Jul 24, 2013
brooke19
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Commitment

In a few minutes I will be leaving the house for a job interview. I couldn’t be more worried or anxious. This job could change everything. The odds are in my favor…I have subbed in this school district for a year, I graduated from their high school, and I student taught here. I know plenty of teachers who support me and want me get this job. Now it’s up to me to go prove myself. As part of my application they asked for a writing sample. This is it:

Commitment is staying loyal to something you said you would do, long after the mood you said it in has left you.  I would use many words to describe myself, including hardworking, conscientious, detail oriented and driven. However, at the top of the list, I would place the word committed.

Most Saturday mornings, my alarm goes off much earlier than I would prefer. After a long week of working multiple jobs and attending graduate school, I have earned the right to sleep a few more minutes. However, I rouse myself from bed and head to Peekskill.  I find a parking spot, push the buzzer in an apartment complex and then walk an always growing girl to the library. This routine has played out almost every Saturday morning since July, 2010.  At that point, this child was a student in a Dual Language 2nd grade classroom at Oakside School in Peekskill.  I student taught in her class but had also met her family previously, through my church. Their family had moved to the United States from Guatemala in 2006. Upon completion of my student teaching, I volunteered to tutor this student through the summer. She often struggled in school, however, loved learning and was incredibly determined to succeed. Summer turned to fall and we continued working every Saturday through the school year. To this day, we have worked together once, if not twice, a week almost every week. We practice spelling, mathematics, writing, reading comprehension as well as cover topics in American History; her favorite subject. She makes continual progress and she is now about to enter middle school, sure that someday she will become a teacher or librarian.

However, sometimes we do not meet on Saturday. Occasionally, my Saturdays are spent elsewhere. In the summer of 2012, I joined a group called Team in Training which was part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Team in Training members participate in events to raise money for the society. To date, they have raised over a billion dollars for LLS. In July 2012, with Team in Training, I completed an obstacle course racing event, called Spartan Race. Obstacle course races are not the same as an average 5k or 10k. They contain physical and mental challenges and test your determination at every corner. Since then, I have participated in five such events. These events are difficult and although I could stop at any time, I am committed to improvement. Participation in these events has encouraged a healthy and active lifestyle in me, as well as motivated friends to engage in healthier activities as well.

Part of this healthier lifestyle involves working out, walking, running, or hiking after work. However, for the past year, I also found many evenings busy with graduate school work. In addition, one night a week, I drove to Rockland Community College in Suffern in order to continue learning sign language. Upon beginning my graduate program in TESOL, I learned that I needed four courses of a foreign language. Although, I had studied Spanish at the college level, I was interested in learning American Sign Language.  I was committed to learning sign language beyond the basics. RCC was the only local school I could find with 200 level sign classes, so once a week for two semesters, I made the drive to Suffern. I completed 201 and 202 while attending graduate school full time and working multiple jobs.

It is easy to say you will do something. To begin something new takes ambition. However, to stay committed to something you believe in takes strength and perseverance. These are characteristics I am able to transfer to all aspects of my life and use to motivate and encourage students in and out of the classroom.

Jul 14, 2013
brooke19
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1 Year Ago

One year ago I participated in my first ever Spartan Race. I say participated because I definitely did not run it. It took me over 4 hours to climb the mountain from hell, twice.

That is Blue Mountain in Pennsylvania and on that mountain I truly learned who I was and what I was made of. I signed up for Spartan Race, having NO idea of what I was getting myself into. I had no idea how to train or fuel my body. I was lucky to find the Spartan Chicks facebook page before the race where I learned some important information like bringing a camelbak (THANK GOD).

I toed the line with a new friend, Freddy, who was also part of Team TNT (raising money for leukemia and lymphoma). The fact that I thought I was running this event with a team was half of what gave me the balls to sign up. However, it wasn’t much of a team. There was 4 of us and 2 people had opted to run Sunday instead. So it was two  of us at the starting line and I was very aware that we were at  extremely different levels. And about a minute off the line, I was all alone.

Completing that race changed who I was completely. I learned a lot about mental grit and determination. Part of me really wanted to go back to PA this week to kick that mountain’s ass. However, I opted for a different event instead. Next week Thomas and I will be heading upstate to an event called Superhero Scramble. It will be my 4th OCR (5th counting Hurricane Heat), but 1st non-spartan. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the event and can’t wait to experience it for myself.

In the past year I feel like I have changed an incredible amount. I can’t prove it with pictures or numbers on the scale. I weigh exactly the same and look similar. But in the past year I have recovered from my THIRD stomach surgery as well as 2 vein procedures. I more aware of what I eat and how I work out. I’m still no beast and I have an insane amount of work to do.  I have completed 3 Spartan Races, Plus had the balls to participate in a Hurricane Heat. Looking at me you may have no idea that I’ve changed, but I know I have.

Spartan Race has changed me from caring about the number on the scale, to the miles I put in a week. As much as I would love to be 130 lbs and a size 4, I don’t work out solely for that reason anymore. I am more motivated because I’m doing this for more than the scale. I don’t “diet” and eat special k bars and count my calories. As much as I would love to fit into the super cute jean shorts I have in my drawer, those shorts are not the only reason I workout. In the past, I cared about my weight. I worried over a few pounds. Working out was to lower that number. I didn’t care about being faster or stronger, I cared about being thinner. I did loose some weight but the motivation wasn’t for the right reasons.

From the girl who couldn’t even run the mile in gym class…to Spartan Chick.

Kick Butt. Take Names. <3

Jun 8, 2013
brooke19
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Tuxedo Spartan

At this very moment a week ago, I was possibly climbing a mountain, doing burpees, wallowing through mud, or (the more likely option) sitting down, having a drink of water, wishing I had a different hobby.

I have no idea why I do the things I do. I am not a total beast, these races are not easy for me, and I am slower than probably the fastest turtle you know. However, the raving lunatic and 6 year old tom boy inside of me, love these damn races. I woke up last Saturday morning at 3:45 am. Let me repeat. WOKE UP AT. Not went to bed at…that’s honestly more normal for me. I got up before 4am. To go run around in the dark like a crazy person….with a bunch of other crazy people.  Then, after almost 4 hours of that, I went home, showered, and turned around and went back.

Standing on the start line at 3pm with my boyfriend and two great guy friends, I was excited but also freaking out. I was exhausted from the Hurricane Heat and I had no idea how I was going to make it through the course all over again. I was feeling dizzy and started panicking that I was going to pass out. I almost started to cry from the nerves. However, a few AROOs later and I was off. I pointed out the rocks that Joe D. had us move at 6am. Seeing all the little reminders from HH kept me going throughout the day. The rocks we moved, the HELL YEAH painted on a tree, the stack of tires we created, all reminded me of the amazing people I had met that morning and all we had accomplished. After 2 hours it was obvious that I was dragging everyone down…so my two guy friends took off and Thomas and I stuck together.

Out on the course, Thomas and I ran into a guy named John. We were back and forth with him many times…passing him occasionally, and then he passed us when he beasted through some obstacles. Eventually we learned this was his first race and he was all alone. He had been training like crazy and had lost over 50 lbs…but was still overwhelmed by the course. Thomas and I ended up staying with him through the rest of the race. I remembered what it felt like to run my first race all alone. I was miserable in PA and although people helped me, they then ran on and I was left alone to keep moving. Thomas, John and I took 4 hours to finish the race…which was the same as my time in PA last year. However, this year I know my time was slower because of the time we took to wait for John when he needed breaks. As much as I would have loved to have a better finishing time, I am hopeful that I was able to help somebody get through their first race. I also think that if I had not done Hurricane Heat, I would have stood a better chance of keeping up with my team. Despite that, I am so glad I did HH. I could not be more proud of anything I have done in a long time.

The race overall was great but I know I still need a lot of training in order to complete these obstacles better. I was able to complete traverse wall and the log hop, but only because of Thomas’s help. I hope that at some point soon, I can complete obstacles by myself without so much help.

My next race will be Super Hero Scramble in NY on July 20. I have almost 6 weeks to get ready and I’m really excited. Thomas and I will be doing it together and I have some high expectations for how we will do. I have a lot of work to do before then, however.

Kick Butt. Take Names. <3

Jun 2, 2013
brooke19
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Princesses Can Be Spartans Too

My day began yesterday at 3:40 am. I am fairly sure I have not ever seen that time from this side before. In college, that was a normal bed time. I rushed to Tuxedo in time for the Hurricane Heat and almost missed it. In typical Brooke fashion, I was running late which we were warned not to be. I was so scared of what price I would have to pay and did not want to get out of my truck. But I did, found the group, threw my waiver at Joe Desena (the founder of Spartan Race) and jumped in doing burpees with everyone else. Hurricane Heat is a team effort style workout. We were all put on mini-teams all EVERYONE worked together. We began with burpees, pull ups, hills, and a joyous experience with tires. There were tires laid out on a hill, however, Joe Desena decided they needed to be moved up a hill. And then he decided we didn’t move them fast enough, so we had to move them up another hill.  We tried the spear throw and for every person who failed on our team we all did 30 burpees. Finally, we moved on to the start line of the race….each team carrying their own small boulder. We moved through sections of the course, hiking hills while holding hands with our teammates, moving rocks and tree stumps, etc. Finally after about 3 hours, we were brought to the fire jump right before the finish line, and took pictures, thinking we were minutes away from finishing….then were brought back up the hill to deal with the inverted wall. It was basically in a trench and we were told to put rocks along the base to stabilize it. Except then Joe decided to move the wall entirely…which was incredibly difficult now that there were rocks in the way.  Finally, we all climbed the inverted wall again, headed to the fire jump, and jumped it all together. We were on the course for 3 hours and 45 minutes.

I was really worried about Hurricane Heat because I was nervous I would drag my team down. I know I am not in the best shape right now and I concerned I would be a weak link and aggravate people. I may have, but no one showed that. Everyone encouraged me, helped me, and continually reminded me that I was still alive. I desperately wanted to drop out but I was determined to finish what I had started and earn my shirt and dog tags.  It was a really great experience and I’m so glad I overcame my fears and got out of my truck.  I was never more proud to get a t-shirt in my entire life.

The title of this post comes from a moment when we were moving tires and Joe was barking at us that we were slow and sloppy and not tough enough. He said to us that if we weren’t tough enough maybe we belonged someplace like a Disney 5k. And I may or may not have shouted at the founder of Spartan Race that “Princesses can be spartans too.”

Be a Princess…and a Spartan. Kick Butt. Take Names. <3

May 16, 2013
brooke19
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Tired of Starting Over? STOP QUITTING.

So in less than a week I will have a master’s degree. Honestly, I’ve yet to wrap my mind around this concept. A long time ago the idea of a master’s degree seemed so big, I didn’t think I’d ever get there. Now I’m doing it and it feels like I have not accomplished anything. But never-the-less, in a week I will be walking at graduation.

In less than 3 weeks I will be running my first race of the year. That idea has also yet to sink in. I’m not ready. I’m beyond not ready. I thought I’d have all winter to be training. Then I had surgery in December and had a hard time re-motivating myself. Then I had 2 vein procedures….again, using every excuse I had not to work out. Then I was swamped in work for graduate school. So long story short….I have barely worked out. And now I have a race to run. A race where I told myself I would kick major ass. A race where I thought I would be the one leading my group of friends to an awesome finish. A race where I now will be dragging my butt every step of the way. Just like last year.

Tonight I head back to crossfit, in a desperate attempt to get ready. I keep telling myself now that I am done with school I can workout everyday. However, all I really want to do is sleep all day. I went non-stop all semester, now all I want to do is lie around.

However, I will be trying my best to get my act together again. I will be attempting to workout and hike as much as I can. I will not be dropping out. I will be standing tall at the Hurricane Heat at 5:30am on June 1st. And I will be standing with a group of friends on the starting line at 3pm. I may be shaking in my sneakers, but I will be there.

Sign up, show up, don’t give up….right?

Get back on the wagon…kick butt…take names <3

Apr 29, 2013
brooke19
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Wake up. Commit. Repeat.

The other day I was talking with a good friend, and they were telling me their feelings about relationships and how tricky they can be. This friend said to me to be in a  relationship that succeeds, you need to wake up everyday and re-commit yourself to that person. However, the more I thought, the more I realized that way of thinking doesn’t just apply to dating, it applies to everything.

As a future educator, I will need to wake up everyday and commit myself to teaching, my students, and their families. We all have our off days, but once you stop waking up and re-committing, things can start to spiral. That’s how you find burned out teachers, who stopped caring years ago. Becoming and remaining a quality educator means making the conscious decision everyday to do the best you can.

For my faith life, I need to wake up everyday and remember my purpose and who I am. I know my purpose in this life is to let the light of Christ shine through me as much as possible. I need to be strong and living my life as a Christian, being a person through whom Christ lives. I slip and fall in my faith when I have days and days where I forget my purpose.

Fitness is the same. Every day that I don’t recommit myself to getting in shape, I slip further away. Life happens, school takes up a lot of my time, etc. Excuses, excuses. But life can spiral away from you pretty quickly, and I am living proof of that. Progress I make gets lost because I go for days forgetting to consciously make the decision to commit.

It’s not just dating, it’s not just work, it’s everything. Every aspect of our lives that is important, needs constant commitment. We slip when we forget what we are living for. Life is stressful, crazy, busy and exhausting. But when I wake up each morning I am trying to remember to commit to who I am and what my purpose is.

Wake up. Commit. Kick butt. Take names. Repeat. <3

Apr 14, 2013
brooke19
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Building Dreams

So Thursday night I started my first Crossfit class. It is now Sunday afternoon. I can still barely move. I’m supposed to go back tomorrow. I have NO idea how I am going to be able to function. Slightly scared.

That is all I have to say about that topic.

The other topic I want to cover today is based on the panic attack I had upon seeing this picture today.

This is honestly the most frightening thing I’ve seen in a long time. And I had to google pictures of Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami in Japan, and the Iraq War yesterday with a student I tutor. (I googled them for her because I was honestly worried about what she might find….and I was correct. Some of the images that appeared were too horrific for a 5th grader to see)

But this little graphic hit me so hard I immediately felt feeling anxious and panicked. This applies to my life so specifically. Right now I am so lost trying to figure out what I want to be doing with my life. Teaching is in such a bad place I honestly am no longer sure I want to teach. Well, that’s incorrect. I do want to teach but I’m not sure in what capacity I can do that job anymore. I still want to work with children, I want to teach, I want to help. But maybe “classroom teacher’ isn’t necessary my path anymore. While I wait to figure things out (and graduate from school) I have just been floating. I have been floating for 25 years and I’m starting to get fed up. I’m ready to set this world on fire and I need to keep that passion alive. I need to pursue my dreams, no matter what they are, so that I don’t end up spending the rest of my life building someone else’s dreams for them.

Time to wake up. Time to set the world on fire.

Time to…Kick Butt and Take Names<3

Mar 11, 2013
brooke19
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The Invitiation

I haven’t written for a long time, because I’ve been busy tackling life. I’ve been stumbling more often then not, but plodding along as best I can. I’ve been working full time, going to school full time, and battling a severe case of senioritis. I have been filled with questions about who I am, what my purpose is and what I believe in. However, today I heard this poem.

The Invitation

a poem by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

 It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals, or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain! I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine and your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it. I want to know if you can be with JOY, mine or your own: if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, or to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself: if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. I want to know if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy. I want to know if you can see beauty even when it is not pretty everyday, and if you can source your life from its presence. I want to know if you can live with failure, yours or mine, and still stand on the edge of a lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes” !

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done for the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you are, or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself, and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

It reached out to me in a very specific way and I wanted to share it here. This blog has been mostly about my working out or lack there of, but if I am to successful in any aspect of my life, I need to have everything in balance. So I’m taking a shift to blogging about my life in general, with a focus on my journey toward fitness. I’m struggling very much with who I am and what my purpose is but this poem reminded me of exactly who I am. I am the person who can fight for their dreams, be true to my soul, do what needs to be done and who will stand in the fire….both figuratively and literally.

Jan 16, 2013
brooke19
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January…so far…

January has begun and I’m proud to say it’s going well so far. I started Insanity last week and I’m getting my butt kicked on a regular basis. Thomas and I are doing it together, which is nice. There’s some accountability there, even though waiting for him to get home from work to workout is definitely screwing up my schedule. I’m resorting to afternoon naps to stay awake long enough to workout because I’m up around 6 most mornings for work.

I’m also back in my challenge group to keep me accountable for what I do on a daily basis. This challenge is much bigger than last time. There are 30 women involved and everyone is broken up into teams of 2, so there’s 15 teams. You have 5 rules you follow and you get 5 points a day if you don’t break any rules. That’s a total of 35 pts a week. Then 3 times a week there’s a challenge worth 5 pts. That adds up to 15 pts a week. You and your buddy total up all your points at the end of the week (max 100pts). After 10 weeks I will be averaging each team’s scores and the team with the highest average will win.

I like the buddy system because it forces me to care about what I do. If I break rules it doesn’t just effect me, it brings down my buddy’s score. I should want to stick to my rules for me and my own personal growth, but I’m inherently lazy. However, I also care about my buddy and don’t want to ruin her score, so I have to keep it together.

So between Insanity and the challenge group I’m doing well. I have yet to get out for a run, but Insanity is keeping me exhausted for the time being. I’ve also substituted almost everyday since school has been back in session. Today was a snow day that I was beyond grateful for. I honestly don’t know how I could have handled getting up and moving at 6am today after last night’s workout.

I’m also working on doing a lot of my own cooking, taking my supplements and also have started occasionally integrating protein shakes and pre-workout drinks into my schedule.

I will be headed back to grad school in the next few weeks, so finding time for working out will be more difficult, but I’ll find a way. It may take me 3 months to get through insanity rather than 2, but I’ll get it done.

Kick Butt. Take Names. <3

Jan 2, 2013
brooke19
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What a Way to Start the New Year

*We have 354 more days

One million chances left…*

So here it is, a new year, another chance to get it right. I’ve had my surgery and I’m almost recovered. I have yet to get back to working out but that is only going to last for a few more days. I’ve probably put on a few pounds, but I don’t want to think about that yet.

I’m excited for what should be an amazing year. I am signed up for 4 OCRS and I’m sure there will be plenty of 5ks and local things mixed in there too. My first OCR will be Hero Rush in May.  Then I will be doing Spartan Race in June, Superhero Scramble in July and Warrior Dash in August.  I will be starting Insanity in the coming weeks as well as trying to get out for some runs, even though running in winter sounds like a fate worse than death to someone like me. However, this is all about breaking out of old stereotypes, thoughts and ways of behaving.

I’m also restarting the challenge group from the fall. We finished in November and I was hopeful some of the good behaviors I had begun consistently during the challenge would stick…but they didn’t. Add in my birthday, Thanksgiving, surgery and Christmas… I’ve slid downhill again. I don’t think I’m as bad as I was, but I know I’m not making the best choices. I really need the workout component in order to stick to diet because I know I need the good diet to fuel the workouts. When I’m not working out, I could care less about what I eat. I haven’t slid all the way backwards, but it’s definitely on the way down. So I’m excited to start the group back up again.  It will be similar to the last time, but some changes in rules.

My other goals for 2013 include saving some money, getting my own apartment and graduating with my Master’s Degree. I also would like happiness, health, a pony and a million dollars while I’m wishing for things. However, that right there is the difference. Wishing to lose weight will not make me thinner, wishing to run faster will not improve my 5k time, hoping for an apartment will not get me one and dreaming about happiness will not make me happy.

Welcome to 2013…insert overused cliché about new year’s here.

Kick Butt. Take Names. <3

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This blog is a little bit of everything. Stories and rambling, cool images or videos,, but mostly my story of moving on, moving up, training, running, eating better, learning about gluten free eating and just being a better person.

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