A bit of self care goes a long way

white Tulips from The Bay Garden

Tulips in The Bay Garden, Wexford (2016)

I had a few choices of what I could do today (lucky me!). As it happens, self care is not something I’m very good at. Doing things ‘just for me’ doesn’t usually happen, which is something I’m working on improving. Today was delegated a self care day! One important part of self care is nurturing friendships. I have really neglected spending time with friends lately. There just seems to always be too much to do and not enough time to do it – and well, sitting down and relaxing doesn’t usually feel like the right thing to do. But sitting down and relaxing, especially with friends, is sometimes the *perfect* thing to do.

Pink Purple Tulips Douglas Bader

Pink-Purple Tulips (Douglas Bader) in The Bay Garden, Wexford (2016)

Today was one of those days where I jumped at the invitation to join some friends for breakfast. How lucky I am to be able to do so. I absolutely appreciate that I have the time to meet friends and enjoy their company. We exchanged parenting stories, life stories, tried to solve some of the world’s problems; essentially we had a lovely time together!

Blushing lady Tulip

Blushing lady tulip, in my garden

After I arrived back home, it was time for more self care: of the “Health and Fitness” variety. This is something that, throughout my entire life, I have stayed on top of. I’m not sure why, but it could be that from a young age we were always involved with sports all year long. Throughout my adult years I’ve tried different fitness programs and different sports. Last year we did a lot of biking. The training was for a challenging 100 km bike ride in September, which was an incredible experience. But when I got on the bike in January, I wasn’t enjoying it, for a number of reasons. So I went back to basics, which for me meant walking.

Ballerina tulips

Ballerina tulips, in my garden

I love walking. I have always loved walking. But even walking is different for me now. Three years ago I was diagnosed with a genetic heart condition called Long QT syndrome (type 2). It has to do with the electrics of the heart. Another time I’ll go into the details of that. But the treatment for LQT2 is beta blockers. I heard a description of what it is like to exercise while on beta blockers, and I have to say it is a pretty fair assessment: It is like trying to run through deep, wet cement. Personally, in the beginning, it felt like someone was placing the palm of their hand on my forehead and preventing me from going forward. It was tough. So basically, when everyone else’s heart rates are increasing to circulate the blood throughout the body, mine is “blocked” to stay at a low rate. But I’m still trying to do the same activity as the person next to me, just not getting the blood circulating through my body like it needs. This = going slow, and sometimes feeling ill while doing so.

Tulip conbination: Don Quichotte and Mystic van Eijk, in my garden

It’s frustrating. I’ve gone through a period of feeling sorry for myself. Yes, I did.  Still creeps in there sometimes. I want to go fast! I want to keep up with everyone else! I want to be the best I can be! But wait, I am still the best I can be. I just shouldn’t compare myself to everyone else. But wait again, I probably shouldn’t have been comparing myself to everyone else anyway… 🙂

Foxtrot Tulips, in my garden

Foxtrot Tulips, in my garden

It has taken me six weeks, but I am finally feeling my fitness levels starting to improve. I had an awesome walk today! I’m not fast, and it still takes me a long time to recover, but at least I’m feeling better during the exercising. Hopefully soon enough I’ll be back on the bike and enjoying it again.

Queen of the Night tulips with a backdrop of Hawthorn trees in flower

Queen of the Night tulips with a backdrop of Hawthorn trees in flower, in my garden

I could probably find a hundred things to do instead of exercise, but just like meeting with friends, it is important to take care of ourselves. I think I’ve written a few times about similar topics, actually, because I need to keep reminding myself of how important it is! The more busy I get, the more important it is to take time out, for me. It helps to keep me balanced. And happy. 🙂

I hope you are making time for your own self care. It’s something we all need.

In peace,

Parrot tulips, in my garden

Parrot tulips, in my garden

Showing up to enjoy the party! (a.k.a. being Present)

Life is full. Our family schedule, although much lighter now than just a few years ago, is still the max we can handle. We are busy! Sometimes it is easy to get lost in the schedule and the busyness and just go through the motions. Really easy. “Wait, how did I get here?!” Ever have that thought? I have. I don’t want to just go through the motions, though, because then I don’t get to “enjoy the party”!

O.K. stretching on this one – a picture to represent enjoying the party?! Lots of parties have cake, right? We can make this work…

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten much better at recognizing when I am present and when I am not being present. There are certainly times when I’m not being present, but I think that for the most part I am pretty good about being present. Yes, even when doing the dishes. 🙂

I think I’ve been really lucky. I enjoy where I live, the work I do, my hobbies, so many things! When I’m doing things I like to do, I find it much easier to be present. I was in Chicago last week for work. I loved every minute of it: listening, smelling, tasting, everything American! I really enjoyed meeting people and hearing where they were from and what they do.

All smiles in Chicago!

My hotel was a short walk from the conference hotel. On one of the days, I recognized that I was smiling with a silly grin on my face as I walked down the street, with the sun shining brightly and causing me to sweat more than I would have liked! But it was such a perfect moment, in Chicago, in the sun, on my walk, with a silly grin.

At the conference, all of the participants received a copy of Amy Cuddy’s newest book called Presence: Bringing your Boldest Self to the Biggest Challenges. What perfect timing for me! Although many people have different interpretations of what presence means, I needed a little tap on the shoulder to help me with this one on a professional level. Sometimes I’ve found it difficult to “bring my boldest self” to the table. For me personally, my take-away from this highly recommended book, is to believe in yourself, be prepared, and after that you have to be relaxed (that is the hardest part for me!). When I think of new challenges that have gone well, these elements have been key.

An excellent read! I highly recommend this book.

After the conference, I had the opportunity to visit my parents. I hadn’t seen them in too long. I wanted to go and visit them and just spend time with them. I didn’t want to do anything in particular, which honestly, isn’t like me. Normally, I’d have a list of things I’d want to see or do. I think because of this relaxed state of just being with them, it was a really nice visit. In fact, it was a perfect visit.  (And my Mom made some of my favorite foods!)

Linguine with clams, shrimp, garlic, broccoli, and (shhh, don’t tell anyone, lots of butter). One of my favorite “nobody cooks like Mom” dinners!

We’re from upstate New York, and for too many years my parents dealt with harsh winters with too many snow storms and terrible weather. They are enjoying their well deserved break from all of that in their new location in Florida. They have created a lovely home there, and thoroughly enjoy the good weather. They swim, exercise, and walk on the beach as part of their daily routines, and they love it!

An Egret on the beach, just hanging out and enjoying the nice weather!

I found the beach to be so relaxing. There were so many different varieties of birds, and some of them were quite entertaining to me! I took way too many videos, to my parents’ amusement. Oh and the shells! So many beautiful shells! My mom and I enjoyed walking the beach for hours and collecting shells. I wonder what craft project I’ll make with them? 🙂

A small selection of the shells we collected.

And just like that, it was time to return home. Time to say goodbye to the warm weather, and my parents, and the time away from my typical daily routine. And just like that, I was home, and oh so happy to once again be home.  Because, quite honestly, I am enjoying the party.

My father, especially, loves wearing florescent colors! So we had to take a picture of all of us in our bright colors!

Are you enjoying your party? I hope so! 🙂

In peace,

My parents have some lovely flowers on their balcony. This hibiscus was my favorite!


“… the only thing we have to fear is fear itself…”

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who happened to have a home in Hyde Park, NY, which is not far from where I’m from, was speaking in his first inaugural address as U.S. President in 1933, in the depths of the depression, when he spoke the words “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”.  What a statement of truth. Although, thankfully, I have never had to face anything like the Great Depression, I have found myself thinking from time to time, of this statement about fear, as I conquer little fears in my life.

I was fortunate to be able to bike with my brother during a visit home to the US. We had fun cycling along the greenway in Connecticut.

You might laugh, but one of those little fears of mine was of using clip-on cycling shoes. (I said you might laugh!)  A number of years ago I became interested in triathlons. I trained and competed in a few, and I had a lot of fun doing so. Typically though, when cycling for the distances I was, you’d trade in your sneakers and pedals for special cycling shoes which clip on to special pedals. Of course, being clipped in means that you have to unclip to be able to put your foot on the ground to either balance yourself or get off of the bike. It takes some getting used to, to be able to quickly “free” your foot.  You’d be surprised at how often you’d have to stop suddenly, and put your foot down quickly! If you don’t unclip fast enough, you, and your bike, tip over.

I enjoyed triathlons for a number of years. This was a special bike that I had (and used) for 15 years! (notice the cages on the pedals)

Well, I was afraid of tipping over so I stuck with my sneakers and ordinary pedals … for years (many, many years).  When we moved to Ireland 10 years ago, I stopped cycling for a while. But a few years ago I started again.  Then last year I upgraded my bike, and finally, just a couple of months ago, I decided to upgrade to clip-on shoes.  Even entertaining the idea was huge progress for me!  I was finally leaving my comfort zone. I had the support of my husband, who has become an avid cyclist.  He knew that after I got the hang of them, having the proper cycling shoes would actually help my cycling! Oh I was so stubborn, due to my fear.

My husband and I biked 90 km round trip to Bergerac, while on vacation in France. I tipped over at around 30 km – but I’m still smiling!

The first few cycles with the new shoes went great, but I hadn’t really been tested with a need to quickly un-clip.  That would happen on our vacation, when we were cycling in traffic!  There was, as it usually happens, a need to stop quickly and I was able to un-clip in the nick of time! Let me tell you that my heart was racing!  Well, that worked out O.K.; I managed to not fall over, or get hit by a car!

I loved biking and enjoying this amazing scenery along the coast in France.

There is a little more to this story, though. On another outing while on this same vacation, I managed to actually tip over.  I was really lucky to have it happen the way it did!  We were in the country this time (no traffic!), and I was going really, really slow as we were debating if we were going to turn around at this junction or the next, and as I went to turn, I hadn’t maneuvered properly and as if in slow-motion, I tipped over! Thankfully I didn’t hurt myself, and I learned that you can still un-clip as you are falling. 🙂

We enjoyed cycling along the greenway paths in France.

I’m still super cautious with un-clipping, but I’m so glad that I finally switched over to proper cycling shoes.  They really do make a difference with your cycling!  And it all came down to conquering my fear.

Here we are on a break while biking around our home turf in Annagassan, County Louth.

As I get older, I have become more aware of little fears that have held me back. Little by little, though, I’ve been learning to face them and over come them.  Because if we face what is in front of us, then as FDR said, “we have nothing to fear but fear itself”.

My husband and I really enjoy cycling together (my cheeks are really pink from working hard!)

What little fears will you conquer?

In peace,

And this is what all of the fuss was about! Well, sorta. The fuss was really about overcoming a fear, which, although it took years to do, I did overcome. It’s those little things that make us who we are 🙂

End of a Chapter

In the beginning… Emer and I in 2007 at a swim gala

They say all good things must come to an end.  But maybe instead of it being the “very end”, it is just the end of a chapter? … My daughter and I are just home from the Stuttgart International Swim Fest competition, and with the end of that competition is the end of the season for us.  Since she will be going away to college next year, it also means the end of her swimming with the team.  For the past 8 years I have been coaching with the team while she swam.  But with her leaving, I felt it was the right time to say “good bye” to the team.

My daughter and I at a Sliabh Beagh event in 2015

I swam competitively from the age of 10 all the way through and including in college.  I loved swimming, and being a part of a team, and I was lucky to have had some very good coaches.  Fast forward a few years, and my daughter, at four years of age, asked if she could join the summer swim team! The summer swim team was all about having fun in the water, and she loved it! After our move across the ocean a few years later, her love of swimming continued and we were super fortunate to be introduced to the Sliabh Beagh swimming club (pronounced Sleeve Bay, and named as such after the mountains in the County Monaghan region).

The Sliabh Beagh Aqua Sprint squad after winning their 2012 final

It was at a swim gala in the early days with the club that I was talking with one of the “senior” parents on the team, when the topic of coaching came up. During the conversation she asked if I’d be interested in coaching with the club.  Honestly, I’d never thought about coaching before then.  Also, I wasn’t sure what it would be like coaching the youngest squad!  But I went through the coaching courses, as well as licensing, and pardon the pun, I then dove right in! I was very lucky, the kids were great, the parents were supportive, and our coaching team was excellent. I have learned so much over the past 8 years!

The Sliabh Beagh Aqua Sprint squad after winning the 2014 finals (I think I am calling for someone to join in the picture…)

My younger daughter joined the team as well.  I stayed with the younger squad while she was swimming with them, and then moved up the squads as my girls did.  My girls were receptive to my coaching, and never minded when I was in their squad, and I’d go so far as to say they liked it.  🙂

My two girls at the National Aquatic Center in Dublin for a swim competition

I was a tiny bit surprised how much I enjoyed coaching. I mean, I loved coaching. It was so much fun helping the kids to achieve their best, and watching their improvements along the way.  I’d have to say that I was persistent with my kids, until they were finally able to maintain the changes/improvements in their strokes.  I learned that you can’t coach everyone the same.  That can be a little tricky when you have lanes filled with kids, but I think over the years I managed to figure it out.  My favorite expression from our head-coach (he has LOTS of expressions) is that Rome wasn’t built in a day.  I’ve used that countless times, not just with the kids, but with myself.  It takes time to make changes, and make things happen.

My daughter and I at Division II swimming competition in Limerick 2014

I’ve coached a lot of kids, and I’ve seen kids with natural talent, kids with a huge passion for swimming, and kids with an incredible work ethic. There were, too, the kids who were just in it for fun, and that’s O.K., too.  I think what sticks in my head most is that every little thing counts, and when you focus on all of those little things (one at a time!), you can achieve your goals. It takes time, remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, but with persistence, it is possible. That mindset is completely applicable to everything in life!

Sliabh Beagh swim club, swimmers, parents and coaches in Eindhoven 2017

Our family has really enjoyed being a part of this team.  Everyone, from swimmers to parents, to coaches, has been great to work with. Three years ago they started a new tradition of attending an international swim competition near the end of the season.  That has been one of the major highlights for so many of our swimmers and parents! For some, that is the end of their season and they really end it on a high!  We’ve been to Stuttgart, Germany twice and Eindhoven, The Netherlands once.  All three trips were so much fun for everyone!

The Stuttgart International Swim Fest opening ceremony in Germany 2016

Swimming outdoors, for our Irish team, was so much fun! My younger daughter and I at the Stuttgart International swim fest 2016

It is bittersweet, stopping coaching for now.  I still love it, but our team practices at 5:45 A.M., and it is a 40 minute drive for me.  That equates to an insanely early start to the day!  It sounds a bit crazy to non-swimmers, but to swimmers who understand the dedication that is necessary, and getting in those minimum two hours of practice a day, this is our reality.  And since my younger daughter had to stop swimming last year for medical reasons, I won’t have anyone swimming with the team.  So for now, I think a little break would be nice.

My daughter and I in Eindhoven at the International Invitational Swimming Competition 2017

It is wonderful to see the kids continue on and swim in college, too.  Our goal as coaches is to develop Long Term Athlete Development and encourage “Swimming for Life”.  We want to keep kids swimming into old age!  We’re not interested in quick rises to the top and then burnout, which can happen so easily in this sport.

My daughter and I on our way to Stuttgart 2018

Sliabh Beagh ASC – swimmers and coaches, Stuttgart International Swim Fest 2018

I was very lucky. We were part of a team where the swimmers benefited hugely from the way the team nurtures the overall well-being of each swimmer.  They nurture good team-mates, and character, in addition to helping to build top-class athletes. This stemmed from the team’s founders, head coach Eamon and his wife Ita.

I have learned so much from our head-coach Eamon and I had a lot of fun with my Aqua Sprint co-coach Linda!

I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to coach such great kids along side some great coaches and an amazing support team.  I appreciate how wonderful it is to be able to do something you LOVE!

Our team secretary, Claire, who does more for our team than any one human being could possibly do!!!

And just like that, the chapter is finished …  Thank you so much for the wonderful memories,  Sliabh Beagh ASC.  It truly has been a gift.

In Peace,

Striking a balance as mom.

Muckross House and Gardens, Killarney, Co. Kerry

Muckross House and Gardens, Killarney, Co. Kerry

Last week my daughter and I travelled to Killarney, County Kerry,  for her to dance at the Irish National Championships. We were making it our special ‘Mom & daughter’ time and every minute of it was special.  She loved having all of my attention and being pampered by staying in a lovely hotel (thanks to deal rush!). Do you know what she was all silly-happy about?  Me sleeping in the single bed and her getting the double bed!  Such simple pleasures.  🙂

Heights Hotel in Killarney

Heights Hotel in Killarney

Killarney is beautiful.  We had some time to go to Muckross House & Gardens and despite it being a misty and slightly wet day, we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Muckross House

Muckross House on a misty day

My daughter, who is 11 years old, took 70 pictures of the gardens!  When she realised how many pictures she’d taken she exclaimed “wow! I guess I do like gardens!”…  a girl after my own heart.

My daughter taking LOADS of pictures

My daughter taking LOADS of pictures

no need for a caption here...

no need for a caption here…



frilly edged white rhododendron flowers

frilly edged white rhododendron flowers

The reason for this post, though, was because I’ve spent quite a bit of time reflecting on how much energy my kids put into their activities.  My daughter danced her absolute best at that dance competition.  There simply isn’t a word to perfectly describe the immense pride you feel when your child does their best, especially after they’ve worked so hard.  She herself was overwhelmed at having “recalled” in her competition.   It was a great achievement which everyone was so proud of her for.

A very proud moment for mom and daughter

A very proud moment for mom and daughter

A misty day at the gardens

A misty day at the gardens

I have to say that being “Mom” is how I identify myself.  Just look at my “handle” Mom in the Garden.  I love being a mom to my three kids.  And with as many different people that there are in the world there are as many different styles of being a mom.

Her teams also did fantastic, one of them placing first!

Her teams also did fantastic, one of them placing first!

I’ve always been one to push myself and strive to improve in whatever I’m involved in. That hasn’t changed in motherhood.  Now I find myself helping my children to be the best that they can be.  This can be challenging in striking a balance between disciplined practice of their sports and schoolwork, and allowing them to be kids with free time and free will.

she liked this shrub as it reminded her of a Hershey's Kiss candy!

she liked this shrub as it reminded her of a Hershey’s Kiss candy!

Swimming and Irish dancing are the two sports our kids participate in. I’ve been involved long enough to know that behind every great athlete are supportive parents (read: promoting healthy eating, exercise, rest, keeping track of practices, driving all over creation for events, and still more practices!).  It is a lot of work, and I’m not even doing the actual activities!

so delighted she enjoyed going to the gardens with me!

so delighted she enjoyed going to the gardens with me!

The really hard work is definitely done by the kids. But I’m glad that I’m able to manage their activities and encourage them to work hard and do their best. I hope that as they get older they will bring forward the discipline of working hard, making goals, and that sense of achievement once they reach their goals. And I also hope they stick with a healthy lifestyle including healthy eating and exercising.



In the days that it has taken me to finish this post, my other daughter had some really good results in one of her swimming competitions.  Believe me, we don’t always get the results we want!  But I’ve seen my kids continue on and work harder when that happens.

Swimming medals from one gala

Swimming medals from one gala

If you walked into my house unannounced on any given day you would not be impressed! You’d  find laundry hanging on drying racks, dishes in the sink, papers on the kitchen hutch and a house that definitely had a “lived in” look.  This is how I strike my own balance.  It works for us.  So please, if you’re dropping in for a visit, just give me a call beforehand so I can tidy up a bit!

This tree makes me think of the values it takes to live a good life...

This tree makes me think of the values it takes to live a good life…

It is those moments, when the kids have their feelings of accomplishments, that make all of the crazy schedules and business (and messy house!) worthwhile.  Someday there will be time enough to tidy the house…

I hope that you have the balance that you need in your life, too.



The special people in your life

My sister with her son and my son in the summer of 1999

My sister with her son and my son in the summer of 1999

Everyone in your life is put there for you.  Just for you.  It is amazing when you think about it.  So many lessons to learn, and so many people to help you learn them.  Life isn’t just about learning lessons, though.  There is so much more!  Those special people in your life have so much to give you.  They are in your life to bring you joy, happiness, and love.  Maybe Patience too. Well, at least I need help with that one!  Nothing is by chance.  I have had, and continue to have, the most amazing people in my life.  I feel so blessed.  I’m still learning (some of us are slower than others!).  And God continues to put people in my life to help me, and bring me joy, happiness, and love.

My sister;  I have a hard time with this one because I’ve had to say “was” since September 21, 2001.  I have no doubt that God hand picked her to be in my life.  Joy, Happiness, Love (and a bit of Patience, too!) would describe Kelly perfectly.  Nothing is by chance, Kelly was in my life for so many reasons and I continue to learn from her life which was filled with genuine love.

I’m thinking about the amazing people who are in, or used to be, in my life because today is Kelly’s birthday.  I am so thankful to have had her in my life.  I miss her and I wish she was still here with all of us…

In honor of Kelly, my daughter made chocolate peanut butter pie.  Chocolate and Kelly went hand in hand.  I know my sister is smiling with us, as we laugh over her mild obsession with chocolate.  🙂


Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Everyone is there for a reason…  Thank you for being in my life 🙂


Heart wreath of baby's breath

Heart wreath of baby’s breath

Weekly Photo Challenge: The hue of you.

Pink Tree Peony flower.

Pink Tree Peony flower.

Thanks to Claire from Promenade Claire’s blog (http://promenadeplantings.com/2013/10/21/weekly-photo-challenge-the-hue-of-you/) I am firing up a short post about a  color which reveals something about me.  It is nice to have a little challenge now and again!   There was no question in my mind as to which color to choose.  I am definitely in a pink frame of mind!  I love pink for it’s happy factor.  I am, generally speaking, a positive and happy person!  I count my blessings on a daily basis.  Sounds funny to write that, but it is true.  I have so much to be thankful for.  I think pink is a feminine color, and I am definitely a girlie girl!  I am all about flowers and all things pretty.  I still have many of my dolls from when I was a child, and last year we refinished/refurbished my doll house for my daughter.  I love going into my daughter’s pink bedroom. I find it to be a relaxing color.  Yeah, I’ll admit that I’m not a relaxed type of person. So maybe I like pink to help me along those lines! All things pink.  I like that. 🙂

Pink. Love. Inside and out.

The hue of me.

I wonder what next week’s photo challenge will be!

Happy pinkness!

Mom in the Garden is …

Who is mom in the garden?  I’ve been thinking about this post for a while, because all of what I’m doing now comes from many years (ok, not THAT many) of amazing experiences and influences.  I wanted to give you an idea of who I am and what makes me tick.  I have a strong focus on faith, eating well, exercising, and having fun.  I’m sure it won’t include everything, but here’s a peek at some of the things I’ve been involved in which have brought me to this place in time, in my garden, in Ireland.  Let me introduce myself…

I am a Christian Woman.

I am an American.

I am a wife.

I am a mother.

I am a Daughter, Sister, Sister-in-law, Auntie, Great niece.

I am sister to an Angel.

I am blessed to have wonderful mentors.

I am a Woman of Immaculate Conception (founding member of the most awesome women’s church group).

I am a triathlete. (If you can’t smile and have fun while your competing, it’s not worth doing.)

I am a marathon runner. (I’ll admit that at around mile 20 it became harder to smile. Although, this pic was taken coming into the finish line…)

I am an advocate of breastfeeding.

I am a former P.O.D. (point of delivery) leader for CSA-CNY.
Community Supported Agriculture of Central New York supporting the Organic farmer of Grindstone Farm in Pulaski, New York.
Eat local, Eat Organic, Eat Healthy.

I do my best to feed my family whole foods. Especially desserts. 🙂

I am a swim coach, and mom to two hard working swimmers.

I am a swimmer. I started competitively swimming at 10 and swam all through college.
I still swim.
That is a lot of swimming.

I am a mom to three wonderful Irish dancers.

I am a Thunderbird. (Thunderbird School of Global Management, Phoenix Arizona)

I am a Red Fox.  (Marist College, Poughkeepsie, New York)

I am a former Study Abroad Student, studying at Dublin City University, Ireland.

I am fortunate to have lived in Switzerland, Germany, and Ireland.

I am an admirer of flower arrangements… and vegetables.

I am a novice vegetable grower.

I am a blogger.

It’s very nice to meet you.