Paying It Forward One Flit at a Time

Flitter Queen CrownOkay, I admit it: I’m a Flitter.

I’m not just your average Flitter either; my golden crown proclaims me “Queen of the Flitters.” Technically, that makes me a Flitter Queen.

“What’s a Flitter Queen?” you ask.

A Flitter Queen is simply somebody who delights in all of life’s possibilities and flits from one thing to the next. A Flitter Queen gets deeply and passionately involved in an idea or project, then zippity doo, when she feels that magical spell of inspiration and opportunity swirl around her, she gleefully dons her glittery, flittery crown and zooms into action.

The core problem of a Flitter Queen, if you choose to think of it as a problem, is that she finds life so damn interesting that it’s impossible for her to stay anchored to only one project for any length of time.

For years this Flitter Queen fought her instincts and forced herself to stick to the plan, stay focused, not veer from the path, but then one day she had an epiphany: life is way too short to waste precious moments of inspiration.

Why not roll with it and see what happens? she thought to herself. You can always go back to what you were doing, but you may never know what is possible if I don’t follow your heart and your gut.

Photo of No White Glove TestA Flitter Queen, as you might imagine, is often an all-or-nothing person. If this FQ is working on a project that stirs her imagination, there’s no stopping her. No detail is left unturned while other mundane responsibilities get left in the dust–often literally (dear Lord, don’t come by her house to do the “white glove” test when she’s on a roll).

“Sorry other projects,” the Flitter Queen says breathlessly, “You’ll just have to wait until this new project comes to fruition. I’m too inspired right now NOT to make it happen. The rest of you will get done eventually…maybe just not in the order you had planned or at the speed you had expected, but you will get done. Be patient.”

This flittery little tale brings me to the reason my blog has been quiet for so long.

You might have guessed it: it’s my latest project. It has a stronghold on my spirit —so much so that it has sent me bounding from my computer.

What could be so exhilarating that it makes me set aside work on my book and blog?

Simple: kids and fitness.

I recently launched a running club at my daughter’s elementary school.

Roosevelt Running Club Logo

“Yeah…and?” I can hear you say with a slight smirk, or “Cool, but how complicated can that be? All you have to do is gather up some kids and run.”

And you would be absolutely right. When I’m passionate about something though, I find it impossible to be blasé, to do the minimum and squeak by, knowing it could be better.

The Roosevelt Running Club is no exception.

For the past month or more, I have been brainstorming, organizing, designing, creating, and pulling together a program that is meant to be both memorable and inspiring for a group of seventeen boys and girls, ages 8-12.

The goal is to connect mind-body-spirit and show these kids what they’re capable of—not only in running, but in school, and life in general. I’m trying to get them fired up about a lifetime of health and fitness and create a fun and supportive environment for them to see what they can do.

I recently read a statistic that 33% of American children are obese. At first I thought it had to be a typo, but soon discovered this staggering statistic to be true. That is 1 in 3 kids, my friends. If that’s not motivation to flit, then I don’t know what is!

Roosevelt Running Club GraphicRunning has also been a big part of my life since I was a kid. I competed in my first road race when I was twelve, and have since logged thousands of miles and oodles of races over the past thirty-odd years–with distances ranging from a mile to a marathon, and a few triathlons thrown in along the way.

Sometimes I’m fast (that’s relative, of course). Sometimes I slow. Most of the time I’m right in the middle. No matter what my pace or place, no matter how many sore muscles or ice bath remedies, I am always grateful to be a runner.

Running has not only given me a sense of accomplishment throughout my life, but it has helped me build strong friendships and it has offered me unlimited challenges and opportunities—especially the opportunity to be inspired by ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Running has given me a place in which to base a decade and a half of charity work for cancer research, and it has offered me a place of my own to think and feel and sort through all of life’s complicated and exquisite moments.

It has taken me to remarkable locations like Mt. Everest Base Camp in Tibet where I was lucky enough to experienced the thrill of running on the Roof of the World; and it has taken me to Paris and Rome and other points in between where I logged several unforgettable marathons.

Becky Green Aaronson running at Mt. Everest Base Camp in TibetBecky Green Aaronson running in front of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, TibetPhoto of Becky Green Aaronson running the 2003 Rome Marathon

Most importantly though, it has taken me to a place within that can only be described as a place of confidence. That is what I hope to pass on to these young kids.

This Flitter Queen has received more from running than she could possibly ever imagine, and now she’s thrilled to have the opportunity to give back, or pay it forward, and hopefully in the process, make a tiny bit of difference.

So how do I plan to do this and not make running seem like drudgery to these kids? After all, running isn’t always easy.

Two ways: make it FUN, of course, and make it doable.

I’ve set a goal for each athlete to run a total of 13.1 miles (a half marathon) over our eight-week season and I’ve chosen a combination of relays, obstacle courses, and long runs intermixed with high octane music and a “hydration station” filled with drinks, wet sponges and spray bottles for the kids to cool off and play (it’s still hot where we live).

Photo of Roosevelt Running Club's Magic Miles Log

The kids are excited: this is how many miles they have run IN THE FIRST WEEK! Some will likely be running full marathons by the end of the season.

Then there’s the swag—t-shirts, personalized mileage log books, prizes for every three miles run, and healthy snacks. And finally, a race and a raffle at the end of the season with insanely great prizes, including a brand new pair of running shoes donated by our fabulous local running store (thank you, Monica and Joe at Kids Corner)!

Running Club Raffle Ticket PhotoRunning Club Log BookPhoto of Roosevelt RunningClub tank topPhoto of Roosevelt Running Club ShirtPhoto of one of the Running Club Prize Boxes

Even more exciting is the motivational speakers. We have two Ironman triathletes who have agreed to come help get the kids fired up, along with a record-setting marathon winner, and also the founder of the Santa Barbara Marathon who happens to be a world-class runner himself.

The enthusiasm coming from these athletes bowled me over; not one of them hesitated to volunteer, even though I know many are parents who hold full-time jobs and often have to get up at 5:00 AM to squeeze in their workouts. Thank you Drea, Ernesto, Rusty and Vanessa!

Photo of Ironwoman Vanessa Tormey

Ironwoman and mother of two, Vanessa Tormey, inspiring the running club with tales of her 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and 26.2 mile run, sharing how she mapped out a plan, put in hours of training, and overcame her fears to reach her goal.

By sharing their stories, our young runners will learn first-hand that big dreams can come true with hard work, passion and determination.

The energy buzzing around this little club right now—from the motivational speakers to the parents and teachers, and most of all, the young runners–could power a small city. Can you feel it?

Photo of Olivia's Happy FeetSometimes I don’t know how I get so lucky. I’m especially lucky to have my daughter jazzed about being on the team and my husband supporting me as my rock star Assistant Coach.

The best gift though, is the spark I see in these kids’ eyes and the pride they wear with each new mile they log.

Hopefully while I’m coaching the running club, I’ll still be able to flit back here to my blog, the other place I love so much—especially with all of you who always make it interesting and gratifying. If my blog is silent for a while, at least you’ll know what I’m up to; this Flitter Queen is stirring up some fun for some very cool kids, who will only be young once.

Photo of Miss O running at More MesaInquiring minds want to know…do you flit? Or do you hunker down and complete one project at a time before starting a new one? Drop me a comment in the box below and tell me how you operate.

I’ve missed you, dear blog peeps, and would love to hear from you!



23 thoughts on “Paying It Forward One Flit at a Time

  1. Becky the thing I love about you is you have never done anything half measure. Whether it is staying up for 3 days straight to cram for finals or planning a wonderful, inspiring running program that will keep kids engaged, I know that you will succeed with flying colors. Kudos to you for starting such a worthwhile program in this day of extreme childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes. Olivia is so lucky to have such a caring, actively involved Mom and you are sharing with her a big part of who you are not to mention values and goals that will turn her into an amazing woman. (Just like her Mom)

    • Kristine, you sure know how to make a girl feel good. Thank you. I am extremely lucky to live in a town where health and fitness is a way of life for a large chunk of our population, including many parents at Olivia’s school. Many are far better athletes than I am, and all are involved, caring, and motivated people so it’s fun to share in this with them, and celebrate a school that embraces wellness.

  2. I smell a new idea for a book….How to change the lives of children through the art of running! I’m so happy that you’re flitting around with what you love to do. You just never know what amazing things may come from your passion and efforts, Becky!

    • I don’t know about a book, but I’m having a ball doing this! It’s especially gratifying because I can see a little shimmer in Olivia’s eyes as she knocks out each new mile. Such fun.

  3. Pingback: Paying It Forward One Flit at a Time | The Art of an Improbable Life | Angelica Blandon

  4. Oh, Flitter Queen — you make me think that the real gift isn’t so much whether we flitter or hunker down to one project at a time as it is to be open to possibility, as you so delightfully put it. What that suggests to me is going with what it is that seems to demand most of my attention at a given time, and trusting that that’s exactly where I’m supposed to be. As an ex-runner, I’m only too familiar with that sensation (in and out of body) that drives you, and I’m in awe of the places running has taken you. Hardly a surprise that passion + a sense of purpose + the wise woman/mother in you has brought you to this place of pride.

    • Deborah, you have a way with words like no other. Thank you. Isn’t it life’s possibilities that drive us all? It’s trusting ourselves to follow our instincts that takes time and persistence, especially when we feel the pull of responsibility. I’ve finally realized that my instincts usually lead me to where I’m meant to be–and if not, then at least I know, and I’m not left wondering. One of my favorite quotes is “Don’t die wondering” for exactly for that reason.

  5. Becky, you really made all of us proud, by taking initiative to bring a change to the lives of others. You have a prepared a wonderful plan and gave these young kids a great platform to learn few important aspect about life. It’s nice to switch to various stuffs a person enjoys doing. But what is important is that, he/she must give his/her heart and soul to the project she is part of . And you are one of those people who does not switch to a new project until successful completion of the project which is in their hands. Best wishes to you for whatever you are doing or planning to do. I am sure you will always come up as a winner.

    • Thank you, Arindam. I appreciate your kind words of support. It’s so nice to hear from you!

      This has been a really fun project to start with the kids. I’ve received a lot of support from many different people, so it makes it extra fun. I’m lucky to be surrounded by people who have the same interests and enthusiasm. It becomes contagious–and then it ends up crossing over to other parts of life, like writing.

  6. I love that you are doing this! You started my running… (how many years ago, I hate to think) when you convinced me to do the Seaside Beach Run. Thank you for that inspiration and showing me that I could.

    Good for YOU!!!

    • OMG, I started YOU running?! You are such an amazing running! That makes me smile big. Wow. The Seaside Beach Run was my first race too. Then I got really excited about running when I volunteered to hand out water at the Trails End Marathon and saw all those insane runners finishing in the pouring rain. I wanted to be one of those people. It’s funny what little seeds are planted when you are young and then what ends up sprouting.

      I keep wanting to do the Hood to Coast because it would be so fun to come full circle with my running roots–literally ending up right back at the turnaround in Seaside!

  7. Hi there, I’ve been wondering where you’ve been.
    Yes, I’m a flitter kind of girl. I’m not sure if I’ve finished anything I’ve started yet. I get so distracted. Ooh, I want to photograph sports, or maybe weddings, or maybe just landscapes. No I have to do it all. I think I finished my website, I definitely quite the frame shop, finally taking Cuong Nhu.
    I’m also mentoring an 11 year old who asked me to teach her photography. Should be fun. My favorite class is 7th grade was my photography class. So hopefully I will be able to harness those memories to make this fun for Miss Bliss and help her with her presentation at the end of the school year.
    It always drove my Mother nuts. I always called it multi-tasking. Anyway, thanks for blog. I feel much better about my journey and the things I want and think I can do.

    • MarySue, so great to hear from you! I used to think I was really good at multi-tasking, but I finally realized that I accomplish much more and feel much happier when I’m in “all-or-nothing” mode. I’ve finally given myself permission to embrace it rather than fight it and stress about all that I “should” be doing. After all, some of the best things in my life have happened when I’ve put on my Flitter Queen crown.

      What I notice about you is that while you may flit, your photography has always been at the core of your passion, just like running has been for me. That’s fab you are mentoring a young girl. You have so much to share and such a fun personality…lucky her!

  8. Received via email….
    Hi Becky,
    What a terrific project you have conjured up!! I’m impressed with you and the way you have motivated kids to run.
    And I loved the photos of you running in Tibet!!

    • Gwen, I feel so lucky that Olivia goes to a school that is open to (and encourages) these kinds of things. We are having a ball!

      It’s also helping me get back into shape after coming back from a very long year of being injured. There’s obviously only one answer when I hear these sweet words in the morning: “Mom, can we run to school today?” Life is good. :-)

  9. What a great way to NOT blog!! I’m glad you’re putting all your running experience to work in motivating kids to share your passion. Way to go Becky! (So when are you going to run with me again?)

    • Namita, I think the blogging and running communities need to work together to come up with a program to transcribe our thoughts and images while we run. Can you imagine all the blog posts we could create while running? There’s no better place in the world to think than on the road!

      This has been so much fun. It’s impossible not to be inspired by my little band of happy feet.

      I think we need to run soon! I’ll email you. I’m only back up to about 6 miles right now–taking it slow so my back holds up, but maybe a short sweet run and a big fat coffee afterward?

  10. That’s so awesome! I’m so glad you did this. I wish more parent’s would take the time to be so involved ;0) I’m proud of you for this flitting! It’s quite befitting.

    • Thanks, Cindy. It has been a fun and gratifying flit, for sure!

      I have read several of your posts over the past month, but haven’t left comments yet. The one that knocked me over most was your news about your lyme disease. I’m so sorry, but at least now you know what the heck has been doing such a number on your body. Your description was powerful.

      I encourage anyone reading these comments to hop over to Cindy’s blog and read, “You’re Kidding Me? What the… I Have What?” Here’s the link:

  11. I’m a flitter. I don’t think I’m as an efficient flitter as you are, though. I tend to get interested in different projects, but flit before I’m finished. I have so many interests, it’s hard to fit everything in.

    So enjoyed reading a post from you again! I’ve missed you. But what you’re doing with the kids’ running club–that’s awesome, and I greatly admire you!

    • Sometimes I’m efficient, other times I’m all over the map. That’s when I know I need to grab on to the one thing that’s driving me from the belly. Otherwise nothing gets done and I sit on a big fat pillow of frustration.

      When I was running our photo agency for 20 years, I was the queen of multi-tasking, but now that I have some flexibility as a writer, I’m happy to be able to focus my energy on one or two things at a time. Flitting is more fulfilling that way.

      Thanks for swinging by to say hi. It was great to hear from you. I’ve missed you too! And thanks for the RT!

    • I used to think flitting was bad, but now I embrace it. Some of my best ideas and life moments have come from flitting to something new. Perhaps it’s a fresh perspective or simply cutting myself some slack, but whatever the case, flitting to a project that gets me revved up ends up crossing over to many aspects of my life. It may make work life uneven at times, but it definitely makes life more delicious.

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