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Emotional Wellbeing, family, Mindset, Relationships

Words Matter

An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us,” said Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan after an American citizen woke up one morning and decided he wanted to shoot Republican congressmen because of their conservative beliefs. It’s bad enough that we have to go to war to fight Isis and people who hate the fact that we are free to say and do (within reason) what we want, whenever we want.

Words Matter Ted & ShemaneWe all say things we regret. I know I do, and my husband has been a perpetrator of verbiage that was hateful and toxic. For years, I warned him that his scathing rhetoric would get him in trouble. It did. He was investigated by the Secret Service for saying terribly unkind things about our former president, although what he said was clearly misunderstood. He’s passionate. But the passion, I warned, could be more effective without the childish name-calling. He finally agreed, and he explains everything in an apology on Facebook.

The First Amendment does not and should not ever include violence. As Americans, we have always set an example for the rest of the world. We should watch our tone, however, and not demonize each other through bombastic verbiage. This week’s tragedy caused my husband to alter his stance and he credited me as his reason for the drastic change. My persistence paid off.

During a time when the nation is turmoil fighting over basic beliefs and principles like health care, abortion and jobs, we had an opportunity to bring the two opposing sides together in a simple charity baseball game. Republican congressmen against the Democrats. It was a time where oppositional views were put aside so that regardless of who you route for, everyone would win.

As a Zumba fitness instructor, I see all walks of humanity in my classes; men, women and children of all races, faiths and political views. I am a conservative, Christian woman, but when Barack Obama was first elected, I remember seeing a few t-shirts with ‘Obama’ written boldly across the front of them, on people in my classes, but it never mattered. I welcome each and every person into my class.

There is a time to argue and a time to dance.

The Congressional baseball game raised millions of dollars for charitable causes. Liberals and Conservatives came together and cheered each other. The winning Democrats even handed over their trophy to the Republicans for Rep. Steve Scalise until he recovers. And for a split second, Nancy Pelosi actually agreed with Speaker Paul Ryan. Now that’s progress.

I’m not a celebrity like my husband is, but even I’ve been misquoted in an interview. One newspaper reporter printed that I said, “I hated writing my book”. What I really said was, “I loved writing the book”. With so many online bloggers and so-called journalists, the facts can be distorted. Wikipedia actually printed that I had two children, and I would know, I only gave birth to one. We need to be careful not to believe everything we read and hear.

An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us,” Paul Ryan

 
Let’s come together as Americans regardless of the color of our skin or our political beliefs. We all bleed red. Wouldn’t it be nice to see less mud-slinging in political debates and elections, and in our news? Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just dance?

family, Finding Strength, Fitness, Happiness, Health, Inspiration, Meditation, Mindset, Podcast, Relationships, Spiritual, Wisdom

Mother’s Day Lessons


There are many lessons to learn from our own mothers and from other mothers, too. Most importantly, we discover the kind of mother we’d like to be if we were blessed to have children of our own. In my 54 years on this planet, I’ve seen a variety of parenting styles, and even, sadly, lack of parenting. It only makes me appreciate the incredible sacrifices made by my mother, and the lessons I learned from being a mother.

I’m blown away by working women who raise two, three, even more children without a staff and without losing their patience. Certainly, there are times that we all lose our composure. When my son was just a baby and we were on a plane trip, he was cranky and it’s no wonder. It’s not natural for babies to be in confined areas, have their ears pop from the air pressure change and want to be in their comfy cribs rather than surrounded by strangers. My child had to be changed so I created a make-shift diaper station on the floor in the aisle of the 757 jet. During that, um, procedure, my infant decided that was the time to urinate. Let’s just say the people nearby weren’t all that elated. We all try to do the best we can. There’s no foolproof handbook for mothers. Ask four moms how to potty train and you’ll most likely get four different answers.

Many mothers desperately try to shield their children from disappointments and injustices, from hurt feelings and scraped knees. When Rocco was seven years old, I enrolled him in the YMCA swimming program. In my youth, I had been a state champion swimmer and wanted to make sure I passed down that trait. I gave my son a few extra tips and put him in the hands of a competent and successful coach. After a few months of practice, we entered Rocco in a Novice swim meet. It was an opportunity for children who had never swam competitively to learn about the rules and procedures of a swim meet. It was exciting for me as a mother, to watch my son go through the anticipation and excitement leading up to the race. When the kids were called to get on their starting blocks, my stomach did a flip-turn and my heart thumped thunderously in my chest, as if I was the one to swim for the first time. An official called the children to attention with a loud and deafening command that I had heard many times before, “Swimmers, take your mark…” and then came the powerful sound of the starter gun blasting.

The stands were filled with anxious parents and grandparents hoping their kids would be the one to come home with a first place trophy, but there could only be one. Rocco’s reflexes were quick and he attacked the water with the skill and command of an older, more experienced athlete. The joy and elation I felt watching my son follow in my footsteps – or strokes – was both exhilarating and tense.

Was he swimming too fast to keep that pace for two laps?

So many things raced through my mind…

Maybe he should have had eggs instead of cereal for breakfast.

Wow! He could actually win!

Rocco’s drive and determination during his months of practice paid off, big time! Before a couple of kids even made it to the end of the first lap, Rocco finished the second lap and won! To see the smile and joy on his face was priceless. It was an achievement that could give him the confidence to continue swimming, and set him up to succeed in other areas of his life.

The elation, however, was short-lived.

After the race was over, Rocco’s coach and other swimmers congratulated him on his first place win, but when we went to pick up his trophy, we were severely disappointed. Although there was no denying that Rocco finished first, he was not given the first place trophy or any trophy. The reason we were given was quite unfair and unjust.

“Rocco swam too fast and it wasn’t fair to the other children,” said the official in charge.

Instead of coming home with a trophy and the confidence that his hard work paid off, Rocco was given a stack of comic books. Seriously.

Part of me wanted to scream and yell about the injustice of it all (ok, truthfully, I did a little). Here was a child who followed the rules, he had never swam competitively, but just happened to be better than the others. Apparently being too good was unfair to the kid who came in last.

Life isn’t fair…

…is one of the many things I learned from my mother. She taught me how to be kind and compassionate, to give to others when they are in need. I remember visiting my grandfather who had Parkinson’s disease. My mother would take off his shoes and rub his feet. She was and is always available to help a friend move or to plant flowers for someone or to be a cheerleader in the stands at my swim meets. She taught me how to be a mother, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Happy Mother’s Day to my mother and all the moms who give so freely of their time to their children and who constantly remind us of what it means to love unconditionally.

Check out Shemane’s podcast “This Rockin’ Life” available on iTunes http://shemanenugent.rocks/podcast/

Top of the mountain with my son Rocco and friend Danielle Russo-Slugh
Emotional Wellbeing, family, Happiness, Relationships

One Good Run

As I trudged through the hotel lobby with layers of long johns, two turtlenecks, a wool sweater, ski pants, gloves, helmet and a jacket, feeling like a sweaty Abominable Snowman with cement blocks for boots, I briefly questioned why I go through all this effort just to ski down a snow-capped mountain ten thousand feet above sea level. For those of you who don’t appreciate winter sports, it might seem as though the hours of preparation for snow skiing simply aren’t worth the payoff. The sub-freezing temperatures alone are enough to scare any cowboy.

Having been born and raised in Michigan, however, ice-skating, snowmobiling and skiing are in my blood. Growing up, my brother and I and all the neighborhood kids made igloos, snowmen and had serious snowball fights for hours in single digit temperatures. During the long, cold, depressing winter months in the Winter Water Wonderland, the big thrill was to climb up the side of a nearby bridge and ski down the side of the overpass which lasted a total of fifteen seconds, if you were slow. That’s how I learned to ski.

Your first time on skiis (or a snowboard) probably feels a lot like getting on a bucking bronco. Beyond the physical challenge, it’s just plain scary. Someone can tell you all day long to lean forward and point your skiis or snowboard down the hill and not to sit back in your boots, but when you’re standing on two slippery boards headed for the bottom, your body will think that’s an insane suggestion. Even if you’ve skied for decades, as I have, and you’re feeling pretty confident about your ability, you can get distracted for a second, cross your ski tips and bam! You’re suddenly tumbling down the hill somehow still attached to your skiis and poles, flying down the slope like a drunk Tazmanian Devil.

Now, I’m not intimidated by advanced runs (a black diamond) that are so steep you cannot see the bottom until you look over the edge, but there I was on a groomed Intermediate run (a blue square) taking a nasty spill that would have been hilarious on You Tube. As I laid there with snow down my pants, up my sleeves and all over my face, I actually laughed. A young snowboarder came by and asked if I was okay. I did a quick physical scan: arms and legs worked. I could tell because I felt the pain. “Yes,” I told him. “I’m okay, thanks.” He handed me my goggles that had flown off in the fall. I got up, brushed myself off, grabbed my ego that had suddenly been misplaced and headed down the mountain for more physical and mental anguish. Like any good adrenaline junky, I cannot get enough!

We ski for that one moment when everything comes together and turns the extraordinary effort into complete bliss. The sunshine warms your back as you dance down the slopes, knees close, hips making figure-eights, breathing the cleanest air imaginable. You glide effortlessly on top of the snow, feeling exhilarated, and that is the magic moment when you realize all the trouble is worthwhile. There is an unexplainable chemistry amidst the mountain air and your spirit, like a first kiss with someone special. A physiological reaction hijacks your heart and soul. You cannot imagine doing anything else or being anywhere else.

That’s what happens in one good run.

Hours after my laughable fall, I was lost in the glistening, snow-covered mountains. I ended up at the top of a double black diamond run (extraordinarily difficult) that I doubt Tom Cruise could ski down without stopping at least once. It was the only way down the mountain, so I pointed my skis toward the bottom and prayed to make it down alive. Taking my time, I traversed from one side of the slope to the other as that same young snowboarder who stopped to help me earlier flew by. Seconds later he was tumbling down the steep mountainside. I counted six times but I’m sure it was more. After the snow dust cleared, he laid face down in the snow, not moving. Sliding down toward him, I grabbed his hat that had flown off in his tumble and handed it to him. “You okay,” I asked. He looked up and smiled. “Yeah. Did you see that? It was awesome!”

Apparently there is more than one way to have a good run.

Emotional Wellbeing, Relationships, Wisdom

Sometimes It’s Best To Save Yourself

 

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“Save yourself.”  That’s what a friend told me after we discussed a predicament involving a mutual acquaintance.

Sometimes it’s best not to get involved in situations we cannot control even though we may think we can be of assistance.  It’s difficult to allow others to make their own (bad) choices and allow them to figure out the predicament themselves, but occasionally we may need to.  Often, it’s best to back away, bite your tongue and save your sanity.

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Relationships

The Lost Art of Connecting

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Billions of people around the world are now in touch through social media, but are we really truly connected with one another? In a recent hot yoga class where the temperature was tipping one hundred degrees, the instructor asked us to hold hands with the people on either side of us to help us with a balance pose.  Sweat was pouring down from my head and my entire body, and it wasn’t exactly a moment I wanted to share with a total stranger.

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