Wednesday, August 30, 2017


This story starts in May of 2012. At that time, I had been running regularly, but was still a newbie. I was asked to participate in my first Ragnar Relay — a roughly 200-mile relay race where each runner completes three legs over the course of 24-30 hours (depending on how fast your team is). My Ragnars have taken me to Cape Cod (so beautiful), the Adirondacks (so hilly), New Hampshire (we finished second to last :-D ) and Canada (the finish line was at Niagara Falls!). It is a complete adventure: you don't sleep, you laugh a lot, you push yourself way outside your running comfort zone, you run at night in unfamiliar places, you have more fun driving around in a van than you ever thought you could.

In mid-September, I will run my 10th Ragnar Relay. And as I prepare for it, I realize that I am taking all of the encouragement and positivity from my previous relays into this new experience. As such, this blog post is really a love and thank you note to all my previous teammates, including:
• my dearest friends who are more like family — Erin and Pat
• their family who I have loved getting to know and now think of as extended family — Ali, Jill, and Jonathan
• their friends who have become my friends — Graver, Kelly, Skeehan, and Alex
• my friends who I recruited to try this amazing experience — John O'Malley, Jay and Jessica, and Mark
• people I had never met before who have become so important to me through these intense and silly escapades — Maria, Stacy, Jody, Roxanne, Jimnahs, Carina, Emily and Chris, Kevin, James, Yvonne, Jen Z., Steph G., and of course Adam and Laura
• runners who hopped on one team and I may never have the privilege of running with again, but thoroughly enjoyed meeting — Katie, Mikey, Steve O, Claudia, Angela and Paul, Melanie, Cassie, Dave, Caitlin, Michael, Kailey, Shari, Meghan and Andrew

I have realized that the encouragement I have received from all of these awesome runners is what has slingshotted me with confidence into my newest adventure. This time I have joined a team of 11 complete strangers. We will run 200+ miles from Cumberland, MD to Washington, DC. I literally can't wait.

PS — If you see me running hills in Wallingford over the course of the next few weeks, give me a hoot or a holler as you drive by. Hills are essential as this is what my first leg looks like [:-O]

Monday, January 25, 2016

Why CIZE It Up?

(A piece I wrote for the Wallingford YMCA's member e-newsletter)

Here are some of the comments I have heard from people who have come to my CIZE Live class:

"That was so fun. It was challenging, but it was fun. I feel really accomplished."

"My heart is beating so hard, I can feel it in my toes."

"I love this class! I work my mind and my body."

CIZE Live is the latest workout program from Beachbody, the makers of P90X and Insanity. I have been dancing for 39 years, and teaching dance for 25 years. I took my first CIZE Live class last summer and was both challenged and captivated. Even though I am an avid runner, the class challenged me from a cardio standpoint. Plus, the uptempo, dance music (from the likes of Justin Timberlake, Pharrell, Missy Elliott, Ariana Grande, etc.) doesn't stop for 45 minutes straight; which means your brain is moving and learning for 45 minutes straight. I fell in love with the format and the philosophy behind it; specifically, that all movement is dance, CIZE just puts it to a rhythm.

I find that CIZE is so fun, people forget they're working out. It's a dance party where you learn the latest moves and laugh a lot! It's professional dance for everyday people (no prior dance experience necessary). My job is to break down professionally choreographed dance routines so the choreography is scaffolded in a way to work for everyone...from beginners to the more experienced. I believe it takes three times attending a CIZE Live class before you have a real sense of confidence about the moves. My encouragement to first time attendees is give yourself a chance to learn. No one goes to kindergarten expecting to know how to read after the first day; it takes some time.

Attendees are moving for most of the class so they're burning calories the whole time. On top of the awesome exercise and totally pumping music, one of my favorite aspects of CIZE Live is that you really have to leave behind whatever is on your mind and be fully present and focused in this class. That kind of "all in" mindset will aid in learning a new skill and you will leave feeling a sense of accomplishment!

If you have never taken a dance class before, but frequently have dance parties in your car when "your song" comes on...this class is for you!
If you love a great work out...this class is for you!
If you have danced on and off for years, but want to try something new... this class is for you!
If you just need to get out of the house and break out of your routines with a fun group of people...this class is for you!
If you want to START a fitness routine that you will actually enjoy...this class is for you!

The makers of CIZE LIVE designed the class so that "if you can walk, you can do CIZE!" So join me at the Wallingford YMCA Mondays on the West Side at 8:45AM or Wednesdays on the East Side at 6:35PM. Or come to the Academy of Dance and Music on Tuesdays at 6:10pm. I can't want to see you in class!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Quinoa Salad

I have looked at not more than 40 quinoa recipes in the last 24 hours. Unfortunately, I didn't have the ingredients for any of them in my house. My sister was coming to my house for dinner and I REALLY wanted to make quinoa salad. Why? I don't know.

So, I sort of cobbled several recipes together and made my own. And it came out delicious.

Here's what I did...

• one large cucumber, seeded and diced.
• one large tomato, seeded and diced. • one vidalia onion, diced.
• one cup cooked quinoa (I used red quinoa).
• about 20 large leaves of basil, cut into small pieces (I used kitchen shears).
• one lemon.
• 1/4 cup olive oil.
• 1/8 cup red wine vinegar.
• one ripe avacado, seeded and diced.
• salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

Put the cucumber, tomato, onion, cooked quinoa, and basil in a bowl. Add the oil, vinegar and juice from the lemon. Stir and refrigerate until ready to serve. Just before serving, dice and add the avacado. Stir all ingredients together. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Working From Home

My Top 7 Reasons Why Telecommuting Makes Sense

1. Let's start with the obvious; it's good for the environment and my wallet.
Every day I work at home (and don't have to commute to Hartford) saves me from driving 64 miles...that's less fumes in the air we breathe, one less car adding to commuter congestion, less wear and tear on my car/tires (which means they will last longer and become landfill later), and it actually allows the dollars paid to me by my employer to add to my quality of life in myriad ways.

2. Seamlessness between life and work.
When I work from home, the needs of my life and the needs of my job become integrated. I am moving it all forward simultaneously. My work, which I care deeply about, can just exist alongside the objectives of me and my family. Because I don't have to put one area of interest down to focus on the other, both benefit. Both get the best of me, my energies and my brain, all the time.

3. Less distractions.
While I love my co-workers, sometimes the pleasantries of an office environment are counterproductive. While they add to the enjoyment of a workplace, they do slow me down. When I work in my own home, I have a pace and a groove that is my own. It is comfortable and completely designed by me for my maximum efficiency. Things like light, temperature, sound, fresh air, etc. can make a huge difference. For instance, I am one who like to move from place to place and I have comfortable work spots set up in different rooms of my house; some with standing desk options and some sitting.

4. Fitness.
When I work from home, I am always able to fit in time to exercise. Essentially, the hours that I would spend commuting get utilized for health and wellness. That never gets to happen when I commute.

6. Wear what you want.
I take the idea of business casual to a whole other level when I work from home. I often tell my family, "Thank God no one ever wants to Skype with me." I am a big fan of comfort and often will work from home in my pajamas, sweats or running clothes. Again, not wearing dry clean only options every day helps my wallet and the environment.

7. Happiness.
As Dorothy says: There's No Place Like Home. I am happiest when I am in my own home. I can function on my own schedule, surrounded by all the detritus of life that brings me joy. Honestly, one of my absolute favorite aspects of working at home is getting to work while my pup is in my lap. It seems silly, but sometimes it is the little differences in life that make the most impact. Honestly, wouldn't you be happy if you got to have Brutus as your office mate?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Privilege Diary #4

I went to the 2014 White Privilege Conference in Madison, Wisconson at the end of March with two of my co-workers. This week, my colleagues gathered to hear about our experiences. This is what I shared.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Privilege Diary #3

This post if for my fellow teachers.

I heard a song lyric today: ...there is no them, only us.

It is a line in U2's new song called Invisible. To me, this sentiment is at the heart of all bias issues.

Can you honestly say that you can see an Asian, Latino and African-American student in your class in the same manner? Do you think you can look at a third grader and see the potential doctor or lawyer within, regardless of their ethnicity, background, or skin color. Then read no further. But if you are being truly honest, you might confess that most people in the US would admit to a bias of seeing that potential doctor or lawyer in an Asian student much more easily than Latino or African-American students. Is this right? Of course, the answer is categorically no.

My compelling thought during my run today was that if we teach in a manner that doesn't facilitate an "us" and "them" mentality, the world would be a better place.

While I recognize that this is not a new WAS a thought that hit me profoundly today.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Privilege Diary Entry #2

All I have to say today is: how is this a headline?

That is akin to someone putting a headline next to my photo saying: Hartford Police Department says Suburban Housewife Jenni French is not a murderer. But you see, that would never happen.