Got Sisu?

Everyone should have a Finn in their life. Because only Finns can teach you about Sisu.

Sisu (noun) Extraordinary determination, courage, resoluteness in the face of extreme adversity. An action mindset which enables individuals to see beyond their present limitations and into what might be. Taking action against the odds and reaching beyond observed capacities. An integral element of Finnish culture, and also a universal capacity for which the potential exists within all individuals.

I have a friend who’s a Finn.

For nearly a year now, with extreme regularity (and many notable exceptions), we meet in the early morning to exercise. It’s this simple act. But you’d be amazed at how much Sisu is involved.

(My whole strategy is never let her get more than three steps ahead of me. As long as I can close the gap that separates us with three strides, I’m good. Otherwise, I’m toast.)

They say that as you grow older, it’s harder to make friends.

Maybe that’s true. But it’s also true that the friends you do make later in life are just as treasured as those you made many, many years ago.

Friendship is amazing gift in life.

A good friend brings out the very best in you. You’re able to share things with a dear friend that you simply can’t with a spouse or a sibling or a child or a parent. A friend’s ear soothes and heals. Joy is amplified — and burdens are lightened — when shared with a friend.

My Finn has done all these things for me. And she’s done one thing more.

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She’s taught me that I can confidently answer that question.

:)

Mary

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Point to a mountain and say “that one.”

I’ve had the very good fortune of having lots and lots and lots of really great bosses over the years.

A good boss is like a great parent — you really don’t appreciate them fully until long after they’re done nurturing you.

The thing about this little start-up we’re doing is that I don’t really have a boss anymore.

There are four of us. And we all bring a skill set to the table. And I definitely feel connected to a peer group… and there’s this shared vision… and there’s a lot of really good dynamics in play…

But I don’t have a boss. I don’t have anyone pointing to a mountain and saying “that one.”

And honestly, it’s terrifying.

Until now, I never fully appreciated the incredible risk associated with opportunity costs.

That’s what scary.

Most of the time, you don’t really have the time to reflect on it. You just keep moving and making the best decisions you can with the information you’ve got.

But it’s funny…

When I started on this journey, I never thought that the thing that would scare me the most would be the decisions I have to make about what I’m not going to do.

Mary

 

 

 

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Boot Camp

I’ve got the most amazing kids. They’re teenagers, so I guess I should stop calling them kids. But they’re still my little munchkins, even though the girls can fit into my clothes and my son is growing taller than me every day.

They are just exemplary human beings and they make my heart sing every single day. I am so proud to be their mother.

We start with that because we’re going to spend the rest of this blog post talking about where we — the kids, me, and that hunk-a-hunk-a-man-o-mine — all are trying to to hop the rails and get on a better health and and wellness train.

We’re spending way (way, way) too much time on screens and not enough time being active. We’re defaulting to eating foods that really aren’t the best choices all of the time. No one is getting enough sleep. The stress level in all of our lives is way too high.

We all have the opportunity to hit the reset button on how we take care of these beautiful bodies we carry around every day (food, water, sleep, fitness, stress management, the whole nine yards).

That’s what we’re doing, and I’m in charge.

(Just to be clear, I’m doing things I know (hope) work with my family. I’m no expert. I’m just a mom trying to make a change in my own home with my own family. Half the stuff I do, I make up as I go.)

We started earlier this summer but we’re hitting a wall….. So for the next four weeks it’s Family Wellness Boot Camp.

I’ve got a plan. I’m focused. I am so motivated about taking this on.

And I’ve got everybody (somewhat begrudgingly) onboard for Boot Camp. And they’ve all agreed (somewhat reluctantly) to let me be Drill Sergeant.

(Except I’m not yelling. I don’t do well with screaming and yelling. And neither do the munchkins. ) :)

Two things to share today:

1. Water.IMG_2721 We don’t drink enough of it. My kids will drink water if someone gives them an icy cold glass of it. I gathered every plastic/stainless steel water bottle we own. I’ve filled them with ice and cleared the top shelf of the freezer. All they have to do is grab a bottle, fill it up, drink. Let’s see if this works….

 

IMG_24722. We’re hitting the gym. We’ve been exercising (pretty regularly) since July 1, which is when our annual summer “Family Fitness” started. In an effort to make our workouts as as mentally “easy” as possible, I’ve designed a plan that is anchored around three core tenets: 1) There’s absolutely nothing in the world that you can’t do for two minutes,  2) Everyone can run a quarter mile, 3)When everyone gets to choose, everyone is less annoyed.

So we do interval training where we run 1/4 mile on treadmills/ellipticals and then do a strength training exercise for two minutes then repeat, for a total of 2 miles and eight exercises. It’s just me and the kids on the weekday workouts. So we each take turns being “lead” and we all get to be lead twice.

When it’s your turn to be lead, you have to run on the treadmill (it’s harder than the elliptical) and you have to go as fast as you possibly can. You’re trying to sprint the whole time. When you’re done with your quarter mile, you call time, and we all get off the machines. Then we go to strength training. The “lead” gets to pick what we do for the next two minutes. Sometimes (squats, plank, push-ups, etc.) we can all do them together. But other times when there’s a machine/weights involved, we all peel off and do a slightly different thing. The goal is to go fast and keep our heartrate up the whole time.

We go to our community gym — nothing fancy but it has all the equipment we need. The kids get in free and I have to pay a modest fee to workout there. We are indoors because that’s what the kids prefer. Here in Hometown, USA, it is very hot and humid in the summertime. The kids (strongly) prefer air conditioning so I go with it, even though I (strongly) prefer the fresh air outdoors – even if it is hot and humid.

This workout plan was a negotiated settlement. Last summer, the Family Fitness plan I made them do was bike 2 miles, run 2 miles then do the 200-sit-ups, 100-push-ups routine. They all hated it. And it was a struggle to keep them motivated, even though they all saw the results. So this year, I switched things up. The workout isn’t as rigorous, I don’t think, but they don’t grumble about it either. I figured that was a trade-off I was willing to take. :)

So that’s what I’m up to…

Mary

p.s.  I’ll let you know if the water bottles in the freezer works in getting them to drink more water…

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What Alzheimer’s Hasn’t Taken

There are so many things that Alzheimer’s takes from a person, and from those who love him.

The scope is so big and so profoundly heartbreaking that I don’t think I’ll ever find the words to be able to capture it.

But one thing that Alzheimer’s hasn’t yet taken from us is the ability to live fully and completely in a moment.

Yesterday, I sat with my father and told him how much I loved him. As I did so I was living fully and completely in that moment. And so was he.

I told him that the life he’s led has been an example to me and that I aspire to one day be like him. I told him he’s lived with Φιλότιμο. It’s a word that means honor and integrity and morality and so much more — it’s really hard to translate. I told him the highest compliment someone can pay me is to say that I remind them of my father. I told him these things and others too, and as I said them every molecule of who I am was working so hard to fully communicate them. And every ounce of who my father is was working so hard to fully comprehend and appreciate what I was saying.

We were both working so hard to live fully and completely in that moment.

(I didn’t mention that most of the time people tell me I remind them of my mother.)

:)

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When I took this picture, I wasn’t living fully in the moment. And neither was my father.

It’s been more than 10 years now. Maybe it’s been 15. I got up before dawn with him that morning so that we could hike up to Agios Elias before the day got too hot. It’s well outside of the village and it’s uphill the whole way.

I carried my burdens with me up that mountain. I suppose they’re the typical things a young(er) working mom would be carrying — angst about things that had happened with the kids or at work; anxiety (and hope) about all the things that were to come.

I’ve had many mornings since the morning I took that picture. And I still carry lots of those things around with me.

But yesterday, on Father’s Day, I understood what it meant to live fully and completely in a moment.

And I was so thankful for that. It’s the thing that Alzheimer’s hasn’t yet taken from me.

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Family Fitness!

TO: The US-based aunts, uncles and cousins
FROM: Mary
SUBJECT: Family Fitness!

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I’m so excited we’re going to be doing Family Fitness together! Here are some of the exercises that we’ll be doing.

I wanted to share these videos with you because I find that knowing in my head what the perfect form looks like makes it easier (achievable) to master it IRL.

I love you  guys so much and I’m really happy that we’re all going to be helping each other work on our fitness this summer!!!!!

Theia Mary

p.s. please note: my use of millennial acronyms demonstrates that I have my finger on the pulse of the zeitgeist. #throwdown.

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Avoidance

It’s 9:30 a.m. on a beautiful sunny Saturday in late March.

So far this morning, I’ve made plumb jam.

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I’ve baked scones.

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I’ve read two magazines and a newspaper.

I’ve even blogged!

All in avoidance of this:

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It’s a big truckload of shredded leaf mulch. I need to spread it all over my garden.

I’m always so optimistic when I order the mulch. I’m so eager for spring when I think about having it delivered.

Then, it arrives. And all my enthusiasm for it just kind of melts away. Like the snow..

I will get to the mulch this morning…

Just as soon as I’m done cleaning up my desk and getting my papers in order….  .

:0)

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Friendship is the bread of the heart

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It takes a little bit of effort to re-connect with people.

There are always so many other things that seem to get in the way of it.

Your friends from the past… they keep popping up in your head…you think of them… you remember them…. you wonder how they are and hope that they’re healthy and happy… and in your head, you really, really want to re-connect with them.

The problem is, this stuff just happens in your head.

You get busy. Or something else takes your attention away. Or you promise yourself that you’ll do it tomorrow. But somehow, it just doesn’t come together.

Then, one day it does!

You manage to re-connect.

And it’s awesome.

You pick up right where you left off. (Even though that was like 5  or 10 or 15 years ago; neither of you can really remember exactly how long it’s been…)

And the experience leaves you so energized and happy.

You remember all the wonderful things you loved about the person. You also get to remember the things that drove you bananas. ;-)

For those precious minutes that you’re together, you both get to travel back in time. Together you visit the past that you shared. And as you do, you see it through each other’s eyes. And you remember it more clearly. It becomes richer, more vivid, and somehow … it feels closer in time.

You both get to indulge in the people you used to be. And, walk forward, to catch each other up on the people you’ve become.

Growing older has some downsides. But one of the huge upsides is that there are so many people with whom you’ve had the chance to share something special.

And when you find the time to re-connect …. well, you get to have that something special all over again.

Today I re-connected with Betsy. It was awesome. It was so, so awesome.

And it made me thirsty for more…

Mary

p.s. for the record, Betsy doesn’t do anything to drive me bananas.

p.p.s. the title of this post is inspired by the Beautiful Penelope and is taken from the works of Mary Russell Mitford, the poet, playwright, novelist and essayist born in Hampshire England on December 16, 1787.

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