This week Remove Your Cape talks with Kristen Blake, an amazing wife who is married to Steve Blake (NBA player for the Los Angeles Lakers). She is a mother of 3 incredible little boys, Nicholas (5 yrs), Jamison (3 yrs) and Zachary (1 and a half yrs). RYC is featuring Kristen because not only is she a wonderful wife and mother, but she is inspiring! Kristen is about to turn the Big 3-0! Most people her age want to do it big by having an all out birthday bash and rightfully so since it is definitely a milestone worth celebrating! However, Kristen I believe is doing something that will be far more rewarding than just for herself, she is giving back in a most commendable way. She is asking people to donate to charity in lieu of birthday gifts. Lets see how the joy of giving can spread…
RYC: First let me say, thank you! Thank you for giving back, because I know so many lives will be changed by what you are doing! Please tell everyone what it is exactly you are doing for your birthday!
Kristen: I have created a “birthday wishes” website and as I turn the big 3-0 this year I am asking others to give back in lieu of giving me presents. Giving back to communities and causes I care about has been a huge blessing and source of joy for me and I am hoping I can share this joy with others by encouraging them to get involved using a variety of ideas on my website. I believe we can all find a way to give back that works for us whether it is with time, money, or even just a random act of kindness; and I believe we may all feel called to different areas which is why I have a variety of suggestions on my website.
RYC: This is awesome! What is your goal and how far do you have to go in order to reach it?
Kristen: My main goal for my birthday website is just to reach as many people as I can with my message of the joy of giving back. I hope that people will give it a try because I know that once they do, they’ll be hooked. Together we really can make a big difference and affect positive change in the world around us. While I hope that all the charities will receive donations and much-needed aid for their wonderful causes, the only numerical goal I have is to raise $1,300 for my half marathon since it is about 13 miles. I’ve been running for years but always shorter distances. This is my first half marathon and the first time I’ve trained in such long distances but I figured since I am asking others to challenge themselves by giving back, I should step up to the plate and challenge myself as well.
Kristen: There are so many great causes out there, and I encourage others to find one that truly speaks to them but I chose to highlight these specific organizations on my website because I have felt called in some way towards working in these specific charitable areas. First of all, I have always felt called towards children. I was an avid babysitter in high school and did an internship my senior year in high school where I decided to study the pervasive developmental delays in children prenatally exposed to drugs and alcohol. I went on to major in criminal justice and psychology in college and concentrated much of my studies on child psychology. As long as I can remember, I have always felt drawn towards helping impact the lives of children. That’s why I love the Children’s Cancer Association and African New Life, they both directly impact the lives of children in such meaningful ways. My husband and I have also been touched by cancer in our lives and are drawn to helping this cause which is why I chose teammate Matt Barnes charity Athletes vs. Cancer. Samaritan’s Purse was chosen as the beneficiary for my run for several reasons; I love all their different innovative programs and ways people can get involved in giving back (there are even some great projects you can do with your young children!) and their mission aligns so perfectly with everything I am looking to accomplish from my birthday website. Like I said before, my main goal is to just give back and help as many people as possible, and their mission states: “The story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37) gives a clear picture of God’s desire for us to help those in desperate need wherever we find them. After describing how the Samaritan rescued a hurting man whom others had passed by, Jesus told His hearers, “Go and do likewise.” I am urging everyone who visits my site to go and do likewise. Finally I chose to highlight the Random Acts of Kindness organization because they have so many wonderful ways you can affect positive change in your community without even spending a dime. Just holding the door open for someone and smiling and saying hello can change their entire day. In the past few weeks I’ve had over 13,000 hits on my website, just imagine if each one of them simply smiled at someone today, and each of those people smiled at someone else, and so on…how quickly that joy would spread.
Kristen: For years now I have been asking people to donate to their favorite cause instead of buying me gifts for Christmas, birthdays, etc, but I came to the realization that not everyone has a “favorite cause” that they have been blessed enough to discover yet and I wanted to help people discover that. Running long distances gives you a lot of time to just think, and during one of my long runs the idea came to me to create a website with different “birthday wishes” ie: “gifts” that I would like people to consider contributing to in honor of my birthday. I wasn’t sure at the time just how it would turn out, or what would be on it, but I just knew it was something I wanted to do. That’s when I hit twitter and asked for a web designer. Within minutes I had a reply of someone willing to do my work for free to help my charitable efforts. When I first told Steve I was expecting him to tell me I’m crazy and tell me my idea was weird (because honestly, I thought it might have been…but didn’t really care!) but he was incredibly supportive and thought it was a great idea and told me he would support me all the way and hoped it would help a lot of people.
RYC: I love running and I must say I admire anyone who runs anything over a 5k, lol, although I have never done a 1/2 marathon I know it is a lot of hard work…when and how did you get into running?
Kristen: I started running after I had my first son, 5 1/2 years ago. I gained 60 lbs during my first pregnancy and quite honestly….I was out of shape and fat. I started running under the advice of many that it was the “best way to lose weight fast.” Being a former gymnast my whole life the longest distance I had to run was the length of a vault runway so when I got started running, I was terrible and I hated every second of it, but after a short while I was hooked. I started to love the freedom I felt when I was alone running. It was just me, myself, and my headphones with no one to interrupt my thoughts or my run. The sense of accomplishment you feel after a challenging run, whatever that means at the time, is unparalleled. With my Type A personality I quickly became addicted to beating my last time or length, and that was that-I was hooked on running for life and I’ll never look back.
RYC: Amen! And OMG!!! I also gained 60+pounds my first pregnancy, yes we were fat lol, but like you soon found out the freedom in running I knew of it and quickly returned to it, isn’t it awesome?!!! How do you find the time to run, give back, attend games and juggle being a wife, mother of 3 young boys?
Kristen: How do I juggle it all? Now that is a hard question. I’ll let you know the answer when I find out…don’t hold your breath. Well I’m a wife and mother first and everything else has to get squeezed in behind. I feel that all the different “pieces” of me (wife, mother, runner, charity worker) make up who I am and make me a BETTER wife and mother than I would be without the other pieces, but everything I do must cooperate and work together to enhance, not detract, from all those moving pieces. I’m huge believer in structure and schedule and don’t think I could do what I do without both. I often wake up early, before anyone else is up, to squeeze in a run so I can be done by the time everyone gets up to make breakfast, take the boys to school, and see Steve off to practice. Then I spend the afternoon at classes and playdates for the boys, running errands, cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, and all that other mommy stuff. Only Nicholas (5 yrs) is in school 5 days and that is only till 12pm, Jamison (3 yrs) only goes a few days a week till 12, and Zachary (1 1/2 yrs) is home with me all the time. So finding time to do everything is certainly an ongoing battle I’m not sure I’ll ever master. My youngest naps at the same time every day, at which time the older two read books for a bit and that’s when I try to accomplish about 5 hours worth of things into an hour. Some days I’m successful, some days I’m not. The leftover to do list of bible study, charity work, (always more laundry!!), etc gets done when the kids go to bed at night, which is again always at the same time, and always nice and early-7pm! This year I haven’t been able to go to many games, but I try to go to at least one every couple of weeks and try to have a date with my husband at least once a month. Although there are times I feel I will never complete my to do lists, and wish I had more time with my husband, more time for my runs, more time for anything and everything, I know that the most important things don’t go on a list and don’t need a “time”; they are constant and they are being a good, kind person to all, and the best wife and mother I can be. So at the end of the day, regardless of how much of my to do list gets done, or how much more time I wish I had, as long as the important “to do’s” are accomplished, I can rest well…even though I don’t get much sleep.
Kristen: I will absolutely always continue in running competitions. I love accomplishing a goal I set for myself and although not only does it make ME feel good to finish a race and beat my records, I think it’s great for the boys as well. Our children are growing up in a household where working out is something mommy and daddy do every single day. It is the norm for them and they love staying active and fit as well; it’s not something to fit into your life, but a lifestyle. I am so happy that we can give them this gift of health through physical fitness. I also think it’s great that they can look up to me for accomplishments as well. I don’t have a fancy NCAA National Championship ring like daddy does, but I’ve got a whole lot of race medals, and I know my boys are proud of me for working hard and staying healthy. It’s always been a goal of mine to raise children that are active advocates for those in need in the world around them and I always include them in all my charity work. Training for the run to raise money for Samaritan’s Purse has been really fun for me because I talk to the boys about the different areas of need the organization brings aide to and we talk about my running and how that is going to help. I know they see Steve and my hard work and determination in all our training as well as in all our giving back, and I know it will instill these positive qualities in them as well.
Click here to donate to Kristen’s Birthday Wish! Check out Kristen’s interview with Steve that was featured in The LA Times: