$5 Fridays are Here

Studies show that givers receive more than they give.

Furthermore, research proves that helping others releases endorphins into our bodies that put us in a good mood and make us happy.

Common sense tells me that we all look forward to the weekend.

Therefore – and facilitated by my superior skills in conditional statements and deductive reasoning – I am going to improve your weekend.

Right now.

On Friday.

Brother, can you spare a dime?

Or 50 of them?

That’s just $5…less than a cup of coffee-to-go…cheaper than a ticket to the movies…about the same as a couple of games downloaded to your phone.

I challenge everyone one I know to kick start their weekend by sharing $5.

Right now.

Yes, in this moment, click this link: Share $5

Receive by giving.

And in turn bring joy into your world, thus making the next 60 hours even more euphoric than the typical Friday-Night-to-Monday-Morning-Alarm-Clock time span.

Come on, you can do it!

Today – November 16, 2018, and for our very first $5 FRIDAY – I am asking everyone to share $5 to support my friend, Page Cole, who needs our help to earn a $25,000 (!!!) bonus donation to benefit our Tulsa Walk to End Alzheimer’s fundraising efforts.

** We are just under our $1 Million Goal, and this bonus can push us over the top!

Again, here is the link to help me help him

which helps further Alzheimer’s care and research

which helps the 5.5 million Americans diagnosed with this horrid disease

which helps the 15 million Americans serving as unpaid caregivers

which helps ease the 18.2 billion hours of caregiving they provide:

www.TulsaWalk.org and click the big, yellow donate button.

Please, will you join me?

Thank you, precious friends, and here’s to a joyful, happy, beautiful weekend!!

With love and hugs,

Ashli

PS: Friends, I walked through the steps above, and it took me less than 60 seconds from start to finish…quick and painless 😉

And since it takes almost no time at all, will you also “like and share” to your sphere as well?

xoxox, A.

Still Trying

I’m not going to lie, this one is going to be tough to write.

But if it reaches even one person, then it will have been worth writing.

Next week, author Lisa Genova will be in Tulsa to speak at two events: at the 5th annual AWARE (Alliance of Women for Alzheimer’s Research and Education) Luncheon and as a guest of Tulsa Town Hall. I am elated that I have the opportunity to attend both.

She wrote a book called Still Alice. It’s a beautiful, albeit heartbreaking, story. It’s one I’ve had on my bookshelf for some time now, but it’s one that I put off reading time and again because I knew it, too, would be tough to get through.

The story is about a highly capable, wonderfully strong, and incredibly smart woman who is diagnosed with Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease just as she turns 50. And although the book is fiction, Genova’s research and explanations of a most horrific process are spot on and 100% true.

I’m not ignorant of the phases of Alzheimer’s. In fact, I thrive on educating others about the disease, the key signs to watch for, how to understand the disease, and most importantly, what we as a country can do to fight it.

AWARE Luncheon, November 2016

Healthy Aging Presentation at Montereau, September 2018

Tulsa #Walk2ENDALZ, September 2018

When I give public speeches about Alzheimer’s Disease, I always share my story and my multiple connections with it, and I give my why:

I lost my Grandma Syble to Alzheimer’s just as Philip lost his grandmother to it, and now we are watching his mom, Sandra, suffer and decline from it as well. I am raising awareness and advocating to end ALZ so that my children will know a world without Alzheimer’s.

Doesn’t that sound good? It’s well-rehearsed, very open, completely honest, and straight from the heart.

Here’s the truth.

Here is what reading (and watching the movie based on the book) Still Alice revealed to me…

My why is much, much more selfish than I realized.

The real reason I have to stop this disease is actually all about me.

That doesn’t make me proud.

But at the heart of the matter, I am scared to death of this disease. I am more afraid of an ALZ diagnosis than any other health concern that I can imagine. And I have tried. I’ve thought through them, I’ve Googled, I’ve researched, and I’ve tried to imagine. But Alzheimer’s Disease is still at the top of my fear list. I live in absolute terror that one day I will begin to recognize those 10 signs that I teach others to watch for in their loved ones.

I can’t get this disease. I can’t handle it. I just can’t endure what it does.

And I don’t mean what it will do to me. I mean what will happen because of me.

It’s what it will do to Philip. And what I can’t put him through. Again.

At the back of the book, in the author’s notes, Lisa Genova says that she wrote the story from Alice’s perspective because she felt it was important to keep the focus on her as the person diagnosed and living with EOAD. But as I read, and as I watched, what kept initiating wave after wave of body-wracking sobs was what the diagnosis, the process, and the prognosis were doing to Alice’s husband, John, and the world they had spent their lives building. Together.

Like I said, this story is fiction, but it is 100% real.

All I could see was what my getting this disease would do to my Coach – the heart-racing, butterfly-inducing, ultimate love of my life.

He witnessed it as a child watching his grandmother deteriorate and die. He lives it every day as a caregiver to his mom who was his true first love.

I simply can’t put him through it again.

He’s a provider and a protector.

He takes care of me; he takes care of everyone.

He’s not perfect. And neither am I. But we are perfect for one another, and together we have a life that is better than a dream come true and a love that is more powerful than a fairytale. I’m not sufficiently gifted with words to adequately explain it, but we feel it.

We couldn’t function without the other; it’s just the way we are.

If I could no longer be his Ashli, the impatient, over-zealous, jumps-to-conclusions, never-finishes-a-project, loves-too-big, talks-too-loud, over-committing, bulldozing, smart but silly, capable but dependent, creative, crafty, book and numbers nerd that he fell in love with, it would devastate and destroy us both. It certainly would not be my fault, but I would be ruining what we have built together. And I think that would break me, actually shatter me into pieces too small to salvage.

I would tell him to go on with his life, his calling, and his ambitions. But he wouldn’t. His character would not allow for a choice in the matter. So, I – through the disease – would be killing us both.

I can’t do that. I just can’t.

So, although most days I don’t feel as though I make much of a difference, I am still trying.

The more we do at the grass-roots level, the more volume we give to our collective voice. As our voice grows, attention is garnered and awareness is raised. It becomes a priority for more people, so the government becomes interested. That’s when the ball really gets rolling.

The government then invests in the research that is showing promise. The projects that were started with grants and gifts can now be funded on a grander scale by the NIH. Without the financial support at the entry level (which often comes from the Alzheimer’s Association), those trials don’t get off the ground. In other words, we MUST raise funds at the local level to promote new ideas for attacking this disease so that we can find a way to treat – and someday cure – ALZ.

If you’ve already given to my 2018 Walk to End Alzheimer’s fundraising campaign, THANK YOU! I appreciate you so very much!!

Which makes this especially hard to ask, but would you be able to do just a little more? Another $5, $10, or $20?

If you haven’t had an opportunity yet to donate, will you please do a little something now?

I have until December 31st to raise funds for this year, and then, yes, I’ll start asking again for next. It’s excruciatingly difficult for me to continually ask for money, but reading and watching Still Alice, reaffirms for me and honestly depicts the impact we can make through support of the Alzheimer’s Association. I am truly honored to be part of an organization that helped make the book publication, the movie production, and the sharing of accurate information possible.

If you haven’t made it through Still Alice yet, grab some more tissues and keep at it.

It’s tough, but it’s worth it.

Just like we are…tough, but worth it.

So, we’ll keep walking, keep talking, keep raising, and keep trying to #ENDALZ.

With love and hugs,
Ashli

Me and Coach…

 

My Morning at Montereau

Two years ago I was trained as a Volunteer Speaker for the Alzheimer’s Association.  I am credentialed to present two formal presentations: “The Basics of Alzheimer’s Disease” and “Know the 10 Signs of ALZ.”  Both of these are 60-minutes long and have slides and videos and graphics to coordinate.

I more often give personal presentations where I kick off Walk to End Alzheimer’s teams, give our personal story, and share updates about research, caregiving, and statistics.  These are my favorite!

Maybe it taps into my inner teacher, or maybe I am simply a spotlight hound, but I LOVE being in front of a group of people, telling what I know about this heartbreaking disease, educating on the ways we can fight it, and sharing why we must have hope to end it.

This morning I was honored to speak to a fabulous group at Montereau, right here in Tulsa.

As part of their annual Active Aging Week, I was invited to talk about our journey with Alzheimer’s and explain why Coach and I work so hard to support the Walk to End ALZ.

I specifically wanted to talk about and touch upon a few things:

  • The difference in “normal forgetfulness” versus signs of ALZ
  • My method for understanding ALZ and how it attacks the brain
  • Why active, healthy aging is our only defense against ALZ…for now!
  • The importance of the Walk to End Alzheimer’s

I tend to shoot from the hip and get caught up in my telling, but I think we hit all 4 issues.

At least a little 😉

And then I got enjoy my very favorite part: meeting and greeting everyone after a beautiful group picture:

We had a great morning, and I truly appreciate the opportunity to share my message and encourage support for my mission.  Thank you, Montereau!!

If you would like to schedule an ALZ presentation, a lunch-and-learn, an info night, or even just a casual “coffee and conversation” for a few friends, I would be thrilled to speak.  Or even better, the Alzheimer’s Association can send one of the much more knowledgable presenters who will knock your socks off!  Just give them a call at 800-272-3900 to get the ball rolling.

Let me know how I can help!

With love and hugs,

Ashli

PS: Speaking of rolling balls, we are still working hard to obtain and surpass the fundraising goal for our 2018 Tulsa Walk to End ALZ.  If you have not yet had an opportunity, please click here to make a donation, and THANK YOU to everyone who has supported us so generously!!  Together we can – and we will – #ENDALZ!

 

Being the Glue

The peacekeeper, the caretaker, the hovering-nagging-pestering-maternal-figure.  Those are all me.  Those are my roles in our family.

My moms says I am the glue, which is a huge compliment!

It refers to a book that she and I read several years ago when we had the opportunity to hear author Kelly Corrigan speak:

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The story is about understanding and respecting the different roles we fill in the lives of those we love.  It’s a fairly quick read, heart-warming, and thought-provoking.  If you’ve not yet read it, I highly recommend picking up a copy.

Now, back to being the glue.

When I was 9 years old, I gained a bonus grandmother when my mom remarried.  Mema wrapped me in her love from day one.  My childhood memories are filled with visits to stay with Mema, helping her cook meal after meal, cutting patterns on her huge kitchen island as she taught me to sew, and sharing our special day – November 3rd is my birthday and her and Papa Jim’s anniversary.

She showed me how to love people for exactly who they are.  Her home was always open to all who wanted or needed to be there.  Coffee was always ready and her mystery cookies (made of oatmeal and chocolate chips and pecans and who knows what else as there was no recipe card) were always fresh made.  Her front door was a revolving door, and as a little kid, I adored seeing people come through; I loved being part of those visits.  She never shoo’ed us youngsters out of the room, she never judged, she always included everyone, and Mema beautifully modeled for me what it is to have an open heart.

She was the glue.

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Mema and Papa Jim with my baby brother, Shaun – 1985.

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Shaun with Mema at his high school graduation, 2003.

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Mema with my Angel Girl and my SonShine, 2015.

Today, Mema will take her last breath.  The family has been called in.  Her body is tired and completely give out.  It breaks our hearts, and yet I know she is ready.  While giving so many people so much love and comfort, she has endured great physical pain over the years.  I want her to feel peace.  My hope, my wish, my prayer is that she knows how immensely she touched and taught and trained me.  That she knows how much I love and adore her and all the moments we had together.

A great many people have shaped who I am today, and Mema is right at the top of that list.

If I am the glue, it’s because I had examples like Mema to show me the way.

Thank you, Mema – I love you!

All my love and hugs until we meet again,

Ashli

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Regression Rather Than Progression

I follow many, many yogis on social media.  I am inspired and encouraged by their posts, especially progress pics.  It’s amazing to see the space and skills that come with consistent practice!  Like a progress post showing a backbend that goes from looking like a broken Barbie doll to a fluid acrobat over the course months or even years.  Or a post showing the progress of Monkey Pose – also known as good ol’ fashioned splits – that begins as a kneel but becomes the stuff of ballerinas.

This is not that kind of post.

You’ve surely heard the saying, “Use it, or lose it…”

After a limited practice since last March and absolutely no practice for 6 weeks and 3 days, my yoga postures, my balance, and the space in my poses has done the opposite of progress in a very big way.

And that’s okay, because as of yesterday, I am excited to Begin Again. Again.

Like I mentioned last night, I created this class back in 2016, right after completing my Yoga Teacher Training and RYT200 Certification…at a time when I had been spending 5 hours, 5 days a week on my yoga mat.  But I want to be open and honest, so I am sharing my regression from then to now.  I am putting each picture from 2016 right next to a photo from tonight.

It ain’t pretty.

My hamstrings are screaming, my IT-bands won’t allow my feet to rest flat on the ground, my neck is crazy stiff, my hips are creaking, my shoulders are tight, my arms are shaking, there’s no bend in my back, and my core is like a bowl full of jelly.

I have a long, long way to go to get back to my better self.

But that’s okay as well.

It’s okay to digress, to stumble, to fall.  It’s the getting back up, finding your footing, and moving forward again that is most important!!

And that is exactly what I intend to do.

Last night we learned Easy Pose.

Here is the next part of my Begin Again yoga flow: Surya Namaskara A or Sun A.

Google “Sun A” and you will receive “about 2,590,000,000 in 0.48 seconds.”

It’s the first thing I teach my football boys and volleyball girls at TU, and I nag them regularly about making time to roll through a few Sun Salutations each and every day.

These 11 poses and the flow from posture to posture can change your life:

1. Samasthiti – Stand Upright with Hands at Heart Center

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2. Urdhva Vrikshasana – Upward Tree Position

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3. Uttanasana A – Forward Fold (bend knees as much as needed)

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4. Uttanasana B – 1/2 Lift

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5. Chaturanga Dandasana – Tricep Push Up Down

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6. Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana – Updog

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7.  Adho Mukha Shvanasana – Downdog

* HOLD FOR 3-5 DEEP BREATHS *

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8. Uttanasana B – 1/2 Lift

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9. Uttanasana A – Forward Fold

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10. Urdhva Vrikshasana – Upward Tree

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11. Samasthiti – Hands at Heart Center

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I hope you’ll give it a try…it’s never too late to begin!

With love and hugs,

Ashli

*  PS: please click here if you would like to support my efforts to #END ALZ –

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!  A.

Begin Again. Again.

On January 1, 2016, I wrote a post about beginning again, specifically about starting the new year with purpose and intention.  I chose the word “self-directed” as my Word of the Year.  And I began a new yoga flow with the big idea of sharing it with the world.

Today – August 26, 2018 – I find myself needing to begin again.  Again.

I am 6 weeks and 3 days post-surgery, and I am pseudo-released from my restrictions.  I am missing my yoga practice.  I am stiff and tight in all the wrong places.  I am ready to hit my mat.

I am ready to begin again.  Again.

I love my Begin Again playlist and flow from way back in 2016, so I figure it’s as good a place as any to get started.

The first posture is Easy Pose (Sukhasana)…one of my favorite ways to begin a yoga workout.

Sit in an easy position.

You might like your legs criss-cross, or you might prefer them out straight.

You should try sitting on a pillow or folded blanket if the ground is not comfortable.

You can shift your bum cheeks to root through your sits bones.

And then lift through your spine, your ribs, your heart, and your shoulders until you feel a nice, long length from crown to ground.

From here, just breathe.

And now you have mastered Sukhasana.

It’s a pretty great way to begin again.  Again.

With love and hugs,

Ashli

*  PS: please click here if you would like to support my efforts to #END ALZ –

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!  A.

A Kiss from Momma Monty

I have a fabulous habit of over-thinking, over-doing, and over-explaining.

So, today I am going to…

#1.  Save the Date: SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2018 is all about busting our butts to save our brains…

#2.  You need to register for the Tulsa Walk to End Alzheimer’s, so click here or go to www.TulsaWalk.org – email, call, or text me if you need help.

*** You receive a FREE FOOTBALL GAME TICKET just for registering to participate, so be sure to register your kids and family, too.

#3.  Next you need to order your game t-shirt TODAY.  Again, TODAY IS THE LAST DAY TO ORDER so click here or go to epiapparel.com/tul022 and ignore the “student/homeroom” part on the order page.  Shirts are only $10, and we NEED YOUR HELP PAINTING THE STADIUM PURPLE, so please go get one (or two or several).

#4.  SELF-DONATE or RAISE $10 (or more!!) to EARN a TAILGATING TICKET WHICH INCLUDES FREE BREAKFAST AND FREE LUNCH.  If you need help, please reach out – I would LOVE to help you make a difference in the fight to #ENDALZ

#5.  Be at the University of Tulsa, Chapman Commons by 9 am on September 15th…be part of the Walk to End Alzheimer’s…eat a free breakfast…learn about how we can create a world without ALZ…play a bunch of games…let the kids run through the fountains and hop through the inflatables…hangout and tailgate with friends and family…eat a free lunch…listen to awesome bands with the “Cain’s on Chapman” concert series…put on your purple TU shirt…use your free game ticket…watch pre-game…be ready for kickoff at 6 pm…and cheer our Golden Hurricane on to victory!!

As my Angel Girl likes to say, “easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy” 😉

Holler with any questions – I am here to help: MrsMommaMonty@gmail.com

With love and hugs and a KISS,

Ashli

2018 TU ALZ Game Shirt (front)

2018 TU ALZ Game Shirt (back)

My New Favorite Book

I wasn’t always slated for Alzheimer’s advocacy.

In fact, back in 2008 – after watching a CSI: New York marathon on TV…for ten school days straight…and doing very, very little else – I went back to school for my master’s degree.

In 2010, I graduated from the University of North Texas with a Master of Science in Information Sciences (a.k.a., a librarian’s degree) with graduate certificates in Youth Librarianship and Storytelling.

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I chose these areas of study because I wanted to gain some expertise in something I love.

You see, I knew that Coach hoped to someday be a head football coach at the college level which provides a small, yet potentially impactful platform to create positive change in the team’s community.  And then, when I looked inside my heart and my pretend crystal ball, I saw a deep passion for children and an obsessive love for reading.

Since that decision, Alzheimer’s Disease has attacked our family.  Because we refuse to go down quietly, my public platform has taken on a life of its own.

Don’t get me wrong…I’m happy and proud and honored to shout “WE ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY MUST END ALZHEIMER’S” from the rooftops every singe day.  You see, me and Coach, we are determined to help create a world without this horrific disease.

But I do still love children, I do still read obsessively, and putting it all together, I do still adore children’s books!!

Today, at Reasor’s (the Oklahoma version of HEB for all my Texas peeps), I bought my new favorite book:

Daisy-Head Mayzie by Dr. Seuss

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The title and it’s similarity to my Angel Girl, Maci, grabbed my attention.  On top of that, I could not understand how I have never heard of this Dr. Seuss tale.  Obviously, I had to have it.

And now I love it!

The story is precious, about a beautiful little girl who discovers something different about herself, has to deal with the fallout when everyone panics over her being different, and then realizes that she’s lovable and valued and proud to be herself [and grow daisies on her head] after all.

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But the main reason that it’s my new favorite is because just before bed my Coach and my Angel Girl stood by my side and looked over my shoulder while I read this book aloud to them.  No phones in the room to distract, no TV’s with which to compete, just the three of us standing in the kitchen while I read Dr. Seuss out loud.

For me, that was a perfect moment.

The icing on the cake is the historical information about Mayzie and Dr. Seuss at the end of the book…which explains why I had not ever heard of this treasure.

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The sprinkles on top of the icing on top of the cake?  I get to read it all over again.

To my SonShine!

The next time he is home 🙂

Yes, he is now 20 years old.

Yes, he’s a big, strong, rough and tough football player.

Yes, he’s an uber-busy college student.

But he’s listened to me read 100’s of books out loud, and he’s a good sport, and he’s the world’s best son, so I know – just as Coach and Angel Girl did tonight – he will indulge me with this one: my new favorite book!

Love and hugs,

Ashli

*  PS: please click here if you would like to support my efforts to #END ALZ –

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!  A.

A Decrease in “I” and “Me”

This year I am serving as President for the National Charity League, Inc. Tulsa Midtown Chapter (an incredible mother-daughter organization that has blessed both my Angel Girl and myself tremendously!).

Being the obsessive reader that I am, I decided to create a “One Board, One Book” study for my executive officers to read together, one chapter at a time over the summer and fall. The book I chose is Daring Greatly by Brene’ Brown.

It is a phenomenal book, and so far my greatest challenges to reading it have been 1.) to NOT highlight nor underline every single word, and 2.) to read only the chapter assigned when I really, really want to buzz right through to the end.

This month we are reading Chapter 1, ‘Scarcity: Looking Inside Our Culture of “Never Enough”‘ which oddly enough goes hand-in-hand with the fictional story I read yesterday by Cecelia AhernThe Book of Tomorrow.

If you’ve read or watched PS, I Love You, then you are familiar with this adorable and uber-talented writer and her skill for engaging and not letting go until the final page. (I also LOVE If You Could See Me Now!!)

The Book of Tomorrow is about Tamara, a teenager who can best be illustrated by Brene’ Brown’s description of how many young people are perceived today:

  • Always me, me, me
  • Thinks she’s better than everyone and is always putting other people down
  • Self-absorbed, grandiose…only interested in power, success, beauty, and being special
  • So entitled that [she believes] that [she’s] superior even when [she’s] not really contributing or achieving anything of value

But as Ms. Brown goes on to explain in Chapter 1, Tamara is acting out against the world for much more heartbreaking reasons that are “underpinned by shame.”

Brene’ cautions against diagnosing and labeling “narcissism” as such behavior on our part is “normally served with a side of contempt, anger, and judgement.”  And she reminds us that “we don’t ‘fix it’ by cutting people down to size and reminding folks of their inadequacies and smallness.”

This part of the book immediately brought to mind how Coach – the most patient human I know – is always coaching with love, respect, and encouragement.  Whereas I am wayyyy too quick to form an opinion (i.e., judge others), he is a great listener, and his delay in assuming things about people allows him to see through the insecurities and vulnerabilities that they are carrying around with them.  He is able to see the world through different eyes and from varied viewpoints, empathize, and show compassion for past experiences and challenges which opens the door to the best relationships.

Luckily, Tamara has her own Coach in Sister Ignatius, someone who sees past her defenses and hatred, someone patient and compassionate to give her time and space to grow.  And within that growth, Tamara naturally develops a decrease in “I” and “me” while learning that her actions and behavior do have consequences:

“…it obviously depended on how I lived the day when I awoke. The future hadn’t been written yet. It was still in my hands.”

I could go on and on (you probably feel as though I already have), but I’ll stop so that you can enjoy both books for yourself.  Just know that when you get to page 25 of Daring Greatly, I have personally felt each and every “Never Enough” tape listed as well as many, many more, so if you, too, feel like Brene’ Brown is speaking directly to you, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

With love and hugs,

Ashli

PS: I have to share this pic…it’s a beautiful mom and her precious daughter also reading by the pool yesterday, together and without an electronic device in sight.  It warmed my heart tremendously ❤

There’s an App for That

Many months ago – like 7 of them! – I was invited to join the #WalkiePosse team on the Charity Miles app to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association.

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I downloaded the app, set up my profile, and that’s as far as I got.

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Yes, I am sad to confess that I contributed exactly ZERO of my team’s 12,745 total miles.  Which means that my 78 team members are responsible for approximately $3,186.25 in donations to the Alzheimer’s Association while I was responsible for ZILCH 😦

But today, I started walking.

And I liked it!

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(That is the actual beach in Hawaii where I walked today.  Not a bad site for a stroll!)

The app is a free download, and the donations are made by sponsors such as Brooks Running, Johnson & Johnson, Walgreens, Garmin, and many more.

All it takes is tapping <Start Workout> when beginning a walk, run, or bicycle ride. (That’s the part that it took me so ridiculously long to remember to actually do – grrrr!)

And then press the <Finish> button when the work is done.

If you walk your dog, jog for exercise, or bike for fun, please consider joining our team: #WALKIEPOSSE to help #ENDALZ.  Or start your own team to support causes that are near and dear to you.

How fun that there’s an app for that!

With love and hugs,

Ashli

PS: I also truly believe that I should receive triple credit for today’s workout as walking in the surf was 3x more difficult than the normal walk around the block…just saying!!

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