Monday, April 23, 2012


As moms we worry. We worry about so many things but mostly we worry about our kids. We worry that we are good enough and that we won't mess the up to much .... We don't want them to attend to many years of therapy!

We live much of our "mom life" in what seems to be a vacuum. We don't want to appear less than any other mom. We want others to think we live a bucolic life devoid of problems. We have a hard time allowing anyone into our world ... allowing anyone behind the "shower curtain" that is our life.

It is in this need for acceptance that we find ourselves alone. However if we opened up to one another...accepted more and judged less...we would find that many of us have so much in common. We are all longing to be a 'good mom'. We want our kids to like us and respect us. We hate to discipline our kids...often it is harder on us than on them. We want a better life for our children. And we want our children to be happy and successful.

It is time that we opened up a bit. It is time that we allow others to see the imperfection that is our life. It is time that we help each other and lift each other up. We all want the same things but need the help of one another to achieve greatness. Peace.

Monday, April 16, 2012


I had planned to write about the not so glamorous side of parenting. I had planned to write about my weakness as a parent. I had planned to write about how much I dislike and how exhausting it is to be the bad guy all the time.
Well, while all that is still true ... difficult and exhausting, my perspective is a bit different at this point in time. I am blessed with kids that wear me down and wear me out. They are just "normal" kids. They are far from perfect but they are healthy.
I went back to work today and was greeted with a host of emails and phone calls that needed returning. In those emails were parent notes letting me know of job loss, impending divorces and hospitalized of which has cancer.
I thought of these families and children for a long time this morning as guilt washed over me. Who am I to complain and stress about my own children's missteps? I am blessed to have my problems and not the problems these families face.
So as I look at a photo of my kids all I can think of is that they not perfect, nor am I, but we are healthy and my husband comes home safely from work every night. I am so blessed. I just needed to shift my perspective to see my blessings...

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Yesterday I got home from my run and was greeted by my 9year old son asking me what we were going to do all day. It is rare that we have an unscheduled day with time to spare. I did have a million things to do of my own (laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, etc) but replied, "how about a walk?". He ran to get dressed and then leashed up the dog while I hydrated and refueled.
We loaded the dog and camera in the car and headed to the forest preserve. It was a cloudy, mild day and the trail was busy but we walked, looked at the world around us and chatted. The world is a very interesting place when viewed through the eyes of a 9 year old boy. He sees things I overlook. He hears things I don't. He thinks deep thoughts and has a sense of humor that rivals many adults. Don't get me wrong, he can be a pest and get under my skin but there are days like today that make up for it all.
As we walked, he pointed out things he thought were interesting and I photographed each item. A beautiful collaboration created these photos as we walked. Peace.

"While you never know what gifts life will bring, you can trust that every sunrise offers possibilities. Every day holds beautiful moments and new dreams waiting for you to come and find them." {Duvall}
So today soak up all that is good. Enjoy those small successes. Enjoy your family. Enjoy a run, a bike ride, a walk....whatever you do ..... see, hear, enjoy, and soak up all that is good!

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Our name is so important to our identity. Think about it ...when someone says, "yea!" we are happy but when someone says,"yea, (our name)!" we turn our head and feel the personal connection.
A few weeks ago I took 6 8th grade girls to volunteer at a local soup kitchen. It was an eye opening experience for these teens. They don't really know the face of hunger and the face of the poor in this country. As I was moving through the room pouring coffee and juice for the guests there was a man who caught my eye. He was a tall larger framed fellow sporting a bright pink tshirt and blue sweatpants wearing a brighter pink backpack on his back. He was balding and had obviously been out in the sun as his scalp was pinkish as well. He sat and waited patiently for dinner. I asked him what he would like to drink and he said juice. He was so sweet and kind. I knew he was special. I asked him his name and he responded "Buddy". I told him my name and we started to chat. I told him I loved his pink shirt and backpack as pink is my favorite color (REALLY). He told me that he gets picked on a lot because of his affection for the color pink but he no longer cares. He told me that he has made peace with himself and loves that he is different from others. I loved his candor and honesty. He was incredibly kind hearted. I moved on and helped others checking on Buddy regularly. As I was cleaning up, he walked over to me and said, "thank you, Kristine". He told me he looked forward to my returning as I was kind to him. I explained it was I that wanted to return to visit him and learn more from him. We parted ways and as he left with his pink backpack filled with snacks for later I wondered where he was off to and where he spent his time. I will never forget the lessons of my friend Buddy. He told me not many people called him by his real name.....they called him names. I learned more from Buddy than I realized. I was reminded of the importance of our names.
So today as I set off on a run with 2 of my running ladies I was not thinking about names or anything other than putting one foot in front of the other and completeing my run. As I ran the trails I have run for 3 years I saw a famililiar face. He is an older genlteman (in his 80's) with an intense expression and an odd stride. I see him every weekend when we are out on our long runs We passed him once today and I told the girls that I was tired of just smiling at him and was going to ask this man his name. They laughed and tried to guess his name ("Bob" was a common suggestion) so I stopped him ....and for anyone who knows runners knows how we don't like to be stopped when we are in forward motion so I was taking a risk here. He slowed as I asked him his name. "Ed" he replied with a wide smile....I was unsure if he was flattered that I wanted to know his name or that 3 good looking women wanted to know his name. "Nice to meet you, Ed! Have a great run". And the girls and I continued on as Ed finished his run in the opposite direction. I will now happily use his name as I bid him good morning on our runs. I look forward to seeing that wide smile again.
Connections are important in this time of millions of friends on social networks and no real feeling of connectedness. Building connections is vital in the communities where we live and work. Names are a key part of connections. Names...they can build you up or break you down. Learn the names of those people in your community and use names to build others up ...and build bridges. Peace.


Running is so many things to me and provides so much in my life. One of those things is Peace. I find a great sense of peace on my runs alone....sometimes more than others.

Friday was one of those peace filled runs. I did not want to run long nor did I want to go fast. I had just rediscovered my passion for running and did not want to to dwindle with a cruddy run. I knew I had a long run planned with some girls for Saturday morning so this was about getting out and not wasting a beautiful day.

I started out and really did not have a set loop or route planned. I was just moving forward. Somehow I found myself in one of my favorite running spots....and one I have not visited in a LONG while. Destiny, perhaps. My subconscious driving my run, perhaps. A higher power in charge and guiding my feet, perhaps. Whatever way it happened I found myself crossing the street and heading into the cemetery.

Yes, I run in the cemetery. I used to go there once a week but have not run there in a long time. I live near a very large cemetery (actually 2 that are connected) and it has wonderful paved pathways which I can runs miles and miles of loops or one giant loop. Ok...I know what you are thinking....isn't that disrespectful/sac religious/creepy/morbid/icky/scary/odd/weird/......the list goes on and on. I have heard it all....mostly from my kids....about how I am nuts.

I run through the cemetery and feel an overwhelming sense of peace. It is quiet and really safe. There are not a lot of cars and I can run in the middle of the road! I love to look at the beautiful and unique headstones and monuments, many of which are very old (1800's) and very ornate. There is a mausoleum where many priests are laid to rest and other family mausoleums dating back to the late 1800's and early 1900's. I have past Dr. Fortune and the Bad/Day family plot (FOR REAL!). I do not feel it is my place to take a photo of these but they are real! The newer section of the cemetery had very contemporary monuments made of beautiful black and grey granite. It is quite a contrast to the older sections. But as I run, I do not feel lonely at all. I feel enveloped  by love and life. I try to imagine the lives and loves of these people that surround me. I wonder how many people visit them and how often. I wonder if those they left behind miss them and honor their memory. I wonder if people will visit me when I die. I wonder what their legacy is and what mine will be.

I am so often lost in thought I rarely notice those people that are visiting others. During one run some time ago, a woman stopped me. She startled me at first as I thought something was wrong. She was crying as she stepped in front of me. I stopped and asked if everything was ok. She cried a bit more and said that it was. She told me she was visiting her daughter (and proceeded take me arm and guide me to her headstone!). She then told me I reminded her of her daughter. She said I was sent by her husband and daughter (freaking out? YUP...I was too!) to remind her not to cry but to live..... that her daughter didn't want her to visit and be sad but visit and be reminded to live. I began to cry....see I have always believed that things happen for a reason. I believe that we are surrounded by angels .....this was no coincidence. We spoke for a few more minutes as she told me about her daughter (who died at 31 after a long illness never having married nor having children.) and that her husband was buried right next to her. She was alone....except for friends.  We soon parted ways and I finished my run. I have not seen that woman again since but I do stop at that site each time I run through the cemetery and say a prayer.....for the girl, her father and especially her mother. I wonder if she ever came back. I wonder where she is and how she is doing. I know she is still alive as there is still one vacant plot next to her husband.

Peace can be found in the strangest places and oddest times.  I choose to find my peace surrounded by beauty. I choose to find my peace enveloped in love and life.  I choose to find my peace in my running. Peace.


Sometimes we have to go back to the beginning to find ourselves all over again. We can then continue the journey with renewed confidence and energy.

That is what I did on Thursday of this week. Some people think that my running comes easy and is all sunshine and roses. That is NOT the case. Last month I was really sick with an upper respiratory infection and sinus infection. To add to the misery, I pulled a chest muscle(it has a fancy name I can not pronounce!) that made it difficult to breathe. It was like wearing a bra that was 5 sizes too small on one side of my chest. I stopped running for a while and allowed my body to heal. When I decided to try running, I went to the treadmill as I was terrified to get too far from home and not be able to breathe. So I ran short distances on the TM until one beautiful afternoon last week my husband shoved me out the door and said, "Get outside....." It was a really slow, crappy run.  I was nervous the whole time. I had been ramping up the miles but not the speed. What I realized was I was lacking confidence.

So...thursday I went back to my roots....back to where I started from a few short years ago. I dug out my old faithful running tights, too big race shirt (from one of my first 5Ks), no hat, old shoes (yes I still have my first pair and no, it was not the best idea...hindsight there!), no Garmin, and my very first running playlist. I leashed up the dog for a mid day run just like the old days and set off to run one of my original loops .... in search of something. What I was looking for I was not quite certain but I knew this was something I had to do for myself. This run was not about time. It was not about pace. It was not about gadgets(but oh, I love my gadgets!). It was about finding myself. It was about going back to where I began and finding my roots as a runner. If I could find those roots, then perhaps I could replant myself firmly back in my running shoes (the new ones this time!).

The sun was high in the sky and the dog was pulling at the leash, thrilled to head out and sniff every blade of grass. I, too, was about the sights and smells of my run. I was tuned back in. I could smell the fresh cut grass (which I am allergic to....but love the smell), the blooming lilacs, someone cooking bacon and other doing laundry. I drank in all the beautiful blooming flowers, bushes and trees in my neighborhood.  I said hello to neighbors playing in the park.  I took off the music after a few blocks and enjoyed the sounds of spring. It was a joy to see my pup loving life and prancing along as we moved through our run together. I could feel the warm sun on my shoulders and the soft breeze on my face.  Before I knew it I had returned home again feeling like I could run another 4 miles. I was recharged and renewed after this 4 mile run more so than I had been in a very long time.  This was exactly what I needed. I found my running roots and they were strong. They did need replanting in a better pair of shoes.... shoes that could support the new growth ready to take place. Peace.

Monday, April 9, 2012


Amazing things can happen at the most unusual times and in the most unlikely places. Today was one of those days and the local grocery was one of those places.
I stopped in to our local market aptly named Happy Foods for some bread and cheese for dinner. I was not going to stop but I had a minute so I parked and went in. Usually the kids don't like to go in nor do I like them to as it changes a 5 minute $10 stop into a 15 minute $30 battle of wearing mom down. However today they all wanted to come in and I had a strong resolve so in we went!
I got the 2 items on my list and was talked into chorizo and asparagus for breakfast. I lost count of the times I said no but we made it to the check out with only 4 items. I paid for our purchases and as I was putting the cart away I saw a familiar face. I was going to turn and walk out but stopped and decided to take a chance.
Me, "you walk in the neighborhood don't you?"
Man, "yes, I try to go 2 or 3 miles every day no matter the weather."
Me, "I want you to know that you are my inspiration. I am a runner and when I am having a bad run or want to quit, I think of you. You are amazing."
There was a stunned silence and people moved behind us to enter and leave the store. My children have surrounded us as the Man's eyes well with tears.
Man, "Thank you," he stultters, "I walk every day because I am afraid if I skip one day then I will skip another and eventually I will no longer be able to move."
See....this man is paralyzed in one side of his body, walks with a severe limp and a cane. Every step takes effort and looks like it is painful to him but he is out there...for 2 to 3 miles every day. I have watched him for over 2 years walking the local streets and in the park.
Me, "Well, you are my inspiration and I thought you should know. I just wanted you to know that I admire you so very much. "
Man, "thank you."
We parted company as the checkers and baggers watched. The look on his face is one that I will never forget.
We got to the car and my kids, who are never at a loss for words, were silent. We traveled home in silence. I know that they are embarrassed by me and the fact that I talk to everyone regardless of whether I know the folks or not mortifies them. I didn't know what they would have to say about this incident.
As we pulled in the driveway, 14 started to clap and the others joined in. They all smiled at me and the words came fast, furious, and all at once....."Mom, that was amazing!" "Did you see that mans face?" "He was so sweet and so touched." "Mom, I think you may have made his day...even week" "mom, I am so proud of you for telling that man that we see him walking!" "That man was so cool" "Mom, do you think he will remember us?"...... And so it went as we went into the house and got dinner ready. I knew I had done something right as one posted it on FB and another Tweeted about it.
I don't know if I will ever run into this man again. I don't know if I made him happy or scared him I don't know if my kids will remember this tomorrow. What I do know that my kids saw something that allowed them to be proud of me. I do know that I took the time to stop and express my gratitude to another human being. I do know is my heart is full. I know that I will end this day knowing that I did the right thing. I do know that amazing things can happen at the most unusual times and in the most unlikely places.