Red Circle Days Book Review And Giveaway

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The Mom Cafe’s official review of Red Circle Days took MY breath away! 

Check it out and comment to be entered to win your own, signed copy!

Two winners will be chosen at random on Friday, April 4th!

Red-Circle-Days-By-Leah-Vidal

Today I am introducing you to a writer who has taken my breath away over and over again with her words…her powerful themes…and passionate messages. Leah Vidal is a gifted soul, who blogs over at Little Miss Wordy. If you haven’t received her profound gift via her blog, you will be happy to know that she also authored a beautiful book titled, “Red Circle Days”.

Oh my heart…
“Red Circle Days” is one of those books you want to linger in for long. I did just that. One chapter slowly read, absorbed…processed…to then conclude my journey with a deep resounding “Aha moment.” I love books like this, that provide such a powerful purpose.

Each chapter shares a story, an anecdote about her life where she transports us to her world full of memories and significant moments that mark something profound for her…and eventually for us too. She captures a palpable substance that threads through her words as her perspective enlightens the reader from a different angle. Life’s observations can either ignite a passion or a purpose… and Leah seems to be able to successfully embrace both.

At the end of every chapter, Leah asks her readers a question that takes a pivotal turn back to their own life, their purpose, their moments. She presents herself as personal and she reveals private reflections that exhibit an open willingness to reach out and touch the reader with lessons learned, insights gleamed and new observations awakened.

Some of my favorite ‘book moments’ include a few lines that have left an imprint on my heart:

“Why do you wear that?”

-Taken from the chapter that resonates so deeply with me, Leah shares a phrase her “friend likes to use when someone comes to her whining about something someone else said or complaining about someone else’s behavior.”

She goes on to share this truth:

“On a daily basis, we run into people who say something hurtful or critical. Some of us have people in our lives that are a reliable source for pointing out just what we are doing wrong…. “Issues” or “jabs” that we are so affected by aren’t ours… “Someone else” made the decision to carry them. “Someone else” made the decision to fashion that stuff down the runway, not us.”

Oh, how I love this insight! How many of us ‘wear’ someone else’s opinions? We can choose to take them off, send them back, and keep our own wardrobe! Removing those layers would certainly be like striping off filthy pieces of clothing that weren’t ours to begin with anyway.

It’s a beautiful perspective, isn’t it?

Linger here…

Grab My Book Here!

Another chapter that still echoes in my mind and tugs at my heart:

“All Grown Up”

Leah takes us into the hospital room of her dying father’s request to be home among his beloved family. Leah claims this to be the day she had ‘grown up’, taking on the responsibility and sheer determination to get her father where he needed to be… home. After she “Made all the necessary arrangements to transport him home”, he was ambulanced back to his loved ones surrounding him…

And after asking if all of his precious family was there, “he took a deep breath and finally went home.”

Leah describes this as the moment she grew up, a daughter able to fulfill her father’s last wish.

Oh my heart…
Each chapter calls for us to pause and linger…

These are just two “Red Circle Days” of many in this beautiful book. It’s worth the read. Promise.

 You can go here to purchase your own copy, stick it in your car, your bag, or your purse- and take it out whenever you have a moment to linger.

Rubber Meets Pavement, Fat Personal Trainer, Fat2Fit, Running Shoes

WANTED: FAT PERSONAL TRAINER

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JOB TITLE : FAT PERSONAL TRAINER
JOB ID#:4866
JOB TYPE: Personal Training
Position Type: Full-Time Regular

Rubber Meets Pavement, Fat Personal Trainer, Fat2Fit,  Running Shoes

JOB PURPOSE:

To provide a comprehensive one-on-one educational fitness program to assist client in REALISTICALLY achieving their fitness goals without spending half a day at the gym EVERY day and eating like an effing bird. Those who can currently eat their weight in bread and not gain an ounce need not apply. You’ll just piss off the interviewer.

 

JOB DESCRIPTION

As a FAT PERSONAL TRAINER, it is your responsibility to provide a comprehensive one-on-one health fitness program through realistic goal setting and education. Produce independent exercises by providing the client in-depth information on equipment usage, lifestyle management how to quit stuffing their face, and ultimately how to shake the fatty mentality that is ever present outside the gym.

 

ACADEMIC REQUIREMENTS:

The qualified FAT PERSONAL TRAINER must possess at least five years experience and hold a personal training certificate from a recognized provider or a bachelor’s degree in a sport and fitness-related field. Trainers without either must acquire a certification within six months of their hire date. Certificates are nice, but the most important requirement is that the trainer was fat at some point in their life and is now at a healthy weight in order to truly relate to their fat clients and their lifelong struggle with fitness and diet. The more years of experience the applicant has had as a fat person, the better the chances of getting the job.

Fat Personal Trainer, RealityCheck, Running Shoes 

DUTIES & RESPONSIBILITIES:

1. Responsible for understanding what it’s like to have a bad day and crave a tub of Ben & Jerry’s to make it better.

2. Attend all in-service trainings and meetings.

3. Able to understand the overwhelming wave of guilt that immediately follows said face in ice cream session.

4. Accurately record client-training sessions for payment purposes.

5. Must be able to relate to the dreaded daily morning weigh in, butt naked so as to not add another ounce, eyes squeezed shut, praying the Ben & Jerry’s hasn’t registered quite yet giving client enough time to burn it off before the next workout.

6. Given the need to relate to above, FAT PERSONAL TRAINER must not possess a metabolism that burns off calories like popcorn kernels hitting the sun’s surface. Skinny Minnies need not apply. 

7. Conduct personal training sessions within the policies and guidelines established.

8. Set realistic goals. Be aware of client’s realistic beach body not the one health magazines keep promising on their front covers. There will be major imperfections that will be glaring in a swimsuit The goal is really to disguise those with a good tan, while feeling good mentally about having hit the gym for that “beach body.”

9. Successfully complete and update CPR and first aid training (for those times when client will look like they are about to go into cardiac arrest in the middle of a workout) CPR will likely not be necessary, but client will feel better knowing FAT PERSONAL TRAINER is prepared.

10. Be understanding when client decides to reward their hard work all week with a glass of wine on a Friday night.

11. Be punctual and conduct yourself in a professional manner.

12. Be even more understanding when client explains how that one glass turned into two bottles.

13. Maintain personal training certification through continuing education. Really, just continue to recall your fatty days and be sympathetic.

14. Ideal candidate will understand client’s daily struggle to stay on track and have a life too in an industry full of unrealistic role models, going to extremes to maintain an impossible fitness schedule, while living off air and water. 

15. FAT PERSONAL TRAINER must be able to hear the fat little voice in the back of client’s head that is constantly telling them they’re just a Big Mac away from being fat again.

Destiny Isn’t For Victims. Fate Isn’t For Fools.

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Destiny

Fate

They softly flutter about us like windswept leaves dressed in autumn hues painting a picture of approaching change that will alter our landscape with a future we never envisioned, but one we readily accept because after all it was meant to be.

And yet, these same letters come together, stringing words with a weight bestowed upon them by others – promise and hope. At times rolling about like the ocean waves crashing to the shore, they lure us closer, mesmerizing us with their soothing sound and endless expanse of mystery. Reeling us in and pulling us under their spell we relax once more. Weightless we float in its sacred buoyancy, one with expectancy and prospect until we are thrust back onto solid ground, bewildered and breathless.

Squirrel Trying To Get A Nut

Why do we place so much importance on these words, this idea that no matter our actions things will be how they were meant to be? We have become a society of victims, idly sitting around waiting for the next event or discussing the latest one and how it affected us. We rise with the sun, and rather than letting it warm us in its promising glow, we focus on the shadows that will cast darkness on us all day.

The traffic jam that will ruin our morning.

The guy/girl who won’t return our call.

The boss that won’t appreciate us yet again.

The unruly child who will surely try our patience all day.

The busy schedule that will stop us from our workout.

The aches and pains that remind us of our age.

The spouse that will disappoint us.

The co-worker who will sabotage our project.

The deadline that will come too soon.

Path of Dreams

Destiny isn’t for victims. Fate isn’t for fools. They are for those who choose to remain steadfast on a path whose obstacles will merely be footholds, a brief pause to become fully aware of their surroundings. Then, registering every detail with undimmed focus they will clothe themselves with the armor those experiences provided. And, with a tool belt full of lessons face the future, not as a victim of life or a fool to the inevitable. Rather as an equal partner, walking hand in hand with their destiny.

What I Really Want To Scream Out Loud is...

sTrEeT aRt: Through My Lens (Final Set)

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Sometimes what I really want to scream out loud is…

Click through my slide show for my spin on this week’s Finish The Sentence Friday!

Enjoy the final set of sTrEeT aRt: Through My Lens.

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Your Reflection Never Lies

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He cursed the traffic as he stepped on the gas and swerved left into the gas station. Another hectic morning awaited him at the plant, and he was already running late due to the baby having been up most of the night. His wife had nudged him awake every time the baby cried with no consideration to the fact that he had to go to work in the morning. Of course, he was too exhausted to make it to the gym…third time this week!

The lady behind him honked her horn yet again as though willing the cars lined up before her to magically disappear. Don’t people realize the sound of a horn doesn’t encourage someone to move out of your way? It’s not really what it was designed for, yet commuters seem to use it for solely that purpose. It’s about as effective as yelling at the drivers around you to “Move your ass!” or “Step on it!” How many responses do you think drivers have gotten when they angrily spit out the question, “Where did you get your driver’s license, a Cracker Jack box?”

Shaking his head he headed into the convenience store to pay since it seemed the option to pay at the pump wasn’t an option for him this morning. It was definitely going to be one of those days. Even the sound of the door jingling as he entered added to the quick escalation of his sour mood. Aren’t those annoying bells intended to hang on a cat not a door?

Heads turned and although people made eye contact with him, not one of them smiled, as though they couldn’t really see him. Cursing under his breath at the sight of the long line to the register, he took his place and sighed. Was he the only one in a hurry to get somewhere today? And, what was wrong with these miserable people? This was turning out to be the kind of morning he wished he hadn’t gotten out of bed for.

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Consumed with anger and impatience, he looked around the store as he waited. Looking up at the front counter, he caught a glimpse in the mirror. Wondering how effective those mirrors were for catching shoplifters, he studied the back of a man’s head who was quite clearly balding. He thought, “Hmmm, it could always be worse I guess. I could be that guy with that large, embarrassing bald spot on the back of my head. Glad that’s not me.”

Shifting in line as forward progress seemed to move at a snail’s pace, his eyes travelled back to the mirror and he suddenly gasped. He slowly turned around to find another mirror set up in the back of the store which could only mean one thing. His day had just gotten worse. That balding man in the mirror wasn’t some random guy. It was him!

As he looked at the people around him, he took in the woman dressed in a business suit digging in a diaper bag for her wallet while trying to balance her cup of coffee. A young boy with a sleepy look couldn’t stop yawning and he remembered a co-worker mentioning it was college finals week. The clerk behind the counter looked frazzled as she apologized profusely for the computer system being slow this morning.

In that moment, he suddenly realized that seeing his reflection was more eye opening than he thought. Obviously, he had a hair loss issue, but that wasn’t his only problem. Why was he complaining about getting up with his own child at night or feeling sorry for himself for not being able to get to the gym? His wife was just as tired as he was and it had been months since she had been able to do anything for herself.

And, normally he was one of the people honking and yelling at other drivers for not moving fast enough for him. He was the one encountering people throughout his day, yet never really seeing them, so self absorbed in his own misery. It took his own reflection in the line at the gas station to show him who he really was, and as shocked as he was that he was balding it was definitely something he needed to see.

It’s never “us” until we see a reflection of ourselves. Whether, it’s about how much weight we’ve gained, how we’ve let ourselves go, our attitude toward others, and even our parenting skills, we are quick to judge others not truly seeing our own reflection in what we are criticizing.

Have you ever had a moment when you were surprised by an unexpected revelation of yourself?

Take a look at your reflection. Really look at it.

After you’ve taken in the physical, look a little deeper.

Reflect/Refract

Now, be honest with yourself.

#teamsports, #sidelines, #boystomen

Boys To Men: A Glimpse Of The Future

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#teamsports, #sidelines, #boystomen

I watch them from the sidelines as they stand side by side on the edge of the field. Every so often they turn and high five each other, throw an arm over a teammate/friend’s shoulder. With the short attention span of little boys, a couple of them roughhouse with those standing closest to them until the coach reminds them to focus on the game. In these instances, I catch glimpses of their faces and can’t help but wonder if I’m catching a glimpse of their future as well.

My eyes methodically travel down the line, and come to rest on each jersey, seeing more than just their number. These boys already exhibit certain characteristics that will become prominent as they grow into men.

#boystomen, #teamsports, #lifelessons

Number 17 stands still, eyes directed at the field and his fellow teammates in action. He watches each play intently, tuning out the more restless boys on either side of him. Will he grow to be the kind of man who is focused and driven, eyes on the prize at all times? Will this cause him to neglect those he loves most, not understanding they need his love and attention more than his paycheck?

Number 23 is just as focused on the game, but expresses his enthusiasm not only for each pass completed. He also jumps in the air, his little cleats stomping the grass as he yells “Good job guys!” and “That’s the way we do it!” Will he be that guy who always encourages and supports those around him? Will he be the go to guy when someone needs a little push to overcome life’s obstacles or will he be the man who hides his true emotions behind a facade of smiles and cheers, always giving others, never sharing of himself?

Number 4 is more focused on the blades of grass at his feet as he pulls one, twirls it in his hands as though he’s seeing it for the first time, oblivious to the activity surrounding him. Will he grow up to be a man who takes pleasure in the small things in life? Will he appreciate all the parts that make a whole or will he get so caught up in the little things, that he misses the big picture?

Number 32 can’t stand still as he shifts his feet this way and that way. He alternates between watching the game and watching his teammates goofing around beside him. Will he spend his adult days always on the sidelines, watching but never truly participating? Or, will he be the type of man who tunes in to everyone around him, always fully present for each?

Whatever these little boys turn out to be as they grow into the men in our lives, our daughter’s lives, and our communities, I hope they take the lessons they are learning today and hold them close to their hearts.

The field may be a tough place at times, full of surprises, wrought with confusion, and a place of decisions both instant and well thought out, but isn’t that life? I hope these boys take their commitment to their friends and teammates today and turn it into commitment to their significant others and family in the future. I hope they apply the same drive and determination they display today to the things they are truly passionate about as they make their way through life. I pray they hold on to the pleasure they currently take in the small things and truly take the time out to embrace the little things that will tend to be harder to see as they get older. I wish for their future self to be the guy who encourages others from the sidelines when necessary, but also the guy who knows when to jump in and make things happen. More than anything, I hope they will be ever present in each moment life presents for themselves as well as those around them.

We, as a whole, spend so much time complaining about our youth today and the mistakes they make. We try to find a way to mold them into what we think they should be or what society needs them to be when they are all grown up. And yet, our children already hold admirable characteristics that they are applying on a daily basis, in sports, in the classroom, at home. They are exhibiting admirable qualities every time they help someone up, cheer someone on, show up for practice, commit to an entire season, and hang on to a belief that won’t let them quit. It is our job, as parents, teachers, coaches, to support and guide them from the sidelines, help them embrace the great qualities they already display today, because one day the little boys standing on the sidelines will take the field.

I Slept With Him For Years…featured on Erma Bombeck website

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I am honored to have my piece, “I slept with him for years for fear of being alone” featured on the Erma Bombeck website today.

Please check it out and share away!

Hope your weekend is filled with love and laughter wherever you may be!

“Moms Vs. Award Season: Who Are You Wearing?”

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Through the years, the typical mom outfit has morphed from the days June Cleaver stood in her immaculate home in high heels and dress topped with a kitchen apron and strand of pearls. Moms in the nineties embraced a high waisted jean (I’m talking above the belly button) which made every woman wearing them appear to have a flatter, longer butt than they really had. Of course, these “mom jeans” as they came to be known were always paired with a top that was tucked in to the pants. I’ll leave you with that visual as we reflect on what moms of recent years are wearing…yoga pants. Yoga pants designed for the practice of yoga or any activity requiring a lot of movement such as bending and stretching has become a mom favorite.

Katia of I Am The Milk invited fellow bloggers to “Imagine an army of moms in yoga pants, sweats and buns invading the red carpet and responding to a slightly confused “Who are you wearing?” Wanna be that mom? We bring you a different kind of red carpet vision. A #365 Feminist Selfie red carpet. Stay, admire the parade of outfits you’re about to see and share your own through our linkup. The linkup is live until Sunday evening. You can also tweet about us with the hashtag #WhoAreYouWearingMom and invite your friends to join.”

Who are you wearing?, Award Season, Red Carpet

Her invitation immediately took me back approximately five years when our family relocated to the island of Puerto Rico and particularly to the first week of school for my two kiddos. We had been camping out in our home for a couple of weeks as we faced delay after delay on the arrival of our home goods. The first few nights of air mattresses, no television, and either sandwiches or eating out were a welcome adventure, but like any camping trip you eventually long for the commodities of your normal life…especially the feeling of being surrounded by your own things.

I arrived at school, two kids in tow, wearing running shoes, cutoff shorts, and my Beatles t-shirt as I embraced the adventure that was my life. Truth be told, home goods or no goods, this had become my “mom outfit.” Being a stay at home mom on a tropical climate simply meant I exchanged my flip flops for running shoes on days I expected to be productive. Apparently, I was alone on this fashion choice.

As I approached the school, I felt like I had been transported onto the Latin red carpet of all red carpets! Woman after woman arrived with kids in tow, dressed in high heels, stunning outfit, perfectly applied makeup, hair done impeccably, and gracefully strutted in all their glory from car to front door of the school.

As the days progressed, much to my dismay I learned contrary to the ideas I had conjured up about these women and their demanding, high powered day jobs, they were stay at home moms just like me…well not exactly like me. If their afternoon wardrobe was any indication, they either spent their entire day shopping for the next outfit or in their massive walk in closets planning that afternoon’s wardrobe change.

Alas, while I admired their enthusiasm for fashion and whatever they were putting in their morning coffee to get that all accomplished before 8am, I continued to look much like I do in this photo.

#365 Feminist Selfie, Red Carpet, Award Season

In writing this post, I realized two things:

1. My daily wardrobe is apparently not a kodak moment, EVER, as it was extremely difficult to find a photo of me in it.

2. I guess it’s not only my mom outfit, but my travel outfit too since this pic was taken on a trip to Washington, DC.

Take that Joan Rivers!

Life's Journey, Through The Looking Glass, Path of Promise, Road Less Travelled

Relationship Status: It’s Complicated

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Life's Journey, Through The Looking Glass, Path of Promise, Road Less Travelled

When did “it’s complicated” become a status alongside married, single, divorced, widowed? I confess to having rolled my eyes a time or two or even chuckled when seeing this status on a few social media walls, shaking my head and thinking, “really?” However, relationships really can be complicated. I’m not sure it’s worthy of a status but when two human beings come together and try to make a go of it, it’s never quite that simple.

Let me be clear and point out here that I’m referring to REAL relationships,

  • “It’s complicated” because we slept together after dating a week and now I’m not sure where we stand doesn’t fall into the real relationship category.
  • And certainly not, “it’s complicated” because we broke up but I keep getting a booty call and responding to it so now I’m not sure if we’re back together or not.
  • I’m definitely not referring to “it’s complicated” because he’s married although it’s not a happy marriage and he’s working on getting a divorce.
  • Nor am I referring to “it’s complicated” because we get together often but never with friends and never in public.

I’m referring to what I like to call a term you may have heard before…A COUPLE.

  • Two people who are thinking long term together or can at least see a future together.
  • Two people who are married or planning on marriage.
  • Two people who are living together as a couple…not roommates.
  • Two people who are dating exclusively.

All couples have a once upon a time, a story of how they met, their beginning. The thing is when we are in a relationship, we are not alone. We are part of a whole. Yet, we each come with our own individual once upon a time. Both parties did not begin this race called life at the same START line, even if we hope to end at the same FINISH line together.

Each party has their own unique set of experiences that has shaped them gradually into the person they are today. Each half of the couple had a different and unique upbringing that has contributed not only to the adult they’ve become but also how they interact with others. This is never more evident than when an individual becomes a plus one. It is then that all the years of molding and kneading, tweaking and shaping comes to light because it is then that love for someone other than themselves comes into play. This is where it gets complicated folks.

I believe couples get in trouble when we forget that the person we fell in love with had a story all their own before we came into the picture. Instead, we get frustrated when they don’t behave a certain way. After all, we, personally, would never do things that way or handle a certain situation that way. Why should they?

We don’t understand why our other half is less affectionate than we would like, and I don’t mean in the bedroom necessarily. We each have our own way of showing affection, and holding someone else (especially someone we claim to love) to our own set of standards isn’t fair and certainly isn’t realistic. Maybe the other person was raised in a family where hugs and kisses weren’t the norm. That is sad and shocking to those of us who were smothered with physical affection as kids, but it doesn’t need to be and it certainly doesn’t make that person love any less…just love differently.

There is no formula, no rule, no instruction manual to follow, though following your heart is a great start no matter what your heart has been through in the past. Being in a relationship means give and take, understanding, patience, compassion. It also means there is room for anger, hurt, frustration, blame. Keeping those scales balanced…therein lies the key.

Sound complicated? That’s because it is, but you don’t give up on life when the road gets a bit bumpy do you? And, if it really, truly, is that “complicated” then get off the road before you get run over. It’s your status.

polar vortex, winter wish, new jersey, white christmas, wish granted, wishing on dandelions, a child's wish, winter wonderland

Granting My Children’s Wishes One Dandelion At A Time

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From those whispered in tiny voices before drifting off to sleep, to those shouted for the world to hear, I tirelessly work at granting my children’s wishes in a world full of “not nows” and “maybe laters.” Some may say I’m spoiling my children by granting their wishes, but I don’t refer to the whiny meltdowns in the toy aisle we’ve all been privy to nor the wants of today stemming from a checklist of grade school comparables all too soon forgotten. I’m talking about the moments they wish with all their hearts, tiny eyes squeezed shut, little bodies tense as they release their wish into the universe, each word carefully enunciated so as to avoid misunderstanding. After years of parenting, I’ve been able to grant many a wish for my children and what I’ve learned may surprise you.

MakeAWish, polar vortex, winter wish, new jersey, white christmas, wish granted, wishing on dandelions, a child's wish, winter wonderland

A BEACH BUNNY GETS HER WINTER WISH

While I enjoy watching their eyes register the realization that their wish was granted as their bodies jump for joy and their smiles light up my world, I enjoy watching their act of wishing more so than the actual granting of the wish.

To see my children conjure up such true and raw passion for something their heart desires is something I hope to see for many years to come. I will know despite all the times I may have gotten it wrong as a mother, that I did something right if they continue to find something in this world worth wishing for. Despite my shortcomings as a parent, I will stand tall knowing I instilled in my children a level of faith no man can rival and a spirit of hope that just may get them through their darkest hour in life.

And, how better to ensure that they continue to wish and pray for something than to do everything in my power to show them wishes really do come true. What to do when granting these wishes is beyond my control? The only thing I know to do. The only thing my own parents instilled in me. I squeeze my eyes shut and release my own motherly wish into the universe, enunciating each word carefully so as to avoid any misunderstanding of my baby’s wish.

There will be moments in life when their wishes will float for a moment like the seeds of a dandelion across an expectant field only to fall to the ground, forgotten and unrealized. Sometimes that will be a blessing in disguise and I will teach them to look back and learn the lesson as I hold their hand and walk toward the next dandelion waiting to be wished upon, the next candle waiting to be blown out, the next falling star full of promise.

Do you remember wishing for something with all your heart?

Did your wish come true or was the lesson in not getting your wish?