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9/11: 16 Years Later

It is nothing short of impossible to believe it’s been 16 years since the world changed forever. 

No matter how much time has passed since September 11, 2001, the memories that flood my mind each year at this time remain as vivid as if the tragic events happened yesterday. As many of my longtime readers know, I was a reporter at News 12 Connecticut on that crisp, sunny morning. While it’s been 12 years since I left the world of broadcast news behind, on this day I find myself reminded of the panic and urgency in the newsroom as we went out to cover a developing story that none of us could comprehend ourselves.

There were countless interviews and live shots with people waiting to learn the fate of loved ones who worked in the World Trade Center. There were stories from the people who did make it home, stepping off of trains with ash on their clothes and shock on their faces after witnessing the horror in lower Manhattan. In between the live reports, I also remember making and receiving panicked phone calls and texts. In a pre-Facebook world, there was no other way to try to check on the whereabouts of family and friends who lived or worked anywhere near Ground Zero or the Pentagon. In the days that followed, I remember learning one of my friends and former colleagues was gone. Glen was one of too many people taken from this world so viciously and long before their time.

Amidst the sadness and confusion, there were also stories of how Americans came together to help each other ease the pain. Sales of American flags skyrocketed and random acts of kindness could be witnessed everywhere. Then I think of the state of our nation today, and it makes me want to cry all over again.

Anyone who reads this blog or follows me on social media knows I have never, ever been political. I certainly don’t intend to start now. However, I will say this: I hope we start doing a better job when it comes to showing compassion and treating others the way we want to be treated. As we mark another 9/11 anniversary, people of all ages, races and creeds in Florida and the Caribbean are reeling from the devastating effects of Hurricane Irma. Our neighbors in Texas continue their struggle in the wake of disaster caused by Hurricane Harvey. And this storm season isn’t over yet. Before the hurricanes hit, we saw never-ending news coverage about people around the country arguing about whether statues should remain standing or if movies like Gone with the Wind should be banned. Meanwhile, we are faced with volatile situations ranging from our relationship with North Korea to the status of the healthcare system. Let’s face it: Things are just a mess. 

On this September 11th, as we all stop and pray for all those lost on this day 16 years ago, let us also honor their memory by remembering the power of love and compassion.

God Bless America. 

 

 

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Pardon the Interruption….

If you’ve been stopping by here for awhile, you know I sometimes stray from my usual themes. This happens to be one of those  Motivation Mondays. 

Over the weekend, I couldn’t stop thinking about one of the biggest challenges I’ve struggled with since turning the “Big 4-0” a few years ago: saying goodbye.

There are the goodbyes we say to our loved ones. Some will suffer from drawn-out illnesses of the body or the mind that we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemies. Others are taken too young and too tragically to ever fully comprehend or find any semblance of “closure.” Then there are the goodbyes we say to certain places that meant so much for so long. For me, that goodbye became a reality at the end of last week. That’s when a demolition team reduced the place my parents and I called home for 37 years to rubble in a matter of hours. Even though we knew the tear-down was coming, I was overwhelmed by the sense of finality once it happened. 

It’s amazing how the heart and mind can find so much comfort in stone, brick and siding. Of course, it’s not the materials that make a house special. It’s the memories created within those sturdy walls with help from countless friends and family members who walked through the doors throughout the decades. Those special times are what made the house a beautiful home. Here are just a few of those beautiful moments for which I will be forever grateful:

  • More than 30 Christmases  
  • Learning how to swing a bat and throw a baseball thanks to the guidance of my Dad and my beloved Nonno on the front lawn while Nonna sat with a watchful eye under a shady tree.
  • Learning how to make passatini and other cooking adventures with Mom.
  • Giggling with Grandma Julia while we were supposedly napping during her visits from Florida for the holidays.
  • Getting rid of the training wheels and learning how to ride my bicycle in the driveway, with help from my “big brother” Robbie.
  • Running through the sprinklers to stay cool on summer days with my childhood gal pals, who are now my lifelong friends.
  • BBQs in the backyard and bocce matches on the front lawn.

As the list of memories grew in my mind, I realized that’s where they’ll live forever. (We also happen to have fun reminders of so many happy occasions thanks to the dozens of old photo albums that now live in my parents’ new home!) This is why I’m able to type the last words of this post with a smile on my face. Because saying goodbye doesn’t erase the past. It just helps accentuate when a new chapter can begin. And new chapters are the perfect time to re-commit the heart and soul to make the most of each and every day on this never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

*Please note, I intentionally left a photo out of this week’s post to emphasize the fact that sometimes the best place to find an image that can help the heart feel better is in the mind. 

Another Oops!

Hello readers!

Well there had to be a first time in 2017, and it happened today.  I accidentally posted my Motivation Monday post a day early. If you received a post a few hours ago in your mailbox, I encourage you to simply delete it and wait until the copy edited version tomorrow.

For now, I wish you all a great Sunday filled with chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Loss…and Life

img_2828

Our fearless warrior on October 15th

This is anything but your typical motivation Monday post. The truth is I can’t focus on offering healthy food tips or a shot of encouragement to get to the gym when I am coming to grips with a an inexplicable loss.

My friend Liz lost her brave battle with breast cancer yesterday. You may remember her from my posts about the Avon39 Walk.  I was blessed to meet Liz during my days at St. Mary’s High School. Thanks to Facebook, we reconnected long after our 1991 graduation and I felt like we picked up right where we left off. Then a few years ago, the unthinkable happened. Liz was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer. It’s a bit of a blur right now, but all of a sudden, other St. Mary’s Gaels banded together to support Liz. Everyone wanted to do something to help. And honestly, I think most of us never believed this day would come. Despite the dire diagnosis, if anyone was going to beat the odds and kick cancer’s ass, it was Liz.

fullsizerender

Go Gaels! Liz meets Molly, Sue & me along the Avon39 route.

Her fight was relentless. She researched the different types of chemotherapy; sought out alternative treatments and was always so careful about what she ate and what she exposed her body to. I remember all the chats and email exchanges we had about the power of yoga, stretching and exercise and how it helped her feel stronger. She eventually traveled to Europe to undergo treatments not available here. She fought, she prayed and she showed all of us how to face adversity with determination and grace.

I had already been touched by breast cancer when my mom was diagnosed in 2008. She beat it. My mom’s battle made me want to do something to join the fight against breast cancer. Then Liz got sick. Then my friend Sue decided to join in Avon39, and I decided to join her. Sue and I have now finished three Walks together, and had other gal pals join in the 39.3 mile journey in 2015 and 2016. Liz was with us in spirit for every step of every mile, and she will continue to be there as we make plans for 2017 and beyond.

October 2014

October 2014

I was lucky to be with my parents when I got the news about Liz. Amidst my tears and sadness, my mom pointed out something extraordinary. Last night’s moon was the biggest since 1948. We won’t see another one like it again until 2034. I have no doubt that brightness was Liz’s light shining down on all of us wanting us to live, laugh and love. It is because of Liz that I was reunited with women I missed for years. Because of her, I was blessed to rekindle friendships I know will stand the test of time.

October 2014

October 2014

My faith gives me comfort that I will see Liz again. For now, I wish her peace and will remain forever grateful for the gift of her friendship. Thank you to all my readers for allowing me this detour from my normal weekly writing path. My only words of encouragement for the week ahead are these: tell those who are most important to you that you love them, and live each day to the fullest.

9/11: 15 Years Later

img_2647I hope you’ll forgive this diversion from my weekly dose of Monday Motivation. It’s hard for me to write about healthy snacks or fitting fitness into your back-to-school schedule when my mind has been flooded with memories of the day that changed our world forever. At some point this past week, I simply lost count of how many times I uttered or heard the phrase “I can’t believe it’s been 15 years since 9/11.”

Time may march on, but each year the memories are just as vivid as they were on that bright, beautiful day in 2001. I remember the shock, the silence and then the chaos that erupted in the News 12 Connecticut newsroom where I worked as a reporter at the time. I remember the nonstop news coverage and the countless live shots from the Fairfield train station. That’s where a triage team waited to treat injured survivors – only to look more and more despondent with each passing hour that none arrived. It’s also where I interviewed people with dust on their clothes, still in shock from what they had escaped in lower Manhattan. I remember calling my parents to tell them how much I loved them. And I remember the phone calls I received from panicked friends who wondered if I had any information about people working in the World Trade Center.

In the days that followed, I met too many people who lost people they loved. I learned Glen Pettit, one of my News 12 Long Island colleagues and a NYPD officer, was killed. I held back tears while interviewing people who held on to the hope a son, daughter, husband or wife would return home. I held back tears while speaking with members of the Stamford fire department who wanted to do more to help their brothers in the city. In the fleeting moments when I was alone, I let the tears flow freely. Yet in the midst of the sadness, fear, anger and confusion, I also remember people treating each other with kindness and banding together in a way I’d never seen before. Quite frankly, I haven’t seen it since.

Yankee Stadium: 15 Years Later

Yankee Stadium: 15 Years Later

Fifteen years later, I found solace going to Mass before taking the subway to Yankee Stadium. I originally felt somewhat guilty accepting the tickets my Dad offered for this game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. However, I came to realize doing something I loved on a sunny Sunday afternoon was a testament to the fact that our American way of life survived that terrible day. It turns out, the Devil Rays were the team the Yankees played two weeks after 9/11 as the nation tried to return to some semblance of normalcy, which included resuming the season for America’s pastime.

Before the start of yesterday’s game, with tears in my eyes and pride swelling in my chest, I witnessed a moving ceremony featuring the booming sounds of the NYPD Emerald Society’s Pipe and Drum Corps. I watched Yankees manager Joe Girardi shake the hands of wounded veterans from Walter Reed Hospital who were honored in front of home plate. I listened to the powerful voice of firefighter Frank Pizzaro as he belted out our national anthem while New York City’s bravest unfolded an American flag in center field beside the Port Authority Police Department’s Color Guard. I cried, I applauded and then as I cheered for the Yankees through what turned out to be a loss, I thought: the human spirit is a truly amazing thing. And it is in times of sorrow and struggle that banding together makes us stronger than standing alone. So in the company of that packed stadium, I found another way to honor the promise made 15 years ago…we will never forget.

God Bless America.

 

Happy Labor Day 2016!

Soak Up What's Left of Summer!

Soak Up What’s Left of Summer!

Happy Labor Day!

I hope you all had a FITASTIC August and are enjoying the last holiday weekend of the summer of 2016. Since this Motivation Monday falls on a holiday, LauraLovesFitness will be back in full force tomorrow for the first Tear-It-Up Tuesday of September with some tips to help make this your best fall ever.

For now, I wish you all a relaxing holiday and look forward to having you back for the season ahead. Whatever you’re doing today, be sure to stay safe so that tomorrow, you can continue the journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

Happy Memorial Day 2016!

Small American FlagsMany people consider this Motivation Monday the unofficial kick-off to the summer of 2016. The most important thing about today, however, is that it’s an opportunity to stop, remember and be grateful.

Whether you’re beaching, barbecuing, or just lying low on this holiday, be sure to take a few moments to remember all those who made the ultimate sacrifice so the rest of us could be free. That freedom allows us all to speak our minds and live each day the way we choose in the ongoing pursuit of happiness. Let us also remember the families who continue to grieve their loved ones lost to war. Finally, if you see a veteran or someone in uniform today, why not stop and say thank you.

If you need a few tips on how to keep your healthy habits in check as you head out to enjoy the holiday, click here for a refresher. I wish everyone a very Happy Memorial Day! If you plan on raising a glass or two, remember to designate a driver and stay safe so that when the holiday’s over, we can all get back to our plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Oops!

Good morning, FITASTIC followers of LauraLovesFitness!

Earlier this morning, you all received an email with an unfinished post. If you haven’t read it yet, please trash it and wait for the spell-checked and grammatically correct post next Monday.

I realize this has happened a few times in the past few months. Let’s just say I have a lot going on and I need to find a better way to make sure my calendar is managed here on the blog. I thank you for your patience and for all your support since my very first post.

Have a wonderful day and don’t forget to do all you can to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Operator Error

Hello readers!
Well, I blame it on the remnants of jet lag, but it happened again. I accidentally scheduled a post for today instead of tomorrow. that means my subscribers received a post of mumbo-jumbo this morning before I had a chance to edit and finalize the copy.

Please disregard the writing mess and stay tuned for the real deal tomorrow. Here’s wishing everyone a happy and healthy Sunday!

Blame it on Jonas…

Snow picHello LauraLovesFitness readers!

This is a quick message to let you all know that due to a scheduling error, you received a link to an incomplete post this morning. I apologize for the error. You loyal readers will know I would never intentionally post anything that’s not ready for “print,” so I hope if you haven’t read the botched post yet, please go ahead and delete it before you even bother opening it.

For all of you who weathered the first snow storm of 2016 with me, I hope you’re safe and sound. Stay tuned for your normal Motivation Monday post tomorrow. Thank you and have a happy and healthy Sunday!

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