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She came!

Words cannot describe the amount of joy and love that filled my heart when I saw my little girl.  I never knew the human heart could hold so much love.

Baby Phoenix Rae entered the world October 2, 2012.  She weighed 7 pounds and 14 ounces…not too far from the 8.2 pounds the doctors estimated she would weigh.

My husband and I have an amazing 5-year-old son named Sidney.  Phoenix is our second child, but the pregnancy was not planned.  Sure…all of our family members were hoping we would have more than one child, but I had other plans.  I guess God had other plans, too.

They say every pregnancy is different and boy was that the truth for me.  With my son, my pregnancy was pretty easy…I didn’t have any morning sickness, cramping or discomfort.  My biggest complaint was the weight gain.  I believe most women gain between 20-35 pounds.  I packed on 70 pounds!  Seriously, I resembled the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man from the movie, “Ghostbusters.”

This time around I gained 47 pounds, but I was terribly sick.  Quite frankly, I don’t know why they call it “morning sickness.” because for me it was all day, afternoon, and night.  And it wasn’t just nausea but heart burn, too, and nothing provided relief.

Our son was born in Charlotte, NC.  The amount of love and support we had from friends and the community was unexpected and so very kind.  But it’s never easy being away from family.  So this time I decided to have our baby in Michigan, the state my husband and I are both from.

I couldn’t have asked for a better birthing experience.  In fact, the hardest part about my delivery was being away from my son.  For safety reasons, I had to arrive in Michigan three weeks prior to my due date.  That meant being away from my son, so that he wouldn’t miss more than a week of school while we waited for the baby to arrive.  Thank goodness she came early.

Everything went according to plan…my birthing plan that is.  I wanted to see the crowning, so my doctor provided a mirror at the foot of the bed so I could see everything he saw.  Then when my little girl was far enough through the birth canal where I could grab her by the arms, my doctor guided my hands toward her shoulders and I pulled her out and onto my chest.  It was the greatest thrill.  We laid there for what felt like an eternity, but it was probably more like two minutes.  She’s perfect…so sweet, so beautiful, and healthy.

So Why Phoenix?

Several people have asked me why I chose the name Phoenix.  Well, the answer is simple: I love Greek mythology and the Phoenix is a sacred firebird that never dies.  But according to Google.com, the Phoenix is a person or thing regarded as uniquely remarkable in some respect…I like that too.

As I am writing this blog my little bambini is lying next to me.  She looks so peaceful, innocent and strong.  Whether she was a surprise, planned or unplanned – I am so grateful to have her…so eager to see the beautiful, remarkable lady she will become one day.

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Going Red

Healthy diet, healthy heart…you’ve heard the phrase before.  Yet according to the Center for Disease Control, heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the United States.

I get extremely passionate when I talk about this topic because of a promise I made to my grandmother, Ethel Lee Edwards, when I was just 16.  I vowed to spend my life making healthier choices to avoid facing the consequences of cardiovascular disease.  See, my grandmother, and I were the best of friends.  She started having strokes, heart attacks and was diagnosed with diabetes when I was in my teens.  Sadly, she was in her early 60′s when she died.  There were many factors but mostly the complications of my grandmother’s death resulted from a poor diet and high-stress lifestyle.   Seconds before she died, she once again encouraged me to take control of my health –heart and soul.

It’s a promise that I have honored, volunteering with the American Heart Association, participating in organizing several walks, and fundraising.  This year I wanted to raise the bar and challenge myself even more.

February is National Heart Awareness month.  It’s a time to recognize the many milestones accomplished in fight against cardiovascular disease, and also bring awareness to the steps we still need to take to truly make a dent in what remains to be Americas burden.

On the first Friday in February, also known as Go Red Day, women across the nation wear red to show their support to wipe out heart disease.  I decided not only to wear red that Friday but everyday of that month.  To say the least, it generated conversation.  Everyday someone asked me, why do you keep wearing red…you must really like that color.

Lenise Ligon, Fox10News Meteorologist Chasity Byrd

To be clear, red is NOT a color I like, but I wanted to do something…create a spark and it worked!  People were engaged and energized about wiping out heart disease.  I received several pledges for fundraising dollars and commitments to join the cause.  In my heart and soul, I believe my grandmother would be proud.

Not a day goes by where I don’t wish my grandmother was still here with me.  She would have been 89 today.

This year the Alabama Gulf Coast Heart Walk will take place on September 22, 2012, at the University of South Alabama.  I certainly hope to see you there!  Cardiovascular disease forever changed my life, but together we can triumph over this chronic illness.

 

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13.1 Miles in “The Mile High City”

It was supposed to be my first marathon—the 2nd annual Sports Authority Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver Marathon Series in Denver, aka The Mile High City.

Incidentally, the city’s moniker comes from its official height, 5,280 feet above sea level….but you knew that, right?

I was SUPER excited.  I trained for a solid 13 weeks!  But when I picked up my registration packet, I realized I had mistakenly registered for the half-marathon and on-site registration for the full event would have been $210.  Needless to say… I decided to stick with the half.

More than 14,000 people took the challenge.  Participants either registered for the relay, half marathon or full marathon.  October 9, 2010 was the big day! Runners hit the pavement early at 6:55 a.m., and boy was it a chilly start to the race—a brisk 35 degrees.

But honestly after about 20 minutes, I didn’t notice the cold anymore.  I was ready to get into the zone and pass this test of physical endurance.

The course was no joke.

There was the high altitude to contend with and numerous hilly areas.  The race was truly designed for someone in tiptop shape.  I don’t know why I was so surprised—after all Denver is considered one of the fittest cities in the United States.

Thousands of spectators lined the streets of downtown Denver. Keeping with the Rock ‘n’ Roll theme, the event featured live bands along the route.  Some people even got into character and came dressed like Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Mick Jagger, and Fats Domino.

And the volunteers were great!  Along the route you heard them shouting:  ”You’re doing a good job,” “Looking good,” “Almost there,” “Chuck Norris never ran a marathon, but look at you.”

I even saw a sign that read: If you were running through hell would you stop?

I have to admit that one got me thinking.  However, the marriage proposal I saw at mile 6 took the cake. (I wonder if she said yes…)

I didn’t finish as strong as I would have liked.  See, normally I sprint to the finish line when I’ve got about a mile left in the race.   But things got a little difficult right at mile #13, so I had to back off.  Still, I finished in 2:21:39….a new personal record.

Top finishers finished in record time.  In fact, 30-year-old Chris Siemers of Arvada, Colorado broke a state record which had stood since 1993.  He finished the Full Marathon in 2:18:48 and qualified for the Olympic Trials!

Siemers was followed by Andrew Smith of Denver, Jonathan Ndambuki of Kenya, and American record holder Josh Cox, who placed fourth.

Here’s a look at how everyone else stacked up:

Results

Place, Name, Age, Hometown, Time, Prize Purse

Full Marathon – Men

1 Chris Siemers, 30, Arvada, CO, 2:18:48, $1,000

2 Andrew Smith, 35, Denver, CO, 2:29:29, $500

3 Jonathan Ndambuki, 35, Kenya, 2:29:50, $250

Full Marathon – Women

1 Heather Utrata, 29, Englewood, CO 2:50:38, $1,000

2 Trisha Miller, 31, Missoula, MT, 2:51:43, $500

3 Nicole Chyr, 33, Englewood, CO, 2:52:06, $250

Half Marathon – Men

1 Josh Eberly, 31, Gunnison, CO, 1:06:57, $1,000

2 Bernard Langat, 29, Kenya, 1:08:59, $500

3 Nicholas Sunseri, 25, Steamboat Springs, CO, 1:10:43, $250

Half Marathon – Women

1 Lidia Simon, 38, Romania, 1:14:54, $1,000

2 Nuta Olaru, 41, Romania, 1:15:16, $500

3 Brianne Nelson, 30, Fort Collins, CO, 1:17:12, $250

After the race we took a drive to Colorado Springs to see the Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak Mountain.  The day prior we made the trek up to Rocky Mountain National Park and saw lots of elk.

Denver’s downtown district reveals a city that’s looking to the future.  It’s a clean and lovely business district with modern skyscrapers, great food and friendly people.  I had the time of my life!

I am already planning my next race…any suggestions?

I’m thinking about the Pensacola Marathon in November, so all my previous marathon training doesn’t go to waste.

 

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9/11: What did you do?

This year marked the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.  The day means something different to each American.  Somber, bereaved, ardent, resilient, irate, and healing are just some of the adjectives I would use to describe that fateful day.

I have kept a journal since I was 9 years old; detailing just  about every important moment of experience in my life. But when I looked to see what I had written ten years ago on September 11, 2001, there was no entry. I was shocked but not surprised.  Comprehending such violence and death was no easy task and writing about it would have been an admission that I simply was not ready to except at that time.

I didn’t need a journal to remember how I felt, or where I was when our nation was attacked. The events from that day are seared into my memory. I was working at a television station in Youngstown, Ohio. It was just 140 miles away from where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. 40 passengers and crew were killed as the fought to take back their hijacked aircraft. I was assigned to getting reaction from family members, friends or neighbors so my photographer and I headed to the local churches.

Of the churches we could fit inside, there was a strange combination of peace and grief. I didn’t find any families of the victims from Flight 93.  But every single person I interviewed felt a connection to the passengers on that plane – as Americans. Much of my night was spent consoling mean, women and children of all different backgrounds.  That’s when my story turned into one of unity. How despite such a horrific act, resolve and true American grit still rang true.

In honor of the 2977 lives lost, the Museum of Mobile was one of U.S. 30 cities to mark the anniversary of 9/11with an exhibit called, “Recovery: The World Trade Center Recovery Operation.” The exhibit is a documentary of the recovery efforts to locate human remains, personal objects and material evidence following the deadly attacks. With over 50 artifacts and photographs plus interpretive text on pieces found near the World Trade Center, the exhibit is meant to evoke emotion…but solely for healing.

My 9/11 Tribute


This year, I decided to exercise my freedom —literally. I ran in the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers 5K in downtown Mobile.  More than 3,000 people joined me…. runners, walkers and bikers alike. The event honored the courage and dedication of our first responders. But also commemorated the legacy of Stephen Siller, one of the 342 firefighters who laid down his life on 9/11.

The course started at the Battleship USS Alabama Memorial Park in Mobile, ran along the causeway, through the Bankhead tunnel, west on Government Street, then east on Dauphin Street to finish at Bienville Square.

Throughout the race, you could hear cheers, chants of, “God Bless America” and words of encouragement to keep pushing through. It was an ironic mixture of sadness and joy. Sad because of all the families forever changed. But the joy I felt was reminiscent to the unity I witnessed following the attacks.  Only this time, there was no death and destruction…only peace.

Each participant was given a medal at the finish line. It simply read: September 11, 2001 Remember.  I surly will.

 

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Adventures on Wolf Bay

My family and I were invited to go kayaking with Alabama Kayaking Adventures last Saturday.  To say we had a good time, would be an understatement.

Did you know that Alabama’s coastal area includes 607 miles of shoreline with over 400,000 acres of estuaries? Talk about having plenty to see!

Captain Chris Nelson was our guide.

Our adventure started in Foley, at the Graham Creek Nature Preserve.  It was a 4-mile kayak (round-trip) that took us into Wolf Bay near Orange Beach, AL.  We went from fresh water to salt water and back to fresh water.

Now, if you’re an outdoor enthusiast what I’m about to say next –may come as no surprise.  But as soon as you hit the water, the kind of peace you experience is hard to put into words.  The water is calm.  The rhythm from paddling is hypnotizing.  And the sounds of nature, like the different calls from shore birds, offer such tranquility.

We saw just about everything you could imagine on our trip:

Swamp Iris, Coastal Morning Glory, Wax Myrtle aka Bayberry, Red-winged Blackbirds, Great Blue Herons, Ospreys, jellyfish, a couple of snakes and a whole of lot of wasps’ nests.

It was quite the experience and especially for my 4-year-old son.

The Gulf Coast is filled with such beauty.  My only wish is that I had more time to get out and enjoy it.

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My 7 Angels

Earlier this month I had the privilege of flying with the Navy’s precision flying team –The Blue Angels.

The Blue Angels were performing in Biloxi that weekend, for the first time in over 30 years.  I was invited to go up on one of the practice runs.

To say that it was a thrill of a lifetime, would probably be an understatement.   These guys are known for wowing the crowds. We’re talking speeds of about 360 miles per hour, at 27,000 feet.   It isn’t just straight-line flying either.  There are all sorts of twists and turns.

I didn’t fly on one of the Hornets, instead I rode on Fat Albert.  It’s a C-130T aircraft, responsible for carrying maintenance/support support crew, their gear, spare parts and communication equipment for the air show.

I arrived at Keesler Air Force Base at 12:45 p.m. It was my first time ever being on a military base.   I thought very carefully about what I would wear.  But I missed the mark when it came to my shoes.

One of the military personnel gave me this strange look and said, “ma’am you can’t wear those shoes.”

Lucky for me, a Navy Specialists’ wife offered to take me to the PX, Air Force Exchange, so I could get some proper shoes. Thanks Tina!  You’re the best.

It took about three hours of “briefing” before we went airborne.  The entire flight was close to two minutes.  It reminded me of some of the rides at Cedar Point .

At one point you’re climbing up into the air, at a 45-degree angle, then once the plane propels to an altitude of 1,000 feet it quickly levels off.  Because there’s little force –you experience a sort of free fall or weightlessness — much like you would when you go over the top of a hill on a roller coaster.  

During my flight one of the guys did a back flip and his boot hit me in the head.  But I was more hurt by the fact that I didn’t go floating up in the air.

It’s not for the faint of heart.  But I have always been somewhat of a daring individual: bungie jumping in Cancun, rock climbing/jumping and swimming into sea caves off the Pembrokeshire coast in Wales.

If you haven’t experienced a Blue Angels air show, you should definitely check it out.  I know after this experience I’ll never look at another air show the same.  These guys put so much effort and practice into what they do.  It’s incredible.  They have to have the maneuvers down to a science.

To My seven Angels thanks for taking such good care of me and allowing me to go on a flight of a lifetime.

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A conversation with Shirley Sherrod

President Obama made history again last week when he made an appearance on “The View.” It was the first time a sitting president has ever visited a daytime TV talk show.

But while the President was busy discussing the hot topics, he was also the subject of another heated discussion at the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) convention in San Diego.

I know because I was there.


NABJ members enjoy kick-off reception. (picture by Kenneth Hawkins/nabjconvention.org)

Newsmaker Shirley Sherrod appeared before thousands of journalists for a candid conversation, “Context and Consequences: A discussion with Shirley Sherrod.”

The discussion focused on the role race plays in the media.


CNN’s Don Lemon, Shirley Sherrod, Mara Schiavocampo, Eric Deggans (picture by Tony Jones/U.S. Census Bureau Charlotte)

Sherrod was catapulted into the spotlight when conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart released an edited video of her speaking at a NAACP meeting.  The video portrayed Sherrod as a racist and ultimately led to her firing as the Georgia State Director of Rural Development for the United States Department of Agriculture.

Sherrod said Breitbart knew what he was doing when he posted the video and she definitely plans to sue.

“At this point he hasn’t apologized but I don’t want it at this point.  He’ll definitely hear from me,” said Sherrod.

Sherrod wouldn’t budge on whether she would be coming back to the Agriculture Department but she did however issue a challenge to President Obama.

She was asked if she thought the President needed a history lesson.  ”Yes, he needs a lesson on race issues…on civil rights issues so he can be stronger on those issues, so they can be addressed,” said Sherrod.

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SEEDS Classic Rock 5K

Happy Monday everyone.

I am so excited.  I ran my first race this past weekend.  I didn’t pace myself very well, but overall I’m told I did ok.

SEEDS Classic Rock

This was all part of the SEEDS Classic Rock 5K and 1 mile Run.  It kicked off Saturday morning, March, 6 from Daphne City Hall.

Organizers say 314 people signed up to participate in the 5K.  And more than 1100 people registered for the 1 mile fun run.  The event benefits SEEDS, Daphne’s educational enrichment foundation.   Early estimates show between $18,000 – $20,000 was raised.

IMG_2989

For those of you who don’t know, a 5K is roughly 3.1 miles.  The course was rather generous.  It stretched through Olde Towne Daphne on a mostly flat surface.  The weather was beautiful!

I will get to how I finished in a moment.  But first I want to tell you how this all started.

If you ask any of my friends, they will tell you “Lenise is a yogi at heart.”   That’s absolutely true.

I fell in love with Bikram Yoga while living in Charlotte.  But when I moved to the gulf coast, I couldn’t find a studio here that offered Hot yoga classes.  That’s when I decided to give running a try.

That minute interest led to a pronounced desire to complete a 1/2 marathon.   So I found a marathon, went online to register, but couldn’t because I didn’t have any “qualifying times.”

Which brings me to the SEEDS Classic Rock 5K.  Our 5:00 p.m. producer is also a runner.  She gave me some help on how to pick a race and showed this great website (www.active.com/running/) on where to find races in your area.  And the rest as they say, is well… history.


It typically takes me about 28 minutes to run 3 miles.  But I ran the first mile in 7:47 –so I ended up finishing in 33:35, place 223.

Certainly not my goal but it was my first race and now I know not to overcook it, so I don’t burn out at the end.


It was a great experience and I am soooo looking forward to the next one.

********** AWARDS LIST ************

********** FEMALE OVERALL RESULTS ***********

1 JENNY ALBRECHT-BLUE JAY     33 GRAND BAY       AL   19:45  6:22

********** MALE OVERALL RESULTS ***********

1 JON BOWIE                   36 DAPHNE          AL   16:27  5:18

********** FEMALE MASTERS OVERALL RESULTS **********

1 LINDA KASCH                 46 DAPHNE          AL   21:18  6:52

********** MALE MASTERS OVERALL RESULTS **********

1 BILL HIXON                  45 FAIRHOPE        AL   19:39  6:20

******* FEMALE GRAND MASTERS OVERALL RESULTS *******

1 MELANIE MOORE               58 MOBILE          AL   22:32  7:15

******* MALE GRAND MASTERS OVERALL RESULTS *******

1 DAVID C JEFFREY             67 SEMMES          AL   20:01  6:27

******* FEMALE SENIOR GRAND MASTERS OVERALL RESULTS *******

1 CAY WELSH                   60 MOBILE          AL   29:35  9:32

******* MALE SENIOR GRAND MASTERS OVERALL RESULTS *******

1 MARSHALL MCMILLAN           60 MOBILE          AL   23:32  7:35

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Miss AWAG 2009

I had the pleasure of hosting the Miss AWAG (Area Women’s Action Group) 2009 Beauty Pageant. The event was held at Faulkner State Community College on September 26th.

Congratulations to this year’s winner, Ms. Erin Patterson!

She’s a senior at Daphne High School, with an amazing voice.  Patterson says she plans to study Theatre Arts when she goes to college. pag2

This was my second year hosting the pageant.  It’s really neat event!  Not that I’m biased… BUT having competed in pageants before, I can’t stress the importance of pageantry enough.

The competitions help with self confidence, finding a platform to speak your mind and they also promote community service.

AWAG contestants were judged on talent and performing arts, evening wear and their knowledge of current events.  For example this year, the girls were asked to share their thoughts on the controversy that stemmed from President Obama’s decision to speak to students during school.

Despite dwindling financial support, pageant organizers of the pageant are able to provide winners a scholarship to Faulkner State, as well as cash prizes.

I have to give a personal thank you to Ethel Higgins for inviting me out.

 

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Alabama Gulf Coast Heart Walk

I’d like to take a moment and thank everyone who participated in this year’s Gulf Coast Start! Heart Walk.

Hundreds of friends, familes and co-workers came together in Spanish Fort this weekend, to raise awareness and research dollars for the American Heart Association.

The weather was touch-and-go.  It rained for much of the morning.  But the sun came out just in time for the walk.

Fox10 News was a proud media sponsor.

I was honored to spearhead the event and several members from the Fox10 News family laced up their walking shoes for a great cause.

We had a fabulous turnout!

So far donations have totaled to just over $107,000.  However, the event goal is $370,000.  Yes, they are still taking donations if anyone is interested.

The American Heart Association is the largest voluntary health organization working to prevent, treat and defeat heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.  These diseases are the Nation’s No.1 and No.3 killers, and claim more than 865,000 American lives a year!

The American Heart Association cannot achieve its mission without you.

So thanks again for your support.

Here’s to living a more heart healthy life :)

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