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“I’ve kind of been running my whole life,” McNelis said. “My mom says I went from walking to running.”
McNelis started running with the Sports Backers Marathon Training Team in 2003 after completing the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k. The mother of three young girls didn’t know anyone else on the team, and had recently left her job to be a stay at home mom. Her fortieth birthday was approaching, and while she had been running for exercise on her own, she wanted to do something significant to celebrate the next stage of her life.
“I also wanted to do something to show my daughters that even if I was a stay at home mom I could still accomplish things that maybe other stay at home moms couldn't,” McNelis said. “It was a bit of an ego thing for me I guess.”
In addition to McNelis, 2003 also marked Jackie Mitchell’s first marathon. Mitchell didn’t start long distance running until she was 36. She had done the YMCA training team for the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k with her church, and afterward signed up for the MTT. Mitchell frequently ran with another friend. One day her companion didn’t show up for training; not wanting to run solo she approached Kathie Spraggins.
“I just walked up to Kathie and said, ‘Hi can I run with you?’” Mitchell said.
It was Spraggins’ second marathon. She completed her first one on a New Year’s dare from her neighbors, and due to training too quickly, ended up injured. She had just recently moved to a new neighborhood, and was looking for a way to get outside her cul-de-sac.
“I needed to get out and meet some new people,” Spraggins said. “I was running with my neighbors, and between joining the training team, having not trained correctly, and then training correctly it took 48 minutes off of my marathon time. So it speaks volumes for the training team.”
Spraggins introduced Mitchell to McNelis, who she had met on a previous run, and the three quickly formed a tight bond. They soon realized they all lived close to each other in the West End, and began to meet for weekly 5:30 a.m. runs. Those runs quickly led to meeting for a drink every now and then, or a cup of coffee, and soon transcended into deep and meaningful friendships.
“I could not have done what I’ve done without them,” Mitchell said. “It was our destiny to meet.”
After a successful marathon in 2003, the three women kept at it and decided that summers wouldn’t be quite the same if they weren’t getting up to run on Saturdays with the training team. Ten years later they’re doing just that. Together they train through the winter, and have run over 30 races together, and about 12 marathons, including Boston.
“They're not just my running friends anymore,” McNelis said. “They're so much more than running friends. They're my bestie, bestie, bestie friends. I have a small family, so these guys are my fill-ins. They're my family.”
Over the years their husbands and families have become friends, as well as one of each of their three daughters that are the same age. They share a close-knit group of other running friends they have met through the training team that they affectionately refer to as the “R-Dubs”. All three women say they have loved the diversity of people the MTT has allowed them to meet, including individuals spanning from age 18-72.
“I believe that the training program teaches you how to do it the right way,” Mitchell said. “Too many people go out and say well I'm going to run three miles and then they run out and they never catch their breath and they're miserable and have a miserable run. Just learning how you have to warm your body up and relax and just keep increasing your mileage little by little instead of just saying, ‘I'm going to go do this.’”
Spraggins also thinks running with a group can prove helpful for most women when it comes to commitment and accountability.
“I get up in the morning because I know I'm going to meet my friends,” Spraggins said. “They're waiting for me. We get each other through a lot, it's incredibly therapeutic to get things out; even if nobody has the answers at least you know you have understanding people with you.”
Mitchell echoes her friend’s statements saying that women should consider their knack for being relational a strength when it comes to group wellness.
“I think women support each other; it's not as competitive,” Mitchell said. “It's more like, okay you can do it and it's positive.”
While the three contend that the modern mom has a lot going on between work and home-life these days, they want to stress to others just how easy it is to incorporate exercise into everyday life and how rewarding it can be.
“It’s something that you can own that's not wrapped around your kids; it's not wrapped around your husband,” Spraggins said. “It's for you.”
“I know for me as a mom, finishing a marathon and doing well, that's mine,” McNelis said. “It's not me doing something good for my kids or being a good supportive wife or something, that's like my own thing. Nobody gave it to me or did it for me and that's mine and I own it. I will shout it out to the world like, ‘Hey look what I did!’”
“Do something for yourself,” Mitchell said. “This is the beginning of what you can be and to get there you have to work hard at it a little bit. You just build up and you'll be surprised where you can go.”]]>
That week I spent most of my time online learning the Internet and searching for a suitable memorial stone for my daughter. In my search I kept coming across something called the Angel of Hope, we were looking for a memorial with an Angel in it but this was a bronze Angel and we were looking for something made out of stone. It intrigued me though as I kept running across it in my search, so I saved it to my favorites tab to view at a later date.
After some time I went back into one of the sites that talked about the Angel of Hope and discovered that the Author Richard Paul Evans was responsible for forging the first Angel and that it was a memorial for bereaved parents to remember their children who are no longer with us.
With the help of the community and through Mr. Evans organization I was able to raise the appropriate funds to have an Angel of Hope brought here to Richmond, Va. It now resides in the beautiful historic Hollywood Cemetery within sight of where we buried Reagan.
Many parents visit throughout the year to come and remember their children, to leave little reminders like coins, flowers and pictures at the memorial. On December 6th at 6pm (7pm in most other locations nationwide) we gather in the darkness to light a candle and to share our stories with others, to celebrate the memories of our "Angels". At the end of the ceremony we lay a white flowing at the base of the Angel to honor and remember them.
Everyone is invited to attend to be there for your own child or to remember a child of a relative or a friend. There is no set "age" of child, for as we all know, no matter how old they are they are still our children.
For more information here in Virginia please go to "Angel of Hope Richmond Va" on acebook or for info on "Angel of Hope's" across the nation and a listing of them look up Richard Paul Evans on the web.]]>
Following a recent speech a participant told me that he’d been hospitalized and almost died several months ago. He said he’s a confirmed packrat, that he just can’t get rid of things. And, he wondered if his clutter could have been a factor in his recent health crisis. He also shared that he’d slipped and had fallen when his foot landed on a magazine on the floor. Yes, his clutter is definitely a health risk for him!
As I was helping a client excavate her attic, amidst the boxes of useless stuff covered with pollen, dust and dirt, I found myself pondering attics. I thought, “If people remembered that one day they’d be going through the equivalent of ‘hell’ in order to sell their house, follow their dream, or move to a better living situation, they would be VERY careful about what they put up in attics!But, alas, most of us live only in the moment when the attic seems an easy answer for storing things you aren’t quite ready to get rid of, or about which you are unable to make decisions.
When it comes to personal finances, some statistics surrounding women and their financial futures can be shocking. For example, the National Center for Women and Retirement Research reports that 75 percent of women are widowed at an average age of 56, and 25 percent of those women are financially broke within two months of being widowed. Further, they report that only 41 percent of women participate in the 401(k) plan offered by their employer, and 87 percent of elderly Americans in poverty are women.
“Women are often involved in paying the bills and balancing the check book, but it’s scary how many women let the man take the driver’s seat when it comes to investing and planning for the future,” explains Samantha Fraelich, Certified Financial Planner and Vice President of Bernard R. Wolfe & Associates, Inc., a company specializing in offering wealth management strategies. “Life throws us curve balls and we need to be prepared to take action if the worst happens. Otherwise, in the middle of what can be an emotional or upsetting time, we become frozen in fear. We’re unsure what our next step should be, and wondering who we can trust to help us move forward.”
Here are five steps that every woman should take in order to protect herself:
1. Take the driver’s seat. Skip relying upon someone else to worry about retirement or financial planning. If you haven’t in the past, get involved in the conversations regarding your personal finances.
2. Think emergencies. Every woman should have an emergency fund in place. Even those who feel secure in their career or relationship can, at times, find that financial emergencies arise. Whether it is an unexpected medical bill, a divorce, or some other complication, an emergency fund will help soften the blow.
3. Take care of yourself. Single women of working age, for example, may want to have disability insurance in place, since they may not have someone to fall back on if something prevents them from working. Long Term Care insurance can potentially help to reduce or eliminate having to depend on children or anyone else to take care of you if or when you can no longer take care of yourself.
4. Be realistic. Have an honest conversation with yourself about what you can afford to spend and what you’re currently spending. If you spend more than you make and don’t save enough, poverty is the most likely outcome. Once you get control of your budget, make a plan to save for retirement because social security alone will not be enough to live comfortably.
5. Ask an advisor. Whether women can’t find the time, or are intimidated about the process, it’s important to take the time to find an adviser who you can feel you can trust and makes you feel comfortable. Try to find a certified financial planner, since they are held to higher industry standards in regards to education and experience. You can visit to find one in your area.
“It is really important for women to take their own steps to help ensure their financial future,” added Fraelich. “The process can be very empowering and potentially rewarding as they realize the benefits and the sense of security that it can bring.”
Samantha offers securities and investment advisory services through NFP Securities, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. Bernard R. Wolfe & Associates, Inc., has provided financial management strategies and investment services since 1981. They assist a wide range of private and corporate clients with everything from retirement planning and investments, to divorce and estate planning.
About Bernard R. Wolfe & Associates, Inc.
Bernard R. Wolfe & Associates, Inc., founded in 1981, provides experienced wealth management strategies and institutional investment services. The company is led by a team of certified financial planners, professionals who have over 65 years of combined experience in the field. The team provides professional financial planning guidance to a diverse range of personal and corporate clients. To learn more about Bernard R. Wolfe & Associates, Inc., visit the website at.
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PBS. Women and Investing. < >
Women’s Media. Investing Wisely: What Women Need to Know. April 2011. <>]]>
Most of us would like to think that we are not standing in our own way, that we are not responsible for our seeming inability to move forward to the next level of growth or success. I am one of those people. I like to think that I’m doing all I can to keep growing, evolving and succeeding. But I ran into my own resistance head on this past weekend while in the process of rearranging and clearing out my office in preparation for the launch of a new program in April.
I had been feeling somewhat uncomfortable in my office for several months, a sure sign that change is in the wind. I’m sure I was feeling growing pains because I was preparing to take my business in a new direction. It will take courage and a lot of work to make this program a success. When things shifted internally, due to preparations for the new program, I felt the urge to shift things in my space. I also needed a new configuration that would allow me to very easily make short informational videos at my computer. That need was a primary impetus for my office transformation.]]>
Most people feel that their life is not what they wanted it to be. They want more...more love, more money, more free time to do what they want to do. Instead, they find themselves living their life to please someone else or working to build someone else's dreams, instead of their own. ]]>