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

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







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



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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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:

Bring closure

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.


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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Three Days of Us


They were good sports. They let us stay with them, invade their turf, for three full days. They were patient with us…and made us feel welcomed.

Ohhh…how good it is to see them all together…They have their own sibling language…sometimes they let us in on their secrets…but it’s always amusing…even if they don’t…

And we experienced their world,  where they live, what they do for fun, where they buy their food, where they worship…It’s all so good. So, so good.

Any chance I get to lay eyes on them…and make sure they are eating and sleeping…and brushing their teeth…

I’ll take any chance like that whenever I can get it.






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Day 25

After dinner, after the dishes are washed and put away, after the movie has been watched and we are too tired to go on… I’ll sit down and attempt to convey some sentiment… or feeling of gratitude… because it is Thanksgiving eve, after all.

It was suggested that I not write about how difficult it is to write…because I’ve done that twice already this month. But maybe something along the lines of a free association poem or story might be good. Or maybe a line or two about what it feel likes to be a guest at Thanksgiving, instead of the host.

All good ideas…but not what I’m thinking about.

So now I’m in the kitchen where its quiet(er)…this house is very quiet. Everyone is ready for bed. The feeling of fatigue is as heavy as our eyelids. We have three more days together… to say everything we need to say.  Without repeating our stories. (I’m the one who repeats the stories…the rest of them have interesting, ever changing lives… or they have lots of secrets they are now willing to share). Three days will be enough for them. It’s not nearly enough time for me.

But for now, we will just be still. And we will think about sleep. And be grateful for this lovely, warm house filled with some other families’ memories. We will head up the stairs and tuck into bed.  Someone else’s bed. And be thankful for this time and place. bloodmoon ecclipse 09272015