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

On Vulnerability…part 1

LENTEN REFLECTIONS #32

THROWBACK THURSDAY – This is a two-part post on vulnerability. I hate vulnerability because it exposes us, shows our imperfections, and breaks down the walls that keep us in our comfortable place and I love vulnerability because it reminds me to breathe through the tangled times, to say I love you first and to have the courage to tell our story.  

Part 1 (Originally posted March 2018):

Click for Part 2

“Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Risk being unliked.”  – Anne Lamott

I’ve always had a passion for writing. At nine, I filled the lines of my diary with trips to Disney and life-changing walks home from school. In middle and high school, I packed numerous pages with poems. During and after college, I chronicled my travels to placid beaches in Mexico and being witness to newborns in India gently held over the smoke of hot coals to promote circulation.  Additionally, 15 years ago, when the pink line on the little white stick silently announced motherhood was on deck in my life, I slid my mouse over the word “File”, clicked “New Document”, and 16 years later I pore over hundreds of records of family life — the wild and the wicked.

When the idea of blogging was planted in my head, I loved the thought, but as I typed my stories, the mere inclination of becoming transparent with the world (or my three followers- thanks mom, dad, and hubby), fear, and apprehension enveloped me. I asked myself and continue to ask: Why should I share my thoughts? What if I offend or hurt someone inadvertently? Who would want to hear what I have to say? Frankly, I can be a little snarky.  Uh oh, people will hate me!

Putting your self “out there” is scary. It’s unsettling. It’s a risk…and somehow, concurrently, it is transforming, cathartic, beautiful, and emancipating.

I will continue my thoughts on vulnerability in Part 2 because my son just announced: “It’s 11:11! Make a wish.”

So here’s mine:  to serve, share, and press PUBLISH with confidence.

“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage,” – Brené Brown in Rising Strong.


Dig Deep:  After your next run do a 25 rep challenge:  25 – squats, 25 – push-ups, 25 – sit-ups – REPEAT 3 TIMES!

LENTEN CHALLENGE:  Say one decade of the Rosary today.

 

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

20 – 2-minute activities to relieve stress

LENTEN REFLECTIONS #31

I took this picture after I walked with my kids to the bus stop this morning. The trail our feet imprinted was a snapshot of each of us. One set of footprints was my daughter’s, straight and defined, mine seemingly magnetized to each child and my son’s looping around, making his own way to the same destination. The walk took less than two minutes. Two tiny minutes to solidify their after-school plans, gush over the Dogwood blossoms and tell my kids I loved them.

Two minutes.

The walk reminded me of yet another article I read in the Orthodontists office (three kids in braces). The author discussed how sometimes the little tasks in life have the potential to overwhelm our day and push big jobs further into the peripheral. These mental to-do lists can clutter our minds and impose unnecessary stress, so why not just take time to do them?

I wanted to rip out the article and pin it on my shirt like a grade school reminder for picture day. Instead, I thought better of it and simply retained what I could for sharing.

So to remember what I gained from it, I developed a mantra :

Take two minutes to accomplish tiny tasks AND savor meaningful moments.

2-Minute TINY TASKS:

When I see a job that can be completed quickly but requires more inclination than sweat equity, I count through it, literally. Here’s what I mean: I count out loud and time how long the job REALLY takes. One morning, I opened my unorganized bathroom drawer and got that annoyed vibe where instead of just cleaning it out, I want to remodel the entire bathroom. NOW.

After talking myself off the Home Depot ledge, I started my count. 120 seconds later, I had thrown out old lotions, random rubberbands I pulled from my hair when I couldn’t find a hair tie and old make up I swear I’m going to use, but realize it’s easier to look in the mirror without my glasses on than to start using makeup.

After the short 2 minutes, I felt great and the next time I opened the drawer, I felt the cathartic joy I experience when something is done. Ever count through emptying the dishwasher? 2 minutes. Making your bed, 2 minutes or less. It’s the little things we can do NOW rather than later that help make the big picture things like studying for a test, or cleaning the garage or tackling paperwork more doable.

2-Minute MEANINGFUL MOMENTS:

Now those two minutes can also bring immediate joy, like walking with your kids to the bus, snuggling with your partner or petting your dog. In those instances, the tiny two minutes IS meaningful and memorable. A WIN, WIN.

So in an effort to tackle the tiny tasks and embrace the moments that count, I’ve researched and crafted my top 20 things you can accomplish in just 2 minutes.

  1. Floss and brush. Your teeth will thank you at your next checkup.
  2. After washing your hands, wipe off the sink and mirror. Almost clean is sometimes close enough.
  3. Turn on music and dance with your spouse or kids. The natural boost of dopamine will inject your mood with joy.
  4. Put leashes on your dogs. Then go for a walk. Sometimes the 2 minutes it takes to put the leashes on the dogs seem so laborious. They’ll love you for it.
  5. Empty the trash and recycling. Then reline the trash cans. Pull in the bins for the curb also if it’s trash day. Done!
  6. Clean out your purse or backpack. Throw away receipts, tissues, and (if you’re like me) take out the 9 Sharpies. You just need two in a Sharpie emergency…one to give away and one to keep. Wipe bag with a damp cloth.
  7. Shake out all the carpets in your car. You can use a scraper or your hand to help the dirt off. Ahhh…a semi-clean car.
  8. Go through the mail you’ve piled up. Recycle the junk, file the rest.
  9. Clean out the garbage disposal. Combine one part baking soda and two parts vinegar, pour in the disposal, let sit for 30 seconds, add a handful of ice and run the disposal.
  10. Clean out the microwave. Since the vinegar is out, fill a mug with 1/4  cup of vinegar and the rest with water. Heat for 1 minute and let sit for 45 seconds, wipe the oven clean.
  11. Play 52 pick up with your kids. Who cares how old they are? Flip the cards up and let them fly. Pick up quickly and maybe you’ll have time for another game!
  12. Give one of your children a piggyback ride. Here you might care about age and size. If you’re my size, ask your kids to give you a piggyback ride instead. Good luck.
  13. Sweep the front steps. Make the entrance of your home look welcoming and happy.
  14. Untangle all of your charger and other device cords and plug in your phone. It will relieve the stress later.
  15. Declutter your email. Unsubscribe to as many unwanted emails as you can in two minutes!
  16. Check texts and voice mail. Make sure you’ve responded to calls and texts.
  17. Pay your bills online. You’ll be surprised how quickly this can be done.
  18. Comb through your credit card bill. Make sure all charges are legitimate.
  19. Sit down and relax for two minutes. Listen to your breathing. Close your eyes.
  20. Ask your children to tell you the best and worst parts of their day. I like to use open-ended questions in the hopes of having more than a one-minute conversation with them after school. Although frequently their response will still be “GOOD”. I think it’s just the teenage script they read from. If the stars are aligned, it could lead to a great conversation.

Take two minutes. To do the little things. Whether they are weighty and mundane or fulfilling and memorable. You will experience delight in knowing you accomplished them.

My two-minute walk to the bus stop and perhaps over-analysis of the footsteps in the grass brought me a day of joy knowing our kids will ultimately go the way their hearts lead them and always know their way home. 

Life is fleeting, find joy in it even if it is two minutes at a time.

Spiritual Workout – my thought for today:

I wish I could push a bobby pin through the little hole in life’s doorknob, shove the door open and reveal all the answers we are so desperate for.

Workout: Get outside today and walk or run – oh! take those dogs with you.