Life

Still Running

Today’s blog comes to you from the gym where I just completed my workout. Liam had a basketball game today where there was another crazy incident involving a ref, one of our players and the coach. This one had racial undertones which was incredibly inappropriate on the refs part. It was an unfortunate end to a great game where our boys gave everything they had.

The rest of the day was pretty lazy, spent napping and reading, and more napping. Today is a gym day but I hadn’t gone yet. I was going to blow it off and go tomorrow since I have the day off. But then I figured there is no time like the present! So at 5:30, I grabbed my sneakers, phone and kindle and headed to the gym.

They only run until 7:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday so I didn’t have much time. I’ve been mixing up my run walk times by experimenting with various speeds. I think I was starting out too fast and losing steam quickly. I’m onto a good setting now and I’m doing more jogging than running but altogether less walking. Hopefully I’ll be able to do more over the next few weeks.

I’m not sure what the end goal is, but I’m hoping to lose a bit of weight and be in better shape when we head to Costa Rica next month. I am feeling more fit which is a positive result. The warning announcement that the gym is closing came on so I guess I’m out of here.

Hope you had a great Sunday!

MC

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parenting

Courage in Parenting

On Tuesday evening after picking my son Liam up from school (5th grade), he told me something that happened in one of his classes that day and I had a deep pit in my stomach that lasted for a good hour. He rarely wants to talk about his day, let alone relay something he feels uncomfortable about. I went into full mother alert and began texting other moms to see if they could corroborate if anything weird happened in religion class.

It took forever for anyone to respond to me so I called my husband to relate the incident. I had initially tried texting the details and he wasn’t getting it so I called him. Yes, the teacher said something completely offensive about a student’s mother and it was sexist and suggestive and completely inappropriate for a 5th grade RELIGION class.

The trouble was I couldn’t get anyone to verify the story. One mother said her daughter wasn’t paying attention and another said her son noticed Liam freaking out because he thought the teacher was talking about S E X but he didn’t think it was inappropriate. So I started doubting Liam’s account and little by little the pit in my stomach eased. I wrote it off as him misunderstanding something being said. It happens.

Fast forward to Friday night at ski club and I overhear another 5th grade mother relating a run in she had with the very same teacher that week. Her daughter related the same story Liam did but instead of trying to corroborate it, she went directly to the teacher and asked if he said the thing her daughter heard. He did but wouldn’t admit it to her. She took it above his head and he was dealt with.

Why didn’t I have the courage to confront the teacher myself? Why did I let it go so easily? There are times in life when you are your child’s best advocate and I learned something from this mom, to trust your instincts and no matter how uncomfortable you need to step up to the situation. God, grant me the courage…

Have you ever wished you spoke up about something when you didn’t?

MC

Life

I am the Rube

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I grew up in a town of about 8,000 people, nestled in a quiet corner of the Adirondacks in upstate New York. It wasn’t always quiet because a major battle was fought between the British and Americans here in 1777 at Fort Ticonderoga. The details are a bit sketchy since I’ve been away so long and school is many years behind me, but my grandmother and mother spent many years working there.

From the time I was in high school, I knew I wanted to get away. I managed a few trips to New York City with my dance school and something about city life was very enticing to me. I applied to schools all over when I was looking at colleges: Boston, MA; Providence, RI; Albany, NY and a couple in small towns like the one I grew up in. I was all over the board with what I wanted to be “when I grew up”. I went from wanting to be an interior designer to working in fashion to being a chef or an author.

My mom’s dream was for me to be a nurse and if I wasn’t going to do that, she tried to push me toward something more stable and where jobs were readily available. I think another caveat was she didn’t want me to go too far from home. In the end, I chose a small liberal arts school known for churning out teachers and I chose that direction. It was in a city and only two hours from home so it was a win for both of us. My out of college older brother lived nearby and my college-age brother was in school a few miles away. It seemed to be the perfect fit.

I started in earnest on my teaching degree and liked most of the classes. I especially like special education and learning sign language and one of my new friends was in the special education program and my roommate and friend from home was going to be a teacher. During Christmas break, my college-age brother took his life and I was adrift. I was managing my way through classes but when it came to the tutoring small kids from a nearby inner city, that was required for one of my classes, I knew I wasn’t cut out for it.

I changed my major to English and took all the literature and writing classes I could find. I’m not going to lie, by the time I was a senior, I was dating a long-term boyfriend I thought I was going to marry and have kids with and be a stay at home mom. I wasn’t thinking of making a career for myself and left all my ambitions by the wayside. Fortunately, after graduation, one or both of us saw the unlikeliness of going the distance and we broke up for good.

This would have been the perfect time to pull up stakes and head for New York because I had a very good friend from high school living there and I could get back into writing and possibly find a job in publishing. You may have guessed it, but I met another guy and by the time that fell apart, I was firmly entrenched in my job and the friend who lived in the city moved here and we got a place together.

I guess I sort of got away from where this post was going about being a rube and I don’t want to bore you with my whole life story here. I managed to move away from my small town roots but as I got older, I have to say I envied my other siblings who were nearby my parents and could pop in for dinner anytime they chose. I’ve lived away now for more years than I’ve lived anywhere else and as time passes I wonder if I’ll consider anywhere else home. There will always be that little tug for my first home.

MC

 

Life

Thoughts and Prayers are Failing Us

The latest school shooting is heavy on my mind. I started a full post about it this morning, but words failed me. How to adequately convey what many of us are feeling today, after seeing video and hearing first-hand accounts of the gunfire? Anger. Hopelessness. Disbelief. Grief. Horror. Helplessness. A former student sets off a fire alarm so he could get as many students in the hallway as possible so he could shoot them. That this is not an isolated incident is beyond awful.

Our politicians have become adept at sending thoughts and prayers and have shown themselves unwilling to work to take action on legislation for mental health and gun control, both of which are needed in spades.  The Dalai Lama says prayers are not enough. They are not enough.

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Let’s not make school shooting become a normalized aspect of our lives now. When we send our kids to school each day, let’s not wonder where and when the next one will be.

MC

 

work

A File of Smiles

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Early in my career, someone gave me the idea to start a smile file. I graduated college in 1990 so this is going way back. Way back to the days when it wasn’t unusual to find people that still smoked at their desk and computers needed you to type the word run after a blinking c: prompt to bring it to life. Those early days were a fountain of knowledge and experience I didn’t pick up in college and full of opportunities to learn about the variety of human behavior to be experienced in an office setting when you are the first line of defense over the phone and in person (aka the receptionist).

After one particularly bad run-in with a customer, an older co-worker counseled me to start a file that I could turn to when times got tough at work. Times when tears would roll down my face over some mean insult spoken in haste by a customer over the phone. Unfortunately, bad manners are always going to be part of any job where you directly interact with customers. What goes into this folder, I asked?

Continue reading “A File of Smiles”

Life

The Rhythms of Life

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I tend to get suspicious when life is going along just fine. After a while I get used to it and then when an issue comes up, I’m unprepared and knocked back just a little bit. Oh, right, life isn’t supposed to always be easy, I remind myself! This is an important life lesson that I keep trying to instill in my son Liam who is elven. He seems to be coming home with different issues from school these days and I try to give him my best advice to help him along.

Sometimes it has to do with academics – a poor test grade or missed assignment. He will get very upset when he doesn’t do well on a test even if his grade is in the low 90’s. I do not want him to put so much emphasis on one grade or one assignment. I simply tell him to learn from these situations and just to always do his best. We can never be doing everything perfectly.

Continue reading “The Rhythms of Life”

Life

Finding inspiration in the Last Lecture

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Today’s daily prompt brings to mind many different uses of the word lecture. But the one that immediately popped into my mind was the amazing and inspiring Last Lecture of Randy Pausch recorded in September 2007. Pausch was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and was given a death sentence in the form of pancreatic cancer just a month prior to this lecture. The doctor had given him 3-6 months to live and he eventually succumbed to cancer in July of the following year.

The subject of his lecture was a simple premise: Achieve your childhood dreams. No, he didn’t talk about his looming death, his unfulfilled dreams, his regrets or hopes for his family’s future. He talked about his childhood dreams, from a somewhat simple goal of winning the “big” stuffed animal at amusement parks to the big one of working in animation at Disney. He details how he made these dreams come true (maybe not in the way he expected) and why our childhood dreams are important.

To date, there are over 18 million views of his lecture and if you haven’t seen it or are looking for inspiration about living life, please take a look and enjoy.

It got me thinking about my own childhood dreams which were: owning a horse, traveling to England, writing a book, owning a convertible (like Nancy Drew), going on a cruise (Love Boat anyone?) and becoming an Olympic gymnast. Some of these things are not going to happen (the Olympic dream has long since set sail) and some have already been achieved (London, convertible, cruise) and my dream of owning a horse has been eclipsed in knowing how much work it involves! That leaves one goal left on the table which is to write a book. It’s something I have worked on from time to time but has never gotten far off the ground.

What were your childhood dreams and how many did you see come to fruition? What’s left that you still want to do?

MC

Life

Monday Morning Blues

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I want to go back to bed. Instead, I’m at work in our redesigned department, a line of desks against a wall, all exactly the same. It looks so robotic, so office-like. Of course, I do work in an office. I’m waiting for our IT folks to bring the phones and computers while I’m pretending this new floor plan isn’t happening.

My old desk was against a row of windows where I had a front-row view of a major road (there were often fender benders directly in front of us – none causing grave damage as far as I could tell). Now I’m looking at nothing but a vibrant blue partition. I need to look on the positive side of all this so let’s conjure up some good thoughts.

Continue reading “Monday Morning Blues”

Musings

Mnemonics and Names

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I suppose there are things to say about mnemonics but I’m not really feeling it today except to say that I use them for my computer passwords here and there (you basically need full phrases with numbers and symbols thrown in these days to be sure everything is secure). A couple of these phrases have really stuck in my mind so I guess you could say they are now serving a dual purpose. The things I learned them for are not even anything I use anymore in my grown up life but they got me through whatever tests I needed them for and for that and the fact they are still in my brain 40 or so years later is a testament to them.

Speaking of remembering, I really need an ace way to remember people’s names. I’m pretty good if I know someone else with the same first name (especially my own because I usually will say to them, well, that’s easy to remember with a little laugh and that somewhat reinforces it). But there are many, and I mean many times when I am introduced to someone and my mind isn’t present when they say it so I’m like, uh oh, and hope someone else will come by and say their name so I’m not embarrassed later when I can’t remember. Does this ever happen to you? It could be me saying hi, I’m Mary and then I totally miss their name when they say, I’m ______. I seriously have a short attention span.

I’m also not great in social situations with people I don’t know (these situations that require us to introduce ourselves in the first place). I’m too busy thinking of things to talk about so if people are being introduced, my mind is already too absorbed in my other thoughts to take it in. I will try to ask someone else if I really need to know. If I know I’ve met someone before but see them another time and can’t remember, I’ll just say, hi, I’m Mary again and hope they reciprocate.

A few years ago, I took part in Dale Carnegie training and let me tell you, they really stress how important it is to remember people’s names. A person’s name is really the most important thing about them and it makes people feel good when you use their name in conversation. If I can remember it the first time, I will always try to say it again or at least at the end of the conversation because that is a good way to reinforce it as well. I practice this when I’m on the phone with anyone in customer service because they always give their name. I write it down so I can use it during the conversation and again when the call is ending.

Maybe we should all develop our own mnemonics so when we introduce ourselves, we can say, hi, I’m Mary, Meet A Real Yoyo. On the other hand it might just be easier to remember Mary.

Tell me how you remember people you meet for the first (or second time).

MC

 

 

Life

Blogging from Bed

I don’t have any inspiring words tonight except for these: listen to your body. Mine is beat tired after two days of skiing but I insist a blog must be written in keeping with my promise to myself to try to blog every day in February.

The snow was exceptionally rough today. Me, a friend and our 11 year olds took the lift and I was feeling quite excited so I suggested grabbing the next lift to the top (you have to ski a ways to get to it). There was a bit of miscommunication and I lost them 5 minutes into our run. I was lagging behind and fell (the snow was dense and ungroomed – not that I need a reason to fall) and by the time I righted myself they were gone and hadn’t noticed I was no longer with them.

I went to the bottom instead of the other lift and waited a while to see if we could reconnect. I decided to go back up and try to catch them at the other lift. Again, they were nowhere to be found. I looked up and the mountain had no visibilty at the top but since it had been my idea to go up I decided to take the lift on my own (well with a fellow skier/stranger) and by the time we were halfway up I knew it was a very bad idea. It was fairly treacherous and I managed to make it down with one wipeout and a couple falls which I considered to be a success! I skied right back to the lodge and decided to read for the rest of the afternoon.

My body is beat up and so here I am blogging in bed with the Olympics, a snoring husband and snoozing cat as company.

Hope you had a great day.

MC