Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

What is your content diet?

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

No. 31

I grew up with the newspaper on the table every morning and another local paper would hit the steps in the afternoon. We ate fresh tomatoes from our garden, apricots from our trees, and ensured we ate clean, healthy food. In our home, what we consumed, was paramount to who we were. Healthy food and quality news mattered.

One of the most well-read people I know, Polina Pompliano, founder of The Profile takes a deep dive into content diets and how we can improve what we consume. She believes, “What you eat is who you are, and what you read is who you become…While most of us are willing to invest in our health, we often neglect our ‘content diet,’ which refers to the type of information we choose to feed our brains on a daily basis.”

The key is to first take a good look at what content we consume. TikTok? Youtube? Podcasts? The Atlantic? National Geographic? The options are endless.

We are all at the mercy of whatever lands in our inbox each morning. Will it deplete our energy and precious time?

If so, it is time for a content cleanse! Rid yourself of the mindless scrolling and focus on what will increase your knowledge and help you contribute to and elevate conversations. Be intentional about how you fill your mind.

NPR’s Clay Johnson said, “The question is, can we make enough people go: ‘Hey, you know what? I’m done. I’m done with the sensationalism of media. I’m done being taken advantage of by media companies so that I can have ads sold to me.’ … If we want to make media better, then we’ve got to start consuming better media.”

Only we can control our content intake and decide how much we will consume. We have the power to fill our bodies with essential nutrients and our minds with nourishing content. Let’s spend our time wisely.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Decisions are hard.

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

No. 30

Our kids have been faced with an unending list of decisions in the last few years. Virtual or face to face. Mask or no mask. AP or Honors. Baseball or golf? Band or drama? College, trade school, gap year?

Ultimately, our kids decide. Then we all throw two cents of advice at them thinking we know what they should do. Who do they listen to? Hopefully themselves, and maybe one cent of the two we throw.

“When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.”

Paulo Coelho

I pray I will support all of my children’s decisions. Because when you’re standing at the fork in the road, having loved ones who support you will make the moments after 100% better.

Please pray for Ukraine.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Stay strong Ukraine

USA Today reports, “Ukrainians returning to Kyiv as Russian forces pulled out over the weekend found a shocking trail of destruction and death, including slain civilians lying on the streets with their hands bound.”

Please pray for those families and loved ones going through this war.

Father of all, we pray to you for all of the lost Ukrainian souls, and for all those whom we love but see no longer. Grant to them eternal rest. Let light perpetual shine upon them. May his soul and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

I write my story

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

No. 29

Kindergarten is a blur except for recess 
and a girl who cut in line

In first grade the Tree House was Magical for some
I found the wood and built my own

Harry had a wand and Hedwig
I widdled a bow and arrow
and wove a leash for our dog

The Giver and Jonas were dystopian
Me my family and bike are utopian

The Hunger Games tangled with win and loss
Everyday I failed
Everyday I succeeded

Stories are in books
I write my story
I live my story
I am my story

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

When cardinals are here, angels are near

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

No. 28

The other day my husband met a gentleman whose sole job is to ensure trucks are let in and out of a construction area safely and without harming pedestrians. A noble job and one that requires patience and a keen eye.

I could imagine this must be very hard, to be vigilant and always ready to usher kids or adults across a noisy construction area. More significantly, he guards this area without a screen staring back at him, just the sun shining and the world around him, observing his surroundings. While on his shift, he told my husband a story. As he was just closing the gate for what seemed to be the 38th time that morning, he saw a red streak go by and land near a home in a short distance. As if called to a service, the cardinals landed by an elderly woman who stopped in her tracks, bowed her head, hands folded in prayer.

He recognized this gesture and explained that spotting a cheerful cardinal means a lost family member is safe and happy. “When cardinals are here, angels are near.” He went on to note that the mere sighting of a cardinal is known to bring on emotional feelings. Some feel the vibrant red is a spiritual, and uplifting symbol that those we have lost will indeed live forever.

He told the story as rotely as if reciting the alphabet. Hearing this reminded me of a cardinal I saw in our backyard yesterday who caught my attention with a loud string of whistles and trills. His song made me think of my husband’s grandmother, Sissy who always had a story to share or a prank to pull. How lovely to know cardinals can give us hope that our loved ones who are gone are safe, happy, and watching over us.

Today when we are distracted by so much, it’s easy to push our memories and feelings aside – and forget to look up, find hope, and be grateful. I love that this gentleman who ensured everyone’s safety all day took a moment to observe the love and hope all around us and share his story.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Teach your kids to ask questions

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

No. 27

My son and I have good discussions. Great discussions. Hard discussions. I remember lots of knocking and kicking when he was in the womb, no doubt he was planning to buy a big Ford something-or-other truck, load his bike in the back and drive to Moab in Utah to ride. 

When putting him to bed at age 3, he would ask, “Why do you and Papa get to stay up?” We didn’t even curse when we replied…simply gave the parental response of you’re the child, we’re the adults. (Athough sometimes I wanted to be the kid long enough to take a quick nap, let someone make me lunch and not have to get up 30 times to pee.) The interrogating continued and on the second day of kindergarten, he asked WHY!? he had to go again…he ALREADY went to kindergarten!

As he got older, he asked to play baseball and soccer, then give archery a try and why not gymnastics and tennis. Maybe mountain biking and guitar? Unicycling sounds fun and the saxophone – let’s get one! Swimming grabbed his attention for a minute as did basketball and even church retreats. Chess was fleeting…too much sitting. Then came badminton, ping pong, rollerblading, skateboarding, Ripstick, and scooter-riding cross-country running, and frisbee golf. Check! Check! Check! Then there was the creation of fidget spinners, paracord bracelets, and dog leashes. He can hammer leather, solder, weld, sew, change the oil, build a bike ramp, pitch a tent, cast a fishing rod flawlessly, take stunning photos and edit the perfect video. It’s a lot…but he’s not afraid to try or risk failing.

Ironically, our discussion this evening was all about the things we “didn’t let him try”. For the most part, the list includes:

1. driving four-wheeled vehicles with a lot of letters like ATV, SUV, SxS, along extremely muddy trails, and

2. whatever his friends are doing that he’s not.

I get it. I remember wondering why everyone knew how to swim so well when I moved to the east coast. Of course, I couldn’t blame my parents…we lived in a land-locked state, and of course, the Rio Grande River is not known for water skiing.

As he entered middle and high school, his questions continued at home and in class. He admitted tonight that he hesitated to raise his hand in elementary school in fear of getting the wrong answer, he certainly saved all those questions for home!

I spoke to our son’s teachers at a conference in 8th grade and beyond and the one consistency they spoke of was he asked great questions. “Not the off-the-wall questions either” one teacher stressed. “He is content-driven.”

My son leans in the direction of calculated answers. His brain craves knowing why –  like a flower craves the sun. He completely bypasses wondering and simply asks, Why? How? When?

Raising kids who ask questions is a challenge. Thinking back, if I could tell my 16-year-old self one thing it would be ASK! Ask for help on the physics test, ask someone to go to prom, ask why the point was taken off on your essay, or how you can get your grade up. Ask if you can go to the Braves playoff game or skiing with a friend.  

We each had a cavern in our souls to be filled with answers…all we have to do is dig for them…and simply ask.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

The moment you realize you’re on your daughter’s group text…

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

No. 26

Throwback Thursday – true story – the day I felt like a rockstar!

As I sifted through my email today, unsubscribing from Groupon, Domino’s Pizza, and DSW for the 37th time, I heard a ping on my phone. I glanced down and saw I was added to a group chat.

Let’s see…is it a bunch of moms from the PTA meeting last night? Uh oh, what did I volunteer for? Maybe it’s the 8th-grade dance committee.

Clearly, my choices are limited and telling.

Wait…the top of the text said APUSH…where have I heard that…APUSH…APUSH…APUSH.

Oh! AP United States History. That’s right, teenagers are “SO TIRED” they’ve given all their classes nicknames. APUSH, AP Psych, AP Calc, AP Bio, LIT.

Clever.

Suddenly, “APUSH me OVER A CLIFF!” with a smiley emoji lit up the screen.

Now that’s funny, I thought. Oh good, it’s a fun group.

Maybe I signed up for updates for Cora’s history class?

After a few minutes, I realized I didn’t recognize anyone on the list UNTIL I saw Cora’s name float across the screen.

Uh Oh. It turns out I was inadvertently added to the APUSH study group text. What happened was this, back in middle school, when Cora was “the only one in the ENTIRE world” without a phone, her friends used my phone number to call her. So she was listed as: “Cora’s Mom” which of course was my phone number.

Cora told me as she was laughing about this with her friends at school, another long-time friend who used to call me “Cora’s Mom” said, “don’t delete that number, she’s a good resource!”

I love being “Cora’s Mom”.

About 30 seconds later I received a message:

You have been removed from the group. 

Well, I guess I was APUSHED out…good thing, that class is WAY too much work. 

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

The humility of Mother Teresa

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

No. 25

Some days I overthink, overspeak, over everything.

I judge, talk over, infuse WAY too much passion, and forget to listen.

Then the guilt sinks in…and somehow my mind shifts to my days living in India. The string of animals in the street, the beautiful flowers adorning rickshaws, and the people. The lovely, lovely people. The calm in their souls is something to beseech.

Then there is the relentless, selfless giving of Mother Teresa…eye-opening and always worth mentioning.

In the 20th century, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was a missionary nun and one of the greatest humanitarians of the 20th century. Known for her charity work, she founded the Missionaries of Charity – a religious organization dedicated to helping the poor. In the Catholic Church, she is also known as Saint Teresa after she was canonized by Pope Francis in 2016.

Mother Teresa was passionate, quiet, tiny, and humble. Personally, I have the tiny and passionate parts down and am slowly working on the other two. She spent 50 years working among the poorest of the poor in Calcutta and founded an order, the Missionaries of Charity. Active in 133 countries, its mission is “to give Wholehearted and Free service to the poorest of the poor.”

Mother Teresa is an inspiration to the world and I pray every day for a sliver of her positive passion and humility.

Please pray for Ukraine

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Illusion of Choice

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

No. 24

What is the illusion of choice?

When the kids were little I made the decisions on the biggies: diapers: Pampers or Costco—Lunch: mashed peas or sweet potatoes—Naptime books: Good Night Moon or Bears on Wheels. As they got older they matched their plaid shorts with striped t-shirts for school and none were the wiser. It was THEIR choice. They were at the helm as the drawers squeaked open and closed.

Then I moved to the either-or choices: we can go to either the library or the book store. Playground or zoo? Success! As the kids got older, the onus was theirs. Soccer or mountain biking? AP or Honors? Baseball or lacrosse? Bus or drive? Kidding, driving always wins.

Making decisions is tough. But what about the time when we think we are involved in the decision making process but it turns out to be the illusion of choice?

When defined, according to best-selling author, David James Clarke IV, “The illusion of choice is a psychological mental model that states humans are happy if they believe that have control over their own actions and can exercise free will. If free will is deprived, or seemingly deprived, from an individual, they will become resentful or rebellious, even if the choice forced upon them is identical to the one they would have selected of their own accord.”

My Dad always says, when it comes to the kids, let them decide their plans for college, trade school, etc. “It has to be their decision” he reminds me. There has to be buy-in. In any situation, most people want control. When that control is relinquished, you lose passion, interest, and connection.

At home, work, school, or the ice cream aisle, if free choice is indeed the goal, rules should stay flexible and maintain the integrity of the framework.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Mondays with Mariana – Grandma

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

No. 23

My grandma on my mom’s side was a teacher and a hairdresser and my grandpa was a rancher. On my dad’s side, grandpa was a store owner and grandma taught school as well.

My parents grew up with daily outdoor work, and deliberate, simple living. Love of thy neighbor was doctrine, sharing with their neighbor was expected, and counting their blessings was what one did.

My maternal grandmother’s name was Mariana – Marian. Born April 17, 1911, her parents were married in 1902. Her father, Nazario was a sheep farmer and freighter (he picked up and delivered products for the family store). Her mom, Clara died of the flu in 1918. Then in early December 1922, her father, Nazario rode out to routinely check on the sheep. Ill-prepared for the unexpected storm that arose, he headed home with what appeared to be a cold but quickly turned to pneumonia. Three days later, he died.

Marian and her three siblings were left orphans, ages 15, 12, 9, and 21 months. At eleven years old, she and her four-year-old sister were sent to be boarders at the Loretto Academy in Santa Fe, New Mexico. After finishing 8th grade, she returned to Arizona.

A devout Catholic, grandma became an entrepreneur before it was all the rage. She attended Beauty School and owned a beauty salon in a small Arizona town in the 1940s with a friend from the Morman Church, an unlikely partner at the time. Although discrimination lingered in the town, Grandma looked at everyone as good and worthy. She was 4’8″ and strode through life in size 4 1/2 high heels with optimism and “loads of love” – the same way she signed her letters.

Grandma taught us to sew, quilt, embroider, and most importantly how to give a great manicure. She and mom cut our hair and gave us perms we really thought we wanted at the time. We relished the quality time spent and the strong fumes made for good company.

Mom called grandma, “mother”. They had a very loving and comforting relationship. It seemed easy. She was mom’s go-to…always had a secret ingredient for her tortillas (add a teaspoon or 2 of sugar and powdered milk – it makes the dough an easy conversion to sopaipillas). She always knew where to hem the pants, how to sweeten lemonade (maraschino cherries), and how to make mom smile.

My sweet grandma was a gem. From the tips of her well-kept nails to the curls of her perfectly set hair.

God bless you, Grandma, thanks for the many, many memories, and please keep watching over us.