Fit Friday #10: Getting Started as a Fitness Instructor

Welcome to a new series on the blog: Fit Friday! We’ll explore topics in fitness and wellness together. Have something you want me to answer or cover? hmu at fitwithaundra@gmail.com. Here’s a collection of all the Fit Friday posts.

This year (in May!), I’m celebrating EIGHT years of being a group fitness instructor. Wow.

I know I’ve shared my personal ‘transformation’ story, but I thought today I’d share my group fitness instructor journey story.

It all started in the fall of 2008. I had just finished college, and found myself in a not-happy place, in a lot of ways. I was pretty depressed, coming off a high of being an “it” student (student leader, always in the know) to just being a bottom-of-the-totem pole administrator at my alma mater. I had gained weight from lack of exercise and mindless eating, and I found myself in a ton of student loan debt.

Feeling stuck, I somehow managed to pull myself to a “Fall into Fitness” challenge that got me to the gym a couple of days a week. (the reality of this spark of motivation comes in the form of something that might be a trigger, so I’m not sharing here, but would be happy to share via real-life conversation). When that got boring (I was really into the treadmill, which makes me shudder to this day), I wanted something more.

Zumba was all the rage at that time on my campus. It was offered 5 times a week. I decided to go. I stood in the back corner, wore SUPER baggy clothes, and stumbled through the steps. But I kept going, slowly moving my way to the front row (never dead center). When the instructor announced that she was planning on moving, I was devastated. But what about ME? And MY workout? What would I dooooo?

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I googled how to become a zumba instructor and signed up for an instructor license course. This was happening. No turning back. At the time, Zumba was super new and I had to drive 6 hours to get to the workshop. But I went. And I worked my booty hard through the program. And then, once I left with my license in hand, I faced a new challenge: actually setting up a class and teaching.

I thought for sure I would get hired by my alma mater to teach the classes that would soon be extinct with the instructor leaving. Nope, didn’t happen right away. I begged (even going to the VP of that department, which I’m actually REALLY proud of to this day) to teach for FREE. The spot they gave me? The 7:00 a.m. classes on Monday and Wednesday.

I was absolutely NOT a morning person at this stage in my life. But I became one because I felt like I had something to prove (which, at the time, was that an overweight but determined person COULD be a successful Zumba teacher). I practiced SO HARD for those first classes, stumbling over steps and being very grateful to my faithful 2-4 students. I learned a lot about myself that summer (this was 2009).

Fast-forward a tiny bit to the fall semester. I was hired, for small pay, to continue teaching the morning Zumba classes. If I had people show up (I was told a solid 8 had to come), I could continue teaching in the spring. I worked SO very hard for those participants. I had some incredibly kind souls who made sure to come, in support of me, since they knew the program could possibly be cut.

And you know what? It started to grow. I chose music that was fun, upbeat, I mixed in some new and old dance moves, and had so much fun teaching and learning with my students. That spring, I got hired to keep teaching and the class exploded. It was amazing to have SO many (consistent) people in an early morning class. I love those students so much, and all of them have graduated and left the College at this point.

I was on such a high from teaching that I got really into fitness overall. I started running (signed up for a half marathon that year, 2010, with zero running experience). I fell in love with running at this point, which only increased all the happiness, fitness love, endorphins.

Want to see a highlight video from one of my early morning Zumba classes wayyyy back in the day? Check it out:

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Then, I caught the teaching bug. I started taking other types of fitness classes, found and fell in love with PiYo and TurboKick, then decided to seek certifications for those classes, too. Eventually, I also found Insanity and just had to teach those classes, too.

It really just starts to roll at this point. I started teaching in different venues, found confidence as an instructor and leader, learned so many instructor tricks (like this list and this list) , and found a happy place as an instructor. Now, I’m teaching so many classes, leading special private classes, fun events, and constantly thinking about the next move.

I love how far I’ve come as an instructor and even more, I love the people who have trusted me to share in their own fitness journeys. I look forward to deep introspection to determine some important next steps in my fitness instruction life. I also look forward to seeing YOU and your smiling face (or stink eyes because hella burpees) in classes. I love what I do!

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Coffee Talk Tuesday #47

Grab your cup! Let’s chat for our weekly Coffee Talk Tuesday.

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Do you like my straw? I’m trying this “refuse the straw” challenge – reducing or eliminating your use of a single-use straw. For funsies, I purchased these stainless steel straws and have a practice of carrying one with me for things like iced coffee. I encourage you to try it!

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that today is the DAY! By the end of the day, our kitchen should have countertops! I’ll definitely share pictures. We’re VERY excited for this next phase in the kitchen remodel. We will have so much awesome counter space!!!

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I’m very excited for a weekend of yoga! I’m heading to my usual hot yoga class, and then taking a fun inversion workshop on Sunday. It’s an all-levels class, but I hope to walk away with some fun transition ideas!

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that it’s almost the end of the semester for the college students. There’s always a flurry of activity around the last couple of weeks. I’ll definitely miss my interns and all the amazing help they give me!!! I’m hosting a fun taco lunch party for my students which is always a fun time (I mean, tacos…).

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that we played in the garden this past weekend and added some fun colors/curb appeal! I’m excited to spend some more time in the garden this weekend. It looks like the weather will be nice and warm, perfect for some garden time and playing in the dirt!!!!

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I’m putting the finishing touches on the Street Party! For the past few years, I’ve helped the Chestertown Tea Party Festival by coordinating the kick-off event, the Friday night Street Party. This year, it’s Friday, May 26, and I’d LOVE to see you there! It’s a FREE family event that features delicious food trucks (4 this year — including an ICE CREAM stand what whatttt), a beer & wine booth for the 21+ crowd, live music by Dell Foxx Company, and a children’s activity center. SPECIAL this year — a caricature artist!!! Can’t wait for the fun. Say you’re coming?

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that the countdown is on — ZOOMA Annapolis is just about SIX weeks away. I’m excited to run another half marathon! I updated my running page (finally!) and realized this is actually half marathon number 7! Lucky 7!!! My last half marathon was four years ago, which is crazy to me. Training this time around has been wayyyy different than before–I wasn’t teaching 9-10 classes a week or working through a resistance challenge like I am now. It’s such a fun course, I’m excited for this race event! There’s still time to register (5k, 10k distances, too!) and the code AUNDRA2017 can save you 10% on your total cost. Run with me?

I hope you have a nice treat today! Happy Tuesday!!!

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Fit Friday #9: Tips for Joining Group Fitness Classes

Welcome to a new series on the blog: Fit Friday! We’ll explore topics in fitness and wellness together. Have something you want me to answer or cover? hmu at fitwithaundra@gmail.com. Here’s a collection of all the Fit Friday posts.

Have you ever thought about joining a group fitness class, but ended up NOT doing it because of fear? Think about this: every single person who takes group fitness classes started as a NEW participant. Hear that? Everyone is a beginner!

As a group fitness instructor for almost eight years now, I’ve been encouraged by the community built in our fitness classes. It’s the most uplifting, energy-packed, amazing environment, and I’m on a mission to encourage people to step outside the comfort zone and enter an even more comforting zone.

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With that in mind, I’ve put together a few tips for joining a new-to-you class or classes in general:

Tips for Joining a Group Fitness Class

  1. Show up. On time, or a little early if that’s possible. Showing up is half the battle…bite the bullet and give it a try.
  2. Breathe. It sounds simple, but sometimes the thought of trying something new is enough to make you anxious or get you all tense. Relax! Everyone in class was new at one point, and experienced the same thoughts and emotions as you.
  3. Introduce yourself to the instructor. Don’t hide in the back corner! As a group fitness instructor, I can honestly tell you that I love when new people come up to me before or after class. I love seeing new faces, and it means so much when those new faces come up and say hello. Feel free to also ask about different moves, “How can I improve this” etc. – we’re here to help! Related — if you have any issues or previous injuries, it’s SUPER helpful for the instructor to know. We can help suggest variations to moves, or I’ve even come up with ALL different moves for students to try in certain classes. It can be done, we just need a head’s up from you.
  4. Go at your own pace. You don’t have to try to reach the level of every other person in class. Be safe — you know your abilities, your medical history, etc. – do what’s right for you. Everyone approaches the moves in class a little differently, and I love that aspect of group training. As the instructor, I learn from you, too!
  5. Drink water. And take a break if you need to. You will not be judged for slowing down or stopping…think of the class as a big family!
  6. And, a bonus tip… Have fun. Because fitness is fun! Especially in a group setting. Everyone there wants to workout, have fun, and learn from one another. It’s the neatest environment!

I hope to see you in a class soon! Check out the SUMMER SCHEDULE, which starts May 15 here.

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Coffee Talk Tuesday #46

Grab your cup! It’s time for a coffee chat.

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Coffee is 62% more delicious when enjoyed by a fountain. True fact.

If we were having coffee today I’d tell you that I’m BUZZING through my to-do lists this week, and that makes me nervous. Like, what did I forget? If I write it down, it happens. So…

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I’m in a good place with my summer schedule. I feel GOOD about the decisions that I made and COME AT ME YO if you don’t agree. Actually, don’t. Unless you have a cookie in each hand and both are for me.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I made these carrot cake balls over the weekend and they were DELISH. I mean, just look at them. I’m not a huge cake fan, but carrot cake, I likes.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I spent most of last night thinking deeply about a professional decision. I’ve been asked to take on some responsibilities that make me uncomfortable, and after lots of thinking and pro/con list making (just like Rory), I’ve come to a conclusion that I’m 100% behind. Gulp.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I’m partnering with some really cool organizations to offer fitness classes in the months of May and June. I’m very excited for these partnerships! More info to come!!

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I’m very excited for the student employee of the year event this week. I’ve never submitted a candidate before, and I’m SO anxious/excited/nervous and definitely hope my student (heyyy Caroline) WINS. Even if she doesn’t, she 100% WINS in our office on the daily.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I’m still on the lookout for running friends who want to come run MY MOST FAVORITE RACE EVER with me on Saturday, June 3! It’s ZOOMA Annapolis and you can run a 5k, a 10k, or a half marathon at a discounted rate. Go here for the race entry and type AUNDRA2017 for 10% off your race total.

That’s what’s up this week. What’s in your cup?

Now I’m off to get some more java…

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Fit Friday #8: Try a Monthly Yoga Challenge

Welcome to a new series on the blog: Fit Friday! We’ll explore topics in fitness and wellness together. Have something you want me to answer or cover? hmu at fitwithaundra@gmail.com. Here’s a collection of all the Fit Friday posts.

Have you ever tried following an online yoga challenge? A variety of different instructors and companies will host a month-long challenge that encourages followers to hit the mats daily with a pre-determined

Yoga challenges actually helped me develop a daily yoga practice! A couple of years ago, I found Kino MacGregor/KinoYoga on instagram and started following her challenges. She eventually teamed up with Kerri Verna/BeachYogaGirl and they started hosting challenges together.

I had the amazing fortune of completing a LIVE yoga class with Kerri Verna just a few weeks ago, and I can’t wait to attend one of Kino’s classes!

I’ve recently started following DoYouYoga, and have enjoyed their monthly challenges! This month’s challenge features common yoga class elements and a few fun challenges. Want to join me?

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I post the daily poses on my Yoga Instagram account (@ctownyogi)

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Yoga challenges are a great way to find new ways to move your body, too! I love seeing a pose that’s not part of my practice. I’ll look up the movements (usually in The Big Book of Yoga) and then find variations of that move. I’ll warm myself up, then try the different variations.

Usually, I’ll take my yoga challenge picture at the end of a workout – so my body is always warmed up before I attempt any movement. I HIGHLY ENCOURAGE THIS. You should always move your body a little first, before attempting a challenge pose.

What do you think, want to give it a try? I’ll post another challenge that I find for the month of May as well! Let’s get to the mats!

 

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Coffee Talk Tuesday #45

It’s weekly chat time! Grab your cup and let’s get talking.

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If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that it’s not Tuesday. April Fools! Wait. I got completely swept away by the day yesterday, and am very glad that it’s Wednesday. But hey, I like coffee on days that end in Y, so we’re all set! Today, I went on a 5-mile run, snuggled my cat, put on a new summery dress and filled my favorite “Mrs.” tervis to the brim with WaWa hazelnut coffee (yummm). So, Wednesday? Imma rock you.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that we’re finally at the time of year when I can ride my bike to work! It’s a sweet cruiser (in love with it), and I wait to ride it to work until it’s warm enough in the morning and still light enough outside when I’m done teaching classes at 6:30 to ride home. It has all the perfect components: a place for my phone, a cup holder for my coffee cup, a sweet little basket on the front — I love it!

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that my sweet traveling entrepreneurial friend wrote me an entire coffee talk post from Ecuador (looooove you!). I am waiting until I can sit and savor a delish cup of coffee to craft the perfect response. I seriously love when people share their happiness with me! (coffee cup cheers from Ctown!)

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I finally debuted the summer schedule. I’m being kind to me and teaching fewer classes (um, it’s still 6, some weeks it will be 7) per week. I teach 9-10 right now. I’m excited because it’s the first time I’ve really crafted a schedule that includes all the classes in the order I like teaching them while still giving myself a little bit of a break for my own fitness endeavors. I hope people enjoy this new schedule, too! It’s posted here if you’re curious!

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I participated in a two-hour hot yoga detox workshop this past Sunday and loved every juicy second of it. I feel SO strong from my BBG workouts – all of the core work and twisting was super accessible and I found myself going deeper into the movements. It was really quite beautiful – the room was packed, and even though I didn’t know anyone there very well, I felt like we all understood each other and moved as one, even on our own tracks at our own paces. I’m so glad that I found this yoga studio, and that I’m able to take my practice there almost on a weekly basis.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I really savor my 4 a.m. wake-up call on running days. I genuinely love being an early riser. My little surrounding world feels like it’s still sleeping and I’m getting up to greet the day, be active, and meet my equally-crazy running buddy Melissa. There’s something magical about seeing the sunrise. It’s my favorite part of the day.

That’s what I have for today, y’all. See you next time!

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Fit Friday #7: Spotlight on TurboKick

Welcome to a new series on the blog: Fit Friday! We’ll explore topics in fitness and wellness together. Have something you want me to answer or cover? hmu at fitwithaundra@gmail.com. Here’s a collection of all the Fit Friday posts.

I first found TurboKick classes in 2012, they were offered at a gym (that is no longer there…) where I really found my groove with teaching. I would teach a 5:30 Zumba class and then stay for the 6:30 Turbo class (holy cardio). It was awesome!

When I learned that there was a training to become an instructor near my area (still a 4 hour drive), I jumped on it and that made me love the format even more. That was in 2012. In 2016, I completed another round of certification on the new and improved TK format. I love revealing a new set to my classes, and feel SO pumped every time I teach it.

Key things about TurboKick that I love:

1) The moves build on each other — you start with one layer, then add another layer, and another. This helps make it easy to learn all the combos!

2) The music is poppin’! (is that a cool word?) I absolutely love the music choices and the beats. They are always upbeat and make you want to move.

3) You feel badass. We punch and kick and there’s so much power behind each of the movements. I feel like a strong beast after every class.

4) You get a phenomenal workout. It’s a crazy cardio class, but I’ve also gotten some awesome strength from this workout, too! Specifically – legs, shoulders, and core. I love the way my body feels after this class.

5) The TURBO. I love these so much that my evening class does the Turbo section THREE times. What is a turbo? It combines HIIT (high-intensity interval training) moves from the full workout into one single spread, just about 90 seconds-2 minutes. It’s action-packed, super fast and SUPER fun.

Want to see an example? Here’s the TURBO section of round that I’m currently teaching now:

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Come try a live class (they are SO much better in person) – I teach Tuesdays from 12:15-12:45 p.m. at Washington College and 5:30-6:15 p.m. on Wednesdays at Kent County Community Center.

Let’s go, let’s go!

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Coffee Talk Tuesday #44

Welcome to Coffee Talk Tuesday! Grab your cup.

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True fact: coffee is better with a deliciously cute outfit.

If we were having coffee together this week, I’d tell you that it’s a craaaazy week at work! We’re gearing up for our final PUSH to May 1. For those who only know me as Fit with Aundra, I’ll give you a quick run-down: I work in admissions. We spend the better part of nearly 2 years building relationships with students and their families, encourage them to visit campus several times, read applications, meet these students in their hometowns, and then list all the reasons this might be the best place for them to pursue their higher education (and life) goals. Sometimes, it’s not the best place, and that’s ok. We live in the daily pursuit of finding those best-fit students. My role this year is transitioning to the storytelling piece – helping to craft those messages we share with families, and sharing the stories of this place and its people. Savvy? Anyway, we have a BIG event this weekend (cue a long Saturday) where people will likely make their final choices.

If we were having coffee together this week, I’d tell you that after said Saturday event, I’ve decided to torture reward myself with a 2-hour detox yoga workshop at my favorite studio! Yummmm. I’m so excited. I love a good detox flow.

If we were having coffee together this week, I’d tell you that I bit the bullet and signed up for the other workshop I’d been eyeing – an inversion workshop! Love lifting my feet off the ground and trusting my strength. It’s been a loooong journey to get into inversions, but now I love it.

If we were having coffee together this week, I’d tell you that I took a really exciting progress photo this morning. I’m not sharing it because I’m not 100% sure I’m excited to post pics that show all the body, but I’m SO pleased with my BBG progress. Spoiler: abs that I have not seen since my hella crazy running/lifting days. I compared this week (Week 13) to a Week 2 pic and OH MY WOW. I’m amazed and look forward to taking even more progress photos. These BBG workouts are my jam!

If we were having coffee together this week, I’d tell you that I’m debuting my summer schedule and it is DIFFERENT. I’ve already had some whattttt responses in classes, but let me tell you it has been WEEKS of complete torture and agony to produce. It’s a smaller schedule, and there are some noticeable things, er, missing, but I’m super excited to try something new. And, I’ve spent tons of time these past two weeks proposing specialty class ideas, and oh my! There will be some fun fitness events in our future. Come on, summer!

If we were having coffee together this week, I’d tell you that I’m stoked to share a new TurboKick round in classes this week! This is a “Turbo Sport” and features TONS of fun and challenging moves. Cue soreness, in the best possible way.

That’s what’s up in my little corner of the world. What’s in your cup this week?

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Fit Friday #6: 5 Tips to Get Started with Running

Welcome to a new series on the blog: Fit Friday! We’ll explore topics in fitness and wellness together. Have something you want me to answer or cover? hmu at fitwithaundra@gmail.com. Here’s a collection of all the Fit Friday posts.

When I first started my healthy life journey, I turned to running. It seemed easy enough — I could just go outside and start moving, right?

It totally was easy to get started! After several years of running for fun, prepping for races, and building my skills, I’ve discovered a few other things that made it even easier to get started with running.

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Here are a few tips for new (or getting back into the groove) runners:

  1. Just go. Lace up your sneakers, get out of the house (unless you have a treadmill?), and move. That leads me to #2…
  2. Don’t worry about how far you go. Every time you go for a run, you’re going to improve! The best advice I got was not to focus on distance, because thinking about all those miles ahead of you can be daunting. Instead, start with a few minutes of running/jogging. Alternate with walking, and pretty soon, you’ll work your way up to those miles.
  3. Walking breaks are necessary. A run/walk method is such a great way to start. I love using markers on my outdoor runs (“Ok, run to that corner, and then stop for a short walking break”). Do NOT feel like you are not a runner because of walking breaks. YOU ARE A RUNNER. Even after years of running and doing multiple races, I love walking breaks on my training runs!
  4. Find a running buddy. When I first started running, I liked doing it solo. It was my time–for reflection, a chance to get away from everyone/everything. And then I got bored. Years ago, I responded to a post on a fellow runner friend’s facebook page about joining up for 1-2 runs a week, and now I can’t imagine running without someone! I’ve loved all of my running buddies! I know I’ve learned something new about running from training with each of them. Occasionally, especially if it’s a gorgeous weekend day, I’ll lace up my sneaks and hit the pavement for a solo run, but I definitely prefer running with a buddy.
  5. Don’t get lost in all the gadgets. I do not run with a Garmin or a watch. At first, I did like to keep track of my time, but then I became obsessed with it and that caused me to stop running for awhile. At that time, if I didn’t hit a mile in a certain time, I would get so upset at myself, and that’s not fun. Running is supposed to be fun! (Gear is another story, check out some of my must-have items!)

Are you a runner? What tips do you have for those new to the running scene?

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Coffee Talk Tuesday #43

Welcome to Coffee Talk Tuesday! Grab your cup.

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ok, ok, it’s not coffee. But isn’t this cuppow lid for my smoothie adorbs?

If we were having coffee together this week, I’d tell you about the AWESOME experience I had on Friday night. On a whim, like 10 days ago, I signed up for a master class with Beachyogagirl (Kerri Verna) in D.C. Going to this event meant 3+ hours in the car, and a late night the day before our 9-hour Saturday visit program/interviews. But do I regret it? NOPE. I adore Kerri, and have been following her adventures on instagram for quite some time. I lived for her yoga monthly challenges with Kino. I enjoy taking workshops/master classes like this because I always learn something new. This was a 90-minute class, and her sequencing was awesome – the perfect combination of challenging and strengthening (my shoulders and triceps KILLED for two days). Part of her method is an inversion at the end of class – something you hold for 25 breaths. Like a great instructor, she cautioned that this should not be the first time you attempt a head or hand stand. I wasn’t sure if I could hold my headstand for 25 breaths, but I tried it and DID IT. I am so amazed…it’s something I didn’t realize I could do until given encouragement. I am so in love with this whole experience.

If we were having coffee together this week, I’d tell you that it’s week TWELVE of the BBG program for me. Like a good beginner, I started in January as part of this 12-week challenge. I’m going to keep going with it because I love the format of these workouts. I’m feeling stronger each week, my posture has improved, clothes fit better, and my stomach is flatter. I shared a little update on instagram about the awesomeness of this challenge so far!

If we were having coffee together this week, I’d tell you that our kitchen remodel project is gaining speed! We had a contractor come to make templates of the countertops we just purchased (this is the one piece of the kitchen remodel that the husband is not doing…he’s so handy and loves to do the work himself), and they’ll be back in a couple of weeks to install them! Then it will be up to us (haha, husband, but I’ll do what I can!!) to install the dishwasher/sink/gas stove top and backsplash. WHEW!

If we were having coffee together this week, I’d tell you that I have major plans this weekend to plant things in the garden, pull out my springy clothes, and I’m teaching two special classes for residence halls on campus. I love teaching special groups/classes!

What’s going on in your world this week?

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