Good Natured Mom

We are all just walking each other home. -Ram Dass


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Races, races and more races

2016 racing season is complete

Yay.
It was a good season. But I’m tired and I’m ready to spend time away from the pool, bike and running shoes.

🙂

Half marathons, cycle/run relay, a duathlon, sprint, Olympic and 70.3 distance triathlons, training camps, volunteering ,10ks, 5 milers, 5ks, and my favorite 14k to finish – from March through September. The photos tell the story. Accomplishment, goals met, heartbreak, pain, friendship, conversation, silliness, relief, joy and peace. Its all there. Thank you friends, for training and racing with me this year! Enjoy.

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Photo credits to Tim Kane, Pat Hendrick Photography, Jodie Kapes, Annemarie Ambrose, Beth Lancer, Kellie Nassif, and Nikki Garofalo.

 

My races :
America’s Greatest Heart Run, Utica, NY, March 2016

Fort To Fort, Rome NY, April 2016
Seneca 7, Geneva, NY, April 2016
Du the Lakes, Syracuse, NY
Migonis Team Training Camp, Lake Placid, June 2016
Tupper Lake Tinman 70.3, Tupper Lake , NY, June 2016
Saratoga Dprings Half Marathon, Saratoga, NY, July 2016
Delta Olympic Tri, Rome, NY, July 2016
Sherrill 5k, Sherrill, NY, July 2016
Bolder Inspiration, Trenton Falls, NY, August 2016
Old Forge Triathlon, Old Forge, NY, August 2016
Falling Leaves 14k, Utica, NY, September 2016

 

 

 

 


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On Morning Rituals

My morning routine goes like this:

Wake – around 5:30

Start the coffee pot

Grab my phone and begin Headspace, my meditation ap

Read the daily Mass readings

Pray

 

But today I decided to change it up. I flipped the order of the last three. The meditation is last, so that I can think about the Bible readings and pray during the 15 minutes I dedicate to clearing my mind of clutter.

I go through my prayer requests in order of urgency.

For healing from cancer

For strength

For healing from colitis

For justice and truth – and an open heart

For protection

For relationships

We have some serious crap going down in my family right now. Its crazy. I take stock of the  troubles and think “this doesn’t happen to normal people.” And I’m straight up normal. But life is flowing, it all its weirdness. And I’m swept up in its current.

So I pray for resolutions, for peace, for and end in sight. I know that God is in control and I surrender the outcomes to a higher power. That whatever happens is part of the divine plan.

And I expect miracles to happen. There will be miracles. Life will unfold according to God’s amazing plan. A plan I cannot begin to imagine. And the craziness, the illnesses, the loneliness, the scariness will evolve into experiences that shape me and the people I love. And everyone else they touched.

And life will go on.

I like this new order to my morning routine. I believe its been out of order for a while and that I’ve got it all straightened it out now.

Time to run some intervals for 50 minutes.  And then … get ready for work.

Let’s see if I can get there on time today.

Have a great day people!

 

 

 


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On “Leaning On”…

A cyclist/friend of mine shared a story about the time he was riding with a large group. They rode in formation; two by two. The rider next to him lost her balance some how (due to a soft road shoulder or she lost her concentration and drifted…who knows?). As she and her bike leaned toward my friend, he instinctively knew to lean back toward her. He was able to drop his shoulder and push her upright. She regained her balance and realized he saved her from falling and quite possibly from taking the whole group of riders down with her. He remained stable and strong as she regained her posture. She popped back upright, said “Hey, thanks!” and continued the ride. Just like that.

If you ride a bike you understand that my friend has mad bike skills and a whole lot of bike riding experience. I’m not sure my instincts would have led me to lean into a falling person. His reaction to a near miss accident was calm, smart and it worked.

It made me think about the times I lean in looking for support
or am leaned on by someone who needs it.

I’m not so good at being leaned on.
Especially if you lean on me and ask for advice….then you do the opposite of what I’ve said.
Or if you are a heaping anxious mess of a person and want me to validate your anxiety. I can’t support that.

All this discussion about leaning on made me think about dear friend I saw the other day. She texted me and said that seeing me helped her feel grounded. I’m glad I could give her that gift.

I’m glad she felt my grounded-ness could be leaned on for a moment. And that I was able to offer support.


 

As triathlon season approaches and my training increases, I find I have more blog posts that bubble up inside my brain (which almost always occur on long bike rides, swims or runs) and less energy to write them down. Trust me, these insights are brilliant. I’m sorry you have to miss them…she said tongue firmly planted in cheek. The plan is to get back on track this month.


Have a great day blog readers! March is here! Be happy and grateful.

Peace,

Good Natured Mom

 

 

 

 

 


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The Visit

My usual drive in to work covers back country roads. Today they are beautiful and snowy. The farm fields are freshly dusted white and the roads are clear.  I enjoy the ride in silence I  watch the sun rise orange between the grey clouds and blue sky. It’s breathtaking.

sunrise 01222016 (2)

As my mind become still… I reflect on a recent trip with my parents, careful to replay each moment in order of occurrence.

There is so much to process. To unpack.

The sights, sounds, smells…the conversations…

My mother is the youngest of five children. She has one living brother who is in poor health. We made the three hour drive to see him. Two cousins (whose father passed away in November) were also visiting from their home in the Deep South.  Another cousin and aunt came to visit (the aunt, in her  full length, sable mink, coat…she dressed for the occasion and that makes me smile).

The purpose of the trip:

Reconnect
Reminisce
Pray
Grieve
Bring closure
Laugh

And above all else… love.

We did plenty of all of that.

Without going too long on the subject…because I can’t put words to the emotion and because some of it is too private, we visited together for almost 10 hours.

What began with a quiet lunch,
polite exchanges, some hugs and kisses, and authentic kielbasa sandwiches

became an afternoon tea complete with pecan, cranberry and lemon straws – a gift from the southerners,
sharing old family photos/identifying forgotten relatives

which evolved into a rowdy evening card game and the largest pizza I’ve ever seen.
merciless teasing – mostly aimed at me, mild annoyances and belly aching laughter

card game

Photo by Liz Szymanski McDaniel

They called it “the stupid card game”. They play it whenever they get together. They played when Uncle Eddie was with them on his last visit.

This is where the healing could be felt the most -to me anyway. Healing through laughter and telling and retelling of stories…through cajoling and pestering, all done with love…through silliness and sadness and the punchiness that sets in when you’ve had a long day.

We all felt grief and sadness release its hold a bit that night. We felt Uncle Eddie’s presence in the humor and wit we shared. And we saw some flickers of spirited-ness from Uncle Bob, because card games have a way of bringing vigor to the weary.

The visit ended with a round of good byes, proper hugs and see-you-soons.

A larger family reunion is definitely in order, but I doubt it will happen. I prefer the crowded kitchen table and eye to eye discussions over full on family gatherings, anyway. It would be lovely to reacquaint with all of the cousins and their families, but it will have to be one family at a time.

And I enjoyed that stupid card game…because Uncle Bob laughed.


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Epiphany

January 6, the day we celebrate the visitation of the Magi, is also the traditional “taking down the Christmas tree” day for my family.

Ironic, isn’t it, that the day of revelation is the day of putting away, decluttering, clearing out and bringing our lives back to normal.

A day of revelation does not, in my mind, mean back to normal.

I’ve been thinking about the new year. It’s not about resolutions, do overs, a list of big races, or big goals. I’ve gone there before and resolutions don’t inspire me at this point in my life. Mostly because I don’t keep them.

I’m also not spending a long time looking back at 2015. For about 35 seconds I did a little year in review in my head. And it was pretty darn good in terms of epic adventures and exciting experiences with family and friends.

10 mile trail run, Seneca 7, road trip with Janel to bike and run with the Iron Cowboy ,  a simulated 70.3 in Lake Placid, Age Group Nationals in Milwaukee…so many stretches and reaches!

And sheesh…I was scared a few times (the Keene decent on the Lake Placid Ironman course, in the rain and fog, the insane in-water start at AGN)…But glory hallelujah! I’m so much more capable, braver and stronger than I think I am. I got through those events, safely and intact – which is always my main priority.  I’m not a huge risk taker. Being scared is not my thing.

But 2015 is over. Let’s keep it moving. Let’s not spend too much time lingering in the looking-back.

What is my epiphany? What is my revelation? Here are some ideas:

Keep it Simple – Don’t over complicate the straight forward solutions. Don’t add unnecessary details which shift the focus off the goal.

Tell the truth – to others and myself. What I believe, what matters to me, what’s right and wrong…say it with courage and have confidence that what I speak is authentic and sincere.

Measure myself against me… and no one else – I am a unit. I am unique. I have strengths and weakness that, in combination, are only mine. That said, it is useless to compare myself to another human being in order to measure my own success or failure. My trial and challenges, just like my triumphs, belong to and have value only to me.

Do something, even if you don’t know what you are doing – I’ve had a passion for wellness, fitness, nutrition and health my entire life. But I never thought I had the right background, smarts, experience or credentials to make anything out of it. Finally, I am starting to see that I don’t have to know everything to make my passions be a source of information and inspiration to others. I’m going for it. One baby step at a time. Writing, posting, sharing, tweeting…speaking out about my experiences to bring encouragement and support to others.

Joan090912…these are sounding like resolutions. Maybe resolutions are really just the beginning of a revelation. Maybe through resolutions we begin to understand who we are and what we can become. Is it possible that the revelation can come through a resolution?

I think so.

Peace and Happy New Year.

 

 


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Christmas joy in the form of an inflatable snowman

The Christmas magic is back at the neighbor’s house. It left us 3 years ago…but it’s back and I’m experiencing an renewed exuberance for the holiday season.

These good people made every human effort to decorate their front yard for the holidays in a fashion that would delight and amaze their grandchildren.  Santa in a hot air balloon; assorted holiday themed inflatable snowmen; a lighted toy train; spinning, stuffed animal laden Ferris wheel, a carousel; and glittering, sparkly angels… the set up was extraordinary. It’s one of those houses you’d go out of your way to drive by. I’m pretty sure they won the city’s decorating contest every year. It was that good.

I was lucky enough to live on the same street. I’d see this glorious sight every night. It made me feel happy, Christmas-y. Another thing to love about the season, you know?

Until I didn’t see it any more.

The joy was unmercifully stolen from my neighbors on December 14, 2012. That was the day their 6 year old grandson was killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school.

I remember having a news station on my computer that day while I was at work. I turned it off. I could not take any more bad news…no more violence and shootings.

I remember twitter blowing up with breaking news about Newtown…and I shut that down too. I was weary from the sadness. Why, why, why all this tragedy and pain? At that time I had no idea that this violence was directly affecting my neighbors.

The day after the shooting I read the following on my Facebook feed, written by a friend; my children’s favorite baby sitter – the neighbor’s daughter.

Please pray for my family, especially my sister, brother-in-law, and niece, who suffered an unimaginable loss yesterday in the shooting. Life will never be the same without my nephew James, and words cannot begin to express our devastation. I love you Cindy, Mark, Anna, and James.

You know that feeling you get when your heart breaks in two? That sinking feeling? That feeling when all the blood rushes from your brain? When you know the most horrid, unimaginable, unthinkable thing  has happened…to someone you love? That pit in your stomach.  I still feel that ache just thinking about that day in Newtown.

That’s the same day the holiday magic left the neighbor’s yard…and the terrible sadness set in.  Friends, neighbors, community felt the weight of that  deep, dark, heavy sadness. The wonderful Christmas joy evaporated. For all of us.  And we understood why the yard remained dark.

The following year our dear neighbors skipped the inflatable, glitzy decor and put up a much simpler set of decorations. Instead, they set up a beautiful tribute to the victims of Sandy Hook…a line of candy canes, one for each person killed, guarded by angels. So simple…but the difference between the previous year’s gala and the next year’s simplicity was poignant and striking. The family was grieving. Their loss occurred only 11 days before Christmas. The display marked the anniversary of that most horrible day with a clear message of love and hope.

For the last two year’s the holiday decorations have been the same angels and candy canes. I wondered how the family was getting along. The lovely Christmas candy canes reminded us that their lives were forever changed. They were due their privacy, so I wouldn’t ask. But I prayed for them…I still do. I prayed for the whole family,  that the ache would lessen and some tiny bit of joy would return.

I wondered if we’d ever see the inflatable snowmen again.

A few weeks ago some of the old inflatables began appearing on the neighbor’s lawn. Then a few more. Each day I’d notice something new. Each day there’d be another cheery sign that some of the sadness had faded…or maybe they had an awareness that it was time to re establish the tradition of holiday decorating for the grand-kids. Or maybe a glimmer of memory about the way their young angel enjoyed Christmas with his family (and his family with him).

Whatever the reason, I can only wonder.  But the Ferris wheel, toy train and snowmen are back, inflated, upright and standing strong. The candy canes and angels are there too. I think there are a few dozen more of them. This year’s holiday display is magnificent. I’m so pleased to see it.

God bless you, dear neighbors. Merry Christmas…

 

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10 Habits of an Optimist

Did you see the movie The Martian? Its a story about an astronaut who is left behind on the planet Mars and how he copes…how he attempts to survive. I connected with the main character. He was brilliant and clever… but more important to me, he was confident and optimistic. And he didn’t give up hope.

My default setting is optimism – I believe that, no matter what else is going on around me, no matter how dire the circumstances, or grim the outlook…that everything will ultimately be okay.

Because I always expect a favorable outcome, some think I’m out of touch with reality. Others think I’m naive. For me, optimism has nothing to do with either reality or my lack of experience with a situation. It has much more to do with a gut feeling… intuition. Optimism is an internal, preset in my brain that always directs my thoughts toward confidence and faith in the good. And there are a few beliefs and habits I’ve developed to maintain a healthy sense of optimism.

  1.  I believe that love always wins and good is stronger than evil. It may only occur on a micro level, but you can always find the essence of good, in any situation, if you are open to it.
  2. Along the same lines, even when bad things are happening, there is a simultaneous, counteractive force for the good. Think of a situation, like a house fire or car accident. First responders arrive to help. By standers reach out to assist.  Let’s face it, bad stuff is going to happen. It’s part of life. Having people around you to mitigate the loss or help you through it in some way…that’s a very good thing. See the essence of good in everything.
  3. Stay mindful. Stay present. Stay aware. Don’t allow worry and fear to take hold in your brain. Realize that we only exist from one moment to the next… not in the past or the future. The only life we have is happening right now. Keep the anxiety and worry at bay by keeping your focus on the here and now.
  4. Cultivate a heart full of gratitude. For me, waking up each day, putting my feet on the floor and having coffee in the coffee pot are at the top my thankfulness list. I’m grateful for my husband, parents, children, food, colleagues, meaningful work, the ability to move, a warm bed, a car that starts when I turn the key…I am blessed and I know it. I will not lose sight of that.
  5. Take care of your self, mind, body, and soul. Eat whole foods, mostly plants, which are unprocessed and nutrient dense. Move your body; stretch, bend, lift heavy objects, run, swim, dance… whatever it is, keep at it.  Pray, meditate or sit and be quiet every day. Make these part of your daily routine. You will feel better physically and your mind will respond with a better, more positive attitude.
  6. Be a giver. Think outside of yourself and reach out to someone who needs your help. Giving of yourself does as much to help mankind as it does to foster your own sense of humility and gratitude. Give freely without expecting anything in return.
  7. Smile. You’ve heard it before. Smiling rewires your brain to create positive thought patterns. Smile often and retrain your brain to be happy.
  8. Live a balanced life. Don’t give in to pressures or people (real or imagined) that throw your life out of balance. Stay healthy (see number 5) and happy  to avoid burnout. This will help you maintain an optimistic vibe.
  9. When problems arise, look for solutions. Don’t consider a problem a roadblock. Rather, consider it a speed bump. Slow down,  review your options, think creatively and figure out a new plan.
  10. Give yourself a pat on the back and rest in the knowledge of a job well done. When you’ve accomplished a task or met a goal, don’t rush right on to the next project. Take time to recognize that you’ve done a good job. You will find that your day is made up of many small successes.

These days optimism is a survival technique as much as is it a mindset. What do you think?