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How To Move Past An Abusive Relationship

Trigger Warning: Emotional Abuse, Abusive Relationships

How does one even title such a tough topic? How do you even know that you had been abused to begin with? It took me about a year and a half to finally admit to myself and those around me that I had been abused in a previous relationship. 

Sometimes abuse isn’t physical, it’s emotional, verbal, + sexual. It’s when you are crying on the floor, having trouble breathing because your nose is so runny that air can’t come in or out, + the reason you are crying is because the person you love is angry with you for the third time that week ++ you just don’t understand why. You had done everything that they had asked but the one night you wanted to stay home and be with your friends, that’s the problem. That you had been texting them every detail of your day + night but missed one tiny detail ++ that sets off a full rage of anger. Do you see an issue with this? I didn’t for a long time. It wasn’t until my current boyfriend asked me why I apologized for not telling him I was hanging out with my friends, or that I was in class, or that I was at work, that I had realized that those types of conversations aren’t normal. 

When my ex and I had first broken up, it felt like I was hit by a train. He would tell me that if I talked to any other man the way I did him, he would have broken up with me months ago. I was completely under the impression that I deserved to be treated the way I was, but that was false. Thankfully, I had an amazing group of people to back me up and to be by my side when it ended. Though I will never know how to fully “move past” my abusive relationship, here are some tips that have helped me: 

1] Surround Yourself With Good People

I have no idea what I would have done had it not been for my friends at school + eventually my boyfriend now. You’ll know who the good people in your life are when they come. Normally they will be the ones who tell you it’s time to leave, + when you fall apart they help you pick up the pieces. 

2] Find Your Healthy Distractions

This one is a bit odd, but find those things that make you happy. Going MIA on my phone was the best because my ex hated that, he hated when he could not get ahold of me without a reason beforehand [I know toxic]. Go to the gym, take up a new hobby, join a new club that you’ve been wanting to, or start a CHAARG Chapter ; ) Being the founding ambassador for Millsersville CHAARG was my healthy distraction, putting all my energy into something that made me happy and I can be proud of at the end of the day. Last thing my ex ever said to me was, “I wish I had convinced you to never do CHAARG.”

3] Tell Someone

You are not alone. For so long I tried to move past this on my own, keep this information to myself. That if I didn’t think about it or talk about it, it would go away. Abuse can leave behind unseen scars; not wanting to open up to people, flinching when someone tries to touch you, the way someone speaks to you causes you to react in some way that in the past probably wouldn’t have. Telling someone there is a problem is the first step to healing. 

4] Seek Help

Your friends, though great for ranting and helping you get through the tough days, are not professionals. Talk to a counselor, go to therapy, + find a group who have gone through similar things. Going back to that last point in telling someone, it’s one thing to tell someone but another to do something about it. You can try to heal on your own but it will cause more harm in the long run. Get help! 

If you can take anything from this, please know you are not alone. People love you, people want to see you happy. If he/she/they are not making you happy, it’s time to go. It is easier said than done to leave + when you do it will hurt, but when you find that happy spark, then you’ll have done something that the other person couldn’t. You will have made you happy, strong, + powerful. 

Please note — If you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1. 

For anonymous, confidential help, 24/7, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or  1-800-787-3224 (TTY).

How A Random Summer Job Turned Into My Full-Time Career

Hi! My name is Leah Maxey + I am a Registered Dietitian + Registered Yoga Teacher. I joined CHAARG in the fall of 2016 where I was a founding Event Coordinator [EC] for Ohio University [OU] CHAARG. I was an EC for 3 semesters before becoming the Ambassador during my senior year. Once I graduated from OU in Spring 2019, I continued on to become a Chapter Leadership Consultant [CLC] for Team CHAARG for two years, then in the spring of 2021 I became a Regional Chapter Lead [RCL] for Team CHAARG : ) 

At OU, I majored in applied nutrition: dietetics, minored in business administration, and have a certificate in diabetes. I went on after graduation to become a Registered Dietitian [RD] which is a goal that I know many CHAARG members have!  As someone who ended up finding a full time job as an RD from a seasonal job (that I was able to complete before my dietetic internship) I wanted to share more about that in case any CHAARG members are looking to gain experience while they are in college! 

During my last semester of college, I was trying to figure out what I would do with my summer since I only had a little bit of time between graduating in May and before my dietetic internship started in August. I got an email from a professor with a job flyer for KANDLE — it was a seasonal job, good pay, opportunity to travel, + food service experience, which was perfect for dietetics. I interviewed with the company for the dietary lead role, which they had told me they filled, but they were interested in me being a director of a camp. I accepted the job, graduated college, + moved for the summer to the Blue Ridge Mountains in Hiwassee, Virginia where I managed the dining hall + kitchen staff at Camp Ottari, a Boy Scouts camp, where we fed ~400 scouts per meal.

I enjoyed my summer working at Camp Ottari immensely. It was incredible to disconnect after being so plugged in during undergrad! The job challenged me + allowed me to continue developing my leadership + management skills. I had experience working in food service, but this large scale cooking is much different than what I had done in the past. Luckily, I had great mentors during my first summer that helped me learn more about KANDLE’s mission and how to run a successful kitchen. 

After my first summer was over, I worked a few weekend camp events in the fall before heading back for round two in the summer of 2020. Given the circumstances of COVID, I was thankful to be placed at a camp that year. I was at Camp Laramie Peak in Wheatland, Wyoming. I was primarily the dietary lead, a position we have at each camp, being in charge of making all the special diet/allergen meals for staff + campers. Learning about allergies is a neat experience because there are so many differences amongst them all. Meaning there is a lot to learn and attention to detail is very important. 

I knew I had the opportunity to make this a full time job in the future with my career path asn an RD. The great thing about KANDLE is that it’s a small business and the opportunity to connect one on one with the owners and other employees is an important aspect of a job culture. I had spoken with Kevin & Leslie, the owners of KANDLE, about my goals of working with them and their goals for me as an employee. Thankfully, we were on the same page and they were looking to have me join the team full time. I passed my RD exam in December 2020 + then was hired full time as an Area Manager with KANDLE in March of 2020! 

If you’re interested in learning more or working with us, you can go to www.kandledining.com or email sierra@kandledining.com

  • Roles we have available:
    • Director of Dining Services
    • Front of House Team Lead
    • Dietary Lead
    • Kitchen Team Lead
    • Kitchen Staff Team Member
  • Typically work with but not limited to
    • Nutrition students
    • Culinary students
    • Hospitality students
    • Hotel & Tourism students 

If you’d personally like to chat with me more about my experience with KANDLE, email me at leah@kandledining.com

Wellness Guide To Paris

“Paris is more than a beautiful city… it’s a story.” Chills. When our tour guide shared that, in response to why he will never leave Paris, I knew I’d always remember that sentence. You always hear “Paris is the city of love” — but I like his definition better. It truly is a story.

We spent 4 days in Paris + it wasn’t nearly enough. But it was enough to make me fall in love with the city, + desire to go back for 1 month [at least!] to explore every single district [arrondissement] of Paris. They all have such unique characteristics — check out this post on the vibe of the different districts.

If I were to do it over again, I would have mapped out our days to encompass 1–3 districts every day… *including* a walking tour [if possible!], so that I would be able to get to know as many districts as possible. There’s so much to see! I labeled the districts, so it would be easy for you to see what’s closest to you!

#1] Noir: Hands down the best coffee shop we went to. [8]

#2] Leandres: Loved the vibe of this cafe… so cute! It was also next to an Acai & You, so you can grab coffee + then an acai bowl! [9]

#3] The Cafeotheque Of Paris: Apparently this coffee shop started the “artisan coffee movement” in Paris. It had so, so many options [one of the only cafes that had iced coffee that we saw]. Grab a coffee to go + the head across the river to Ile Saint-Louis to wander the streets… such a cute little area! [4]

#4] Le Peloton: Cute coffee shop in my fav neighborhood hat also offers bike rentals, + does bike tours! Close by is a popsicle shop, La Paleteria that I loved. [4]

#5] Cafe De Flore: The most famous French cafe in Paris. We didn’t go, but wanted to include this as it’s one of the oldest coffee shops in Paris, well known for being the “hang out spot” for high profile writers, philosophers, + creatives of the time. Visit for the history + fun for people watching. [6] *Other “famous” Paris spots are Laduree [macroons] + Angelina [hot chocolate]

#6] Partage Cafe: We stopped in here on our way to the Eiffel Tower to grab a quick bite + coffee, + it was the perfect treat. [15]

#7] … honestly go into any bakery ; ). Get a croissant, baguette, quiche, or whatever looks good to you! There are so many incredible bakeries — on every corner!

For next time: Fresh Bagel + Juice [11], Acai & You [9 + 11], Jozi Cafe [5], Good News Coffee Shop [15], Zia [7], Soul Kitchen [18], Bleu Olive [7], Fringe [3], Komborebi [9], Grainette [9]

Eats + Drinks

#1] Terra: Our favorite meal in Paris! Beautiful space + amazing grilled meal. All of their entrees are for two people to share! [3]

#2] Marso & Co: Loved this trendy mediterranean restaurant, + the owner Ludo was *so* nice. So many incredible flavors. [13]

#3] Ya Bayte by Hebe: Lebanese takeaway restaurant. Go here for lunch + then sit on the river! [5]

#4] Veggie Tasty: Vegan bowls + wraps. Great if you are in the area + want something healthy + tasty! [9]

#5] Les Epiciers: Loved this wine + cheese bar! One of the best chaucerte spreads I’ve ever had — with *warm* bread! YUM. [3]

For next time: Ev Brochettes + Mezzes [5], Green Deli [5], Balls [11], Today Tomorrow [Vegan, 11], B.BETTER [Vegan, 4], Numero 220 [Veg, 5], L’en K [5], Sol Semilla [Vegan, 10], Chantoiseau [18], Restaurant CHANG [1]

#1] My new fav french word is flâner — meaning “to stroll”, get lost + wander around for the sake of simply enjoyment. This is essential to do in Paris!

#2] Siam Spa [14]: Loved this thai massage spa! I also really wanted to check out Spa & Hammam [5], it’s a spa + tea house just for women!

#3] Meditate + picnic in all the gardens + parks. Need I say more ; )

#4] Go on biking tour! We absolutely loved our biking tour — Paris’ Best Kept Secret. Highly recommend!

#5] Something to note — boutique fitness studios are hard to come by + apparently crazy expensive. One of our friends lives in Paris + that’s what she said!

#1] Eiffel Tower — obviously! Make it your first + last stop if you can! Try to see it at night when she sparkles : )

#2] Walk to the highest point of Paris, Saint-Pierre De Montmartre church at sunrise or sunset. On your way, check out the Wall Of Love — “I love you” is written in 250+ languages!

#3] Walk down every single street in Marais. This was my favorite district of Paris… so trendy, romantic, + tons of amazing boutiques/eats!

#4] Visit the Catacombs — get a ticket online prior to going!

#5] If you can make a trip to Versailles +/or Monet’s Garden… do it! Both are outside Paris, but absolutely incredible to see [+ relatively close!].

#5] Tours on tours on tours! Google “walking tours” in Paris based on what you what to see… you’ll be guaranteed to find plenty! Airbnb Experience also has a lot of fun tours.

#6] See how many of these 50 sites you can visit ; )

We stayed at Hotel Henriette, which was absolutely adorable + had great breakfast — but, if was far from our favorite areas]. It was close to the Latin Quarter though! Next time, I’d want to stay in Marais — just because that was my fav district!

#1] Don’t expect people to speak English. Download a tanslator app on your phone! I used the Google Translate app.

#2] Use public transportation! It’s so easy, + will take a lot less time than ubers/taxies [+ cheaper!] train.

#3] Check out HiP Paris — I loved exploring this blog all about Paris!

#4] Watch Midnight In Paris to get you in the mood prior to going [or during your trip!]. Such a feel good movie! + love seeing all the sites!

#5] Are any of these absolute musts? No! [Okay, other than Eiffel Tower lol that is a must in my book!] This is the first time I’ve probably said this in a wellness guide but it’s true… there’s *so* much to see in Paris + so many incredible spots. It really just depends on what area you are in!

Ugh, Paris is so alive + I LOVE IT! I’m ready to go back now! Did I miss any of your fav spots? Let me know!

13 Books On Diversity, Equity, + Inclusion That Every College Student Should Check Out

It’s cozy reading weather season! We asked our DEI Council: “What’s your favorite book on diversity, equity, + inclusion for college students?” Here’s what they said…

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#1] Caste – Isabel Wilkerson

Caste analyzes the unspoken caste system in America and compares it to the caste system of Nazi Germany, + the caste system of India. In this book, you’ll learn about the different pillars that underlie the caste systems and also learn how America can move beyond a caste system.

Recommended by Sarah

#2] The Warmth Of Other Suns – Isabel Wilkerson

The Warmth of Other Suns shares the story of the Great Migration where Black citizens of the south fled to northern + western cities in search for a better life. The story is told through the lens of three different people from three different parts of the south who go to three different cities in the north + west.

Recommended by Sarah

#3] The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give follows Starr Carter who lives in a poor neighborhood but attends a fancy prep school. The balance between these worlds + her friends in them is rocked when she witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friends by a police officer.

Recommended by Sarah

#4] Honeygirl – Morgan Rogers

Honey Girl follows the story of Grace Porter, a 28-year-old quuer Black woman, who’s just earned her PhD in Astronomy. When she + her two best friends take a trip to Vegas to celebrate, Grace drunkenly marries a woman she’s never met. After returning home, Grace realizes her life plan may not be what she truly wants.

Recommended by Sam

#5] How Lucky – Will Leitch

How Lucky is the unforgettable story of a fiercely resilient young man grappling with a physical disability + his efforts to solve a mystery unfolding right outside his front door. The puzzle of what happened to a Georgia grad student lends momentum to the plot about a man with Type II spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).

Recommended by Sam

#6] The Sweetest Remedy – Jane Igharo

When Hannah travels to Nigeria to attend the funeral of the father she never knew, she meets an extravagant family for the first time, a new and inspiring love interest, + discovers parts of herself she didn’t know were missing. Hannah is soon shaped by secrets that unfold, a culture she never thought she would understand or appreciate, + a man who steals her heart + helps her to see herself in a new light.

Recommended by Sam

#7] The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime – Mark Haddon

This book follows a protagonist who lives with Autism Spectrum Disorder, + it really opened my mind to other ways of interacting with the world. The story itself is very heartfelt, + readers watch the protagonist navigate solving a mystery while facing the challenges within his home life.

Recommended by Marguerite

#8] Giovanni’s Room – James Baldwin

A book about a man living in Paris and having an affair with a character named Giovanni, who he meets at a gay bar. In Paris while waiting for his girlfriend to make a decisions about his marriage proposal, he reflects on his past + both the familial + romantic relationships in his life.

Recommended by Ayoko

#9] Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria – Beverly Daniel Tatum 

A book about the psychology of racism + the role of racial identity for young people of color. The author writes to push forward the point that it’s critical to have such discussions surrounding racial identity + communicating across racial/ethnic divisions in our society + spaces.

Recommended by Ayoko

#10] Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli

Mashing both fiction + real life events, Lost Children Archive explores the lives of an American family on the brink of breaking as well as the real life movement of thousands of children trying to cross the US-Mexico Boarder + being held in cages as we’ve seen the last half of a decade. The story powerfully reflects what young children experience as they see parents separate but also the tragedy of the crisis at the boarded and the true horror those young children experience being held in cages.

Recommended by Lucy

#11] Passing — Nella Larson

The story of Claire + Irene describes the struggle of the “passing” African-American woman pre-desegregation America. Irene, is dedicated to racial uplifting + proving that African-Americans are just as deserving of the rights that white people have. Claire took the opportunity once her dad died to pass as white once she moved in with her two white aunts. The story progresses to show the struggle to hide true identity during this time, + even the struggle of being African-American in America.

Recommended by Lucy

#12] Piecing Me Together – Renee Watson

A  powerful story about a teen girl striving for success in a world that too often feels like it wants to break her. Jade believes she must get out of her poor neighborhood if she’s ever going to succeed. Her mother tells her to take advantage of every opportunity that comes her way.

Recommended by Lexi

#13] The Kite Runner – Khalid Hosseini

This is an amazing story in which Hosseini illustrates the beauty + peace of Afghanistan, which is a viewpoint of the country that is not seen enough due to today’s media portrayal. Hosseini himself is from Afghanistan, + readers can see his love for his home in his writing. The story itself follows a young boy who learns about the true value of friendship, heartbreak, + forgiveness.

Recommended by Marguerite

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Do we have a favorite book of yours on diversity, equity, + inclusion that we missed? Let us know in the comments + we will add it to the list! 💕

Share with us what you’re reading with #CHAARGBookClub!

Gymtimidation: What It is + How To Overcome It

Gymtimidation is defined as “the fear of working out in front of others.” According to a recent survey of 2,000 Americans, as many as 50% experienced gymtimidation while working out at their fitness centers. This can be especially common in women, who might face anxiety or nerves going into the often male-dominated spaces in the gym.   

The CHAARG community is all about empowering women — in the gym + beyond! We thought we would get your advice + see what your tips are on how to overcome gymtimidation! Here’s what you said:

#1] Wear your cutest fit! Look confident, be confident! — @alexisskimm_inchaarg

#2] Don’t be afraid to ask the people who work at the gym for help! They’ll teach you! — @meghanbarter21

#3] Start any workout with light cardio, that way you can spot what machines are taken ahead of time. — @nani_inchaarg

#4] Have your workout written out + pulled up for easy reference. — @kkaitlyn_inchaarg

#5] Go [to the gym] with your Small Group! — @erikahope_inchaarg 

#6] Listen to music! + focus on the lift more than those around you, we all start somewhere! — @katefry_inchaarg

#7] Just know that you have as much of a right to be there as anybody else! — @_it.27

#8] Remember that everyone is focused on themselves + no one is judging you! Concentrate on yourself + *your* motives! – so. many. of. you!

Feeling gymtimidation is entirely valid, but using these tips, you can overcome it! When it comes to feeling liberated in the gym, know that the CHAARG community always has your back ; )

Olivia Moosey: Changing The Stigma Around Physical Disabilities In Fitness

My name is Olivia Moosey + I’m a current junior at DePaul University. I joined CHAARG my first quarter at college + it was the best ++ healthiest decision I’ve ever made. 

My entire life, I’ve always felt like an outsider. I have a physical disability called Cerebral Palsy [right side hemiplegia] meaning I have weakness on the right side of my body. From pre-K through college, I was the only student in my grade or class with a physical disability. I grew up genuinely thinking that I was the only person who looked like me. I always did my best to fit in with the able-bodied crowd + I never let my disability get to me or get in the way of the things I wanted to accomplish. 

Living with a physical disability, I know that I go through things able-bodied people don’t experience. I’ve faced discrimination from my peers, I’ve been fired from a job due to my disability, I’ve had to fight to get into higher level classes, + people tend to stare at me when I walk because I have a bit of a limp. Thankfully, I’ve learned to take all of these things as a learning opportunity. I feel that I’ve been able to better understand the world around me, I’ve learned how to stand up for myself, + I’ve become a stronger person from my experience with a physical disability.

When I joined CHAARG, I found that it was really the only place that I could truly be myself + not feel judged. I felt accepted, which was an amazing feeling. I, sadly, didn’t have that anywhere else when I first started college. I immediately saw that everyone was so nice, supportive, + encouraging in the DePaul CHAARG Chapter. It was truly an empowering community of women! I will never forget at the end of my first quarter #inCHAARG, an exec leader came up to me + went, “Oh my god, Olivia! We love you + thank you so much for joining! We hope you continue with this!”

For all other exec leaders: that made my whole year. Never underestimate the power of your words! 

I not only continued being a part of CHAARG, I ended up re-launching the DePaul CHAARG Chapter + becoming an Ambassador. I’m now serving as an Event Coordinator for the DePaul CHAARG exec team + hope that I can be a part of changing the stigma around people with physical disabilities in health + fitness. 

There are many able bodied people who think that people with disabilities can’t do anything that involves physical exercise. That can’t be further from the truth! People with disabilities actually need physical exercise more than anything because of our weaker muscles — we need to move them regularly so they don’t deteriorate more! Yes, there are certain activities + exercises that we  physically can’t do, but we are able to adapt, find ones that work for us, + get the job done!

I want CHAARG to be able to show people that no matter your ability level or where you are in your fitness journey that fitness looks different on everyone. As long as you’re showing up, doing the work, + are getting stronger in your body + mind… that’s all that matters!

Rapid Fire Questions With Olivia:
#1] One Word That Describes Me: Strong
#2] Favorite Workout: Shadow Boxing + Zumba
#3] Workout I Want To Try: Rock Climbing!
#4] Favorite Disability Creator On Instagram: My top 3 are @realchelseabear, @pauuzzo, + @stephthehammer
#5] Favorite Book/Resource On Disabilities: The Power of Different by Gail Saltz
#6] One Thing That Might Surprise You About Cerebral Palsy: It’s the most common lifelong physical disability in the world + March 25th is CP Awareness Day!
#7] One Way You Can Be An Ally To People With Disabilities: Questions out of respect always are the way to go. We completely get you are curious as to what happened to us. Using phrases such as “May I ask you something” or “Is it okay if I ask you?” makes us feel that you understand what you’re about to ask might be sensitive.
#8] Favorite CHAARG Memory: TOO MANY!!! I remember we had a movie night + I brought Thin Mints and one goes “Did you freeze them?” I went, “Yes!” and she goes, “YOU ARE THE BEST!!!” They were eaten within the first 10 minutes, haha!
#9] Being #inCHAARG To Me Means… Trying your best! As long as you show up, do what you can, are getting stronger and making progress in your own way that’s all that matters!! Also, supporting + encouraging other CHAARG members : )

How Running Gave Me Vision Even Without Sight

As the oldest of triplets, you could say I’ve been racing my entire life. I didn’t come to find a love of running until my teens, + I didn’t truly compete until college, but the lessons I’ve learned along the way are ones that I carry with me in all facets of my life – running + otherwise.

Like most good stories, we should probably start from the beginning. My sisters + I made our entrance into the world a bit early…about thirteen weeks early. As a result of this extremely premature birth, we were all three diagnosed with an eye condition called Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) – which basically means that because we were born early, our eyes + the surrounding structures/nerves weren’t able to fully develop. We all three have different degrees of ROP ranging from minimally impaired with correction (one of my sisters wears contacts + can drive a car, read standard sized fonts, etc.), to my other sister who has a moderate impairment (think larger fonts, magnifiers, audiobooks, + no driving), to me who has severe impairment (think Braille, white canes, audio output whenever possible, screen readers, functioning with little to no sight etc.)

You’re probably wondering where running comes into play here because this is a blog about movement + activity. I grew up with an extremely active family, I played basketball through middle school up until I couldn’t physically see enough to be safe on the court. I loved the sport and giving it up was devastating at the time. Little did I know the best was yet to come.

Running became a beacon of hope for me. It became something I could do regardless of what happened to my eyes. Today, even as someone who is confident in who they are as a blind person, running still provides me the consistency I need. I started running at 13 + haven’t stopped since.

As a blind person, I need sighted people to run with me. I use a tether – waist or hand held – to run safely. I rely on verbal cues + constant communication from start to finish. I didn’t stop with running, I lost a bet just before college + had to do a triathlon – something at the time I thought would be a “one + done.” Since then, I’ve competed as an NCAA triathlete, raced with Team USA’s triathlon team, raced + won multiple National Titles, + I compete amongst the best blind women in the world in triathlon.

I have been fortunate to swim, bike, + run alongside some pretty phenomenal humans – they’ve taught me more about life then I think they’ll ever know, so here’s something that has rang true for me lately that I think you all should leave this page with:

Surround yourself with people that make you want to be better – my guides (often faster runners than me) push me workout after workout to make gains and redefine my limits. I love them for that, + I can’t thank them enough, but I think it’s also important to remember that the people who push you to be better also want to be there for you after a failed PR attempt or on the hard days running related or otherwise. So whether you’re interested in guiding a blind runner, or just looking to get moving – grab a friend and go for a run, it might be the start of an amazing opportunity!

Being Ashley’s Eyes: Guiding A VI Athlete

As pretty much everyone in the CHAARG community knows, I am a *runner* + have been running for the past 16 years. I love helping other people learn to love running (hello CHAARG Run Club!) + I have found that running + the community I’ve found through it has opened so many doors. 

One of the best doors it has opened for me has been the opportunity to be someone else’s eyes. 

I met Ashley Eisenmenger this past summer when I went to a tandem bike clinic through an organization called Dare2Tri — an organization with the mission to enhance the lives of individuals with physical disabilities and visual impairments by building confidence, community, health and wellness through swimming, biking, and running. I had run with the co-founder of Dare2Tri (Hi Dan!) through my running group for a couple of years + had always wanted to learn more about the organization *(you can learn more about how amazing they are here!). I also thought it’d be really cool to be able to ride a tandem bike. 

Ashley is a visually impaired elite triathlete. You can read more about her story here (++ yes – you’ll be just as obsessed with her as I am). Even though I had never ridden a tandem bike before, Ashley had no fears about hopping on the bike with me (I was way more nervous than she was). Surprise: we didn’t crash! + Ashley was able to coach me through riding around the parking lot with no hesitation. By the end of the clinic, I felt pretty confident on the front of a tandem bike + knew that becoming more involved with Dare2Tri was something I really wanted to do. 

The following week, I was so excited when Ashley came with another friend to our Thursday morning speed workout. I was even more excited when I had the opportunity to be her eyes for that workout. 

In all honesty — I had shown up to that morning’s workout in a bad mood. It was early, I was tired, + I had no interest in doing a speed workout. But the challenge of doing something different + guiding someone while running really got my blood pumping. Guiding a VI athlete was something I had never really thought about. In fact — I had only seen a few VI athletes throughout my time competing in high school cross country + running half marathons + full marathons as a post-grad. 

As with trying anything new — I was nervous. A thousand what-if’s + questions went through my mind. Am I talking too much? Why are there so many sticks on the ground? Will we make it under that tree branch? But, Ashley, being the pro she is, ended up guiding *me* through most of the workout + affirming what I was doing. I finished that workout in a much better mood than I had started — it was honestly one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had. It was such a mental challenge + kept me *in the moment* the entire time. 

Since that workout, I’ve had the opportunity to start consistently guiding Ashley once to twice/week ++ learning more about her journey as a VI athlete. Every time I run with her — I’m blown away by her confidence, kindness, + sense of humor. I believe that being able to guide another athlete has been one of the most amazing experiences in my life + is something I would encourage everyone to do. 

Since doing anything for the first time can be a nerve-wracking experience, below I’m sharing the 3 biggest lessons I’ve learned from guiding Ashley: 

#1] Don’t hesitate to ask questions. I’ve lived with able-body privilege for my entire life + haven’t had many experiences with visually impaired or disabled people. So, I realized early on there is A LOT for me to learn! I sometimes would find myself not wanting to ask questions out of a fear of sounding ignorant… but I quickly realized that if you don’t ask, you’re not going to learn. Thankfully, Ashley is incredibly gracious with my questions + has never made me feel ignorant when answering them. It has been incredible to learn more about her + her lived experiences ++ has opened my eyes (no pun intended) in such a new way. 

#2] This is a mental + physical workout. Guiding a VI athlete is just as much of a mental workout as it is physical. You need to stay completely present in the moment + communicate all of the things you are seeing. Branches, shifts in the pavement/earth, curves + turns, how much you have left in the workout, what pace you’re hitting… it all needs to go from your visuals to spoken + timed so that the other person can adjust accordingly. 

#3] Build a relationship with the person you’re guiding! I’d like to think that Ashley + I hit it off pretty quickly ++ I think that is a big part of what makes me love showing up to workout with her. You’ll get more out of your workouts with someone when you invest in getting to know them + learning from them!

24 Hours In Missoula, MT

Missoula stole the show! We were only in Missoula for 24 hours but we did it right. Isaac + I feel in love with Missoula instantly. A gorgeous river, breathtaking mountains + trees, tons of cute shops, + just a really good vibe. Visit in the summer!

#2] Walk through the University of Montana’s campus to The “M” Trail. It’s about a mile from Black Coffee Roasting Company to the start of the trail. I always love seeing university campuses!

#3] Hike The “M” Trail, the most classic trail in Missoula. It’s a 1.2 mile out + back trail… that’s straight up hill with the most gorgeous views!

#4] Head to Veera Donuts if you’re a donut fan [they are all vegan!]. Apparently the vegan breakfast burrito is also amazing : )

#2] Grab a salad at Basal or Green Source — everything on both of their menus look delicious, you can’t go wrong!

#3] Float the river. AN ABSOLUTE MUST! You have to do it with Clark Fork Yaht Club, they’re the best + you get neon pink tubes ; ) You can pick up beer/drinks at KettleHouse Brewing Co, which is a block away. The float is about 2–3 hours!

#2] See live music + eat late night food at Top Hat — we definitely end up making it here, but it had a huge outdoor patio, dance floor, extensive menu, + came highly recommended.

#3] Finish with a sunset walk down the river. The best part about summer in Montana is that the sun sets *so* late! We’re talking like 930 PM. It’s amazing!

#2] Eats + Drink: The Dram Shop, Cambie Taphouse + Coffee, Rattlesnake Market + Cafe, Market On Front, Mountain Berry Bowls Missoula, Boxcar Bistro

#3] Coffee: Drum Coffee, Hunter Bay

#3] Grocery: Good Food Store

#4] Explore: Garden Of One Thousand Buddhas [30 min drive]. Missoula is also a jumping off point to Glacier National Park [3 hour drive] — I’ve heard absolutely amazing things.

Have you been to Missoula? What did I miss?! Let me know : )

Wellness Guide To Bozeman

Montana might be the USA’s best kept secret. Isaac + I went to Montana on our honeymoon + instantly fell in love [we may or may not have added “Build A Cabin In Montana” on our dream list ; )]. Our first stop was Bozeman! Bozeman is very much one of the new it outdoor towns, but doesn’t feel touristy at all [yet ; )]. Highly recommend making a stop in Bozeman if you visit Montana!

#2] Treeline Coffee: Gorgeous space, great coffee, + fun spot to hang out/work

#3] Wild Crumb: Amazing pastries!

For Next Time: Essy’s Coffee + Frozen Yogurt

#2] Feed Cafe: Cutest breakfast spot in a red barn. Lots of outdoor seating, too!

#3] Faber’s Bakery + Deli: Lots of baked goods, but we actually loved their sandwiches from here! Get one to take with you on a long hike : ).

#4] SHINE Beer Sanctuary + Bottle Shop: Beer hall with a good atmosphere… + tacos!

#5] Reverly: Loved the pizza here! + good happy hour menu.

For Next Time: Mountain Berry Bowls [acai!], Zesty Booch, Little Star Diner, Nordic Brew Works

#2] Massage: We got connected to the best massage therapist ever, Lydia. Highly, highly recommend!

#3] Bozeman Community Co-op: All your nourishing needs inside!

#4] Shen: Spa that focuses on accupuncture, cupping, + massage. We didn’t get a treatment here, but we stepped inside + it was *so* cute! Also had a lot of people recommend it, so wanted to add it to the list!

#5] Walk Around + Explore! One of my favorite things to do is simply walk aound a city + explore. On your walk check out Biome Slow Craft Collection, Inner Alchemy, + Heyday. Also, if you are here in the summer — check out the farmer’s market on Tuesday evenings at Lindley Park!

#6] Go Hiking! Of course : ) Bozeman is a big jumping out point for Yellowstone National Park [1.5–2 hours away], but there are plenty of other amazing hikes to check out near Bozeman. Use AllTrails to find your adventure!

We stayed at RSVP Hotel which was nice + they let you use their bikes for free, which was essential for biking around Bozeman [since RSVP Hotelwasn’t on the *main* street]. It also had a pool, fruit infused water, + free champagne ; ). We also looked into The LARK, which is perfect if you want to be able to easily walk everywhere.

#2] We had 3 full days to explore the city, but felt like we could have easily done everything we wanted to do in 2 full days!

#3] You don’t need a car for Bozeman [unless you plan on hiking!]. There are places in town to rent bikes if needed, but everything is pretty easily walkable.

#4] Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport is only 15 minutes away from the city center — so easy!

Have you been to Bozeman? What did I miss?! Let me know : )

Full Body AMRAP

This workout is set up AMRAP style — “as many rounds as possible.” Complete each AMRAP as a circuit, resting for 0-30 secs between each exercise. *Rest 1 minute after each AMRAP!

Let us know what you think of this workout on instagram — tag @CHAARG! This is from CHAARG Summer Studio from trainer Natty! 💕

8 minutes: AMRAP — as many rounds as possible in 8 min

6 minutes: AMRAP — as many rounds as possible in 6 min

4 minutes: AMRAP — as many rounds as possible in 4 min

2 minutes: AMRAP — as many rounds as possible in 2 min

1 minute: AMRAP — as many rounds as possible in 1 min

Things I Learned [Outside Of Class!] When Studying Abroad

Remember when a public health emergency didn’t prevent people from traveling to other countries? [looking at you 2019!] During that time in my life I was fortunate to have the opportunity to study abroad in Ireland.  Hopefully, this school year will be a little bit ‘back to normal’ + experiences like studying abroad can be an option once again. 

I actually kept a journal during that time in my life + I am so glad that I did. I look back on all of the places I went, people I met, + adventures I had ++ usually remember that time as such an amazing experience I am so grateful for. I had the chance to not only explore Ireland + the beautiful place it is, but I also visited 10 other countries during my time abroad. While some times were definitely challenging, my time abroad taught me so much about the world + myself. Here are the top four things I learned [outside of the classroom!] during my experience abroad. 

#1] There’s a big world out there

I am the definition of a small town girl [seriously, my hometown has a population of *almost* 1,500!] so studying abroad definitely taught me how big the world truly is. Even though Ireland is literally the size of Indiana, exploring the natural beauty of the country was absolutely one of my favorite aspects of my experience.  The country has six incredible national parks + I had the pleasure of experiencing all of them. I went rock climbing off the coast in Burren National Park, hiking up the mountain of Connemara National Park + kayaking in Killarney National Park. As a girl who loves to be outside, this was absolutely an incredible aspect of my time abroad + some of the most beautiful experiences of my life. 

It sounds dorky, but my time abroad also sparked an interest in history unlike anything I had ever had before. I had the chance to travel + learn about history ++ the culture of different places that is unmatched by an educational experience in the classroom. I visited the holocaust museum in Berlin, the “Peace Wall” that separates the Protestants from the Catholics in Northern Ireland, the Habsburg’s castles in Vienna + so much more. Experiencing these incredible sights in person are worth so much more than anything I could learn in a textbook. 

Whenever I have the opportunity to travel, it always reminds me that there is so much more to see + experience. Studying abroad provided me with a platform to expand my horizons, but I truly did just dip my toes into the incredible world out there. Whether it’s taking in the exploring the natural beauty of a country, connecting with the local culture or experiencing a nation’s historical significance, it really is a big world out there. 

#2] It is so okay to do things alone

I can not emphasize this point enough. Unlike some others who go have the chance togo abroad, no other students from my school back home went to Ireland at the same time, so I didn’t know anyone at all. When I arrived at the University of Limerick in Ireland, I didn’t necessarily find ‘my people’ to travel + explore like I would have hoped. I heard wild tales from friends + family who also had the fortunate opportunity to study abroad ++ went on crazy adventures with their best friends. In hindsight, I am glad that I wasn’t in a bubble with people I was already comfortable with when traveling because it encouraged me to meet other people from all over the world.

When I went out to explore on my own, I met so many new + interesting fellow travelers in my hostels, on tours, or even just on the bus. Don’t get me wrong, there were definitely some moments where it would have been nice to not be alone, but solo experiences are so underrated! Being forced to meet new people everywhere I went opened my eyes to the fact that everyone truly has their story to share. If I had been traveling with friends that I knew, I don’t know if I would have been as eager to connect with new people + I would have missed out on hearing their stories. 

Traveling alone also helped me develop my problem solving skills + a sense of responsibility unlike any experience. Even though I am a ‘thorough planner’ when it comes to travel plans, there were still moments where things went wrong. Being responsible for all of my bus, train + plane tickets, as well as my hostel stays ++ tour dates was definitely daunting at first [especially when it was in a different language!] However, these challenges pushed me to develop my independence in a way I never thought possible. Learning how to navigate new places all by myself was one of the best lessons of studying abroad. 

#3] But it’s also so okay to miss your family, friends, + life back home

It is so easy to remember my experiences + romanticize about how incredible ++ life changing it all was. When looking back at it now, it’s easy to forget that some days were really hard. Sometimes the loneliness + unfamiliarity got to me ++ I just really wanted to come home. 

The experience of moving to a new country + traveling to new places created a constant state of being out of my comfort zone. Everything was unfamiliar + different than what I was used to + it took me forever to figure out how to navigate my new home. These experiences of constantly being ‘out of my element’ made me miss the comfort + familiarity of home even more. 

One of the worst parts of these days when my anxiety took over was the immediate guilt I would feel about experiencing this. Why can’t I appreciate what I have? So many individuals would kill to have this opportunity + I shouldn’t be wasting it feeling sad or sorry for myself. 

Studying abroad helped me to learn how to show grace to myself for feeling this way. It is totally okay to miss home + crave the comfort it provides. My time overseas taught me how to admit when things are hard + give myself a break when I was feeling down. Being out of my comfort zone wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, it helped me to grow + become far more independent. But it did make me miss home more + that is totally okay. 

#4] Life isn’t as serious as we think it is 

One of my favorite aspects of my time abroad was experiencing all different cultures. Every new country had a different way of doing things + it was so eye opening to see how all different people wake up ++ live their lives. Even though every place I visited was incredibly unique, I did notice one important commonality — their ‘pace of life’ is much slower than the United States [in a good way!]

We are always in a hurry in the United States in so many aspects of our lives. From a day to day standpoint, we are always rushing to our next meeting, activity + class — packing our days to the brim with commitments. There are never enough hours in the day to get done what we need to get done. 

In Ireland [+ Europe in general] this was so not the case. First of all, the country does not wake up before 8 or 9 AM, ever. Their classes are structured with plenty of time to get ‘a pint’ between classes at the pub on campus. They even had this wild idea of ‘closing their library’ on campus, forcing students to go home + not study. I don’t think I ever quite got used to this cultural difference, but it was definitely different from the hectic lives we live here in the United States. 

In more general terms, the people I met abroad were just in less of a hurry in their lives in general. A lot of other students + travelers were busy taking gap years + seeing the world before they started their real lives. It was almost more out of the ordinary to go right from secondary school [high school] to University to a career without taking a break. Back at home, I unfortunately feel like it’s the opposite as so many of my friends + peers [myself included] are busy on the conveyor belt of high school, college, then career. I hope I can take this lesson with me + learn to relax a little bit when it comes to starting new phases of my life. After all, why are we in a hurry? 

Interested in studying abroad? Here is what I have learned about the process + how it works at most schools. There usually are a few options:

1] A University Led Program — a lot of schools will administer their own study abroad programs where they have agreements with universities in other countries. These programs can be more convenient as your school will likely have all of the information about the experience + how to enroll. However, most schools do not have partners in every country you might want to visit + you might only have a few options to choose from. Ask your advisor at your University if your school has a study abroad office so you can find out about the programs they offer!

2] Third-Party Programs — this is what I did! Organizations like the Council on International Educational Exchange + IES Abroad offer a ton of options for students to spend time in other countries. Some programs even happen in the summer if you can not find time during your school year! The advisor or study abroad office at your school will likely have more information about these options but you can also do independent research to find programs that interest you. Going through a ‘third party’ can be more challenging to get your courses approved + to arrange your study abroad experience but it is totally worth it.