Congratulations Honey, We’re Homeless

My mom moved between my sophomore and junior year of high school and I ended up transferring from a public to a private school at that time. Although I switched from playing soccer to running cross country, it looked like the private school had recruited me. I wasn’t able to run varsity races until my appeal cleared with the state high school league, which ended up happening just before the section meet.

At the section meet, I won my first varsity cross country race. My team made it to state for the first time in the school’s history. I was feeling a high that comes with running well and winning. I saw my mom and excitedly ran into her arms. While I was briefly in her arms, she whispered to me, “Congratulations honey, we’re homeless.”

In that moment, I knew she didn’t want anyone to know what we were struggling with, so I hid it. I pushed it away. I didn’t tell anyone. When people in our family struggled with mental illness or abuse or alcoholism or addiction before, we always hid it, so I learned that was what I was supposed to do.

I went right from that race, with my teammates, to a big volleyball game for our school. I must have recently seen the guy who collected hugs online, because I decided that is what I felt like doing that night. I collected hugs from every stranger who would accept a hug. I sincerely remember feeling so happy as I confidently accepted my friend’s dare to walk up to the “Super Fan” section of the other team and ask them for hugs. My friends laughed so hard when I went up to the other team’s fans and said, “Hey, I am collecting hugs, can I have one from you?” And, “Can I have a hug?” to parents and teachers at the game. The people I approached also couldn’t help but laugh and smile at such a bizarre request from me.

My mom picked me up after I was done hanging out with my friends that night and parked the car where she thought we could sleep. It was in my dad’s (her ex-husband’s) driveway. He was out of town. We had relatives we could stay with, so I couldn’t understand why she was wanting us to stay in the car. After trying to sleep in the car for several hours, I insisted that we drive out to Nana and Papa’s (my mom’s mom and dad). I soon realized why we couldn’t stay with our relatives. From my grandparent’s home, we ended up bouncing from one relative’s home to another and to new friends’ houses and to hotels.

Kevin’s Story on the Student Debt Trap at Iona College

Photo Credit: Ben Sathre

I believe sharing our stories can create powerful change. Thank you, Kevin, for willingly sharing the difficulties you experienced as a result of taking on immense amounts of student debt and finding no suitable career after graduation:

I began taking classes at Iona College in September of 2002 and graduated in April of 2007.  During this four and a half year period, Iona provided a poor quality of education that did little to nothing in preparing me for a job upon graduation, while simultaneously setting me up for a lifetime of debt and hard, physical labor.  The money that I borrowed to attend Iona put me in a terrible financial situation that I am still struggling with to this day.  After receiving financial aid and scholarships, and working various jobs on and off campus, I still had to borrow approximately $40,000.00 to cover the cost of tuition.  What was especially difficult was that Iona set up its enrollment contract to prevent students from transferring or leaving. Students who enrolled for any given semester would also be forced to cover the costs of the next semester, even if they didn’t plan on attending Iona during the next semester.  So anyone who wanted to transfer to another school or take a break from college altogether would still be on the hook for the next semester’s costs, making it unreasonable and next to impossible to escape.

I earned A’s and B’s during my time at Iona and graduated with a 3.4 GPA.  Despite earning respectable grades, Iona did not provide any services one would expect from a college or university.  For example, the tutoring center did not have adequate personnel, so it was never open.  I expressed interest in doing an internship in each of my first three years, and my academic advisor and the person in charge of the internship program both told me that internships were reserved exclusively for seniors.  Imagine my surprise when I turned on the TV one night and my sophomore classmate was participating in Howard Stern’s Intern Beauty Contest.  I managed to land an internship during my senior year to work at the same radio station that served as the flagship location for Howard Stern’s radio show at the time. Two weeks before it was scheduled to begin, Stern left the station, and the station immediately cancelled all internships. I notified the school and they did nothing to help, despite the situation being completely out of my control. They told me to take a class at a local community college during the summer so I could graduate, which I did.  About three weeks later, the front page story of the Ionian (the student newspaper) ran a story about nine Iona students landing an internship at the 2006 Winter Olympics. Seven of the nine students were underclassmen. The application process for this internship was still open after my previous internship fell through. However, it was never mentioned to me and was never advertised on any flyers on campus.  

I began my job search a year in advance of graduating. I sent out resumes, made phone calls and attempted to schedule interviews. I was unable to find a position, and asked the school for help. In previous years, I had asked about job fairs, resume writing workshops, and for help with my resume and job search. No such help existed for me or for the majority of students. Iona College had no career center, no resume writing workshops, and no job fairs with Fortune 500 companies, despite being located less than 10 miles from New York City. When I was finally able to meet with a job counselor, she wasn’t able to answer any of my questions, and spent about 10 minutes with me building a profile on I accumulated $40,000.00 in debt, graduated with a 3.4 GPA and worked multiple jobs to attend a school in which the only service they provided was referring me to  

When I enrolled at Iona, I did so because of promises made by the school in its official publications when I was in high school. Iona once had a partnership with American Express in which students who did well enough in classes could intern at American Express and then work there upon graduation. This partnership and school to work program was prominently advertised in all of Iona’s literature, on the school website and even on a giant billboard right outside the entrance to the campus.  This relationship was advertised beginning in 2002, when I first enrolled, all the way up to 2007 when I graduated (including a billboard). The program had expired in 2001.  Iona falsely advertised a relationship with a major Fortune 500 company for at least five years. The reality is that Iona had no partnerships with any major companies while I was a student. Students were completely on their own in terms of finding work.  

I needed to pay bills and the best job I could find was in a warehouse, stacking and packing boxes and picking items, for 12 hours each day, with no air conditioning in the summer or heat in the winter. I worked five and sometimes six days a week, for minimum wage with no benefits. The work was absolutely back breaking. Every part of my body was in constant pain, from head to toe. The hard labor was so exhausting and taxing that a girl I worked next to collapsed on the job and was taken away in an ambulance. Eventually I had to leave the job without anything else being lined up. I still have back pain and pain in my joints to this day.

Thankfully, I am in a much better position, but my fate could have been a lot worse. Students need to understand that colleges will lie to them, and that those lies carry lifetime consequences for the students. I would encourage any student wanting to attend college to go to a community college first and save some money working a part time job before transferring to a brand name school.  

No one should ever go through what Lauren and I went through. 

Let Your Compliments Out

This picture is unrelated to what this post is about. I’m just using my body and my hot mom’s body to get your attention.

Compliments come into your head so that you can let them out. Letting compliments out brings other people so much joy.

Yesterday, the dollar store checkout lady literally giggled with delight when I told her her teeth were nice and white.

Tell people what nice faces they have, even if you know they will think you’re hitting on them. They can start playing with their wedding ring or tell you about how they went on a trip with their girlfriend to Peru recently and they can go home later that day and tell their significant other they were hit on. Everyone will laugh and be like “wow, what a hot thing I am,” and be happier because of it.

If you are both complimenting and hitting on them and they are interested in you, chances are good that they will say, “let’s hang out.” And then you will say, “yes, let’s,” if you like their vibe.

Sometimes a person might think you just want to cop their style if you compliment them. Maybe you do. The perk here is that most people will say, “this is a French perfume I get on the strip in Las Vegas,” when you say, “you smell great.”

A person might roll their eyes and head at you like you’re some lowlife after you’ve turned your car around and shouted loudly out your window from a bit too far away, “Hey, I love your scarf.” And you might cry about their meanness, because you didn’t work out enough recently, but it’s still worth complimenting. (This type of thing is the rarest of the rare and not likely to happen, but I just want you to know that even if it does, it’s not that scary when people react unusually to a compliment.)

Let’s say you scroll past something funny or interesting or beautiful in an Instagram story. Let her know her hair looks especially nice today! Even if she doesn’t respond, it makes that girl smile. Two seconds to react and let a compliment out could mean a whole day of smiles.

On Eating and Movement

A lot of people ask me for advice on health and fitness. So I’m giving the people what they want! I am not an expert and I recommend consulting people who are, but here is a broad look at what I do. As a reminder, I look the way I do from many years of consistently training to run competitively and I naturally have a small bone structure. Everyone’s ideal body will evolve over time as they learn what movements and foods work best for their body. I have researched and learned a lot about what makes me feel my best and I am happy to share what I have learned with you.

1. On eating: Our bodies are always trying to move us towards our ideal states, so I trust my appetite. I eat when I’m hungry and stop eating when I’m not hungry anymore. It sounds simple, but if you’re not used to doing this, it takes practice. This means when I’m training more, I naturally eat more. I focus on eating healthy foods I love to eat. After I’ve gotten healthy foods in me, I let myself enjoy dessert. It ends up being anywhere from one dessert per day to one dessert per week. In my experience, if I find myself craving too many sweets, I’m not getting enough protein or healthy calories overall. I don’t restrain myself from eating any particular thing, I just do my best to eat mostly healthy foods.

Eating should be delightful. I prefer to eat with happy company, instead of alone. I don’t eat food if I know someone angry cooked it. It’s easier to digest food when you’re calm and happy. If I’m upset, I wait until I calm down to eat. I also try to avoid rushed eating.

To also keep myself eating happy, I don’t weigh myself. I am not interested in how much I weigh, I am interested in feeling energetic, moving freely, and running fast.

I’ve been really poor and had to eat things that I know are terrible for me, but I always do what I can with what I have. Maybe I can’t afford the ideal diet, but I can eat some spinach and bananas. I can make sure I surround myself with loving people and eat food cooked by tenderhearted people. And I can still listen to my appetite.

2. On movement: I am frequently moving and I feel my best when I’m really active. Even during the times of day I’m not specifically working out, I move a lot. I walk at work and I love to go for nature walks. I go dancing whenever I can. I love to skate and rollerblade, as well. I like yin yoga a lot, because it helps me train my ability to focus. Pilates helps me with core strength and stability. I can’t do all these things all the time, so I work them in when I can. Normally if I am training less for running, I do more yin yoga, walking, and Pilates. I really enjoy swimming, so this is something else I will do if I’m resting from running. There are great Pilates and yoga books and YouTube videos to learn the basics. Classes are great to get a teacher’s guidance, if you can afford them.

Movement is another area where I do my best with what I have. When I was sleeping in my car, I would walk every day, run less often, and do pull ups, push ups and core work at the park. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive to be effective, just consistent.

When I’m training to run competitively, I work out anywhere from one to three hours per day. This includes running, core work, stretching and lifting weights. I do not recommend jumping into training this much if your body isn’t prepared for it. I’ve worked up to this volume of training over time, and I follow a personalized training plan, created by coaches I trust. For most people, this amount of training isn’t even necessary. I do it simply because I love it. I also don’t always do this. I have taken months off and even up to a year off at times, for an injury or just for a mental break from it.

The important thing is finding the joy and balance in movement. The things that are hardest to do, usually make you feel the best. That consistent core routine is a bit mundane, but it prevents injury so you can keep moving. Running hill repeats makes you feel like you might pass out, but the high after you’ve competed the work is the unmatched.

There are so many different aspects of health and fitness I could go into, but the article would get too complex if I threw them all in one. Let me know what else you would like me to write about on this topic.

Core Work for Runners (Or Really Anyone)

I believe the best way to learn to move effectively and efficiently is through Pilates training. My favorite Pilates method is Stott Pilates. It is the style I did with my mom in our basement when I was young. It has helped me have a resilient and balanced body throughout all the different sports and activities I have done. Here is a great introductory DVD:–Basic-Pilates-Vol-1

Merrithew also has a good introductory routine online. I know it is demonstrating with kids in some of the videos, but go with it. Learning to skillfully do these movements is so important for overall health in training and life. Give these exercises your full attention and don’t do any move you can’t do correctly. You want to make sure you are teaching your body healthy movement patterns:

This “Myrtl” Routine is great for runners to keep their hips and core strong. I like to do this as a warmup before runs (it is still core work).

I do this lunge matrix from Coach Jay Johnson for my warmup (instead of Myrtl), if I am outside (this is also core work, although it might not seem like it).

Below is a video of the Pilates core work I normally do after running. When you understand the basic movements of Pilates, you can play around with which exercises you do on a daily basis. These are the exercises that I normally like to keep in my routine.

I also like to do a front plank and side planks after I finish the Pilates exercises in the above video. Ideally, my everyday core workout will look like this:

  1. Warmup with Myrtl exercises or lunge matrix.
  2. Run.
  3. Pilates and plank exercises.
  4. Hip-opening yoga.

The run can be replaced with your preferred method of cardio, of course. Even if it is just an extended walk. And if this feels like too much at first, start with adding in just one thing. Maybe before you go to bed, you do some relaxing yoga poses. Starting small is the best way to introduce your body to new habits. And, be gentle with yourself! If you forget to do these things, even if it is for months at a time, just return to the practice. Everyone needs to find a routine that works with the lifestyle they have and want to create. The happiest people have figured out how to optimize whatever circumstance they are in. Like my favorite trainer, Billy Blanks, says, “Where I am today is where my mind puts me, and where I will be tomorrow is where my mind puts me.”

Hopefully this helps you guys! As always, feel free to reach out to me with questions. I am working on creating more beginner running and training posts for you!

So You Want To Be A Runner

This is the most exciting day of your life. You have decided you might want to see what it’s like to be a runner. Maybe you’ve heard of a runner’s high and you were like, “I want that,” (it is true, it is amazing). Or you envied a runner’s body (it is nice to have). For whatever reason you’re here, this is exciting, because running has made my life immensely better. And I know it can do that for you.

Before I teach you how to run, you have to understand why you run. You might think you know why and you might say, “I am running to be lean and fit, like you, Lauren.” And, I’d say, “I hear that a lot, but this can’t be why you run. Otherwise, you will give it up when it gets hard or you’re not seeing the results you wanted and you will never love running the way I love it.”

You run because running makes you the best person you can be.

You are calmer and more effective when your body is in good shape. You can pursue your passions and your career and take care of your family more effectively when your body is fit and balanced. You can process stress and trauma in healthier ways. By learning to push yourself athletically, you learn to push yourself in other areas of your life.

Becoming the best person and athlete you can be doesn’t end with one run or race. It is a process that lasts a lifetime. It doesn’t matter if you can only jog one minute and it doesn’t matter if you slow down as you age. It doesn’t matter if Jim is faster than you. It doesn’t matter if you’re injured and cannot run.

It is always about how running challenges you and shapes you. It matters that you do not give up when it gets hard and that you learn that working hard is fun.

On the other side of patience and perseverance is the illusive runner’s high and runner’s body. The runner’s high doesn’t happen every day, but when it comes, it is worth the pain. The runner’s body doesn’t happen immediately. It happens after years of falling in love with running and movement and caring deeply for your body. And when it happens, you realize you’re hot. And that confidence is invaluable.

What running does for you as a person affects you the moment you even think about trying running. So be gentle with yourself. Pat yourself on the back for going out for a walk, because every runner first walked.

Running is an amazing sport. I’m excited to help you all love running as much as I do. Feel free to message me with questions.

Everything I’ve Lost < Everything I’ve Gained

I came across this senior picture recently. We never actually ordered these pictures, because my parent’s divorce had thrown my mother into abject poverty and homelessness. By choosing to stay with her, I was homeless and living in poverty as well. My dad would have financially supported me if I would have lived with him, but it would have meant I could have no contact with my mom. I missed competing at the state track meet my senior year (after being runner up in the 2 mile my junior year) and I was delinquent from school (after being an honors student) to live with my mom. The story is long and complicated, but in general, the ineffectual family court system tore my family apart.
People who know my story have a tendency to feel sorry for me. But the reality is, I am lucky to have been through this.
Everything I lost and every opportunity I missed did not matter. I now live with such a deep trust that whatever is meant for me will never miss me, because everything I gained from this experience is more than I could have known to hope for. ❤️

Thoughts on Alcohol

My grandpa on my dad’s side of the family gave me my first sip of beer when I was in elementary school. My mom was furious when she found out. I was taught that drinking was a sin, because we adhered to the beliefs of my mom’s parents (the Apostolic Lutheran Church). My mom didn’t try a sip of alcohol until she was forty years old and there never was any alcohol in our home.

After my family left the Apostolic Lutheran Church, I was told not to drink because it was against the law. And I followed all the rules. At this age, I watched a close relative’s intelligence and spirit drown in her alcoholism (and it was amidst her outwardly preaching against drinking). I learned of other family members dying or nearly dying, because of addiction. And I watched all my friends start to drink.

When I turned twenty one, I didn’t have any authority figure telling me not to drink, but it still didn’t really interest me. I tried a strawberry Jell-O shot three months after my twenty-first birthday. My head spun and I felt a strange feeling down the front of my quadriceps, but other than that, I didn’t notice much. By the time I turned twenty-seven, I could still count on my hands the number of times I had drank.

I understand why people drink. It’s a quick way to get yourself to do what you actually want, without caring what people think. You want to talk to a beautiful woman, who is a stranger, but it’s too scary. You want to dance and be free, but something in your brain makes it scary. The alcohol just turns that thing in your brain off. I think you can turn that thing in your brain off without alcohol, it just takes a lot of practice. You have to keep doing the things you want to do and you have to be okay with feeling scared.

When you drink you also forget about your problems. I get why people want to forget about their problems. Sometimes, I’d like to forget mine. The annoying thing about forgetting your problems when you drink is that they are still there when the drinking wears off. The secret is that working on fixing your problems actually brings you more joy. And running could also make you forget your problems, so could writing, or sewing (if that’s what you’re into). And all these things also help you process your problems instead of covering them up and hiding them away behind drugs.

I do occasionally drink. Sometimes, it’s just so people around me don’t feel uncomfortable with their drinking. Many times, I will get one drink and nurse it for a full night out. People eventually notice that I’ve only had one drink, but they’re usually too drunk to feel like I’m judging them by the time that realization happens. Another fun thing is to accept additional drinks when they are offered, but sneakily pass them on to someone else or add the alcohol to your friend’s cup when they’re not looking. Volunteering to drive is another fun way to not drink. Demonstrating a distaste for the flavor of alcohol someone got you also gets you out of that drink.

Ultimately some people figure out my real drinking habits aren’t like theirs and don’t want to be around me because of it, but it’s just as well.

I am usually more interested in chasing the highs the body naturally produces that don’t have a downside, when pursued in balance. I like to wake up with energy, instead of grogginess from drinking.

I’ll keep dancing freely, attending live music, trying new things that scare me, talking to strangers who interest me, working out intensely, spending time with the ones I love, laughing, spending time in nature, creating art, writing and performing.

I hope you will, too, whether you’re drinking or not.

Another Open Letter to Augsburg University

Dear President Paul Pribbenow, Members of the Augsburg Leadership Board and Augsburg Athletic Directors,

Augsburg University has financially exploited thousands of students. I do not condone this. I ask that you immediately take down any honors, awards and/or publications including my name at Augsburg University. This includes my athlete biography online, any stories regarding my performance online or in print, any plaques or images, and any displayed school records. 

I expect written confirmation within ten days that you have ceased using my name and awards in any publications or on any displays or promotions at Augsburg University.

I am pursuing legal action to rectify the trauma you have caused and continue to cause for your financial gain. Not only have you misled and indebted young Americans and their families, you have taken advantage of some of the most vulnerable and desperate populations by creating programs for addicts and immigrants. And now, according to the Star Tribune, you are accepting grants for prisoners. 

I have personally spoken to teammates of mine from Augsburg University and other fellow graduates who have ended up homeless, addicted, re-addicted and/or underemployed. It is a misuse of taxpayer money to take grants and government funding while decreasing the standard of living for the people you purport to help.


Lauren Rice