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

“Best Lent Ever”

Lenten Reflection #10

The last three years I’ve watched many of the “Best Lent Ever” episodes by Mathew Kelly, a Catholic Guru.

Here’s a snippet from his first reflection this Lenten Season:

In our journey with God, there are many different seasons. There are some times in our lives when we’re hungry to pray, we’re hungry to learn, we’re hungry to be with God. There are other times in our lives when we’re not. There are times in our lives where certain types of spirituality engages us, and there are other times in our lives where those very same things that brought us great enthusiasm and great passion leave us dry and desolate. And so it’s important to recognize the seasons in our spirituality.

What are your spiritual seasons?

May they be fruitful and plentiful.

 

 

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.

 

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

Beyond Bunnies: A profile

LENTEN REFLECTIONS #39

Are we Easter people living in a Good Friday world? Here’s a profile of a must-read article:

In an interview with NPR titled Beyond Bunnies: The Real Meaning Of Easter Season, Anne Lamott discusses this idea originally penned by author Barbara Johnson. “Well, it’s the most profound holiday in the Christian tradition,” Lamott says. “And I think two things really come to mind. One is something that the great writer Barbara Johnson said, which is that we are Easter people living in a Good Friday world. And I think that every year the world seems more of a Good Friday world. And it’s excruciating, whether it’s Japan, or Libya, or whether its your own best friends and their children who are sick, which is something that makes no sense when you think about a loving God.”

It makes me think Lent has a way of flagging what we overuse, underdo and ignore. It makes us stare sacrifice in the face and see who blinks first. 

The interview is profound and telling, reminding all of us we are here in this life for a quick minute. Ash Wednesday kicks us in the rear and reminds us we are indeed – ashes to ashes, dust to dust – it is up to us to grow far beyond ourselves, past our worries and merge onto the road of joy and mercy.

Spiritual Workout: Say these Holy Week prayers, inspired by Anne Lamott:

  • Help me to see my own darkness and quit pretending it doesn’t matter.

  • Help me to know how very loved I am, despite my own protests to the contrary.

  • And help me to understand that running the universe is not my job.

Workout: 25 Burpees, 25 push-ups, repeat

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness, Other

Find space this Holy Week

#35 Lenten Reflections

Today for the first day of Holy Week, I tackled a fraction of the proverbial spring cleaning. A quick freshening.

A renewal.

No windows or baseboards. No upholstery or carpet shampooing. So what did I do?

I pushed, pulled and lifted. Found dog toys, ping pong balls, and the missing black glove with the phone friendly fingertips.

I rearranged. Found a new angle to watch The Braves. Nudged a chair closer to a sunny window. Picture tops were dusted and curtains washed. Windows opened to listen to  Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal as they flit amid the over-sized Leland Cypress holding way too many nests to think about trimming, even though they’re 5 years overdue.

Spring does that, it infuses the chutzpah to refresh, the courage to cradle change. To play Wiffle ball in the back yard and catch all fly balls before they disturb a nest. To lean into the season, each other and ourselves.

Let the spring season and this holy week help you find space. In your minds, your homes and most importantly, your hearts.

Holy Week Challenge: As a family, we are collecting 5 items every day of Holy Week to be donated after Lent. So five items per day. Join us.

Workout challenge: Run or walk and say a Rosary each day this week.

Pray for Notre Dame – a holy place lost at the start of a holy week.

 

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

5 things to tell your kids now!

#34 Lenten Reflections

As my children age, they repeatedly tell me what I forget. Maybe it’s reminding, but their tone is more of a “Mamahhhhh!!! Don’t forgehhhht, I have to be at school earlyuhhhh” (teenagers dangle an uhhhh on the end of words for emphasis). I don’t mind the reminders, in fact, most of the time I’ve written things down on one of 3 calendars feeling quite organized yet forget to merge the three. So a nudge to remember what’s on deck for the week is welcome.

I’m grateful they can remind me about the logistical stuff, but with three teenagers jockeying school, sports, hormones, and I wish I knew what else — as their mother, I am responsible to help lessen the weight of their mental baggage. That’s on me to remember.

When their moods speak louder than the local tornado alarm, at that moment I smite my forehead and remember the 5 things I have to remind my kids. (Feel free to reword, otherwise, you may be met with the familiar eye rolls…but I believe some of it sinks in, gushy or not):

  1. You are each given gifts only you can share with the world.

  2. Listen to the little voice in your head when decisions seem impossible to tackle. It will tell you when to take the AP class and when to opt out of being the passenger in a car full of teenagers

  3. We are ALL born hard-wired for struggle, some days are going to be lousy but that’s normal.

  4. You are worthy of love.

  5. You are enough. You matter.

But just a little reminder to anyone reading this…sit for a minute and read #1-5 a few times. They apply to us too.

Spiritual Workout: It’s Palm Sunday…my favorite kinesthetic mass. What can you make with palms?

Workout: Enjoy a nice bike ride with a friend! If it rains, play a board game, take a break and do 30 push ups and 30 squats.

 

 

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

Parenting and exercise – 5 ways to make it work without the guilt

IMG_0540LENTEN REFLECTION: #28

I ripped this page out of a 1990-something Runner’s World Magazine to remind me why I run and it’s hung on our refrigerator ever since. It’s the subtle reminder I need when the guilt of exercising overwhelms me. It screams, “Lace up and go! Now!”

Here’s how I learned to fit exercise in when my kids were younger…

I had everything timed. While my boys were napping, I would do an at-home workout. At 2:20 as the P-90X or Shaun T cool down concluded, I’d switch off the DVD or treadmill and quietly walk about 30 steps to meet my daughter at the elementary school bus stop. Most days I arrived dripping in sweat from a workout. I repeated this ritual for nine years.

Eventually, the kids got used to my semi-sweaty hello kisses and groaned less each time.  In a sense, I was training the kids to know exercise was part of the day. Kind of a Pavlov effect. Sweaty mom equals a happy mom.

I remember speaking to a friend at church about fitting in workouts. He said, “When my wife complains about my running, I have to remind her I really do it for her.” I nodded, saying, “I get it. I do it for my kids.”

It’s one of those conversations people may overhear and think we’re selfish and crazy…well, maybe.

Frequently, Catholic guilt lurks behind the corners of my decisions and since naptime was retired years ago, I naturally feel bad if I exercise while the kids are home now that they are older.

But now we understand each other and often times, they’ll encourage me and my husband to go run or go to the gym. We take them to practices for their respective sports and never once have they said, “I’m going to exercise really hard for 2 hours, but I feel really guilty about it.” It’s just part of our lifestyle.

Now for the last 27 days, I’ve felt that same remorse blogging. I write during stolen moments of guilt while our kids stare at their exhausted devices and labor over homework. But I can’t stop. Writer’s high is akin to the one of running and is highly addictive. There is joy in sharing my untidy life story and hope that a tiny bit of my parental insight might benefit another soul.

I’ve learned to let the guilt go. After all these years, my kids understand me and can even exercise with me or edit my blog posts. They appreciate that our family values lifelong fitness.

After all, I really do it for them.

Fine. Mostly me.

Here are my top 5 tips on how to fit exercise in and minimize the guilt:

  1. TAKE TURNS WITH YOUR PARTNER – Take turns exercising. One works out, the other helps with homework.
  2. ASK YOUR KIDS TO WORKOUT WITH YOU – Do a 10-minute workout with your kids. Depending on their age, you could run around the block together or they could ride a bike while you run alongside. If they are younger, do simple Yoga stretches like butterfly and cat/cow.
  3. ACCEPT A SHORT WORKOUT – realize even a short 20-minute run or workout will do. Some days I set a goal to do 100 burpees. I’ll break it up throughout the day, or knock it out in sets of 10 with a 45-second rest in between.
  4. HAVE A PLAYDATE WORKOUT – Meet a friend at a playground, play with your kids and mix in playground exercises like push-ups at the end of the slide, monkey bar hanging hold or chin-up hold and planks.
  5. FOCUS ON NUTRITION – Make a healthy meal with your family. Think about the 80/20 philosophy. When you hit 40 years of age, maintaining good health is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise. Sad, but true.

Run on!

Spiritual Workout: Take a walk with your kids and just listen. Don’t try to fix, just listen.

 

 

 

 

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

Go ahead, Wonder.

LENTEN REFLECTIONS #27

ORIGINALLY POSTED MARCH 2018

I just love this story. It sheds light on the fact that even though we are very different on the outside, the fibers of our souls are woven from the same cloth.

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 husband? 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, Parenting/Running/Pets, siblings

How to keep the power of storytelling alive…

Throwback Thursday…Originally posted on March 2, 2018

Always, ALWAYS tell your stories.

LENTEN REFLECTION #26

FAITH IN STORIES

Last week, our son was riding bikes, exploring the woods, and climbing trees with a friend. After a while, he came home from the trails and told us a tree fell on him. A little daunting, but luckily he was with a friend who was able to lift it off. Turned out it was an old, small pine tree he was climbing when it just snapped. Thankfully, he was wearing his bike helmet and ended up with only a scratched face, and legs. On Monday at school, he was questioned by friends about the mark on his face, and he shared his story. In the group of students, one boy pressed further, “Do you have a video of it?” “No video” was the reply. “Well then, it didn’t happen.” They debated back and forth, then finally, being a professional selective listener, our son confirmed, “it really did happen” and then moved on, ignoring further hassle.

At bedtime, he told me this story and we sat and picked it apart like old layers of paint peeling off the wall trying to find the original color. My inaugural feeling on the boy’s need for documentation to prove the truth was a feeling of exhaustion. Nowadays, technology negotiates our day much like a seeing eye dog, but with swipes, texts, and posts. We click pictures of our meals, and memories, shorten words and deliver messages as fast as our thumbs can go. Conversations dwindle with our busy lives, along with the age-old craft of storytelling – exactly what our son was doing.

As young children, there’s faith in stories. Maurice Sendak takes us to a wild rumpus and faithfully floats us home with Max as he arrives home to his warm dinner.

Faith in friendship is palpable when Charlotte sits in her web and says:

“You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.”
― E.B. WhiteCharlotte’s Web

Faith requires vulnerability. Stripping the need for that which is tangible. In “Yes, Virginia There is a Santa Claus” Francis Church interprets faith in his editorial in The New York Sun in 1897:

“You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart.”

The historian Stephen Nissenbaum connects ”Yes, Virginia” with not only faith in Santa Claus, but faith in faith. In the late 19th century religious doubt ran rampant among middle-class Americans. According to Mr. Nissenbaum “…God must exist simply because people so badly needed Him to.” When Mr. Church referred to ”the skepticism of a skeptical age, he was speaking to grown-ups.”

Now that doubt cloaks children too.

We make an emotional investment with every story we tell. Some may believe if a tree falls on a boy in a forest it’s true, doubters will question and want video proof. The vital action is to tell the story, be the raconteur and propel your listeners with you on a journey of faith.

Dig Deep: Go on a Rosary Run! Yesterday I did and it took my mind off the pain. 🙂 Run on!

Lenten Challenge: Pray for the doubters and cynics in the world, truly that’s all of us at times. Keep story-telling alive!