The Bright Spots – February 12, 2016

Hello Countryside friends!

It’s cold outside, and I’ve had the kind of week that parallels the weather. Despite what the groundhog said last week, spring feels pretty far away and I can’t wait to walk around outside without having to bundle up like the Michelin Man!

It’s times like this when I look to my co-workers both here at Countryside and in the HR community to keep me pointed in the right direction! One blog in particular that seems to hit home in these moments is “Mark & Angel Hack Life” (sign up here:

Their post today was pretty timely for these dreary days of winter and I wanted to share “7 Things to Remember When Life Gets Tough (and you feel drained)”

“Oftentimes things have to go wrong in order to go right. In fact, if the road you’re traveling is always easy, you’re likely going the wrong way. Some part of you knows this is true. Nevertheless, when life gets especially rough, it can be hard to remember…

Truth be told, we all experience hard times, and we all get through them eventually. But some of us get through them more easily than others. What’s the secret? Most of it has to do with mindset. So here are seven important things to keep in mind when life gets rough:

1. These hard times are making you stronger and smarter. – It’s usually the deepest pain that empowers you to grow to your full potential. It’s the scary, stressful choices that end up being the most worthwhile. Without pain, there would be no change. But remember, pain, just like everything in life, is meant to be learned from and then released.

2. You are not a helpless victim. – You are the creator of your own experience. Yes, it is unfortunate that sometimes bad things happen to the best of people. Life can be unfair, unkind and unjust. However, being stuck in a victim mentality does not nurture your ability to move onward and upward. You’ve got to stand back up and take positive steps to heal and grow. (covered in the “Pain & Hardship” module of “Getting Back to Happy”)

3. There is no such thing as failure (only important lessons learned). – You should just wipe the word “failure” right out of your vocabulary. All great people who have ever achieved anything have “failed” over and over. In fact, Thomas Edison once said, “I never once failed at inventing the light bulb, I just found 99 ways that it didn’t work at first.” Take your so-called failures and learn something from them. Learn how to do it better next time.

4. If you don’t get something you want, it just means something better is waiting. – This is hard to believe sometimes, I know. But it’s true. Oftentimes, when you look back at your life you will be able to see why it was actually good that something didn’t work out. Maybe the job you didn’t get would have made you spend more time away from your family, but the job you did get was more flexible. Just have faith that everything happens for a reason. It may not be obvious at first, but it will make sense eventually. (covered in the “Happiness & Positive Living” module of “Getting Back to Happy”)

5. Things can and will change. – “And this too shall pass” is one of my favorite sayings. When we are stuck in a bad situation, it may seem there is no way out. We think nothing will ever change. But guess what? It will! Nothing is permanent. So get out of the habit of thinking that things will always be this way. They won’t. But, remember, you do need to take some sort of action for things to change. It won’t magically happen all on its own.

6. If you want things to change now, you need to start by changing yourself. – Your outer world is a reflection of your inner world. Do you know people whose lives are unnecessarily chaotic and stressful? And isn’t their situation largely because they feel chaotic inside? Yes, it is. We like to think that changing our external circumstances will change us. But we have it backwards – we need to change ourselves first before our circumstances will begin to change. (covered in the “Goals & Growth” module of “Getting Back to Happy”)

7. Anything is possible going forward. – Miracles happen every day. Really, they do! I wish I had enough space in this email to write about all the miraculous things that have happened to people I know – from healing stage 4 pancreatic cancer to having their soul mate appear out of nowhere in the most unlikely place. Trust me: it happens all the time. You just need to believe it does. Once you do, you’re halfway there.

And of course, if you’re struggling with any of this, know that you are not alone. Many of us are right there with you, working hard to feel better, think more clearly, and get our lives back on track.”

Another great thing to do when you’re not feeling so hot (physically or mentally!) is to reach out and help someone else. Some wise words…


“So then you decide, ‘Well, I’m sick of myself.

I’m going to think of how other people can be happy. I’m going to get up in the morning and think, what can I do for even one other person, even a dog, my dog, my cat, my pet, my butterfly?’

And the first person who gets happy when you do that … you.”

– Bob Thurman (1941 – )
American scholar and Buddhist monk

Countryside, via our Annual Campaign, gives you a forum to do something for others. Whether you volunteer at a campaign event, attend the gala or sign up for payroll to deduct a bi-weekly contribution, you are making a difference in someone’s life via our outreach and other programs. Your supervisors will likely be talking about this over the next few weeks, and I’ve attached Our Mission Impact Statement if you need a quick refresher on the items that are funded by the Campaign. If you, or someone you know, would be interested in working as an Ambassador for the campaign, please reach out to DEBRA PHILLIPS or ANITA PELLETIER for details on trainings, etc.

Also, congrats to NANCY HALSTEAD who was our Bright Spots Gift Card winner for January! I’ve attached the cards for all who received a shout out for being awesome!! Please keep turning them in!

Stay warm this weekend and be careful out there on the pavement!



The Bright Spots – Weekly Roundup, January 29, 2016

Hello Mind/Body/Spirit Warriors!! 

Welp, we’ve just about made it through January 2016!  It’s been a pretty January-ish month, and if you’re anything like me you are pining for the sunshine and warm air of spring.

This is my first “New Years Resolutions” month as an employee of the Y, and it has been hard to miss the increase in humans and decrease in available parking spaces.  I want to thank all of you who continue to follow our instructions to park in the far out “employee” area and make the long cold trek across the windy pavement. 
Also a shout out to our welcome center/front desk/membership teams who have to field the extra questions, tours, paperwork that come with the New Year’s rush.  
It’s easy in these glum months to overlook the extra effort some folks are putting in, so I wanted to pass this on in the hopes you’ll express your appreciation when someone goes above and beyond:
Speaking of appreciation, I forgot to announce earlier this month that our Bright Spots Random Draw Winner was BECCA COLEMAN!! Congrats Becca!  I’ve attached copies of the awesome cards we received in December, and will be making another random draw next Monday.  Thanks to everyone who has participated in this Staff Recognition Program!   ROBIN TRAINER is on point with her shout outs!
Last week was the maiden voyage for our incredible gymnastics team in their new facility!  PEGGY HOFFMAN was able to forward me this awesome video capture of the event by Ron Alvey!  Peggy noted:
 “Our Gymnastics Meet was a “clean sweep” All levels took 1st place as a team at our our Home meet this weekend. Way to Go Team!!!! 
Thanks front desk, North entry desk and Lower level desk for welcoming all the team families and friends. They all loved our Y and our new gymnastics facility!
We are creeping towards a big few months in the renovation.  Things are going to get dirty and there’s going to be a lot of questions coming your way from members.  Please make sure to follow Mike’s updates and take a moment to digest the update flyers and signage that is being placed around the facility. Your ability to keep a positive attitude about these changes will be key with members, even when the messaging feels like:
We’re also heading into campaign season.  In case you missed it, Y National has released two excellent videos which can be seen here and here  We’ll talk more about the Campaign and what it does for the community in subsequent weeks.
Again, THANKS your part in making our Y a place where we are genuinely building better people!
Great job
Have a great weekend!

The Bright Spots – January 15, 2016

“We spend January 1 walking through our lives, 
room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, 
cracks to be patched.
Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to
walk through the rooms of our lives… 
not looking for flaws, but for potential.”
— Ellen Goodman
Two weeks late, but Happy New Year everyone!  I wanted to share this quote, because when I think of Countryside and our impact on hearts/minds/bodies/spirits there is indeed so much POTENTIAL here.  
The splash and ripple that we talk about in Changing Lives training is a very real illustration of potential… Splashes (outputs) become Ripples (outcomes) which move outward over time. Splashes cover a smaller area than ripples do. One activity or one action may involve a small number of people, but that just as a splash yields ever widening ripples, the benefits of the activity and its output spread beyond the initial group of participants to include other people. It is in the zone of the ripples that a project generates important social changes.
Countryside Y is a natural venue in which we can create important social change in Warren County.  Without thinking very hard, I was able to come up with a quick list of things we will accomplish together in 2016 via our Caring for Families Campaign and other departmental programs, and that’s just stuff that is on the radar…  who knows what other opportunities may crop up as we journey along…   We’ll do things like:
  • Provide PRESCHOOL AND SUMMER CAMP EXPERIENCES for children in need via outreach programming
  • Provide FINANCIAL SUPPORT to families needing assistance with program and membership fees
  • Teach children in our child care and local elementary schools HOW TO SWIM
  • SMILE at someone on a day when they really need it
  • Create HEALTHY BODIES through our exercise, sports and fitness programming and classes
  • Improve reading scores of under served youth in the King’s District through SWIM TO READ
  • Develop skills like dance, cooking, pottery and more in our new ARTS & EDUCATION programming area, which will be up and running soon
  • Offer a safe space for FAMILIES and CHILDREN to spend time together in a meaningful way
  • Select TWELVE STAFF CHAMPIONS from our awesome staff to receive recognition from their peers for outstanding work and demonstration of our mission
  • Grit our teeth and know that despite the inconvenience, the facility will be improved for the better via the renovation
  • Hold awesome events like the Countryside Gala in March, the Applefest Run and Mud-O-Ween in the fall
  • Support parents through parenting workshops, Blessed Respite and preteen overnights
  • Provide parents some much needed exercise and/or alone time, knowing their children are safe in our CHILD WATCH area
  • Work with Lebanon City Schools’s student athletes on SPEED AND AGILITY, as well as LIFEGUARD TRAINING for high school students
  • Coach and/or train a person who never thought they’d take the initiative to get back in shape
I could go on… but you get the idea.  With POTENTIAL (splash) comes IMPACT (ripple), and every person who works in this facility is a vital part of that impact.   
I’m pretty proud of that, and I hope you are too. 
SO…  if your attitude adjustment plan for 2016 consists the following:
improve your attitude
… I hope you’ll reconsider and think about the things you, as an awesome human being, can do to help us reach our potential this year.
We got this.
Have a great weekend!

Weekly Photo Challenge – Gathering

<a href="">Gathering</a>

 Well the timing of this one couldn’t have been better!  Yesterday was our staff “Holiday Brunch & Munch” at Countryside, and we had a ball.  It’s a bit tough to get 600+ employees who work anywhere from 5:30 am – 10:00 pm, but between two servings, a stacked dessert “bake off” table and the hot cocoa bar, plenty of sugar was consumed and plenty of us will need to keep exercising.  Good thing we work in the largest YMCA in the country!

The Bright Spots – Weekly Roundup, October 23, 2015

Hello fellow Countryside tribe mates!

Greetings from Human Resources land, where I am listening to the sounds of construction equipment outside my window!  It’s been a busy week as Conger starts Phase II and it feels like there is
Huge thanks to Erin Smith for forwarding me pictures from Landen’s first ever “Trunk or Treat” event last Friday!  There was a great turnout, and it looks like so much fun!

Also, a shout out to Terrie Hudson, who received the NICEST letter from a “happy and grateful Zumba peep!” Some highlights:
“I’ve been attending Terrie Hudson’s Zumba classes for quite some time.  I can’t even begin to explain how Terrie and her classes have changed my life.  She has consistently motivated and inspired me to better myself.  I’ve lost a considerable amount of weight and have been able to keep it off because I attend Terrie’s classes regularly… there are dozens of people that have had so much success with their fitness goals because of Terrie…I know that I can speak for everyone that attends her classes when I say we just love Terrie.  She works so very hard to ensure that every single one of her Zumba peeps is happy, motivated, inspired and loved.”
​​Another shout out to Brett Wilson for helping to provide this group of Lebanon High School with a fun day at the Y.  They will be visiting on a monthly basis!
IMG_3302 (1)
Jenny Hathaway has been organizing again… this time a “tailgate” themed lunch in which we got to enjoy some team spirit!
Tomorrow is our Mud-O-Ween event!  Judy Bauer and her tribe have been working hard all week to get the course ready, and it looks like we might have some precipitation to really get things messy.  Thanks to everyone who is volunteering, and good luck to any staff who are running!  Be safe! I don’t want anyone reporting to work like this next week!
Have a great weekend everyone!

Weekly Photo Challenge – (Extra)ordinary – Grasse, France

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “(Extra)ordinary.”


I could not walk down this street in Grasse without wanting to break into the epilogue of Les Miserables…

“Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?
Do you hear the people sing?
Say, do you hear the distant drums?
It is the future that they bring
When tomorrow comes!”