Living in Alignment

What does it mean to live in alignment?  What happens if I do things that are counter to my values and ideals?  This is something I have been grappling with for awhile now.  It is very important to me to be genuine and to live my truth. Yet as a natural born people pleaser,  I also have spent much of my life trying to make others happy. As my therapist/mentor has often said ‘you don’t have to take a pole for everything you do’…in other words – follow your intuition…do what feels right for you and the rest will work itself out.

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View from my meditation spot

I am learning to have some grace with myself as I work towards that alignment and with the times that I am functioning out of that place but still doing my best. That may be a parenting moment where I get frustrated or impatient and react instead of maintaining a steady calm which would be my preference. Let’s be honest – this is not an occasional occurrence! Or it may be when I am eating ‘safe’ foods instead of challenging myself to try something new. Or it may be when I am using my phone as a distraction instead of cleaning the bathroom or paying bills. 🙂

 

So what helps to keep me in alignment?  My go to practices are:

1-Meditating – this allows me to sit in the quiet (or relative quiet as my mind may be active and fighting stillness). it helps to take a break from the distractions of life to be in tune with what really matters most. It allows space to hear my inner voice… inner guidance… intuition, speak to me. It is calming, even if only for a short while. Meditation improves physical health, increases self-awareness, mindfulness, and concentration.

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Puja table

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My zafu

 

2-Movement – whether it is yoga, running, a walk or skiing, movement helps me feel grounded and present. I do have to work on this as it can also be compulsive and disconnecting if I get focused on miles/time or performance. When I focus on being present, being in my body and enjoying the movement, it is energizing and centering. And it is an added bonus if it is an outside activity because the fresh air, potential sunshine, and peace of nature boost mood, reduce stress/cortisol levels, and lower blood pressure.

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Getting ready to ‘race the train’ – a fun event to raise money for our local Dollars for Scholars

3-Journaling – I have journaled since I was 9 years old and it has always been helpful for me to write what is going on in my head.  It is not something I ‘must do daily’, but rather something I do when I feel the need to release, to process or to express myself in that way.  I found when I was very young that when I wrote something in my journal, it was like taking a step towards a goal. This hit me when I was 12…. I was so scared/embarrassed to ask my mom if I could get a bra – for months I tried but could not get the words out (when the opportunity with no brothers around arose!) but as soon as I wrote about it, I was able to ask my mom that night. It was then I realized the power of writing. The one rule I have always held with journaling is that it is for no one else’s eyes, that penmanship, grammar, readability does not apply. Even if it was so illegible that I could not go back to re-read it myself, it has still served its purpose. The release is the part I am looking for – not re-reading and learning from the past. I have told Steve I want my journals burned when I die – these are not books I would want to have published that’s for sure!!!

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A box of my old journals

4-Gratitude – Practicing gratitude is all the rage right now – and for good reason. It helps us keep perspective, to feel more positive and to better cope with the things that are not going well. It reduces depression and increases a sense of well being.  I have recently been writing daily on gratitude and it is definitely helping me with the roller coaster that is senior year!

5-Sleep – This is one of my most challenging areas.  I am an early to bed and early to rise person which suits me because I love the calm and peace of the morning. I am one who loves the ‘Fall Back’ time as it gives us slightly more sunlight early in the day and I do not look forward to “spring ahead’ because I am happy to have it dark in the evening so I can put my PJs on and get to bed early without feeling like I am missing something 😉 But life often calls me to stay up a bit later and my body naturally wakes up early regardless. And once I wake up..I am up. Plus my bladder wakes me several times a night (hello 50!) though thankfully I can fall back to sleep when that happens. I know that adequate sleep decreases stress/cortisol levels, improves mood and concentration, boosts immune system and just overall feels better so I am definitely working on improving this area.

 

6-Food – I tell my patients that sleep and nutrition are the foundation of healing. If we are not adequately nourished and rested, our brains will not function well, our bodies will suffer and we will not feel grounded no matter how many of the above activities we practice daily.  I have lived this in the past and know full well what it is to not have these basic needs met. So I am working on nourishing myself with all the food groups – grains, veggies and fruit, proteins, fats and yes…sugar :). I have a sweet tooth and denying that would only lead to feelings of deprivation and preoccupation.

 

It’s all about balance 🙂

7-Connection- Being with people I am close to fills me up. Sometimes though, it means just connecting on the phone or through text.  Having my peeps who know me, understand me and are there for me is beyond the greatest gift.  And trying to have a balance of it all – family time, couple time, extended family time, girlfriends time, social time….there are certainly seasons where one of these things seems to dominate, but over the long haul, I have balance there and appreciate the connections I have to travel this journey with.

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Girls weekend at the Cape 🙂

 

Of course keeping these practices as part of my world, but not becoming just another item on my ‘to do list’ is another challenge.  My tendency is toward routine, which is a blessing and a curse. I want to be experiencing these moments, not just going through the motions. I admit I am guilty of that some days…but again I will have compassion for myself and be aware that keeping these habits may mean sometimes ‘going through the motions’ but as long as I continually strive to be present, to be conscious of what I am doing and why I am doing it, then I am on the right path. It is a continuous journey and in doing this, I am feeding the love.

 

Rainbows and Unicorns

Rainbows and unicorns…an expression I have heard a lot lately.  It has come to mind this past week as Seamus, Brendan and Casey won an award and scholarships.  Many people have congratulated us and made many kind comments.  While I want to be clear that I very much appreciate this, two things come up for me.

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Brendan and Casey with the most amazing guidance counselor ever! Ms K nominated the boyz for this award

One – the feeling that it is all not as perfect as it may look. That the boyz are like any other teen with their trials and tribulations, that they need reminders to do things, still cannot wake up to their own alarm clocks, and even as they were handed awards, had some assignments that needed to be handed in.  And I realize I am also projecting…when people comment, I worry they will think we do not have these struggles…but maybe it is me because I recognize that as I looked around the room at the other kids who were receiving the same award, I imagine they do everything they need to do without question …that they are all perfectionists with tons of internal motivation and drive…with incredible time management skills….that they do not struggle in any way that our boyz do.  And maybe some of them are like that…but just maybe some need a push here and there, make mistakes, and are not as ‘perfect’ as they seem in my mind.

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The group of honorees

Two – the quote under the picture in the paper said ‘Suzanne Tomb is not a proud mom’. I cringed when I read that but fortunately most have told me when you read the article, it is more clear what I meant. I have strong feelings about the word ‘proud’.  While I feel OK if I am proud of myself for doing something challenging or accomplishing a task, or just being the kind of person I want to be, I do not feel OK saying I am proud of my kids. This feels oxymoronic because as I write that I think..but I am proud of them…but I guess it is more I am happy for them and excited for them. To say I am proud of them feels like I am taking some of the credit for their accomplishments and that does not feel fair. It is theirs and I want them to own it, not me.

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Casey, Mr Moro (who all 3 reported as their favorite teacher) and Granddad (who is an inspiration to all and drove 6+ hours to attend this ceremony with them!) and Brendan

So I guess this is a lesson to myself. As a therapist I know there is no such thing as perfection. I know everyone has a story – whether that is something that makes it completely understandable why they do irrational things and their life looks chaotic or whether it is the personal struggles that lie behind what appears to be an otherwise perfectly put together life.

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Casey is holding up Seamus’ picture since he was out in Utah at Junior Nationals and could not be at the event

So no it is not all rainbows and unicorns…but I will embrace the bright moments and the joy that comes with them. In doing so, I  am feeding the love 🙂

Weekend Highlights

It ended up being a surprise long weekend since Friday brought another storm :).  We were very happy as we always are for snowdays…but were also concerned as Seamus was due to fly out for JNs that evening.

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It is a good thing we had the day off as it took my oh so fast moving son all day to pack!

 

With no delay by 2:30pm, we headed to Albany, hit up Trader Joe’s – groceries for us and travel food for the skiers. Thankfully and miraculously , Seamus, Ava and Coach Julie made it out without any delays!

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Utah…here they come!

Steve and I then were able to meet up with some of our oldest and closest friends for dinner. Two years ago, we won a gift certificate to Pasta Pane in Clifton Park. At that time, I thought – oh great – we can meet Smitty and Laura out for dinner one night since they live in Clifton Park. Here we are 2+ years later finally doing just that! Better late than never right?

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We laughed about how old we are with all of our ‘readers’..

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I could chat with Laura forever – one of the most genuine and easy to be with people I have ever met 🙂

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Matching ‘specials’ for the guys

We sat and talked well past our meal time and got home at 10:30ish very grateful to our lovely sons who were there to help unpack the groceries.

 

Saturday we were all exhausted. It was a later night than we usually have and I woke up early, per usual, unable to fall back to sleep.  We went up to Garnet Hill to ski (and bring Brendan his forgotten lunch!). It was nice to get out on one of the last ski days of the season.  They were having a snowshoe race there which looked like a lot of fun.

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Enjoying the peace and tranquility of a quiet ski

We went to a friends winter party later that evening. We brought a farro/bean/brussels dish and it was so great to see so many friends we don’t see as often anymore.  Of course everyone asked Brendan and Casey about their plans for next year. It will be nice when we have a definitive answer to give!  A friend warned me to make sure Steve and I make a lot of plans because the emptiness is too hard otherwise. Oh I am so focused on the ‘getting into college ‘ process, I have not yet delved  too much into how Steve and I will cope.

Sunday was house stuff, homework and a snowshoe at home while the guys went to rugby practice….

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And we ended as we love to end our weekends…with some screen watching and a sweet treat 🙂 We watched the Las Vegas Rugby 7s tournament which was quite exciting as US won- Go Eagles!!!

States…& The Last Race :(

Monday and Tuesday were the State Championships for Nordic. Originally set to be in Rochester, they were moved to North Creek due to lack of snow at Bristol. We were happy to host despite the scurry of planning and details that had to be worked out very quickly!

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Coach Tomb and Coach Schreiner take a break from waxing

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The moms put on quite a spread to help racers re-fuel!

Day one was a 10 K race for the boys and 7 K for the girls. It is a very challenging course but they put on a great performance. It was an incredible  day – sunshine and 40s.  Seamus was not feeling well (has come off of 2 weeks with stomach bug, flu and then started with congestion and terrible cough the day before States!).  He also fell twice – I think more people fell than not – especially the boys since it was later in the day and the snow was very heavy and sloppy.  We saw some major spills but thankfully no one was seriously injured. Anyway, he was not thrilled with his result despite putting it all out there and giving it all he had.

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Seamus just after crossing finish line – he does not usually collapse upon finishing but this day he was whipped!

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Here to cheer on the team!

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These two are very supportive of Ava …but will also take any excuse to miss school 😉

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Ava kicks it in to the finish line!

Day 2 proved to be another gorgeous one! Blue skies, 50 and no wind. The race was a mass start relay so it was quicker than day 1. Section 2 did well with the Queensbury girls team coming in 1st! And Seamus’ team coming in 2nd – whoo hoo! He gave it his all for his very last high school home race (still has Junior Nationals in Utah next week).

 

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These girls had an AMAZING performance – coming in 1st for the girls relay and 1st overall as a team! Yay QHS!

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Seamus starts out for a strong race

 

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Continues strong up the ‘A Climb’ (aka killer hill!)

 

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Boyz relay team came in 2nd! Whoo hoo!!!

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Congrats to Section 2 skiers and coaches for a phenomenal season!

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In his glory after the race – he will surely miss this next year!

The Elusive ‘Balance’

When we first came home from India is when I began spending more time reading and researching on the internet.  It was 2011 and maybe I was late to the party, but it really caught on with me at that point.  It was fascinating how much I could learn about health, nutrition, cooking etc.  But very soon that fascination became an obsession.  And I know I am not alone in this as I see so many people fall into this same trap.  What can at one point be empowering and energizing can suddenly become debilitating and paralyzing.  It seemed that there was nothing that one could eat that would not in some way be ‘bad’ for you.  Everything caused cancer or was toxic in some way. Be it meat, dairy, spinach, soy, and God forbid—sugar.  Add to that the multitude of ways things can enter your bloodstream or be inhaled – all your personal care products and house cleaning products were toxic as well. I remember talking with my friend and telling her that there was nothing that felt safe. I remember where I was sitting in that moment and the feeling I had – it was all of constriction and contraction. In other words – fear.  So what had started as an innocent search for increased knowledge about something I have always been interested in, very quickly became an unhealthy obsession with how much ‘bad’ is out there.

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Enjoying a meal out with our Canadian friends 🙂

Add to that feeding a family with various taste preferences. I could not change everything they were eating just because I was fearful of it. For some time, I had wished I knew more when the boyz were little so I could have raised them differently – so what? would I have not fed them because nothing is healthy? Would I have made everything from scratch as I was trying to at that point – making myself crazy? I remember it would be a beautiful summer day and I would start out early and say ‘ I just need to make some yogurt, bread, almond milk and cookies’…thinking I could do that in no time and then enjoy my day. But as the day started to get away from me, I would grow increasingly frustrated as I craved the sun and doing something fun outside.  So was that healthy? Increased stress, decreased sunshine and decreased fun? I think not!

So I have come a long ways since then but it is a continual journey and a constant awareness and conscious effort to not ‘buy into’ the media’s fear mongering.  I am susceptible to black and white thinking. Life would be easier in some ways if things were right or wrong, good or bad, black or white.  But that is not the reality and that , as I have found, breeds fear and dis-ease.  What I have been striving for is a balance.

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One thing that continues to be homemade is the treats – there is just no comparison!

I have stopped buying as many organic products primarily for financial reasons especially as my boyz became very hungry teenagers and it was just not realistic to buy that much organic food.  While I look for the best deals on organic foods and do the best I can with cleaning products and personal care as well, I have learned not to stress about the non organic milk and other products we buy.  I am conscious of the media I consume as I do not want to go down a road that tells me how that milk will kill us, how dairy, meat, carbs – pick your poison – will cause terminal disease.

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A lovely gift from our friend who visited last night…another triplet parent 🙂

What I realize is that ease is what I need….grace as we try to live the best life we can….cooking and baking is fun but I also recognize it is ok to do easy meals in this stage of my life.  If I am in the mood and have the time, I will put more into a meal, but on your average night – it is a basic rotation of go to meals the majority of us like with sides that make it a feasible meal for those who are not crazy about the entree.  And this works…everyone if (somewhat) happy, everyone is physically nourished and we are together sharing a meal which nourishes our souls and our relationships.  So I am choosing to stope feeding the fear and instead to feed the love by embracing moderation, embracing ‘all foods fit’ for my family, and expanding my awareness of what it means to be ‘healthy’.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Love Day to all!  It seems many boycott this day as a commercial rip off but I have always liked having a day made special by just acknowledging our love in a different way.  We do not do extravagant things but I do make little cards/notes for Steve, bake some kind of treat and the boyz, bake some kind of treat and get them a little something. That was fun and easy when they were little – a cute valentine stuffed animal or something but it is much more of a challenge for teenage boyz. I think girls would be easier in this situation – could get red/valentiney lip gloss, nail polish, lotion or bath soap.  Boyz…not so much!

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Notes for lunch boxes

So I tried to make breakfast a bit festive but it was an epic fail…

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Hint – never try to die eggs red/pink…they end up looking like vomit!

 

Today was also the nordic sectionals race so that was the focus more than anything…

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Bizarre getup that the team decided to wear to school to get psyched for Sectionals!

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JCS boys came in 2nd! Not bad for a school that graduates 24 competing against schools that graduate 300-800  students!

 

We came home and finished off the day with more Valentine Fun!

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Dry brush and manly ‘bier soap’ for Pop!

Car themed teenage boy Valentine’s gift and flowers for Mom 🙂

 

Nordic Season

Here we are in our busiest season for sure…nordic season is our favorite in so many ways..full of snow (hopefully), races, practices, baking, hot baths, tea and cocoa…you get the picture.  I remember when my boyz first started racing in the Bill Koch league and I talked with some of the high school parents I knew – I could not fathom how they stood out there in the cold for hours watching their kids race.  Now here I am in our last season and can say it is a phenomenal sport and the comraderie and good vibes (along with the right layers and hand/toe warmers!) keep us warm 🙂

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Seamus has been racing the most as he wanted to go to Junior Nationals again this year. Fortunately he did make the team so will be headed to Salt Lake City in March for that trip.

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Brendan and Casey are just enjoying the season with their friends and racing their best without too much stress or pressure which is quite nice.

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I have LOVED watching these boyz ski – to think of them when they were falling and sliding up at Garnet Hill and now they are flying by making it look so easy ( I have not advanced much past their first stage of slipping and sliding ;))….and the friendships we have all made through this sport where everyone cheers for everyone…it is not one team against another. It is a grueling sport and if you are out there, more power to you. The kids who come out and race when they have barely been on skis before – it is inspiring.  So thank you Nordic for being such a beautiful lifetime sport full of community, fresh air, movement,  and friendship.

While Steve is busy coaching and coordinating for Section 2 – it is not nearly as time consuming as his first year as coordinator – I was truly a nordic widow that year! (as my friend Laura fondly called herself during football season when her hubby coached!)  So I am grateful for a calmer season and oh so grateful for our local Ski Bowl which brings skiers to us, brings us fun visits from friends, allows us to get out and ski without travel and to get home to a hot bath/hot food in moments!

 

Acceptance

This illusory word is so powerful….acceptance – of the things that we wish were not true…of the things we wish we could change…of the past…

‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference’- the serenity prayer.

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There has been so much recently that I have needed this reminder for…and I actually did not even think of this prayer until writing just now.  So much in life is out of our control…yet we also have so much control based on how we think and feel.  The struggle is when you feel knocked down and feel discouraged yet do not want to attract more negative to your life.  The answer is not easy and I certainly do not have it. Steve is so resilient and MUCH better able to accept when things do not go the way we hoped.  I on the other hand feel things incredibly deeply  -this can be a blessing and a curse. It takes more time for me to swallow and take in things that I wish were not reality.  We hold this in our body…we feel the stress, anger, shame, fear and disappointment physically.  That is why tears can be helpful – they release different chemicals depending on if they are tears of sadness, anger, joy…but when I feel like I cannot cry – like I am containing it all- that is hard.

So while I am meditating more, moving less (intentionally as this will decrease my cortisol) but still moving to shift mood and energy, writing daily and being vigilant about gratitude, talking with Steve, my mom, my friends…sometimes it does not feel like enough…like I am carrying a cloud above me which is overshadowing all of those things I have on my grateful list (which is most everything in my life). Like I am going thru the motions but none of it is really holding.

I have to remind myself…feelings will not kill me…they will change in time…and everything happens for a reason.  In the moment it is impossible to see the reason…it is painful to accept the truth. But in the end hopefully we have some resilience, we learn and we grow. I guess that is what this journey is all about anyway – isn’t it?

Merry Christmas! and Happy New Year???

I have tried to write but something was off with the site and nothing saved. Christmas was beautiful in so many ways …it was white, white , white!! yay – my very favorite! I went for a run on Christmas morning before sunrise and it was just magical with white all over, more snow coming down and the only sound was when a plow went by me. I love running in the snow because the temps are usually quite nice – mid 20’s to 30 which during winter feels lovely!

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We had a quiet Christmas Eve – during the day Steve and I did things at home and I sadly frosted cookies all on my own (missed you Mom!). It seems to be the last ‘Christmas task’ I do is to frost the sugar cookies and I’ve always had the help of 3 cookie loving boyz and my mom…but Mom headed to California to be with my brother for the winter and the boyz had to work at the ski shop (growing up :(…when the boyz got home they were pretty tired – we had a low key night in the living room. Our tradition is to have a snacky dinner by the tree, chat and laugh, work on a Christmas puzzle all while listening to Christmas carols.

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On Christmas morning Casey was up bright and early – 5am! (never too old for Christmas excitement!). I went for my run and then got the coffee cake/tea/coffee happening so we would be ready to open gifts. He woke his brothers up at the agreed upon time – 7am.  It was a simple Christmas but everyone was happy with Santa’s and each other’s gifts.  We had our traditional Christmas morning breakfast (I love all the tradition that holidays involve!) of eggs, hashbrowns, english muffins, bacon, smoothies…this is the first year I did not make snowman pancakes because my previously syrupy breakfast loving kids are not so much anymore.

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annual Christmas morning picture

 

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Christmas breakfast

The boyz and I cleaned up and packed while Steve spent about 90 minutes plowing the driveway out.  When he was done we packed up everything including the pups and headed to his parents in PA. It was a long drive with more traffic than I expected…but we listened to ‘A Christmas Story’ all the way which helped pass the time. It was wonderful to be with everyone as Steve’s sister and her whole family and his brother and his girlfriend all flew in from AZ that day too.

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Annie Seamus Brendan & Matt with the fruit delivery.

Our PA stay was too short but very sweet…Brendan flew out to AZ on the 26th for The All American Rugby Winter Camp – this was a big deal and very exciting for him. It was his first time flying alone (he has flown with his brothers but not by himself), first Uber rides, first time driving a convertible (thanks Uncle Brian!), and of course an amazing rugby experience for him.

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Gran and Granddad with their not so little anymore grandchildren!

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Atta and a pretty chocolate pineapple flower

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Greg and Shawna help get the dining room cleaned up

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And like magic – we are all set for Christmas dinner

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My friend Alicia who is originally from Saratoga sends us the peppermint pig each year…here we are setting our intention for 2018! Whack away Granddad!

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A little sibling love 🙂

 

We headed home on the 27th and had a few days of nordic practice, working, then went to a friends for New Years Eve….the rest to be continued……

Thanksgiving at Trapp

A belated Thanksgiving post in pictures to highlight our Thanksgiving holiday at our most favorite ‘away from home’ place…

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We used to go to Steve’s sister Andrea’s house for Thanksgiving. her husband Brian loves to cook the turkey and it was so festive and fun with all of the cousins together…but they moved to Arizona a few years ago. Steve’s mom was very sad and needed something different to do for Thanksgiving so she booked us units at Trapp (where they have time shares and have been going since Steve was young).  It is a magical place for us – beautiful, full of outdoor activities, a gym, hot tub and gorgeous pool….we love it….

 

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Beautiful brisk walks/hikes are always in order…unless there is snow – then the nordic skiing trails are PHENOMENAL!!!

 

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Breakfast buffet is a must and Gran especially loves to ‘get her money’s worth’ when she bring hungry teenage boyz!

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A little coffee to fuel for the college applications that will follow breakfast 😦

 

Thanks Gran and Granddad…and Trapp for another wonderful Thanksgiving!