Saturday, June 28, 2008

A sister is a forever friend. ~Author Unknown

Mary Jo

Spending the week in Florida with my 4 sisters and my Mom was incredible.  My Mom recently bought a condo in the Sarasota area and asked if we would join her in furnishing her retreat away from home with furniture and essentials.  
I never knew shopping could be so much fun and provide so much entertainment!!  The week was filled with laughter, silliness, bonding, relaxing, and simply enjoying being with each other.

Special moments included walks on the beach, swims in the ocean, chatting by the pool and watching Mom's florida home come to life.

I am forever grateful to be a part of a loving family.
Thank you Mom for showing us that family IS number one, being there for each other, laughing together, talking are my inspiration.  Thanks for providing us with a wonderful place to gather.

We were missing one of the six McMonagle girls.  Amy(who lives in Belgium), we missed you.  You were in our thoughts and many discussions.  love you.

A sister is a gift to the heart, a friend to the spirit, a golden thread to the meaning of life.
Isadora James

more pictures can be found on the following link

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Summer is HERE!!! And Life is GOOD!

photo by yndecam at manitou sprint tri

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Letting it ever easy?

When it is time to say Good Bye or to let someone is never easy. Closure for me is always difficult and usually not welcomed. Believe me, I understand the value and importance of it and yet at the same time I seem to struggle with letting go.......Several of my last posts have dealt with letting go on different levels.........letting go when life makes choices for you(death) and you must let go and simply deal.

I am reminded that saying good bye is all a part of grief. As a pioneer of grief, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, reminds me of the stages of grief........denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. I know I will be ok and I must allow myself through these stages in my own way. I am blessed to have support of family, friends and the guidance of God.

I have actually come back to edit this piece.  Things in it were unsettling to me.
After much thinking, crying, talking, running, I believe I am coming towards acceptance.  With some help of friends, I am trying my hardest to look at this with my head and not my heart.  My heart does not want to let go, given the probably never would.  My head has been telling me it is time, time to let go, it will be ok.  Yes this hurts, it hurts bad but time will heal.  My head is very smart, I just never tend to listen to it.  Today is the day I start listening.  It is writing this that I am letting go.  I realize that in each relationship that ends, I learn more and more about myself.  In closure, it allows you to look at the good times that were shared, the beautiful moments that will always live in your memory. Closure allows peace to occur to move on to be the best person you can be.  I am ready to let go, I am ready to have a wonderful summer with Lexi and Trev.
Thanks Dan for being who you are,  for giving me beautiful moments and memories.
I am glad that you came into my life..........

People come into your life for a reason, season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which it is, you will know exactly what to do.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

It feels so good to LAUGH

In celebration of Trevor's 11th birthday- June 18th (can hardly believe it!), we went to his favorite place tonight- Legoland.  The plan was for Trevor to buy something with his birthday money from his Grandpa and Grandma and for him to casually give me some ideas for his present(for me to secretly buy).  Well, we spontaneously decided that we (trev, lexi and I) needed a little bit of fun and should visit the new Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall. Well, before you know it, we were in line for all the roller coasters.  YIKES!!    I am telling you, I can NOT remember laughing as loud as I did tonight in a long time.  It felt so good to laugh.  I am talking the kind of laughing that comes deep from inside your stomach, the kind that hurts your cheeks after a while.  Surprisingly, my kids were not even embarrassed, because they were screaming and laughing just as hard.  Those rides are Good!  Well, it was some good fun.  A great night to spend with the kids.  A pre-birthday night to remember for sure.
I wish I had a picture to capture the expressions of the night.  Just imagine the three biggest smiles ever!
Laughing......good for the soul.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A tribute to my Dad on Father's Day

I think of my Dad everyday, everyday.  True.  Today, no exception.
Family times were not just a gathering, they were an everyday event.  In the picture below is the Family bus.  Rightfully so, this bus was named, "happiness is"(painted on the front) with Rosie and Bob and Teresa, Gary, Cathy, Steve, Louise, Mark, MaryJo, John, Mike, Julie, Amy, and later David painted down the side.  This bus ventured the East coast, West Coast and everywhere in between!
My Dad taught me so many things about life.  He taught the value of a strong work ethic.  Many of his kids worked right along side with him in his family business, McMonagle Lumber.  While running  a successful business, he made sure to demonstrate the importance of family and spending time together.
My Dad showed his love to my Mom everyday.  They supported each other, spent time together and laughed together.  
I had many wonderful and special opportunities with my Dad.  Playing tennis with my Dad was always great, he was always up for the challenge and I am sure it was not great fun at times 
"hitting" with all of us little ones when we could return 1 out 10 balls.  But if you asked, he would play.  I also remember many wonderful times at our family cottage; skiing, boating, doing many chores together, campfires, playing cards and special trips to Dairy Queen!
I can't begin to list all the wonderful many.
I would have loved an additional 10 or 20 years with my Dad, but that was not our choice.  So, it is on days like today I like to reflect on all those positive memories and share them to honor my  Dad.  
This is me and my Dad in High School!
This is one of the only pictures I have of Trevor with Grandpa.  Grandpa died while I was pregnant with Lexi.  She feels like she knows him well, we love to talk about Grandpa Bob.
I miss you Dad.  When I run in the trails, I can feel your presence and I know you are listening to me and guiding me.
Love you Dad.
 Happy Father's Day to all the Dad's out there.  

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Living in the present moment

Reading for me has become a favorite past time.  I love when I find that book that inspires me. You know, the one that you want to underline, bookmark your favorite page, and write down those "aaahaa" moments.  The one that just clicks and you can not only enjoy that person's perspective but you can relate and explore ideas of how that could wrap around your own world.  This weekend, I had the wonderful opportunity to spend time with my brother and his family at their beautiful cottage in Wisconsin.  It was here that I found peace, serenity and the time to be inspired by "Chasing Daylight" by Eugene O' Kelly.  Briefly, Eugene  describes how his forthcoming death transforms his life.  He is a 53 yr.old executive who is diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and is given 3 months to live.  The key, is "3 months to live" not "3 months  to die".

I was incredibly moved by Eugene's ability to see and live his last months as a gift to him.   He states, "No more living in the future or the past for matter....It is exhausting to live in a world that never exists.  Also kind of silly, since we happen to be blessed with such a fascinati
ng one right here, right now."  He continu
es to say, "every morning upon waking, I tried my hardest to be in the present moment.  Just to appreciate what was around me that very second." 

As I laid on the dock this weekend, watched my kids play and reflected on Eugene's words,  I became mindfully aware of ALL the small moments that were going on.  It was amazing.  I would like to share just a sampling of the moments that I became fully aware of this weekend by living in the present moment.........
- a 2 hour car ride with Trev and Lexi which allowed time for talk, singing and laughing

-an opportunity to see my kids really excited about spending time with family (cousins)
-a shared run with my brother around the lake, giving us a chance to reconnect.
-seeing  deer and fox while out running (kathy saw a bear on the drive up, yikes!)
-a peaceful sunrise morning with coffe
e and a book
-a campfire complete with ghost stories and smores
-hours and hours of fun on the water, most of which included waves
-making the effort to really play and "be" with my kids
-taking photos of the kids tubing behind the boat and seeing their excitement and
 expressions up close
-diving into the refreshing waters without a wetsuit and knowing I can handle this (ok, it took me a couple times and only after my kids were in the water for a quite a while......did i really sw
am in the was colder than any lake I have been in, really).
-making dinner with my sister-in-law Kathy and just talking
-listening to the kids laughter and knowing life is good I am getting it.  In the present 
moment........and really enjoying what life has to offer

This brings me to race morning.  I had signed up for Manitou  a while ago and have done this race several years and LOVE it.  But this particular weekend, I debated back and forth about this I leave all this at 4:30am to go race, to drive an hour plus (which
 is for me a wonderful moment to drive by myself with my music really loud) and then drive back to the cabin to catch up where the day has left.  Will my kids understand that need or want that I have to go race??
Yes......because in order for me to be the best mom I can 
be, I need to be the best all around person I can be.  Meaning, I need to do the things that make me happy, for me.  And triathlons just make me happy.  Within the triathlon community, there  is another full list of enjoyable moments.  Today's race was all about having fun and being in the moment.   I enjoyed every moment of the day(some more than others).  Here is a sampling of those moments..... 

-having your stomach do butterflies in anticipation as you look onto the choppy waters of the swim course(a slight hope that lightening may strike and turn this race into a duathlon!)
-hearing Jenny on the microphone as she keeps telling everyone to watch out for you on the race course
-being ok with everyone knowing that you are '42' years old as it is engraved in your calf (for the next couple days- thank  you Jeremy for the dumdum suckers)
-smiling at people that you haven't seen since last tri season
-standing in a circle of friends, taking the time to pray to God before race start (thank you FCA)
-people cheering for you as you do your best thru transitions and on the course
-warm up and cool down runs with dear friends 
-pushing your mind and body to its limit
-knowing that in this present moment, I did the best I could and I am happy.

 Eugene states, "commitment is best measured not by the time one is willing to give up but, more accurately, by the energy one wants to put in, by how present one is".    We only have partial on no control of our surroundings or our competitors.  
What we can control is ourselves, our energy,  how we use it and how we use it  in response to outside influences.  And this weekend was all about being  mindful and conscious, committed to what we love to do and the people we love to do it with........what makes us happy.
Again, I am blessed and I thank God everyday. 

Sunday, June 1, 2008

NINE Days left.......but who is counting??

  It feels like summer and I LOVE it.  One major bonus about working in the schools is SUMMERS OFF!!!  
And I have a feeling, this summer is going to be great!

This weekend was all about resting, rejuvinating, preparing for summer.
It feels so good to put some effort into a project, like lawn work.  I have a pretty big yard that takes some maintenance and its not always top of the priority list.......but when it gets done- boy does it feel good.  That was friday.

Saturday, I got in the lake for the first time this season.  
Dan and I ventured to Lake Ann.  There is  something about lake be in the open water, the freedom, being out in nature.  I love it.  It was cold at first but then it just felt great.

Later in the day, Jen called to get together for a spontaneous ride (my favorite).  We were out for an ez hour when we heard the sirens go off.  We noticed that things seemed to get pretty dark pretty fast.  Jen was close to her house and I decided to TT it home, trying to beat the storm.
This was probably not the smartest move on my part.  I booked it home, a harder effort than I planned on for the day, for sure.  The clouds were increasingly darkening and the calm was spooky.  All I could think of pushing faster, harder to not get swept up in some tornado like winds.  Well, as I was turning into my neighborhood, I could see the huge raindrops hitting the pavement.  As I entered my garage, I heard the winds howling and the hail hitting the pavement. It was close.  I escaped a major hail storm by seconds.  Not very smart.

Sunday, my friend Merilee and I hit the lakes again.  Man, I wish I had my camera!  Poor Merilee had this rip in her wetsuit that extened from her shoulder all the way down her arm to her elbow.  That could not have felt good in the chilly water.  And I felt bad because my wetsuit was faulty and ripping (which is a big bummer now that tri season is here and I need to figure out a plan) so I was using my old wetsuit and didn't have a spare wetsuit for her to use.  So, we get all the way to the start of the lake (which for those of you who have swam Lac Lavon, know its a bit of a hike) and Merilee's swim cap rips...... so, she braves the elements and decides to swim without a cap in the very brisk waters.  Again, wishing I had my camera to document this.
 After that, we enjoyed a nice long trail run......ahhhhhhhh sundays.

But, my big project for the weekend was really to plant my garden.  Gardening is just therapeutic to me- on many different levels.  The planting, the maintaining, the harvesting ,the cooking and enjoying meals knowing the food came from my very own 
garden.  There is nothing like that.  So, I planted tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, tons of varied peppers(bell and hot), onions.  I need to find some herbs yet.

Lexi and Trev were busy getting into summer activities, playing on the trampoline, riding bikes and of course the hose and water toys came out. 
We are all excited for SUMMER.