Marathon Mom (Part 1 – The Inspiration)

Many call it the bucket list.  That list of things you want to accomplish before you die.  I call mine “list of personal accomplishments.”  Once again my birthday is approaching.  Each year I search for challenges to celebrate a new year of life.

I have never been one to give myself birthday parties.  For example, I made sure to tell my parents that under no circumstances were they to give me a Quinceañera party.  A tradition in many Latin American countries symbolic of a girl transitioning from childhood to young womanhood or a Sweet “16” party.  Thankfully they listened.

I love to have parties for my children, but not for myself.  There is nothing wrong with having a party for yourself it’s just that I prefer a trip or an adventure instead.  The quest for searching mountains to climb or steep hills to fly down on roller blades with are representative of my spirit.  Challenges put a skip in my step.

If I had to think about where this need for adventure came from, I can say it was my grand imagination coupled with the admiration I felt for certain sports and sports figures.

As a young child in the 1970’s, the game of tennis won me over.  Memories of Billie Jean King win grand slam after grand slam was inspiring.  I remember asking my father for a tennis racket and practicing by myself sometimes using the wall as my partner in our apartment.  We didn’t have tennis courts available where I lived so this was as good as it got.  Unfortunately, it did not bode over well with my parents or the next door neighbor.

In the 1980’s Florence Griffith Joyner (Flo Jo) captured my attention.  Fascinated by her speed she reminded me of a gazelle on two legs.  I watched intently when she won her silver and gold medals in 1984 and 1988.  She inspired me to be a runner and I joined my school’s track team.  I could be like her one day I thought.

 

 

My interest then turned to gymnastics.  For example, I was glued to the television when Mary Lou Retton won America‘s first Olympic gymnastic gold medal.  At this time, I declared to my parents that I knew I wanted to be an Olympic gymnast.  I just knew!  I begged them to find me a gym to train because I was going be in the Olympics someday.  Moreover, I explained to them that this was very serious and that they would be sorry if they didn’t help me build my dream.

After many wind-knocked-out-of-me practices in my room using pillows as cushions, I quickly became discouraged.  Falling flat on my back for the umpteenth time attempting to master the back flip was no longer fun.

Then came my biggest passion of all… ICE SKATING!  It was instant love, and once again I approached my parents and professed that I wanted to be a famous ice skater.  My favorites were Dorothy HamillKatarina Witt, and Irina Slutskaya to name a few.

So serious was I to become a professional figure skater that my father believed me.  For a year, he would take me every single Sunday to my beloved roller skating rink in downtown New York City.  What was different this time?  I guess since I was older they believed me.

 

 

 

 

As you can imagine, I did not become a professional ice skater.  However, I became pretty good at it and was able to build fond memories with my father too.  Based on the pattern of my childhood memories, I was very much into sports and athleticism.

More importantly, all of these women taught me the power of believing in yourself and preparing mentally and physically for challenges above and beyond the norm.  Thinking back this is probably why I admired them.  The strength, agility, and determination was enough to inspire me to be all that I can be.

“Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul.” – Thomas Merton
Related articles
My First Marathon – Training Day 39 (thetoughroad.wordpress.com)
http://cleancuisineandmore.com/
http://www.wtt.com/page.aspx?article_id=1252
http://www.answers.com/topic/florence-griffith-joyner#Gale_Contemporary_Black_Biography_d
http://www.marylouretton.com/
http://www.katarina-witt.de/
http://www.lastholidaymovie.com/
http://www.runnersworld.com

Wishes Come True and Could Happen to You!

THANKSGIVING IS ALMOST HERE!

The day before Thanksgiving my family and I usually watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.  The Peanuts gang always puts us in a good mood.

 “Thanksgiving is more than eating, Chuck…we should just be thankful for being together.” –Marcie  

As Marcie says, it is more than just eating.  Besides being thankful in each other’s presence, there is another exchange I enjoy sharing with guests.  It begins with believing in the power of positivity and what better time to focus on thinking positively than Thanksgiving.  Creating wishes and putting positive energy and faith so that wishes come true is a great way to end your year.  Giving hope and receiving hope is one way to build positive thinking.

Making wishes and believing in them with all of your heart can sometimes lead it to come true.  Since you already have everyone’s attention and all are in the greatest of moods, it is the perfect time to put positive energy and faith on high and make your wish.  The idea is to not only turn the flame up on the side dishes you’ll be cooking, but to turn up the flame of your heart’s desire that if accomplished could bring you great joy.

In the spirit of this idea, creating a wish box for your guests is a GREAT way to get them to get started on the power of sharing something they wish they could change in their lives or achieve in the near future.  Here’s how it works:

  • Purchase a box that has that special look to you (purchased mine at Marshall’s Department Store).  At a glance, it should appear special and bring a smile on your face when you look at it.  Chances are if you smile when you look at the box, your guests will too.  You can also create a box on your own if you wish to do so.  No limits here.

  • Using the left over multi-colored paper used to create the leaves on the Thanksgiving Tree, cut them into squares big enough for someone to write a simple sentence or word(s).
  • Have writing utensils (pens, pencils, markers, etc.) at the ready for your guests to use.
  • Demonstrate the box to your guests.
  • Describe the idea of the box you are holding.
  • Ask them to think of a wish they would like to see reality.  Make sure that they understand the wish has to be made with all of their heart and the belief that it will happen.
  • Add that the hope is to have them push themselves in the next year to see the wish come true.  Emphasis that they should make it something personal and realistic.  For example, winning the lottery may not be one of those.  (Then again you never know right?)  You want to make it a reachable goal/wish.
  • Once they have had a few moments to think about it, ask them to write it on one of the squares, fold it, and place them in the wish box.

The goal is to keep the wish in the box until the following Thanksgiving when it will be revealed during the gathering.  Hopefully, you are lucky enough to have the same guests return.  Each guest will have the opportunity to claim their wish and see if it came true.  If it did not, what could they have done differently.  Also, what if a guest has moved away or has alternative plans the following year.  A good idea would be to call them on Thanksgiving, wish them well, and say, “Remember that wish you wrote and placed in the wish box?  Let’s read it together and see if it came true.”  It is a wonderful conversation piece!

This is an amazing way to get people to strive towards something.  Without knowing it, they have just sealed a goal they can work for.  If done in the presence of family and friends, it may push them to accomplish the goal/wish even more.  Unlike some New Year’s resolutions which a lot of us do not keep, this is something that is doable, simple, and highly possible.  Chances are if you believe in yourself and the wishes you are making, claim/seal them before those you love or who care about you, they can come true and can certainly happen to you!

Related articles:

http://www.schulzmuseum.org/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068359/

http://www.completeselfimprovement.com/positive-thinking/how-to-stay-positive/

http://www.marshallsonline.com/

Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Meal (amyswandering.wordpress.com)

THANKSGIVING MYTH WITH AN INSPIRATIONAL TWIST (Part I of II)

History cannot give us a program for the future, but it can give us a fuller understanding of ourselves, and of our common humanity, so that we can better face the future. ~ Robert Penn Warren

In grade school we were taught all about the first Thanksgiving and were provided with visual images such as the one I have inserted above.  In a nutshell it was depicted as follows from “The American Tradition”:

After some exploring, the Pilgrims chose the land around Plymouth Harbor for their settlement.  Unfortunately, they had arrived in December and were not prepared for the New England winter.  However, they were aided by friendly Indians, who gave them food and showed them how to grow corn.  When warm weather came, the colonists planted, fished, hunted, and prepared themselves for the next winter.  After harvesting their first crop, they and their Indian friends celebrated the first Thanksgiving.  (James W. Loewen – Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything your American History Textbook Got Wrong)

Most of this is true, however, there were a lot more implications to this than meets the eye.  In fact, some of it is tragic and was not included in many of the texts when I was growing up (this has since changed).  There are those who refuse to celebrate, and groups that have deemed the day National Day of Mourning due to the many Indians that lost their lives at the hands of the Pilgrims.  The following link I am providing from the History Channel demonstrates a short and sweet explanation of the origin of Thanksgiving.  If you haven’t already, it is worth watching:

http://www.history.com/videos/history-of-the-thanksgiving-holiday

As further proof of debunking Thanksgiving and placing it in the myth category, there are hundreds of websites that “correct” the assumptions, origin, and misrepresentation of what Thanksgiving was really about.  Included in the related articles section are some websites which depict some of the assumptions and address the myths that is Thanksgiving.  Therefore, I will not go into it further here.

Why am I including this data?  I believe it is always important to know our history good or bad.  As Aristotle would say, “If you would understand anything, observe its beginning and its development.”  In doing so, we are accepting as a socially conscious society to not repeat history.  Then again there are those that say that history has a tendency to repeat itself.  I have seen where it can, but as a more evolved human race I also see where we are striving to make changes (call me an optimist).  I am aware that we are still struggling with some of the prejudices of long ago.  As an ever-changing society, many have chosen to remember the ‘then’ but to live in the ‘now’.  It is how we move forward.

Although I thought it important to preface this two-part blog entry with some historical information, my blog is an uplifting and inspirational one that could motivate anyone to take all of the things they have heard about this holiday, and work on making it about giving thanks for what you have, not for what was, or what remains to be.  This is how we make a conscious effort to teach our children the beauty of joining as a family and simply being thankful.

In an effort to not make this entry too long, I am adding a part II which will describe some of the amazing things you can do with your children to bring out the imagination within them and inspire you to inspire them to do better for the future of our society.  This is one way we can make an impact in their lives, and revolutionize a change in how we should celebrate each other as a people no matter what the occasion.

Besides, some history is written wrong.  Write your own history. One your children can be proud of, carry on to their own children, and their children’s children.  You see this is how we can stop “bad” history from repeating itself.  Make it as special as you possibly can.  It is the most valuable gift you can give when you pay it forward and it starts with our own families.

Related articles:

http://sundown.afro.illinois.edu/liesmyteachertoldme.php

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0743296281/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1/176-9937622-7651226?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_r=0BA4FF1Y1K4VMC0CEBZH&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_i=0684818868

http://www.nativecircle.com/mlmthanksgivingmyth.html

My Thanksgiving AHA! Moment

Being the big Oprah fan that I am, had to include the Aha! in the title of this entry.  However, after you read what happened to me one Thanksgiving season you will understand the Aha! is indeed called for.

I have had several moments in my life that I could call amazing, unique, and extraordinary as I am sure most of you have had similar experiences.  We are in the Thanksgiving season, therefore, I will share one of those moments that have remained etched in my mind.

About 7 years ago I shoved off to the supermarket to shop for the Thanksgiving feast as many do.  This season I remember having taken the day before Thanksgiving off from work to complete my laundry list of things to do.  It was early in the morning as I was trying to avoid the late afternoon crowds.  There were not too many folks in the supermarket yet.

Looking for nutmeg and pumpkin spice, I strolled into the spice aisle.  There was no one there at the time.  As I am intently looking, I hear the voice of a woman behind me say, “Excuse me?”  I turn around and a well dressed, middle-aged female pulls out a piece of paper from her purse and says to me, “I was led to give you this.  Happy Thanksgiving.”  I said, “okay, thank you.  Wishing you the same.”  She left right after this exchange.

I didn’t open the piece of paper right away and continued to look at the spices.  Curious, I waited another couple of minutes and decided to open the evenly folded paper.  Neatly handwritten on a white sheet of college ruled paper was the following saying:

2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV)

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.

After I read the note, I closed it and looked up.  I walked down a couple of aisles to see if I saw this woman.  I was in awe by what just happened.  The woman was nowhere to be found, but I was left with this warm amazing feeling.  Wondering what just happened, I forgot to shop and left the supermarket.  Sitting in my car, I pondered what the message meant.

A good half an hour passed, and I was still in the supermarket’s parking lot.  This is when my Aha! moment came.  For me it meant that we are made righteous in the sight of God.

right·eous/ˈrīCHəs/

Adjective:
  1. (of a person or conduct) Morally right or justifiable; virtuous.
  2. Perfectly wonderful; fine and genuine.

In the definition of righteous is – perfectly wonderful; fine and genuine.  Yes we are!  After 7 years, I still have the piece of paper.  As Oprah would say, “you don’t have to be an activist, a scientist, or a composer to make a big impact – I’m a firm believer that anyone can have a breakthrough right in their own backyard.”  As for me, it happened in the spice aisle of a supermarket one Thanksgiving season.

Related articles:

http://www.oprah.com/index.html

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Corinthians+5%3A21&version=NIV

The Spirit of Thanksgiving

O Lord that lends me life, Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness! ~ William Shakespeare

Thanksgiving is my FAVORITE holiday of all!  It is not meaningful for me because it was deemed a “holiday.”  It is meaningful because it represents family togetherness and thanking the good Lord for giving us life and family.  Wrapped up in our daily lives many do not take the time to sit as a family for dinner anymore.  The world is too busy for that.  Thanksgiving inspires this with immediate family members, and the added bonus of extended family and friends.

The beauty of this is that even for one day we get the opportunity to see each other in one place, and wish each other blessings.  In my home it is a very special event full of life, blessings, and lots and lots of traditions!

Every year with great care I take out old recipes, and whip up some new ones too.  Once again the handy-dandy Martha Stewart magazines and short tutorials on how to make cupcakes dressed as turkeys, for example, come out from hiding.

The kids and I hit the kitchen happily.  They each take part in creating dinner and desserts for a large group.  Thanksgiving usually brings 40-50 people to my home.  That’s a lot of people you may say, but in our house the more the merrier!

My heart soars when I see all together.  Especially seeing their faces as they enjoy the feast my family and I have prepared for them.  The kids take great pride in seeing their creations being devoured.  We cook with great joy, and share in great joy.

This month I will be dedicating several entries to the special moments, traditions, adventures, and creations we prepare for this special holiday making it memorable for all!  With love from our home to yours….

Related articles:

http://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving

http://www.apples4theteacher.com/holidays/thanksgiving/articles/

Kid Inspired Imagination

"The Adventurer"There are three passions I share in this life.  They are my family, traveling, and writing.  In that order.  One of the things that keeps me up at night is thinking of the next adventure I can take my children on, or what great new idea could I come up with to wow them this week.  Believe it or not, this sometimes keeps me up.

I asked myself:  How can I unleash these ideas so I could get some rest?  A blog page came to mind, and here I begin this journey.  What a better way to unwind, talk about the three things I love the most, and share stories with other parents who are just aching to share as much as I do.

For those who may lack in the kid friendly imagination department, my hope is for this blog to spark that for you.

I am very excited to begin this quest of exchanging experiences and ideas created with my own children with you.  Sit back and let your kid friendly inspirational ideas flow.  It may even bring out the inner child in you.

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