Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thank You Bicycle Lab

Thank you Bicycle Lab for supporting Genesis Home's work to end homelessness one family at a time!

Based in Carrboro, NC, Bicycle Lab is a small business that offers one-on-one bicycle fitting and mechanical services. They also design and build beautiful custom road and triathlon bicycles under their own Karma Cycleworks brand.

They even have a newsletter that offers tips on fit, pedaling dynamics, and general training.

Be sure to check them out!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

My Intention: Look for the Pain

"Pain is meant to wake us up. People try to hide their pain. But they're wrong. Pain is something to carry, like a radio. You feel your strength in the experience of pain. It's all in how you carry it. That's what matters." - Jim Morrison

All of a sudden it seems that I have a race on Saturday....and an Olympic distance one at that!

Last year, building to this distance was my ultimate goal. This year I've been so busy with life, work, and training for my first half-iron, that this race has snuck up on me.

Perhaps that's a good thing, as I tend to swim, bike, and run faster when I'm not overthinking it. We'll see how this new "sneaky approach" actually goes!

So, my intention?

Well, it's a brand new race to me, but not a brand new distance. I know it will be challenging. I know that it will be just long enough. I know it will hurt. And so, my intention is to look for the pain - especially on the run, especially around mile 4 of the final 6.2.

I intend to seek out the pain, to invite it in, to study it, to see what it has to offer, to make friends, to accept it -instead of fighting it with every step.

Often times avoiding pain has led to homelessness for the parents living at Genesis Home. They choose to continue an addiction because their fix quells the pain. They choose destructive relationships because of the pain and loneliness that self-efficacy sometimes brings with it. They choose to drop-out of school because the pain that might arise if they don't measure up.

All pain is different. All pain is the same.

On Saturday, we'll be facing the pain together.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Weekly Work-Out Wrap-Up

"Nachos are a super food." - My husband at last night's Chicago Cubs game.

Since my dear friend over at Walker Runs commented that it's been a while since I last posted, here's a quick note on what I've been up to this week.

Simply put, my last post lit a fire under me and it's been a incredibly productive week of working and training. The alarm has sounded at 5 a.m. every day this week and I've dutifully- and even joyfully - completed many hours of very ambitious, force-focused swimming, biking, and running and have checked-off some huge items on my work-life list.

The challenges this week has presented have also been fodder for some great- and no doubt profound - posts that will have to keep swimming around in my head until next week, as I'm now in Chicago for the weekend, logging lots of miles around the lake.

Friday, July 18, 2008

When is Now

"Wherever you are, be there totally. If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally" -Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

I’ll wait until…

Next week, I’ll…

Everything will fall into place when….

I’ll do that when….

I’m finding myself procrastinating.

At work, at home, in training, with fundraising, amid the little annoyances and the big dreams alike, I’ve been putting things off, endlessly re-reading the to-do list, mentally re-configuring training schedules – and somehow thinking that IT will be somehow better or easier or make more sense (and that I will somehow be better, faster, smarter, more worthy?) when…..

Then on Friday morning, during our long run, my Sage Endurance teammate Claire reminded me that ‘when’ is always NOW.

Now is always the moment in which we are creating the life we’re leading and now is always the moment in which we have the opportunity to create the life we want to lead. It’s always now. Basic and profound.

As our coach reminded us of in her recent blog post, even when we know this truth, it’s so easy to forget it as we putter away minutes, mark the 9 to 5 cycle, and watch weeks click off the calendar never to be recaptured.

Mix this procrastination with a hint of questioned confidence and it becomes a self-feeding cycle. For me it's been:

In the office: I won’t raise that idea because I don’t yet have it all figured out. But somehow there’s always more to figure out.

Thinking of racing/ life/ professional goals: I can’t do that job, distance, speed, title yet because I might not do as well as I want to. But, somehow, I always want to do better.

Really pushing personal limits in training: I’ll wait until next week when I’ll have more sleep, time, mental preparation to really go for it. But, somehow there’s always more I need to do.

For some of the single moms living at Genesis Home, I bet it's similar: I’ll look for that job, complete that school application, deal with my emotional issues later, when I’m really, REALLY ready. But, somehow I could always be more ready.

Well, not this week.

For me, for this week, my answer to question of when is going to be NOW.

In my training, in my work, in my life. It's now. Everyday that I get up and do the work and live each moment of the life I want, it becomes more true.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Best Practices

Success is simple. Do what's right, the right way, at the right time.” - Arnold Glasgow

Over the last two years, I've learned a lot about endurance sports best practices. From heart rate training to functional strength work to plyometrics, I've become a student hungry for the the information that will most effectively and efficiently help me reach my goals.

Those working to end homelessness also care a lot about best practices -- and, according to Genesis Home Executive Director Ryan Fehrman, those best practices are changing. Read his thoughts below.

A “Turning Point” in the Fight to End Homelessness
When visitors come for a tour of Genesis Home, someone will invariably ask about the reasons that bring families to the shelter. The “cause of homelessness” is a statistic that the agency tracks for its state grant funding and over time this measure can reveal underlying trends in the homeless population. For many years, unemployment, underemployment, and domestic violence have been among the leading causes of homelessness for families at Genesis Home. The last several years have seen another indicator cited with increasing frequency: Mental Health and Substance Abuse issues (MH/SA). In 2007, 46% of heads of household living at Genesis Home reported MH/SA issues upon admission to the agency.

The paradox for shelter providers is that while MH/SA issues are clearly a contributing factor to the homelessness of both families and individuals, these same issues can make the communal nature of the shelter a less than ideal setting for housing those with special needs. Shelters have rules. They often house dozens, if not hundreds, of clients. The environment can be extremely stressful, especially so for those struggling with the twin demons of mental health and substance abuse. In the words of one Genesis Home client, “When you’re dealing with mental issues it’s extremely difficult. It’s not something you can fix quickly because it’s on the inside, and stressful situations – like being homeless – make it worse.” Out of this reality has come a new approach to addressing the needs of the homeless: Housing First.

Rather than moving clients through the traditional continuum of emergency shelter to transitional shelter to permanent housing, Housing First emphasizes that homeless individuals retain housing at higher rates when moved from non-housing directly into permanent housing with supportive services. Rather than treating housing as a privilege to be earned, housing is seen as a universal right. This new model is being promoted by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness as a cheaper, more effective means of combating an age-old problem. Cheaper in that paying market-based rents for formerly homeless clients costs taxpayers less than emergency room visits, property crimes and incarceration. More effective because results show that almost 90% of Housing First clients retain their permanent housing compared to 75-80% of clients who complete the traditional continuum of care (The Housing First Program for Homeless Families: Empirical Evidence of Long-term Efficacy to End and Prevent Family Homelessness by Susan D. Einbinder and Tanya Tull, Los Angeles, CA, June 2005). Durham’s “Ten Year Results Plan to End Homelessness” embraces the principles of Housing First to emphasize the creation of new permanent housing in our community.

So what does all of this have to do with Genesis Home? A lot.

Over the last two years, Genesis Home has taken steps to incorporate Housing First principles and best practices into its programming. Admissions have been streamlined to allow for faster entry into Family Matters. Housing assistance for rental and utility deposits is provided to graduates to expedite their placement into permanent housing. The agency’s mission statement was revised to emphasize the importance of “housing” over “shelter”. But the biggest step that the agency has taken over the last two years was the addition of its Turning Point program in late 2006.

Turning Point serves homeless families that have a head of household with diagnosed mental health, substance abuse, or developmental disabilities. Often two or more of these conditions are co-occurring. Funded by a grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Turning Point supports five scattered-site permanent housing units serving five families in local apartments. Clients work or attend school while continuing to receive supportive services and case management from Genesis Home’s Family Services Coordinators. Client families work with specialized providers to address their disabling condition while Genesis Home staff assists clients in securing employment, attaining educational goals, locating quality child care, and maintaining residential stability. Several families have been referred from Family Matters directly into the Turning Point program. In the words of one current Turning Point parent, “I’m still working with my case manager. She has helped me maintain the discipline I learned at Genesis Home. Today, everyone notices a difference in me and my son. We’re ourselves again. My son is back to being a happy, normal little boy.”

It is clear that Turning Point is helping some of our community’s most vulnerable and at-risk families. While permanent housing is a new direction for the agency, the program taps into the agency’s expertise in serving families while moving the agency closer to a true Housing First model. While the approaches are different, it is striking to see the similarities between the families at Turning Point and the families in Family Matters. Both groups are working to create better lives for their families, and both have realized that they need help to make their dreams a reality. While Turning Point marks a new chapter for the agency, it is an endeavor consistent with the mission and vision of Genesis Home’s founders: To make homelessness history for families in Durham.

Monday, July 14, 2008

You Can Work at Genesis Home

Looking for a way to really try to end homelessness?

Genesis Home seeks candidates for a full-time Director of Housing Services.

Genesis Home works to end homelessness for families with children and for young adults by providing housing and supportive services to foster independence. Since 1989, the agency has provided a safe, stable place where families can come together, rebuild their lives, and prepare for permanent housing in the community.

Genesis Home has been serving families in Durham for almost 20 years and is working to strengthen its ability to support families moving out of homelessness. The Director of Housing Services will supervise and support two full-time and 10 part-time staff members of the housing services team, assuring that the team works collaboratively and in the best interest of Genesis Home residents. A key responsibility of the Director of Housing Services will be leading staff in a collaborative planning process to identify ways to continue building on Genesis Home’s strengths and addressing the gaps in its current service delivery model. Following this planning process, the Housing Services Director will be accountable for designing, implementing, and evaluating programmatic structures necessary to provide consistent service delivery based on a sound set of principles. Further, the Housing Services Director will maintain compliance with all regulatory/funding requirements associated with housing services and assure the facility is secure and safe for all residents. The new hire may also have therapeutic responsibilities associated with program clients displaying MH/SA/DD-related disabilities.

Genesis Home seeks a Housing Services Director with the following attributes:
- Strong commitment to and passion for the mission of Genesis Home.
- Demonstrated ability to supervise staff in a way that is empowering and committed to staff development.
- Experience and familiarity with the issues facing homeless families.
- Knowledge of local resources available to families and children.
- Demonstrated ability to relate to culturally diverse staff and residents.
- Experience with service strategies related to mental health treatment, substance abuse and recovery.
- Ability to work as part of a team of service providers.
- At least five years of progressively responsible work experience with homeless families or a similar population.
- At least five years of work experience with organizations providing direct services to disadvantaged populations.
- Flexible, creative, and possessing a sense of humor.
- College degree and/or equivalent work experience required. Graduate degree or equivalent experience preferred.
- Basic computer literacy including proficiency with MS Office software.
- Ability to communicate both orally and in writing.
- Ability to communicate in Spanish, both orally and in writing, is desired but not required.

More detailed information about Genesis Home is available at our website:

The position requires the ability to work evening hours and some weekends. Genesis Home offers flexible work scheduling to accommodate the needs of parents and caregivers. The salary range for this position is comparable to other direct service organizations of our size. Starting salary ranges from $35-$45,000 depending on experience and educational attainment.

Review of applicants will begin immediately and the position will remain open until filled. To apply, please send a cover letter, résumé outlining experience and skills, and references via email to . No calls please. Genesis Home is an Equal Opportunity Employer.


Why do you stay in prison / when the door is so wide open? /Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking. / Live in silence.” - Jalal ad-Din Rumi

Last Friday's long run was by far the most unpleasant one I've had in a long, long time.

The alarm went off early. I was recovering nicely from my cold, but still tired. The humidity was approximately 157%. I begrudgingly headed to the Duke cross country course, took a deep breath of the soupy air, turned my iPod way up, and started putting one foot in front of the other.

The rolling course was particularly hard; my pace was particularly slow (not to mention I was immediately soaking wet); and I was angry -- at myself, at the day, at the weather. With every step, I was fighting. The harder I fought, the more I obsessed about all of the things I couldn't control, the louder my negative self chatter got, the tougher the run became.

C'mon Rob, you know better than this.....

Then, at the beginning of Sunday's swim, I felt a similar grumpiness: This warm-up has too many drills. I hate drills. 200 repeats? Yuck. This is not gonna be fun. Why did I wait so late in the afternoon to to this. I hate afternoon workouts.

Then, I remembered my goals for the rest of this year. I stopped fighting and chose acceptance. Immediately, the workout started to fly by.

Families new to Genesis Home often go through a similar process. They come into the program knowing that a lot needs to change in their lives, but the structure, rules, expectations are all new -- and sometimes pretty tough to swallow. The families that are most successful in moving themselves out of homelessness are those that accept all that Genesis Home has to offer.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sick Days

The first wealth is health.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Well, I came back to work and promptly got sick. I won't speculate on any not so subtle potential meanings there, but it has meant that I've skipped several workouts this week. Instead of getting frustrated, I'm choosing to see it as an opportunity to practice my adaptation skills - crucial in multi-sport racing, right?!

The last couple of days have also reminded me of how grateful I am that my employer provides excellent health benefits, including medical and dental insurance and paid sick leave. Did you know that lack of health insurance is the leading cause of bankruptcy in our country? Because of this, a health care crisis is often a contributing factor in family homelessness. A family member becomes ill, the family has limited or no health insurance, the family member doesn't have paid sick leave, work is missed, bills pile up, and ...

Genesis Home sees this situation play out all too often. Nearly half of North Carolina's workers, 1.6 million people, lack a single paid sick day.

Thankfully a group of organization here in North Carolina is working to change the story. This broad coalition has come together to form the NC Paid Sick Days Campaign, which is pushing for passage of The Healthy Families, Healthy Workplaces Act, to provide North Carolina workers with up to seven paid sick days annually. You can learn the facts HERE.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Governing to End Homelessness?

"Poverty is everyone's problem. It cuts across any line you can name: age, race, social, geographic or religious. Whether you are black or white; rich, middle-class or poor, we are ALL touched by poverty." -- Governor Kathleen Blanco, Louisiana

Can a governor end homelessness?

The LA Homeless Blog asks that question of current San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome. I had the opportunity to hear Mayor Newsome speak at a conference last year. He was late to give his speech because he was chatting with a homeless man in front of our hotel.

I wonder what North Carolina's current gubernatorial candidates- Bev Perdue and Pat McCrory- have to say about ending homelessness?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Back to Work

"I don't wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work." - Pearl S. Buck

Nothing like the alarm going off at 5:30 a.m. and knocking out two hours of speed work in the pool and hill repeats on the road before heading back to the office after two weeks away to alert one to the fact that vacation is OVER.

Today's the first real test of that recommitment!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Freedom is....

"Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed - else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die." ~Dwight D. Eisenhower

  • Knowing that given enough time (and food!), my own two feet could take me anywhere.
  • Thinking about cadence and heart rate and electrolytes, instead of worrying about paying rent, feeding my kids, and making it to my next paycheck.
  • Running unafraid in a neighborhood free from violence.
  • Sleeping in on a day off thanks to the service of others.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


True strength lies in submission which permits one to dedicate his life, through devotion, to something beyond himself.” - Henry Miller

This morning I said goodbye to my baby sister, Holly, as she left home to enroll at the United States Naval Academy.

Triathlon requires commitment. Ending homelessness requires devotion. But I have learned dedication from Holly. She had a dream and today it comes true as she begins Plebe Summer.

This month, early morning alarms, long, hot runs, and endless yards in the pool are dedicated to her.