Posted in Uncategorized

The ‘Secret’ to a Successful 2013 by Roy H. Williams

Wizard Academy is an unique business school in Austin, TX which I had the opportunity of attending a one day conference at a few years ago. It was founded by Roy H. Williams and now his Monday Morning Memo is one of the first things I start my week with.

I love what he wrote in the rabbit hole this week about ‘the secret’ to success:

'dealing cards' photo (c) 2009, aaronisnotcool - license:

Wizard Academy celebrates commitment; the kind that
puts everything on the table and then says to Life,
“I’m all in. Deal the cards, bitch.”

Yes, the bitch will deal you disasters,
break your heart with betrayals, and ambush you
precisely where you are weakest when you least expect it.
Even so, “Deal the cards.”

After 30 years as a consultant to dreamers and schemers,
plotters and planners, insiders and outliers, the wizard has
determined that commitment is the attribute
most indicative of success.

Talent and intelligence, 
money and education, 
experience and passion 
are overrated.

Talent and intelligence play the game in their mind,
rarely bothering to take action.

Money and education are satisfied with the appearance of success
before it has ever been attained.

Experience assumes that nothing has changed since the last time
the game was played, a dangerous assumption indeed.

When passion has faded,
commitment shines bright.

-Roy H. Williams

Posted in Your Story

Blooming Where She’s Planted—Because She Can!

I have a vague memory of when I was almost four. A day when I was trying to understand why my older sisters were so excited. There’s going to be another one of us. What?

“That’s why Mom has been gone all day,” one of them said. ”She’s at the hospital getting a new baby!” (That’s how things were explained in my family)

A baby? I had one brother and three sisters and it never dawned on me that would change. But I was thrilled and couldn’t wait for mom and my new sister to come home.

That baby sister, Rosene, grew up and taught me many things.

Probably due to her name, Rosene was drawn to roses and she was impressed that roses bloomed and were fragrant, even if life gave them thorns and her goal was to do the same.

Her life motto was “Bloom where you are planted.” 

And she did—even though she faced more obstacles than most of us. Mentally she was as bright as you and I, but she faced numerous physical obstacles because she was born with Cerebral Palsy* which caused a lack of muscle coordination over her entire body.

My mom and I took Rosene to our local Special Olympics field day a time or two. Rosene loved every second of those days… whether she was focusing hard to throw a ball, walk a short distance or watching others, this smile never left her face all day.

My sister Rosene

She walked around age 2, but was unsteady and always had bruises on her knees from falling. With determination she continued walking (often with assistance) for most activities until her late twenties, when she began using a wheelchair.

If you’ve read my memoir, Because I Can, you know the relationship Rosene and I had was special, even if we didn’t always agree on everything. We fought, laughed, argued, joked and fought some more, just like most sisters do.

Rosene developed some health issues in her late thirties and she began having severe pain in her back, neck and arms. Due to complications from a surgery to try to decrease her pain, Rosene died at the age of 39 on October 22, 2008.


Excerpt from Because I Can:

Rosene had been so tired of her life and she dreamed of the day she would be pain-free, so while I was sad to say good-bye, I was happy for her. From time to time, I felt guilty that I wasn’t sadder that she died, yet I was so grateful that she was pain-free. I envision her dancing and singing, without pain and limitations, in a beautiful place.

Bloom Where You are Planted by Rosene Hoover

Rosene’s life motto had been “Bloom where you are planted.” For her, this meant learning how to type on a computer, one finger at a time. Along with writing encouraging notes for others, she wrote short poems and had a computer journal which helped her process life.

In the months following her death, I searched her computer and collected her writings. Some I had read, some I hadn’t. I compiled them and the story of her life in a book for family and friends. Doing this was healing and inspiring.

During this time I was so thankful for a few things. I was glad that I had learned how to deal with my feelings. Though losing Rosene was different then my losses post-accident, the grieving process had similarities. I was also glad that my body allowed me to be running again. The trail was a good place to process my grief.

Some days I walked, other times I did running/walking intervals. On the days when the unfairness of life made me angry, I’d run as hard as I could. (attractive sight I’m sure … an angry middle-aged woman puffing along slightly faster than a snail)

The trail was also a good place to think about life … and to ask myself some questions. Rosene did the best she could in life with what she had—why should I do anything less? Was I blooming where I was planted?

I didn’t feel guilty, because I was still living and she was not, because I knew that was one of those mysteries of life I will never understand. But I had a desire to make the most of my life … because I can. 

I’m naturally curious and interested in many things in life, which explains all the unfinished projects around my house. As I thought about what my strongest passion were, I narrowed it down to a few things—running and connecting with people through speaking and writing.

Why don’t I try to increase my running? What’s stopping me from writing a memoir?


Though I’m sorry Rosene suffered as much as she did, I’m grateful for what I learned from her. Remembering her attitude and her determination has and continues to carry me through many days, from trying one more time to smiling when I don’t feel like it to writing to short runs to marathon 1 and marathon 2.

As I wrote my memoir, I started calling it my “because I can” story. One day it dawned on me that could be the title. At times, I’d think about other title options, but I kept coming back to the influence Rosene had on me to keep doing what I can.

Many days my life was one step at a time and one word at a time and it was only by leaning on Rosene’s example of never giving up that I was able to recover well and able to finish a book.

I’m forever grateful to my little sis
for helping me live life well by inspiring me
to do what I can… because I can!


Pieces of Rosene’s story have been scattered in some of my other posts, so some of this was posted before, but I wanted her story and her influence on BECAUSE I CAN condensed into one post.
*Cerebral Palsy (CP) is an umbrella term that encompasses a group of non-progressive, non-contagious conditions that cause physical challenges in human development. CP mostly affects body movement and muscle coordination. 
Posted in Guest Post

Love Yourself and Love Others—Amandita Sullivan

Amandita Sullivan

This past year, I became Facebook friends with Amandita Sullivan. Amandita inspires me because she continues doing what she can even when faced with major obstacles.

For about ten years, Amandita had been an international aid worker, mainly in Latin America. While home for Christmas in 2008, Amandita was involved in two major car accidents within a six-week period. She suffered traumatic brain injuries and injured her entire body.

An athlete her entire life, Amandita has never been one to shy away from a challenge. The last few years have proven to be her biggest challenge yet. She works extremely hard at recovering by doing many hours of physical therapy a day. Thanks to her forearm crutches, she is mobile and recently she completed a 5k!

She has a great attitude about doing what she can.

I refuse to be a victim and PROMISE you that I will someday run, swim, dance and walk again. I know that somethings happen that are totally out of our control ~ people can break our hearts or our bodies ~ but ultimately WE ARE IN CONTROL of our lives.
The answer lies WITHIN each one of us. – Amandita Sullivan

I’m impressed with Amandita’s attitude and her wisdom concerning both her own situation and many others. As soon as her and I finish an interview, I will share more of her inspiring story with you, but today I want to share something she wrote.

As I wrote in It’s a Time of Remembering, not a Time of Reasoning, I’ve been frustrated with some of the conversation surrounding the recent violence in schools. Amandita shared her thoughts about it on Facebook earlier this week and she graciously said yes to my request to share them with you.

Amandita with children in Mexico

I keep hearing that “we need God back in the schools.” Saying a prayer which reflects the religion of only some students will only serve to divide, discriminate and isolate~ which is the exact opposite goal of religion.

All religions ultimately say the same things: To love thy neighbor, to lend a hand to those in need and to love each and every day, in every single way. We are called to be truthful, genuine and honest at all times, not just with others, but also with ourselves.

I was raised Catholic but “my religion is kindness”. Reciting prayers in a school building will do nothing if our children are being raised in homes void of love, affection, trust and compassion. While spending years working with orphans in Latin America & The Caribbean, I learned that all these munchkins shared one wish:

That somebody, somewhere knew what their favorite color was, which flavor soda & ice cream they dream of, what cookie makes them smile on days when they want to cry and what being really loved feels like. They all wanted someone to take their picture, so that it could be hung on a refrigerator somewhere, just like in the telenovelas & movies ~ Because, through their eyes, a child who has a picture on a fridge is a child who is loved, fed, happy and hugged. These children desperately wanted to know that their lives mattered, that all of the rape, abuse and torture they experienced prior to arriving on my doorstep was not a reflection of their worth.

I watched these children, bruised and battered, nearly explode with happiness as they made care packages for our special intentions (we voted on one every Tuesday & the kids spent the week perfecting their letters and drawings during their free time), during our weekly “Random Acts of Kindness Day”. I watched these little warriors slowly erase the darkness from their wounded souls & let love, light and goodness permeate their beings. Together we picked up the pieces of their broken hearts, through tears, therapy and lots of hugs. TOGETHER WE HEALED.

This didn’t happen because of words being said inside their schoolroom. This happened because God wasn’t just an imaginary or mythical figure that they prayed or wished to, like Santa Claus.

This happened because God, or however you choose to name this All-Powerful, Loving Energy, was WITH us, every day, from the time we woke up until we laid our heads down to sleep. This happened because people cared enough to take the time to listen to their pain and help them to make sense of it. It happened because, with unconditional love, solid rules, healthy meals, access to an education, intensive therapy and our religion being kindness, these little ones found their place in the midst of this crazy, violent world.

My little kids sometimes couldn’t fall asleep at night from excitement over being able to deliver (on the way home from school) flowers, cards, little presents and hugs to adorable abandoned little grannies in our barrio. We would lay awake in our hammocks and discuss angels. I told my little sistas that they had been specially chosen to come have their hearts lit ablaze with love in my shelters. They embraced this and smiled proudly. The kind of smile that comes from a beautiful place, deep within your soul. The kind of smile I rarely see in The States.

The problem isn’t that a Christian God isn’t in our schools. The problem is that we are becoming a society numb to the world. We have lost the ability to connect, to TRULY CONNECT, with those with whom we cross paths. We are wandering around aimlessly, perhaps counting our blessings, but certainly not sharing them enough.

We are not teaching and showing each other how to love. Maybe we have forgotten how to love~ To love our lives, to love ourselves and to love each other. Once we can figure out how to do that, then this world will be a place that I would be proud to call my home.

Amandita Sullivan
read more of Amandita’s story here 


How do you love your life, love yourself and love others?


Posted in Thinking

It’s a Time of Remembering, not a Time of Reasoning

Today is the National Blogging Day of Remembrance.

Said to be some of the first police officers on the scene


Remembering the incredible pain that was created for so many on Friday.

Remembering the precious children and the heroic adults who lost their lives.

Remembering their moms, dads, siblings, grandparents, spouses, and friends.

Remembering the other teachers, the clergy, the counselors, and the funeral home directors.

Remembering the police officers, the trauma response teams, and the medical personnel involved.

It’s a day of remembering, not a day of reasoning.

It’s a day of remembering to help carry the pain and discussions about reasons rarely help and instead they often add to the pain.

Between my family, my personality, my upbringing in a strict Mennonite community and years spent in a conservative evangelical church, I used to be all about cause and effect. If something happened, there had to be a reason.

Not sure why reasons made me feel better, but I think it was the (false) sense of security finding some kind of reason gave me. I thought if I have a reason for why something unexpected or tragic happened to others, I could counteract and/or correct the reason and then the same thing wouldn’t happen to me.

Since almost losing my leg and my life, I’ve changed my mindset on reasons. While cause and effect works in some areas of life (if I don’t train or eat well, I can’t run well) there are many areas of life where cause and effect doesn’t apply.

Not everything happens for a reason, some things simply happen.
There is no reason that can justify something this tragic.

Especially no reason by a God who is said to be loving. 

From the conversations I’ve seen and heard this weekend, many others, especially Christians, feel the need to find a reason also. From strangers, friends and my mother, I’ve heard the thought that this might have happened because “God is not allowed in schools”.


For so many reasons, this pat answer makes no sense and I’m so sad it is circulating.

First:  If having God in schools would make a difference concerning violence, why was there a shooting at an Amish school? Their religion and God is a big part of their school day. They probably started that fateful October day off with a prayer, just like the Amish school did that I went to as a child.

Second: In all the religions I’ve studied, God is said to be loving. The story at the center of the Christian faith, Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, is said to be all about love. Love does not cause harm or retaliate when things don’t go its way. 

Third: Implying that God could and would prevent violence, if only the laws of our country would be different, paints a really grim (almost sadistic) picture of God.

Fourth: Many view God as all powerful, but this implies that God is restrained by manmade rules and/or has an anger issue. My friend Rachel says it well:

Reality Check: It is perfectly legal for students to pray in public schools. Public schools just can’t sponsor prayer events. This is to protect religious freedom in our country. And if you think this makes God absent from public schools, then your view of God is quite small. Personally, I encountered God in powerful, life-changing ways in high school, and am grateful for my public school education. To suggest that what happened this week in Connecticut happened because God is angry for being “taken out of public schools” is disgusting. It makes God into a petty and retributive monster, not the God I know. - Rachel Held Evans


It’s a time of remembering, not a time of reasoning.

with sadness, with pain, with kindness, with love.


15 Ways to Help Create Peace on Earth

Be aware
Pause and notice beauty, it’s everywhere
use your 5 senses: see, hear, smell, touch, taste

Paused to appreciate this while on a walk

Take a deep breath
Count to 5, breath out slowly, let it go.
repeat multiple times

Get enough to refresh your body and mind
7 nights a week

 Eat well
 How you eat determines how you feel
snack on vegetables and fruit

Take a walk or hit the gym
yes, even when you are busy 

Listen to your favorite music
sing along

Don’t overspend
Only give what you can afford
it’s about presence, not presents 

Be creative
Make a gift, a card or write a letter
it’s the thought that counts

Manage your time
Make an itemized to-do list
 write it down, do it, check it off

Concentrate on one thing at a time
multi-tasking is not always faster 

Be realistic
Some things matter, some don’t
figure out the difference 

More than you talk
yes, even to ‘that’ person

Live and let live
You are you and others are not you
so if they think/believe/act differently, it’s okay

Be grateful
Think of 5 things you are thankful for
repeat every day 

something to someone every day
a smile, hug, gift, time, money 

- Janet Oberholtzer  2012

Inspired by an email from RC-J Consulting
Posted in Health,

I Don’t Eat Junk Food—Besse Cooper

Besse Cooper – David Goldman, AP

Besse Cooper was born 116 years ago, in 1896.

I was going to make a list of things that weren’t invented at that time, but the list was too long. Just know that about 99% of the things you use in a day didn’t exist when Besse was born.

Besse passed away on December 5, 2012. When reading about her life, there were a number of things that stood out to me.


She stayed active.
She loved being outdoors.

She hardly took any medications.

She enjoyed read books until age 111.
She celebrated special occasions, enjoying cake on her birthday.
She took time to enjoy life, often having fresh flowers in her house.
She made a difference, registering women to vote when they gained the right in 1920. 


Earlier this year, when Besse was asked about her secret to living so long, she said,

I mind my own business. 
I don’t eat junk food.

There’s many things that could be said about minding one’s own business, but I’ll tackle that another day, today I want to expand on her comment about food.

When I posted Besse’s secrets to living so long on Facebook yesterday, Kim commented:

One smart woman…to be sure! Wonder how she really defined “junk food”!
I’d love specifics, please, to add to my list of “never again!” items.


So what is junk food?
Here’s how I define it:

Food with too many preservatives.
Food with little or no nutritional value.

Food that is far removed from its natural state.

Food with too much fat, too much sugar and/or too much salt. 

Here’s a few examples:


Another thing I noticed about Besse’s eating habits was that moderation was key, which is probably what helped her eat well the rest of the time. While she rarely ate junk food, along with having cake on her birthday, her son said she ate potato chips occasionally.

So don’t say “never again” to anything, instead limit how often you eat food that doesn’t benefit you. Aim to avoid junk food at least 80% of the time.

Another big secret of Besse’s:

“She ate a lot of vegetables,” her son Sidney said.

So the next time you are tempted by junk food, reach for vegetables instead. When cooking try different ways of preparing vegetable dishes and/or add new spices.

If you aren’t a fan of raw vegetables, start slow. Keep tasteful dips around (humus or avocado dip) and view the vegetables as a vehicle for getting the dips in your mouth and with time, you’ll develop a taste for the vegetables also. (seriously, you can retrain your taste buds, but that’s a topic for another day)

Junk food is not your friend—ignore it.
Vegetables are your friend—
buy them, cook them, order them, serve them and eat them.

How do you define junk food? 
Are you aware of how much junk food you eat?
What’s your favorite vegetable and how do you like to eat it?


Posted in Speaking

My Ignite Fitness Presentation at Fitbloggin’

As I posted earlier this fall I was an Ignite Fitness speaker at Fitbloggin’12.

Ignite is a type of speaking presentation with unique boundaries:

Ignite presenters share their personal and professional passions, using 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds for a total of just 5 minutes.
My presentation was recorded and recently released.


(the sound quality is not the best, make sure your volume is turned up)
Visit here to see the presentation of the other Ignite Fitness speakers at Fitbloggin’12.

Fitbloggin’12 took place in Baltimore MD, but Fitbloggin’13 will take place in Oregon in June…
if you have any interest in fitness and/or in blogging, check it out.

TED Talk by Janine Shepherd

Janine Shepherd

As you know I like TED talks and today I have to share an amazing one I watched yesterday. I love Janine’s energy, her speaking style, especially how she moves from chair to chair as her story unfolds.

Athlete Janine Shepherd was rendered a partial paraplegic when she was hit by a truck during an Olympic training bike ride. Doctors didn’t expect her to recover. But she not only learned to walk again — she learned to fly. – TED

I would love to meet Janine someday, because there’s so many similarities in our stories. After receiving severe physical trauma, we both struggled with depression before realizing life is too short to be miserable.

Only by letting go of who we were pre-accident did we have energy to make choices that helped us overcome and/or learn to live with our new normal. Only by doing that, were we able to go farther than we ever dreamed possible.

Side note: I have no clear memories of the eleven days that I spent in a medical coma after my accident and I don’t feel like I had any control over what happened during that time, so I find it interesting that she feels like she had to make a choice whether or not “to return to her body” during her coma. 

So acknowledge the changes in your life,
make adjustments,
adapt where needed and
do what you can to live life well today!