Come Celebrate with Me

With a bit of curiosity I opened the envelope. Inside held a colorful invitation with balloons and confetti sprinkled on the front. Hummm, I thought…a birthday party? Honestly, I thought my days of attending birthday parties had long expired.

“Please join us to celebrate Nicolle’s 50th birthday! Shhh…it’s a surprise!

There have been a lot of celebrations lately, milestone celebrations: high school graduations, college graduations, 50th birthday parties, weddings, and anniversaries. In fact, when I think of the word celebration, these are the types of events that come to mind ever so quickly.

But in actuality, celebrations are all around us,! We just need to slow down and take the time to notice. Yes, notice!

Daylilies that have finally bloomed. Sporting their vibrant colors of yellow and orange, celebrating the arrival of a warm summer day.

Birds gathering together, serenading the morning sun, celebrating the arrival of a new day.

A warm, soft breeze that wisps the branches of the willow tree back and forth, back and forth, celebrating the gentle calmness of the lazy afternoon.

Or perhaps the fragrant honeysuckle perfuming the nose, celebrating the delicate smells of a humid summer evening.

Celebrations, a form of noticing. Noticing and leading me to my journal, my writing journal. A place for me to capture, cherish and relive what it is I want to celebrate, what I want to remember. Big celebrations like the surprise 50th surprise birthday party or small celebrations that I encompass just sitting in the quiet presence of nature.

So it is, writing is an invitation. An invitation to celebrate those noticings. Whether it’s big or small, the reward is in the writing just waiting for the writer in you to celebrate all that life has to offer!

Won’t you join me?


This post was originally posted on the #TeachWrite Chat Blog on 7/16/18. Thank you to Jennifer Laffin at Teach Write for asking me to reflect, write, and share.


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It’s time to celebrate the joy!

nine celebrations for the month of september

Balance, serenity, and focus…that describes my September. Overall it was a quiet month for me, but I have much to celebrate. In no particular order, here’s why I’m throwing some confetti as I say good-bye to September.

  • This Is Us is back on NBC on Tuesday evenings! I don’t watch much television, or should I say television series, but I do completely enjoy this series. I was like a child anxiously awaiting for 9:00 PM to arrive so I could catch episode #1. It did not disappoint!
  • K-cups! I purchased some K-cups just for me. I don’t drink coffee, but I do enjoy Cafe Escapes Chai Latte. It’s oh-so delicious! It’s my guilty pleasure in the morning as I begin my day at school.
  • Books! There are some new books on my radar for the month of September: The Little Book of Hygge (hoo-ga) and Braving the Wilderness. Both books speak to me on different levels. That’s the thing about books, when they connect to you, you just devour them!
  • My Fitbit! I continue to be just a wee bit obsessed with my Fitbit. It’s a good obsession though! I’ve gained control of my hydration and my overall sleep has improved. The sleep issue is HUGE! I’m so happy that more times than not I am finally gaining control of my sleep patterns and the amount of hours I rest each night. There are other perks to my Fitbit, but I’ll spare you the details for now. Truthfully, I could do an entire post just on my Fitbit!
  • Journaling! I received a journal last Christmas from a dear friend. It’s titled Fit Happens (wink, wink!) It’s a gratitude journal and it has proven to be a great way for me to reflect on my day. I’ve been journaling in it in the evening and I think it is a nice way to wrap up my day. I heart the way it touches upon various aspects of my day and it has a well-rounded approach. I just haven’t been able to keep up with my “morning pages” so this allows me to keep up with my writing and reflections at the end of my day.
  • Caps off to new pens! I have another obsession —> my Paper Mate Ink Joy Gel pens. They write oh-so smooth, come in a nice variety of colors, and do NOT smear for this left-handed girl! I heart them too!
  • 1/2 Marathon training! I’m excited for my upcoming 1/2 marathon in October. During September I was able to complete *all* of the training runs that I scheduled on my new plan. It goes without saying that I’m proud of this accomplishment. After the race, I’m looking forward to mixing my fitness up a bit. It’s time to get back into my cross-training routine.
  • Fall is here! The temperatures are finally cooler! This is fabulous for the runner in me. I certainly enjoyed the sunshiny days, but the heat and humidity definitely made my running a challenge, an enormous challenge! The cooler temperatures are so much more conducive to withstanding a 10, 11, or 12 mile run!
  • #mustreadin2017! I only have two more books to read on my #mustreadin2017 list. They are Two Naomis and Wonderstruck. Wonderstruck will be out in the movie theaters in October so it’s down to the wire that I finish it ASAP.

And that’s a wrap for my nine September celebrations!



 Join in each Saturday for Celebrate This Week with Ruth Ayres.
It’s a time to celebrate the joy!

On My Radar

This week in celebrating what’s on my radar of life!

On my running radar:

I will finish week #5 of the training plan for my upcoming 10 miler race, which is on August 27th. My week will round out with me running a total 20 miles in the heat and humidity.  Hopefully, Sunday will be cooler for my 8 mile long run. I can honestly say the temperatures are crushing my pace, but I’ll continue to push through. I am happy though that I ran a 4 miler this week and did break through the brick wall of heat. I also got in some cross-training this week of Yoga, BODYFLOW, BODYPUMP, and CXWORX.


breaking the brick wall

On my reading radar:

You know it’s a great book when I finish it *fast*, since I’m the world’s slowest reader! Last week I finished Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. It is geared toward the young adult reader and reminded me of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. In fact, I liked Yoon’s book more so than Green’s. This week I’ll be wrapping up to I Will Always Write Back by Alifirenka & Ganda. It’s a compelling true story of a friendship from two different worlds. It’s an awe inspiring memoir that truly makes me appreciate the simple things of my life.


two must reads

On my rockin’ mom radar:

The countdown is on! Maddie’s summer here at home is quickly coming to a halt – only one more week before she’s back at school. We have been busy shopping for her first-time apartment. I’m enjoying our time together shopping and the time we’ve been spending together at the gym. She’s a great workout buddy too!


yoga buddies

And that’s a wrap for this runner, reader, and rockin’ mom!



 Join in each Saturday for Celebrate This Week with Ruth Ayres.
It’s a time to celebrate the joy!

you can do hard things! yes, you can!

I have lots of catch phrases, or mantras if you would like to call them that. I’ve picked them up along the way from here and there. Maybe it was a line I lifted from a book or something that somebody said that just stuck with me.
Today I am celebrating doing hard things. I wish I could say I owned the celebrations, but I don’t. They belong to Matt – his dedication, his determination, his achievements.
Last weekend we embarked on a trip to Cambridge, Maryland where Matt competed in his fourth half IRONMAN. A half IRONMAN consists of a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike ride, and a 13.1 run. It’s no joke. These are serious endurance athletes going out there for a total of 70.3 miles of swimming, biking, and running. Then top that off with extreme summer heat and some wind gusts and you have to remind yourself that you can do hard things.
We were up at 4:00 AM to be race-line ready for the day. You know you’re an IRONMAN when you go to bed the night before and it’s still light out but you wake up and it’s dark! It’s crazy, but you can do hard things!

pre-race photo op

He promptly started his swim on schedule at 7:32 AM. The water and sunrise was absolutely breath taking, but it was a sign that it was going to be a hot one for the day. The goal, swim as fast as you can to get to the bike, as fast as you can.
The bike course is flat, flat as a pancake. Some may say that’s great, no hills to climb, but that also means no hills to coast – peddling, peddling, peddling for 56 miles in the scorching sun. Topple that with riding straight into a headwind means little relief. Matt crossed into transition with sweat flinging from him, but he crossed safely ready to tackle the third and last leg of his IRONMAN – the 13.1 miles of running.

wearing a smile

At this point in the race it was now about noon and the sun was burning bright. Again, the course is flat and there was little shade if any. It was a loooong 13.1 miles. But, he did it!

IRONMAN finisher!

Now the celebrating doesn’t end here. A year ago Matt decided to embark on a running streak. His streak was to run, at least two miles, everyday for 365 days. EVERY.SINGLE.DAY! That meant NO.REST.DAYS! Fuse the running streak with strength training, 1/2 marathon training, triathlon training, and life and it makes for quite a challenge! But again, he did it and I am so proud of him!
running streak
I often wonder why we are brave, why we put ourselves out there, and why we would purposely decide to do hard things. But, I know. I know why. It’s the crossing of the finish line, whatever finish line you may choose to cross. After the finish line is crossed, the anguish dissipates. For it’s only a matter of time before you accept the challenge again.
So today I celebrate Matt.
What the mind can conceive, the body will achieve.
You can do hard things!
Yes, you can!
 Join in each Saturday for Celebrate This Week with Ruth Ayres.
It’s a time to celebrate the joy!

a celebration list

I love to make lists. I make to-do lists, grocery lists, exercise lists, lists for projects, book lists…heck, the list goes on and on! I have an app for my lists and I keep lists in a journal. If I complete a task that’s not on my list, I sometimes put it on my list just so I can experience the thrill of checking it off my list…I know, I’m not right.

Well, this week I decided to keep a celebration list. Here are a few of the simple, yet meaningful, celebrations from that list.

Sunday’s celebrations,
sleeping in a little extra longer,
then a shopping trip with Maddie to the new At Home store,
finish the day with Matt making pork fried rice for dinner.
Monday’s celebrations,
seeing and feeling the warm sunshine after a rainy weekend,
running a fast 4 miles followed by a relaxing yoga class,
finally concluding the day with tacos for supper.
Tuesday’s celebrations,
another day of the sun basking in the crystal blue sky,
knocking out a 3 mile run,
starting a new book, The War that Saved My Life.
Wednesday’s celebrations,
a trip to the salon for a fresh new haircut and color,
spending time with family,
dinner out on the town celebrating our *25th wedding anniversary.*
Thursday’s celebrations,
embracing the warm weather that has arrived,
discussing summer reading with my students,
heading out to the gym for some strength training and stretching.
Friday’s celebrations,
getting ready for a three day weekend,
knowing that there is less than a week left of school,
picking up take-out for a quick and easy dinner.
Saturday’s celebrations,
waking up extra, extra early to leave for Lake Placid, NY,
spending seven hours in the car chit-chatting with great friends,
a visit to the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery for some pizza and brews.

celebrate list 2
 Join in each Saturday for Celebrate This Week with Ruth Ayres.
It’s a time to celebrate the joy!

Let It Be Saturday!

This is the day to sleep a little extra longer,
not rely on the subtle chime of the alarm.
Snuggle under the blankets,
allow the sun to rise in the sky.
Let it be Saturday!
This is the day to go for a run,
add a change of scenery
as my feet pound the pavement.
Get those miles in,
without worrying about rushing the run.
Let it be Saturday!
This is the day to make my own agenda,
sprinkle in some errands,
a quick excursion to the grocery store,
maybe cruise into T.J. Maxx.
Then grab a bite for lunch.
Let it be Saturday!
This is the day to bask in the sun,
with a book in my hands,
turning the pages,
getting lost someone else’s journey,
meeting people whom I’ll never meet.
Let it be Saturday!
This is the day to celebrate,
time with family
a special dinner on the deck
as the sun sets
or an evening outing
to a best-loved restaurant.
Let it be Saturday!
This is the day we all need
to unwind,
to chillax,
to just slow down.
Let it be Saturday!
 Join in each Saturday for Celebrate This Week with Ruth Ayres.
It’s a time to celebrate the joy!

The Best of…

I love the city of Pittsburgh. I had never been there until we went college shopping. Now Maddie happens to go to school there, so I get to visit more frequently.  Quite simply, we have the best of times in Pittsburgh and this past weekend was no exception.

the best city for shopping:
We kicked off our visit with a quick stop at the Pittsburgh Marathon Expo. SO.MUCH.RUNNING.GEAR! Matt bought a new pair of sneakers and a running shirt. Then it was off to Shady Side on Walnut St. Maddie had birthday money so we stopped at Pandora and then went to Lululemon to buy her some running shorts for our 1/2 marathon the next day. We topped it off our trip with some delicious gelato from Mercurio’s.

the best city for dining out:
Saturday evening we had a delightful dinner at LeMont. The atmosphere and the service were excellent. And the view! It was spectacular.  Matt ordered a crab cake, Maddie a fillet, and I had sea scallops.  Dessert was on the house since we were celebrating Maddie’s birthday so she couldn’t resist the chocolate mousse cake.

the best city for running a race:
Sunday was race day! You know we are a family of runners.  Isn’t there a saying that says the family that runs together stays together? Well, maybe I made that saying up! Anyway, this was our second year of racing in Pittsburgh. Last year Matt and I ran the marathon and and Maddie ran the half-marathon. For as hilly as Pittsburgh is, the course is surprising kind and somewhat non-hilly!  This year Maddie and I tackled the half-marathon. The weather was so temperamental on race day and it really played with my mental aspect of racing. We weren’t sure if it was going to rain, thunderstorm, have cold temperatures, or even be a warm day.  One thing we were pretty sure…the sun wasn’t going to shine…and it didn’t. It ended up being warm and drizzly. So much so, that I was actually overdressed for the race.

the best city for site-seeing:
After the race Matt and I headed to Mt. Washington to get a view of the city.  It was magnificent! We could see the finish line of the race at The Point, Duquesne University, and the whole way down to the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh. Look at those skies though! Now you can see why the weather had me worked up and in a tizzy for the race.  Believe it or not, it only actually drizzled on and off. I can only imagine what our view could have been if the skies were clear and sunny.

the best city for casual dining:
We love to visit South Side Works for casual dining. Matt’s a fan of the Hofbrauhaus House. Me, not so much. But I did enjoy some post-race carb loading (if there is such a thing) and ordered the Hofbrauhaus pretzels and bier cheese for an appetizer. Lunch was a chicken salad sandwich on a croissant-nothing German about that! Matt had the Wurstplatte. Basically it was a sampling of Wursts. He was happy!
So today I’m celebrating the best of Pittsburgh, the time we have spent there, and the memories we have created.
 Join in each Saturday for Celebrate This Week with Ruth Ayres.
It’s a time to celebrate the joy!