Monthly Archives: January 2014

Hero #FMF


Today, I am writing a “Five Minute Friday” piece.  The word is HERO

To me, heroes are the people we see every day who put their life at risk for the sake of another person.  Firefighters, police officers, all the people in the armed forces fighting to keep our country safe – those are true heroes. I admire them for their courage and for their bravery.

A hero goes over and beyond for someone else.  Someone who puts their life in danger to be sure that others are safe and feel protected.  We see and hear about heroes everyday.  They can be ordinary people who in a moment, do something that will forever change the way we look at them.

The teachers from Sandy Hook – they are true heroes.  I know that I would do that for my students.  I’d do it for anyone that I loved.  I think most people have it in them to be a hero if they had to be when confronted with a challenging situation.   We never know what will make us a hero to another person.  Keep making positive choices because those choices we make are the ones that are going to be the biggest influences on others.  They are the ones that are going to make you a hero to someone else.

A Champion


This is the first thing I saw this morning and it has to be shared.  We are always hearing about such negativity on the news.  This one is inspiring.

So many people are indifferent about things these days.  This young man showed what the difference is between being a winner and being a champion.

It’s All Relative…

snow and ice

It seems like wherever I go people are talking about the weather.  It is the top story on all of the news stations.

I have been watching the news and hearing about the “paralyzing storm” that has hit the south.  THREE inches of snow.  I am not making light of it because sadly this severe weather has been deadly in many cases.  I just have to wonder what constitutes “paralyzing” or “storm of the century.”  It seems like every few days we are getting hit with another “wicked storm.”

Three inches of snow to us here in New Jersey seems like nothing – at least not after the way this winter has been so far.  Last week, we had about a foot of snow and had to shut down schools and businesses.  But north of us, they are under several feet of snow.  Are they laughing at our complaining?  Do people in Alaska sit back and shake their heads at us?

I assume it all has to do with what we are prepared for.  No one expects to get freezing temperatures, snow and ice in Georgia, Florida and Alabama so they are not accustomed to it and how  to handle the drastic change.  I can remember my cousins who grew up in Alaska telling me that school was very rarely ever canceled, and even then, it was not because of snow, but because of extreme cold.  Cold like….30 BELOW!  I am whining and complaining over the single digit temperatures here – I could not even imagine what thirty below could feel like and I don’t want to!

I guess the most important thing that we can do during this cold snap, no matter where we live, is to stay safe.  Anyone can tell you that they can drive safely in the snow but no one can safely drive on ice. The best thing you can do in an ice storm is to simply avoid it.  Keep your pets inside, safe and warm, and help elderly or ailing neighbors with shoveling if you can.  Winter is here for a few more months and there is nothing we can do about it!  At least the days are beginning to get a little longer!  That’s always a sure sign that Spring is on its way!



virginia wolf

After blogging for nearly 14 months, I definitely run into nights like tonight when I am feeling rather uninspired to write.  I go in spurts.  I have ideas that flow quite freely and sometimes, I have no problem coming up with ideas, and then days and days where I just don’t know what I want to write about.  I have lots of memories I could probably turn into posts but would they be interesting to anyone besides me? I have often wondered what makes people come back and read my blog.  I am 418 views away from 50,000 views on the site.  How did that happen?

No one is forcing me to write each day.  Last year, it was the challenge to myself.  This year, I did not have to continue it, I wanted to.  I have found that I really do enjoy writing.  I am afraid that if I take a night off, it will be too easy to just stop.  I don’t want that to happen.  The writing is so good for me.  Whether it is read by others or not, it is my diary.  I can go back and read and reread what I have written.  I have read all of the entries about my mom more times than I care to admit!  It helps me when I am missing her so I guess it is therapeutic.

So on nights like tonight, when I feel like I don’t have a lot to say, I might just post a few words, or maybe a quote or two that will inspire kindness or happiness – that was the original intention of the blog after all!

Word of the Day

words inspire

At the studio where I have been taking classes, the owner Lidia has given a challenge. Each day she posts a “word of the day.”  When we check in, we post the word.  At the end of the month the person with the most check ins will win a prize.  I am always up for a competition, so I began posting the words. There is a different one everyday.  I can’t get there to work out every day, so I have not seen all of them, but here are just a few:

  • Accomplishment
  • Hope
  • Knowledge
  • Humility
  • Live
  • Courage
  • Honor
  • Happiness

At first, it was all about the competition, but now, I am looking forward to the words.  The words make me think and wonder.  They are encouraging and uplifting.  They are powerful.  They carry emotion and provoke feelings.  I am sure that the words don’t mean the same thing for each of us and I wonder if that was Lidia’s intention all along!??!

Continuing With Self-Image


After posting yesterday’s blog about self-image,  and how poor mine is of myself, I have received an overwhelming response.  I shared it and told people to think about what they feel is beautiful about themselves and heard some great responses.  I did not write it to get compliments.  Truly, I am uncomfortable with that, but they are making me look at myself differently which was the whole purpose of our coaching group assignment.  We must be on to something because in just one day, we have been seeing so many things about this topic.  I am sharing some today.  This first one, (according to its title,) “Will forever change the way you look at selfies.”

It was quite powerful and led to a discussion about being comfortable in our own skin.  The young girls had a chance to talk to one another AND their moms about it.  My mom was NEVER one to talk about self-image.  She was as self conscious as I am.  Probably more so.   My sister as well – though she admitted yesterday that she likes taking selfies of herself, something I am not at all comfortable with.  As adults we need to really listen to the way we talk about ourselves in front of our children. Especially mothers and daughters.  If show that we are not confident, how will we be positive role models for them?

There was also this cartoon and response posted – (ironically found on the day after this discussion):

self image cartoon

“Now that is what i call Mirror Work…. Please take the time today to look at yourself in the mirror and say “I Love You” it may sound silly to some of you but give it a try and see what happens and share the results with us below.”

Now our coach gave us a challenge for next week.  We have to take THREE seflies.  I tried.  It is much harder than I thought it would be.  I have already deleted most of them.

Perfect song sung by Christina Aguilera to end with…even if you know it, read along with the lyrics:

Self Image

self love

I know that this is not something that I alone struggle with.  I have written about it more than once.  Having Neurofibromatosis truly makes me feel uncomfortable with the way I look.  It affects the way I dress.  I hide it as much as possible but I can’t cover up my whole body.

Our coaching group topic today was a tough one.  SELF LOVE.   We talked about comparing ourselves to others and that we need to stop doing that.  Whenever I am in an exercise class and there are mirrors, I am noticing every little imperfection on my own body while looking at what I believe is the “perfection” of the women around me.   A few of them said they do the same thing.  Made me think….is that what all of us are doing?  Even the ones that I think look great?  

Our leader Tammy made us go around the circle and name ONE thing we truly loved when we saw a photograph of ourselves or looked at ourselves in a mirror.  We were not allowed to say something we liked about “inside” it had to be something we saw on the outside.  Instead of focusing on our flaws and how we could change, we were forced to choose something that we loved, and focus on that.

As we went around the circle, it was hard!  All of us blushed and looked flustered or embarrassed when it came to our turn.  Yet, if someone had asked me to go around and tell each of these beautiful women what I found to be their prettiest trait, I could have done it without any hesitation.  As she called on us and we hesitated and stumbled over our words, the rest of us looked on with amazement and bewilderment because everyone of us could come up with something for the others while we had trouble coming up with one of our own.

Two of them have smiles that light up the room whenever they are in it.  Another has eyes that sparkle so much, I find myself captivated by them whenever I speak with her.  Tammy has hair that is funky and fun and it just lights up her face.  When she smiles, her entire face brightens.

When it got to my turn, I could not do it.  Tammy prodded.  She made me sit there in uncomfortable silence as I pondered it.  Sure, I love the color of my eyes…I really do, but the fibroma on the left side has made one of them droop and sag more than the other making them look unbalanced.  I never had a problem with acne growing up, yet the small fibromas all over the bottom of my face are all I see – though others tell me it is not as noticeable as I make it out to be.  My nose is just a nose – nothing remarkable about it.  So I said, “I guess my hair,” but I added, “because it is my shield and it covers the side of my face.”  So Tammy said, “Doesn’t count.”

She gave me a challenge.  I have to study photos of myself this week.  I have to look closely and scrutinize them I guess.  I have to come to class next week and tell what I think my best feature is.  What I think is truly beautiful about my looks.

I always like to believe it is what’s inside that counts and maybe that is true, because sometimes if a person is ugly inside, it is hard to find their beauty on the outside.  So if we are truly beautiful people on the inside, perhaps that is what others see when they look at us.  I try to find that beauty in everyone.  My goal this week is to find it in myself as well.

And…it is not as easy as you might think, so I challenge you to do the same.  Really think about it.  What do you think is your most beautiful physical feature?  Do you think others would say the same?  Was it easy for you to come up with or did you struggle to come up with something?  I am curious to know!

From Fatherless to Fatherhood

tell me teach me

Last night, I attended a viewing of, “From Fatherless to Fatherhood.”  This film, directed by Kobie Brown, is a series of interviews and narratives.  The film explores the impact of young men and women who grow up without a father and how some of them are breaking the cycle by taking an active role in the lives of their children, despite not having fathers of their own.

According to CNN, it is estimated that nearly 80% of African-American children can expect to spend at least part of their childhood living apart from their fathers. The biggest barrier affecting both young and old fathers, Brown says, is poor-quality relationships

One of the men in the documentary happens to be Kevin Mason, the Assistant Principal at our school.  After the viewing, we had a short question and answer session. One thing we learned, was that,  “The purpose of this documentary is to ignite discussion throughout the African-American community … to let people understand that their lives are not determined by the absence of their fathers, that they can move beyond that and succeed nonetheless,”

I know that they are hoping to spread the word. It has already received a lot of press, (including the Oprah Winfrey Network,) but they are hoping to continue to spread the value of positive role models in the life of children.  Mr. Mason has been a mentor to many children and stressed the importance of it.  If you have the opportunity to see it, I highly recommend it.  It is really thought provoking.

I have included some information about the workshop below:


The institutional version of this film is 42 minutes-long and is being used as part of a grassroots tour that has included stops at Morehouse College, Penn State University, The Eagle Academy for Young Men,  Central High School (Newark, NJ) and the 4th Annual Pre-Father’s Day Summit presented by Congressman Bobby L. Rush, among other venues.  The screenings consist of a presentation of the film followed by a Q&A session and workshop with the film’s producer.


The Same

be a friend 2

Every year around Martin Luther King Day, I do the “Brown Egg, White Egg Experiment” with my students.  I have done it for as long as I remember and it is truly one of my favorite lessons to teach.  We talk about the differences between the two eggs and how they are not alike.  Then, I crack them into a clear bowl and the kids all realize that inside that shell, they are exactly the same.  It amazes me every year, but the kids totally “get it.”  It is so visual and right to the point.  We talk about how on the outside none of us look like each other but inside we are exactly alike.

This year, I also read them the book, “Martin’s Big Words, The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”  This Caldecott winning book, written by Doreen Rappaport, was new to me, but will now be added to my library to read every year.  The illustrations were stunning and my students were captivated by them.  The words were taken directly from quotes of his own but geared towards children and told in words that they would understand.  The message was clear.  Martin used words instead of violence.  He felt that kindness could overpower hatred.

I knew that the lesson had been learned when one of my students prompted a group of children to write a “kindness note,” (his words) to a child in another class who had not been treating others nicely.  They came up with a note, that was made up of kind things about her.  He told me that he was going to “be like Martin” and use kindness because if enough people were nice to her, maybe she’d see how great it was and then she’d be nice to everyone else.

If only everyone could think like a Kindergartener!!  The innocence of children….it is truly a beautiful thing!

I Love a Snow Day

baby its cold outside

I have to admit, I really do love a good snow day!  Yesterday’s early dismissal wouldn’t count as a “good” snow day. We didn’t even all get in until after 3 o’clock so the day was nearly over. I wound up cooking a huge pot of pulled chicken which is a good dinner for our family since each of us could eat it the way that we wanted to. Other than that, we did not get much done.  We couldn’t even get a head start on the shoveling because it was snowing so hard!  There just was no point.

For me, a good snow day is one that is called the night before.  No early morning phone call to wake us up.  No need to set an alarm clock, no worrying about getting homework done since we already did it.  A night where we can actually stay up late and watch a movie or play a game!  Nowhere to rush to in the morning. Just a day where we could get up late, make waffles and get things done around the house! Staying in pajamas not having to get dressed to go out… It all sounds luxurious and self-indulgent!

For me the worst part of a snow day ironically is the snow!  Sure it’s pretty when it is falling but cleaning it all up is the worst! I love the silence and the beauty of the snow but I really hate being cold…and I am always cold! I bring a sweater with me wherever we go, even in the summer.  My youngest son loves the snow.  He and Dave were out in it for hours today snowboarding on the big hill in town.  Sledding was never a big thrill for me.  Growing up, our house had a big hill in the front yard, but I think it took up more time to bundle up enough to go out and play, than it did to take the few rides down the hill before I’d be too cold and want to go back inside!  I I have tried skiing, but for a girl who really dislikes the cold,  I just did not find it to be much fun.

In reality though, all those thoughts of a relaxing, “never get out of my pajamas snow day,” didn’t really happen today. Even though the kids slept in, Emmy Lou woke us up early and since the snow was too deep for her to walk in, Dave had to go out and shovel a path while I carried her out to the street for her walk.  I think she just might dislike the snow as much as I do! So much for staying in our pajamas! Since we were already outside we just decided to start shoveling the loooooong driveway. Fortunately, despite the snow being so deep, it was light so between us and the neighbor we got it done fairly quickly… and surprising us in another random act of kindness our other neighbor came over and let us borrow his snow-blower for the biggest part of the driveway. That made the job go a little more quickly than normal.  We had the job done in less than two hours and by the time we went inside, Drew was awake and we did have those waffles for breakfast.  A nice hot breakfast is something we don’t get to have often on school days, so that was a nice treat.

I decided to make a big pot of Braciole for dinner and invite my dad and brothers. Unfortunately we did not have all of the ingredients so I decided to brave the roads and go to the grocery store, (so much for not leaving the house!)  Before I left I went on line and I saw that there was a class at Viva Z.  I had assumed they’d be canceled.  I never get to a morning exercise class and since I was going out anyway, I decided I would go.  Another advantage having the day off!
The roads were much better than I expected them to be.  On a sad note, I had TWO wakes that I needed to get to this afternoon.  If we had been at school, I might not have been able to get to both of them.  The snow day made it so that I could get to them both. After going through two of them ourselves last year, I know how important it is to the family to be there so I was glad to be able to have gotten to the both of them.
Even though the snow day that I had envisioned in my mind… staying home in my pajamas, snuggled under a blanket on the couch, watching senseless TV all day long…. didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to, it actually turned into a really productive day off.   Now….we just cannot have anymore before it cuts into our scheduled days off!  Even though it is only January, I am ready for the snow to be over.  I wonder if we can get through the next few months without anymore!?!?