family · running

Everything I Need To Know About Fitness I Learned From My Mom

My mom started running in when she was in her 30’s, and became a fitness phenom before it was cool, especially for women. There was no Target, let alone an affordable fitness department, so in winter she would don her sweats with cotton tights underneath with an old stocking cap, a scarf and jacket and get out to run, no excuses, ever. She ran in freezing cold and blazing heat, wind, rain and ice. She ate “clean” long before it was even a thing, and pumped iron in the garage. I thought she was nuts at the time, but she left an impression. Her steadfast example went unheeded through my youth, but in my 20’s when I decided to get into a healthier lifestyle, I found I already knew what to do, I had to look no further than example she had set.

There were no gimmicks or secrets to her fitness routine. She never fell for a fad diet or nutrition drink. She just looked at her circumstances and added a huge heap of common sense, which is free for all to use.

  1. Eat real food, heavy on the fruits and veggies.
  2. Skip the artificial junk. Yes, it goes with #1, but it doesn’t go without saying. If it comes in a package, less is more.
  3. Portion size matters, don’t get carried away.
  4. Sit down and savor your food, you’ll be more satisfied with less.
  5. Pass on the alcohol. Maybe wine has benefits, but it has sugar too, save it for special occasions.
  6. Treats are treats. A little goes a long way.
  7. Play, it keeps you young.
  8. You won’t melt. Go outdoors in crummy weather.
  9. It’s okay to get dirty. People are washable.
  10. Heavy work is for women too, you get great muscle definition shoveling snow, push mowing the lawn and raking.
  11. Get outside your comfort zone. When my mom first started running my sisters giggled as she struggled to make it a quarter mile. When she finished first a 5k, then a 10k, and eventually a 25k, they could only cheer.
  12. Movement helps what ails you, especially when paired with fresh air.
  13. It’s supposed to be hard. If it was easy, everyone would do it.

It’s been almost 40 years since something clicked in her head and my mom decided to get fit, and she’s never looked back. When I see her playing tag with her grandkids and great-grandkids at the playground and swimming with them at the lake, my heart swells with gratitude for the health and strength she has maintained well into her 70’s. Not only has it served her well, she pays her health forward to her children and grandchildren and even her grandchildren’s children. She has passed down to us all a legacy of health and well-being that I am proud to carry on, and can only hope serves me as well as it has her.

 

cancer · family · grief · parenting · special needs parenting

The Price of Deeper Thoughts

It was on the wall in my mother’s bedroom, a poem written by her grandmother. I loved it as a child, even though I possessed only a superficial understanding of it at the time.

My great-grandmother was a gardener and a writer; I’d like to think we’d get along famously, as kindred spirits. I wonder if she had any idea what the words she put down on paper those years ago would mean to me.

The hot house flowers are beauties,

They have grown without a pain.

Somehow I’d like to set them out

And let them feel the rain.

With just a dash of wind in it,

Though t’would break a leaf or two.

I know they’d smell much sweeter

If they felt a Summer’s dew.

My daughter is a darling,

And of culture has her share,

But I hope some day to see her

Grieved enough to she’d a tear

For something she can never help

No matter how she tries.

T’would steal some joy, but deeper thoughts

Would peep from out her eyes.

I never got a chance to raise a hot house flower. I couldn’t have sheltered my children, because the storm came right into their home.

And when the winds raged and the storms came again and again, my hope against hope was in my great-grandmother’s words. That my one and only truly typical child would some day have those deeper thoughts peep from out her eyes. That building her strength in the storm would bring resilience and splendor that cannot be gained in any other fashion.

And I pushed back the fear that the torrent would destroy her.

She has had more than her share of joy stolen, but she is reaping the deeper thoughts. They aren’t always pleasant, and sometimes downright frightening, but they’re hard earned and stunning to behold.

family · Uncategorized

The Mshar Family Christmas Letter

2017 has brought many changes for the Mshar family, though much remains the same. Early in the year Mike and Lee decided that he should throw his Conservation Officer Hat into the ring for a promotion. He applied for and accepted a Sergeant position which means now he can officially tell people what to do (instead of just for fun like usual). The promotion meant moving up north into the exact middle of nowhere, also known as Lewiston.

Upon accepting the position, the house hunt began, and we found the perfect recluse special and made our move. The whole family arrived up north after Hannah graduated from high school and had the world’s tiniest grad party.

Speaking of Hannah, she’s taking online courses as an English major, with the intention of moving overseas to teach English as a foreign language, hopefully in Asia. Yes, I get the irony of her studying at home with the goal of moving overseas, but if you know Hannah, it actually makes sense. She’s even been letting Lee teach her homemaker skills with an exceptional ability to keep her eyerolls camouflaged. She spends her time hiking, x-country skiing, Netflix binging and jumping into projects with her parents.

Alex has adjusted well to his new home and school. He is working on developing his singing voice, which is something he faithfully practices every day. Though he sings with heart and gusto, he will be continuing his education in anything other than vocal music for the benefit of music listeners everywhere. He is fueled by coffee these days, and is growing his hair out with the lofty goal of being able to flip it back when he flicks his head just right.

Ben is still strengthening his determination and will, which is quite impressive. I expect any day now to see him actually moving objects with his mind by sheer force of desire, much like a Jedi. Our primary goal is to keep him using the good side of the force. He enjoys any rough and tumble activity, being in charge, sliding down the stairs on his butt or belly, and Hot Wheels Cars.

Lee has been busy pretending she’s in the book “Little House on the Prairie” and dabbling in any number of quaint homemaking hobbies like gardening, breadmaking and playing with the fires in the fireplaces. She prefers to do these things while texting her family, blogging and Facebooking, thus blowing the prairie image. Although Caroline Ingalls would have rocked the hoodie dress and leggings look that Lee loves.

Mike has completed roughly 1,683,270 projects since moving here. (Oops, add 3 more during this writing). He is in his glory any day that he can use his tractor, and has even mown about 3 miles of trails through 10 acres of woods while leaving the woods largely intact. He comes inside mostly to eat, sleep and watch football, which is why Lee spends so much time cooking (it’s a lure). We’re pretty sure he’s happy, he always seems to be smiling when he drives off on the tractor.

Abbi fearlessly protects the house from all feathered beasts as her sworn duty. Her duty is more serious these days as the feathered fiends are more numerous and many are quite large, but never fear, she has established her patrol area and singlehandedly manages her duties with aplomb. She takes Lee and Hannah out for hikes to ensure her perimeter is secure, and occasionally gets a serious hunt in with Mike. She has a data log on all small mammal activity as seen from the upstairs bedroom window from the comfort of the bed she’s forced to share with Mike and Lee.

Meg’s interests include laps, blankeys and pestering Abbi. She manages to carry the appeal of a puppy well into her second year, and though she’s spoiled rotten, she has been known to earn her tough and tiny trophy by taking hikes through the woods, roughly the equivalent of 20 Meg miles on her 3 inch legs. Her 12 pound weight earns her the status of Tweeny dog, AKA a miniature dachshund, but she seems quite unaware of her diminutive size as she protects her girls (Hannah and Lee) with the demeanor of a Doberman.

We added a perfectly wonderful grandchild, Brailyn, to our family in January, by our oldest child, Chelsea. In August Chelsea passed away. Our hearts are filled with a strange commingling of joy and grief over the gain and loss we have experienced, but we adore Brailyn who is a delightful, beautiful baby.

May you enjoy shalom (peace, good health, prosperity, rest and harmony) and invest in the shalom of others.

With Love, The Mshars

P.S. I know the paragraphs about the dogs are the longest.