Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Sacrifice: Opening Day and Good Friday

40 Reflections #38: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season

Good Friday

With Opening Day for Baseball Season occurring all over the country and Good Friday Services on its heels, I thought about sacrifice. Yours, mine, and God’s.

In that spirit, I asked our kids to think of a sacrifice they have made this past week.

  1. “Grades,” was the first response. “I did well on one test and sacrificed my grade on another.” My daughter also said that even though her swim meet was fun, she sacrificed study time.
  2. In baseball, our son said he sacrificed a fly ball for an RBI giving his team the lead in the game.
  3. Our middle guy said he has sacrificed mountain biking on the trails due to all the rain, which he added, is the right thing to do to keep up the trails.
  4. As parents, we sacrifice time, workouts, haircuts, and whatever it takes for our children. (I lied about workouts)
  5. As children (thank you sisters), we sacrifice our established lives, without qualms, to care for our aging parents. After all, they sacrificed more for us than we could ever imagine.

How many times in your life have you stepped away from an opportunity to allow someone else to enjoy a shot at glory? That’s sacrifice. When our boys sit through insanely long swim meets or dance recitals. That’s sacrifice. When our daughter reads the entire Babysitter Club Series through baseball, lacrosse, and soccer games in the scorching heat. That’s sacrifice. Forgoing sleep to finish this blog. That’s sacrifice. You, taking the time to read this. That’s sacrifice. (thank you)

Jesus dying on the cross, that is the Ultimate Sacrifice.

Dig Deep: Let your body rest today, fast if you can, and drink lots of water.

Lenten Challenge: Make a list of sacrifices you have made in the last week.



Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

If only my emoji could be my driver’s license picture

40 Reflections #37: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season

The other day my son asked if he could design an emoji for me. I agreed and he followed me around the kitchen as if he were sketching me with his thumbs on a screen, like DaVinci with a data plan. Once he got to the hair selection, I glanced over at the App and saw a cute, sassy haircut which looked fabulous on the emoji. Feeling like I should have a voice in the process, I submitted my request for the attractive haircut and reminded him in the right lighting my eyes are a sparkly hazel. He continued with facial features such as “face lines” (only 2!), ear size (“pretty normal, mama”), body type (he went with a small frame…smart boy) and a sporty outfit.

Within the parameters of the emoji menu, my human appearance was complete, although I’m still unsure why my head is so large. I (my emoji) looked so darn cute. Why couldn’t I use this for my next driver’s license picture? A genius idea!

When I researched the word emoji, I found Vyvyan Evans, a cognitive linguist, “studying emoji entails exploring everything from the nature of communication to the evolutionary origins of language to how meaning arises in the human mind. As he writes in his compelling new book The Emoji Code, far from being a fad, emojis reflect fundamental elements of communication; and in turn, this all shines a light on what it means to be human”. In plain speak, it’s an animated Scooby-Doo character version of ourselves with expression and text bubbles.

As humans, I often wonder if we are hardwired to focus on our flaws, eventually causing ancillary anxiety in our lives. Many of us peer in the mirror and see what others don’t: wrinkles, mystery spots, unkempt eyebrows, and bags under the eyes large enough to use at Costco. Choosing our eye and hair color and switching the style of our skinny jeans with one click is not an option. God gave us our individual attributes, and like they say in the south, we “get what we get and we don’t pitch a fit”. One bonus is we can shell out five dollars for a box of hair dye and tweak God’s formula just a touch.

I finally sat down for my cup of tea tonight, and dangling from the bag was this:IMG_6695 So very true. With all the insecurities and worries trying to sabotage opinions of ourselves, we are bound to stay the course and love who we are both inside and out.

After my son completed my emoji, I peered into my own semi-hazel eyes and decided my reflection is something I cherish, even with all its wrinkles and gray hairs. Nevertheless, I think I’ll take the picture of my emoji into my hair stylist and see if she can replicate it, then I’m going to renew my driver’s license.

Dig Deep: Listen to the next Best Lent Ever  video and hold a plank for the duration.

Lenten Challenge: Go through the readings for the Tridium, discuss with your family, and mentally prepare your children for the profound Saturday mass.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Little Leaguers lean on each other “Come on kid!”

40 Reflections #36: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season

All the stars were aligned for a baseball game tonight. The weather was ideal, the parking lot was nearly empty and unriddled with invented parking spaces, parents had their multi-cup-holding chairs set up, and the kids were spirited and ready.

While standing behind the backstop, I spoke to an elderly woman who said, “Oh, that must be your son.” Perhaps she heard me shout things like, “wait for your pitch, good cut,” you get the idea. Or maybe it was because I had a camera pointed directly at him. “Yes, it is” I responded. “My grandson is next to bat” she continued. We chatted further about how fortunate she feels to be able to watch the games and see her grandson. I added how I love hanging out near the dugout where I can hear conversations boys have about pitchers, snacks, and “lit” pro players. She said she wondered if the kids enjoyed the games as much as we did.

While we sat, we could hear one player in the dugout bellowing out textbook baseball chatter, “Come on kid, you’ve got this, you’re going to do great kid, wait for your pitch kid.” The encouragement was nonstop and straight from the heart. The same player hollered inspirational words from center field to my son as he pitched. The other boys began the chanting also, and suddenly it was as if the players were virtually boosting each other on their shoulders with positive baseball jargon. As the game went on, there were errors, strikeouts, base hits, doubles, and fly balls. But with each play, the sentiment remained positive, and I couldn’t help but think the credit should go to the cheering player whose curly-hair held his cap high on his head, much like his enthusiasm.

At the bottom of the last inning, I walked over to say goodbye to the sweet grandmother, and as a base hit brought our team ahead by three points, she admitted, “I can’t believe I get butterflies like the boys.” “Me too.” I agreed, telling her my heart rate also zooms when the excitement builds for anything my kids do. Before she rolled her wheelchair away, she smiled and said, “You know, we are both good moms.” “Thank you,” I replied, touched I had my own cheerleader. After all, moms need to raise each other up as well.

Honestly, the best part of baseball is watching the boys put their thoughts aside, play ball, endure each run and out, and lean on each other for support. Personally, I wish the curly-headed player would yell out to me each morning, “Come on kid, we can do this life thing kid, we got this kid!!”

Dig Deep: Especially when you get to the point of mental fatigue, keep your thoughts positive and do a steady state exercise (walk, run, swim, etc.) for at least 20 minutes.

Lenten Challenge: Model optimism with your families. Pray for positive words to lead you in conversation.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

I worry.

Updated: October 22, 2019

40 Reflections #35: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season

Throughout this Lenten Season I’ve listened to Dynamic Catholic, a daily epistle filled with valuable lessons. A recent reflection titled, Why Worry?, echoed a discussion I had with my daughter relating to the common stressors of being a teenager: driving permits, GPA’s, friends, homework, finishing a race after crashing on your mountain bike, missing a ground ball in baseball, choosing homework over swim practice, projects, tests, loneliness, having a car, dating, not dating, college…the challenge, we agreed, lies in separating the worries we can control from those we must simply let go.

If only it were that easy. My worry pattern goes like this…

As a young mother,

I worried I wasn’t playing with our kids enough. Of course in my mom-mind, this absence of parental-child time would lead them to wading through the quicksand of depression someday. So when they were four, five and six years old, I decided I would devote 15 minutes of play with each child immediately after their naps. I was confident they would grow up reflecting fondly on the dedicated time we shared playing Candy Land, trains or dolls. I set my timer and play began!

My plan lasted about 3 minutes. Everyone awoke at the same time and all toys merged as Thomas the Train bulldozed down the Gumdrop Pass, while “doll”  swaddled in her blue and pink striped hospital blanket was laid down to nap smack in the middle of the Peppermint Forest.

Shockingly, my playtime schedule went a little better than my “let’s practice going to church during the week so we don’t look like a train wreck family every Sunday” idea. That story is for another day.

As a daughter,

I worry I don’t visit or call my parents enough. For years, Mom and Dad would traverse from the west to DC, Mexico, Luxembourg, you name it. Wherever their daughters lived, they visited…because “You do for family” as Dad always says. Now, for my octogenarian parents, traveling is not as easy, nor as frequent. So it’s my turn to  visit my loving folks. And call. Always call.

As a mom,

I will always worry about everything when it comes to our growing children. Over-scheduling, too much homework, not eating enough, too little sleep, sugar, phones, texts, mean girls, cyber yuckiness, the list Never. Ever. Ends.

So when I stumbled across this quote,

“We need to care less about whether our children are academically gifted and more about whether they sit with the lonely kid in the cafeteria.”

I first posted it on the wall in our bathroom (captive audience) for my kids to absorb.

Then, I bent it around my mind and refocused my worry lens on serving others. I asked my youngest son, “Do you ever see anyone sitting alone in the cafeteria?” Knowing where I was going with this (plus he had just exited the bathroom), he said, “No, but if I did, I wouldn’t be able to sit with them because we have to stay with our classes.” I pressed, “but if you could move, would you?” “Yes, Mama, I would”. Did I bait him up? Sure. Did he say the right thing? Yes. Would he really do it? Given the fact that our kids have always hated any sort of oppression against their peers, and can spot sadness, effortlessly (I might wear my emotions on my sleeve). Yes, I truly believe he would pack up his Goldfish and banana, ask to move to another table (Cahill’s despise getting in trouble at school), plop down next to his new/lonely/lost friend and rattle on about baseball.

My point?

Perhaps by stifling our own worries about outcomes and status quo, we can transform our restless energy into kindness toward the people who so desperately need to be uplifted, supported or simply want to share a bag of Goldfish during lunch.

Dig Deep: On your run today clear your mind of worry.

Today’s Challenge: Say and dissect the Serenity Prayer –

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Palm “Calm” Sunday

40 Reflections #34:

40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season

When the children were younger, for one hour per week at church, we longed to be that family. You’ve seen them. The family with the brood of children who sit with their missals in their laps, following the words of the readings with their fingers, answering the priest’s questions with “Genesis!” or “Luke – Chapter 12!” during the children’s mass, or flawlessly singing all the high notes of”How Great Thou Art”. During the mass, they are referenced by onlooking parents who tell their own children “See they’re sitting” or “That boy doesn’t have his brother in a headlock”. Finally, upon their exit, they receive oodles of acclaim from elderly folks grateful for parents raising the next generation with respect and goodness in God’s House.

Unfortunately, even after putting our kids through practice/training type masses during the week when they were young (seemed so brilliant at the time), Sunday mornings remained drenched with whines, untouched missals, Matchbox Cars stashed in pockets, and little eyes staring up at us asking to be held. To this day, my husband and I sway involuntarily from side to side like palm trees in church, ready to hold any toddler needing a better view.

Enter: Palm Sunday.

Simply knowing Palm Sunday is on deck in the Easter Season brings me great solace. You see, even though the kids are older, there is still a restlessness during mass. As we enter the church we are greeted by our warmhearted Monsignor who bellows out in his Irish lilt, “The Cahill’s are here! Must be time to start mass!”. On that uplifting note, we make our way in, praying (already!) the usher doesn’t scoot us up to the front row. We sit, and as mass begins, there’s a lot of blaming, loud singing, correcting, and “not touching” that goes on in the pew, followed by my shushing, and my daughter’s re-shushing.

But Palm Sunday has something for everyone. Palms. Pliable, soft, fresh, green reeds begging to be manipulated into works of art. This is the Sunday for a long homily when Father can freely cover the highlights of the New Testament and even throw in a few biographies of some saints. Everyone is busy forming their humble cross tied in the middle with palm strings, and there is a feeling of calm throughout the church as we exit.

This Sunday, I vowed not to get too many palms because Mom and Dad taught us to take special care of them like you would a prayer card or rosary. So in that spirit, I placed our unused palms on the table in the narthex for the next fidgety parishioners.

As we climbed in the car, my youngest son said, “Mama, look what I found on a pew on the way out!” He passed me a handful of palms. “Oh great” I lied, “Let’s google how to make a basket when we get home.”

Beginning a basket…

Dig Deep: During Holy Week set your prayer and running intentions each morning and see them through.

Lenten Challenge: Take time for others this week. Give praise, compliments, and love to all who cross your path.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Swimming in the desert?

40 Reflections #33: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season

God doled out just enough water in the Rio Grande to call it a river, so growing up in New Mexico, a land-locked state, there was one activity we rarely did in my hometown. Swim. There was never a lake down the street or a pool next door. My most vivid swimming memory involves a big, bag of sour cherry candy mom would let us purchase after our swim lessons. The tanginess would help me forget about how terrified I was of deep water and make the whole day better. Another recollection was at a 4-H party when I thought how cool it would be to touch the bottom of the swimming pool. I instantly learned this is a much better idea if you actually know how to swim.

Since I wasn’t a great swimmer in my younger years, I had a do-over when I was older. Much older. In fact, I was home one summer during college, and decided to take lessons. As the first class began, I glanced in the next lane and holding onto the side of the pool was my friend Thad from high school. Implicitly, we exchanged the “I can’t believe it’s come to this” look, and proceeded to kick as we clung to the side of the pool in our beloved state surrounded by not one drop of water.

A few years back when we were looking for homes in the Atlanta area, the realtor repeatedly asked us if we wanted to live in a swim-tennis neighborhood. “No, we’re fine.” we would respond, flippantly. As our two-day search continued, we noticed 90% of the communities we visited were outfitted with the southern compound word that is swimtennis. As it turns out, we couldn’t be happier to have a pool and a court around the corner. Given my limited pool experience, I was determined to teach the kids to swim. Nowadays, most kids start their pool experience on summer swim teams. We simply taught them the basics, nothing technical.

The swim team idea never crossed our minds until our daughter decided to stop dancing at thirteen. At that point we did the “oh my gosh what will she do” panic so many parents recognize. That summer, we signed all of our kids up for summer swim. Such a brilliant concept and the best bang for your buck! Practice every day and you learn it all. Six or under is the average age to begin this summer swim career, so our children were at a SLIGHT disadvantage, at 11, 12, and 13. But they did it, thanks to a kind college student named Lucy who took them under her wing and guided them through the warm-ups, strokes, and meets.

Despite the chatter of the never-ending, all night swim meets, they turned out to be a great destination once a week. The hum of the crowd, splashing water, kids rooting for each other, Sharpie laden arms listing their events, and the excitement of winning, or not, filled the evenings. Two summers later and we have one out of three children in year-round swim. Like any transition for a teenager, it was lousy just before it got better, but today, she butterflies next to those kids who started right after diapers, and is just as strong. In her case, determination thwarts experience.

We want our children to excel and try it all: band, sports, music, languages, even swim. Ultimately, we yearn for them to have their “thing”… any spark in their day that brings them comfort and a sense of purpose.

Dig Deep: Try cross-training. Diversify your workout to keep your muscles guessing what’s next.

Lenten Challenge:  Your child will follow your example, not your advice. Be the example.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Body and Soul – keep them strong

40 Reflections #32: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season

Nearly every night my son and I read out of a book titled, “365 Days to Knowing God for Guys”. The book was a gift from his Catechism teachers a few years ago. This is our second time through. Tonight’s lesson brought my three favorite subjects together: family, faith and fitness. It was a brief statement about our bodies need for nutritious fuel and not junk food. It reminded me of the carefree philosophy I employed in my 20’s when I was logging numerous miles per day (numerous means greater than or equal to four).

My logic was run to eat. I love food. Spicy, sweet, savory, bread, tortillas, burnt tortillas, more bread, all of it. So in my younger years, when eating out was ALWAYS an option, I would enjoy the delicious cuisine Washington, DC had to offer, and ‘run it all off’ (ha!) the next day. Ahh, a clean slate. Now, a teeny-tiny bit older, I’ve learned I truly need to eat to run. Healthy, clean food has a way of ensuring a smooth, run. It’s the one thing I can control as my body creaks like Oz’s Tin Man, but shorter, and with more heart.

The “365” book states: “Have you ever thought about the fact that your heart and soul are the same…to be able to stand strong for God you’ve got to feed your soul healthy food, and that comes from God’s Word…”.

Respecting our bodies through exercise and our souls with prayer will indeed frame our lives with a healthy scaffolding to support us emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

Time to sleep so we can make it to our daughter’s swim meet. Sometimes I wish the body and soul balance would happen a little later than 6:00 am.

Dig Deep: Combine runs with rosary’s, strength training with sacrifice, and endurance with adoration.

Lenten Challenge: How will you spend your Holy Week? Incorporate more prayer? Fast each day? Who will you pray for? Think about it today.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Go ahead, Wonder.

40 Reflections #31: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season

When I first met my sweet husband, I never wondered. I may have ‘mused’, or ‘imagined’, even ‘guessed’. Maybe I ‘bet’ things were going to happen. But my hubby? He wondered. About everything.

“I wonder if it will rain…I wonder where I put my wallet…I wonder if I threw it out…I wonder why the dogs are barking again(!). Sometimes he’s “wondering if”. “I’m wondering if the kids heard me the first 12 times I called…I’m wondering if any homework is being completed on those devices.” Don’t we all.

It didn’t take me long to begin my own line of wondering. I wonder if the papers left on our kitchen island need to be in someone’s backpack, or if the trumpet I tripped over should be at school buzzing the theme to Star Wars. I cautiously wonder if our daughter should get her driver’s permit, or if the eight hours our kids spend in school have instances of laughter woven in between the stress, and I wonder if traffic surrounding my husband on his commute home will be texting and rushed, or calm and sensible.

To wonder is a basic curiosity, a question, or speculation. I read the novel “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio to our kids a few years ago, and embraced each character as they traversed through their lives with the main character, Auggie Pullman, a boy born with a genetic, facial abnormality. The story holds our hand as we plod through the emotionally draining days with Auggie. Many of his feelings mirroring our own to a degree, as he experiences the exhaustion of bullies, the warmth of friends, and the solace of family.

About five minutes into the movie, “Wonder” I cried and didn’t stop until my eyes puffed out so much I looked like I may have won the fight I was in. The story celebrated differences, visited sacrifice and friendship, touched on caring, feeling different, faith in humanity, disconnecting and reconnecting, finding the amazing in our children, accepting others, changing the way we see each other, and honoring quiet strength. Please see this movie. You will be a better person for doing so.

Maybe I have always wondered. I certainly wondered if I would ever marry a great guy, and I did. Time to look for my keys, I’m wondering if I threw them out.

Dig Deep: Don’t wonder if you’re going to run, exercise, or take time for yourself, do it!

Lenten Challenge:

A person with wonder and awe knows that God is the perfection of all we desire: perfect knowledge, perfect goodness, perfect power, and perfect love. ~THE SEVEN GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT


Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Saying No to One Thing Means Saying Yes to Another

40 Reflections #30: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season

Every night about this time (9:45-10:00 pm) our children are finally in bed. One tucked in with her Geometry homework blanketed over her, another listening to any sports event available on the radio, and finally our Rumpelstiltskin, engineering products upstairs and tossing them over the ledge to the living room upon completion for our review. This is also the time I sit down to write my Lenten Blog which has become a cathartic part of my day.

Within the last few months, I’ve heard this maxim numerous times:

Saying No to One Thing Means Saying Yes to Another

Throughout the last 30 days of Lent, I’ve made the decision to say yes to something I had only contemplated while staying home with my brood, during PTA meetings, working various jobs, making dinner, while praying, and definitely during my runs. Clearly, I had not mastered saying no to the non-stop activities our lives bring, until Lent began. At that point, I made the lofty decision to say yes to sharing my words, my family, and my take on it all, for 40 days. However, yin must have yang, so I had to say no to a few things to balance the yes. NO to sleep (overrated), NO to watching too much news, NO to picking up the book I’ve been grazing through for the last month, and NO to few things I’m forgetting due to lack of sleep.

The No’s in our lives are prevalent. When teaching today, I told a PreK student to clean up the Legos, and in a hearty southern tone, I received a “No, Ma’am!”. Sounds nice-r, but unless the Legos were southern and dipped in charm, they aren’t going to clean themselves up. At home, we typically don’t receive core-driven, spoken “No’s” just the lack of action that speaks louder than the two-letter exclamation. The teeth that aren’t brushed (no), the clothes strewn on bedroom floors (no), or the unwashed pan sitting on the counter (no). As parents, it’s taxing to parse through the no’s and understand what our children are saying yes to…freedom…independence…control?

We’re all searching for a heli-pad for our yes’s to land on. Yes to more prayer, hugs, kindness, family time, humility, plain old goodness, and deep hearty laughter. I’m grateful I said yes to sharing my story. It really is worth every. single. yawn.

Dig Deep: Say no to over-volunteering and yes to taking care of yourself! Run!

Lenten Challenge: A great quote, below…

“Oh, my God. What if you wake up some day, and you’re 65 or 75, and you never got your novel or memoir written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools or oceans because your thighs were jiggly or you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.” ~ Anne Lamott

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Lost Tooth, Last Tooth: Part 2

40 Reflections #29:

40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season

Last Tooth – Braces Train

In an effort to help our daughter stay at a good braces pace (off before high school), it was recommended she have a few teeth pulled. When I say a few, I lie. Five teeth. Five! So nearly two years ago we had those teeth yanked and are STILL awaiting the arrival of the new dental dignitaries. Not an easy task when you’re 15.

One thing you should know about our daughter’s character is how it oozes with humility, wit, and just the right amount of fierce needed to reel in her brothers. Simply put, she is a good sport. Not only in the sense of someone who helps their teammate up after a tumble, but that person who has the rare ability to find humor and calm in the hand they were dealt, even if they don’t like playing cards. In her case it’s teeth that need time to grow. Good things do come to those who wait, but two years?

Not surprisingly, at our last appointment with the Orthodontist, she was handed a little yellow slip requesting one more tooth be pulled. I REALLY questioned the pull this time. They showed me where the new tooth was peeking out from behind the goner, so we decided to do it. Always trying to save money, our gal wiggled that tooth for two days straight. As stubborn as the rest, the tooth held strong, and we decided to go to the dentist, and have her LAST baby tooth pulled. No cute tooth necklace this time, just a little container I placed carefully in my purse for safekeeping. The end of an era.

In today’s world, going through orthodontia is as common as watching a DIY YouTube video to learn how to take apart the washing machine and find out what the heck is clanging around in there…maybe that’s just me.

Really, it’s rampant. In fact, at a recent dentist appointment, my husband was told he’d be a perfect candidate for Invisalign, the secret straighteners. After he was told the cost, and stopped laughing, he declined. We both agree there’s a point in life when we’re just too old for some things. So far braces and hoover boards are at the top of the list.

Dig Deep: Happy First Day of Spring! Spend some time gardening and prep the ground for planting yummy vegetables.

Lenten Challenge: Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.