Tuesday, January 31, 2012


We came into this world naked.
So...to be Naked. It scares many of us to death that are of a certain age and figure. I wrote a whole post about loving my body and feeling comfortable in my skin. I am comfortable and I am happy with whole I am. Why then does the prospect of being naked seem so scary? We were born into the world without 'enhancements' or even clothing and people thought we were adorable. What has changed?

As I start to think about this, my friend Molly has decided to try something revolutionary. No, she is not going to walk around sans clothing. She is going to go 60 days without makeup, tweezing, plucking, shaving, etc. All the things that we women think make us more beautiful.

My son asks me all the time why I wear makeup. Having a house full of girls he has learned that we don't go anywhere until the hair and makeup are done. He wonders why this is important. He has told me that I am pretty enough without it all...as are his sisters. This conversation and Molly's groundbreaking experiment got me to really question my own need for these things. I preach the gospel of Girls on the Run.... that all are beautiful just the way they are. So why do adult women, as well as teens and women of all ages,  feel the need to 'enhance'? Men do not. Why do we wear high heels that are painful? Why do we wear push up bras? (Although I do not need this!!) Why do we feel the need to strategically 'pull it in', 'push it up' or 'pop it out'?

I have issues even in my own home. I try to delay the wearing of makeup, plucking, tweezing, shaving, wearing of high heels for as long as possible with my daughters. There are other extended family members that get angry with me. They tell me that allowing my girls to play sports such a volleyball and basketball ...well ....is not girly. They tell me ...and my girls....that they should be shaving and plucking and doing all those 'girly' things at a young age. Why? Why can't my girls just be who they are, look they way they wish and do the activities that excite them?

I have never been a big one for makeup. It is too much work....however I do feel naked without it. Why? Why does the thought of going a day without makeup frighten me so? I do not wear makeup all summer but then again, I am not working. I rarely wear 'dressy' clothes in the summer unless we are going somewhere special. So why then do I feel I 'need' makeup in order 'not to scare people' (which is what I tell my son)?

So many questions...so few answers. Why do you do the 'girly' things you do? Could you go a day/week/month without the 'girly' things?

I do not think I have the courage that Molly does and will live vicariously through her for now. She is a gifted, insightful woman. I look forward to learning more as she moves through this journey. To follow Molly's Nakedness...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Envy...it is really not a good thing. However, recently envy opened my eyes to a new view. I was looking at some younger friends of mine...30 somethings that have awesome PB (pre-baby) bodies. They work out and work hard to maintain their figures. I longed for an unobstructed view of my toes and the ability to NOT wear a bra every minute of the day without tripping over my boobs.  Oh, the joys of youth!

Ok...so I have never been a tiny girl. I have always had curves but 20 years ago my hills were up a bit higher and the valleys were not so deep. But it all got me to thinking about my body. I spent years being unhappy in the skin I was in trying every diet I could find and often making myself sick. I even took up smoking to reduce my appetite and developed a 2 pack a day habit. That did not end well. Quitting was not only difficult, it helped me gain all of the weight back! I lost weight to get married and then promptly gained it all back within the first year of marriage...along with additional weight...due to the fact that I got pregnant.

So...I gave it all some thought and realized that after 46 years, I am finally happy with this body I have. I took a long look in a full length mirror and here is what I saw....
My face - It is a pretty enough face that looks younger than its years. There are lines but they are from many smiles and much laughter.
My arms - they are getting more defined and are really long. All the better to hug my children and my friends.Tight hugs are priceless.
My boobs - They used to be perky. Never really small, but always perky. So now I get up every morning and watch them try to defy gravity as they race towards the floor.  They have seen a lot of action feeding 4 hungry kids for 6-9 months at a time. They never let one of those kids go hungry. So now they hang low and empty, sadly longing to be useful. They are still beautiful in an iconic sort of fashion.
My belly - No,  I do not have an unobstructed view of my feet but I do have a view of the wonderful place that stretched to house my 4 little darlings. It was a warm and cozy spot that they did not want to vacate!
My legs - Ahhh my pride and joy. They are not twig small but Sequoya sized and long. They have come a long way in my 46 years from jello like wobbly to strong and sturdy. They have carried this old girl many a mile...sometimes seizing up and rebelling but always seeing me through to the end. The are long enough to require me to always pay extra for 'long' and 'tall' length pants thus the reason I wear so many skirts and dresses!  I am proud of my tree trunks. They are beautiful and strong.
My heart - It has grown so much in my time here on earth. It has been broken many times but manages to repair itself and come back even stronger. I am constantly amazed at its resilience and adaptability. It is constantly growing and changing and transforming.

So that is me...I have no real reason to envy the body of youth. I have a beautiful body and wisdom to know how to use it to its fullest potential! Which of your body parts are you most proud of? Peace.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hardcore Running

Polar dash....what a race! There was supposed to be a large group of us girls running this race but as it was postponed, some of our crowd could not run with us. We missed them but were determined to have a good time. 

It was 17 degrees at the start! The waiting was the worst because we got cold but once the race started it was better. The first 2 or more miles were VERY difficult. The sidewalks were narrow and covered with slush. This was super hard to run in....very similar to running in loose sand. I felt like at any minute my foot was going to lose traction and I would fall. Miles 3-5 were into the wind along the lake. It was so pretty as it was snowing the whole time. The last mile was around the front of the Shedd  to the finish line. I stopped and took photos and was even stopped by a girl and thanked....I got her to the finish line of a half marathon in November. Still don't know her name but she remembered me!

This race was my slowest 10K time to date but I think I did well for the conditions. Shoveling 2 times for a total of 4 hours the night before might have played a role too!  I did not want to injure myself during this race so I took it easy and enjoyed it all! I have a much more important race coming up in 14 days so the object was to have fun, stay healthy and finish. I did all three! Peace.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Operation Beautiful/Positive Post-Its

Hey – You! Yes, YOU! You are Beautiful!
Just thought you should know!

This week we have started something called ‘positive post-its’ in my classroom. I did this activity with students last year and it worked so well, I decided to do it again.

Each day several students get a ‘positive post-it’ from me. It is their job then to spread the love, so to speak. They can write a note, post-it, or whatever to anyone else (other than another classmate) to spread the good feelings. Anything from “You Rock!” to “Have a great day” to just a smiley face….no name just a positive thought. I got this idea from a great book called “Operation Beautiful” and tweeked it to work with the fifth graders. Here is a link to the website. http://operationbeautiful.com/

I shared the book with my own girls and they leave post-its all over now. I travel with a packet of post-its and a Sharpie in my purse all the time. When the mood strikes, I leave a post-it! 

We would like to invite you to leave one for someone somewhere. Imagine the impact if we all started leaving litle positive notes for others....
Share the love!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Birthdays and a Bear

"Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." AA Milne

Birthdays....some people love them. Some people hate them. Me....well I am indifferent to them. I try to make each of my children's birthdays special for them but me...well...I can take it or leave it. My family never makes a big deal of my birthday but this year seems to be different. They all want to make a big deal of the day of was born.

Today is another day on the calendar and one where I do what I always do...get up, go to work....do mom stuff. However, seeing that it is my birthday, I thought I should stop and take some time to reflect.

So here are some random thoughts about today...
1. Today is the day that A.A. Milne was born. He is the author of Winnie the Pooh. I adore Pooh Bear. We have a great deal in common...very little brain/enormous heart....the love of good company and a pot of honey (or bottle of wine in my case). Pooh is wiser than he ever thinks he is and a good friend.

2. I am proud of my age and don't care who knows that I am 46 today. I earned every year of that age. Up, down, good, bad...I like to think that I am 21 with 25 years experience! I would not be the person I am today without all that experience!

3. Age is just a number. It is so true. one can be 20 and look older. One can be 60 and look younger (with or without the help of a good surgeon). One can act younger or older than they are as well. We can all do things that help us look and feel younger (or older)....it is all in how you feel!

4. We spend our youth trying to grow up. We tell our kids to grow up. we dress and act older than we are. When we start to age, we try to dress and act younger. Why are we never really content right where we are?

5. Why are we so afraid of birthdays? Why are we afraid to get older? Are we afraid we are one step closer to the grave? Who cares? I could be gone tomorrow. I want to celebrate the fact that I am breathing right now.

6. I have been blessed with so many wonderful people in my life. Many who are gone now, some who passed at a young age, but all had so much to teach me. I am so grateful for all of them. I continue to be surrounded by so many fabulous people that I learn from each day.

7. Kids....If anyone would have told me when I was in college that I would eventually marry (a cop, no less!) and be the mother to 5 kids, I would have told them to sober up! Not Happening! But here I am....married almost 18 years and a mom to many! I could not be happier with where I am today. It is not easy but it is the best job I could ask for.

8. Running...I was always the one cursing the Marathon for blocking traffic on a Sunday because I could not get to my favorite breakfast joint...to ease my hangover. I was the one who was coming home from the bars as runners passed me on a morning jog. I was the one who thought those people were NUTS. Now I am one of 'those people'. Going to bed early so I can be up at dawn to get a long run in. Running marathons that block traffic. I have met some of the best people because of running. The gifts I get from running ....well...I wish I had found running as a younger person.

9. Another trip 'round the sun...what will happen on this trip? Ever wonder if you have packed correctly for your trip? I do....what will I need for this journey? Where will I be at this time next year?

I don't know where I will be at this time next year but I hope it is back here with more adventure stories to tell. I don't know what the year has in store for me but I can only hope it is more learning, growing and loving! Peace.

"If there ever comes a day when we can't be together, keep me in your heart, I'll stay there forever."

Winnie the Pooh

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cooking with my own Julia

So my 12 year old had to do a report on a famous person that has really made a difference in their field and the world. We had long discussions about who she should choose. Once we got past Justin Beiber and Oprah, she settled on Julia Child.

This lead to some research and some interesting discussions of cooking. One night I pulled up a few YouTube videos of Julia. My daughter and I snuggled up and watched these videos together and thus an idea was born. She would try to make a recipe a week from Julia's book, Mastering the art of French Cooking. An idea that was made into a movie...but this was about her really mastering cooking.

She has always loved cooking a food. she was my adventurous eater from birth. She has a broad palate and loves many different foods. A few years ago she fell in love with Paula Deen and her cooking. She went to see Paula cook live and I think that was a defining moment fer her.  Her love of cooking increased.

She gets gifts of gadgets all the time from family that know she loves to cook. She has moved from solely baking to cooking foods that take real time and effort to prepare.

The video above is one that we watched together and she prepared the dish Sunday night for family dinner. the kitchen was a mess but the food was so good. Seeing her face as we all enjoyed her cooking was truly magical!

So now...I live a real life Julie and Julia as she beings to cook her way through the cookbook and blog about it as she goes....Her blog is private for now so if you would like to be added to the reader list, please just email me. http://tallcooking.blogspot.com/

So...what are you all cooking for dinner tonight?! I am not sure what my French Chef has in mind! Peace.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Get to...

This is where I get to run my long runs each week. The scenery changes with the seasons and I love it. This trail is pretty anytime of the year but now it seems magical.

And yes...I did say Get To. I Get To run here. I Get To run most days and that is the mind switch for me. I used to think and say that I Have To do things. I Have To drive my kids. I Have To run. But now instead of Having To do things I have changed to Getting To do them.

Driving my kids is a privledge. Some day they will no longer need me to drive them here and there and I will miss the time in the car. I get to cook for my family. I cook what they love and it is work but someday they won't be home every night to eat my cooking. I get to go to work each day and teach children. I am blessed to have a job I love. The Have To's change when we discover we Get To!

So today...in the snow....what do you get to do? I get to make a snow angel! Peace.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


"Cuz what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know you’re near
What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
is the revealing of a greater thirst
This world can’t satisfy?
And what if trials of this life
The rain
The storms
The hardest nights
are your mercies in disguise"
Blessings - Laura Story

I often wonder about blessings. They come in all different shapes and sizes and sometimes we don't even realize a blessing that is staring us in the face until it is entirely too late.

I do for others because it is how I show I care. I live my life in a way that someday I will stand before God knowing I did the right thing....letting go of anger and hurt, allowing others to feel forgiveness, showing love to all that I come in contact with each day, encouraging others to be their best....I do not need anything in return.

I don't often see or feel the blessings in my life. I am too busy living. Lately I have been getting blessings back in spades. I am so aware of the blessings I receive  but not feeling deserving.  I often wonder what I have done to deserve all I have and where I am. I guess they are reminders that I am greatly blessed, highly favored, and deeply loved. Peace.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


So Sunday my phone was feeling a little jumpy and decided to go for a swim. After my initial panic, I pulled it out of the water right away and yanked the battery out as fast as I could. I guess my phone was longing for a little spa time so after the swim, it went for a rice massage and dry sauna for a few days. I have resolved to remain as calm as possible this year so I took a deep breath and decided to look at the upside of this disconnection.

I still had a laptop. I still had an ipod. I still had a house phone. I was still connected...just not teathered 24/7.  I had to be patient and wait....

My kids have become dependant on my text reminders and the ability to text me whenever they want....often when they are in the next room!  This disconnect offered an opportunity for face to face contact!  They actually had to speak to me in the same room!  I realized that they don't really need my reminders...they need a bit more independance. They had to plan ahead for rides and events for a few days and the accountability was good for all of us.

The time from my husband was good as well. We work different shifts and rely on texts to relay information. We often times misread intent in a text and it can develop into an arguement. Having to plan a time to talk on the phone was good as we had to stick to the important information and actually hear each others voices.

The time away from the 'connection' to work and personal email was refreshing. I was reminded that I don't need to be accessable to everyone all the time. The fact that I didn't have to make sure my clothing had a pocket for my phone was a bonus too! The many lessons in patience ....well....were priceless.

The disconnect lasted for 3 days and was actually quite wonderful. I missed the instant access to my kids and friends but realized that a little space was a good thing. I realized how much I preach about NOT texting/talking on the phone and driving ....but I do it anyway. I realized that checking my phone/email is the first thing I do when I get up and the last before I go to sleep. I realized that I love talking to my kids FACE TO FACE.  So much has changed with the advent of 'smartphones'. We have changed so much in the way we interact with one another...much of it not for the better. Cell phones are a necessary evil but, just as with any tool, have to be used properly....and not misused. The disconnect was so beneficial in so many ways and something I may choose to do on my own  periodically. The lessons learned will lead to changes in behavior.

Take time here and there to disconnect. Reconnect with the people in your life ...and with yourself. I did!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Power to the She

Two of my favorite things have combined...Girls on the Run and Athleta. Working together they are kind of like a Girly SuperPower! The new ad compaign for Athleta is awesome and speaks to all things Girls on the Run. Power to the She is all about living each day to the fullest. Find your inner girl and inner strong all while looking good and feeling good.

Work it out. Breathe it out. Enjoy the crazy happy life that we are all a part of each day. And then do it all over again the next day. Power to the SHE! Peace.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Ok, so  I may not be Eastwood.... but this week I got all three...the good, the bad and the ugly...in my runs. Not every runs can be a great one. Not every run is horrible. We need balance. Well, if that is the case I should be level!

On Wednesday I had a great run. 10 miles of simply effortless running. I set out to run 5 miles. The day was glorious and I was feeling great so I just kept adding to the run. Before long I realized that I should probably head home and when I looked I had run 10 miles at a pretty good pace too.
On Saturday I was planning to run another 10 miles but got a late start and literally ran out of time to run the last 2 miles before having to take my daughter to work. It was not a great run as I felt rushed and out of sorts. I was kicking myself for not starting sooner so that I could get those extra miles in. It was not all bad but not all good either. I was tired but started strong. As the time ticked away I realized that I would not make my distance goal but would have to settle for something a bit less thus never really getting deep into the run.

Sunday...well that was the ugly. An ugly run that never really went anywhere other than 6 miles. I could not head to my favorite trail nor run my 6 mile loop. My phone went for a swim and I don't like to run far without it. So while the phone got a rice massage and sauna, I ran 3 by myself and was feeling really good. I looped back home to get the dog and do another 3...well...that was when the ugly really kicked in (fishing my phone from its swim started the day off all wrong). The pooch and I ran intervals....not by my choosing...hers! We chased after squirrels...I lost count after the 15th....for 3 miles. She would take off after a squirrel thinking her her doggie mind that she could catch the thing and even tried a few times to head up a tree after a few. It was comical to say the least. I have to laugh or I will cry...not only about the run but about my phone. I never really got into that run and the intervals ...well they through my body for a loop! 

Not every run can be great. Not every run can be effortless. I look forward to those great runs. They come when I least expect it most times. The bad and ugly runs...well those are more common. They remind me of the good runs. They make me appreciate all that is good in life. It is when I have to alter my attitude from "I ran...." to "I was able to run..." that I see each run for what it is ...an opportunity to learn something.

Friday, January 6, 2012

One Little Race

When I began running I was only running 5k races. I got a flyer for a Wondergirl race and decided to run it. Little did I know how much that one 5K race would change the course of my life.

The race was sponsored by Girls on the Run. It was a 5K to culminate their training program for young girls. I was just running it as another race and because it looked fun. And boy was it fun!  The Girl Power that  day was overpowering!  It was amazing. I was hooked. I had to find out more about this program.

 I spent the next year working with and learning more about the Girls on the Run program. I was so excited about the positive messages for all girls that 2 years after running that 5K I was starting my own GOTR program at my own school.

Girls on the Run is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating and preparing girls for a lifetime of self-respect and healthy living. GOTR utilizes a specifically designed tested curriculum for third, fourth and fifth grade girls to enhance the physical, social, emotional, mental and spiritual needs of each participant. The following life lessons are covered in the 10 week program:

• Learning to develop an understanding of ones self

• Setting personal goals for nutrition and exercise

• Understanding the importance of being physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy

• Understanding core values and what makes us unique

• Getting along within a group

• Knowing the importance if listening, assertiveness, and the importance of being positive

• Learning the components of good decision making

• Letting go of negative feelings and situations

• Understanding the nature of social messages we receive through he media and other institutions

• Recognizing the damage the stereotyping, gossip and discriminatory behavior can cause

Each of these lessons is taught while implementing a physical activity. By the end of the 10 weeks, the girls will run/walk 3.1 miles in the WonderGirl 5K fun run. It is the goal that girls will complete the program with a stronger sense of identity, a greater acceptance of themselves, a healthier body image and an understanding of what it means to be part of a team.

We decided as a school that it would be best to start the program for 3rd graders only as there were no extra curricular programs for this age group. We started small, just another teacher and myself and 10 girls. the program has snowballed over 4 years to 40 girls and 6 coaches.

I get excited each time we meet with the girls. They are filled with passion and energy that is explosive and contagious! Watching each girl cross the finish line makes me cry. I relive my own first finish line. I know their lives will never be the same. I know that GOTR not only changes the lives of the girls but of their families as well. Family members see these girls with new eyes. No one is ever the same.

Molly Barker, the founder of GOTR is a visionary. She saw a need and created a lifechanging program to fill that need. Her program changes the direction of so many people...including me. I took the road less traveled...and am forever changed.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Change. We all fear it at some point in our lives. Change, while it can bring wonderful results, is also scary. I have always been fearful of change, fearful of the unknown. Change requires risk and trust. Over time I have realized that change is not to be feared but welcomed. I realized that I take a risk with every decision I make for my family and for myself. Life is full of uncertainties and I am never certain I am doing the right thing. I take a risk each morning when I get out of bed. Each day is a blank canvas. Each day is a new opportunity to do something different. Only when we open our hearts and minds, allowing ourselves to trust, do we see the miracles that surround us. Miracles that surprise us, inspire us, change us. Moments that fill us with awe and wonder. Moments that remind us of God’s presence among us.

This year...ok...for TODAY...alter your attitude. Change the way you think about something. Change the way you view something. See how your attitude about it changes. Peace.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

One step at a time

Lots of people as me how I started running. One step at a time I tell them. Really that is how I started ...that and a few dares!

We got a new dog a few years back. She was a puppy with all the energy of a toddler and no place to expend said energy. Thus we started our daily walks. I thought this would be great exercise for me and a good way to wear her out. We would walk a lap or 2 around the park. Weeks went by and I was not breaking a sweat and she had energy to spare so I started jogging from one tree to another on part of our loop. It wasn't much but she seemed to like it. Each week I extended the distance to a further tree. Then came the dare.

I buddy of mine dared me to run a 5K....really? 3 miles?! I couldn't run a lap much less 3 miles but not one to back down...I agreed. I training using the Couch to 5K program all summer long. My goal race was the Edison Park Turkey Trot. I ran and WALKED a lot that summer and when the weather was cool enough took the puppy along. It was good for both of us.

Fall came and so did the race. I realized that the race was not really timed so I signed up for one the weekend before, the Lincolnwood Turkey Trot. My husband and kids came out to cheer me on. It was a chilly morning but I did it! I ran (and walked a bit) a 5K! I crossed that first finish line crying like a baby. I didn't think I could ever do something like move for 30 minutes straight! I ran the EPTT the following week and amazed myself again! What was I doing?!

I continued to run 5k's through the following spring and summer only to be challenged again in the fall. My cousin (also one of my very best friends) threw down the gauntlet. She said if I would train for a half marathon, she would pay for my entry fee. My parents gave me the gift of airfare for Christmas and another adventure was born. I trained through the cold Chicago winter and in March flew to Virginia Beach and ran the Shamrock Half Marathon. It was another milestone in the journey.

What next, you ask....well.....a full marathon. What else?! Really? Who am I kidding. I was as stunned as the next person the night I registered for the Chicago Marathon and hit the send button. It is a pretty daunting task to think about running 26.2 miles. So....I was not going to lose my money. I found the Hal Higdon training plan and set off on preparing for the longest run of my life. the training was never easy. It was rarely fun. I was alone A LOT. My ipod kept me company but I didn't have anyone to ask advice or council me on what I was doing right/wrong. I was a total trail and error runner....well...I really didn't think of myself as a runner. I felt like an impostor. Just someone who looked like a runner sometimes.

I saw some of the same faces on the trail each Saturday when I ran. I just would notice the same folks passing me by making it look effortless and think...Really? They are chatting and laughing! I am struggling to get my breath!

So I lined up and ran my first marathon. Crossing the finish line was life changing for me. (more on that in another post) I was on a path that I never saw coming. I was at a fork in the road and I took the road less traveled for a person like me.

So here I sit....3 marathons, several half marathons and countless other races under my belt and I am still excited to run. I look forward to lacing up my shoes and hitting the road less traveled. I do not know what adventure lies ahead along the road but what I do know is this...my life and running will evolve one step at a time.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Meet Esther

Meet Esther. She is my new friend and mentor. A dear friend introduced her to me and we are going to become good pals this year...I just know it.

To me Esther is a reminder of many things...

  • to quiet the negative voices in my head.

  • to stop talking and listen.

  • to be still and listen to my body.

  • to think before I speak.

  • to choose my words...perhaps saying nothing.

  • More things will come to mind I am sure!
Esther is strong, powerful and quiet. She was a force to be reckoned with in the Bible. I am hoping she helps me to be the same and reveals more as we get to know each other. I hope you find a friend and mentor this year. One that helps you grow and change helping you to become the best you can be! Peace.

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year = New Goals

It is January and time to begin a new year with new goals. I dislike calling them resolutions because I never live up to my resolutions. Goals, however, I like. They are concrete and I can see myself getting closer or further from the goal with each passing day.

So here are some of my goals for this year in no particular order:
1. Maintain a level of 'half marathon ready' fitness. This means keeping the long runs up and and weekly mileage at a consistent level. No slacking off!
2. Finish another Chicago marathon. Enough said.
3. Lead another group of runners through the training process of CARA and prep them for the Chicago Marathon.
4. Work towards being a kinder, gentler mom and teacher.
5. Continue to share the joy and positive message of Girls on the Run.
6. Inspire others to do more and be more than they thought possible.

I do not know who will read this blog but my plan is to try and post several times a week. I will share my journey as a prepare for and run races of all distances this year. I hope that through these posts that some will be inspired to do more and be more than they thought possible!

What are your goals for the year? What do you want to accomplish this year? We have 364 more days .....