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

Call Grandma & Grandpa…with House Party or Zoom?!?

Lenten Reflections Day #31

My parents are 81 and 84 and they keep busy. So when the “shelter in place” rule hit, my sisters had to do a lot of parental redirecting.

I think at one point they hid the car keys, which isn’t a bad thing as Dad has Macular Degeneration. Simply put, this sight loss condition makes driving quite challenging for him–unless Mom sits in the passenger seat and “directs” him. It’s kind of like being in a new Subaru with the fancy bells and whistles that alert you when you’re too close to a car or a pedestrian. Instead, it’s just Mom yelling “Dad! Car!” in a used Honda.

In an effort to keep Mom and Dad home and bring all of us together virtually, we reviewed the options. We had heard of families using House Party to visit with their grandparents who “loved it!” Instead, we opted to start small and less bold by setting up a Google Hangouts call.

Inevitably, the sound didn’t work, Dad could “almost” see us and Mom lost interest about 6 minutes in. When we realized she had definitely moved onto her crossword puzzle, we told her we could try a different day, to which she quickly said, “No, let’s just get it over with now”.  One thing my parents can always do is make me laugh.

We’re still working on virtual calls with Mom and Dad, maybe a Zoom will be easier. In the meantime, Mom is sewing masks for doctors and nurses, reading and doing puzzles while Dad is spending a lot of time outside fixing and building things.

The picture above is a rare sighting. Dad painting. Not sure how this transpired, but it is just one example of how all of us are stepping out of our comfort zones and trying new things. Not always because we want to, but that’s where we are so why not embrace it or rather give it one of those weird elbow bumps.

I think I’ll stick to regular phone calls for now. I like it when Mom and I are chatting and she says, “Hold on a minute, I’ll go get Dad, he’s outside and I’m not on the ‘walk-around phone’, I’m attached to the wall.”

Behaviors may change, but deep down, Mom and Dad are going to stay who they are, picking up the phone when it rings, hanging laundry on the line and taking care of each other.

Try something new, be safe and take care.

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, Parenting/Running/Pets, siblings

Boredom or Solace?

#24 Lenten Reflections

THROWBACK THURSDAY!

In a lot of the stories I’ve shared in this space, there is typically one common denominator. TIME. More of it. More for family, health, vacations, gardening, reading, playing games, walking dogs, organizing, donating…well…now it’s here.

In fact, tonight at dinner I heard everyone say grace in unison. Five voices. Together. I’m not sure if God caught the words as there is a constant sprint to the word Amen, but nonetheless, we were all in the same place at the same time. And we have been for the last 12 days. Happy, stressed, bored, rested, lonely, alone, crowded, worried…a multitude of feelings.

This newfound time harkened back to a post I wrote regarding the chasm that lives between two heightened feelings boredom and solace…

#24: 40 days of raw reflections during the Lenten Season

I often look around our home and see the jobs others don’t. The cobwebs housing a spider “that really is going to catch the mosquitos and flies that sneak in!” Or the towels that just never make it on the hooks, the windows that are riddled with dog nose kisses, and the baseboards I spitefully glare at while I secretly decide moving to a new home would be easier than cleaning them. It’s times like these when I know seemingly mundane jobs need to be done, and I just have to delve into the task. But why go it alone, when many hands make light work? It’s all about recruitment.

There is one specific word beckoning me to pass my children a mop and the bright blue toilet cleaner…or vinegar for those who steer away from toxicity.

Bored.

Said alone, it’s just one syllable that doesn’t amount to much, but when you accompany it with:

“I-I-I-I-I-I’M” (said in a whiny tone held approximately 3 seconds or more) and then BOOOORRRRED! It takes on a completely new meaning.

Where exactly does “bored” sit on life’s balance beam? Is it fighting for space next to lackadaisical and uncreative, or is it teetering on the edge with solace and quiet? It’s really our call.

Nowadays at the onset of boredom, we plop ourselves in front of a screen and detach ourselves from the emotion altogether. This escape from the now builds an emotional chain link fence in front of solace and deprives us of confronting the quiet. The act of being alone and the feelings that accompany it can be uncomfortable at first for some, or always for others.

We clamor to fill the boredom void, much like the panic and announcement of “awkward silence” when quiet wiggles its way into a conversation. Why not embrace the quiet, focus on our breathing, meditate, or pray? Life so rarely gives us the gift of calm. So when it does, much like not waking the baby or poking the bear, don’t disturb the solace. Embrace it.

Dig Deep: Meditate in a quiet space.

Lenten Challenge: Pray for the sick.