Tag Archives: Run to the Sun

Normal is Overrated


Point to Ponder:

Do you regularly decide to do things because they’re considered “normal” or what’s expected?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

On the heels of my husband losing his job and trying to sort through all of that, participating in the exhilarating Run to the Sun benefiting Beyond Batten Disease Foundation, iGnite member Lisa Wade sending me an incredibly insightful New York Times article, and then being invited to attend a Spur Leadership luncheon at Lake Hills church,  I can with 100% confidence say that I’ve been enlightened.

First, you can imagine all of the confusion that goes along with the loss of a job. Need I say more?  Then, to get to participate in the Run to the Sun and be reminded that the most important things in life aren’t things, a job or even financial security — rather, they’re family, friendships, community and our health. There’s nothing more important!  Next, as I am sitting in the Spur Leadership luncheon featuring Charlie Strong’s wife, Vicki, I notice the Spur Leadership slogan “Normal is Overrated.”  I have to tell you, I am so inspired by that slogan!  I find it refreshing and spot-on with how we should live our lives, but I also admit that it’s easier said than done.  On so many levels normal feels mmm…mmm good! It’s safe, predictable, and as comfortable as slipping into an old and stretched out pair of fleece sweatpants, but what I’m realizing every day is that God hasn’t called me to be comfortable.  Instead, He calls me to jump off the boat, take giant leaps of faith and be completely comfortable with being uncomfortable and trusting that a net will appear.  In fact, I think this is a universal calling for each of us, which is what leads me to the profound and compelling article from Lisa Wade.

The primary focus of Journalist David Brooks’ article “The Moral Bucket List” is to identify the characteristics of people who radiate an inner light and have the perfect “eulogy virtues.”   By career standards, these people may not have the best or most financial success, but as for understanding life — they totally get it.  They live and love exceptionally.  They aren’t living the normal or safe life, rather they are living for others and living to make an earthquake-sized impact, which is something we all have the capacity of doing.

Absolutely, normal IS totally overrated, and this week I encourage you to read “The Moral Bucket List” and consider the areas of your life that you are keeping safe and normal. And, I remind you that being busy, distracted, worried, stressed, insecure, gossiping, etc, are normal.  You don’t have to do anything radical or extreme, rather just find time to be alone, still, and quiet (actually, that is radical).  It’s during this time you will hear the whispers of your spirit guiding you to a life that is less ‘normal’ and more fulfilling.

Action Item:

Read The Moral Bucket List” and consider the areas of your life that you are
keeping safe and normal.

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A Night to Remember

Point to Ponder:
Do you have a difficult time accepting the unknowns of your life?
by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

While I am certainly not trying to compare my dancing abilities to Betty Cunningham (our iGnite dance leader extraordinaire), I love a dance party!…especially with girlfriends, which is exactly what took place this weekend during Run to the Sun – the overnight relay race from Enchanted Rock to Camp Mabry benefiting Beyond Batten Disease FoundationExhilarating, very hard, hysterical, boundless joy, exhaustingand absolute fun are some of the words that describe Team iGnite’s experience.  It’s actually very difficult to articulate the unforgettable event so I’m not sure I’ll do it much justice in writing. Maybe saying that staying awake for twenty-nine hours, still having a smile on my face and in my heart, and wishing I could do it again next weekend says enough?

In addition to witnessing the awe-inspiring power of community as well as countless displays of extraordinary courage and strength, there were two specific moments that made a sizeable impact and still have me thinking.

The first was during my relay leg, around 1:30 a.m on Hamilton Pool Road.  It was of course dark so I wore reflective gear, blinky lights and a head light.  Even though I knew my run was difficult and hilly,  my head light only allowed me to see about fifteen steps in front and therefore I couldn’t anticipate what was coming up until it was upon me. Also, because I desperately wanted to mentally prepare for what lie ahead and feel like I had some control, I often times tried manipulating my head light to see if I could get greater range, but it was always a waste of effort. Therefore, I had to alter my mindset, accept the unknown while not giving up, and accept taking it one step at a time.  It was blind faith until every 1.5 miles when I heard the sounds of Team iGnite–sirens, cheering and the non-stop dance party.  Hearing and seeing my friends was not only comforting and energizing, but their support enabled me to keep going and feel confident that I could do this!

In hindsight, this was analogous to life.  There are so many times during our life journey when we are not exactly sure what lie on the road ahead, and it’s during these times that we don’t need to focus on the end or even know the exact route.  Rather, the opportunity is to accept and trust our challenge or unsure path, don’t worry about crossing a bridge until we need to and take it one step at a time – one minute, one day and one week at time – knowing that when we don’t have the answers, strength or confidence to take that next step, the answers will come and our community of friends and family will lift us up and pull us through. It’s pretty awesome!

The next significant impact came after we finished the relay at Camp Mabry.  BBDF held a kids 2K around the beautiful and new track.  Durant, my four-year-old son, wanted to run and despite being physically juiced, I could not turn down my little’s guy’s desire.  He was the youngest and we were at the back of the pack of kids and having fun running when I looked to my left and saw Christiane Benson running WAY ahead of us.   (Christiane is the precious 12 year old who was diagnosed with Batten Disease when she was five years old and is the inspiration of the Beyond Batten Disease Foundation.)  What you may or may not know is that Christiane is blind.  She can see blurry objects and will one day be completely blind.  You would think this would slow her down, but not even close.  Christiane wasn’t just running- she was sprinting!  Had I not known who she was, I would have NEVER thought she was blind or had a terminal illness.  She did have a friend nearby, but this full of life and fearless child was beyond inspirational and once again proved to me that not only is anything possible, but also no disability or illness can define or determine our limits.  In fact, there are no limits to what each of us are capable of doing. Not just physically, but in life in general.  Nothing can or should get in our way of living a full and fearless life!  If Christiane Benson can do it, so can we!

Finally, below are beautiful quotes and personal testimonials from Team iGnite and our Run to the Sun experience. We cannot thank you enough for your donations, support, thoughts and prayers.  Our team goal was to raise $6,500 and so far we’ve raised $7,335 and hope to continue to raise more throughout the remainder of the week.  This is incredible!  We felt lifted up by your support and prayers, and for those we are so grateful!

Team iGnite/Run to the Sun Testimonials

Babe Keahey: I loved the encouragement and joy everyone had when cheering on the runners throughout the night!  Whenever it started getting difficult- there was always a light at the end knowing that your teammates were welcoming you to finish.

Catherine SandersonWhat struck me most was the impact that having a team of friends wholeheartedly supporting me and reminding me they believed in me and that I could do it in moments where I was struggling to believe I could go on had on my ability to push through a hard run.  Such a perfect illustration of being able to go further and be stronger when we allow others to fully support and sometimes carry us through hard times.  A close second favorite memory is our glow stick rave dance parties in the middle of country roads in the pitch black! 🙂

Courtney Seal: Run to the Sun was an incredible challenge and event where each leg of the race was full of both unforeseen challenges and rewards both physically and emotionally. Amazing experience and amazing to share it together.

Jenni Thurow: The Run to the Sun made me realize that the words and support of others are SO powerful. The words of others can help us accomplish things either we never would try or we never thought would be possible.  Every time I wanted to give up I would see the iGnite team in a distance and I would be fully recharged.  Anytime I was ready to give up or got scared being by myself in the middle of the night I would see the blinking lights of the Tahoe in the distance and know I was not alone.  What an amazing run!

Jessie D’Andrea: Run to the Sun was an amazing experience that I will never forget.  From running in the darkness of the night, but knowing I wasn’t alone, to lifting these children who are battling Batten Disease up in support and prayer, I treasure the memories.  Also, the kind of team support Team iGnite showed not only to our own team but to the other teams’ runners will forever be in my heart.  

Kathleen ParkerA truly unforgettable experience.  Words can’t describe the outpouring of love and support I felt.  Truly life changing for all of us.

Laura Gentner: The spirit and friendship of the group was uplifting and genuine.  It was amazing how committed this team was to rallying around each woman during the race – cheering and pumping them up the entire time.  I’m so glad for the experience and to know the iGnite women even better.

Maggie McCauley: Unbelievably rewarding. The love, encouragement, spirit, and fun shared by our team and beyond taught me so much in so little time.  I now truly understand what teamwork and camaraderie mean.  Knowing that you are going to see someone who cares and believes in you throughout a tough run makes the difference.  Run to the Sun has inspired me to accept every challenge knowing that I have a team who will always support me.

Molly DanielsI loved every minute of the experience because it was non-stop support — yelling, cheering, dancing, laughing, singing — for every person running, whether or not they were on Team iGnite.  What an inspiring event that I will always remember!

Paige Clark: I loved the magic of running through the peaceful dark stillness of the Texas Hill Country at night, which was made even more special by the constant enthusiasm, joy and loving support of Team iGnite. What FUN we had!!

Action Item:

Whenever in doubt of your capabilities, grab a friend and let them lift you up!

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What Do You Expect, Desire, Respect and Admire?

A Road Map to Your Best Year Yet, Part IV


Point to Ponder:
Do you have a goal, mantra or intention?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Whether it be a setting a goal, mantra or intention for yourself and your year, all of them are equally important — IF you want a little say in your life.   Here’s why: we’ve all heard these sayings before: “Don’t exist, live!”; “Become intentional about what you want out of life or else life will happen to you.” and “Don’t wait on the opportunity, create it!”  We do have a good bit of control over what life gives us, which is not to say that life won’t at times spin us around, turn us upside down and completely overwhelm and disappoint us. However, the law of attraction is at play every second of the day, and we reap what we sow. So, it’s essential that we are specific and intentional about what we are sowing and what we want out of life. Taking the time to determine these things will increase our odds of getting what we want rather than leaving life to chance.

Admittedly, my goals in the past have been overwhelming because even though I thought about them and wrote them down, I had way too many. I’ve learned that less is more, meaning trying to tackle and apply more than three goals, intentions or mantras at one time is a recipe for confusion and non-accomplishment.  Last year for example, I finally got it right. I was knee-deep in what felt like literal quicksand. While trying to juggle work, a toddler and an infant, the thought of setting and trying to achieve one goal felt impossible (showering a couple of times a week and brushing my teeth everyday was as ambitious as they got!). So, I decided to be realistic about what I could do, and instead of setting a goal, I created a mantra: “I can do hard things!”  Every time I found myself feeling powerless and wanting to scream and cry (which was a lot) I repeated my mantra “I can do hard things!”  This seems simple, but my mantra became my inner dialogue and always eased my mind.  It helped me breathe, stand tall, be strong and not run away- ha (but seriously!)

Since January 4th, we’ve celebrated all of the amazing things we were able to accomplish and were grateful for in 2014; we’ve let go of our past or trying to become who we “once were”; and we’ve asked ourselves why we are interested in the particular goals we are considering setting for ourselves in 2015. And so, the last question for you this week is: what do you expect, desire, respect and admire in life? If you can answer one of those questions, you are on your way to setting a goal, mantra or intention for yourself, and we’ll take time in each class this week for you to write down one goal, mantra or intention on a special card.

Because sharing is what we do in iGnite, one of my goals is to participate in and raise money for the 5th and final Run to the Sun relay for Beyond Batten Disease Foundation which takes place April 11th/12th. Team iGnite has been created and we just won an RV for the overnight relay from Enchanted Rock to Camp Mabry!  This is no doubt a game-changing advantage! I’ll start my personal run training tomorrow 🙂  Amazingly, we also recently learned that due to the diligence in researching for a Batten disease cure, the doctors feel confident there will be a cure within Christianne Benson’s lifetime. Christianne is the precious sixth grader in Austin who in 2008 was diagnosed with juvenile Batten disease, which takes the body, mind and life of children. This news is nothing short of a miracle, but it also reminds me how important it is to be bold and set goals, for when we believe in our goals and become intentional about achieving them, anything is possible! Just imagine if the Benson family and their amazing community of friends who helped found the Beyond Batten Disease Foundation in an effort to find raise awareness, raise money and find a cure would’ve settled for the awful diagnosis and never pursued a cure. All goals are possible, but we must first have the courage to set them and have the determination and faith to achieve them, no matter how big or small.

Finally, because setting aside personal time to think about our goals and create a strategic plan for your goals, mantra or intention is very challenging, we’d love for you to join our Goals Workshop this Thursday morning or evening. It’s going to be fun, empowering, inspiring and very helpful. Plus, we want to be part of you creating the year and life you want!

Action Item:
Join us in class this week or attend our Goals Workshop so you can focus on your goal, mantra or intention.  If you don’t have one yet, ask yourself what you expect, desire, respect and admire in life. This will get your wheels turning and give you the goal, mantra and intention setting information you need.

Our Favorite Non-Profits, Round 2


“It is not how much we do, but how much love we put into doing. It is not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.”
– Mother Theresa

Point to Ponder:
What non-profit is special to you?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

During a conversation a few weeks ago between my mom and I, she candidly said, “If in this day and age anyone complains of being bored, they aren’t looking hard enough because there are always people to help.” I think she’s right. For sure there are always people to help, and “in this day and age” we are fortunate to have access to so many wonderful organizations that do amazing work!

Last week I shared with you my favorite philanthropies and non-profits, and this week our leaders are sharing some of theirs. For some of us, support is through monetary contributions, and for others of us it’s our time. The important thing is that it comes from loving hearts, and that’s what matters most.

Alli’s & Sha’s Favorite: Beyond Batten Disease Foundation

default-logo“Every year for the past 4 years I have participated in an event called “Run to the Sun” to raise funds and awareness for Beyond Batten Disease Foundation, and I am passionate about this event and this cause. BBDF is a local non-profit founded by dear family friends, Charlotte and Craig Benson, on behalf of their daughter Christianne, who has this devastating rare neurological disease. In just a few short years, BBDF has made huge gains in understanding and treating Batten, along with numerous other rare childhood diseases, and is now on track to find a cure in Christianne’s lifetime! Run to the Sun is a 90-mile overnight relay from Enchanted Rock to Austin in which runners symbolically experience Christianne’s journey — running into and through the night, “blind,” sometimes “alone” (but never really), always surrounded and supported by teammates, other runners, and volunteers along the course, culminating at sunrise with a finish-line celebration where everyone crosses and “comes into the light” together. The experience is truly life changing, and the work of the foundation is too.”

Amy’s Favorite: Austin Sunshine Camp

logo“One of my favorite, lesser-known, local non-profits is Austin Sunshine Camps. The camps’ mission is to engage and empower youth through outdoor experience and education. For over 85 years, kids from Austin and surrounding areas have enjoyed summer camp free of charge. There is a neat story to the camp’s beginning: In 1928, The Young Men’s Business League(YMBL) of Austin recognized the serious community threat of youth tuberculosis and became dedicated to making a significant contribution to the solution. YMBL members established the Summer Sunshine Camps in Zilker Park to provide afflicted local youth and economically disadvantaged youth an environment in which to gain weight, grow strong, and enjoy sunshine, as it was said that sunshine could assist in curing tuberculosis. Today, Austin YMBL Sunshine Camps continue to serve youth living near or below the poverty line. The programs have expanded to include education and a mentoring component. After-school programs and tutoring are now offered to middle and high school youth, empowering them to dream big and look towards college. The camps are in the process of building a new facility at Zilker Park which will enable many more central Austin youth to succeed through education and healthy living.”

Cary’s Favorite: Marbridge

marbridge-logo“If you ever doubt the adage ‘what you give, you get,’ just hop in your car and drive till you reach Marbridge Ranch. A home for cognitively-disabled adults, Marbridge gives life to those who might otherwise struggle fiercely if they lived outside of its warm and loving doors. Donations go to support the most loving and true people anyone will ever find on this planet. They literally ‘had me at hello’ the first time I volunteered there, answering phones in the main office. Two mischievous residents knew the regular gal was out, and that a green and unsuspecting little me was the gatekeeper-in-training…in other words, I had no idea who could come and go. So these two did just that, they came — time and again, carrying mail, bluebonnet seeds, papers, you name it…just to get past me so they could have a peek into the Big Boys’ offices. My face hurt, I smiled so much that day, and I haven’t looked back. Each time I go, I am visited by an angel…that is the truest way I can think to describe it. They love, they smile, they live, they learn, they teach. It is a beautiful place. You can give in the form of financial support, but also volunteer support, and there are a million opportunities for that. If you are able to become involved…I promise, you will never look back!

Catherine’s Favorite: Austin Community College

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 3.07.31 PM“This past year I have really come to respect and admire the work they do at Austin Community College. With both my husband and I taking classes there this year, we’ve witnessed first-hand how focused the instructors in the career-specific courses are on truly helping prepare the students for being successful in a career and finding good jobs, as opposed to just academics for academics’ sake (which I experienced through large Universities). Growing up, I had no exposure to or respect for community colleges, and since I’ve thankfully opened my eyes and learned that ACC does awesome things for students at a price that is actually manageable for those paying for their own school that want to pursue their dreams and become everything they dream of. The career-specific course instructors we’ve encountered are truly there for helping you learn more about what that skill is like in the ‘real world’, instead of focusing on school reputation, accolades, etc. Now, as far as I’m concerned, that’s the real deal… I just really love and value that at this point in my life! I’m so thankful that my prejudice against community colleges has been exposed and proven dead wrong, because ACC (a non-profit) is awesome and serves an incredible purpose for the people that want and need it.”

Kathleen’s Favorite: Campus Crusade for Christ

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 3.49.30 PM“My favorite non-profit thus far has been supporting Campus Crusade for Christ right here in Austin. I have sponsored a darling couple here on staff at UT. They have made such an impact on so many young lives just down the street from me on campus. I truly believe that these UT students will be forever changed by these young men and women on staff at Cru. I was involved with Campus Crusade when I was a student at UT and it was a life-changing event for me!”

Molly’s Favorite: Susan G. Koman Foundation

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 3.54.58 PM“My favorite non-profit is the Susan G. Komen Foundation. I’ve known several women who have fought and won the battle with breast cancer, and several who have passed away, including my grandmother. My support of this cause is important because I wish for the doctors and researchers to find a cure so that no woman endures this pain ever again. I’ve participated in the Race for the Cure, and I love that family, friends and strangers join together to unite for this beautiful cause.”

Action Item:
Determine one way you can help support a non-profit that’s special to you during this giving season.

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