This is the first ever Edible Monster interview.
As this interview unfolds it will come as no surprise where I draw my positive attitude and strength from. There was no question that Mom was the perfect first subject for our interview series. To me, she embodies living your best life and #useyourlegs which is my personal mantra to push yourself using the gifts you were given. Life presents challenges along the way but living is never about the struggle. Living is synonymous to how you display your grace in your life.
One aspect of my life that I am passionate about is the hashtag #useyourlegs which is a sort of movement I pushed in motion. With the rapid onset of my mobility issues I went from walking to wheelchair within 2 years. Useful to useless in almost the blink of an eye. As a former runner, outdoor enthusiast and high heel lover, this was very hard on me. It took a lot of digging, accepting and surrender to reach within and come back up with a smile. Nothing is forever, and therefore I live each and every day to the best of my mobility and I love being the observer of others living their best life too. I focus on what I can do instead of cannot. This is the core of the mission to #useyourlegs. Focus on what you can do. Push yourself, expand your limits. In fact, rid yourself of the word limit. You are limitless.
This interview was structured on #useyourlegs and what that hashtag might mean to other people. How do you push yourself, how and where do you find enjoyment? What is your strength and what makes you feel good? You don’t necessarily have to use your legs. #useyourlegs is a metaphor for the best parts of you and how you manifest them into your everyday life. Today it might be a bike ride, tomorrow 5 minutes in mediation near a window on a rainy day, the next day homemade brownies for your office or your child’s class, a favorite book to read, walking your dog, going to the gym, a favorite hobby, community service or simply closing your eyes for a moment and taking a deep breath to reset yourself on a day that just hasn’t gone your way. It doesn’t matter – it is what you did to make your day the best it could be, it is what you did to push yourself out of your comfort zone, it is what you did to live. How you moved from point A to point B.
Meet, Mom. Mary. Mary Sue. Ma. Gramma.
You started running in your 40’s, why?
Started running in the Fall of 1999, while realizing that our (Dad & I) speed walking on Daytona Beach that summer was giving us health benefits. The week after we returned home, Dad found MCRRC, local running club with weekend races. Then we were hooked and had a whole lot to learn and experience.
How many marathons have you completed? How many road races have you completed?
Completed 6 marathons. Was awarded the 100 race bracket in 2002, so a guestimate would be I ran in about 120 or so.
What was your favorite race & why?
One of my fave races was Pittsburgh Marathon, packed along the course at literally every step were spectators, cheers, and so much live music to make those 26 miles easier. The final quarter mile was phenomenal, entering Heinz Field tunnel, just as the Steelers do, and seeing yourself on the Jumbo Tron and one half lap to run to finish! A memory I’ll never forget. Jubilation.
Just to clarify though, you’re not a Steelers fan right?
Not quite! But the chance to run through the tunnel into a humongous stadium is certainly exhilarating!
What is your favorite thing to do post-race?
Post race at any race is like Monday morning quarterbacking over the water cooler. Talking to fellow runners on what they saw, how they felt, what to improve on, sharing strategies, etc. And if there was a beer tent available, that was surely a plus.
What do you think about while running or walking?
While training in long distance runs, mostly on my mind is ‘when can I squeeze in a nap and what’s in the fridge when I get home’. Many times I’d be running to the rhythm of Christmas songs, and even these days of uphill walking when exhaustion is taking over, I silently sing Jingle Bells to keep occupied. For the most part, while walking solo I think about how grateful life is and what can I do to make the day even better.
You ran your last race a few years ago and hung up your running shoes. What is your favorite activity now to move your body and exercise?
Enjoy hiking and walking, yoga and floor exercise daily.
I moved on to walking from running regularly. I didn’t want to risk injury as I got older and I’m not even sure my hamstrings ever completely healed as I gave it everything I had to run the fastest half mile to make my PR.
Health is a whole body & mind effort. What is your secret for great skin?
Good skin comes with good healthy eating and water. I try to enjoy at least a half avocado per day, fresh fruits and vegs also. Try to avoid artificial sugars and excess salt. Aiming for a full 7 hours of restful sleep every night and allowing time before bed to apply moisturizer and serum.
What is your mantra for staying healthy?
Mantra: Put down the fork and pick up the feet.
What did you (or do you) like best about being a mom?
Best memory of being a Mom is hearing the child say ” I want to try that “. With Jodi, it was a light-bulb moment when she bought her first clarinet for $8 at a yard sale. As a parent, we were so proud! She had Saturday morning private lessons. It then took her to Europe, the youngest musician at age 14, for 5 weeks as part of a 92-piece orchestra. In school she was 1st chair clarinet, and recipient of Player of the Year Award, and the rest is history. Music was in her. With Ryan, he followed music also, with the trumpet. But his real interest is in Space. He “wanted to try” space camp in Florida, at age 11. Being away from us parents for a week of space study. We were proud and he fit right in. A wondrous week he had as he completed his “mission”.
Did you play sports when you were a kid? What was your favorite activity as a child?
In high school I played volleyball, badminton, tennis, and ran track. Knocked down too many hurdles to be competitive so mostly competed in Hop, Skip, and Jump. My dad made a small sand pit in the backyard for me to practice. Summer days I biked A LOT and summer evenings were filled with Mom and I and neighbor kids playing badminton. Swimming in the backyard pool with the metal slide (ouch) was a highlight too. I was always outside as a kid with so much to do with friends and family all living within walking distance or by bike.
Did you think about being healthy as a child?
Not sure I heard the word “healthy” as a kid. More likely, “it’ll put hair on your chest”. Lots of Spam, bologna, Kool Aid, penny candies, Jay’s potato chips by the bucket. Too much junk food.
When did health become really important to you?
Healthy eating and getting interested in food planning began around the time of our running. Became more aware of what excess salt, sugars, processed convenience foods and artificial sweeteners can do to the arteries. By eliminating those we started enjoying more fish, fruits, nuts, and good oils, and found real health benefits and greater movement and less sluggishness.
You have enjoyed traveling. Where is your next adventure?
Still planning my next trip. My most recent big adventure last year was hiking and exploring Zion National Park and the Grand Canyon this June. Been one of my dreams, for a very long time. Nature at its finest.
Locally an adventure to me would be to head out for crab cakes and a ballgame. In a much broader note, my dream would be to have the family together somewhere, hassle free life for a few days and relaxing in the Sun somewhere. By the time I add up the attendees it could 25+ people!
If you could pick the ultimate destination, vacation, bucket list item, what would it be?
An Australian getaway may be quite interesting.
Favorite place visited so far?
In all my many travels I would have to say it is a two way tie for Norway & Portugal. Bergen and Flåm [in Norway] are extraordinarily beautiful.
If you could define your life in one sentence, what would it be?
So far, my life has been an endless journey filled with much love, and many sweet and unforgettable and laughable memories.
If there was one mantra that you would want below your yearbook photo, what would it be?
Mantra in yearbook: Just believe. The best is yet to come.
Who have you drawn your strength from?
For as long as I can remember, my pillar of strength has come from my Dad and his strong will to stay grounded, optimistic, and kind. Even as a young child he’d seem to iron out whatever troubling matters there were around me and suggest ‘everything’s gonna be alright’, and his most infamous, ‘it’s not the end of the world ‘. A broken bicycle chain or botched prom date, staying calm and focused on what really mattered was key. Not everything in life will turn out like we’ve planned or hoped for. I suspect his tenacious drive came from his young mother who bore 9 children, and raised them on her own when Dad was just toddler age.
How do you #useyourlegs and why?
#UseYourLegs: being active, gardening, community volunteering, being available and helping those in need.
Describe yourself in one word.
One word about myself: Compassionate