Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Honoring Women every day…

Lenten Reflections #36

On this last night of Women’s History Month, let’s continue to honor women not just for a month…but always.

There is one thing my mom always told my sisters and me: “learn as much as you can…because nobody can take away your education”. In fact, she just told our son that today on Face Time. Mom always wanted to make sure we were able to take care of ourselves, have a career and be independent. Dad wanted the same, he just hoped we would all be independent and live on the same street.

Here is a compilation of some of the best quotes out there from the most notable women!

“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” RBG

“Don’t be distracted by emotions like anger, envy, resentment. These just zap energy and waste time.” – RBG

“You can disagree without being disagreeable.” – RBG

“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.” – RBG

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” —Nora Ephron

“Don’t let anyone speak for you, and don’t rely on others to fight for you.” —Michelle Obama

“My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independent.” — Ruth Bader Ginsburg

“If you’re always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” – Maya Angelou

“There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice.” Michelle Obama

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” – Maya Angelou​

“I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same as ‘making a life.’” – Maya Angelou

“Buckle up, and know that it’s going to be a tremendous amount of work, but embrace it.” — Tory Burch, Fashion Designer

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt

“Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart” ― Eleanor Roosevelt

“You can often change your circumstances by changing your attitude” ― Eleanor Roosevelt

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt

On Faith and Fitness:

This Holy Week, take the time to meditate, breathe and say a decade of the Rossary.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness


Lenten Reflections #34

Whether you’re a teacher, parent, student, doctor, coach, or even a priest, you’ve Zoomed or did a Google classroom, or streamed.

Students in particular have downloaded new apps for studying or “helping” and tried to prepare for the right quiz, turn in the correct lab and ultimately press SUBMIT before it’s too late. 

In school – virtual and face to face, one thing that is different this year is leniency with due dates. It’s like somewhere in a COVID accommodation rule book that doesn’t really exist, but should, there is an unwritten understanding that since we’re all trying to make the best of this COVID Titanic we’re floating on, late submissions are okay.

Therefore the workload never stops. Kids are constantly submitting, teachers are forever grading.

But wait, there’s more:

Didn’t do well on a test? Luckily, remediation is also a  big 2021 buzz word in the education world. It’s essentially a glorified “Do-over”. 

Today I should have had a blog posted. I have 90 kind followers and missed my due date. I did not press PUBLISH. In fact until today, I hadn’t even started the blog…

…because last night was like most nights in this tricky (heavy on the -icky) new normal. Our kids stayed up late clicking, searching, taking pictures of assignments, videotaping presentations or scales for the trumpet or saxophone, attaching labs, and ultimately stressing——–because——- it’s a lot. 

IT IS A LOT and we are ALL TIRED. FRUSTRATED, and over it. I’ll bet you are too.

Back to my excuse reason, for not blogging:

Last night, after my youngest finally clicked SUBMIT (I hope) for his Biology Lab, Algebra assignment, and studied for his quiz, he plopped down on an over-sized chair with a fluffy after-Christmas-sale pillow and a cozy blanket. It was 11:30. My blogging time is always after 11…because that’s when the lights are out upstairs, country/pop/music, or white noise is humming and everyone is typically in bed…even the dogs. So now I had company, my sleepy son. I flipped on the TV and we started watching an episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond” which I think is hysterical. 

My son and I watched Raymond’s family antics, laughed out loud and within minutes,

FELL ASLEEP! Until 4:30! Thankfully it was not a baseball workout morning since 4:30 is the time he usually gets up to get ready.

Gee Whiz. I slept through my blogging time. I didn’t press PUBLISH. 

So I asked for grace. And here I sit. Ready to click PUBLISH.

On Faith and Fitness:

Say your prayers before bed every night and get as much sleep as you can! You’ll be grateful you did!

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Passover and the bitter reminder at Seder

Today marks the first day of Passover, a day when families gather around tables to retell stories, share food and pass on traditions that mean so much to so many.

On this night, the youngest member of a Jewish family asks four questions at the Passover Seder meal. “Why is this night different from all other nights?” is one of the four and the answer is shared:

Traditionally, the story of the Exodus out of Egypt when God “passed over” the Israelite homes. “As the story goes, during the tenth and final plague, God passes through the land of Egypt and strikes down the firstborn of every household. But the Jews have been told to mark their doors with the blood of a lamb they’ve sacrificed — the Passover offering — and so God “passes over” their homes. Jews give thanks for being “passed over” and protected from the plagues: it’s a reminder that even when Jews are oppressed, the Bible teaches that they are a chosen people and will survive.” (NPR)

Listening to NPR this morning on a drive into Atlanta, I heard a remarkable story about horseradish and Passover.

Horseradish sits on several Seder tables for the start of Passover, “symbolizing the bitterness ancient Hebrews experienced during slavery in Egypt. It’s part of the participatory ritual that is the Seder — something people do, and eat, and ask, to bring the past to life at the table.The Hebrew word for bitter herb, maror, comes from the same linguistic root of the word that’s used to describe how Egyptians “embittered” the lives of the people they enslaved. And by eating it, participants are supposed to feel that hardship.”

I would imagine we all have a bitterness in our mouths after the year we’ve had. A bitterness that neither sorbet nor even Colgate will take away.

But the Seder plate will have that bitter herb or root to symbolize the harshness Jews were treated with when they were slaves in Egypt. Slaves. That is so sad, wrong and as bitter as it gets.

The sting of the horseradish while grating, cutting, and eating is a connection to the feelings generations have felt…a sting that lives in the hearts of all who celebrate Passover.

“Rituals change as the people who make them change. From lettuce to horseradish. Ancient Hebrews to 21st century Americans. Lockdown to normal life. And as Jews taste whatever bitter symbols are on their Seder plates tonight, they’ll feel something. It could be the full weight of this past year, the sharpness of the grief. Or it could be the fresh shoots of freedom, and the spring that’s just starting to emerge.” (NPR)

On Faith and Fitness:

Pray for all celebrating Passover and please move your body today! Give lots of hugs with your immunized friends and family. I read somewhere we all need at least eight hugs a day.

Go get ’em!

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

“Today is the day!”

Lenten Reflections #33

The brightest eyes and 4-year-old spirit sprung out of her grandparent’s leather-seated Toyota this morning during carpool. “Today is the day! Today is the day!” She bellowed.

I reached in and pulled up the handles of her blue canvas tote bag, where a tiny umbrella, water bottle and a pet rock peaked out. Her sky blue eyes locked with mine and said it one more time, this time with a clear crescendo,

“Today is the day! I’m a big sister…I HAD A BABY!”

She wiggled and giggled happily as I strapped her bag over her shoulder, closed the car door and said goodbye. She yelled out, “!Adios, Señora!

I saw her curly ponytail bounce down the walkway grabbing the shirttail of every teacher to let them know that “Today was the day!”

I thought back to when our youngest was born. His brother (2) and sister (3) arrived at the hospital with my husband that afternoon, the greeting by our son seemed to give his baby brother a cool toddler “What’s up?” nod, then was off to see how many things he could wrap the hospital phone cord around. Big sister, on the other hand looked right at him then straight into my eyes and asked, “So when is my sister coming?”

Gee whiz. Hours of labor, and my three-year-old daughter is scouring the place for a receipt.

Over the years, the relationship between our kids has ebbed and flowed. Flowing when they were younger, building forts and playing matchbox cars/barbies; and ebbing lately as they attend virtual school together, make lunches on the same counter top and walk the dogs opposite directions because “he walks so slow!”

One of the most important requests I’ve had for my kids is “take care of each other”. That’s all I can hope for…and I pray they will.

As for the sweet little gal at carpool, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind she will take care of her sister. In fact, I think her older self would have finished her “Today is the day!” proclamation with “I will be the best big sister ever!”

On Faith and Fitness:

Take care of your siblings, cousins, and family. Best thing to do is go on a walk together, or better yet, go on a run like I do with my oldest sister!

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

One word to stop saying right now!


Lenten Reflections #32

Update 3/25/2021:

SHOULD – this word creeps into my mind a few times a day, but I intentionally try to avoid saying it. Instead, I tell myself, “Stay positive, do what you can, stop overanalyzing!

Honestly, I feel like the word “should” is “regrets” big bossy sister.

I’ve been thinking about the word SHOULD and all the undone tasks that follow that word. I SHOULD figure out a blogging schedule, I SHOULD learn more about growing my audience, I SHOULD work on my husband’s blog: Keeping Kids in Motion.

Ever wake up, glance at the clock, and say, “I SHOULD have gotten up earlier”? Only to follow it with I SHOULD have gone to the gym, prepped dinner, called my parents, run with the dogs, played with the kids, or checked the pockets for that pen before I tossed everything in the wash.

The “S” word is verifiably toxic, yet to avert our gaze away from what our lives would look like if we accomplished all of the SHOULDS is nearly impossible. Haven’t you marveled at the early birds who amble into work chatting about their early morning run, seamless commute, or the dinner menu they prepared for the month? Oh, and if you need the template, it’s on their blog.

When our minds harp on these unaccomplished actions, we sadly allow the only NOW we have to circle the drain.

Here are three ways to shake the SHOULD NARRATIVE:

  1. BE YOURSELF:  Change the lens through which you see yourself, and celebrate who you are and where you are today.
  2. ACCEPT AND ALLOW:  Your reality may be vacant of the plans you slated for your self-years ago, but by clutching onto the people we love, our “SHOULD HAVE” world dissipates. Some say, “Let go, Let God” it’s worth a shot.
  3. SET YOUR INTENTIONS: Our deepest hopes are shaped by our intentions. Step out of the noise, serve others, find your passion, and share it!

As I finish this post I think about how I SHOULD have gone to bed earlier, cleaned the toilets, emptied the dishwasher, and bathed the dogs, but this time I’m going to “Let go and let God.”

P.S.:  Dear God, the bowls go in the cupboard on the left.

On faith and fitness:

Go for the walk or run, then call someone you love.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

How dogs heal us…

One year ago, we packed up our classrooms, cubicles, or offices, went home and thought everything would be back to 2019 normal “in 2 weeks”. That was the magic number…2.  


Then, like rabbits multiplying, so did the days we were home. Teachers propped up white boards for virtual lessons in their kitchens, backyards, or closets. Parents set up offices on counter tops and beds. Kids from Pre-K to College Seniors bellied up to borrowed, personal or work computers, phones, or tablets.

One of the most notable changes in our home happened when all sports came to a screeching halt. Much like the lone tree in a forest falling, there is a definitely a sound when kids can’t play their sports. In fact, it can get really loud with frustration or actually really quiet as they delve into device mode…tik-tok-ing away.

Being an active family, we knew creativity was key. For weeks, our boys played a combination of baseball and tennis, where one practiced serving and the other would “field” the ball.

Our daughter powered through a zillion Peleton workouts thanks to their free trial.

My husband and I ran outside and were pleased to see a new crop of people walking their dogs, running or riding bikes.

But the happiest hearts beating in our home were our dogs. They were our go-to’s —

When we needed to make a phone call and gripe about all of it, we’d walk and talk.

If we needed a slice of solitude, we’d leash up.

If the kids needed a parental break, off they’d go, dogs in tow.

Typically, if we weren’t walking the dogs, I’d find one of our kids snuggling with them, head resting on their belly or chatting quietly. The realization is — in this big COVID collision we’re living and breathing, here’s what we are missing:


Connections with friends. Connections with families. Connections with colleagues. Connections with the guy at Trader Joe’s who always remembers I’m a runner and asks how my latest run was.

Connections are crucial for our mental and emotional health. Unfortunately during COVID, the bonds we so desperately need slip away each day. However, there’s one furry friend who can be the savior in all of this desperation for love.

According to a Japanese study reported by Science, dog owners experienced a 300 percent increase in Oxycontin (the happy hormone) levels after interacting with their dogs and gazing into their eyes for only 30 minutes.


Gaze into those eyes for happiness

I have always found that once I can stare directly into my dog’s eyes, mutual trust is understood.

So I did some research and found that during that locked gaze is when the oxytocin flows. According to a study in Science Magazine, scientists noted there was no notable increase in the dogs and owners oxytocin levels who had spent minimal time looking into each other’s eyes.

Oxytocin is a hormone that plays a powerful part in the bonding, trust and altruism between a mother and her infant. It’s so powerful, in fact, that it is often called “the love hormone.” Like the Japanese study found with dogs, oxytocin is released at its greatest levels between a mother and baby when the two gaze into each other’s eyes.


Domestication of dogs makes sense when you begin to follow their keen sense of interaction with owners.

“It’s not just the walks and the Frisbee catching; canines seem to understand us in a way that no other animal does. Point at an object, for example, and a dog will look at where you’re pointing—an intuitive reading of our intentions (“I’m trying to show you something”) that confounds our closest relatives: chimpanzees. People and dogs also look into each other’s eyes while interacting—a sign of understanding and affection that dogs’ closest relatives, wolves, interpret as hostility.”

Now that school is in session and our kids are virtual or face to face depending on the situation… the walking has waned, but the snuggling is on the rise every day.

On faith and fitness: Walk your dog or your neighbor’s dog…think about the word dog spelled backwards… 🙂

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

React or Respond?

Lenten Reflections #30

I love NPR, but some mornings on the way to work I listen to podcasts. Some are about self-care, organization, or ultra-athletes. Others chip away at answers about parenting, teenagers, or DIY hacks. Every now and then I’ll listen to whatever Google picks for me, because we all know Google knows us better than most.

One morning I got hooked on a podcast (per Google) about the art of breathing. Seems simple right? Inhale, exhale.

The interview I listened to was with Dr. Andrew Huberman who is a neuroscientist and professor at the Department of Neurobiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Huberman has developed what I call a ‘breathing bento box’ of exercises.

Huberman says with these breathing techniques, the brain and the nervous system can buddy up and help us manage our emotional stress. Although the reason for our stress has changed over the years, (thanks 2020!), our responses and reactions have remained the same.

When I look back on my knee-jerk reactions now, I realize I should have just taken a breath. 

—Fred Durst, Limp Bizkit

Reacting and responding are like heads and tails on a nickle, same shape and weight but appear very different.

Reacting is quick and mentally driven. Reactions occur when a stimulus or event sticks its foot out and trips us causing physical or emotional actions to follow. Do we fight or flee? Freeze or scream? When we react, our unconscious mind takes over and many times leads to regret later.

On the other hand, a response is slow and crafty. It uses data from the conscious and unconscious mind and often results in a morally logical solution. A response looks at the big picture, considers everyone’s feelings and aligns with your core values.

The ability to respond to stressful situations 100% of the time is impossible. As humans, we have natural reactions when we feel hurt or threatened. In an effort to move toward more mindful and calm responses, here are a few breathing techniques Dr. Huberman suggests:

The Extended Sigh **HIGHLY RECOMMENDED**
Double Inhale then Exhale. Do this – Inhale, then inhale again, then exhale with your nose or mouth and empty all of the air.
Do it a few times or more. This will help calm your body and mind give you added alertness.

Nasal Breathing:

This allows you to get rid of carbon dioxide and enhances memory and learning. In moments of stress, push the carbon dioxide out by taking a long exhale (nasal exhales are even better). Correctly managing carbon dioxide will minimize our stress responses.

Box breathing:

Inhale for 3 seconds. Hold for 3 seconds. Exhale for 3 seconds. Hold breath for 3 seconds. This technique will help regulate the ratio of oxygen and carbon dioxide.

Our reaction or response to a situation is up to us. In the world today, we could use a lot more level-headed, calm, think-of-others approach to the way we do things. If you’re in a situation and you’re not feeling like you’ll make the right decision on how to react or respond, stop…breathe…and THEN decide which path you’ll traverse.

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.”

Hans Selye

On Faith and Fitness: Breeeeeath in fresh air outside today on a walk. Exhale.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Will you be the linchpin?

linchpin or locking pin

Step aside velcro, glue, duct tape and 3M strips, the linchpin is here to hold it all together with a wise and unique approach to work.

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, the definition of linchpin is

1: a locking pin inserted crosswise (as through the end of an axle or shaft) 2: one that serves to hold together parts or elements that exist or function as a unit.

Seth Godin defines a Linchpin as an employee in an organization who is indispensable. An employee who has crafted their job into a role that touts them as unique and valuable.

Lately, linchpins can be found in cubicles and classrooms – start-ups and Starbucks. They invent, connect people, lead, clear up chaos, and bring their own dance moves.

Will you be the linchpin? The cog? The compliant employee? The boss? Your own boss? Go with your gut, but do work that matters and do it well.

As Godin writes, “Every day I meet people who have so much to give but have been bullied enough or frightened enough to hold it back. It’s time to stop complying with the system and draw your own map. You have brilliance in you, your contribution is essential, and the art you create is precious. Only you can do it, and you must.”

On Faith and Fitness – Celebrate you. Build, play and dance.

Writer Neil Gaiman Quotes
Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Self Reliance

Lenten Reflection #28

Back in the 8th grade, our oldest son had an assignment to read Self Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson. We read and re-read, questioned, lost our way, circled back and finally landed like a bird on suet – dizzy from the flight, but well-nourished.

As I re-read Self-Reliance, I thought of the teenagers today. Home, at school, barely passing, ready to graduate, all just hoping to make it to May. Emerson’s words encourage a quest to find our best selves even when we feel like we are we are all flitting around like fire flies in a mason jar furiously bumping into walls, hoping our light still shines when we are released.

He says:

Be yourself; no base imitator of another, but your best self. There is something which you can do better than another. Listen to the inward voice and bravely obey that. Do the things at which you are great, not what you were never made for.”

Most teenagers are in a mad dash to figure out who they are, where they are going and who they should become. Their vernacular is peppered with words like non-binary and dismorphia, and phrases like “how I present” or “gender fluid”. The grammar behind pronouns is revisited, questioned and celebrated…”he/him, she/her, they/them”.

Emerson goes on to say,

Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”

Some days we are as misunderstood as a fitted sheet. Corners never fitting well because the sheet is horizontal when needing to be vertical and no matter how hard we tug and pull, it just doesn’t fit.

Isn’t being completely understood overrated? We scour our souls every day for the best version of ourselves and as long as we remain self-reliant, and strong, I’ll bet we’ll get there.

On Faith and Fitness:

Please plank for 30 seconds. It’s hard, but so worth it. Say a good prayer during the hold and then repeat 5 times.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

The olden days (last year)

Lenten Reflections #27

Yesterday was like the olden days (one year ago). My husband and I dashed home from work, went to our son’s tennis match, then to our youngest’s baseball game. Bottom of the third inning, I slid out, and picked up my daughter for her Senior “End-of-swim-season awards ceremony”. Three back-to-back activities, three talented and busy kids, and three groups of parents, grandparents, friends, and kids I hadn’t seen in months.

Following a full year of distancing, masking, virtual school and limited sports,

It felt like an oxygen mask had dropped down to resuscitate me as we swapped stories of our children’s triumphs and tumbles and our own precious and prickly moments. This ‘Parenting CPR’ rejuvenated my spirit after not seeing families I would typically laugh and commiserate with at least once per week.

Upon leaving the quick celebration, we took group photos where masked faces with young, bright eyes stared back at us full of emotional and physical exhaustion from home schooling and so much hope that their “olden days” would return sooner than later. We all gave brave side hugs, and said good night.

“See you at graduation!” said one Dad. Just a few more months and we’ll have made it through this.

E.L. Doctorow said once said that ‘Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’ You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice on writing, or life, I have ever heard.”

–Anne Lamott

On Faith and Fitness:

Perhaps placing our own oxygen masks on first will help us support others and help them find the breath they desperately need.