Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness, Parenting/Running/Pets, siblings

regret

It was the day I was working inside a 4th-grade classroom when the lead teacher was talking about emotions that I thought about the word regret. “It can be one of the most difficult emotions to experience,” she said. The nine-year-olds shared what they saw as regrets in their lives, so far. “I wish I would have talked to my grandfather more before he died,” said one wide-eyed boy. “I regret forgetting my dollar for ice cream day at lunch,” said another.

R-E-G-R-E-T. Six simple letters strung together to make up one of the trickiest feelings to well, FEEL. Some of our top regrets typically pertain to education, career, love, parenting, finance, health, spirituality and hobbies or lack thereof.

But alas, there are ways to avoid the sinking feeling clinging to regret.

  1.  Don’t story top. Listen first. Take the time to really hear the people you’re with and if the moment presents itself, take your turn. Many times when we think we’re listening, we’re really sifting through of our matching files poising ourselves to jump in and add to the conversation.
  2. Let your kids problem-solve. When the wrestling match is taking place on the living room floor or the study guide is left at home, give them time to come up with a solution before jumping in with yours. You’ll regret solving it for them.
  3. Avoid the green-eyed-monster. Stan and Jan Berenstain said it best in another of their lesson packed books, The Berenstain Bears and the Green-Eyed Monster 
    Sister tried really hard to be happy for Brother as he opened his gifts “…besides, she wasn’t interested in aluminum bats…anyway.” Comparing sparks regret. Don’t fall for it. Your car is good enough, your home is good enough and you are too. Celebrate you and yours.
  4. Take time for each other. This one is time-sensitive. So do it now.

The bottom line, feel good about your choices. I know some days we pour our buckets full of things we PRAY we’ll have the chutzpah to risk. It’s the other days when we hope all of our regrets are sitting in a bucket with a hole in it, dear Liza.

Here are some great thoughts by Brené Brown on regret that are worth sharing:

I’ve found regret to be one of the most powerful emotional reminders that change and growth are necessary. In fact, I’ve come to believe that regret is a kind of package deal: A function of empathy, it’s a call to courage and a path toward wisdom.

Like all emotions, regret can be used constructively or destructively, but the wholesale dismissal of regret is wrongheaded and dangerous. “No regrets” doesn’t mean living with courage, it means living without reflection.

To live without regret is to believe you have nothing to learn, no amends to make, and no opportunity to be braver with your life. I’m not suggesting that we have to live with regret, but I do think it’s important to allow ourselves to experience and feel it.

One of the truest things I’ve ever heard about regret came from George Saunders’s 2013 commencement address at Syracuse University. He said, “What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded . . . sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.”

 

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness, Parenting/Running/Pets, siblings

How do I use hashtags when blogging?

So I did a little research on “#” hashtags today. The main job of these four little lines # is not just the starting point for a tic-tac-toe game or the number/pound sign…

The hashtag # is just that, a tag to help a reader locate messages, blogs or tweets within a specific category.

Think of your journey through Publix Grocery Store. The cereal sign dangling at the end of the aisle leads you right to your Honey Nut Cheerios. The snacks and water sign ushers you over to the row full of pretzels and eight new types of soda water that forced yummy La Croix to the bottom row. It’s all set up to lead you to what you love.

Hashtags do the same thing. This user-generated system helps readers easily find messages with a specific theme or content, and serves as the ideal scaffolding to build your #tribe.

I must admit, by the time I finish my blog, I peek at the corner of the screen and see the Screen Shot 2020-01-16 at 8.36.06 PM.png button lingering in the corner and desperately want to click it.

BUT…in WordPress.com not .org (still researching the difference between the two, I’m such a rookie) there’s a little section on the side that looks like this:Screen Shot 2020-01-16 at 8.43.51 PM.png

and prior to clicking PUBLISH, the “Tags” section should be filled with hashtags that connect with what you are writing. Lately, I’ve been making up my own which is fun, but evidently, after my hashtag study, there’s a system.

Here’s what I learned, so far:

  1. Your hashtag should make sense. If it’s not an organic fit, it won’t reach your people and isn’t that the goal?
  2. Invoke curiosity. We’re all creators in this space and when our interest is piqued, intellect and happiness follow.
  3. Make it simple and memorable. 
  4. Do your homework. When connecting with your community find out what hashtags are already out there.

The bottom line, I’m still learning and growing as a #blogger and #writer. But I’m confident that #practice will help me #succeed. As #exhausting #blogging can be, I hope to build a little #tribe that enjoys #runonmom.com and sharing #ourstories. 

One more lesson:

5. DONT’ OVER HASHTAG!

Obviously, I’m still learning and my knowledge will evolve as I grow as a blogger. For now, in the words of Dorie, I’ll “just keep swimming”. 

Need more information? Here are some resources:

According to The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Hashtags for 2020, “Hashtags are essentially Instagram’s sorting process. With around 95 million photos posted on Instagram every day, it’s difficult for Instagram to efficiently deliver the right content to the right people. Hashtags help your post get discovered by viewers most interested in seeing it.”

In this link, The 500 Best Instagram Hashtags For Bloggers, lyricalhost.com generously gives lists of the best hashtags for your specific audience. “Where possible, hashtags are grouped in batches of thirty related ones so you can just copy and paste them, but of course you’re welcome to mix and match them too.”

 

 

 

Posted in siblings

Are 24 photos enough?

While on the phone with Apple Support yesterday, I went through my photo library trying to clean up the duplicates, blurry shots and long movie clips I accidentally took when I thought I was taking a photo.

I thought back to the point and shoot days when we had rolls of film with 24 photos. Only 24 opportunities to take a great shot.

On the other hand, we also had 24 chances to put our finger over the lens or forget to use a flash. The film had to be loaded correctly as to not expose it, and after the 24 pictures were taken, the film was placed in a little cylinder and dropped off at the photo store.

Then…we waited.

Film development used to take a few days and sometimes even a week until you saw your 24 treasures. When you got the call letting you know they were ready (this is when we actually picked up the phone to see who was calling) you took your perforated return ticket ripped off from the film envelope, picked up your pictures, sorted, tossed and placed the good ones in an album or shoebox to save.

Then times changed. Without even asking.

This is the typical photo protocol:

  1. take as many as possible
  2. look at them quickly
  3. plant them in a cloud

Maybe there are some people with great systems for sorting and organizing, but it’s not me…yet.

I have FODP – Fear of Deleting Photos.

When I’m clicking through the pictures of my kids when they were young, I’m transported right back to that point and time. Like the moment our kids all jumped in the pool for the first time together and couldn’t stop giggling with pride. Or the moment Zavier was covered with red Georgia clay after stealing a base, then found my eyes and waved, click!

After a long phone call, the Apple support guy seemed to wish we were back in the point and shoot days also. Yes, the magic number 24 seems to make sense now. It’s simple, once you take your 24 pictures, it’s time to set the camera down and enjoy the moment. I’m going to give it a try.

 

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness, Parenting/Running/Pets, siblings

Once the teenage years hit, there’s no pause button

It wasn’t long ago when I could still pick up Zavier, our youngest. He’d nestle his head in the cozy crook of my neck and we’d sway back and forth savoring the moment.

Then one sunny day after picking him up from baseball practice, I looked into the rearview mirror and there it was…adolescence.

Oh, you’ll know it when you see it.

It looks a lot like the top of a teenager’s head. Yes, all I could see in that little rectangular reflection was a blue screen shining up at my son’s face and the curved top of a baseball cap.

Where was my little guy who would yell out the make and model of every car that passed and guessed how long it would take for every light to turn green? Why wasn’t he singing loudly or recounting his practice play by play?

He was changing by the minute. One second we’re holding hands coming from the bus stop talking about recess triumphs and the next he can’t wait to start weight lifting class and drive to high school with his brother and sister. Ugh.

Honestly, Zavier is a teenager who is quite independent. But he’s still just a kid. I mean, out of habit (and my keen sense of smell), I still have to remind him showering is not optional. And like a broken record, I futilely encourage flossing and turning clothes right side out. Luckily his love of play supersedes all. He still asks me to be his quarterback, play Yahtzee and read together…I’ll hold onto those moments as long as possible.

Yet time just ticks by without even asking. So as I file the snuggly moments away in my heart, I remind myself to make every minute count. Zavier and I may see nose to nose now, but I still get my hugs — that’s usually when I whisper…”time to shower”. 

Here’s a great blurb I found from The Center for Resilient Leadership. I love the way it describes adolescence:

Adolescence is a period of transformation, not unlike a chrysalis changing into a butterfly. If you have never seen this process, it can be painstakingly difficult to watch. The butterfly gradually breaks free of his cocoon, pulling and pushing, stretching and contracting for what seems like an eternity before he finally emerges. If a benevolent onlooker decides to help the process along, the butterfly will likely die, because it is only through the struggle of metamorphosis that he gains the strength to survive on his own.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness, Parenting/Running/Pets, siblings

Goodbye Carpool Line…

When you’re a mom, job security is still a thing.

A few years ago, I worked in a Pre-K Special Needs Classroom with one of my favorite people in the world, Debbie. When daylight savings time came around, she teased that she was the ONLY one who knew how to accurately adjust the time on the classroom clock. “Job Security” she declared, hoisting herself on a chair to take down the clock.

So when my two oldest kids drove off to school in our “new to us” car, I saw a bit of my mom-job security circle the drain. No need to take them in early or pick them up after meetings. IMG_1115.jpegThe “always late” bus complaints will be a thing of the past. Here’s the bus today…guess they’re right.

Wait, should they be out there on their own? I’ve heard discussions both ways…there are those parents who are SO excited to have their kids drive themselves to school, practice and “to the store for milk”.

Not me.

Since the get-go, I’ve been the mom who lugged everyone everywhere…storytime, grocery store, soccer. Outings just made the day better. On our drives to elementary school, we built our stories. There’s the time I accidentally rolled over a rabbit and told the kids, “Yup, missed it!”

Sorry.

Or during morning prayers when we’d say, “Good morning sweet Jesus our Savior…” and our young Zavier would laugh and laugh thinking we were praying to him.

Even now that the kids are older, I relish our time in the car.

Fine.

I despise the arguing, poking, seat adjusting, music changing craziness that goes on, but the conversations can be pretty good, the singing mostly on key, and the stress level relatively low…since I’m at the helm.

Over the years, I’ve discovered change truly is our only constant and it’s up to me to loosen my hold and afford them the chance to share their experiences with each other.

Wow, those words really sound better than they feel.

Naturally, I worry as I stare at the bouncy faces I see on the Life 360 App zooming down roads, and I am crazy stressed about the late-to-work-speeders, moms-on-the-phone, and texting-teens circling them like sharks. But now it’s their responsibility to figure out the best time to leave in the morning. It’s their turn to find the most strategical place to park to avoid long carpool lines, and most certainly their turn to watch the gas gauge closely.

As I stand on the other side of the driver’s door in the morning, I give Cora the international “roll the window down” sign by moving my fist in small circles. I kiss her again on the forehead, reminding her to be careful and to let me know when they arrive. “If you need anything, just call.” They drive away and I feel anxious and proud like I’ve just handed them the keys to a Nissan and the world.

This is the cross-country course of parenthood. Full of roots to stumble on, downhills to relish and inclines to power through. I suppose if there were operating instructions for  kids they would say:

  • care and coddle when they are young,
  • provide a cozy, loving chrysalis as they grow, and
  • eventually, release them and let them fly — THE SPEED LIMIT!

So what if my job security was threatened this week? Thankfully being a mom has about 3 million other duties — ha, I’m suddenly reminded they are still just kids as I imagine them belly laughing as they blurt out, “You said duties!!”

I suppose the DMV can continue to issue permits and licenses to our teenagers but my kids know my “helicopter mom” license never expires, so I’ll be watching.

 

 

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness, Parenting/Running/Pets, siblings

The lost art of writing

I recently watched an episode of Ellen with Henry Winkler as a guest. He’s a lovely man. Kind and soft-spoken. Simply said, he’s more Arthur than Fonzie in the “Arthur Fonzarelli” character he played on the TV show Happy Days. He’s the side of Fonzie on Happy Days who was sweet and bashful when he thanked “Mrs. C” for dinner, as she endearingly served him more mashed potatoes and called him Arthur. (For anyone born after the year 2000, Henry Winkler is “Barry” on Arrested Development).

What I learned in the quick interview with Henry Winkler is his love for writing fan mail. “I think if you see a performance like Sam Rockwell as Fosse [in ‘Fosse/Verdon’], you have to write a letter…if you see Patricia Arquette in ‘Escape From Dannemora’, you have to write a letter. I write fan letters.” Yes, he writes real-find a stamp and put the letter in the mailbox with the flag up- mail. And more importantly, he writes because he wants to let someone know he admires them. He’s just a good guy.

Back in the ’80s, I was a big fan of the TV show Silver Spoons, a time when goofy kids like me called Ricky Shroeder “The Ricker”. After unearthing the show’s coveted address in a

rick.jpg

Teen Beat magazine in our school library, I wrote my first piece of fan mail to Ricky. Months later, I received an autographed (stamped!) picture, which, when your 12, was life-changing. Unfortunately, if you google “The Ricker” today, as I just did you’ll realize he didn’t pan out to be an upstanding guy. Nonetheless, at the time, I wrote a letter.

I come from a generation of letter writers. Starting with my mom. Once, when I was about 11, the cashier at Sears was abrupt with my mom when she pulled out her coupons…so, mom asked the woman her name, went home and wrote a letter to Sears. When mom didn’t want to receive the ten donation envelopes every month from St. Anne’s Catholic Church, she put pen to paper and let them know she and my dad donate quarterly. If she enjoyed a restaurant? Letter. Strongly disagreed with the editorial in the Tribune? Letter. Even today, after reading an article in her Gluten-Free Magazine, she wrote a letter telling the editor about the gluten-free hosts she and her dear friend Toni make for their church so mom can receive communion every Sunday.

Writing a letter is most certainly a lost art. Receiving a letter (other than bills) is always a joy. Just yesterday I received a thank you note from our family friend Connie. She wrote the kindest note thanking us for our Christmas card and my detailed update on our family.

Connie just turned 87 and is faithful to the written word. She sends our kids birthday cards with crisp dollar bills inside and a handwritten message in cursive that throws their brains into shock. She’s a gem.

So whether you’re thanking someone for the Instapot you probably won’t use, wishing your parents a happy anniversary, or opining about an editorial in the newspaper, write a letter. If you don’t, not to worry, Henry Winkler and mom have their pens ready.

Thanks for reading, it means a lot to me. 🙂 

Need help getting started on your thank-you notes? Here’s a guide:  How to write a thank-you note in 5 easy steps.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness, Other, Parenting/Running/Pets, siblings

What did I GOOGLE today?

Googling is like a virtual mood ring for me. As the blue screen reflects off my dollar store reading glasses, about 14 tabs stare at me vying for their turn to be clicked.

Google and I started our morning paying bills…hi google, bank, please.

Then I realized I needed to update our car insurance…google Geico

and register our car…google DMV.

As I thought about our kids driving to school, my Google mood ring began to darken, so I thought I better ask Google: what is the best age for my daughter to drive to school…then I piggy-backed it with another query: safest cars for teens.

While reading about Subarus and driving contracts for teens, our computer became sluggish and rolled out its dizzying rainbow wheel for me to stare at for a while.

“All the Macs in the world and we get the lemon,” I thought. Of course, it couldn’t be struggling because of the thousands of photos and videos taking up real estate on our hard drive..or…could it?

Hi Google, me again: how do I get rid of duplicates in Iphoto…

I glanced down at my beeping phone to a message telling me our cloud is full and nothing will be backed up unless we upgrade. Upgrade a cloud? Stratus to Cumulus? What the…?

Dear Google, me again: What the heck is The Cloud? Also, what is the phone number for Mac support? Oh, and Google, while I’m on hold with Apple, please find a chili recipe for dinner and a quick workout before the kids get home.

And since I have you engaged Google, my virtual mood ring is nearly black and I’ll need a funny cat video to make all the stress go away for just a minute.

Wait…Google, did I pay the bills?

Googling moments are as exhausting as they are informative. 🙂

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness, Parenting/Running/Pets, siblings

Find a kitten, pick it up…

Sometimes it seems life is a blurry, distant event seen through the lens of an iPhone while the meaningful, real-time, share-with-my-parents-moments are the ones I commit to memory.

Here’s one of my favorite most recent memories with Zavier, the youngest in our sweet brood:

One summer day, Zavier and I went to Home Depot in pursuit of paint colors for the kid’s bedrooms. He was given the task of selecting a color for Cora’s room since she declared, “I have too many decisions to make! Someone just PLEASE pick a color for me!” Zavier obliged and was ready for the challenge.

As we walked past the pallets of ferns and rows of grills we suddenly saw a kitten dart directly in front of a huge pickup truck. “We have to…” I said. Zavier replied, “Of course we do…I’ll go look under the grills.” Two hours later, after wading through the perennials in search of those sweet green kitten eyes, we caught the little guy…and along with a few new friends, took him to the vet and found him a home. In true character, Zavier was patient, kind and loving. And now for some reason, he feels he needs to set out “at least an hour” to go to Home Depot.

Yes, this is just another moment. Not caught on video, just logged in our memories. We did, however, take a quick snapshot of the little guy and later picked out a trending gray color for Cora’s room.

So today, peek around the lens of your phone and celebrate the real world, it’s full of remarkable moments.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness, Other, Parenting/Running/Pets, siblings

Holy Saturday…then and now…

LENTEN REFLECTIONS #40

As Holy Week wraps up, I’m reminded of how things change over the years. Growing up, Holy Week was a quiet time. Typically we would have Thursday and Friday off from school and prep the menu for Easter Sunday. Somewhat of a nod to Thanksgiving dinner, with a few dishes thrown in to mix it up. One vivid memory is my Aunt Eugenia’s salad.

Always toting items from her Amway inventory, she was the aunt who rode motorcycles, named her bird “Bonita” and played the accordion for Sunday mass. I’ve been told I have the same sharp slanted nose as her. She’d arrive carrying a big bowl and tongs from a Tupperware party. She had a knack for chopping everything in the salad so tiny, it was on the verge of being a really dry Gazpacho soup. It was like a game of I Spy with little bits of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, bacon and other minuscule items that even back then my keen 10-year-old eyesight couldn’t identify. The salad dressing was made in one of those glass containers where you drop the Italian seasoning in and shake it up with vegetable oil. Partially hydrogenated? Who cared.

The salad sat alongside ham, mashed potatoes, red chili (in lieu of gravy) and the other usual Thanksgiving/Easter suspects. Another dish that was a hit was mom’s pineapple salad. Made with cream cheese, Cool Whip, crushed pineapple and topped with shiny maraschino cherries, it was a dad favorite. Maybe because it was a dessert disguised (if only by the name) as a “salad” or maybe because it was a one-hit wonder, or rather a once a year wonder.

I’m always amazed when we stumble upon a gem of a recipe and it’s only made once a year. Perhaps that’s the formula. It always tastes good…but only once a year. Otherwise, it’s “overuse syndrome”.

Once, I was volunteering at NPR and a talk show host said she loved my shirt. Thrilled with my outfit choice, I told her my husband gave it to me. “Great taste!” she replied. And so it happened, I was immediately struck with “overuse syndrome”. I wore the heck out of that blouse. So much that one of my students at the time probed, “Is that your favorite shirt ‘cause you wear it ALL the time.” That could be the pineapple salad’s story. Better to pace the good stuff.

I digress…

On Holy Thursday as we loaded up the station wagon and headed to St. Anne’s, Dad would remind us that mass “would be a long one”. Typically, he would say one of the seven readings as a lector, and Mom would play the organ. I had a choice to either turn pages for Mom or try to sit still with my sisters for the two hours of feet washing and the Last Supper.

Under the cloudy Good Friday skies, we would attend services at 3:00 pm sharp every year. I still remember the cold, empty altar and solemn sentiment inside St. Anne’s Church.

Saturday we buckled in for another “long one” and I really loved that mass.

One Easter weekend, after Holy Saturday Mass, we went to visit my oldest sister at New Mexico State University. That was the year I gave up soda for Lent. I remember going out for pizza right after mass and getting the coldest most delicious Shirley Temple ever. It was served in one of those big red plastic cups it seemed all pizza joints use.

Over the years, my view of Lent became less soda and more sacrifice. In college, a friend of mine and I vowed to say a Rosary together every day. During the long drive to San Diego for spring break we prayed, after going out with friends we prayed and even before watching Shamoo jump through hoops, we prayed the Rosary.

Today, unless kids attend a school starting with the word “Saint” it’s likely they will be in school during Holy Week. Even Good Friday. Because times are different. Holy Week just seemed holier back then. Packed calendars are filled with games, practices, and activities with church fitting into the gaps when there are some. But it’s all priority-based.

Like anything else, age readjusts the lens on what matters. What we sacrifice, what we lack, what we share, what we just don’t need. For some, Lent might be about giving up chocolate or serving at a homeless shelter, maybe even blogging.

Blogging for 40 days isn’t a lark. Nor is parenting, or being a woman, a daughter or sister.

What we choose to do with our 40 days is up to us. Will it make a difference?

We pray it will. If I could pass God on a little Post-It about my blog I would say, “Please let my stories help others realize they are not alone in this flash in the pan life you’ve given us. Help me to offer them a little chuckle, a tiny connection, and a chunk of hope when it’s just too much.

Amen.

My humble thanks for reading.

MENTAL EMOTIONAL PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL WORKOUT: WALK. PRAY. REPEAT.