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, Parenting/Running/Pets

No Social Distancing at the Last Supper? Scoot over Judas!

Lenten Reflection #38

As the world continues to keep a six-foot distance from one another, the commemoration of the Last Supper of Jesus Christ, Holy Thursday’s Mass, was streamed online this year.

As I stared up at a copy of the famous artwork by Leonardo Da Vinci given to me by my grandmother, I noticed the lack of personal space between the apostles. Honestly, why didn’t anyone sit on the other side of the table? But in all seriousness, this masterpiece depicts the moments after Christ let his chummy crew KNOW-HE-KNEW that one disciple would betray him before sunrise.

We all find ourselves in that space sometimes. That skeptical time when our trust in ourselves and others circle the drain and our own Judas or Coronavirus creeps into our world. But Jesus didn’t lose hope, and we shouldn’t either.

Keep your faith strong and know we’ll get through this time. Pray for the souls lost and do your part to not let the spread continue.  And for goodness sake tell all the Judas’ in the world to scoot over because they are sitting WAY to close.

In my research of the painting, I found a few rare facts about this stellar painting on leonardodavinci.net to share:

  1. Leonardo Da Vinci hadn’t worked on such a large painting and had no experience in the standard mural medium of fresco.
  2. The spilled salt is symbolic – speculations about symbolism in the artwork are plentiful. For example, many scholars have discussed the meaning of the spilled salt container near Judas’s elbow. Spilled salt could symbolize bad luck, loss, religion, or Jesus as the salt of the earth.
  3. Was it eel or herring? Scholars have also remarked on da Vinci’s choice of food. They dispute whether the fish on the table is herring or eel since each carries its own symbolic meaning.
  4. Da Vinci used a hammer and nail to help him to achieve a one-point perspective. What makes the masterpiece so striking is the perspective from which it’s painted, which seems to invite the viewer to step right into the dramatic scene. To achieve this illusion, da Vinci hammered a nail into the wall, then tied a string to it to make marks that helped guide his hand in creating the painting’s angles.
  5. The existing mural is not da Vinci’s work. At the end of the 20th century, restorer Panin Brambilla Barcilon and his crew relied on microscopic photographs, core samples, infrared reflectoscopy and sonar to remove the added layers of paint and restore the original as accurately as possible. Critics maintain that only a fraction of the painting that exists today is the work of Leonardo da Vinci.

Be Kind.

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, Parenting/Running/Pets

Fill your Rice Bowl

#36 Lenten Reflections

A little cardboard box sits on our countertop during Lent.

When we have extra change, we drop it in the box. Then on the due date, we match the amount inside as a family and return it to church. It’s a tradition. Another one. I love traditions.

This simple tool is for collecting Lenten alms—and comes with a Lenten calendar that guides families through the 40 days of Lent with activities, reflections, and stories. It is labled CRS Rice Bowl.

CRS stands for Catholic Relief Services  the official relief and development agency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s organization. This handy piggy bank type tool encourages almsgiving to Catholic families during Lent. A curveball in the traditional “give up chocolate” mentality. It is accompanied by Lenten activities, prayers, and my favorite, recipes.

Now I’m not cool enough to call myself a foodie, but I ADORE food. The following recipe is vegetarian and uses clean, simple ingredients.

I hope you try it and love it! Click here for more recipes.

COCONUT DHAL – SRI LANKA

Makes 4 servings

  • 2 c red lentils
  • 2 T fair trade olive oil
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • Small handful dried or two fresh curry leaves
  • 1 green chili, chopped
  • 1 t hot curry powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 c water
  • 1/3 c lemon juice
  • Basmati rice
  • Cilantro

Rinse lentils. Heat olive oil in a large pan. Sauté shallot and garlic until brown. Add lentils, cinnamon, curry leaves, green chili, curry powder, salt, coconut milk, and water. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer and cook until lentils are soft, adding more water as needed. Season with lemon juice. Serve with basmati rice and top with cilantro.

Spirtual Workout: Try and say one Rosary every day this week.

Workout: Walk and pray…for yourself for a change!

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, Other, Parenting/Running/Pets, siblings

You’re not the only one. Trust me…On Vulnerability Part 2

#33 – Raw reflections during the Lenten Season

It’s time to live unguarded. To fill life’s toolbox with courage, shame, vulnerability and lots of Band-Aids. Will we fall? Yes! Faceplant for sure. But we have to try, have to rise strong and know we can. 

“On Vulnerability” Part 2…here is March 2018’s updated version.

Here’s Part 1


When our children were younger, I would accompany them to birthday parties, playdates, practices, and other events and watch, wait, and chat with other parents.

I loved connecting, it was like I would imagine Eharmony for parents. A time to find your tribe of trusted moms and dads, then ever-so-carefully pick a few who relate to your cheeky humor, and pray your kids were in the next room bonding over a juice box.

As our kids aged, I noticed parents would leave these events, and return at the “pick up time”.  I always opted to stay, plopping down on the floor, cherishing my chats with the few other parents who would sit in their comfy cup holding canvas chairs (such a great invention). Sure, sometimes, I was the mom who brought a book/prop which other parents respectfully knew signified – whoever holds the book has just put themselves in a quiet, parental time out, essentially a “please do not disturb sign”.

The kids got a little older and there was another shift.  Either I grew more confident (or less patient waiting by myself) and would run while they practiced.  As long as I was within a mom’s stone’s throw between them, I felt I could reach them and perform CPR if needed.

Of course, I’m always happy to get in a run, but I missed the parent-share conversations…the dinner plans no one had or the way it’s impossible to leave Costco for under $100. A simple exchange between moms and dads that only the gap of time when our children are engaged with their friends allows.

Then one night, all three of our children had events simultaneously, and a tough moment ensued. Clearly, we had to pick our least favorite child, leave them at their designated practice and accompany the others.

Kidding. Our eldest was the default, and since some nights I was the lone mom hanging out for the two-hour stretch at swim practice anyway, I figured she’d be okay while I drove our son to baseball. As I drove away, of course thinking the worst, it was one of the few times I was grateful our daughter had a phone. Plus, at baseball, there were other helicopter parents like myself to share best practices, a clear bonus.

Our children’s activities, whether we realize it or not, give us a chance to pause and realize we’re not the only ones bouncing around blindly in this parenting pinball game.

While our kids solidify their friendships at a birthday party or discover team sports and aggression are not in their design, we are given the opportunity through conversation to share ourselves with other parents and be VULNERABLE. To open ourselves. To share.

I often feel the weight of parenting lighten as I walk with our children to the car after their practices. It’s a comfort to know I’m not alone. To know even the mom with the “coolest outfits” according to my daughter has quirky insecurities too. Sometimes we just need to know we are not the only parents out there who:

  • curses at Siri when she doesn’t listen
  • checks her children’s texts
  • never checks pockets before washing the laundry
  • considers cereal dinner
  • takes apart the washing machine, finds the penny bonking around, and ends up with extra screws when reassembling
  • panics about working after 15 years of staying home with the kids
  • hates texting
  • vacuums too much
  • never knows what’s for dinner
  • prays selfishly
  • stays up way too late because knowing everyone is safe and asleep brings calm to a crazy day
  • wipes the tears from our children’s eyes, and our own when their hearts are broken
  • prays our children will find their best friend
  • arrives late to pick up their child at school/practice/Bible Study
  • delivers their child’s forgotten homework to school
  • buys bras at Costco (one size fits most)
  • yells at our children and regrets it profoundly seconds after
  • colors the gray roots at home out of a box bought from the sale table at the supermarket
  • clings to their children –  as someone who is way too young dies in a car accident, from a health complication, or God forbid — inside their school.

Allowing ourselves to be transparent, and invest in relationships will only make us better parents. It takes pluck to be vulnerable, but there is courage in the imperfect, strength in sharing, and certainty in the uncertain.

Dig Deep:  Time your run, then challenge yourself to do the same run faster tomorrow.

Lenten Challenge:  “Give feet to your faith”. Feed the hungry, pray for the sick, and share your grace with everyone who crosses your path.

 

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