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

Be not afraid

Lenten Reflection #40

So I did it. 40 days of writing. 40 days of sharing. 40 days of memories.

And 40 days filled with unfathomable change.

Lent started out like every year. I contemplate giving up all the sugar and carbs in the world. Plan to blog every day…and vow to be kind, on-time, patient and generous.

Never did I think I would be at home watching Holy Saturday Mass streamed online. On Thursday I mentioned to my family that MAYBE we should watch Mass at the Vatican…because we COULD. I was immediately barraged with a slew of questions:

“Do you think they’ll do ALL the readings…Wait, that sounds like it’s going to be LONG…Don’t they say everything in Latin?”

Nevermind. I acquiesced and we stayed local.

We finished coloring our Easter eggs, ate dinner outside, and after every dish was washed, plopped down on the couch for Mass. I noticed each one of our kids disappear for a few minutes, returning to our living room dressed as if we were headed to church.

It seems that after weeks of living in sweats and workout clothes, our kids knew what was appropriate to wear to Easter Mass, albeit at home, and settled in for the next hour or so.

As we held hands while praying the Our Father, I looked at our little circle of faith and beamed. Our dogs roamed in and out of our legs as we gave each other a sign of peace, loving the fact that we’ve been home so much. I held each hug a little longer than usual knowing we all need extra comfort right now, including me.

Sadly, hugs, handshakes, and human contact are obsolete if we decide to cautiously step outside our front doors. This absence of togetherness is hard on all of us. Even as we listened to Father Walsh’s sermon tonight, the church echoed with a melancholy emptiness.

But his words rang true: “Be not afraid”.

At times like these, it’s hard to digest this advice, but we MUST be courageous, trust in God, do what is right, and take care of ourselves and each other.

Happy Easter and thank you for walking through the last 40 days with me.

“…do not be afraid, for I am with you; do not be alarmed, for I am your God. I give you strength, truly I help you, truly I hold you firm with my saving right hand.” -Isaiah, Chapter 41

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Good Friday – a time to reflect

Lenten Reflection #39

Today is Good Friday. A day when millions of people reflect and pray. Some will fast, others will think back on the fragility of Jesus.

My mom always says Good Friday is the one day when we are attending services, not Mass. Because today there are no miracles of water turning into wine, or blind finding their sight. There are no sermons or parables, no abundance of loathes and fishes. 

There are the Stations of the Cross when we watch Jesus go through unrelenting mental and physical abuse. And in the midst of all this humiliation, and pressure, and exaltation, he finds grace and calm.

Through all the bleeding and pain, He prays, He forgives, He loves.

Ultimately He rises again.

Take today to reflect on all the hardships and loneliness you are experiencing. Know that deep in your soul, a rock will be pushed aside and reveal the strength you need to persevere and rise again.

Listen and reflect.

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

Now that we have time, what if…

Lenten Reflection #37

Throwback Wednesday! Why not?

Given the time we’ve had in our homes lately with those we love…our kids, parents, grandparents, I thought about the “what-if” questions I always ask myself.

Now that time is abundant, I’m going to tackle some of these “what-ifs”. Here’s my Throwback Blog, I hope you enjoy.

Stay safe friends.

Ever feel like you’re constantly making mistakes as a mom, and wonder “WHAT IF I would have just done things differently?”

I do.

And every day I pray I’ll be the mom who guides with love and trust. Where God’s knock on the door is always answered, and grace soars in and ushers our kids through the messy moments of their teenage years.

Every day these “What if” questions herd my mind into a corral like an overzealous border collie with a flock of sheep. Sure, I know the right answers, yet the day flies by and I’ve botched it all again. Or have I? Maybe I did something right. As moms we have to forgive ourselves, trip, fall, grab onto something, stand up on our arthritic ankles and keep going one day at a time.

Here are my “WHAT IF’S”…

What if I went all day without saying one negative thing to anyone?

What if I didn’t complain to my kids about being on their phones?

What if I trusted more and criticized less. A lot less?

What if I admitted devices help with socialization?

What if I invested in what piques my kids’ interest or makes them laugh so crazy hard on their phones?

What if I walked by a messy-made bed and thought of it as ALMOST MADE?

What if I were able to feel their anxiety on the first day of school?

What if I didn’t complain once about my own appearance all day?

What if I focused on one task at a time?

What if I hugged my kids more?

What if I always made time for my husband?

What if I called my parents every day?

What if I walked my dogs more often?

What if I read a book, cover to cover…just because?

What if I sifted through my 42,644 digital photos and only kept my favorite 200?

What if I donated everything we haven’t used in one year?

What if I knew a magic word to rid my kids of their teenage worries?

What if I planned ahead for dinner?

What if I helped my kids learn to study and GET IT rather than memorize?

What if I reminded them more often how special they really are?

What if I told them I know being a teenager can be awful these days, but it will get better?

What if I was as proud of myself as I am of them?

What if we could have had one more baby?

What if I felt their fear every time they tried something new?

What if I listened? Really listened?

What if I counted my blessings instead of yelling at them?

Do you have any WHAT IFS? Please share yours and together we’ll conquer this mom thing.

 

“If you give freely, there will always be more.”

-Anne Lamott

 

 

 

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Clear skies bring a respite

Lenten Reflection #36

Looking up at the sky and seeing an elephant or funny face in a sea of clouds is something I continue to do even though our kids’ gaze has since lowered.

So when my husband reminded us about April’s Full Pink Supermoon tonight, my daughter and I dashed out to see it. We peaked up and pretended to blow on the clouds to try and move them so we could see the wonderment behind this so-called Paschal Full Moon. (We also wanted to finish watching another episode of The Office). My daughter is 17, appreciates literature and music, and her childhood imagination rekindles in a blink as if committed to muscle memory. So without hesitation, we stood an extra few minutes and stared at the bright light behind the clouds.

The sky was beautiful. In fact, our dear planet has been the sole beneficiary of this unforgiving virus. Since the stay at home measures taken by most of the world, there has been a sharp decline in pollution and carbon emissions resulting in a positive development for the planet and the humans who live on it. Paris skies are clear, Madrid’s sunsets are spectacularly vibrant and Italy’s waterways are like crystal paths.

Tonight is the perfect night to look up and see our big bright, beautiful sky, so we did and I hope you did too…

I hope you looked up at the moon tonight, I hope in that glance or gaze you saw hope. I pray you saw our children playing tag on the playground again and families not going hungry. I hope you looked deep into the soft silver-lined edges of the moon and saw a love-filled world where together we survive our darkest moments. And I hope you found faith that we will all embrace once again.

“And when the night wind starts to sing a lonesome lullaby
It helps to think we’re sleeping underneath the same big sky.”

-Disney’s An American Tale

 

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

How do I manage my mental health during the Coronavirus?

Lenten Reflection #35

Experiencing and processing our emotions during this time of uncertainty may be new for some of us. Personally, running and exercise provide the daily respite I need to keep my sanity.

Luckily, there are several ways for all of us to manage this new inevitable stress seeping into our lives.

According to the CDC:

The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.

Here’s what they recommend:

Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.

  1. Take care of your body.
  2. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.
  3. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
  4. Exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep.
  5. Avoid alcohol and drugs.
  6. Make time to unwind. 
  7. Do other activities you enjoy.
  8. Connect with others.
  9. Sleep – it will improve your brain health.
  10. Know the long term effects of social isolation.

With the spread continuing and the fear of what lies ahead looming, we must continue to optimize our human resilience. People throughout history have made it through terrible times and as their descendants, we will too. a955307432ce1e28b4c6c3ff966169cc.jpg

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Can I run outside with the stay at home restrictions?

Lenten Reflections #33

According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the 79-year-old director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the answer is yes.

He is an avid runner who lately, works nearly 20 hours a day, but still finds time to power walk or run.

Dr. Fauci said running outside during the shelter in place rule is fine as long as you follow the six-foot rule. Fauci continues to run even with the long, taxing days and has cut back to 3.5 miles per day.

That means no excuses, get outside, keep your distance and GO the distance!

 

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

The question I don’t get to ask my kids anymore…

Lenten Reflection #32 – My Kids’ Bedtime Stories

“How was school?” This is one line we toss to our kids nearly 180 times per year, and it boomerangs back empty or with the classic, “good”.

I’ve learned to manage this empty answer for one reason…

Because after years of the same bedtime routine with our kids, (yelling, brushing teeth, prayers, etc.) somehow when they’ve returned from practicing the sport they love, finished their homework and eaten dinner, they finally settle and are ready to share a story or two.

Here are a few examples:

My youngest son talks about the football game he played in PE when he “dove to catch the ball with one hand, jammed his thumb, and was still able to somehow, “dive into the endzone”. `

My daughter and I banter a bit, and she tells me a funny story about a classmate whose name everyone yells out daily as soon as he steps into the classroom or answers a question. She hollers the name then does a spot-on impersonation of her teacher’s reaction. I compare it to Norm’s fame on the TV series Cheers and we both crack up.

My middle guy describes the angst he feels after he asks his Honors Chemistry teacher a question, returns to his desk and forgets what to do. Thankfully, his hunger to know how to do things supersedes any apprehension to ask again. He follows up with, “Oh, and I ran a 6-minute mile in JROTC today.”

Suddenly the “good” response transforms into stories of their day at school.

I call them our kids’ bedtime stories.

One last thing I crave asking the kids again — and Kathy Radigan from the blog My Dishwasher is Possessed puts it best in her blog post: My Special Mom Talent is Annoying Teenagers:

I miss asking them if they did their homework then asking them again if they did their homework, then asking them one more time if they did their homework.

I know I sometimes only half-listen to all of their answers, and I know the kids miss their routine, sports, and friends, but this won’t last forever. (I know that because Sanjay Gupta on CNN just said so, and he knows).

Take care of yourselves and each other.

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

This Mom gets it – embracing the new normal

I’ve spoken to numerous parents over the last few weeks about how they are managing their newfound profession of homeschooling.

Some are sitting smack in the middle of a see-saw with work and one end and homeschooling hanging off the other side, others are diving in structuring their school day one subject at a time and too many have little access to resources. They all say they are doing the best they can.

Amid all of the emails and phone calls, one mom’s profound message left me hoping all parents are able to relate to their new cadence with sanity and grace.

Here’s what she said:

“For a boy that needs his structure, he’s done well with the transition to home-based learning. We keep to a pretty good schedule-school starts here at 10am every day, and we try to be done with the bulk of the bookwork by noon. The afternoon is reserved for art, legos, creative play, reorganizing closets and cleaning, etc.

I certainly wouldn’t want to do this full time, but I think I can handle it through the rest of the school year if I had to (and honestly, that’s where I think this is heading).”

She goes onto say she and her husband both work from home…

“But we’re a flexible family, we understand that this craziness is temporary and that everyone has been thrust into the unknown. We’ll make it through. To be 100% honest, this has been a good thing for us. We are a family that is constantly on the go between soccer practices, basketball in the off-season, martial arts…so this forced stoppage is good. We’ve had homecooked dinners together every night, our house is the cleanest it’s ever been, and there have been tons of movies and old soccer games watched while snuggling up on the couch.

Who knows if we’ll ever get this time

together again.”

 

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

From Spanish Flu to COVID-19 – we’ve been here before…

#24 Lenten Reflections

We constantly hear we are living in unprecedented times, navigating a road less traveled, however…

About 100 years ago, the Spanish Influenza is said to have rooted in an army camp in Kansas. The first wave passed through the United States and went seemingly unnoticed. As soldiers traveled around the world, the infection spread rapidly. The virus did not stop in the trenches, in fact, influenza became more aggressive. As the virus evolved and returned from Europe to the United States, it continued to infect communities all over the United States and did not discriminate.

Sound familiar?

In an interview on Hidden Brain with NPR’s Shankar VedantamHistorian Nancy Bristow weighs in on the Spanish Flu and how its history has been cloaked under the guise of World War I.

“To remember the flu would be to admit to the lack of control that people had had over their own health. It would be to admit that the United States was not necessarily all-powerful, but was like everywhere else in the world: subject as victims to something beyond their control,” she says.

In the time of the Spanish Flu, some cities listened to the guidelines, others lost patience and slipped away from the inconvenient restrictions. Listen here to the full interview.


Another telling story comes from Kara N. Goldman, M.D., an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She compares the Spanish flu with COVID-19. Her story The white scarf on the door: a life-saving lesson from the 1918 Spanish flu is compelling.

She begins, “In 1918, a white scarf tied to the door of my grandmother’s family’s apartment on the North Side of Chicago alerted the community to a virus residing within. My grandmother, then age 3, was one of 500 million people worldwide — one-third of the planet’s population — who was infected with what came to be known as the Spanish influenza. It killed an estimated 50 million people.”


For eight years, I worked in the public health sector. My mission was focused on caring for Hispanic communities throughout the United States and ensuring they had access to health care and immunizations.

People need to heed the instructions of public health experts.

The final death or diagnosis caused by COVID-19 isn’t penciled in on a calendar, nor is it going away anytime soon. Like the Spanish Flu, COVID-19 will go through waves, and like the ocean, they will just keep coming. No pause. No warning. No mercy. So listen to the experts, keep your Easter bonnet in the closet and be patient. The dominoes that have tumbled have yet to finish their fall.

 

 

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

Being home: from homework to hunger

Lenten Reflections #23

They are home.

Elementary school kids are home with their parents learning to tie their shoes, tell time, count money. Tweens are spared from what can be tumultuous middle school moments, and high school students are navigating Chemistry labs, Rhetorical Analysis, and document-based questions (DBQ’s). All at home.

DIFFERENCES

I called to check in on my students and their families today.

The gamut ran from,

“We’re doing well. He just finished working on sequencing and now I’m teaching him how to tell time from an analog clock.”

TO

“I haven’t heard from my social worker, I don’t know how I’m going to feed my two children, my parents are quarantined and I have to have surgery on Thursday.”

My gosh. Just when I started to grumble about making dinner, I thought of the families who have nothing…NOTHING to bring to the table.

Note: I was able to contact our administrators and they connected the family with MUST Ministry who would help provide meals for the family.

This was true testimony that while some grapple with studying, some are trying to survive. As parents we simply want our kids to be happy, learn and sidestep struggle. We want to do our best…and make them their best selves.

LET THEM LEARN HOW TO LEARN…

Just today, I felt like a rock star when I was able to help my youngest son with his 8th-grade Algebra, yet completely useless when my daughter was working on her Physics lab. One child asks for help, another tackles the work until every eraser in our home is worn.

My son who is a Sophomore incorporates breaks into his studies. Every 30 minutes or so he rides his bike, walks the dogs or works on projects in the garage. His brother shoots baskets outside or plays fetch with the dogs. A stark difference from a 6-minute transition between one-hour and 45-minute classes.

My daughter stays the course, she should wear a t-shirt with Einstein’s words: “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

They each know how they learn best. They have to know.

As they made their lunches today I asked them to pray for those who are hungry or sick or lonely…and Seniors everywhere who are longing for the proper graduation they deserve, but may have to sacrifice for the betterment of all.

The majority of kids truly miss school. They long for their friends, the guarantee of meals, the routine. 

After prayers tonight I reminded them to count their blessings.

As we all should.

Be smart. Be kind.