Time for a Barn Raising

Around mid-March, I completed the last long run for my Boston marathon training. The race was April 15 and as my friend said, all the hay was in the barn.

Around mile 19 of 22 something wasn’t right, but a ‘twinge’ is what runner’s deal with all the time. The next few days the pain around my knee was excruciating and the worst possible situation was unfolding.  I had spent the last three months running through 20 degrees, eliminating sugar and alcohol (even during a trip to Vegas!), planning and focusing on all details to make this my personal best.

It all went up in flames.  It turns out there is an injury called, ‘Runner’s knee’.  Basically, it’s overuse, over training and over 30.  I was very down but I knew I had a choice; I could throw in the towel on my running days and live purely on ice cream and booze or come up with a plan to be stronger and better than ever. It was time for a barn raising.

A barn raising is an example of a frolic, a work event that combines socializing with a practical goal.  The barn raising fulfills a practical need and also serves to tie the Amish community together, reinforcing Amish society through a very visible expression of the principle of mutual aid. I remember watching this a few times in our farm community after a fire or other disasters, an amazing gift!

Thank you to so many people who were wishing me well for Boston and shared in my anguish that I could not run it. My family and friends encouraged me every day to move forward and never stop believing in myself. (A look back at Boston 2017 https://youtu.be/gdJo69zLlXE)

I am officially registered for the St. Lukes Via marathon in Lehigh Valley, September 8.  This is an individual sport but it takes a village. So if you are local in KSQ and see me running the streets, be sure to beep, wave or yell at me to get the hay back in the barn!

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The Morning of the Big Pig Show

The alarm clocks are going off with a vengeance these days. School has already started or about to be back in session for most and it’s time to get the hell out of bed. (And the end of late-night Fortnite, can I get an AMEN?!)

It’s during this most wonderful time of the year I like to give advice to my kids. They love my blog and are not embarrassed whatsoever. Photo flashback, start of school Sept. 2012.

Last year’s post, Kids, Today, covers a lot and is still applicable, but I have more advice…and it comes from the morning of the big pig show.

The morning routine can be monotonous and the hours that follow can be a forgettable day that are lost as the years go by, but each day attributes to your success. The way you interact with others, learn, practice and manage daily life tasks – your effort is required. The big days are coming and many of those you wake up sans an alarm because of excitement (first day of school –yeah!), nervousness (taking child to college, new job, new house, big presentation – agh!) or high expectations of greatness (kids receive full ride to said college, getting that new job, winning that big deal – wahoo!).

Back in August 1982, it was a big morning. I was up before the roosters and the farmer would be coming to transport the pigs to the showgrounds. The day before I had to gone in advance to clean the stall where my pigs would relax on fresh straw before being paraded around the rink. They would be dropped at the washing area first, where I would scrub them down and walk them over to my assigned stall. Many don’t know that lipstick on a pig does actually change things. The mayonnaise water mixture for the darker pigs and baby powder for the white ones makes them sparkle and shine. Shaving their tales and ears adds a certain je ne sais quoi. Pig beauty is a thing of mystery and that year, long and lean was trending.

French braids flopping, I ran out to feed my gang one last time.

Not. One. Pig. They were gone and my tears were pouring like Niagra Falls. My Dad and I scrambled looking around and spotted the pigs laying on the other side of the property. The electricity had gone off and they escaped under the fence. Luckily, all the ordinary days that summer when I would walk the pigs, train them with a cane, and became their pied piper, paid off. They quickly followed me back through the pastures and soon after, boarded the farmer’s trailer. (Of note, if they were truly smart animals they would have disappeared like Jimmy Hoffa if they realized what their destiny would be in the next 48 hours)

This pig tale had a great ending, I won champion trio that year. So kids, don’t forget to work hard every single day. The big show comes up quick and only you can determine how it will play out.

PSA: I am officially old. I started writing this blog and realized I covered the gist of this back in 2014, just a shittier version The Day My Pig Coughed It’s Bowels Out.

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Liz Burns: Master Woman of Reinvention Turns 80

Frances Elizabeth ‘Tillie’ Burns turns 80 today and what a celebration it is!

I found this greeting card and loved the sentiment, so fitting for the woman who has created a life that continues to evolve:

When you look back over 80 years, I hope that your memories are warm ones.
When you celebrate today, I hope that your heart is filled with love and joy.
When you look forward to the future, I hope that all your dreams and wishes come true.

Hope is not a strategy though, this lady makes it happen. I asked each of my siblings to tell their favorite memory and each commented on different aspects that tell the story of Liz Burns’ life and why she is the mother of reinvention!

Lysa – The search for college and choosing Marymount University, an all girls school. Mom graduated from Immaculate College with an amazing group of friends and recently celebrated 62 years of bonding!

Liz didn’t stop there!  She went back to school to become a registered dietitian in 1993 and continues to give great advice on nutrition. she loves ‘gluten-free’ just ask her about it!

Robbie – the ongoing support from little league to a collegiate basketball career. Mom was a basketball coach for CYO basketball for years and the biggest fan for all 5 of us.

Liz didn’t stop there, she still keeps stats for grandkid’s games and follows March Madness. Sometimes it might be a little swayed in favor of her blood relatives but that’s OK!

Megan – traveling throughout the world including Turkey, Spain and the epic trip to Moscow.

Liz didn’t stop there, traveling to Germany in 2018!

Maureen – a sewing and cooking master, every person in our family and those that join are given a special Christmas stocking, ‘Made By Elizabeth’.

Liz didn’t stop there, she even sold the stockings at a mall kiosk and ran a catering business!

Alison – going with Mom to her tennis matches (locked in a babysitting room) followed by lunch at Strawbridge’s in Exton where they served the best chocolate pudding.

Liz didn’t stop there, she had a tennis racket tattooed on her shoulder for her 75th, she just got a knife and fork on the other. What will the 100th birthday tattoo be?Might I suggest a picture of Bob Burns on her arm?!

Without you, I don’t know what I would do. But with you I know there is nothing I can’t do!

Happy birthday, Mom!

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Kids, Today…

The school year starts Monday and it’s monumental for the Guzzio kids. First year of high school, middle school and youngest about to wrap up elementary school. I have vowed not to say the typical back to school parent comments: “Where does the time go?”, “They were just babies”, “How on earth do I have a child in high school?”

Truth be told, I am more emotional about Robbie starting high school than any other milestone. But not based on the before mentioned sentiments. Sure I loved when he was a baby, but it’s more that I am so proud of who he is and want to embrace the now. Today.

All summer I thought of this. You are just ready. Even if heading into this new chapter means it ends that much quicker, it is exciting for all us. My hope is I am here to help you to continue to work hard, set goals to meet them and make good choices.

So here are things I want you to know as you begin this journey:

1. There is no one path. Listen for the pieces of life that excite you, that make you feel full and engaged and go towards them.
2. Play. Join. Volunteer. Work. Help others. Try something new.
3. Talk to me. Talk to Dad. Talk to the amazing adults in your life — you have been blessed with plenty. The combination of us have heard it, seen it, done it all. We can handle it. You are not alone.
4. Stay organized. Stay neat. Honor the details. This will serve you always.
5. Kind before cool. Think about how you talk to and about others. Think about what you say and how you say it. Be good to people.
8. Be proud of yourself, your peers, your school. Try out, participate, play. Compete, sweat, learn to win and lose. But just play the game, not for a scholarship or the big leagues, but because you love it and you love how it makes you feel and grow and learn about yourself and about life.
9. Be a serious student. You were given a creative, strong and curious mind. Challenge it. Ask questions. Think critically. Do not take for granted your abilities. Love to learn and carry that always.
10. Build relationships in abundance — with your classmates, with older and younger students, teachers and coaches — because we learn the most from each other.
11. Be that friend.
12. Be safe. Wear your seatbelt. No speeding! Don’t drive distracted. Sober drive, sober ride. Please, please, please stay the hell away from pills, powder, and needles. And shots of things and chugging things and competitions about who drinks the most of things. Call me. Call me. Call me.
13. Wait for sex. Please. You come from people that make babies early and often. And someday, if you find yourself in love and unable to wait another minute — know consent means two people verbally, deliberately, clearly saying the word “Yes.” Not sure? Wait! Body sharing is not casual business. But if you must, wear a condom. Every damn time, wear a condom. Babies & STIs — they’re the real deal. The realest.
14. Save those dollars. That’s college knocking. All hands on deck.
15. Be funny and playful and ridiculous. Stay up late and sleep in, laugh until it hurts and don’t take yourself too seriously. Let the child in you live always.
16. Take risks and mess up. Preferably in a typical, correctable, healthy, learn-from-your-mistakes kind of way. But still, be vulnerable and brave enough to always reach and grow and stumble beyond what you thought was possible.

You’ve grown taller than me. You’ve even grown away from me — pushing back, questioning — becoming an individual with thoughts, beliefs, ideas and experiences separate from the whole.  All of this, as hard as it can be to face, is the point of raising children — to grow you up, out, and away. So we start the great journey of high school August 28, the final frontier between childhood and your future.

Some of this is for Charlie too, starting the 6th grade. My middle child in middle school. Luckily, he and all of us have learned from Robbie forging the path but Chuckles has his own compass for self-direction.

And the last one, the girl, the crazy little lady who couldn’t wait to start school and follow in the footsteps of her big brothers.

You Belong with Me, today and every day. Our special drives alone for the next two years listening to Taylor Swift are going to be epic.

I know the time will pass quickly and they will be off living their own lives, but for now I will enjoy each day with morning talks while making zillions of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, watching football and coaching field hockey games, hearing about academic success and what interest them and saying good night.  Some days that might include an extra big hug.

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AMPED Up: Whac-a-Mole Just Isn’t for Carnies

Why is it when you get hit with one life shit sandwich, you suddenly are being punched in the face like a game of Whac-a-Mole?

I was once told great advice to deal with a lot of turmoil. “When friends and family are ill or in trouble, you need to be there for them and deal with it.  But don’t ignore your own needs and path to success. How will it help them if you fail and ruin your own life?”

Enter the skill of compartmentalization. One outlet I use to achieve this is running. I have that dedicated time to sort through personal and business challenges, shed a few tears of joy and sadness and craft short and long term strategies.

Playing sports for most of my life, this running thing had legs outside of being a cheap alternative to therapy.  “Running marathons is so much fun!”, said no one ever after mile 18.

But it is fun and what gets me through some tough days when I feel like a misfit carny. Or just a good way to balance out when I ate a corn dog and funnel cake and washed it down with a 1500- calorie margarita.

You can’t just run some miles to prepare, especially if trying to achieve certain PR goals. You’ve got to mix it up. Hybrid ain’t just for cars, IT infrastructure or the hydrangeas that were a great surprise under the deck this year.

Hybrid training is the key to healthy, injury free and goal-achieving performance.  I have tried many different marathon programs, supplements, clothing, sneakers and more. Here are my top suggestions and what I will be using to prepare for the Philly full marathon to take place November 19. (I know, I know – never say never! Now that my blisters have healed, I am up for another 26.2 dog fight!)

  1. Isagenix – this is an unbelievable product. It is great for weight loss and the performance line is amazing for athletes. I followed the full program along with taking AMPED leading up to the 2015 Philly marathon. Personal record achieved. I didn’t take Isagenix leading up to Boston 2017. Epic fail – missed my time by 38 minutes. Enough said. *Contact Jen Shriver if you don’t have an Isagenix rep!
  2. Cross Training – I am officially a yogi bear. From hot, warm to Yin, I am feeling the difference in my mind, body and soul. I also just started to read, Power Speed ENDURANCE: A Skill-Based Approach to Endurance Training  by Brian MacKenzie and will be following this program!
  3. Ice, massages and chiropractic adjustments  …oh my! Closer to 50 at this point, I am needing all the hybrid help I can get!

We all know there are days/months/years that you just can’t avoid the slap(s) to the face. Figuring out ways to soften the blow or take that hit, heal and move forward to the next adventure is a skill-based approach that is unique to us all.

As my good friend Buddha teaches: No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.


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It’s at Dad’s House

If you are divorced, the frustration of the statement, “It’s at Dad’s house”, can make your body tense and your blood boil. It is inevitable when looking for something or when ready to leave for school, sporting events or the long list of activities you are running late for and need that important book, paper to sign, shirt, etc.

What is worse for me to say is, “it’s at my ex-husband’s house”. It feels negative and doesn’t fit Dave; the guy I dated, married, bought multiple houses with, created three children together and continue to remain friends and a part of each other’s families. Conscious uncoupling doesn’t seem to offer any clarity or be the right descriptor either.

What I do know is that Dave is a great Dad and I would be remiss if I glazed over that in this online diary.  Every day we share the responsibility and parent together, but in our own unique way. And that, from what I can see, is creating three incredible people.

From continuing the Christmas tradition and serving up waffles and a big breakfast for my family at his house, to taking the kids to his family’s vacation in Ohio…

Maintaining a fun land of games at his house including the basketball 3-point shooting contest, pool and ping pong tables, go-kart with obstacle courses, trampoline and his award-winning chiros that are a sleep over staple for the kids and their friends.

Working out in the yard and teaching them how to mulch, grow a garden and take care of your home. Overall, he is teaching them through his actions to be kind, good people.

We are both fortunate to have been raised by two great Dad’s and now our kids benefit from what we’ve learned. These two Grandfathers impact the children in their own unique ways too, just as Dave and I do. It does take a village and multiple houses where life takes shape.

Happy Father’s Day, Dave, the two Bobs (Granpdpa and Pop Pop) and all Dad’s today!

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14 Years On Becoming Robbie Wise

14 years ago today, Robert Harrington Guzzio came into this world and I am so amazed at who he is becoming. Happy birthday to my oldest child!

I know most enter into parenthood with the the same blindness, but I didn’t have that maternal instinct and I love my sleep. What to Expect When You’re Expecting gave me a great recipe for oatmeal, but then this guy was staring right back at me and I had no idea what to do next.

Just like the scene from This is Us, actress Mandy Moore talking to her unborn children, I had a few heart to hearts with Robbie before he was born and many times late at night once he arrived. I shared my secret that I didn’t know what I was doing. He looked at me with eyes that saw into my soul, held on tight with his little fingers and let me know it would all be OK.

It wasn’t luck, the book On Becoming Babywise, was a life savor. Through charts, strict instructions and an approach that Dave and I agreed on 100%, we had so much fun that we gave Robbie two siblings!

It isn’t just the two of us that continue to raise this unbelievable kid, it does take a village! From the special bond with Great Granny:

Grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and a God Father:

To the friends, teachers and coaches that influence and mentor.

You can never really prepare your mind for raising and child and it continues to evolve.  I will cherish today and every day seeing him turn into an incredible young man!


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