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

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, 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, 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

Are you sitting 90% more than usual? This will help…

As humans we are social animals therefore, we naturally miss our human connections, which can make us a little cranky…and once we’re cranky, we forget to move…and then we get crankier! So, like in the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie…things go south quickly, and we can lose our focus. Together let’s stretch our bodies and stay positive.

WHY STRETCH? 

According to Harvard Health Medical School (they know):

“Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage.”

Here are some stretches to give your body and mind strength and clarity.  

Stay in each position shown for 30 seconds (static). Focus on deep breathing and you’ll get some mental stress relief as well. I used The Daily Burn as a resource.

Hip Flexor Stretch: 
Here’s how:Think that hip pain is bursitis? Think again. - Harvard Health Standing up, mimic sitting with one leg crossed over the other, or use a chair as shown for support, so you have two right angles with your legs, one resting on the other.  Sit, hold it, and then switch.

 

Stretching Body Nuchal Rigidity Exercise Massage PNG, Clipart ...

Side Oblique Stretch: 
Lengthen the side of your body as you stretch.
Here’s how: Stand with feet a little wider than hip-distance apart. As you lift one arm overhead with your palm facing inward, reach and lean toward the opposite side of the arm raised. Hold for 15 seconds, then switch sides.

Downward Dog: 
This stretch isDownward Dog Clipart focused on hip and shoulder mobility while stretching your hamstrings, lats (mid-back muscles) and deltoids (shoulder muscles).
Here’s how: Begin in a plank position with shoulders directly over wrists. Push your hips up toward the ceiling so you form a triangle with your body. Keep your head between your arms and straighten your legs as much as possible. Reach your heels toward the ground and spread your fingers, so your bodyweight gets distributed evenly through the hands and feet.

Cat: 
Back pain? This pose will encourage blood flow and increase mobility in your spine.

Here’s how: Get on your hands and knees on a carpet or mat, with wrists in line with shoulders and knees in line with hips. Round your back, tuck your pelvis and look toward the floor, as you scoop your abs upward.

Cow: 
What is the opposite of caHow to Do Cat-Cow Pose in Yoga – YogaOutlet.comt pose? Cow pose, of course. This will stretch your abs and chest muscles.
Here’s how: Get on your hands and knees on an exercise mat, wrists under shoulders and knees in line with hips. Arch your back, look slightly upward and stick your chest out.

Child’s Pose: 
This stretch is an incredibly calming posture and works well for recovery, too. You’ll streBalasana, child, meditation, pose, yoga icontch the low back, lats, and shoulders.
Here’show: Get on all fours on an exercise mat. From your hands and knees, push your hips back until your bottom rests on your heels. (Knees are slightly wider than hips.) Keep your arms straight out in front of you and look at the floor, stretch!

 

Lying Hug Stretch:
Miss all those hugs you got prior to social distancing?

Does my Back Need Cracking? [Don't Screw it Up!]Here’s the remedy and the perfect way to relieve tension in your low back. Here’s how: Lie on your back on an exercise mat or carpet. Tuck your knees toward your chest and grab your calves, as you roll your head up to meet your knees.

Along with stretching remember to keep your immune system strong and eat plenty of immune-boosting foods!

Here are my top 10 favorites: 

Ginger

Citrus

Bell peppers

Garlic

Spinach

Yogurt

Almonds

Turmeric

Sunflower seeds

Green Tea

Take care of yourself and others 🙂

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.

 

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.