Make Believe

make believeMake-Believe. Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.

Sing it with me. You know you want to. Belt it out. Right here, right now.

“It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood. A beautiful day for a neighbor. Could you be mine? Would you be mine?…. I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you. I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you. So let’s make the most of this beautiful day. Since we’re together, we might as well say: Would you be mine, could you be mine? Won’t you be my neighbor.”

Hello, neighbor.

Here’s the thing.

In this hyper-connected world, we are all neighbors. We have access to one another, like it or not.

And it’s not going away.

We have a choice to make in how we interact with one another as “neighbors”.

I choose to be the best neighbor I can. I choose to wake up each day and make you think, smile, move and laugh. I’m like Wilson, and you’re Tim the Toolman Taylor.

I want to make you believe in yourself.

You become what you believe.

You know that saying “fake it until you make it”? Sometimes as adults we need to play a little make believe. We need to MAKE ourselves BELIEVE we can do something. When we believe we can, we WILL.

Here’s a perfect example.

My best friend from high school ran cross country with me. She hated it, and she wasn’t very fast. She did it more for the social aspect.

A little over a year ago, she made herself believe she was a runner.

She ran a few shorter races, gained some confidence and ran Dam to Dam (just short of a half marathon) last summer, ran her first marathon, and then ran the Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon just a few weeks ago.

She pushed through an injury and 10 mile an hour winds she endured for 6+ miles.

Kiley, mother of 3, runner and Boston qualifier.

Kiley, mother of 3, runner and Boston qualifier.

And she qualified for Boston. 

Don’t think for a second that Make Believe is just for kids.

Find something you want to do (especially something that scares you). Something that will make you a better version of yourself.

And MAKE yourself BELIEVE you can do it.



Slow Down And Enjoy The Ride

 “Slow down and enjoy life.  It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.”

Eddie Cantor 

My yoga instructor shared the quote above at the beginning of class last week. I’m fairly certain she was speaking directly to me. The evening before, I attended a guided meditation call led by my friend Carolyn Flyer with the same message: slow down. Prior to calling in, she had us watch a video about Slomo.

I don’t know how to go slow. I’m fairly certain I came out of the womb running. I’ve been moving at mach speed since I was born. As a little girl I was independent and fearless. I’m always in a hurry to get where I’m going, wether it’s running, working, eating, talking, driving, reading or learning. On the first day of kindergarten I demanded on walking to school alone in front  of my parents. Basically, as a 5 year old I had a restraining against them. I can just imagine my kindergarten demands ….”Fran, I said 50 yards away! Frank, is that a tear? You better lock it up!”

Just like Forrest Gump, I’ve just always “felt like running”.

I barely event taste my food, I inhale it before my husband has finished his third bite.

If there are stairs, I’ll run down them. Or better yet, I’ll take the slide.

Slowing down is hard to do, but it’s necessary. I’m realizing that I haven’t taken the time to enjoy my life’s scenery. I’ve been too busy focusing on what’s next to take in the beauty of the present moment.

It’s very difficult to slow down when you are passionate about something. You want to change the world, help people better themselves, sing kumbaya as you hug your friends and family.

So, I’m going to need you to hold me accountable. If you see me moving too fast, feel free to slap me across the face (figuratively) and remind me to enjoy the ride.

It’s not about racing towards your destination full speed ahead. Life is best lived when you enjoy the journey and take in the beautiful scenery.

I’m soaking it all up and taking time to enjoy every moment. And as far as I’m concerned, a genuine smile from a child is God’s greatest gift to a mother.

my 3 boys laughing

Introducing iMoveU

“When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, LEAP.” 

-Cynthia Heimel

It was just over a year ago that the idea came to me. I don’t remember where I was or what I was doing, but I remember my inner voice suddenly take over me, screaming in my ear “You need to figure out a way to do what you love by combining your two passions: exercise and professional growth. And you need to call it iMoveU!”.

For the most part, I ignored my inner voice. I was pregnant with my third child, working full-time in a job I enjoyed, surrounded by co-workers I adore, and in grad school finishing my Master’s degree. Free time was something I had very little of. But in those fleeting moments when I was alone with my thoughts, my inner voice would remind me of what I was putting off.

It wasn’t until August, when my 3rd son was born, that I had some free time to explore the idea. With the older 2 boys in school and a newborn who loved to sleep, I had pockets of time where I started to flush out what I wanted iMoveU to be.

It’s with tremendous fear excitement that I am finally ready to share the idea with the universe and see where it goes.

Introducing iMoveU: An innovative approach to professional growth

iMoveU was developed based on research that exercise positively affects learning. By incorporating movement into the learning process, we are increasing the brain’s cognitive capacity, allowing the body and mind to work together.




As a working mother, education enthusiast, and exercise junkie, I understand how difficult it can be to find time to take care of ourselves. I often times felt guilty taking time out of my day to exercise because it meant taking time away from my family or time away from work. However, on the days I exercise I found that (as I’m sure you all know and can relate) I’m more productive, I have more energy, and I’m just….happier.

iMoveU is dedicated to providing innovative learning experiences, allowing the mind and body to work together. By incorporating movement and exercise, we are clearing our minds and allowing the brain to absorb and process new information.

I believe that learning is a lifelong journey. Throughout my career I have continually sought out opportunities to grow professionally.

I have an insatiable thirst to explore the world I live in and my purpose within it.

As a result, I’ve sat through my fair share of workshops, seminars, webinars, classes and retreats. Some have inspired and transformed me as a learner. Others have sucked the life out of me.

I’m also a bit of an exercise junkie. I fell in love with running in middle school and haven’t looked back since. I hoard workout videos like candy, and I’ve tried everything from hot yoga to The Dailey Method. Exercise is so much more than a way to improve my health and wellness. I quickly realized that some of my best thinking comes when I’m in motion.In the book Steal Like An Artist, author Austin Kleon shares that “our bodies can tell our brains as much as our brains tell our bodies”.

I’m hoping to create learning experiences that challenge your perspectives, expand your horizons, make you laugh, get you moving, and push you to strive for better

iMoveU is my way of sharing what I have learned with others. This is a journey that is just beginning, and I am looking for friends, family and community members to help me build this into what I know it can be. If you are interested in participating, here’s how you can be involved:

  • iMoveU pilots: I’ve tested it once with 3 of my amazing friends (you know who you are- THANK YOU), and I need to test it out a few more times to improve upon what I’ve developed. If you have the space to host a session and people to test it out, I’ll do it for free. I am looking to do 5-10 pilot sessions within the next few months.If you have a small group of co-workers you think this could benefit (think of this opportunity as a new type of motivational/inspirational speech) I’d love to talk with you about how this might work with your organization. I have an entire list of topic ideas ready to go.
  • Send me your feedback: Comment on this blog post, on FB, call me or send me an email. I would love to hear your thoughts, answer your questions, and connect with anyone you think I should talk to.
  • Follow my Pinterest board: iMoveU is more than just in-person workshops and events. As an avid reader and reflective practitioner, I’ll post what I’m learning online. As I read and find inspiration, I will share it with you through a new board I created on Pinterest. Feel free to steal and use these images, just give proper credit 🙂
  • iMoveU Spring/Summer Bootcamp: Beginning in May, I’m going to offer 1 hour outdoor bootcamps. (Weather permitting of course. I’ve talked to mother nature and she has assured me this cold, dreary winter weather WILL come to an end.) These 1 hour iMoveU sessions will include a mix of strength and cardio moves, a short 15-20 minute presentation of a topic or idea (for example- creativity and innovation), and a 20 minute reflection run/walk. If you live in the Arlington Heights area and you are interested in learning more about these bootcamps, fill out this form and I’ll send you more information.

Within the next month I’ll also share my website which will explain iMoveU in more detail.

So there you have it. Who knows where this journey will lead me. It’s been terrifying and nerve-wracking to put myself out there, but the more I work on it the more my inner voice is yelling “YES!! Keep going! FINALLY!” If iMoveU helps even one person to improve themselves personally and professionally, I’ll consider it a success. And more importantly, if it inspires my 3 boys to pursue their passion and  find joy in their life’s work, I’ll know I’ve successfully modeled for them what I hope they strive for as adults.

“Look what I accomplished all by myself!” –Said no one, ever

This is hardly a solo effort. So many people have already helped me along the way, and I couldn’t be more grateful for their support. A huge thank you to my husband for his unwavering support and encouragement in this new venture. Thank you to my parents who took care of my 3 boys for a week in Florida so I could sit on the beach and dream of what this could and should be. Thank you to my inner circle of friends and family who have taken the time to listen to my iMoveU rants, provide feedback on my website, and volunteered to be my test monkeys. Thank you in advance to those of you who I’ll be reaching out to in the coming months for help. Feel free to ignore my calls, texts and emails now that you know what I’m up to. But don’t forget I know where you live, and I have a box full of high school, college, summer vacation and wedding pictures that can easily be scanned and shared online for all to see 🙂

Introducing iMoveU, my adjacent possible.  



The Adjacent Possible

photo (3)A few years ago I read Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson. The book takes a close look at the natural history of innovation in an effort to identify what sparks our great ideas.

In the book he talks about the “adjacent possible”.




“The history of cultural progress is, almost without exception, a story of one door leading to another door, exploring the palace one room at a time.”

In other words, when one door closes, another one opens. This allows you to explore a new space, previously unavailable to you. As an educator and lifelong learner, this is incredibly exciting. It can also be a bit overwhelming, especially when the door was closed unexpectedly by someone else. Relationships end, companies evolve, and friends change. Regardless of how it closed, if you continue to move forward, you allow yourself the opportunity to explore new possibilities.

Last week I had the privilege  of spending the week on a beach in Florida with my parents and 3 kids. I began each morning with a long run along the beach. The first two days were sunny and warm, and I could see for miles as I ran. But the third day a thick, low fog settled in. I could only see about 100 yards in front of me at any given time. For some reason, my run on the third day was much easier than the first two.

Then it hit me. I was enjoying the moment, exploring the adjacent possible as new faces and places came into view. I wasn’t fixated on the end goal which looked so far away on the first two days. I couldn’t see it, but I knew it was there.

Here’s my point. In life, we often times get wrapped up in the long-term vision, becoming overwhelmed thinking about how we are going to get there. It looks so far away, and there is so much to do, so we become paralyzed with fear and indecision. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a long-term vision. It’s essential to know where you are going, but it’s not always going to be along the path you expect. The more you focus on small accomplishments, the more you will open new doors to explore the adjacent possible. Over time, you will be able to connect the dots between the rooms. That’s when the magic happens and great ideas are born.

In the book Creative Confidence, David and Tom Kelley (founders of IDEO and the innovative Stanford warn that “the fear of failure is THE biggest obstacle to creative success”. They define creative confidence as “the ability to see your potential and your place in the world more clearly, unclouded by anxiety and doubt”. Don’t ever let fear or doubt trump your passion. Set a series of small goals and keep in mind that courage is the “accumulation of small steps”. If you waste time focusing your attention on a problem,  you run the risk of missing the opportunity hiding behind it.

Or, as the famous fish Dory once said, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!”

Here’s to exploring the adjacent possible.

Why do I run?

Today (June 1st) is National Running Day.  I happen to be in NYC for work and was able to start my day with an early morning run through the streets of NYC and Central Park. (Check that off off my bucket list!) Knowing it was National Running Day I naturally began to reflect on WHY I run. It has been a large part of my life since my freshman year of high school. Although my reasons for running have changed over the years, one thing remains the same- I don’t know what I would do without it.

The summer before my freshman year one of my best friends convinced me to attend a meeting to learn more about the cross country team. I played along and attended the meeting. The coach was nice and very knowledgeable about the sport so I gave it a try. I instantly feel in love. I ran because it was a very social sport and the boys and girls teams shared the same coach. Although I couldn’t tell you what my PR was or how many medals I received, I can tell you that I had a blast with my team members. I went running through the mud, running in the rain, running from the boys on a Saturday night after toilet-papering their houses, running through our town on a scavenger hunt and running at the state meet 3 years in a row. I ran because it was fun.

Then came college. I was no longer a 4-sport-a-year athlete, so I continued to run to try stay fit. It was a losing game.  The overall decrease in physical activity (combined with the increase of my food and liquid consumption) resulted in the “freshman 15”. But for me it was more like the freshman 20 or 25. The summer before my last semester, I received a flier for Team in Training. I wanted to revive my running routine so I attended an informational meeting. I signed up on the spot and was motivated and inspired to run for the first time since high school. My cousin Andrew lost his battle with  Leukemia at a very young age so this cause was very close to my heart. With the help of my roommates who roller-bladed along side me, I trained for the Marine Corps Marathon. I also raised money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society by organizing a car wash, writing letters to my family and friends and making funnel cakes and selling them on campus. A month before my race, 9/11 happened. I was nervous to travel to D.C. as the anthrax scare had just happened, and the Pentagon had been attacked. I couldn’t imagine not running after months and months of training and fundraising, so I went. My boyfriend at the time (now my husband) was living in Atlanta and drove to D.C. to watch me run. The morning of the race he wished me luck and I nervously walked towards the sea of runners. A few minutes before we started I met a 40-something yr. old woman and we started talking. She was from D.C. and she was telling me what life had been like since 9/11. Next thing I knew we were a few miles into the run and we were still talking. Then we ran by the Pentagon. The massive hole in the side of the building was heart-wrenching. The construction workers had stopped working and were waiving American flags as we ran by. I looked at my running buddy and she had tears in her eyes too.  We ended up running the entire marathon together and held hands as we crossed the finish line. I did it!!

After college, I moved to Atlanta to be closer to my boyfriend and found a teaching job. I contacted the local high school cross country coach to see if she needed any help. Not only did she appreciate my help, she quickly became one of my closest friends. When we weren’t coaching cross country and track together, we were finding a time to meet up and run, or get together and plan our up-coming weddings.

In 2006-2007 we moved to Chicago, bought a house, and had a kid. I ran until I was 8 months pregnant, but it wasn’t ideal. I couldn’t run as far or as fast as I wanted. After I received clearance from the doctor, I started running again. It felt so good to get back to my old routine, and it kept me sane in those early days of being a new mommy. It was MY time to think, vent to myself, clear my head, and of course lose that pesky baby weight. I ran because I could. I ran because I learned, for the first time in my life,  that I can’t take running for granted.

Since having my 2 boys, I have logged a number of miles running 5k’s, 10k’s, half marathons, 2 muddy buddy’s and 1 TRI (which I completed with my brother, cousins and uncle). This past Memorial weekend I caught wind of a local 5 and 10 k through Salute, Inc. which raises money for military families. I signed up the day before the race. On that foggy morning, hundreds of people from my local community were gathered together to run for a cause. I was a bit nervous as I hadn’t run a 10k competitively in a few years. I was unsure that I could still run at the same pace I had been able to years before. The gun went off and I weaved through the crowd towards the front of the pack. I caught up to a girl who seemed to be running a good pace. Our 2 mile split was just under 14 minutes. I knew I couldn’t keep the pace, so I backed off a bit. At mile 5 I felt a burst of energy and was able to catch her.  I finished 12th overall and 1st in my age group. I was proud of myself. After the race I found my good friend who had run the 5k, and I was blabbering about my finish. Suddenly we noticed everyone was starting to clap, yell, and crowd around the end of the course. As we walked over to see what the commotion was all about, we saw him. Retired Marine Cpl. Yuriy Zmysly, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was about to finish the 5K. With the help of his physical therapist, he stood up out of his wheelchair and walked the last 100 yards. As we cheered him on I looked at my friend (she blogged about it here) and could see the tears in her eyes matched mine. It was a moment I will never forget. (For more information on Yuiry and his inspiring story, click here.)

So why do I run? I run because I can. I run because it’s fun. I run because I want to stay fit. I run because it helps relieve stress. I run because I want to inspire my kids to be active.  But most of all, I run because (as evidenced above) it’s so much more than just running.

Why do you love running? I’d love to hear your story.