Director of Program Management at Propel. How did you get involved with Propel and what does your current role include? Do you have any upcoming events I can share? 

I found out about Propel on accident.  I am active on Linkedin and connect with people all the time, and one of my connections wrote how she was leaving Propel and how it was such a great organization.  So, I started to look into what Propel was, and I connected with the mission and wanted to be involved. I reached out to the President and got involved right away.  My current role for Propel is Director of Program Management, and what I do is help make sure all our programs have the resources they need to be successful and we as a group, are putting on events to engage the community and young professionals.  
We have a great event coming up called Ignition Awards on June 28 at Tiqa. This is our event of the year recognizing great businesses all throughout Maine.  We have various awards we give out based on nominations from the public.  At Propel, we believe Maine is a great state to start a business, and we get to see all the small and large awesome businesses that are helping Maine grow and thrive.  Some of the categories are Hustler of the Year, Growth Stimulation Award, and our newest award Young Entrepreneur of the Year. 

 PROPEL’s Mission is to help businesses and young professionals thrive in Maine through member engagement and uniting organizations.

PROPEL’s Mission is to help businesses and young professionals thrive in Maine through member engagement and uniting organizations.

What is the next checkmark on your bucket list? 

At this point, it is hard to know, but I think the next thing I want to accomplish after I qualify for the Boston Marathon would be doing an ultramarathon preferably on the trail. I think I will start with a 50k and work my way up to a 100k.

What is your favorite "can't live without it" app you use and why? 

My favorite app I always need to have is my TrainingPeaks app because without it I would not know what workouts I should be doing and where my fitness is currently.  

What is your favorite motivational/inspirational quote? 

“To Give Anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” ~Steve Prefontaine~

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In one word, describe yourself: 

Evolving

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Eric Daddario, Motivational Speaker/Strength and Conditioning Coach

Imagine your younger brother passed away of a drug overdose. This reality, although unfortunate has led Eric to opportunities to share his story and brother's legacy and furthermore help families and addicts in recovery who share similar experiences. I was introduced to Eric through a professional networking app called Shapr. It takes courage to share the not-so-great times in our lives with a stranger, let alone the world. -Jessica Lea Nolette (blog creator) 

Did you have an "aha moment" to become an advocate or an instinctual desire to start sharing your story? 

I wouldn't say it was an ‘aha’ moment, but about 7-8 months after my brother passed away, I found myself reflecting on how he changed as a person and the “Hell on Earth,” as I like to call it, our family went through with his addiction. He eventually morphed into a stranger. He didn't look, talk or act like the Brendan we knew growing up.  The drugs controlled every possible aspect of his life. This morphing, along with the emotion my family and I felt while standing by Brendan’s bedside in the hospital to say our last goodbye, brought me to think that this should never happen to others. Maybe I could do something to help other families? No person or family should have to go through what we did and watch somebody they love and care for have their life cut short from addiction. I feel strongly about sharing my family's story to help prevent people from going down the same path as my brother. Addiction is a growing topic affecting so many around the world. I will do everything I can to help with this fight.

"I think it's important to see what Brendan looked like while he was using." 

What are you the most passionate about today?

My passion, drive, and reason for being are to make a positive impact on the world by helping people who are struggling and need a hand.

I want people to realize their potential in life is unlimited. You can accomplish whatever you want. You don’t need drugs or alcohol to fit in or to be accepted.

I have developed this thought process and mindset from my brother’s death. It opened my eyes to realize what is important in life. I used to always think about how I could make myself better - what I could do for me. Now I find myself thinking how I can positively affect other people's lives and make an impact. Now I find myself thinking how I can positively affect other people's lives and make an impact.

What has been the most challenging struggle you've overcome and what lesson did this teach you?

The biggest challenge I've overcome in my life is the eight days I spent in the hospital while my brother Brendan was in a comma before he passed away. I knew there was nothing I could do. I was helplessly waiting and knew there was nothing I could do but wait for his fate. All my family and I could do was hope and pray. At that point, Brendan's fate was up to a higher power, and he was in God’s hands. I would have done anything the doctors asked of me to help bring him out of that comma, but it wasn't possible. The biggest lesson I learned from this was some things you have no control over. No matter how badly you want to determine the outcome, you must leave it up to whomever has control of the situation and let your faith take over. 

 The 4 Daddario Brother's, Celebrating New Years Eve. 

The 4 Daddario Brother's, Celebrating New Years Eve. 

Can you give one single piece of advice for family or friends who want to help rescue drug addicts they know and love?

The one piece of advice I can give you is to never ever ever give up on that loved one, or friend. It’s a lifelong battle that will bring you on a roller coaster of emotions, with the highest of highs and lowest of lows. You may feel as though you can’t do it anymore - that there is no hope for this person, and their addiction will eventually take them. But know their soul is inside that body somewhere. Although in that moment it seems lost, it is there, and they need your continued help and support. The addict may not say it or act like it, but deep down in their core, they are screaming for you to help them. When the soul is found, and the person comes back to life, it’s the greatest feeling in the world. It's worth every ounce of energy you have put into helping revive that person back to the human you once knew them as. 

"This is my brother Brendan, clean." 

Are there go-to resources you recommend?

I highly recommend going to a support group like Al-Anon for alcoholics or its counterpart Nar-anon. For drug addiction, another excellent group is called Learn To Cope, and they have meetings all over America. Although you may not be the one going through addiction yourself, it affects your everyday life tremendously. People attending the meetings are in similar situations. They can relate to the addict’s life and circumstances. It’s a place to let your guard down and let out anything you want to say or share about any situation. These groups are very supportive, helpful, and judgement-free. As far as getting an addict to recovery, I feel it’s essential to get them to a detox center, then rehab to eventually a sober living home with a 12-step program. I think the best resource, aside from meetings, rehabs, and detoxes, which are all tremendously helpful, is surrounding your loved one with unconditional love and support. After all, it's your goal to work with them, not against them to get them better. The addict must want to get clean. The drive has to stem from within, and the support and love of family can have an immense effect on an addict’s recovery.

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What is something uniquely Eric not many people know about you, perhaps not even your family?

I wouldn’t call it unique. I would call it my duty. Every Sunday afternoon, rain, shine or snow, I drive into Boston (I live just outside Boston) and buy food and drinks for the homeless at one of the downtown 7 Elevens. I have forged a special bond with a homeless couple named Maloney and Leroy. The smiles on their faces when they see me approaching with food is like children on Christmas morning when they discover presents. They are so happy to see me, not only to eat because they haven’t eaten all day or have had a limited amount of food, but they are most excited to talk about life. They usually ask me right off the bat "Get a girlfriend yet?" I mentioned I’m looking for a 2-family house, and they suggested places I can look for loans and gave me advice on setting up a retirement plan. I started doing this about a year ago. It makes me feel great to know I am helping people in need. 

Aside from advocating, what do you enjoy doing most? 

Aside from advocating, I absolutely love spending time with my family. My family is the world to me. Ever since we lost Brendan 2 years ago, we have become much tighter as a family and cherish each other’s company every chance we get. Almost every Saturday night my father and I go out to eat and talk about life. I feel so blessed to have my parents and brothers. Even though Brendan isn’t physically here I know, he’s smiling down and looking over us. He has pushed us to be better people.

What is your proudest personal accomplishment to-date? 

My proudest personal accomplishment to date was being one of three people to read my brother Brendan’s eulogy. I was so proud of the fight he put up against his addiction. I can’t imagine the battle addicts go through daily. I was very happy to have the last two and a half sober years with him, and I was honored to stand up on the stage to talk about my feelings and how proud I was to call him my brother.

 "To the kid who changed my life forever. The kid who took my life to the next level by letting me know whatever I want to do I can do it with a little hard work. I know you're looking down right now saying don't be sad I'm gone be glad you got to spend 26 years with me. Be glad we actually met each other. So I will be. I never actually got to tell you this in person, so I'll say it now... you're my hero kid. I love you and will see you again someday." -Eric to Brendan 

"To the kid who changed my life forever. The kid who took my life to the next level by letting me know whatever I want to do I can do it with a little hard work. I know you're looking down right now saying don't be sad I'm gone be glad you got to spend 26 years with me. Be glad we actually met each other. So I will be. I never actually got to tell you this in person, so I'll say it now... you're my hero kid. I love you and will see you again someday." -Eric to Brendan 

I believe by manifesting our dreams we have a better chance of having them come true. What stage do you see yourself on in the next few years? 

In the next few years, I see myself as a person who shares my family’s and Brendan’s story in schools, support groups, and meetings with parents. I hope to help prevent kids from starting the use of drugs. At the same time, I aim to be a resource for kids struggling and parents who may be going through what my parents did. I also see myself helping people who may have self-esteem and confidence issues, may not be getting the most out of life, and may feel hopeless. I want to help people who are struggling in life, maybe due to something tragic that has happened to them or someone in their life, and are looking for help. I am trying to positively impact the world and the people living in it in many ways. I want to prevent, and one of them is preventing people from going through the nightmare my family and I went through with Brendan and continuing to provide hope to those who may be struggling.

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What message should I repeatedly share with the world on your behalf? 

Drug and Alcohol addiction can affect anyone regardless of your age, wealth, or gender. It doesn't matter where you live. Nobody is an exception to addiction. You may think “what’s the big deal, I’m just drinking and smoking marijuana." This was Brendan's mentality, and look what happened to him. You shouldn’t need drugs or alcohol to change who you are to have fun, or for others to accept you. You are beautiful and perfect the way God made you. You are great without the use of substances. People go through struggles, and tragedy is a part of life, but this doesn’t give you a reason to start doing drugs or drinking. Doing drugs won’t boost your self-esteem, confidence, or fix your problems - it only makes things worse. With strong will and courage, we can all become a positive influence on the lives of those suffering.

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What is your favorite motivational/inspirational quote? 

"Make the best of a lifetime opportunity in the lifetime of the opportunity." -Eric Thomas

In one word, describe yourself: 

Driven

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Please help us spread Eric's message by sharing this story. We can use technology and social media for greater good and make a positive difference in the world we cohabitate. Thank you for reading.


To Connect w/ Eric 

Instagram: @ericdaddario || Twitter: @eric_daddario || Facebook: eric daddario

 Team Brendan Forever.  Read More

Team Brendan Forever. Read More

Rose “Little Samurai” Ellison, A Fighter & Mixed Martial Artist

A fighter by nature and a warrior of God; Rose has cerebral palsy, but remains undefeated. After years of being bullied and told she would never accomplish her dreams, Rose found passion and purpose in the Mixed Martial Arts community. "I actually got my name "Little Samurai" from a former UFC fighter who used to train me. I had just gotten my haircut when I started training and I could barely have it put up in a ponytail, but I guess the look made him think that I looked like a Samurai." It's an honor to share Rose's story with you. -Jessica Lea Nolette (blog creator)

When did you first start Mixed Martial Arts classes and how has it changed your life?

I started training during the summer of 2015. It has absolutely increased my dexterity, muscle movement, confidence social skills and how to live a healthy lifestyle.

Do you have a mentor or someone you look up to and admire?

I look up to my Heavenly Father, my parents, Coach Young, Ernie Fitch, Bruce Boyington, Aaron Lacey, my Personal Trainer, Scott Kahkonen, Hal Pierce, Ryan Sanders, Glenn Cugno, Dustin Veinott and Raymond Wood. These people have been angels to my life who often remind me that I am loved, that it’s okay to be myself and that I can do anything that I put my mind towards with ultimate courage and determination. Without them and their loving guidance, I wouldn’t be the warrior I am today. They have given me the guidelines to not only be a better warrior but to be a better person. I’m inspired by each and every person to love and cherish life and to love with all of my heart.

What is your biggest goal and how will you achieve it?

My current goal right now and it has been my ultimate goal ever since February 2015 when I first saw Josh Harvey fight and the return of Raymond Wood at New England Fights in Lewiston, Maine was when I knew that I wanted to be a fighter.  With my faith in God’s hand in it and continue to do my training every week, I have faith that I will someday get to the NEF cage.

What is the greatest struggle you've overcome and what lesson has this taught you?

I’ve struggled with my cerebral palsy disability, as well as depression and anxiety. It certainly hasn’t been an easy life with people not understanding how to be around or how to deal with a person who has a physical disability which is absolutely understandable for people who don't particularly have one.

The main reasons why I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety is because I was bullied all my life. Not just from former fellow students, but from former teachers as well. I was told continuously at school every single day that I wouldn’t be able to do anything that I dreamed of doing. That made me extremely upset and sad that no one at school chose to believe in me.

Anxiety in social settings is another one. Cerebral palsy affects my speech, and it’s often a challenge for people to understand me when I talk. So, talking to people in person or through the phone can make me really uncomfortable. But thank you to my friends and coaches within the mixed martial arts community, I’ve learned to slowly overcome that with my training at the gym and socializing with a lot of extremely friendly fighters on social media. I’ve certainly learned not to let my cerebral palsy, depression and anxiety get the best of me because I know that I have a ton of love and support that will always be there. 

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Can you share a single piece of advice to encourage others dealing with life's hardships?

I would advise anyone who has any disability or not, to not let anyone tell you that you cannot do anything because you can and stay determined to follow your dreams. 

What is something uniquely Rose not many people know about you, perhaps not even your family and friends?

What people might not already know about me, would be that I’m actually a shy person, lol.

 "I am God's Warrior." -Rose “Little Samurai” Ellison

"I am God's Warrior." -Rose “Little Samurai” Ellison

Aside from fighting and training what things do you enjoy doing?

Aside from going to fights and training, I love going to the movies and occasionally play video games.

What is one message I can repeatedly share with the world on your behalf?

Don’t bully and disrespect people who have disabilities. They have dreams and feelings just like anyone else.

What is your favorite motivational/inspirational quote?

I have quite a few quotes:

“Go Big or Go Home. No Pain No Gain. May you always be an inspiration to many.” ~Bruce “Pretty Boy” Boyington

“When the mind, body, and spirit work together anything is possible.” ~Criss Angel
“Just believe you can do things that people think are impossible.” ~Ray “All Business” Wood

In one word describe yourself:

A child of God 

Follow Rose, "Little Samurai" on FACEBOOK!

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Bruce 'Pretty Boy' Boyington - Professional MMA Fighter

I'm honored to share Bruce's story. We trained and traveled the country competing, and grew up together in the Taekwondo Community. The core principals of Taekwondo are something we forever share and have shaped who we are today. Bruce is a top-ranked MMA fighter and a kindhearted, loyal father, husband, son, friend, and veteran. -Jessica Lea Nolette (blog creator)  

I am a man chasing a dream in which I feel I’m already living! I believe in what’s right.
— Bruce Boyington

Your nickname is Bruce 'Pretty Boy' Boyington. Who gave you that name?

My nickname came from my Coach, Christopher Young of Young's MMA. I'd go into training showered and looking all "pretty" and tanned up. I was different than everyone else without the raggedy clothes on to train. Every time I walked in the first words out of his mouth were "What's up pretty boy....."

How did you first get involved in Martial Arts & furthermore MMA?

I started Taekwondo at a very young age, and I've never stopped, I think I was seven. I've had many amazing experiences with Taekwondo. Many of us including my friend, Jessica Nolette would travel together to nationals, state tournaments and all throughout the country competing and training. I continued to do it right up until I went in the Marine Corps. I started experimenting with grappling and other martial arts, and I ended up becoming a martial arts instructor for the Marine Corps. It was at that time I realized mixed martial arts might be better suited for my body. As much as I love Taekwondo, it was a sport, favorable to tall, skinny people with length. I felt like I was naturally, a good wrestler and grappler. When I got out of the Marine Corps, someone approached me and asked me if I wanted to take a fight against former Olympian Rick Hawn. He was undefeated at the time and went on to be a multiple division Bellator Tournament Champion. I jumped all over that opportunity, traveled to The Cape in Massachusetts, and took to fight. Even though I lost, I was hooked. I've been doing it professionally for 10 years since then.

 Taekwondo family reunion @ The 2014 Lightweight Championship Title Rematch. Israel Phillips, Jessica Nolette, WINNER: Bruce "Pretty Boy" Boyington, Eric Bishop, Jen Brown

Taekwondo family reunion @ The 2014 Lightweight Championship Title Rematch. Israel Phillips, Jessica Nolette, WINNER: Bruce "Pretty Boy" Boyington, Eric Bishop, Jen Brown

What does it mean (for you) to be a professional fighter?

To be a professional fighter isn't as important as being a father and good husband. I don't want this taken out of context. I love professional fighting, and it's been an incredible passion for me that's changed the course of my life and created more opportunity than I could ever imagine. But, when I rank it as far as significance or what it means to me, it has to come second to my family and friends. It is an unmatched journey in this world, and I am forever grateful.

How have martial arts impacted your life and where do you think you would be right now, without it?

Martial arts, as I stated above has forever changed the azimuth of my life. Martial arts shaped and molded me from a young age. Although there was always more room for discipline, I don't want to know where I'd be without the structure taught to me. Most of all it gave me a network of lifelong friends and opportunities to travel the world. I've visited Russia and fought in Madison Square Garden, the world's most famous arena. Being a martial artist has become a way of life and who I am. Follow your passion and your fate will be decided.

What is one challenge and lesson you've learned from your training?

Most people don't know this, but I have a titanium plate in my neck. I've had two neck surgeries, so it's pretty hard not to mention that as far as lessons learned in training. You have to protect your body as a martial artist and think about longevity. I've also learned you must make time and the commitment to training. If you're in-and-out of the sport and back-and-forth on your training, the results will be a reflection.

How important is having a daily routine?

I've found without a routine I was on a roller coaster ride. Between being a martial artist and in the United States Marines, there's a lot of daily routine and planning happening. With having a big family, other jobs and businesses, it's critical to get your routine in sync. Otherwise, you end up drowning in it, and I've been there as well.

What is your proudest accomplishment?

I have three proudest moments, the first is traveling to Russia and headlining a fight there. It was like a real Rocky versus Drago story. The second is getting the opportunity to compete doing what I love in the world's most famous arena. This experience was a very proud moment. The third is receiving my black belt in Taekwondo because I think it's what catapulted me to experience the other two. 

What's your favorite kick? I'm asking for a friend ;) 

My favorite kick is either a spinning hook or back kick. Without a doubt, I like anything that has a spin on it.

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If you could have one dream fight with anyone, who would it be?

If I could have one dream fight with anyone, this is pretty easy, because I've always wanted to fight with Connor McGregor. I've always found him to be a lot like myself in life and to some extent how we fight. I always thought that would be a fun matchup. I'm reasonably sure it will never happen because he has put himself in a wonderful position.


 Tommy O’Connell vs. Bruce Boyington this Saturday 4/28  Tickets for the April 28, 2018 Championship Boxing event in Windham, NH are on sale now at  www.BoxingNH.com  || Catch it live on AXY's TV

Tommy O’Connell vs. Bruce Boyington this Saturday 4/28

Tickets for the April 28, 2018 Championship Boxing event in Windham, NH are on sale now at www.BoxingNH.com || Catch it live on AXY's TV


What is your favorite inspirational/motivational quote?

I have so many favorite quotes but the most simple and basic one stays with me all the time, and that is, "Life is what you make it." It's forward thinking and relevant to everyone. It's very true. People create their destiny in their mindset. 

In one word, describe yourself:

Happy.

 Twinning!  Bruce  &  Randi Beth Boyington  || Married since May 16, 2015

Twinning! BruceRandi Beth Boyington || Married since May 16, 2015

Question! Did you enjoy reading this blog? 

To Connect with Bruce: 

Facebook || Instagram

Carla Waldron, Personal Trainer w/ A Soulful Purpose

Carla Waldron, a daughter, sister, friend and personal trainer you dream of having and knowing. I'm personally inspired by Carla's passions for fitness and the love and dedication to her family, friendships and of course, Brad Pitt. I had to throw that in there! Let's meet Carla! -Jessica Lea Nolette (blog creator)

How has living an active and healthy lifestyle affected your relationships with family, friends, and community? 

Living an active lifestyle has inspired many relationships and has helped them thrive. Those around me know that health is important, but I preach having a balance (sure, let’s go get a burger but be prepared to walk home afterward). I also come from a very active family, so my closest relationships maintain a lifestyle much like my own. And because health is as much mental as it is physical, I make sure to keep good people around me who improve my mood. For me, it just doesn’t make sense to hang out with energy drainers. Life is too short, so I’m going to live it as best as I can and share it with only the best.  

 Philly Phitness Team! Love Run 5k! ❤️  #phillyphitness   @phillyphitness  via  Carla's   Instagram

Philly Phitness Team! Love Run 5k! ❤️ #phillyphitness @phillyphitness via Carla's Instagram

What is your fitness philosophy? 

I’m not fancy when it comes to this. I believe you must make it a lifestyle. If something is important to you, you’ll make the time for it. Trust me, this is important. There’s no better time to start than right now. 

What kind of clients do you train? 

I’ll train anyone who wants to be better and get stronger, but who is ready to commit to those goals. That’s really all I ask of people. The clients I have now are incredible – they inspire me to be better. They’re a solid mix of individuals who have different levels of fitness, who have different careers, who come from different cultures, and who have different goals. What unites them are their goals of getting stronger, giving maximum effort at every session and improving every day through the power of fitness.  

Where do you train?  

I train out of a private studio, Philly Phitness. It’s located in the Rittenhouse area of Philadelphia, PA. 

Do you have a mentor or someone you look up to? 

Anyone who has a chance to talk to me knows how much I adore my family. I’m the youngest so I have older siblings and a great set of parents to look up to, and I could name about 1,000 other role models! But I’ve been so fortunate to have my best friend, Perry O’Hearn, as my mentor in this industry. Perry has a unique way of pushing me, and he knows how to motivate me to be better with business and inspired with learning through all aspects of my life. 

Carla may be our youngest sibling, but she has always carried herself in such a way that makes you more determined to push yourself to do better. Her motivation and drive is so empowering. I can’t choose just one word to describe her, I’d have to choose two: WONDER WOMAN.
— Amy Waldron (Carla's Sister)
Carla may be the baby of the family, but this girl is a beast. There is nothing that she physically can’t do; and if she falters, she will keep at it until it’s mastered- the girl is determined. She inspires me every single day.
— George Waldron (Carla's Brother)
 The Fab Four! #siblings 

The Fab Four! #siblings 

I never had to worry about Carla keeping up with her siblings. Whether it was in the classroom or on the field, she always worked hard to be at the top. There is no stopping her. So proud of everything she does.
— Carla's Mom
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"Thanks to you and dad (plus siblings) for raising me to be the best person I can be!" -Carla Waldron

 Perry & Carla. Best Friend + Mentor 

Perry & Carla. Best Friend + Mentor 

Trainers and clients are not always a good fit. What advice would you give someone trying to find the best trainer that matches their goals? 

I believe a trainer should always adjust to the client’s goals, but it takes work on both sides of the equation for the trainer and the client to stay committed to the end. In my experience, the most important part is the bond formed between the client and trainer, it allows for trust and honesty and elevates the experience and likelihood for success.

I started working with Carla when I hit a roadblock in my own fitness journey. I never imagined I would move past the blockage with not only a new found understanding of my personal health but also myself. She didn’t just get me over the hump but has taught me about my physical strength and my personal strength. I started to work with Carla to find my healthy routine again, however, I have truly found so much more.
— Rita Marie (Carla's Client)
 "This is Rita and me. Common in our sessions to share a laugh (or lots of laughs)!"

"This is Rita and me. Common in our sessions to share a laugh (or lots of laughs)!"

What is your favorite and least favorite exercise? 

My favorite exercise is the Turkish Get Up, and my least favorite exercise is a burpee*. (*I don’t do them, so I don’t make my clients do them. It’s a sacred rule.)

How important is having a daily routine and setting goals? 

We all have a daily routine, but we don’t always have goals. Complacency is more common than we think, and that is no way to live. You deserve better, we all deserve better. So, once you figure out the goal you’re striving for, your daily routine will have to adjust. It’s that simple and not that simple all at the same time. But if it’s important to you, you’ll find a way to make it happen. If it’s not important, you’ll make an excuse and nothing will change. 

If you could have a training session with anyone in the world, who would it be with and why? 

Jane Fonda, the Queen of Fitness. I’m sure I would learn so much from her!

I'd like to share one message with the world on your behalf, what should I share

Never miss the opportunity to help another person.

What is your favorite inspirational/motivational quote? 

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neal Donald Walsch

What Superhero power do you identify with?

Without a doubt, Wonder Woman.

In one word describe yourself: 

Resilient.

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To Connect with Carla:

Personal Trainer. Lifestyle Coach. Lover of life. 

Email: carlawaldronpt@gmail.com

Instagram: @carlawaldron

Facebook: Carla Waldron Personal Fitness Group

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Misti Sims, MS & Adoption Advocate & "Mighty" Running Warrior

I met Misti in the EVEN Hotel (a runner's paradise) lobby in Brooklyn the morning of the 2018 NYC Half Marathon. I had called for a taxi, was nervously waiting and offered Misti to ride with me. Of course, the taxi never came. We stuck together and navigated the NYC Subway with a mother/daughter duo we'd also met in the lobby. We swapped stories and names and post race I managed to track Misti down on Facebook. We met for coffee the next morning, and thus the inspiration and creation of this blog feature. -Jessica Lea Nolette (blog creator) 

In many of my blogs, I've mentioned hardships in life becoming blessings in personal growth and achievement. Can you tell us about your diagnosis of MS and how it's lead you to run marathons and advocacy?

I was diagnosed with MS in February 2011 when I was about 214 pounds. My husband Jason and I were in the depths of fertility treatments, and I was in a state of depression with our struggle to become parents. Between the fertility treatments, depression, and eating, I was a mess. Then boom. I found out I had MS. It started with pain in my left eye, to which I ignored for weeks. Then, I woke up one day with numbness and tingling on the left side (head, arm, leg) of my body. I couldn't get into visit my family doctor, so I saw his nurse practitioner. I assumed I would just be given a steroid pack and be on my merry way but she insisted on an emergency MRI, to which, I obliged. I had the MRI at 11 am that Friday morning and by 4:07 pm on the same Friday my doctor's office called and on the other end was my doctor's voice. He asked me if I was driving, to which I said, no. He asked if I was home alone, to which I said, yes. He asked me to sit down, to which, I did not. I paced the living room for what seemed was hours and was only second's. At that point, he informed me I had the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. 

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I was never a runner. In September of 2014, at 214 pounds, I hired a trainer, and one month later I ran for the very first time. It was a 5k. :-) 

I was SO proud of myself. A former client of mine emailed me in November of 2014 to try to get a spot on the National MS Team to run the NYC Half Marathon. I basically, laughed. I thought to myself how adorable she was to EVEN think I could ever do such a long run. I wrote my story and never expected to ever hear from anyone about it. A few weeks later I received an email saying I was on the team and it changed my life.

Can you give us a brief background about MS? What is it and how many people are affected by this disease?

Multiple Sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. It's referred to as the "snowflake" disease because no two people with MS are alike with their symptoms. It affects around 400,000 people in the US and mostly women.

How has this experience positively affected your relationship with your family, friends, and community?

I only spent a few days feeling sad for myself. I stayed off the internet and instead bought books to help educate my family and myself. The internet can be a very dark, depressive place. I was adamant about not using the internet to research a disease I knew nothing about, and I had. The diagnosis changed me! It's important to state it changed me for the better. My family and friends have become my support system. They have helped raise awareness, money and lifted me up when I sometimes feel down. Our son was born after the diagnosis, so MS is what he knows of me and he will never recall a time I didn't have it. Since he was a baby he's gone to MS Walks with me. I speak to him often about MS so he is never scared. He knows he can come to me with any questions today, or any day, no matter how old he is. He's excited to go to Cleveland Clinic with me in May for a follow-up visit so he can meet the doctors and infusion nurses who take care of his mommy. It's important to me he understands what happens when I leave town for treatment and is never scared. 

 "Just trailblazing through life! Dose two has officially started. It's my turn MS!!" 🎗

"Just trailblazing through life! Dose two has officially started. It's my turn MS!!" 🎗

My community is amazing. They refer to me as "Mighty Misti!" Many people have reached out to me with their own stories. Most of all, my community truly cares about me, and that in itself inspires me. 

When did you realize you wanted to advocate for MS and share your personal story with others?

It was shortly after my diagnosis that I knew I wanted to advocate and share my story. My heart told me this was something that was important and I listened. Seven years later, I wouldn't change a thing. I have raised money, awareness and advocation is my new passion. I have gotten to tell my story to MS doctors and MS researchers at Cleveland Clinic. The same people who work tirelessly on a cure have heard me speak, and that makes everything come full circle.

Aside from running, what are some of your other passions?  

Besides running, I am an adoption advocate as well. I also work very hard to incorporate exercise into my daily routine. I have learned the importance of food choices for myself and family. I lost 50 pounds. I live a fairly clean life of eating, juicing and exercising. 

 "Trust me when I say  #anythingispossible  you just have to start!" 

"Trust me when I say #anythingispossible you just have to start!" 

Of course, my number one passion is our 5-year-old son, Maxin. I think he has inspired me the most. I want him to know that no matter the hand you are dealt, you get to decide what you make of it. He sees me run long distances, tackle spartan races and thinks I'm a total superhero. All the while, he's the real superhero. He doesn't remember I have MS every day, just on days I feel extra sick and pats my head and brings me ice packs. The truest of love from a 5-year-old.

What is your next race on the horizon and how can our readers support your cause? 

My next race is the Boston Marathon on April 16th. I am on the National MS Team, and readers can go to this link here to donate. It sure would be appreciated. 

mistisims_bostonmarathon.png

How important is goal setting for you?

Goal setting is tremendously important to me. It seriously gets me out of bed in the morning. It offers me a structure that I crave. Everyone should have a goal no matter how big or small.

What is your proudest personal and professional accomplishment?

My proudest personal accomplishment is when we adopted Maxin at birth. We have an amazing adoption story that is forever ours.

 "My favorite guy!! There are no words in the dictionary I can think of to describe the happiness he has brought to my life." Photo Credit:  @livhefnerphotography  

"My favorite guy!! There are no words in the dictionary I can think of to describe the happiness he has brought to my life." Photo Credit: @livhefnerphotography 

Also, when I completed The NYC Half Marathon and The NYC Marathon, both in 2015.

 "The day I said I did it. The day I said I will never give up and I will never quit. Where memories of pain, turned into memories of a goal I was out to obtain. It took more physical and mental strength and training than I could have ever imagined. I hit physical and emotional walls I never knew existed but when I crossed that finish line, I became 1% of the worlds population and that moment is why I wanted to start training again!"  #nycmarathon2015

"The day I said I did it. The day I said I will never give up and I will never quit. Where memories of pain, turned into memories of a goal I was out to obtain. It took more physical and mental strength and training than I could have ever imagined. I hit physical and emotional walls I never knew existed but when I crossed that finish line, I became 1% of the worlds population and that moment is why I wanted to start training again!"
#nycmarathon2015

 
 "My proudest professional accomplishment would probably be when I was voted top 40 under 40 business professional's in the state of West Virginia.

"My proudest professional accomplishment would probably be when I was voted top 40 under 40 business professional's in the state of West Virginia.

 

Misti is the owner of Little Black Dress Events 

Learn More Here

 
  Photo by - The Oberports

 Photo by - The Oberports

 

What is something not many people know about you?

Not many people know sometimes, I can be consumed with anxiety. It is never a great place to be. Also, after losing 50 pounds, I am definitely harder on myself and my body image. 

I'd like to share a message with the world on your behalf, what should I share?

The world is made up of many “snowflakes,” not just those of us who have MS. I just happen to have MS. We are all different and fighting our own battles. Choose kindness over cruelty, choose positive actions over negative words. We are all in this game of life together.

What is your favorite motivational/inspirational quote? 

“You either get bitter or you get better. It's that simple. You either take what has been dealt to you and allow it to make you a better person, or you allow it to tear you down. The choice does not belong to fate, it belongs to you.” - John Shipp

In one word describe yourself: 

Mighty

Did you enjoy this blog? Become a part of our mindful, goal-setting community. 

misti_sims.png

To Connect with Misti: 

Email: misti@littleblackdressevents.net

Instagram: @lbdevents1|| Facebook: @littleblackdressWV

Olivia Orr, Coordinator, Coach, Coder & Co-Director

Raised by a family of educators, Oliva Orr seeks to make an impact on social justice through mission-driven work. Olivia shares what she is most passionate about today and reminds us "success looks different on everyone."

When did you first get involved in working with non-profits?

While I was a college student, I spent a couple of summers working with Upward Bound. It was a bit of a whirlwind; I built relationships with the students, planned trips, and assisted with some of the administrative duties. The experience opened my eyes to the professional possibilities within the nonprofit realm. I think my studies in Sociology only further solidified my desire to participate in community-based, socially driven work. I was lucky to land a job at a Boston-based nonprofit called Silver Lining Mentoring after graduation, but eventually, I realized Portland might be a better fit for me, which is how I ended up here.  

Do you think you were born with the innate qualities to help others or did this evolve through travels and life experiences? 

I think that my parents have a lot do with my desire to help others. Both of my parents are educators – my dad is a Forestry Professor and my mom is a Head Start teacher. They raised me to understand the importance of giving back. I’m grateful for my education and everybody I’ve met along the way because of those experiences sort of filled in the gaps. I had to figure out what “giving back” looked like in the real world – how could I make that desire more tangible?

Can you explain what ILAP is and what lead you to be The Operations Coordinator?

ILAP (The Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project) provides free and low-cost immigration information and legal assistance to low-income Maine residents. We believe that everyone should be able to access our legal system regardless of income or background. We provide direct legal aid, conduct educational outreach sessions, and advocate for policy change at the systemic level. My Portland job hunt was mission-driven. I knew that I could use my administrative and development skills in just about any office environment, but I wanted to find someplace that felt like the right fit for me. ILAP’s mission sparked my curiosity, which led me to apply. 

 " ILAP  helps Maine's immigrants keep their families together, gain protection from persecution and domestic violence, attain residency and work authorization, and become proud U.S. citizens."

"ILAP helps Maine's immigrants keep their families together, gain protection from persecution and domestic violence, attain residency and work authorization, and become proud U.S. citizens."

What does your job entail?

I started off as the Office and Development Associate. My duties were evenly split between administrative and development work – it was all very straightforward. As time went on and I grew to be more comfortable with our work, I expanded on those duties. I wrote my first grant proposal (which was approved!) and designed new marketing materials. I am now trained to conduct Intake appointments (Intake appointments occur every Friday, by appointment, for all new clients), which gives me a chance to work directly with our clients. I think the title Operations Coordinator is sort of a catch-all for the little things I do here and there. 

How has Trump's immigration bills impacted your mission? 

We’ve certainly felt the impact of the new administration at ILAP. The work that we’re doing is now more important than ever, and we all recognize that. We’re lucky to have so many donors and supporters who have recognized that too. A lot of folks in our communities have chosen to speak up stand proudly with immigrants.

oliviaorr.jpg

Outside of work, what do you like to do? 

Music is important to me. Portland’s live music scene is amazing, so I try to attend shows when I can! I like hanging out at breweries and exploring new places in Maine. I’ve been learning to code in my spare time over the past couple of years, which has been awesome. I identify as an introverted extrovert, so relaxation is important to me too. My ideal evening is spent cooking dinner and swapping stories with my girlfriend.

What is Lesbians Who Tech and what inspired you to become the Maine Chapter's, City Co-Director? 

Officially speaking, Lesbians Who Tech is a community of queer women in and around tech (and the people who love them). That’s pretty much all I knew when my mentor, Allyson Casey, encouraged me to attend the LWT summit in NYC last fall. Up until then, I had wondered if I was learning to code for nothing. What could I do with those skills? Would there be a place for me in tech if I wanted it? Who could support me along the way? My hesitation was put to rest after attending the summit; words cannot describe my experience. I was blown away by the general badassness and inclusivity of the LWT community. I shared my experience with Allyson and she proposed that we start our own chapter here in Southern Maine. We strongly feel that there are queer women and allies here who are also seeking community and want to support one another. Our first meetup was held in January, which was a resounding success! Stay tuned for upcoming events.

How important do you think building mindful technology is today?

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can connect my love for social justice with my building passion for tech. I think sometimes people hear the word “tech” and recoil because it seems inaccessible to them. What I’ve learned through LWT is that tech takes many forms. 

You can build something by programming, sure, but you can also use technology to design, communicate, and teach. I think that tech is supposed to benefit everyone, but when you have a sector that’s largely led by straight white men, you’re going to see some bias in the outcomes that are produced. If more underrepresented folks (women, LGBT people, people of color, etc.) were encouraged to carve out spaces for themselves in tech, I think typically marginalized communities would be positively impacted. 

What is one thing not many people know about you? 

I love movie scores. No, I am obsessed with movie scores. I think I have over 2,000 songs in my music library from different TV shows and movies. 

  Olivia Orr  as Gary Coleman, and  Shawn Reardon  as Nicky in AVENUE Q at LYRIC MUSIC THEATER!  www.LyricMusicTheater.org  Photo:  Brandon Pullen Photography

Olivia Orr as Gary Coleman, and Shawn Reardon as Nicky in AVENUE Q at LYRIC MUSIC THEATER! www.LyricMusicTheater.org Photo: Brandon Pullen Photography

When did you start skiing and how long have you been assistant coaching with Portland Nordic?

I’ve been cross country skiing since I was about seven. Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has a tremendous amount of lake effect snow (I think it’s something like 218” on average per year), so getting involved with skiing was pretty much a no-brainer. I skied competitively through high school and into my first year of college, but I sort of burnt out along the way and decided to try other things. When I heard about Portland Nordic late last year I wanted to get involved. It felt like the right time to get back into something that had defined me for quite some time but in a different capacity. I’m grateful the lead coaches let me on board! Middle schoolers are hilariously awesome and they work hard out there. 

What are you most passionate about today?

Recently I’ve been feeling an intense enthusiasm around things I’ve enjoyed in the past, but strayed away from over the years. I’m really lucky that I was encouraged to try so many different activities as a kid. Because of that, I can sort of jump around and dive into different things when the timing is right. I loved dedicated myself to that over the past couple of months. Now I’m looking forward to getting back into coding with more regularity since the ski season is wrapping up. There are a lot of things in this world that make me happy, and I like not knowing what will draw me in 6 months down the line, or a year from now.

 Olivia recently launched her  personal portfolio and wesbite . 

Olivia recently launched her personal portfolio and wesbite

What is one message I can repeatedly share with the world on your behalf? 

I spend a lot of time reminding myself that 

success looks different on everybody.

Sometimes I feel successful when my stress level is super low. Other times I measure my success by the number of items I’ve checked off on a to-do list. Sometimes I feel accomplished because I’ve gone to the grocery store on a Sunday instead of waiting until Monday. I think that’s what I’m drawn to Mindbosa, to be honest! It makes you realize that your goals can be flexible and your measure of success is your own.

What is your favorite inspirational/motivational quote? 

"It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities"

-Album Dumbledore

In one word describe yourself:

Dedicated.

oliviaorr.jpg

To Connect with Olivia: 

Website: oliviaheshimaorr.com || Email: oorr90@gmail.com || LinkedIn: Olivia Orr || Facebook || Instagram


Would you like to learn about Mindbosa? 

Would you like to become part of our community? 

Hollie Corbett, Runner - “The Great White Shark”

Hollie's passion for running gives me runner's high. I asked Hollie what she does if she has to miss a run because, well, life happens. She said: "I never have." Fact, Hollie ran 2,394.4 miles in 2017. 
"I'll run till the day I die."

What does being a runner mean to you and where might you be in life without running?

Aside from my family and close friends, being a runner is everything and all-encompassing in my life.  Running is not an activity or sport for me.  It is the singular embodiment of everything that is good about me – it showcases my determination, organization, heart, focus, feistiness, and perseverance.  It is not what I do, it’s who I am. 

I’ve always been a driven person, but I cannot imagine where I would be without running.  By some extension, running has given me every important person in my life, my support system who constantly sacrifice their time to help me achieve my dreams.  So, I would be a far less happy person and feel caged.  Running makes me feel free and gives me a sense of purpose and belonging. 

Where did your nickname, "The Great White Shark" originate?

I have always been fascinated by Great White sharks.  They are fearless, ferocious, and instinctual.  They are an unignorable entity.  The nickname grew out of my ability to visualize chasing down the person in front of me while using that single-minded ferocity to stay focused on my end game.  The nickname is hilarious if you know me because I am physically tiny.  However, don’t let my size fool you, housed inside of this little body is the heart of a Great White. 

Can you share with us a bit of your running and coaching history? 

I think my unofficial running history began when I was able to stand!  I participated in several sports when I was younger, but I did not become an official runner until I was a freshman in high school when I joined the cross country team in order to build endurance for basketball.  I fell in love with the sport and left all other sports.  My path after that is a bit unconventional in that I went from being a sprinter to a competitive middle distance runner and eventually landed on the marathon in my adult life.  Once I found the marathon, I was smitten.  It’s where my heart is.  I have done 7 marathons so far. 

My coaching history began more as a way to help my friends rather than anything official.  I would make training plans for free for different friends here and there.  I put myself out there a bit more when I began to coach my adult track team a few years ago by leading the distance workouts.  Eventually, I became an official co-captain of the team.  Coaching my teammates has brought me a lot of joy and essentially reignited the fire within me after I had my children.

Who are #HolliesHomies and how has this running group enhanced your running career? 

To understand who we are you have to know our roots.  I call my friends my homies.  The group name, Hollie’s Homies, was coined by my friend Hans after a long cold winter run with some of the homies about a year ago.  We are a group of like-minded friends of all ages who love running, enjoy watching each other compete and achieve goals, and have become sounding boards and rocks to lean on during anything we go through in our lives.  The homies (as I call them) have enhanced my running career in a major way.  I do not mind running solo for most of my runs in a week, but the time I spend running with the homies is special.  We talk the entire time for hours about anything and everything nearly every single weekend year round.  We have crazy amounts of fun which make the miles tick by fast.  Plus, there is so much Maine running history in our group that if you do not learn something from them, you haven’t been listening. 

What is one challenge and lesson learned from your experience in training and coaching? 

The largest challenge I’ve encountered in my training/running gave birth to the largest lesson I’ve learned thus far in my career.  I had a very disappointing 2nd Boston Marathon in 2016.  I ran in the heat that fateful day (rain and 50's is my jam), and my entire race plan went sideways quickly.  I threw up several times and nearly passed out a couple of times as well.  Everyone has a race experience that becomes “the” race, the one that changes you.  This was it for me, the race that brought me to my knees but ended up being the best thing to happen to my running.  At this point in my career, I operated under the assumption that if I worked hard, then I would achieve what I wanted.  I learned the hard way that running does not work like that.  

Running is not a linear process with guaranteed outcomes. It is fluid with heartbreaking descents and breathtaking ascents, and you never know which you will get even with all the planning and training in the world.
— Hollie Corbett

I had to partially let go of my rigid nature and become fluid and therein laid the challenge for me.  I enlisted the help of a coach for the first time via Rob Gomez and tried a new way to train while simultaneously not letting one race define me.  I leaned on my family and close friends to help get my mind right.  All of this made me realize that this one experience was merely a single chapter in my running career, not the entire book.  I grew so much as a runner from that one experience.

Speaking from my own experience, running a marathon is A LOT of hard work. Training is time-consuming, a commitment and it hurts! Why do you think we continue to run despite all the pain? 

Life, in general, has ample pain, but we keep living despite the pain, right?  Running with all the lovely pain we endure really is no different for a marathoner.  We are stubborn, driven people.  Marathon training requires so much of ourselves that it has to become an investment even in the pain.  We all invest a ridiculous amount of hours in the actual training/running and necessary extras (PT, weight training, stretching, foam rolling, nutrition, sleep, hydration, etc.) all for that one glorious day.  I truly believe that marathons are personal for each runner.  We all have a reason and a backstory; we all sacrifice for that one end if you will.  I am always cognizant of this fact every single time I toe the line at a marathon when I look at the other marathoners.  In the end, pain is merely just one aspect of the whole process for us.  For me, the reward of knowing that I accomplished something that I put my heart and soul into far outweighs any pain when it comes to a marathon. 

How important is having a daily routine and setting goals? 

Routines and goals are incredibly important to me.  I am a major creature of habit.  My routines have routines!  I find something beautiful about efficiency, working hard, and staying the course toward something you really want in life.  As my running has progressed, I’ve realized that the only limits I have are the ones I impose on myself.  Routines are one solid path to follow to achieve anything and everything you want in life not just in regards to running. 

What is your next big race on the horizon? 

My next big race is the Boston Marathon on April 16, 2018.  Boston 2018 will be my 3rd Boston Marathon.  The Boston Marathon is the pinnacle race for me, it’s my Olympics.  It is unlike any race, it is the Monday of all Mondays.  I wish every runner could experience it because words do not do it justice.   I am very excited for this particular Boston because it will be the first time one of my best friends and I run it at the same time, 2 of my other closest friends (one of which is my Physical Therapist and has saved me on many occasions) will be there to cheer for the very first time, and I have big plans that hopefully lead to obtaining the one large dream I have with my running.


A Message From Rob Gomez, Hollie's Running Coach

 

“Hollie is one of my most determined clients. The drive she has to get in every training run and hit all the paces she needs to hit during her workouts is second to none. She has a friendly and fiery disposition that can be infectious as is evidenced by the ever-larger group of “Hollie’s Homies” that tags along with her for her longer training runs. I’m pretty sure Hollie is the only person who has asked me to swear at them during a race for added motivation! I’ve found myself using Hollie as an example to find motivation for some of my own training runs. Things may not have come together perfectly for her last marathon effort, but I know Hollie will set herself up well for a great race in Boston this April with a whole lot of hard work and a few curse words along the way!” -Rob Gomez


What is your proudest personal achievement? 

My proudest running achievement is not a personal one per se.  I am proudest of all the achievements my City of South Portland adult track team in the Maine Corporate Track Association/MECTA has achieved.   Our team is comprised of all ages (18-70+) and running backgrounds (including those who have never ran before).  I have seen so many of them step out of their comfort zones to do what is best for the team.  Watching them grow as athletes has been far more rewarding than any of my personal achievements.  The fact that I get the opportunity to coach/co-captain them is a whole other level of pride for me.  I always tell them that I will never ask more of them than what I am willing to give myself.  They just give and give again.  Seeing the smiles on their faces when they do something they never thought they could to when we win state championships is amazing.  It is an incredibly fun and special thing to be a part of. 

 8th straight MECTA State Champions.  #mainerunning

8th straight MECTA State Champions. #mainerunning

What is your favorite running app? 

Strava.  My favoritism is three-fold in that I am a stats nerd (I love seeing my own stats and anecdotal information), I really like connecting with other runners from around the world, and I find Strava’s layout visually appealing.

Who is your idol runner and why?

My favorite professional runner is Bernard Lagat.  I love the way he races, smart in the beginning and then he hammers down near the end.  Plus, he appears very gracious and kind.  I would love to meet him someday.

However, my true running idol is one of my best friends, Jess Laurent.  She knew from the jump that she wanted to be a marathoner.  Jess is one of the strongest, most dedicated and passionate people I know which translates directly to her running.  I am in awe of her running ability and conviction, especially since she is super petite like me.  I can remember in my pre-marathon days how I would be in admiration of her because she ran through all weather, woke up early to get her miles in, loved running hills, and had no quit in her body.  When I really started focusing on running again after my children were born, I distinctly remember saying to myself “what would Jess do?”  She’s been an inspiration for me for years.  I idolize every aspect of her not only as a runner but as a person.

Hollie Corbett & Jess Laurent

What is your favorite inspirational/motivational quote? 

“Impossible IS NOTHING” – Phil Chamberlain

In one word, describe yourself: 

Gritty

To Connect with Hollie:

Email: harnish4@yahoo.com

Instagram: @marathoner52

Carrie McEneaney, A Maine Mom Running

True story, I met Carrie in February 2001. She trained me to be a server at Macaroni Grill! Back then, I'm not sure I understood what running was and why anyone would want to do it! I'd say we've come a long way since. It comes as no surprise Carrie is a passionate and dedicated runner, mom, wife, friend, and worker. Here's a glimpse of Carrie, A Maine Mom Running.

What inspired you to begin running?

I ran cross-country and track in high school and college, but stopped after graduation. Even though I ran every once in a while, it wasn’t until after the birth of our second son that I really had the itch to start running on a regular basis and compete again. Meeting up with an old high school friend and a couple of her friends inspired me to get out there.

How has running impacted your life?

Running has been a huge impact in my life. It has shown me that I can do hard things and push myself both mentally and physically further than I previously thought possible. It has brought me friendships both in person and through social media that will last a lifetime. It gives me solo time and is a release from the day-to-day crazies which in turn helps me be a better person in all aspects of my life.

What are one challenge and one lesson you’ve learned from your training? 

Training your brain is almost more important than becoming physically strong when it comes to running. When your body is tired and you don’t think you could take another step, it’s a huge challenge to focus and fight the urge to stop. But the more you run, the more you practice mental focus, the more you will improve. With running, what you put in, you will get out. If you don’t invest the time, you won’t be fully satisfied with the results. There are no shortcuts. 

Life gets in the way of training (no regrets), so I have no expectations other than to reach the finish line and have fun along the way. -CM

What are your top two favorite running memories? 

Crossing the finish line at the high school state meet in the 300m hurdles in first place way back in 1994 is one of my favorite memories. Second would be running the Maine Coast Marathon on Mother’s Day in 2015. Even though it was my slowest marathon to date and I had to walk the last half due to a sudden heatwave of over 90 degrees after training all winter, I had the best time just enjoying the journey. Also having my husband and two boys waiting for me at the finish was a wonderful gift. 

 
mainemomrunning
 

If you could run anywhere in the world, where would it be?

It’s pretty cliche, but running the Boston Marathon is where I hope to run one day. A close second would be Antarctica or Alaska. I run hot, so running somewhere cold is my ideal place. 

What is your favorite inspirational/motivational quote? 

"Running is about more than just putting one foot in front of the other; it is about our lifestyle and who we are.” - Joan Benoit Samuelson or more recently, “F*&k yes!” - Shalane Flanagan right before winning the 2017 NYC Marathon (Catch that video HERE!)

In one word, describe yourself:

Positive

 
 "Running has been a huge impact in my life. It has shown me that I can do hard things and push myself both mentally and physically further than I previously thought possible." -CM

"Running has been a huge impact in my life. It has shown me that I can do hard things and push myself both mentally and physically further than I previously thought possible." -CM

 

Connect & follow Carrie,

A Maine Mom Running Via: 

Instagram and Twitter @amainemom


Shannon Bryan - Founder of Fit Maine

What is Fit Maine?

Fit Maine is a website dedicated to cool ways to work out and fun, active things to do in Maine. (There's no shortage of either of those things, which means I'm always hearing about and discovering new stuff to check out, write about, and tell others about. And this makes me happy!). There is also a newsletter and an events calendar, plus Fit Maine Facebook and Instagram, all for the purpose of letting other people know about lively weekend activities, running groups, races, moonlight paddles, circus arts classes, easy hikes, etc. That's the whole point - to tell people about this really fun stuff (and encourage them to go check it out for themselves).

What inspired you to create Fit Maine?

I love doing active things in Maine, whether it's taking a kickboxing class, sweating it out at an outdoor boot camp, or finding a stunning new hike or easy-going paddle. I'd go do these things with a few friends and post about them on Facebook (that's what Facebook is for, right? Posting our wonderous adventures?) and I'd get questions from other people wanting to know more: "Where was this class? How much was it? Was it hard? Is it beginner friendly?" I realized there was no resource for this kind of stuff - a single place where you could find about new workouts or running groups or get tips on places to hike or paddle or trail run. So, two years ago, I decided to create it. Add to that the fact that I get a huge kick out of getting other people to go try new things. It makes my heart swell to hear someone say, "I read about that class/hike/group on Fit Maine and went and tried it and had a great time!" That's why I keep writing. These kinds of experiences are life-enhancing. They get people out of their comfort zones. On top of being a ton of fun, this stuff is good for our bods. Sure, some folks prefer to run on a treadmill at the gym, but for folks who'd rather paddleboard or do aerial trapeze, I've got you covered! (I also have a penchant for the kinds-weird stuff, like kitten yoga and goat hikes!)

What are one challenge and one lesson you’ve learned from your experience as FM founder?

One challenge I face is figuring out how to support the site financially. For the first couple of years, I've funded the site myself (I do make some money by selling "Maine is my gym" tanks and tees). And that worked because I believe so much in what I'm doing that I didn't mind spending money to do it. But it also means that a good chunk of my time is spent doing work elsewhere that does make money (and I've been supremely lucky to have work that I also really love doing). So my ability to focus on Fit Maine is limited, although my dream is to be able to do it full time. And I have little experience with sales and monetizing websites, so it's been a challenge to adopt a new skill set that'll help me talk to businesses about Fit Maine and why it's so fantastic and why supporting it has value for everyone (those who read it and the events/studios/gyms/trainers I write about). But I'm embracing the chance to learn new things! 

One lesson I've learned is to know my audience. Early on, I wrote a piece about beginner yoga classes and workshops (I know a lot of women and men who are curious about yoga but are hesitant to show up to a class), so this story was one I believed would be really useful. But I included a photo of a woman in crow pose, which is a fairly advanced hand balancing pose. And that clouded the message I was trying to convey - that these classes were for beginners. The photo wasn't of a beginner, so it was confusing, and a dumb move on my part. But that's the kind of thing I think about a lot now: Who am I talking to? What am I talking about? Do the words and images align? 

What are your top 2 favorite FM memories?

Just this spring, I went on a hike at Ovens Mouth Preserve in Boothbay and posted a photo on Instagram of a super-cool spot on the trail, where there's a wooden bench overlooking the tidal waters. Someone posted a comment to the photo asking if the trail was kid and dog-friendly, and I said "Yes! Saw kids and dogs on the trail today!" The very next day, that same woman posted a photo on Instagram of the same spot and tagged me in it, saying "thanks for the tip, we had a great time today!" Thinking about that still, makes me grin. I'm overjoyed that I got to help someone find a neat new adventure (it's even better when I get a report back that they liked it!). 

Another favorite memory is from last summer when I attended a Bike & Brews event in Gorham. These events have guided mountain bike rides for all levels and end at a brewery. I'd joined the beginner group for a ride on the Gorham trails, and afterward was talking with fellow riders at Sebago Brewing. One woman, I was chatting with found out I wrote about active things to do in Maine and mentioned a speed skating club she's in. My response? SPEED SKATING?! Tell me more! A couple months later I was on the ice in a pair of loaned skates, learning proper form and having a grand time. I love that Fit Maine is an excuse to go do cool things, but it also allows me to meet new people all the time AND learn about other cool stuff I didn't even know about. It's the circle of Fit Maine life! 

What is your favorite inspirational/motivational quote?

"Do epic shit." I saw it on a Facebook meme, with a kid in a superhero cape. And while "epic" might conjure visions of base-jumpers or Everest climbers for some people, I think epic is relative. Taking a surf lesson, trying paddleboard yoga for the first time, mountain biking in the woods all afternoon or hiking in some stunning, new-to-you place can be pretty epic, too. The point is to welcome new adventures, to be open to trying new things and even being kinda bad at them. How expert you are isn't the point. Learning something new is thrilling. Exploring Maine, doing things that make you feel strong, engaging in something that's worth talking about over dinner is what matters. 

In one word, describe yourself:

Loud! 

For more information on Fit Maine please visit: 

www.fitmaine.com

or follow on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/fitmaine/

and Instagram

http://www.instagram.com/fitmaine

Mia Gardner, LCSW Psychotherapist & Aspiring Author

What are your areas of expertise?  

I utilize CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and some strengths-based/positive psychology approaches in my work. I specialize in children, families, and family-centered concerns. I have also done a lot of work within the school setting and am able to support children and their parents around any difficulties in that realm. I had received my Family Therapy Certificate from Boston University’s School of Social Work while completing my Masters. Part of the family work is working with individuals struggling with family stressors and complications. Many people need support in functioning within this realm, especially when major things come up, and I am here to provide that support.

I am also working with young adults, especially in life coaching, who are feeling stuck and are looking to find their way, build their self-esteem, and reach their fullest potential.

What led you to decide to become a therapist? 

A combination of personal and professional experiences. Honestly, it started back when I was younger. I am from a small town in the New Jersey suburbs and my parents had been divorced when I was young. Growing up, I was the only one of my friends who had divorced parents so I felt like I could not really talk about it with anyone. I hated the feeling of not knowing what I should or shouldn’t say or not knowing who I could talk to that would understand what I was going through. I told myself then that I wanted to be that person for other people; I wanted to be the one they could talk to when things were difficult.

Of course, I did not know exactly what that meant as an occupation at that time, but as I got older and furthered my education, my path was soon lit up. I took a psychology course in High School and was pretty much sold. I found the information so interesting and useful. It came easily to me and I decided that would be my major and the perfect way for me to support others. While in college, I was blessed enough to be mentored by one of my psychology professors at Sacred Heart University who further guided me down my path. She advised I pursue the counseling side of the profession and go for my masters in Social Work. I applied to Boston University’s program and the rest is history!

Do you believe you were born with the innate qualities to help others or was this developed over time through experiences? 

I am someone who believes we are all here for a reason. With that said, I truly see this as my calling. I think that everything from my personality, skill sets, strengths, and experiences have led me to where I am. I believe I was born with those necessary qualities but they have certainly been shaped over time by experiences and fantastic education programs.

I imagine not 'taking work home' with you is a challenge. How are you able to separate work vs home and what do you like to do outside of work that directly impacts your career? 

It was certainly difficult at first, but it is definitely a message you receive frequently when you are going through the academic and training piece of the work. If you’re doing your job to the best of your abilities, then you know at the end of the day you did all you could to help and support someone. Another important thing to remember is not all of the cases are going to be successful and that is absolutely out of our power past what we can provide them with. What we do is give tools and support, but the rest is in the client’s hands. I’ve always told myself since beginning the work that if I am able to make a positive impact on just one person a day, (and I would like to think I do more than that!) then I am doing my job.

 "I love being able to take even just a few minutes to regroup and set my intentions." -MG via  Instagram @sincerelyyourtherapist

"I love being able to take even just a few minutes to regroup and set my intentions." -MG via Instagram @sincerelyyourtherapist

As I have become more seasoned, I have learned to prioritize self-care. I have activities I do to transition myself from a work mindset to a home mindset. I have my routine to prepare me before work as far as setting my intentions and getting motivated, as well as after work on my way home to decompress. I also created a blog and account called Sincerely, Your Therapist to show others how I manage keeping a positive mindset, maintain self-care, and promote overall wellness. It’s a helpful tool for me as well since it acts as built-in and mandatory journaling! I also enjoy writing overall as well as physical exercise and being social. I have made it a point to join co-ed soccer leagues to continue playing the sport I love.

What is one challenge and one lesson you've learned from your experience as a therapist? 

One of, and I would have to say the biggest, challenge I have encountered is that you can only do so much and the rest is up to them (the client). You cannot help someone who does not want it or is not willing to follow up on the work. We are told as therapists that we should not be working harder than the client; we should each be putting in the effort I order to have a positive outcome. This is hard to accept, especially at first when you are wanting to see everyone improve and have success in their treatment.

The biggest lesson I have learned from being a therapist is it’s okay, and even necessary, to be a little selfish. Hear me out! If we are not able to take care of ourselves and we are not in a good place, we cannot take care of others. At least not the way we should be. Self-care for myself and reinforcing this with clients has easily been the biggest lesson learned. You can certainly make changes without it but they will be short term. Being in a good place with yourself and how you think and feel about yourself is essential in reaching our max potential and any long-term positive changes. As soon as I started making self-care a priority for myself, I noticed a huge difference in my work, in my thinking, my demeanor, and my effectiveness. I have also noticed the same for clients who are able to take this message and be consistent with it. Some see it as selfish if they are putting themselves before others, but the people around you will thank you in the end!

Can you tell us about your aspiration of becoming an author? What is 20 Beautiful Women? 

Absolutely! I have always loving writing. I always told myself (and my parents) that I would write a book one day. Writing was an area I excelled in both academically and personally. It was helpful for me growing up to have writing as a tool because it was a way for me to process and express things when there was a lot going on.

20 Beautiful Women is a book created and put together by an amazing woman named Saba Tekle who had a vision of compiling inspirational stories of women overcoming struggles and accomplishing their goals. I had seen her social media post stating that she was getting started on her newest volume of the series and I reached out to congratulate her and tell her how great it was that she was doing this. I noted that I had submitted an excerpt, as she was taking applications for the women that would make up this new book, and she got back to me the same day that I was approved to be one of the chapters in the book! It was so surreal that someone appreciated my story and that now I would be able to begin telling it to a bigger audience.

  20 Beautiful Women  "20 Stories That Will Heal Your Soul, Ignite Your Passion And Inspire Your Divine Purpose” is a collection of personal short stories from 20 authors, speakers, and life coaches bonding together for the common goal of sisterhood, and to transform women from the inside out."

20 Beautiful Women "20 Stories That Will Heal Your Soul, Ignite Your Passion And Inspire Your Divine Purpose” is a collection of personal short stories from 20 authors, speakers, and life coaches bonding together for the common goal of sisterhood, and to transform women from the inside out."

Having this happen gave me the push to pursue my own writing further and I began writing Children’s Book manuscripts promoting self-esteem, positive thinking, and positive interactions. The themes were inspired by the work I have been doing with children and families. I wanted to reach a larger audience with these positive messages that are so necessary to our youth. This is all in the works so hopefully more updates soon to come! I am very excited by this project.

If you could offer one piece of therapeutic advice to children & adults who struggle with anxiety/depression what would it be?  

Honestly, it would be that they are not alone and to seek out supports or services. I could list a number of different interventions but if you are truly struggling with any of these or similar things, you need a professional to support you and get you to a place where you are feeling confident and happy again. There are so many supports in the community as well as professional supports and services. The stigma of therapy is diminishing because of how much more widely it is being accessed and how helpful it is to those that find the right therapist. Most of my client’s now laugh and say, “I think everyone should have a therapist!” Why block yourself from being your best you? If you need the help, the best thing you could do for yourself is advocate for yourself and get the help and support you need. These things are absolutely treatable.

 "I'm really appreciating the idea of coming together and empowering each other over comparisons and unhealthy competition. Action is important but it's also important to check in with ourselves and maintain a positive perspective in order to move forward with our ideas and actions in a positive manner." -Mia Gardner via  Instagram

"I'm really appreciating the idea of coming together and empowering each other over comparisons and unhealthy competition. Action is important but it's also important to check in with ourselves and maintain a positive perspective in order to move forward with our ideas and actions in a positive manner." -Mia Gardner via Instagram

What is your proudest personal and professional accomplishment? 

There have been many in both realms. I strongly believe in giving yourself credit where it’s due and feel that’s a big part of why I was able to make it to where I am. Personally, I was very sheltered growing up. As I mentioned, I came from a small town in the Jersey suburbs so branching out and moving to a new city and making my own life there has been huge for me. It was completely out of my comfort zone so it’s a proud feeling that I not only did it, but excelled and created a new and wonderful life for myself. I was also a Division 1 soccer player in college which was a big accomplishment for me as well since that was a dream of mine growing up, especially with the name Mia! And yes, Mia Hamm was one of my idols.

Professionally I would have to say getting a spot in my private practice. I always knew it was something I wanted and something I would do, but I saw it being something I would do WAY down the line. I finally stopped telling myself I wasn’t ready and that I had to wait and went for it. It was such a powerful moment to hear that I was chosen to be part of this prestigious private practice group, and at just 25 years old!

What is your favorite inspirational/motivational quote? 

While there are many great ones, my all-time favorite is “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain” by Vivian Greene. It’s a quote I came across when I was younger and have come to live by. I love everything about it; the fun of it, the light heartedness, the hope. I feel like it pretty much sums up me and my life. It’s always been something I have kept in mind, and is the reason I have to smile a little whenever it rains. Ironically, it’s also a concept I have based my practice and approach on in helping people to shift their perspectives and focus on the things they can control rather than what they cannot.

 "The approach I use with my clients, both therapy and coaching, is a shift in perspective and thinking. It's about recognizing the things you can control and shifting your focus to these things rather than having your focus on the things you cannot." Read More @  SINCERELY YOUR THERAPIST

"The approach I use with my clients, both therapy and coaching, is a shift in perspective and thinking. It's about recognizing the things you can control and shifting your focus to these things rather than having your focus on the things you cannot." Read More @ SINCERELY YOUR THERAPIST

In one word, describe yourself: 

Ambitious

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To Connect with Mia

Instagram: @sincerelyyourtherapist

Facebook: @sincerelyyt

Website: www.sincerelyyourtherapist.com