Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

“People are more likely to something if it is their idea.”

Photo by Alex Green on Pexels.com

Lenten Reflections #15

Everyday we’re posed with decisions to make. But how and why de we make the choices we do?

Why do some kids decide to go to college and others trade school? Why are some people vegan and others pescatarian? Why invest in a hybrid or a big truck? Or a home with a three-car garage and a lake vs. a tiny house?

According to Psychology Today most of our decisions are based on human motivation drivers such as: the need to belong, anchoring new habits to current habits, and using your personal beliefs and traits to help connect you to the decision being made.

Growing up we had a path: school, college, more college, work.

My mom always said, “There is life beyond Bridge Street” – this was a bridge that crossed over the Rio Grande river into the city of Albuquerque and ultimately the world. Dad wanted us all to get our Master’s Degrees…because it was proof. Proof of education, proof of time dedicated, proof of mastery.

My sister’s and I all found our way over bridge and into Master’s Programs. But I must admit, I did everything I possibly could before I decided to fill out the application for a Master’s Degree. Travel, work, and more travel. It was ONLY when I decided to apply, did I succeed in getting that degree.

Which leads me to yet another thing my father said the other day,
“People are more likely to do something if it is their idea”

-Dad Vigil

Here’s one more example:

Back in the 50’s, mom was offered a four-year scholarship to St. Johns College in NM. However, since her dad was sick at home and couldn’t work at our family’s ranch, she decided she needed to supplement my grandmother’s hair salon salary and work to support her family.

She tells us this story often and recently said she was very pleased with her decision, “It was the right thing to do at that time and I’m glad I did, it was MY decision.”

She found her inner peace with her decision. She owned it and she was proud of it.

May you always believe in the decisions you make and move forward, leaving all regret behind.

On Faith and Fitness

Will you decide to pray or move today? It’s all up to you.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

“Step off the wood, Jesus needs the cross.”

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Lenten Reflections #14

I worked in a sports bar in DC for years. Managers came and went as they do, hoping to climb the exhausting service industry ladder or better yet, open their own establishment. Like most bosses, some had a lasting impact, others shuffled through so quickly, I barely recall their names. But like most workplaces, life lessons came from teammates, supervisors, customers, and experience.

After working at a non-profit health organization from 9-5, I knew when I arrived at the bar, I had to wipe the day’s slate clean. During the day, I managed various health programs including a smoking cessation project for Hispanic youth. Ironically, I would then schlep over to a bar with a cigarette machine and a cigar bar upstairs. Needless to say, when I swiped into the time clock, I REALLY had to stop thinking about my day’s work, and focus on service.  

As in most jobs, there are always complainers, and I’m no different. Inside this smoky bar where I spent so many hours, there was one manager named Daryl who did not tolerate moaning. When anyone griped about  the minutia – rolling silverware , making a pot of decaf, bussing an extra table, he would always say,

“Step off the wood, Jesus needs the cross”. 

His words sent an instant reminder to quit complaining about first world problems, and be grateful for the work we were doing. It certainly squelched a lot of my own grievances and others. It helped all of us realize a bad day didn’t have to tether us but rather guide us to what makes us happy.

So today, be grateful. Grateful for what you can do, grateful for who you have around you, and especially grateful to Jesus for carrying that cross for us. Even when things are at their worst, nothing compares to His sacrifice. Step off the wood, be thankful and make every day better than the last.

On faith and fitness:

Take a minute to call a friend and check in. Let this be the day your body rests and your love for others is shared.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

5 Pain solutions for seniors (or anyone)

Lenten Reflections #13

My father always says, “Getting old isn’t for wimps.” No matter the age, aches and pains tap dance through our bodies like Tommy Tune in “Bye Bye Birdie”. One day it’s the hip as you step out of bed, or the back as you bend down to tie your shoes. On winter mornings, arthritic hands barge in uninvited straining to type or grip or hold. Perhaps it’s the strain to see the small print on the newspaper you’ve read the last 50 years or the emotional pain to remember what day it is. (TIP: Use the date on the newspaper to help, mom does). Bottom line, pain stinks but can be managed.

Pain is sensed through special nerves, carted over to the brain where the pain takes a number, is then registered, processed and perceived. What happens next is all about who we hire as our pain project manager.

I’ve spent the last few days with my parents and as my dad says, “when one ability goes away, another one pitches in to help.” He said this while driving, so I didn’t question it as he crossed through an intersection he’s driven hundreds of times.

According to The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, for “pain management to be effective in the elderly, physicians need to be skillful in pain assessment; capable of recognizing the importance of a holistic, interdisciplinary team approach to care; and knowledgeable of both pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic approaches to management.”

Here’s the caveat: finding a physician that possesses all of these qualities. However, whether you have a doctor who excels in prescribing or one who is homeopathic, here are 5 remedies that have helped my parents and are worth a shot. Of course, always see your doctor when needed…these are simply ideas:

  1. DISTRACTIONS – **HIGHLY RECOMMENDED**

On their website, StopPain.org, the group, Net of Care, discusses symptom management and makes another useful suggestion, and that is to use distraction “as a pain management technique in which patients focus their attention on something other than their pain and negative emotions.”

Whether it’s movement, meditation, prayer, conversation or interactions, distraction is the spoonful of sugar we need to help the medicine go down. In fact, don’t underestimate the spoonful of sugar, my sister brought by some 2-inch thick fudge and my mom finally sat down, forgot about the pain and enjoyed.

Here are mom and dad’s recommendations:

  • pull out a puzzle
  • listen to Helen Reddy, Anne Murray, whatever warms your heart, and sing along
  • do a crossword puzzle or jumble
  • take out a photo album
  • tell stories
  • talk on the phone
  • “play outside” as dad says – prune, stack wood, plant, water or just have happy hour
  • watch TV – Alaska shows for Dad, Downton Abbey for Mom, Golden Girls for both (they never disappoint)

2. Heat – Step aside Yule Log.
My parent’s home is about 85 degrees at all times. If not, the fireplace will be lit. Yet another reason to sit, relax and enjoy the view of the fireplace. As dad says, “it’s better than TV.” Also try a warm shower or bath, heating pad, or sunshine. All will relax muscles and spasms.

3. Deep Breathing

Slow, quiet breathing helps relax the body and mind and soothe pain. Lie or sit with one hand on your belly and take a deep, slow breath. Close your eyes and picture your belly filling a balloon with air. Exhale and let all of the air out of the balloon, letting go of any unhappy thoughts and listening to the sound of your breath as you inhale relaxation. Repeat six times.

4. Feed the birds!

This is another favorite I will elaborate on later. There is an amazing effect birds have on people, the calm surrender of sitting and watching someone else do the work when our bodies are just too tired.

5. Move!

Get outside. It’s that easy. Mask up, suit up and go outside!

No matter the age, our bodies need rest, and care, and strength.
No matter the age, our hearts need love and hope and faith.
No matter the age, our minds need rest, whether they forget the day, the face or the moment; they need rest.

On Faith and Fitness

Mask up and go to church or meditate outside. BREATH.
Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

“The years go by as quickly as a wink…”

Lenten Reflections #12

Last year at this time, I had just spoken to my Madrina (Godmother) over the phone wishing her a happy Leap Year Birthday. She turned 85.

Exactly one month ago, my dear Godmother passed away suddenly and was not able to celebrate her 86th birthday. Thankfully, she did not die from COVID, nor was she ailing for long. She fell. She was alone.

I had spoken to her just a month before she passed and she told me she had started walking again, going to church, and enjoying the days in her home by the mountains. I immediately thought of an old Doris Day song my mom sings over the phone to me quite often as she reminisces. It’s called, “Enjoy Yourself”

Enjoy yourself
It’s later than you think
Enjoy yourself
While you’re still in the pink
The years go by
As quickly as a wink
Enjoy yourself
Enjoy yourself
It’s later than you think

This is one thing my Godmother always told me, enjoy yourself, enjoy your kids, enjoy your family, and enjoy life.

In honor of my Godmother, I am reposting last year’s Leap Year Baby story about her.

Mi Madrina

On February 29, 1935, my Godmother was born.

IMG_1288.jpeg
This is my baby book given to me by my Godparents. The picture of me (above) was placed on the first page by my Godmother.

In Leap Year math terms, she’s had 21 true birthdays. So today is especially busy for her. Let’s just say if an angel got their wings every time her phone rang today, the halo business would be booming. I was among her callers who sang the traditional Happy Birthday and a few lines of Las Mañanitas, her favorite birthday song.

I filled her in on the kids and our treks from swim meets to tennis matches, and then baseball games. In lockstep, she reminded me to enjoy every moment of their childhood, because it goes too fast. “What are their ages?” she asked. When I said, 17, 15 and 14, she jumped in and as if reading from a mom script, said,  “Oh college is coming up, that’s expensive.” She continued, “It’s when they go away that’s hard.” I knew she was referring to the outrageous cost attached to out of state tuition, but I also knew from our previous conversations that her statement meant more. She’s always been candid and honest about being a mom.

When we chat, her kind, subtle NM accent reminds me of home. I listen to how she recalls life as a mom…and I can hear how quickly life’s pages turn, the moment you’re suddenly not going to baseball games or PTA meetings anymore but airports to pick up your kids who are “just visiting”. I can’t help but think of how she felt the first Sunday morning when she stopped looking for a large section on a church pew, but instead, was able to slip in at the end of a row because she was alone.

She tells me she prays for me every night and every morning. When she says it, I feel my body relax. Somehow simply knowing someone whose faith is at their core is thinking of me, makes me feel cloaked in love. To me, she’s like one of the saints Catholics have for everything. We pray to them when illness, accidents or a loss occurs and we know they have our backs. That’s my Godmother. I know her prayers for me are deep, no-nonsense and true.

Chances of being born on a leap day are about one in 1,461, according to the BBC. In fact, some astrologers say leap year babies may possess special talents and luck. I agree. When I look at the picture of the day I was baptized, I think about all my Godmother has taught me: to cherish time with my family, knowing they will eventually live under different roofs; keep faith at the forefront; and hope our kids will thrive with credence, compassion, and kindness.

Gracias, Madrina.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

COVID-19 Travel by plane

Lenten Reflections #11

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So if you’re wondering what travelling by plane is like during this phase of COVID, here it is:

I arrived to a bustling in the Atlanta airport at 5:00 a.m. 

Kiosks were lined up with passengers scanning and tapping screens. Signs and printed directions guided me as I placed the checked bag labels on, which is trickier than you’d think but I was able to make out the “peel off part 1 then adhere to part 2” instructions as my glasses fogged teetering on my double masks.

Airport employees facilitated luggage check-ins waving and pointing, travellers seemingly understanding the hand gestures and muffled directions. Starbucks and Chick-fil-a lines resembled the drive-thru lines by our home, social distancing was forgotten as people leaned into the next, tired, hungry and thirsty like the Statue of Liberty was calling them in the form of a Frapuccino.

Security was stringent and efficient, just long.

Hearing multiple languages over the loud speaker is always the sunny side of any day for me. Of course, the announcements were reminding us to wear masks at all times. Thankfully the multilingual nudges seemed to work as toddlers to seniors were masking up, some of them even covered their noses rather then “half-masking”.

The flights were notably packed and the Southwest Airline flight attendant, in true character, focused on maximizing humor and creativity. During his spiel, he told everyone to wear their masks the duration of the flight. He went on to say, “Eating is fine, however, it should not take you two hours to eat a Chic-fil-a chicken biscuit…we all know you don’t want to wear your mask.”

With middle seats filled, the flight was not the most comfortable, nor comforting, but we made it. As we taxied to the gate, the flight attendant announced to “Remain seated until we are safely at the gate and please pretend to social distance as we exit”.

My last flight to Albuquerque was nearly empty, quiet and as always bumpy through the mountains. Both flights were smooth, and I did learn pandemic flights are certainly more calming when you don’t have to share an armrest with a half-masked neighbor.

Safe travels wherever you go. When you arrive, contact Walgreens and you can get a COVID test there quickly.

On faith and fitness…

If you are flying, say an Our Father during take off and landing.

Also, take comfortable shoes and walk around the airport. If you need to stay by the gate, find a quiet floor spot and do light stretching. Don’t worry about people watching, if anything, they should want to join you in your healthy endeavor.

RESOURCE: Here’s a link to information on COVID travelling from the CDC: TRAVEL DURING COVID-19.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Service is the greatest gift

Lenten Reflections #10

I just try to love and serve everyone, and bring everyone water, and lend an ear; that's what Jesus said to do - Anne Lamott. #quotes #compassion #love #serve #everyone

My parents have kind-hearted friends. When they need anything, every call is answered, meals are made, hair is cut, flowers delivered. This loving response is testimony to the fact that our parents have served and loved and given water to those in need.

May we all think like Jesus and focus each day on serving one another.

On Faith and Fitness

Pray for others while you go on a nice run.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Why every kid needs their thing…especially now

lenten reflections #9
From the Runonmom.com Lenten archives, here’s one of my personal Friday Favorites…thanks for reading.

Today at work, I walked with a first grader to the classroom. The tousled-hair blonde with sweet, aqua eyes looked down at his untied sneakers and uttered, “I still don’t know how to tie my shoes…I mean, I just don’t have time, you know (dramatic pause) now that I play baseball.” He caught my eye to make sure I fully grasped the play ball part. I gave him an understanding, “I KNOOOW, you’ve got a lot to do!” response and he gave me the kid nod that said, “finally, someone gets it.”

Clearly, he was a busy guy. Way too busy to mess with shoe strings and all that tying. Baseball was his priority now and talking about it made him beam. He wanted to share who he was and by letting me know that first, he was a baseball player, he was pleased with himself and satisfied I heard it from him first.

We all need our thing. Something that drives us. Something that makes us jump out of bed and start the day with a spark. Does it define who we are? Maybe. It certainly tells more of our story. And kids? Kids really need their “thing”. Kids need to get out and experience. Whether in an organized sport or class or just playing with friends on the playground. They need opportunities for socializing and developing who they are and what they love.

Growing up for me in the sports world, it was soccer or soccer. As the fourth of four girls, you just follow the pack and my sister who is closest in age to me was a soccer player, therefore, so was I. We had two practices a week, ate dinner together and always went to each other’s games toting sliced oranges and water wearing our reversible uniforms.

Nowadays, there are so many choices for kids. From soccer to fencing, mountain biking to curling. Practices for us end as late as 9:00 pm. Some nights, dinners are eaten at different times, homework sits on the back burner simmering patiently and Justin and I feel like we are constantly driving somewhere.

Thank God. Thank God they found something they care about and enjoy.

Naturally, over the years our kids have dabbled in a lot to find out what makes them tick. In the process, we’ve had: acoustic guitars, bass guitars, ukeleles, soccer cleats, keyboards, lacrosse goals, baking tools, chorus, piano music, gymnastics, basketball high tops, hockey pucks, baseball gloves, frisbee golf goals, shuttlecocks, tennis rackets, catcher’s gear, football helmets, swim goggles, orienteering shoes, toe shoes, tap shoes, ballet shoes, running shoes, metal cleats, turf cleats, unicycles, mountain bikes, skateboards, Ripsticks, bows, arrows, quivers, fishing rods, dart boards, ping pong balls,  and more I may have forgotten.

I certainly am not complaining. I am so grateful they have WANTED to try so many things and happy we’ve been able to afford them the chance. They’ve settled on (but are not limited to) swimming, baseball and mountain biking (and now tennis!) plus cello, saxophone, and trumpet…a well-rounded crew.

So let them try. Let them fail. Let them know they have to give it more than a week. Tell them to power through the whole season because there is a team or group depending on them and life is about teamwork and persevering.

I know we’re busy, but as I say, it’s a good busy. It’s a time where we can relish in our children’s successes, see them win, lose, fall, get up and be there just in case they need us or a Bandaid.

My first-grade friend who is simply too busy to bother with tying shoes figured out what makes him happy as all kids should.

Spiritual Workout: Go to confession –

Confession flashback! Remember when we would state all of our sins and at the end, were taught to say, “I am sorry for all my sins and those I MAY have forgotten? Was that a confession loophole?

Workout: play with your kids today, they will LOVE it.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Who Wrote The Serenity Prayer?

Lenten Reflection #8 – Thoughtful Thursday

There are times in life when we can succumb to stress or strive for serenity. Our reaction sets the sail for calm waters or a squall.

For me, stress rears its head during the tireless mask-wearing moments all the way to the day my best friend told me her husband has prostate cancer. It is in these snippets of time when I scour my soul for strength and wisdom to know what I should do or say, but paramount — what I should pray.

And it is always the Serenity Prayer. I reminds me I cannot and am not at the helm of life. That’s not the plan. Control is not always the answer. We have to leave a little milk in the container for the next guy and let go of our side of the tug-of-war rope.

Author, Anne Lamott said,

“Why couldn’t Jesus command us to obsess over everything, to try to control and manipulate people, to try not to breathe at all, or to pay attention, stomp away to brood when people annoy us, and then eat a big bag of Hershey’s Kisses in bed?”

― Anne Lamott, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

At some point, we just need serenity, courage and wisdom.

Here’s some cool history on the Serenity Prayer:

Back in 1943, theologian Reinhold Niebuhr wrote this Serenity Prayer.

In 2003, Niebuhr’s daughter, Elisabeth Sifton wrote a book titled “The Serenity Prayer”.

In 2008 Fred Shapiro an associate library director and lecturer in legal research at Yale Law School “made the front page of The New York Times by asserting that the greatest American theologian of the 20th century probably did not originate the most famous and beloved prayer of the 20th century.”

In 2014 the New York Times published the article, I Was Wrong About The Origin Of The Serenity Prayer by Fred Shapiro an associate library director and lecturer in legal research at Yale Law School questioning the authorship.

Who really wrote this lovely prayer?

Read the article here.

On Faith…

Say and memorize the Serenity Prayer. Know your limits.

On Fitness…get outside! Even just a little while. Raining? There’s no bad weather, just inappropriate clothing. Grab a raincoat.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

What do you think about every day?

Lenten Reflections #7

I’ve heard we are what we think about every day.

Personally, my mind is constantly wrapped around family and writing. Lately, I’ve been focused on my parents.

I love sharing stories about how mom and dad hold each other up emotionally, physically and spiritually. I think of them when I close the door on selfishness and gluttony and throw the welcome mat out for perspective and gratitude; faith and blessings. I love celebrating the dusty street I came from in Albuquerque’s South Valley, having green chili nestled in between the salt and pepper at the table with dinner every night, and stacking wood on the woodpile until it looked like a perfect MC Escher painting.

I love opening a letter with a butter knife — it reminds me of when mom and dad would get the mail and use the letter opener to whoosh through the top of the envelope. I love that they taught me delayed gratification by having my sisters and I open one present at a time on Christmas Day and write down who gave us what so thank you notes would go out promptly. I like thinking about them when I pour my coffee in the morning, knowing they are at the table, unfolding the the Albuquerque Journal after Mom has placed the rubber band holding it together in a small Ziploc bag, because everything that can be recycled or reused is. There is no waste.

Some days I feel I’ve made some decent parenting choices, others I feel I’m misfiring endlessly…because parenting is hard. It is packed with daily moments of failure, joy, wonder and exhaustion. But it’s what I think about every day, and I am so grateful I can.

On Faith…

Write your own prayer…what are you grateful for?

On Fitness…

Today focus on drinking plenty of water. Hungry? Have a glass of water. Tired? Rehydrate with a glass of water. Hot? Water time!

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Pedal and Pray

Lenten Reflections #6

I did two things this morning after my alarm went off 12 times and my husband reminded me 17 times that I wanted to get up and ride the spin bike before work.

  1. I rode the spin bike – because every day is better if you start with a workout.
  2. I listened to daily mass – because prayer and meditation play second fiddle WAY too often in my life.

I suppose I was multi-tasking. Lately, this act of doing multiple jobs at the same time is less respected and thought to be counterproductive as the brain is not designed to focus on several activities simultaneously. In fact, MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller says multitasking causes inefficiency and lack of productivity.

But this morning, I needed both. The physical boost to help me through the day and the spiritual levity to focus on teaching and serving others.

So as I rode, I was transported (on my phone) to a small historic chapel in Toronto called the Loretto Abbey Chapel. In response to today’s world, the lovely Father John Bertao, suggested focusing on the Lord’s Prayer and how it can guide us. “Give us this day our daily bread” is a plea to give not only to our own families but to share what we have with others.

He referred to Professor Tom Wright’s book, God and the Pandemic, and the need for all of us to lament. Wright charges us all to turn inward during this most challenging time, and ask ourselves: who is most at risk, what needs to be done, and who shall we send? As we long for peace and prayer, we are called to serve others and lament for the world. Wright says as we lament for the world, and “When we have done all we can — reflect on our helplessness and remember God is still in charge.”

Even though I multi-tasked and didn’t necessarily get my heart rate high enough or kneel during the mass, I started the day right and felt both spiritually and physically nourished.

On faith and fitness…walk and pray. Get outside distance yourself, take off your mask, and just breath.