40 Reflections #11: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season
“I like good strong words that mean something…”
― Louisa May Alcott,
I adore language. If I hear a new word, I immediately research its meaning, plug it into a sentence, and test it out on anyone standing within two feet, or simply utter it loudly into the air, like a piece of pasta thrown at a wall to check for doneness. Our youngest loves weaving new words into his lingo as well, flagging the fancy terms by stating “good word” happy with the newest addition to his vocabulary.
I thought about the flexibility of words today in an interview with NBC’s Peter Alexander and Ivanka Trump, and how sometimes we only hear what our minds are thinking.
It went like this:
“Do you believe your father’s [sexual misconduct] accusers?” -Peter Alexander
“I think it’s a pretty inappropriate question to ask a daughter if she believes the accusers of her father when he’s affirmatively stated there’s no truth to it.” -Ivanka Trump
She went on, “I don’t think that’s a question you would ask many other daughters,” she said. “I believe my father. I know my father. So, I think I have that right as a daughter to believe my father.”
A discussion on the news followed this exchange. The analyst stated she understood why as a daughter, Ivanka would feel she should support her father and that was “laudable”.
Now remember, I’m listening to the news, and am in my constant Dump Trump mode. Therefore, when the word “laudable” came over the radio waves, I heard instead: “A LOT OF BULL”. Agreeing loudly, I said, “That’s right it is!” Then I replayed the conversation in my mind and realized, although “A lot of bull” fit perfectly into the conversation puzzle in my mind, the word was actually “laudable” or admirable.
Words can be interpreted in many ways. In this mom’s opinion, “a lot of bull” was a much better description of Ivanka Trump’s support of her father’s behavior than “laudable”.
Even though Ms. Trump is laudable for sticking by her father, Donald Trump remains an inappropriate, weak, and an ineffectual president. After all, everything he says is frankly “a lot of bull”.
Dig Deep: Listen to a podcast on your next run and focus on new words.
Lenten Challenge: Try to say nicer things than I do when speaking of our current president. Good Luck.
40 Reflections – #10: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season
Listening to NPR is my daily ritual bringing me joy, comfort, bliss, and calm.
NPR is kind of like laundry. They’re both faithfully present, easy to sort through, and always clean and true in the end.
Today I heard a story about Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez the songwriting duo behind the omnipresent song “Let It Go” from Disney’s Frozen. Aiming for a non-traditional Disney song, the lyrics were written with a profound emotional core in mind.
Ms. Anderson-Lopez spoke in words that connected me immediately to her message, and came at the time when I was heading for my run. I was ready to clear my mind, and even though so many joints in my body hurt, the run always helps (runonmom). Anderson-Lopezs’ kind voice came over the radio as if she was chatting with me, directly, and any mom or woman listening.
When discussing the meaning of “Let It Go”, she stated, “…as a female writer and a mom and a wife, you just spend so much time, at least I spend so much time, trying to be good at all those things, trying to be good at relationships and a good mom and a good citizen of the world and also try and fit into the jeans and look good on the red carpet. And sometimes you just have to go you know what, something’s got to slide here. I need some French fries.”
She went on, “Let It Go” is a “hope that you never let fear or shame keep you from celebrating the unique people that you are.”
As women we push ourselves to do it all. Play with our kids more, yell less. Cook healthy meals, avoid sugar. Encourage responsibility, don’t nag. Listen more, text less. Sing louder. Pray deeper. Impart praise, dodge judgement. Call home daily, equally cherish the present, and our roots.
Ultimately, the more we “Let Go” of the superfluous stuff, compounded worries, and useless anger, the closer we’ll come to knowing our true, best selves.
Thank you NPR for making every day better.
Dig Deep: Just go on the run, it will stink at the beginning and glorify you in the end.
Lenten Prayer: Let go, let God.
40 Reflections – #9: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season
Today we lost a lizard.
We’re taking care of our neighbor’s pets and somehow, the lid of the terrarium came off, and this morning the gecko was gone. We looked in all the dark places we thought he would hide. Behind the curtains, along the molding, under beds. But the little guy just wouldn’t show its face, plus the cats weren’t talking (suspicious), so we had to stop looking for the moment.
That’s the challenge in anything, when you come to the realization you have no control over a situation. If a dog is lost there are signs to post, and numbers to call, but a lizard is a lone warrior. He has to be strong, stealth, and smart in that little body with no one to hold a leash or place a chip inside. We paused our search and said a prayer to St. Anthony to help us find the lizard, and of course St. Francis. After all, whether someone’s pet is a three-inch gecko or a 150 pound Great Dane, it still brings joy and unconditional love to our lives.
As I pushed aside socks under the bed looking for this little guy, I thought about the days when all we want to do is climb into the quietest, sun-filled spot in our world and just sit. Free from the buzz of the phone, the worry in our hearts, and the stress each day potentially brings. Perhaps that’s what our gecko friend is doing now.
Tomorrow we’ll look again. Up on ceilings, under couches, and on window sills. Maybe, just maybe he’ll be back home – after all, home should always be the safe place we share with those we love. Faith always leads us home.
Dig Deep: Go for a run with your dog today. They give us so much love!
Lenten Challenge: Pray to St. Francis for all the lost pets and their owners searching for them.
40 Reflections – #8: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season
I had a post started for today, but was redirected both physically and mentally toward what makes my every day complete. My children.
Bedtime in our home has become a sacred time. It is when the day’s silly moments, deepest questions, and emotional tribulations bubble up and I’m ready to listen.
When the kids were younger, there were questions after prayers. I would stand in the hallway like a professor at a podium and take all inquiries. “What are we doing tomorrow?”, “Will it be cold?”, “Should we play soccer or baseball first?”, “When does the pool open?”. “Can we make waffles in the morning?”.
Then the medical mysteries. Most days, thank God, our kids stay healthy aside from a few ‘must-have’ Band Aids. But at bedtime — BAM! The ailments roll in after the final Amen. “My arm/leg/knee/head/elbow hurts!”
In today’s unsettling world, our kid’s questions vary in topic: “Who will I eat lunch with on the first day of school?”, “Will the teacher understand if I didn’t annotate my bibliography?”, “Why is there so much drama with girls?”, “Will we travel for spring break?”, “Can you pick me up early from school?”. “Pleeeease?”
Then the recent doozies: “Why are kids being shot in their schools?” “Will that happen to us?” “Will I get in trouble if I walk out and protest against gun violence?”
Sometimes they give you just the bitter truth, “I’m scared”.
I consider bedtime my prime listening opportunity, because, quite frankly, I don’t have answers. Sure, I can console after a messy friendship issue, and confirm the weather will be warm enough for shorts, but when the queries are beyond anyone’s grasp at understanding, I kneel by their bedside one more time and we say an extra prayer for lives lost, families broken, and those kids in the world who feel so terribly alone.
Dig Deep: Pray a Rosary on your next run.
Lenten Challenge: Always take the time to listen to your children and those you love. They are reaching out for a reason.
Run on Moms and Friends and hug your loved ones.
40 Reflections – #7: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season
Trust comes in all forms
Not unlike any other morning in our home, today there was a kitchen debate. Some days it’s over who finished the jelly, who hasn’t made their lunch, or why(!) do we only have whole wheat flour to make pancakes? Today, the queries surrounded one particular gallon of milk.
Lately, our kids drink less milk, using it mainly for shakes and cereal, so our supply has been greater than our demand. As the lone, unopened gallon of milk was brought to the table, the sell-by date was announced, followed by “Uh-oh, the milk is old!” Not one to waste food, I pointed out the date was “just yesterday”, AND the milk was “not even open yet”. I instructed the kids to open it, and I’d give it the ‘ole mom whiff. After about 5 minutes of wrestling with the lid and seal, the milk was open. I smelled it, gave it the standard “it’s fiiiine” accompanied by a nonchalant hand wave. Still unconvinced, two of our children waited by the milk with trepidation. Their pause reminded me of when I would hear the “chk chk chk” of our pressure cooker as a kid, anticipating it to explode, scattering beans all over the kitchen – which never happened.
Meanwhile, one of our children who had caught maybe 50% of the “old milk” conversation had his cereal and was ready to eat. Never one to miss a meal, he poured his milk, said prayers, and filled his spoon. Poised over her brother, our daughter asked, “how is it?” “Does it taste okay?” Still chewing, he gave the milk a thumbs up. Sighs of relief were heard, and the milk would remain another day.
In the midst of all the arguing, yelling, and rolling eyes, brothers, and sisters have a tacit trust in each other. They trust their diaries won’t be read, the brownie they saved won’t be eaten, and the secret they confided will remain sacred. More importantly, they trust sour milk will be discovered by a loving brother, sparing them the gag and cringe.
This faith in one another, family, and God holds us together, weather be damned.
Disclosure: I too trust the milk is “fiiiine”, but why not make a really big batch of pudding and use it up? No waste, and I’ll clear the slate for a new debate tomorrow morning.
Dig Deep: Find out more about milk and Sell-by-Date here.
Lenten Prayer: Prayer for Trust
O Christ Jesus, when all is darkness and we feel our weakness and helplessness, give us the sense of Your presence, Your love, and Your strength. Help us to have perfect trust in Your protecting love and strengthening power, so that nothing may frighten or worry us, for, living close to You, we shall see Your hand, Your purpose, Your will through all things.
(By St. Ignatius of Loyola, 1491-1556)
40 Reflections – #6: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season
Driving home today with our kids, in our new-to-us Buick, the phone rang and I answered pressing the accept button on the fancy screen thinking it was my husband. Instead of the happy hubby “Hello!”, I heard an all-business voice booming from the Bose speakers. “This is Sondra calling from the Mammogram Scheduling Center, I have an order here to schedule your next mammogram.” I could only imagine how many times this office had called over the last few months to schedule, but not recognizing the number, I let it go to voicemail.
So when this call came in (even though I had extra ears in the car) I knew I should proceed, as it would be absolutely foolish and irresponsible if I didn’t schedule. As the woman pressed further for verification of birthday, address, etc., I asked my technologically savvy son to try and switch the phone out of speaker mode to perhaps provide a little privacy, but there was no time.
The series of questions began – are you pregnant? Do you have breast implants? Any concerns about your breasts over the last few months? The questions continued and I had to giggle. My kids rarely watch PG-13 movies, yet they had just heard the word breast 39 times coupled with a full conversation about my breast health.
I continued to make the appointment, hollered out answers, the kids snickered, and life continued.
Always, always make your appointments even if you have an audience while scheduling.
Our lives are too important to our family and friends to overlook our health.
Early detection saves lives.
Dig Deep: Schedule your annual physical and mammogram today!
Lenten Challenge: Pray for those who do not have access to health care.
40 Reflections – #5: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season
PR is a running reference standing for personal record. In short, it is your own best performance in a given race. A PR serves as an internal motivator for the runner, pushing them toward increased efficiency and progress. Personally, my race PR peaked years ago. Today, as my finish times wax, my goal is to simply complete any given race without having to scour the course for a port-a-potty prior to the finish.
The beauty of the PR is the concept of beating your own time. Showing improvement, becoming better, faster, stronger. Before a race, I visualize myself running every mile with speedy, long, smooth, pain-free strides. Limping away from the crowd at the finish, I’m proud of myself, grateful its over, and pleased to have a conversation starter for the next week, “So, I ran a 10K…”.
The PR concept applies directly to our perceived self-worth.
As runners, we are natural competitors, with ourselves, and amid our fellow athletes. It’s always nice to know you ran a little faster than someone, as it gives you an extra zip in your stride. However, it can lead to the comparison and justification craze. This is the moment when you claim the only reason someone was faster than you, was because they were much younger, had fancier running shoes, or because ALL THEY DO is train.
As humans, we ping pong our minds trying to craft our passion in life.
On that journey, it is natural to compare how our plodding down life’s paths stacks up against the steps taken by our peers. Will they have a greater impact on the world? Are they healthier? Wealthier? Does all their stuff equate to happier days? Why does their PR seem so much better than our own?
There lies the challenge. Life’s PR doesn’t have a number. Our journey is not set up on a digital timer where we sprint to the finish knowing we’ll have another chance to run the same race. Time only goes one way; we get one shot at life. It’s up to us to leave our mark, perfect our personal narrative, pray more, compare less, and ultimately serve others.
Run on, moms and friends.
Dig Deep: Write down your goal time for your next race on the back of your race number and focus on pace throughout the run.
Lenten Prayer: “But as for that day or hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Mark 13:32
So many excuses to skip the workout.
NOW, only little time is required!
We all need to carve out a fraction of our day just for ourselves. Not only will it make us happier, but everyone around you will benefit from the fact that you exercised today!
Here are a couple scenarios that you may have experienced:
Situation: The school bus arrives in 15 minutes and you haven’t worked out.
Remedy: Pick one of the 5 No Excuse Workouts and GO!
Situation: You’re on hold with an insurance company, cable company, or doctor’s office,
Remedy: Set the phone on speaker and GO!
Situation: You’re toddler usually naps while you workout, but not today.
Remedy: Entertain your child/children while you do a 10-15 minute workout. They’ll love to join in!
#1 – 6 Rounds For Time: 10 Pushups, 10 Air Squats, 10 Sit-ups
#2 – 8 Rounds For Time: Handstand 30 seconds, 10 Squats
#3 – 10 Rounds For Time: 10 Walking Lunges, 10 Pushups
#4 – 10 Rounds For Time: 10 Pushups, 10 Sit ups, 10 Squats
#5 – 20 Rounds For Time: 5 Pushups, 5 Squats, 5 Sit-ups
#4 – On Vulnerability – Part 2: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season
When our children were younger, I would accompany them to birthday parties, playdates, practices, and other events and watch, wait, and chat with other parents. I loved connecting, it was like I would imagine Eharmony for parents. A time to find your tribe of trusted moms and dads, then ever-so-carefully pick a few who relate to your cheeky humor, and pray your kids and theirs were in the next room bonding over a juice box.
As our kids aged, I noticed parents would leave these events, and return at the “pick up time”. I always opted to stay, plopping down on the floor, cherishing my chats with the few other parents who would sit in their comfy cup holding canvas chairs (such a great invention). Sure, sometimes, I was the mom who brought a book/prop which other parents respectfully knew meant – whoever holds the book has just put themselves in a quiet, parental time out, a virtual “do not disturb sign”.
The kids got a little older and there was another shift. Either I grew more confident (or less patient waiting by myself) and would run while they practiced. As long as I was within a mom’s stone’s throw between them, I felt I could still get to them and perform CPR as needed. Of course, I’m always happy to get in a run, but I missed the parent-share conversations. The words exchanged between moms and dads that only the gap of time when our children are engaged with their friends allows.
Then one night, all three of our children had events simultaneously, and a tough moment ensued. Clearly, we had to pick our least favorite child, leave them at their designated practice and accompany the others.
Kidding. Our eldest was the default, and since some nights I was the lone mom hanging out for the two-hour stretch at swim practice anyway, I figured she’d be okay while I drove our son to baseball. As I drove away, of course thinking the worst, it was one of the few times I was grateful our daughter had a phone. Plus, at baseball, there were other helicopter parents like myself to share best practices, a clear bonus.
Our children’s activities, whether we realize it or not, give us a chance to pause and realize we’re not the only ones bouncing around blindly in this parenting pinball game. While our kids solidify their friendships at a birthday party or discover team sports and aggression are not in their design, we are given the opportunity through conversation to share ourselves with other parents.
I frequently feel the weight of parenting lightened as I walk with our children to the car, vindicated that I am not the only parent who:
- yells at my children and regrets it profoundly seconds after
- colors my gray roots at home out of a box
- curses at Siri when she doesn’t listen
- checks her daughter’s texts
- never checks pockets before washing the laundry
- considers cereal dinner
- takes apart the washing machine, finds the penny bonking around, and ends up with extra screws when reassembling
- stays up way too late listening to our children’s worries that only bubble up at bedtime
- wipes the tears from our children’s eyes, and our own when their hearts are broken
- prays our children will find their best friend
- forgets to pick up their child at school/practice/Bible Study
- delivers their child’s forgotten homework to school
- buys bras at Costco
- panics about working after 15 years of staying home with the kids
- clutches to their children – as someone who is way too young dies in a car accident, from a health complication, or God forbid — inside their school.
Allowing ourselves to be transparent, and invest in relationships will only make us better parents. It takes pluck to be vulnerable, but there is courage in the imperfect, strength in sharing, and certainty in the uncertain.
Dig Deep: Time your run, then challenge yourself to do the same run faster tomorrow.
Lenten Challenge: “Give feet to your faith”. Feed the hungry, pray for the sick, and share your grace with everyone who crosses your path.