Thursday, November 15, 2012


I had planned to blog this week exclusively about the Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner, a massive "community dinner table" held every Thanksgiving at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center where approximately 25,000 elderly and less fortunate people are treated to a holiday meal and entertainment. A group of JLSA New Active members, spearheaded by First Year Active Chair Heather Beard, along with additional JLSA volunteers, will be helping with turkey delivery and kitchen setup this Sunday, November 18, from 10am to 1pm, in order to help make this event a success. So far, 16 ladies have signed up to help, and there are 25 slots for volunteers. Log in and sign up on the JLSA website if you want to contribute your time and energy to this fantastic and inspiring seasonal event.

I also want to share with you an experience I had this week. On Tuesday, I, along with a room full of JLSA members, attended a November Community General Meeting at the Children's Bereavement Center of South Texas in Olmos Park. I really enjoy this annual opportunity to visit and explore some of our community partners. The Children's Bereavement Center is just one of a handful of special places around San Antonio that our members are visiting this month. I think the November Community General Meetings are win-win: not only do we get a firsthand look at a nonprofit partner, we also get a meeting credit as well.

I was so moved by the Children's Bereavement Center,  its staff, and the short, powerful movie that we watched that showed us who the Center is and what it does. In a nutshell, the Center is a place where grieving children who have suffered the loss of a loved one can go to heal. The Center is the sole provider of grief support programs for children through young adulthood in South Texas. The facility is gorgeous--tucked behind the circle in Olmos Park, the building is newly renovated and has been the Center's home for about three years. It is filled with bright and cheerful meeting rooms and spaces for all types of play therapy for children. After we viewed the film, we were able to tour the Center, checking out the various therapy rooms. There was a room with doll houses and castles and little figurines for children to play with, there were art rooms, stocked with all types of art supplies. There were music rooms loaded with instruments and drums, rooms for dance, rooms for physical play, a playscape and a labyrinth. My favorite room was a magical space with beautiful murals and an Avatar-inspired tree with feathery blue-green leaves hanging from it, like a weeping willow. It looked like the type of place where a grieving child could snuggle up and have a good, long cry; a peaceful space to ruminate over memories of lost loved ones. Our JLSA members provide support to the Center in a variety of ways, and the staff expressed such gratitude to the League for our help and support.

So it comes back again to gratitude, to giving thanks. I'm thankful that our city is home to the Children's Bereavement Center, where the single goal is to provide healing for our community's grieving children. I'm thankful for the volunteers who share their time and talents to provide Thanksgiving dinner to our elderly and less fortunate citizens. I'm thankful that our Junior League and its members contribute to the success of these two very different,  but very important, nonprofit organizations, that provide help, love and support to an entire spectrum of people living in and around San Antonio.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Running Resolution Revolution

Can you believe that it's November? This month marks the beginning of a crazy time in my family. After polishing off the Halloween candy, my daughter and I share a birthday on November 5 (my 40th, her 9th), my twin stepsons share a birthday exactly one week later on November 12 (14 this year), and then we free-fall into Thanksgiving, followed by Christmas. After we ring in the New Year, my husband's birthday is the exclamation point at the end of all of these festivities on 1/7. Whew!

The app that started it all.

So, yes, in a few short days I will be 40 years old. And, several months ago, in preparation for my big 4-0, I decided to start exercising. It has been hard for me to fit in a consistent exercise routine with my busy schedule, but I recently read that the single worst thing I can do for myself is be sedentary. As an in-house attorney, I sit at my desk for eight hours a day, five days a week. I decided it was high time to get off my butt. I noticed that our very own Junior League is sponsoring a fun run in January, and I made it my goal to run a 5K. I downloaded a really cool app to my iPhone,'s Couch-to-5K, bought a pair of good shoes, and took off walking and running. In 9 weeks, on September 17, 2012, I met my 5K goal. I kept up my running routine and decided to start training for a 10K on October 8, 2012. This past Saturday I ran the longest I ever have, continuously--40 minutes. Folks, I have asthma, and I really thought I would never be able to do such a thing. I feel great, my body is remarkably stronger, and my pants fit better! It was, and still is, shocking to me that something so good for me can feel so good!

Enough about me--I want to tell you about a group of runners in the League who made an exciting resolution this year. Erica Ellis (Communications Council Chair), Kristen Henry (Treasurer), Ariana Barbour (Community Council Chair), Mireya Gideon (Membership Development Chair) and Anne Farringer (Prevent Blindness Chair) made it their collective goal to run in a race every month in 2012. They are well on their way to meeting that goal. All in all, they have run in over 20 races so far this year, many benefiting a variety of our JLSA community partners, and these ladies are heading into this month with their sights on the San Antonio Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon on November 11! It's pretty amazing that one person would set out with this kind of goal, much less a group. Says Ariana, "Not many people dedicate themselves to some sort of resolution as a group and actually make it happen! With friends waiting at the finish line for you, it definitely makes it more fun."

The "Resolution Runners" were ready to hit the ground running at a race in May.

Erica has been running regularly since May of 2008. She ran the full Rock 'n' Roll Marathon here in San Antonio last November. Even though she decided she wouldn't run a marathon again, she wanted to stay with the training. When her friend Kristen decided to start running last winter, she told Kristen about her idea to run a race every month for a year. Word spread to Ariana and Anne, who had recently talked about doing a "Couch to 5K" training program while they were attending a JLSA social event, and then Mireya jumped on the bandwagon once she became "addicted" after running in the first few races. Anne even encouraged her husband, Mike, to run with them. They all believe that running together has been motivational--they challenge each other, encourage each other, and commiserate with each other. Kristen, who is excited about running the half marathon later this month, sums it up, "I could have never done this without the support of my friends and running partners. In the end, I feel better, have more energy, I get sick less, and, best of all, I have a great social activity!"

These ladies are also a part of the JLSA Running Club. This group meets twice a month, usually on a Sunday evening and a weeknight, in a variety of different locations in and around San Antonio. Erica says, "Everyone is welcome, if you're a walker or a runner! We're nice and not crazy runners, I promise." Anne adds, "Running Club is welcoming to friends and family outside of the League as well. Members can bring along a sister, husband, mom or boyfriend and get them hooked on a fun, healthy lifestyle." If you are so inspired, meet up with the Club for their next outing on Sunday, November 4, at the Valero Trailhead, Leon Creek Greenway, at 6:30pm.

I will be telling you a lot more about the JLSA's Resolve for a Better SA 5K, scheduled for January 12, 2013, as the race date approaches. In the meantime, get out there and get running! Even if you have been super sedentary for a few years or have never run before, you have plenty of time to train. Find a friend or a group of friends to motivate you, or download an app to your smartphone. And just think of all the calories you will burn as we head into the indulgences of the holiday season. You can do this!