This weekend I was reading my favorite magazine: Running Times, and the cover story features a masters marathoner named Sheri Piers.  She is 41 years old, and last April was the top American at the Boston Marathon coming in 10th overall, finishing in 2:41:55 in 80 degree heat.  She is a major stud.

As I read it, I felt inspired, proud of what a woman our age can do, and a wee bit jealous.  Maybe that is one of my dreams!  Now that is hard to admit, because I am basically a beginning runner and have only run a marathon distance one time.  And that time was 5:40 and some seconds!  So who am I kidding?  But I think our dreams are those things that we are almost embarrassed to admit to others.  They sound so far fetched.   Isn’t that the definition of dreams?  I had to admit to myself that her accomplishments with running are something I DO dream about.  One of my dreams.  I actually have quite a few.  In fact, I am gonna go out on a limb and list them as they stand at the moment:

l.  To be an elite marathon runner.  Maybe even triathlon athlete.  Maybe even Iron Man Triathlon athlete!

2.  To write a “best-seller” about something (haven’t got the something yet)

3.  To be a Dr. of Chinese Medicine.  Trained in acupuncture and herbal remedies, as well as,  how to grow them myself.

Now, I am imagining you holding your sides, you are laughing so hard right now.  That is ok.  Life is looooong.   You gotta dream in order to do.  And the way I see it, I am just getting started.  😉

My challenge is this:  How do I get there?

I began to wonder, “How do these women do it?”  “How do they accomplish so much with the same amount of hours in a day that I am given?”   Not just Sheri Piers, but other women in my life as well.  The rock stars (not literally) that are always getting amazing things done in the world.   I always feel tired when I am talking to them about what they accomplish in a day.

How do they do it?  I obviously don’t have the answer to that, but I have a hypothesis:  WILLPOWER

I don’t think they have more hours in a day.  I actually don’t even think they have that much more willpower than me.  I think they have figured out how to harness and direct their willpower MUCH better than me.

The book, “The Willpower Instinct: How Self -Control Works, Why It Matters and What Can You Do To Get More of It” by Kelly McGonigal talks about this very thing.  Yes, you can increase your willpower by simple day to day practice in self discipline.  But too much discipline is counter productive and there is a ceiling at some point.

So maybe it is a matter of looking at WHERE you spend your willpower.  I know for a fact, that these women are not spending precious willpower on laundry, cleaning toilets, grocery shopping, fixing the leaky sink, and over functioning for their kids.  Maybe some of them are not even spending enough willpower on their kids and marriages.  Like I said, there are only 24 hours in a day no matter who you are.

I, on the other hand, am spending quite a bit of precious willpower on that kind of stuff.  Because of the previous post about too many sick kids, I splurged and had someone clean my house this weekend from top to bottom.  I can’t do that regularly right now, but WOW! I was amazed at the amount of willpower it freed up for me.  Enough to get my exercise going again, go skating with my kids, and even think up this post.

So is there any wiggle room?  I mean we have to eat, the toilets have to get cleaned, the bills have to be paid.   I am not willing to let my kids and marriage go to hell in a hand basket.   But…

I began to think about that over functioning for the kids part.  I absolutely recognize my need to be needed.  My kids have cooperated and sacrificed their ability to do for themselves, just so I would feel important and central in their lives.  But… now that is starting to keep me from doing some of the really cool stuff I want to do!  And frankly, I am just getting tired of over functioning for them.

So I am starting with a simple goal:

Set my alarm for 4:30 a.m. (I already get up at 5 a.m. to coddle and over function for my kids) five out of seven days.  Get up and LEAVE the house to go exercise/train and shower.  Let Richard over function a little bit and take over the morning routine.  My guess is, he will suck at over functioning for our kids and they will become much more independent, self-sufficient creatures.  (although maybe not so happy about it to begin with)

And I will add to and free up some willpower that was being horribly misused.  Who knows what is possible!  Stay tuned…




Watching my kids pretending in the tub tonight, I noticed something interesting………

The answer was always “yes”.

It went something like this:

Hannah:  “hey do you have a lollipop for me?”

Zeke: “yes, honey here you go”

Z:  “Can we be on a TV show about killer whales?”

H:  “sure”

Z:  “Can my whole family be on it with me?”

H:  “Yes”

(and then when an evil octopus named Ursula showed up on the scene wreaking havoc)

H:  “Get him!  He is trying to eat me!”

Z:  “Don’t worry!  (chomp, chomp, phooey) I chewed him up and spit him away”

They didn’t seem troubled by the fact that lollipops aren’t allowed within 2 city blocks of our house.  A TV show with killer whales was never out of the realm of possibilities.  And when faced with imminent danger from an evil octopus, no one complained that there were no octopus killing weapons to be found.  I mean what are teeth for if you can’t take out a few octopi, right?

The answer was always a “yes”.  By the time they got out of the tub, I felt compelled to say “yes” myself.

H:  “Can we read 4 books instead of 2?”

me:  “sure”

H:  “really?!”

me:  “yes”

H:  “can we read 7 books?”

me:  “yes”

Z:  “Can we have snacks?”

me:  “sure”

Z:  “can I sleep in your bed?”

me:  “Don’t push your luck”

Hannah and Zeke have not lost the ability to imagine.  The sky is the limit.  If they can imagine it, it is possible.  I think this must be the closest t0 a God like attitude as we get down here on earth.  I mean we ARE his imagination.   He imagined, and then we WERE.  We definitely lose this gift of imagination as we get older.  I probably think in terms of roadblocks more than what is possible.  Sometimes when I am alone and it is quiet (almost never), I will let my imagination take me to my dream; “What if I could run a marathon one day!”   But, of course,  I immediately stomp that sucker out with “Are you crazy?”  It would be more likely that I will drive my car to the moon next Tuesday!

Yet, I know that no one who has ever done anything really meaningful in the world did it with ease or little effort.  Those people who are especially amazing and inspirational overcame “impossibility” to live their dreams.   So maybe letting my imagination go wild is exactly what I SHOULD be doing.  And more of it!

Ben Davis is one of those inspirational people.  A friend told me about his blog: and it is truly worth watching his inspirational journey from obesity to marathon!  He has a great line at the end of his video.  He says, “If you want to do it, all you have to do is do it.”   That simple.    I had never even run a mile before this summer.  So running a marathon seems like a pretty impossible dream.  But I have been taking it one mile at a time, and I think I might be ready to let my imagination go there.    Richard’s birthday was yesterday.  (Happy Birthday Babe) We ran 8 miles!  Yay!!!!  I have signed up for a half marathon in June……………  So maybe I can just do it too.

What is your dream?  Let your imagination go wild, and maybe you can just do it too.


Hannah, names

The gift of a name and a parent’s sacrifice

All of our kids are in Jewish Day School.  Hannah is in Kindergarten.  This has been very important to us.  We have sacrificed new clothes, new cars, vacations, etc. to make this happen for all our children.  We basically still live like poor graduate students.  Days like today remind me why…..

Hannah’s class held a “naming ceremony” for all of the children and their parents.  This was a very moving (tear jerker) ceremony.   The children sang songs like:  “L’Dor Vador”, “Thank You God”, and “Shehecheyanu”.  The Rabbi spoke about the meaning in Judaism of one’s name.  And each child’s parents stood up and talked about the significance of the name they had chosen for them.  I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house!  Parents shared such intimate stories about their hopes and dreams for their child.  They told such tender stories about family members that the children where named after.  And they even just caressed their children so lovingly as they stood together and spoke  in front of the crowd.  Through my tears I kept thinking what an effect this will have on these little souls.  To hear themselves talked about in such a special way by their parents in front of teachers, family and friends.  It also bonded the parents together as we shared in the love of our children.  It reminded me that our sacrifice is nothing compared to the gain for our children.

I went back and found the letter I had written and read at Hannah’s naming ceremony when she was just 8 months old.  I knew I could not speak  “off the cuff” in such an emotional setting, so I read the letter again to Hannah.  I am so glad that this occasion created an opportunity for her to hear the loving words said about her and her name.  She can now understand them and remember.  It becomes a part of her inheritance.  Following is that letter:

March 18, 2007

Dear Hannah

When your Daddy and I first began to wish for children, we knew that it was possible this blessing would not be given to us.  But we asked anyway.  When we were blessed with your brother, Noah, we were quite amazed.  it took us 4 years to work up the courage to ask again.  And when we did, God blessed us with your sister, Micah.  We were overjoyed at God’s generosity.  We had done nothing to deserve such blessings.  We assumed we had tested the limits of G0d’s grace.  God had given us more than our share of blessings.  How could we possibly ask for more?

One day in shul, Rabbi Dan Sherbill told a story about a king with all the riches in the world.  This king had a son that was coming of age, and would soon come to his father to ask for his share of blessings.  The king was so looking forward to that day.  He had so much to give and all his son had to do was ask.  When that day finally arrived, the son came to his father the king.  But because he did not feel worthy, all he asked for was a nickel.  The king was so deeply disappointed.  This story stuck with me.

I realized I had it all wrong.  God’s blessings are limitless.  Not only can we ask, but it gives God great joy when we ask.  And there is nothing more valuable in all the world than our children.

So we began to ask.  My prayers were not done exactly right I am sure.  They were not even in Hebrew.  But they were from such a deep place of longing in my heart.  I prayed so hard sometimes I would cry.  I prayed at every stop light.  I prayed every time I woke up afraid in the middle of the night.  And when God answered yes, I prayed even harder.  I kept thinking about Hannah, mother of the prophet Samuel.  She prayed for a child.  She prayed so hard from deep within her heart that Eli the Kohen thought she was drunk.  Yet, God heard her and blessed her.

When God blessed us yet again, with you; you can imagine how great was our joy.  It seemed only fitting that your name become Hannah.  I felt the presence of our fore mother Hannah during my pregnancy, helping to guide me through my fears and doubts.  I hope that by naming you Hannah, you will have the deep faith of our fore mother to overcome your doubts and fears.  I hope that you will be able to pray from your heart to reach God and find your way.  And I hope that you will be able to ask for your share of blessings.

Wyatt is your middle name.  This is in honor and remembrance of your great grandmother, Nana.  Nana was really more than Daddy’s grandmother and your great grandmother.  She was leader and counselor to us all.  When I am not sure how to deal with a situation, I stop and ask myself……What would Nana have done?   It always becomes crystal clear which direction to take.  Her strength of character and integrity earned her the respect of everyone that knew her.  Her kindness towards others was bottomless.  Many things she had done for others, we did not know until she died.  So many people then came and shared with us the things Nana had done for them.  What I cherish about Daddy, I know he inherited from her.  I thank her for teaching him how to be such a wonderful leader of our family.

I wish for you Hannah (and your sister and brothers); Nana’s quiet strength, her deep well of kindness, her compass of right and wrong, and her true selflessness.

Hannah Wyatt Shaffer……………you must always know how much all of us love and adore you.

Love Mom