Giving Back: The Martin Richard Foundation & Team MR8

There are days when I feel like the impact I am making in the world is just beyond my backyard. For a long time, I have desired to be a part of something bigger. Lucky for me, I have inspiring, altruistic friends who live by example. In 2013, my dear friend and long time runner, Vicky Shen, was in the Boston Marathon. She finished the race, only to find out devastating news…that there had been a bomb attack. Later she learned that one of the young athletes who she coached weekly was tragically killed. But out of grief, pain, frustration and sadness Vicky, and many others have kept running. The family of the little boy who died so untimely developed a foundation, The Martin Richard Foundation, whose mission helps young people to learn, grow and lead through volunteerism and community engagement. They advance sportsmanship, inclusion, and peace. They choose kindness, they build bridges. They strive to always do more. ​​

When I went out on my own earlier this year, I decided The MRF would be Your Daily Practice’s charity for 2018, and I am proud to say that 5% of the earnings from first quarter have already been donated to this wonderful nonprofit. Your sessions do you good, me good, and the children of the future a WORLD of good.Together, we #domore. Visit www.martinrichardfoundation.com to learn more about this amazing organization.

Yesterday, when I checked my mail, there was a surprise from Vicky, who is now a board member of MRF. She sent me my very own Boston 2018 Team MR8 shirt. Team MR8 is Boston’s home team for the Boston Marathon. Runners raise money for MRF as they train for the race. Team MR8 describes themselves as a movement, to help youth learn grow and lead. Wearing this shirt and and holding my 2.5 half year old son in my arms makes me feel good about the future, and about being part of something bigger. Boston has always held a special place in my heart, and I look forward to one day taking my son to visit “Martin’s Park” adjacent to the Boston Children’s Museum.

Thank you all for reading. To learn more about MRF and Team MR8 visit www.martinrichardfoundation.com.

In health and hope for the future,

-Francine

Maybe it’s the New Do?

I didn’t really think anyone would notice.  Actually, it took me a while for myself to notice…that I have changed.  Recently, my husband, son and I lived in Europe for nearly four months. Saying that I have a lot to catch up writing about would be an understatement.  Besides a couple dozen or so Instagram posts, I really haven’t made the time to put many of the my thoughts down on paper. In a nutshell we lived in a country house in Italy for a two months, in a town of 2,000 people, then traveled through England a bit, next backpacked for a month to complete the 490 km Road to Santiago in Spain, and then traveled back to Italy to say our farewells (for now) to Europe.  All.With.A.Toddler. And though I would LOVE to travel down those memory lanes right now I have something I want to say. It changed me. It changed me parenting, my marriage, my outlook on my daily life and somewhat surprising to me, my teaching.

I knew I felt different, but I didn’t think people would notice.  It wasn’t until client stopped me in my tracks in the middle of a Pilates session and said, “Can I tell you something?” Of course, he could. He knew he could.  “You’re different.” he said. “But in a good way.” I can imagine that my former self would have giggled slyly, or quickly said, I know, or tried to move the conversation along.  But I didn’t dare skirt this moment. I stopped, smiled, looked at him dead on and asked him to articulate what he meant. And you know, it was pretty cool to hear.

The following week another conversation with a client unfolded in a very similar way.  And again, swallowing pride and allow vulnerability to step in, I asked her to elaborate.  And I’ll admit to you, it was profound for me to hear these trusted clients whom I have worked with for over five years say things like “you are more focused” “our sessions are more intense” “you are pushing us more” and the one that nearly brought me to my knees “you have an aura of confidence.”

Maybe it’s my new European short hair cut.  (Initiated in Italy, but perfected in Spain;-)  Maybe it’s my commitment to communicate, to listen, to be present.  To be mindful.  Yup, I think it’s that.  As my clients finished off saying, “It’s all good! Really good!”  Yes, I have to agree. I have changed. And though the paths of changing were sometimes rough and uncomfortable, the outcome has had a decidedly positive impact.  And as I cling to this feeling I hope there really isn’t any turning back.

-Francine

Reflection

Can you recall a time in your life when a conversation has made a profound impact on you? Maybe it was with a friend, mentor, or client.  Think back on that conversation and ask yourself, “What did I do with that information? Did it encourage me to grow, was it scary? Was it a turning point in my career, relationship, health?  Take moment to free write (journal) for five minutes and see what comes through. Reflect on this for the following week, be open to what conversations, doors, dreams or insights occur from this exercise.

Slow please, pedestrians crossing.

I’ve never done anything very fast. In fact, I recall being in swimming lessons and begging my best friend to kick slower with her paddle board so I wouldn’t be the last one to cross the pool. I think I bribed her with stickers. If I was growing up these days, I would probably have to bribe my Bestie with iTunes gift cards or fidgit spinners. Recently, I was reminded that I’m not the fastest fish in the sea by two different individuals in two very distinct ways.  

The first was an affirmation from a family member when I said that I felt like I was slow at a certain task. They agreed with me, which stung like a bee sting right to my heart!! OUCH!!!. Why was this so hard to admit, and to hear? Most likely because in our society, doing things s.l.o.w doesn’t really get a lot of cheers. Fast paced, multi-tasking, well rounded individuals are often quickly deemed successful. In life everyone is looking for fast – fast food, fast internet, fast delivery, fast friends, fast track…fast, fast, fast. Admittedly this is not how I operate. I don’t like fast. But realizing my ego was hurt, my loved one changed the comment to: “You just like to take your time.”

Yes, yes I do.

The second delivery came about two weeks later, from a private client of mine who, in the middle of her Pilates session with me stopped and said, “I’ve realized what makes you different from other Pilates instructors, and what makes my experience in your Pilates mat class different and more enjoyable for me. You don’t rush us. You allow us to take our time.”

There it was again….taking one’s time.

I acknowledge that there are times in life when one needs to rush. Like, when everyone is hungry and you need to get dinner on the table ASAP.* But I also believe that there has to be a spotlight of time in everyone’s day when there is no hurrying, sort of like a “No Rush Zone.”

This week I encourage you to find that time, to take YOUR time.  Heck, maybe you already do. Then I encourage you to do what I chose to do.  Own it. Yep – own it, share it, and hope more people drink the Kool-Aid. Because slowing down maybe just what we all need.  

Wishes for a slower paced week ahead,

Francine

Pilates for Who?

One of my favorite questions regarding Pilates was posed to me several years ago.  “Who would benefit from practicing Pilates?” In short? Everyone. From its focus on breathing, to its benefits for posture and balance, to its adaptability of the exercises, and the infamous core strengthening, Pilates truly has something for every body.  A Pilates practice can be a simple as rolling out a mat and completing any of the 34 original exercises developed by Joseph Pilates, incorporating more variety with his Pilates ring, or ultimately getting one of the spring based pieces of equipment that push and pull your body in ways that no other exercise machine truly can.  Many will say that Joseph Pilates was ahead of his time, and I wholeheartedly agree. Developing the exercises during WWI, Joseph first worked with injured soldiers, then traveled to New York where his studio saw the likes of famous dancers such as Martha Graham. Pilates is truly adaptable, whether utilised for restorative and therapeutic purposes, or as part of a rigorous athletic routine.  

Over a decade ago, Pilates took me by surprise. Honestly, having been “committed” to yoga for so many years, I didn’t think I would like Pilates.  But as I learned the method, practiced with a mentor, and studied the exercises I felt the benefits in my body.

What about you? Was it love at first “Hundreds?” How have you benefited from Pilates?

-Francine