Thursday, March 31, 2016

March 2016 Monthly Challenge!

March 1, 2016 ~ Another month and yet another fun challenge! This month I signed up for 50 miles to give myself a break from last month's 100 mile challenge. You wouldn't think getting 50 miles in one month would be hard but sometimes it's hard to find time in a day to bust out the 1.61 miles needed each day. One of my yearly challenges was to walk 100 days and I wasn't going to let anything get in my way to keep me from reaching this goal. With 60 days complete I am ready to rock this month and push myself to keep going and see who I can drag along with me on this journey! Here's the proof that I am movin' and groovin' in March! Ready.... Set.... Let's do this!

March 1, 2016
1.00 mile
March 2, 2016
1.00 mile
March 3, 2016
1.10 miles
March 4, 2016
1.00 mile
March 5, 2016
3.50 miles
March 6, 2016
3.25 miles
March 7, 2016
1.00 mile
March 8, 2016
1.50 miles
March 9, 2016
1.25 miles
March 10, 2016
1.50 miles
March 11, 2016
3.75 miles
March 12, 2016
"Lucky Clover 4 Miler"
4.00 miles
March 13, 2016
1.25 miles
March 14, 2016 
3.14 miles
Today was a tough day as heaven gained another angel. My great friend and side kick Chuck "Chuckles" Everitt lost his battle with some recent health issues. It was so hard to see him go but I am so thankful for his friendship and being able to be there when he needed me most. Love ya buddy and already miss you like crazy. Thanks for the many memories that I will treasure for a lifetime.
March 15, 2016
1.00 mile
March 16, 2016
"Sham Rocked It 5k"
3. 10 miles
March 17, 2016
1.00 mile
March 18, 2016
1.00 mile
March 19, 2016
3.25 miles
March 20, 2016
1.00 mile
March 21, 2016
1.50 miles
March 21, 2016
3.10 miles
March 22, 2016
1.00 mile
March 23, 2016
1.50 miles
March 23, 2016
3.15 miles
March 24, 2016
3.10 miles
March 25, 2016
1.50 miles
 March 26, 2016
"Seize The Day 5k"
3.25 miles
March 27, 2016
1.50 miles
March 28, 2016
3.10 miles
March 28, 2016
1.85 miles
March 29, 2016
3.10 miles
March 30, 2016
1.16 miles
March 31, 2016
1.50 miles

Total of  68.90 miles for February 2016! 
(18.90 miles above my 50 mile goal... and every little bit counts!)

I also want to see how close I can get to the 2,016 miles by adding up my total daily Fitbit miles. So each day I have wrote down how many total miles I get in the course of a day and write it at the top of each day in my Day Planner.... For the month of March my total Fitbit miles are 149.94 miles! (Now I realize that you don't count total Fitbit miles and just the miles you actually make time to walk/jog/run. Not too shabby since you would need 168 miles per month to complete the 2,016 mile yearly challenge! I'm telling you... having a Fitbit and thinking about the walking/jogging/running that you do when you think about exercise will increase your distance for sure! Now let's see what we can do in March for our monthly challenge!

2,016 Total Fitbit Miles:
January: 151.03
February: 170.74
March: 149.94

I Have Submitted My 2nd Children's Book!

March 30, 2016 ~ I have always wanted to write a book. I crossed that off my bucket list in 2013 when I self-published "Tom T's Hat Rack".  I had a vision and wrote this book using a good friend, Tom Trabue, as one of my main characters. Tom was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma and I just felt inspired to write. Luckily Tom would become cancer-free and still is today!

I have learned a lot in the past few years. Specifically about writing. While I still only have a high school diploma I do have a passion for telling stories. I enjoy telling stories through pictures and if you follow my blog you get a sense of what I mean. With my first book the idea, characters and words just started coming out as I sat in my hotel room in Montrose, Colorado and in 7 days I had written "Tom T's Hat Rack". I knew this book wasn't perfect however it's exactly the story that I wanted to tell. 

Looking back on those past few years I realize that the book could have used some additional help but in all honesty it was me. Listening to many of the comments from people all over the world who read my book including friends, family and reviewers it seemed that my character Shelby Summers was just too perfect. Honestly, this little girl didn't have anything in her life to be upset or sad with as she was surrounded by people she loved and didn't need much more than that. However, I understood what they were saying. 

After the release of my first book I had a goal to write another 3 books. While this seems crazy and fun at the same time I am proud to announce that I have signed my contract to self-publish my 2nd children's book! 

After nearly a year of working hard on this book I felt like it was more descriptive and just felt good. It took longer on this book because I was searching for a specific character to fill a key spot in this story. I wracked my brain about who might fill this spot and one day he walked through our office door. While I won't give away too many details as we are in the first part of editing I will tell you that he agreed to sit down with me, in his home, and tell me his story. He and his wife are wonderful people and in the coming weeks I will give you a little more detail. 

The past several weeks have been extremely stressful as I have been trying to finish this book to submit by this afternoon in order to hit a specific release date! I know it hasn't been easy with me as my family (and our office) have felt the craziness of my pressure and stress. Finally this afternoon I felt like a huge weight as been lifted off my shoulders - even if it's only for a week until it's my turn to do some editing on the book when I receive it back!  

I am happy to say that I am working with Kim (she is with the same company that did my first book) and Peggy A. Guest has agreed to be my illustrator for this book as well! I am super excited (and a little nervous) to see the final book and share it with you all!

I received this e-mail from Kim late this afternoon (waiting for me when I opened my e-mail on March 31, 2016) and I couldn't help but smile.

Michele -
This draft looks MUCH better than the first draft on Tom T! You may not realize it, but you’ve absorbed quite a lot of “authoring” goodness over the years. Kudos!
Blessings, Kim

Has writing a book been a dream of yours? 
Well what are you waiting for? Start writing it as there are plenty of options to self-publishing your own book available all around you. If I can write a book so can you! 
Follow your dreams and never give up!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Chuck Everitt - Until We Meet Again

March 14, 2016 ~ Today was a tough day as we lost a great man and pillar of our community. As many of you know, Chuck and I were best buddies. We talked on the phone a few times a week, had lunches together with another one of our buddies, Chuck Witt and loved being able to give him a hug when I saw him at ribbon cuttings however, I didn't really get to know Chuck until 2008 when I joined the Chamber of Commerce Ambassador family. I knew of him and we had spoke before but our friendship really hit it off when I joined this wonderful group. We soon learned that we shared an August 2nd birthday (different years of course) and that sealed a lasting bond between us. Something we talked about earlier this year is that I was born in 1976 and was 39 years old. Chuck was born in 1939 and 76 years old. Crazy ain't it! (Of course I turn 40 and he would have turned 77 in August)

The above picture might possibly be the last picture of Chuck. I know it's the last picture we took together and was taken on Thursday March 10th. (We would gladly smile for the camera any chance we had to get to have our picture taken together!

I was busy with a Read-A-Thon at Midway Heights Elementary School when I received a phone call from Chuck on Thursday March 10, 2016 at 10:35 AM. He had to leave a voicemail and it said he had a blood clot in his left leg again (this would be the 3rd one in a year) and they would be admitting him to the VA Hospital at 1:00 PM and surgery on Friday. I called him back within 20 minutes but had to leave a message for him. I knew it would take some time for him to get admitted and around 2:00 PM I decided to head over to the VA Hospital to find him. I looked down the hallway and he was wheeling himself towards the front area where I was at. I went down the hall and pushed him to the front of the hospital and he said the plans have changed but he has another appointment with the lab. I wheeled him to his appointment with a pharmacist and he went over Chuck's care. They would be placing him on blood thinners (both injections and pill form) and sending him home. From this moment I was not happy about this idea as Chuck's health had steadily been declining and to me, he just wasn't healthy to be taking on this new medicine.  I wrote down several notes and made sure that he understood what the pharmacist was saying about his new medicines and when to take them. Chuck wanted to take a smoke break while he waited on his prescriptions to be filled so myself and another VA employee wheeled him out to the smoking section outside. We took the above picture and I had to head back to Midway Heights Elementary School to get set up for an event that evening but not before Chuck assured me he was going to be OK.

On Friday I called Chuck to ask how he was doing and if he had taken his medicine as directed. He laughed and said "Yes kiddo, I am taking my medicine and I took it on time as directed". We talked briefly about our weekend plans, laughed and said our goodbyes and I told him I would talk to him later. 

On Sunday morning I get a message from Bobbi that Chuck has been rushed to the University Hospital Emergency Room via Ambulance and it doesn't look good. The next 24 hours were very critical and while he had the best medical team working on him it was just too much for his body to handle and Monday March 14, 2016 at 3:34 PM he passed away peacefully with family and friends by his side. While my heart hurts to loose such a great friend I am happy that I got to be there with him during this time. I asked lots of questions and I wanted to know exactly what was going on and what the plan was for his treatment and his nurse was truly amazing. He answered all of my questions and made sure his family understood what was going on as well.  Sadly, we all knew Chuck would never make it home. In this process I got the chance to meet his kids, Todd (and his wife Paulette) and Marcia. (Gosh y'all,  Todd looks just like his dad and I told him that it's just like looking at a younger Chuckles) During the talks I had with Chuck I made a promise that I would do everything I could to help take care of Bobbi. Chuck didn't want me to see him like this however I'm pretty sure he knew how hard headed and stubborn I was and that I wasn't leaving. (After all we are both Leo's) Those several hand squeezes I received assured me that he knew we were there.

Chuck will be missed but never forgotten. He and I had many great conversations throughout our friendship and he was honest about his faults in life and gave some great advise to so many people over the years including myself. He was clearly a hot mess and always had us laughing. In fact many of us call him "Chuckles" because of his contagious laugh! He really loved Bobbi and always wanted to make sure she was taken care of. He also loved Columbia Youth Football League, Missouri Tigers Football and the Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors and those organizations truly loved him back. While I have cried a lot during this time I find that I have smiled and laughed a lot more. Chuck had a way of making you smile and be happy more often then being sad. I am so thankful for the many memories and I already miss him like crazy. I have listened to the several voicemail's I have saved and that brings comfort in the sad times and just puts you in a better mood when you need it most! (My favorite is him singing me Happy Birthday on our special day in 2014)

Thank you Columbia Daily Tribune for remembering a great man with us!

I had the pleasure of nominating him for a Hero Award through the Columbia Daily Tribune.
In 2011 he received the Volunteer of the Year Award. 

He wanted to get up and go smoke a cigarette but I made him sit right there because "someone he knew" would be receiving this award very soon. I remember him looking back at me and smiling while shaking his head. You could tell that he was genuinely surprised and humbled. He truly deserved this award and it was mainly for his 40 years of service to the Columbia Youth Football League. He always did it for the kids and this time he was shown appreciation for the many years he had given to this wonderful program!

In 2012 I had the pleasure of nominating Chuck for the Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Citizen of the Year award. I knew early on that he was receiving this prestigious award because they knew I would have one heck of a time getting him to the banquet. If anyone could get him there it was totally me and you know I told him someone else was receiving the award and I needed him to take pictures since I would be speaking at the podium. So we get Chuck there, I head to the stage and give him a little nod to let him know to start taking pictures. We had about 8 other Chamber Ambassadors say a sentence about the recipient of this award. Chuck didn't pay attention until we got about 5 sentences out and talked about his military service. You saw the tears in his eyes and that look of "Oh crap, she got me good!" With the help of many of our Chamber Ambassadors (by the way everyone that won awards that evening were all Chamber Ambassadors - Woo Hoo!) we made it a night to remember for Chuck! He laughed and cried. He knew I had 100% hands on with this one and he always knew I had his back no matter what! What a well deserved honor!

In 2013 I had the pleasure of being involved in a project through the Missourian called "100 Ages. A Century of Voices". It took someone from each age and put a video together of all the things they have seen in their lives. Really cool and so glad to have been a part of this project.

I have had many people give their condolences to me. I just want everyone to know that WE all lost a good man today and although he may not physically be with us we all smile because we are better people for having Chuck in our lives. His spirit lives on through the many stories we tell one another and for that I am grateful. I hope you have those little bird legs dancing in heaven and keeping everyone laughing buddy... you were one in a million! Thank you Chuckles for your friendship and all that you have done for our community.... you will never be forgotten!

Per Chuck's request he was cremated. In several weeks (4-8 weeks) we will have a "Celebration of Life" here in Columbia, MO for Chuck. This will give us enough time to plan an event the way that Chuck would have wanted it and it allows Bobbi to get things done that she needs to handle while taking things one day at a time. Many have asked how you can help and the answer is simple for now... please just keep Bobbi in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. She has people on her side that are helping to make sure she is OK but she has lost an important part of her life and each day is different. As plans are put together we will certainly let you all know so you can be there and celebrate the life of a wonderful friend.

Until we meet again.....

Wild About Reading Read-A-Thon

March 7-11, 2016 ~ It's that time of year again, yep it's the 7th Annual Read-A-Thon at Midway Heights Elementary School! This year's theme is "Wild About Reading" and I couldn't ask for a better side kick and Partner in Education than Tanya Alberty! (We have two other Partners in Education, Boone County Fire Department and Spectrum that help make this week special too!)

Each year our theme rotates to make it interesting for the kiddos and to allow us to explore different ideas while encouraging reading! These read-a-thons are a lot of work but they are so worth it when you see how much fun the kids have and they love having guest readers in their classroom! This year we would do things a little differently and normally we would have one guest reader per day in each classroom and this year we were excited to team up with Missouri Conservation Department and the University of Missouri Raptor Rehabilitation program!

A few of our special guests this week were:

 Libby Robinson, Retired Kindergarten teacher from Midway Heights

Stephens College Soccer twins, Sierra and Savannah

Boone County Fire Battalion Chief Leake

Dayle Garrett, World War II veteran

and many more great people within our community helped make this week successful!

 On Tuesday we had Adam with the  Missouri Conservation Department come talk to the school about animals in Missouri. He brought furs from the animals native to our state!

This was really cool to be able to see and touch the various furs. 
Thank you Adam for coming to Midway Heights Elementary School! 

On Thursday we had Jessica, Abigail and Paige from the Raptor Rehabilitation Project at the University of Missouri bring a couple special guests to our school!
You can follow them on Facebook here:

 This is a Red Tailed Hawk named Jacob (female)!

This is a Great Horned Owl named Owliver (female)!

When the assembly was just about over the Partners in Education surprised the school with adopting Owliver for the year! This will provide the care and food she needs for one year! Midway Heights Elementary School is represented by the Student Council!

Midway Heights Elementary School is so lucky to have some incredible teachers (not all pictured) and staff at this little country school! Huge thank you to Anna for designing our rock star t-shirts... she drew the elephant and even has adult coloring books for sale on Etsy!

Thursday night would wrap up our Read-A-Thon with Literacy Night at the school! We would invite students and their families to enjoy games centered around reading! They made safari binoculars, drew pictures of their wild self, wrote stories, did Zumba, visited the Bookmobile and much more! It really was a fun night and thanks to Scholastic Books each child left with a free book that was age appropriate!

We gave the school a reading goal of 46,000 minutes during a 2-week Reading Challenge. If they met the school wide goal they would get to celebrate with a Kona Ice party! They barely squeaked over their reading goal and earned an awesome Kona Ice party!

Huge thank you to Chris and Cathy Cook for bringing not one but two Kona trucks to the school so we could make sure each child had time to enjoy their delicious snack!