Monday, December 31, 2012
My running buddy leads the way dipping her snout into the snowdrifts flipping the snow into the air and trying to catch it as we run. She is in her element.
As I run I can smell that someone has a fire burning. Another is making bacon for breakfast and someone else is doing laundry. The smells waft through the air like snowflakes drifting to the ground.
It is a lonely run but the fact that it is just my running buddy and me makes it all the better. The quiet envelopes us as we go. The sounds of her panting and my breathing a rhythm all it's own. No music needed.
We arrive home sweating, cold and tired. She collapses on the floor and I collapse on the radiator. All is good on a winter morning.
We headed to school to help the parish disperse food and gifts to the less fortunate.
I thought this was about us helping them. Boy was I wrong. When we arrived on this bitter cold morning there was a line of people already waiting.
We positioned ourselves as they opened the doors. I was in the gym assisting with 'shopping' and the girls acted as Sherpas, lugging bags to cars.
Families can register for gifts, food or both. They pick up gifts first and then head to the gym to 'shop' for food. I carry the bags as they fill them with oranges, potatoes, cookies, and other goodies.
As we shop, we chat. The gratitude expressed by these folks always amazes me.
A few of our guests stood out to me..
First there was a lady that came in for the first time. She was about 50 or so. She started crying from the moment I said hello. She cried and thanked each helper filling her bag. She continued to cry and hug people as she left. My girls took her items to her car and 13 said she was given the tightest hug... One she would not soon forget. A hug that made 13 cry too.
Then there was The the lady in the red hat. She was so nervous. About 65 or so and did not want to take too much food. She said that there were others who needed it more than her. We got to the end of the line where the guests are offered a ham. I admit it is huge but can be shared or frozen as it it's fully cooked. She didn't want it and left. A short while later she came back saying she changed her mind. So we went to get the ham. She was so nervous that her hands were sweating and I noticed she was rubbing them together hard enough to break the skin. She was so unsure about the ham. I reassured her and gave her suggestions as to using it all ( Sharing with a friend, freezing, packaging it in smaller potions, etc) but I could see that this was so stressful for her. She then whispered "I am so scared."
"The ham. It is so big"
She went on to tell me a few times how scared she was as I tried to comfort and reassure her.
"We just want you to have food but if it is too much, how about I just cut you a small piece to take home?"
She looked as if the weight of the world had been lifted from her shoulders! She showed me exactly how much he wanted and I went to the kitchen to cut it for her. I returned with her small portion and she placed it in a bag, thanked me and left. As it turned out there were a few others that did not want an entire ham and took the leftover smaller portions. Everyone was a winner in the end.
There was the lady who did not take much food because it was not organic and there were too many processed foods.
There was a lady who came in dressed to the nines... She looked so stylish but when you got close enough you could tell that everything she had on was well worn or ill fitting. She had an air about her though that caused us all to stop and take notice.
There were folks that wanted to get through that line as fast as possible in order to leave. Embarrassment? Pride? Not sure but with us was the last place they wanted to be.
There was the lady that had taken the train to us. We had no idea until one of our teen helpers was missing for a while. We thought he had decided to hide out and take a break. Little did we know he had walked her and her food to the train station (3 blocks away) wearing only a sweatshirt. He came back a teen Popsicle.
There were so many more faces and stories in the over 140 families we served that day. Faces I see each time I shop. Faces I see each time I look at my full fridge. Faces that I see each time I pray.
Each face a reminder of my blessings. Each face the face of God. Each face changing my perspective.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Since Friday, many people have asked me for my advice and assistance in dealing with their own children. I feel so unqualified to help these people as I am not sure I am even doing the right thing with my own children. Every family is different and what is right for my children and our family, might not be right for others.
There is no real explanation for what happened or why it happened. The shooter is dead thus we can only speculate as to his motives. Our nation will forever wonder why. Our nation will forever mourn.
So what now? Do we lock our schools and make them more like a prison than a learning environment? Do we change the laws that regulate guns? Do we alter how we deal with mental health issues in our nation? How will we respond? How will we remember these babies and the adults who gave their lives to protect them?
How we move forward from here will be the real memorial to these victims. I still don't know if I have the right answers. I still feel unqualified.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
I was supervising lunch recess for my students when I saw a man walking across the playground (really a part of the parking lot that it roped off at lunchtime). He was dressed a little strangely and walking directly through the boys playing football so I walked over to him to escort him safely to the other side. As I got closer I could better see what he was wearing... worn out shoes, well worn jeans, a 1/4 zip fleece and a fleece bathrobe with a wide leather belt holding it closed. On his head he was sporting a baseball cap. He was carrying a holiday gift bag as he shuffled slowly towards me. I asked if he was lost and he said he was on his way to drop off the bag at the Rectory so I walked him to the rectory door. We soon realized that the rectory was closed for lunch. I offered to take the bag and deliver it later that afternoon. I looked inside to find a pair of very well worn and duct tape repaired soccer slide sandals... something any one of us would have thrown away long ago. He explained that he loved these shoes and they were"expensive" but he was willing to part with them because someone needed them more than he did. He was donating them to a Christmas service project for the poor of the parish. We came upon our Maintenance man who offered to place the bag in the Rectory for us. He looked inside as I did then looked at me as we shared a knowing smile. This gift of the heart would get delivered.
I walked the gentleman back across the lot and back to the safety of his car....which was a rather nice newer model vehicle. He got in and drove off.
We never know the circumstances of others. I know nothing about this man but was as surprised by his generosity and caring as I was by his attire. I do not know where he went when he left. What I do know is that he made me think...
How many of us feel the pain when we give? How many of us give from the heart? How many of us give of ourselves and our time? How many of us give at all?
How many of us judge others by appearance? How many of us just judge?
Thank you, gentleman wearing the robe. You gave me the gift of giving.
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
|Holy cow! That's me!|
Today I got a surprise that stunned me to my core. I woke up to a notice of a photo of me posted on Facebook. Not only was it a photo of me.... I was the front page of the Shamrock Shuffle Website! The photo was one that I had never seen before and made me smile from ear to ear!
When I ran that race, it was my first race wearing a tutu. I have since run every race wearing one and love that I am keeping a promise to my Girls on the Run. I wrote a post after tat race about what it means to me to run wearing a tutu. Tutu Spirit is what carries me through each and every run. what began on that day was a surprise. The feeling of being a powerful princess continues to surprise and delight me each time I put on my tutu.
After i recovered from the initial shock of the photo this morning, I realized that several friends had shared this with others on FB. One of my favorite running buddies posted this:
"One of my running mentors and great friends is featured on the Shamrock Shuffle sign up page!!! This woman pushed me through so many miles when I ran my first marathon, has seen the smiles and seen the tears that running has brought me. Sign up is open today for one of Chicago's greatest races."
I was moved to tears. It is my goal to motivate people to be their best self and push themselves beyond what they think is possible. I want to encourage people. I want to empower people. I want people to believe in themselves...and I will believe in them until they can do it on their own. If I can do it anyone can!
Surprises. Life is full of them. Surprise yourself today! Peace.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Disembarking and flying home
We got off the ship without incident and waited for my mom to pick up a rental. She showed up with a Ford Flex....for 8 people and 14 bags!
We packed the trunk full, loaded the back seat with luggage and kids, put 2 suitcases on the floor of the middle seat (meaning the The Big Guy and I had no legroom) and 17 sat on a suitcase in the middle. It was by no means comfortable nor safe! We drove about, had lunch at a Cuban place,a shopped at a mall and then went to the airport. Free wifi in the airport was a true gift to these weary parent travelers! We also had outlets...not enough but enough to make do.
3 hours and many snacks later we boarded a plane home. The flight was uneventful and after an easy landing at Midway we got our bags and prepped for the last leg of the trip...the drive home!
Today I am gradual for safe travels and coming home.
Today is our last day on the ship. I woke up early to a beautiful sunrise. I decided to go for a run on deck which was amazing. The wind at my back for part of each lap and then into wind for the other half. After 5 miles I chose to head in to the gym for a bike ride then some weights.
Breakfast on deck and then a quick change into a bathing suit. I planted myself on a deck chair for the rest of the day happily reading my book and drinking umbrella drinks.
Early in the afternoon we had to head down to our room and prepare for the main event...my parents vow renewal. The girls looked beautiful and the boys handsome.
Dinner was a relaxed affair with story after story of how may parents met, dated, and married.
We retired to our rooms full of food and festivities to pack ours bags.
Today I am grateful for warm sun and love.
Again we had to tender into port. This was an arduous process as the waters were choppy and there were 6 ships in port. Once we got ashore we exited the safe area and took a cab downtown. We shopped a bit and wanted to take a glass bottom boat ride but the waters were choppy and my kids got a little skittish so we gave up on the idea. We met the family for lunch at a place called Panchos backyard. It was so good and the drinks large. 17 and I had a few cocktails together again which was fun.
The kids had all made friends aboard ship by this point so they all took off leaving mom and dad alone for a change. We spent some time in the hot tub and went to a super sushi dinner together.
Another day done.
Today I am grateful for deep drinks and time with my husband.
We woke up early and walked off the ship prepared for the kids to participate in a long awaited excursion....swimming with the dolphins. It was early (8:30) but already warm. We walked to the dolphin pool and while the instructor gave an initial lesson, I took pictures marveling in the excitement of my kids.
Once they were finished and got out of the water we walked across the beach to Señor Frogs for fruity drinks, free Internet and nachos.
There is a free large pool and beach with coral access to the ocean. We hung out in the pool, laid on chairs in the sand and swam in the ocean looking at the living things under the water. Mom and I collected pieces of coral and I swam with the kids in the warm Gulf waters.
We packed up about 4 and headed back to the ship to get ready for Thanksgiving dinner...at the steakhouse!
Yes, I had steak, potatoes and shrimp for Thanksgiving dinner! A non traditional Thanksgiving to be sure but one that I will remember forever.
Today I am grateful for dreams... And the ability to help my kids dreams come true.
I slept almost all the way through the night for the first time in days waking to drink a little water. I woke up for good early and headed to the deck to sit and enjoy the view. I watched as the ship came to port and anchor as my family slept. I was feeling much better....not 100% but stronger and ready to see another city.
We got back on The ship via the tender and relaxed for the evening.
Today I am grateful for cool drinks and fresh seafood.
The rest of the family woke up and headed to breakfast as we watched the ship dock in the port of Roatan Honduras.
We disembarked and headed to the main port area. My mom had already contracted a driver to chauffeur us about the island. As our driver, Percy, drove We saw many beautiful and many not so pretty parts of the area. Many clothes hanging from clothes lines and lots of people walking everywhere. I like to get in and mix with the local culture however being married to an over protective cop does not allow for this behavior when we are together. So we traveled by van throughout the island. I took photos from the van windows and longed to get out and walk amongst the streets. We visited a private nature preserve that was beautiful. Many wealthy islanders have been allowed to build homes on the property and it also houses a private resort. We got out near the resort area to use the restroom and walk around. Soon the rain started again and chased us back to the van.
We decided at this point to head back to the ship as the rain became heavier. We had planned to go to the beach but the weather had other plans.
We did make a stop at the monkey park. This was a very small little area where a private guide, Oskar, took us to various cages of different native and nonnative species of wildlife. We saw tapirs, spider monkey, island rabbit, and island white tailed deer. We entered the cages and interacted with the white faced gibbons and scarlet macaw. It was the macaw that took a liking to Jack as it took a nibble of his finger!
We boarded our van and drove though an area called the West End. This a an ocean front area where the divers and fisherman are the prime sources of income. Dive shacks are everywhere and boats to take the divers out are a dime a dozen. We stopped at a shirt shop to get the kids a souvenir. The shop was owned by a man from Iowa who came to visit and never left.
As we drove though the streets Percy told us about the area and himself. With no traffic laws, the only thing governing speed on the streets are well placed speed bumps. Also the road is riddled with potholes that could swallow a car whole. Percy shared that his father was originally from Columbus Ohio and had come to Honduras to work for Dole foods many years ago. He never learned the language but his children did ... Much to his frustration as the often spoke about him right in front of his face but he could not understand.
Percy told us of his 3 grown children and reminded both my husband and I that the most valuable thing we could give our children was education. His own children had not followed that example leading to a life of drinking and destitution.
We arrived back at the port with time to spare. I decided to walk out of the compound and across the street to photograph a cemetery. This angered my husband as he does not like me "wandering off". Me? I was fine....happy for the opportunity to enjoy a moment to pray and take some photos of the beautiful headstones.
We met up with my brother and his wife and they told us of their adventures in Honduras as we reboarded the ship. At this point we were famished so we got a little something to eat and I headed down to the cabin for a nap....which turned into an all night affair of me sleeping on and off while people came in and out. I remember little of the night with conversations here and there are my kids and husband paraded into and out of the room.
The sun gave way to clouds again and we decided it was time to shower and get ready for dinner.
Dinner was at a different restaurant on the ship but also one of the main dining rooms. The food was a bit better here and time with my family the best part. After dinner we walked about and soon I retired to the room....while the rest of the family played about the ship. The rest was short lived as I got violently ill. All night long I was in the bathroom sick as a dog. It was no fun for anyone in our room.
Today I am grateful for an on board fitness center!
Once on the ship we found our rooms and changed clothing then headed to the pool deck for a drink. The sun was shining and the weather warm. Before long the ship set sail and the adventure was beginning.
After dinner we walked about the ship and went back to my parents room for a nightcap and then bed.
Today I am grateful for luggage with wheels....and patience.
Sunday, November 18, 2012
Friday, November 16, 2012
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Monday, November 12, 2012
Saturday, November 10, 2012, was the WonderGirl 5K sponsored by Girls On The Run. This was the culminating event of a 13 week self esteem, positive body image program for girls in grades 3-5.
The gun sounded and we were off....a little slowly at first as there were so many people and not a lot of space. As we ran through the neighborhood, the crowds cheered and honked horns in support of the girls. Everywhere words of encouragement could be heard....."You can do this!" "I am proud of you!" "You are going to finish..." We walked a bit and ran a bit …we got through the distance….
As soon as the finish line was in sight the girls finally realized that they would finish. We ran to the finish with the sounds of the crowd yelling and flashes going off as a multitude of parents and supporters took pictures and cheered! The girls…every one of them…crossed the finish line head held high smiling from ear to ear!
When we arrived back at our school gathering site, we met with all the other girls proudly wearing their medals! Parents were all sharing stories with one another so visibly proud of their little girls! The girls were beaming! What a sight!!! Shortly after, it was time to part ways and head home.
The girls wore their shirts and medals to school on Monday and we coaches could not be prouder of them!! This was a life changing event for not only the girls but families and coaches as well.
We all started running at different times in our lives. We all run for different reasons. We all train for different events. Everyone had to start somewhere. Our hope and prayer is that this was the start of something good for all these girls and families.
Sunday, November 11, 2012
Saturday, November 10, 2012
Friday, November 9, 2012
Thursday, November 8, 2012
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Monday, November 5, 2012
Saturday, November 3, 2012
God bless Captain Herbert Johnson who gave the ultimate sacrifice last night. Prayers for his family and all of the CFD.
Friday, November 2, 2012
Thursday, November 1, 2012
I got home from my running around and walked in to find the dog dancing around the kitchen in her tell tale "no one has taken me out" dance. I asked the kids and was ignored so I hooked up the puppy's leash and took her out.
I was planning on just taking her for a short walk but she started to pull at the leash and gave me that "lets go, woman" look so I started a slow jog to the end of the block.
I rounded a corner and just kept going. She looked so happy breathing in the cool night air with her nose sniffing everything possible that it just made me smile. We went around the park and I was going to go home but my feet took me another direction. I knew the way.... I had run this route before and the puppy seemed to know where we were going. Each time we reached a point where we could turn to go home, I turned the other way.
It was dark....well as dark as it gets in the city. Growing up in the country you learn what DARK really feels like. This was not really dark but it was as dark as the city gets....Unless someone shoots out the streetlight. Living in the first neighborhood to use electric lights and named after Thomas Edison, I have learned that it is never really DARK. I have embraced the lights of night.
As I ran I was enveloped by the warm amber glow of the streetlights. I was overwhelmed by a sense of peace that I had not felt in a long time. I was running with no GPS, no iPod, no watch, no nothing. My phone was on silent and I forgot I had it with me.
I was with my puppy in the dark, leaves crunching under our feet and cool air filling our lungs. I breathed out the crap that filled my head, heart and lungs breathing in the cool air and fresh attitude. The sights and smells of fall filled my senses.
I arrived home 30 minutes after I left but it felt like I could have run for miles more. I walked into the house and was greeted by chores being done and kids getting along.
Sometimes we all need a little dark to appreciate the light.
During the month of November I will post one thing each day that I am grateful for. Just one item a day. By Thanksgiving I will have been reminded of 22 reasons to be grateful and 30 by the end of the month. Won't you all join me and live an attitude of gratitude this month?
Today I a grateful for coffee. It is the nectar of the God's on a day when I need sustenance to get me through the long work day and hours before I can call it a day. On a day when my students are sure to be either over sugared and still wound up or in a complete sugar coma, I am thankful for coffee to keep me going.
Sunday, October 28, 2012
My mojo left. I think it might have gotten packed up with the marathon baracades and signs. I have not seen it since the marathon. I really wonder if it was misplaced in the suitcase of one of my BRF (best running friends) that were in from out of town. I'm not sure where it went. Perhaps it just ran away? I don't know.
I have been out searching since the week after the marathon. A couple times I week I lace up my shoes and go out looking. I look high and low and sometimes take the dog hoping she can help me sniff it out. Nothing. I got nothing. I miss my mojo. I could always count on it when things were good or bad. It was always there to get me through. The feelings of anger, impatience, frustration have taken over my life. I miss the feelings of joy, accomplishment a peace that my mojo provides.
Yesterday I decided to go look again in the one place I had not checked....my trail.
I woke up late and missed my usual group but I saw this as a blessing in disguise. I needed time to look on my own before asking for help.
I took off and headed down the trial by myself. It was pretty deserted. Not many people use the trail as it gets colder. I relished the emptiness as it mirrored my running soul. I took no Garmin. No anything. I wanted to devote my attention to the hunt. It was liberating not to have to keep a set pace for others, to run at a pace that was good only for me. To walk when I chose. Speed up and slow down when I felt like it. No one depending on me for answers. I was on my own. Without even my mojo to keep me company and I began to search.
After the first 3 miles, I had pretty much given up the hunt. Even the deer on the path were not paying attention to me. My path knows me better than anyone. It has been there for the good runs, bad runs, hot runs, cold runs, crappy runs. It has allowed me to work through my problems and help me find the answers. It has been there through sadness and elation. My trail is the home and my running group, my family.
I decided to look a bit further along the trail so continued my run and it was then that I thought I heard something rustle in the trees. Crazy! There was no one there. Just the wind. But something made me continue running.
Shortly before I turned around to head home I saw Wanda. She was taunting me. She was teasing me like a big bully. If there is one thing I hate (yup. Hate. Strong word, but I hate bullies) it is a bully. She was there just begging me to try and fail. I was having none of it. Instead of turning around to head back I turned, threw my shoulders back and charged up that bridge. Halfway up I thought I heard a voice say "hills make you stronger" I shook my head and looked around. No one there. What the heck?! I was losing my mind!
I continued up and over the bridge and to a point I felt that was far enough. I headed back. Up and over the big bully Wanda a second time. She was not getting the best of me today. I may not have my mojo but I did value my dignity. I still had my Pride.
I continued on towards my truck and felt as if I was being watched... No, followed. I turned to look and was completly alone on the trail. Good Lord. I really was losing my mind.
As I entered a clearing I thought I saw a shadow next to mine. I swore I saw it and I stopped this time totally turning around. I was still alone. There was a biker about a half mile up but no one close enough to leave a shadow. Now I was really getting a little creeped out and wanted to be done with this run.
About 1.5 miles from the car I saw another runner from our group. I really enjoy running with her but she is group leader for a faster pace group and we only run together on the off season. She is older than me and of a different faith. She teaches me something new every time we are together and I treasure out time together. She was going the other direction so I thought we would wave and continue on in opposite directions.
But she stopped and asked if I minded company on the way back. She was tired and didn't want to go on alone. So off we went together.
We chatted for a bit and soon I could no longer talk. She was going so fast. I could not keep up. I stopped at the next intersection and told her to go on. She was too fast for me. She laughed and and said it was me that was driving the pace and she could not keep up! It was then that I realized that there were three of us ..my mojo had joined us and was the one that driving the pace! So we decided to slow it down a bit but finish strong. It was the most glorious, energizing mile of my run. I needed it so badly. My mojo was right there pushing us to keep going and finish. And finish we did, thanking each other for pushing one another to a great finish.
Real life hit like a hurricane the day after the marathon. The kids, the activities, the house .... All the things that have longed for my attention all came at me at once. It was overwhelming and enveloped me like a tidal wave. I was bobbing in the deep and struggling but there was no one to toss me a life ring. It was up to me to find my way to shore. Dead or alive.
The weekend after the marathon I took off again. A long overdue weekend in Vegas with some good friends. It was a fun trip filled with firsts (Cirque, gambling, etc) and Momma found out she likes the roulette table! But I was again away and coming back just pushed me farther from shore. It was so hard to keep swimming while keeping the shoreline in sight.
Here it is 3 weeks later and I am finally feeling the sand beneath my feet. My tired arms can rest as I walk towards the beach. The water is still deep but I am almost there. Soon I will be caught up with life and able to rest in the sun on the beach but for now I am still working my way into the shallow waters.
What is in the back of my mind is that I know the tide of the holidays will carry me back out soon enough and I will have to find my way back to shore again. Thank goodness I am a strong swimmer.
Monday, October 8, 2012
|A reminder of what is important|
|Running on faith and tutu spirit at this point.|
Thursday, October 4, 2012
As I sat in church looking at my college ring listening to the priest talk about the importance of rings, I was reminded of my own ring day in college. I did not ever get a high school ring but I did get a college ring. I wear it every day. Memories flooded my mind as I sat in the church.
I was a junior in college when I received my ring. The whole family came to visit and attend the Mass. We spent the weekend celebrating this big day. My friends and I looked forward to Ring Day from the first day of freshman year. Wearing the ring meant we were finally part of the group...we were really Woodsies. It was like a membership to a special club. What we did not fully understand at that time was the depth of commitment and loyalty that came with the Ring.
Every woman who has graduated from the Woods since 1840 wears the same ring. The only thing that ever changes on the ring is the graduation year. It is a beautiful and unique ring that I wear every day. It is a constant reminder of many things but mostly that I am a part of something bigger than myself. I have a responsibility to my faith. I have a responsibility to the legacy of the ring. I have a responsibility to the Woods.
It is my hope that my daughter realizes the importance of her responsibility to her high school. The responsibility to her friends, faith and family. And that her ring is a constant reminder of that responsibility. We both have promises and miles to go.....
The Ring Song
Whose Woods these are, I think I know.
Her love will always be with us below.
Her ring we take, of us a part,
Encircling fingers young 'round her heart.
I pledge to her, a ring to keep,
Like Woods is lovely, dark and deep.
And I have promises and miles to go.
And I have promises and miles to go.