Tension Tamers

Tension tamers have become an essential part of adulting these days. If you’re like me, you carry all of your life’s stress and tension in your shoulders and neck. Since my Graves diagnosis, the pain in my neck and shoulders has increased. Apparently, your thyroid hormones like to f*c& with your body in a myriad of ways.

Since most of us have issues with tension in our neck and shoulders, I thought I’d share some of my favorite tension tamers. These items have been extremely helpful. Here’s the list:

  1. Trigger point massager: this simple contraption from Gaiam is great at taking at knots in your shoulders and back.
  2. Tune Up therapy balls: these little miracle workers can help you release muscle and soft tissue tension all over your body. They’re very effective in relieving tension headaches. I’ll be posting a Vlog soon on just how do do this.
  3. Yoga Mat: best place to stretch and utilize your Tune Up therapy balls.
  4. Bolster: the bolster is a great tool that will allow you to settle into restorative poses that will reduce tension in your body.
  5. Foam Roller: I love using my foam roller to roll out my trapezius muscles when my upper back, shoulders and neck are tight. It feels amazing!!!
  6. Shiatsu neck/back massager: this is an essential tool for days when the tension in your upper back and neck are at its highest.
  7. Massage gun: so these things are all the rage. I decided to give it a try. I’ll be posting a full review shortly
  8. Essential oils: I like using Chill Pill by Aura Cacia to relax and reduce tension. A small pat on the forehead or in a diffuser will do wonders for your relaxation.
  9. Tiger Balm/Salonpas patches. These are perfect to wear at night for some relief while you sleep. It is a bit of an unspoken rule that you don’t wear them to work or school. Unless, of course, you want to smell like Ben-gay all day.
  10. Hand warmers: this is my favorite hockey mom hack. I carry all of my tension in my left shoulder right under my bra strap. Accordingly, by placing an activated hand warmer in that place, the heat starts to melt the tension in my muscles.

These are just a few of the tools, I keep in my tool belt to fight tension. On a macro level, I’ve gone back to my yoga practice and stretching daily to alleviate muscle tension before it begins. Yoga has been an essential part of my recovery and my quest for remission.  All of my  product recommendations are below and range in cost form $6.00-$129.  While it may seem like a lot of products, it’s a lot cheaper and a healthier alternative than popping NSAIDs or other medications.

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Progress

Progress isn’t always the number on the scale or the time on the race clock. Sometimes progress is being strong enough to carry the weight of life’s burdens. Sometimes progress is mastering a yoga pose that has eluded you for years. Today I slayed my white whale of yoga poses: the headstand.

This seemingly simple pose has eluded me since I started practicing over a decades ago. Honestly, it’s been quite vexing to be so challenged by a pose so easily attained throughout my entire childhood. Yet, here I was an adult yogi that couldn’t do a headstand on her own.

So how did this victory come about? After all, I’ve just returned to my yoga practice last month. While, here’s the deal. My fellow blogger posted on the movies Brittany Runs a Marathon. I had heard great things about it, but still hadn’t watched it. Her post was the final push I needed.

Wednesday afternoon as I folded an infinite supply of laundry, I watched Brittany Runs a Marathon. The movie was fantastic and I totally recommend you watch it. Obviously, the ending (much like the Titanic) is a give away, but that’s not the most important part of the story. Brittany’s transition to a runner and her finishing the NYC marathon is the key here. Throughout it all, including an injury, she perseveres. It was enough for me; I was totally inspired.

Last night I was working on my inversions in my yoga silk. It dawned on me that it was absolutely ridiculous that I the headstand remained elusive. After all, I have the strength and the balance. Finally, I resolved that I would slay the beast and move my practice forward.

Today’s yoga class brought the perfect opportunity! We were using blocks to help get into the proper position. My teacher was helping another student into the headstand when I decided to try it on my own. You can imagine my surprise and delight when I was able to go up into a headstand on my own. Yep, I was jubilant!

Meanwhile, Jake’s been busy getting ready for basic as we’re now only five days from him leaving. As Athena and I took our walk today, I couldn’t help but lament our lack remaining time together. Tomorrow will end the work week give way to a whirlwind weekend of hockey and goodbyes.

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Thanksgiving Is Almost Here

Can you believe Thanksgiving is almost here? It seems like just yesterday we were ringing in 2019. Yet here we are ready to end the year with the fabulous holiday season. I’m especially blessed to spend it with my entire immediate family. This holiday will be poignant for us all as it marks the last holiday for which Jake will be a civilian. Who knows where he’ll be stationed this time next year. We will certainly enjoy the moment.

I started my day by sleeping through my alarm, which left me feel like I was behind all day. Graves’ disease sucks it often leaves me tried and jacks with my sleep for no good reason. Not to mention it makes me cranky, which my family can certainly attest to today.

Fortunately, my day started looking up the moment I got my coffee. We left Dunkin’ to get our groceries for baking, so we could get an early start. At which point, we got a text inviting us to the beach. How could we say no to that? Spoiler alert: we procrastinated on the baking and headed to the beach.

This, of course, did nothing for my constant feeling of being behind all day. However, the beach was again marvelous with beautiful skies and calm seas. You simply can’t ask for a better way to spend the day before Thanksgiving. It was a bit hot, so we didn’t stay too long.
Fortunately, Goalielocks’ BFF was there and he was having a blast. Unfortunately, that made the extraction from the beach quite difficult. We ended our beach day by me starting to back out of my spot before noticing the boys neglected to close the tailgate. Consequently, I needed to make a Dunkin pit stop on the way home to try and collect my sanity.

Before heading home, we headed to Publix in search of the perfect pickles for pickle. If there’s anywhere you so don’t want to be on Thanksgiving Eve in Florida, it’s Publix. I avoided this dumpster fire by dropping my mom off at the door and parking. To be honest, I was more concerned with getting home so I could eat before heading to yoga.

Wednesday’s are my tight muscle mobility class at Open Heart Yoga studio. My teach is amazing. The class has been incredibly effective in opening up my body post Graves’ disease. In today’s class, I’m pretty sure I fell asleep 3-4 times while massaging my back with therapy balls. These balls are miracle works for tight muscles and soft tissue. You must try them.

I left my mat completely serene and ready to tackle my evening. Tonight’s beautiful sunset added to my serenity.  During class my mom has text me to let me know the Publix pickles were sub par and couldn’t be used to pickle roll ups. I got home and we headed to Earth Fare to see if they had any quality pickles, but that trip was unsuccessful. Thus, we headed back to Target where we found the perfect pickles. Plus if you haven’t gone to Target twice in a day, are you even living?

We made our way home to start are baking. I started working on my cheesecake while my mom began to prepare the pickle roll ups. My mom made quick work of the pickle roll ups while I plodded my way through baking the cheesecake. Fortunately, my mom helped me start the vegan pumpkin coconut soup that I made for my brother and I. I’m not currently vegan, but I know my body won’t tolerate too much of the traditional Thanksgiving food.

Our evening of baking, will finally be over in about an hour when the cheesecake can go in the oven. I’ll start my Thanksgiving where I start everyday: Dunkin’. We’ll then head to my brothers’ house to drop off the goodies before heading to the Mayor’s 11:00 am game.

It was just over a year ago I went through radiation to kill my thyroid. A year later, my thyroid levels are stable. I’m hopeful that the symptoms of Graves will abate in the next year (although it could be 1-3 years.) Unfortunately, my health is not where it was before I got sick, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. As I end my evening enjoying Agatha Christie’s Poirot, I am filled with gratitude for my family, my friends, healing and my life’s transitions.

Paradise Found

Paradise found indeed. Living in sunny South Florida you’d think we would live at the beach. Unfortunately, our busy work and hockey schedule has rendered the beach a foreign place. Today the kids and I joined my bro and his family along with my folks for a fun day at the beach.

To be clear, the beach is always beautiful. However, the conditions don’t always cooperate with your plans. Today was an absolute exception. First of all, it was cool with temps in the low to mid 70s with clear skies. Secondly, the water was calm, relatively warm for our out of town guests and the tide was low. It was paradise.

Unfortunately, I stayed out of the water since tendon is bothering me. Fortunately, the temperature was so pleasant I didn’t need to go into the water to cool off. I spent most of my time at the beach chatting with my dad, sister in law and her father. It was fabulous.

Meanwhile my older brother, niece, nephew and mom spent hours in the water enjoying the warm water. My Floridian boys and Jake’s girlfriend (who we adore) thought the water was a bit cool, but still managed to have fun with the family in the water. There was also plenty of beach soccer, football and volleyball. It was a great day.

I capped my day off with an incredible yoga class and Open Heart Yoga studio with Debbie. Her class is beyond divine. Tonight it was an hour and a half of per perfection. My body and soul relax and unite in paradise on my mat. The yin and restorative yoga classes are truly helping me rebuild my body, mind and soul after surviving a devastating year. Autoimmune diseases are no joke, but self care will be key in finding my path forward.

Today Was A Dream

Today was a dream of a day. Since I’ve left the corporate life behind me, I’ve been enjoying my time with the kiddos and family. It’s been amazing to be able to spend time with my family without worrying about professional repercussions.

Today was a dream day that started like most others: my yummy Dunkin in my hand and some quality time with Jake and the puppies. Ordinarily, I’d go for a run or rollerblading in the morning, but there was not time for that today. Plus my legs were sore from running two miles yesterday for the first time in months.

The weather was absolutely dreamy. Chilly in the morning and absolutely perfect, with almost no clouds in the sky, the rest of the day. It was the perfect day for lunch along the intracoastal waterway in Fort Lauderdale. One of my favorite hockey moms lives in Miami, so this was the perfect meeting place.

I hadn’t been to Blue Moon Seafood Co in ages, but it was just a good as I remembered. We started with some wine, baked brie and calamari. The baked brie was served like a cream puff on a pool of coconut cream and apple chutney. It was simply amazing! The calamari was just as good.

Our main courses, were just as scrumptious as the appetizers, but I forgot to take a picture before I started eating. Since I’m trying to minimize my gluten intake, I opted for the spinach and blackened shrimp salad. I’m not quite sure what happens in their kitchen, but it might be wizardry as that was the best salad I’ve ever had. Meanwhile, Jodi was enjoying their mahi mahi entree. Honestly, it almost felt like a crime for food this good to be but one get one free. Thankfully, it is two for one special, so I can afford to go back more often.

After lunch, we stopped at Dunkin to grab some coffee and talk shop. My girl has been using Melaleuca products for awhile and invited me to join. As many of you know, the past year has been a struggle as I’ve dealt with autoimmune thyroid disease. I’ve found that my body has grown increasingly sensitive to certain food and chemicals. I’ve been looking for a good option to replace some the products in my house and this was the perfect opportunity.

I actually placed my first order this evening and can’t wait for it to arrive. I’m hopeful that these beauty and household products won’t send my body into autoimmune hell. Standby for the product reviews.

Unfortunately, we had to cut coffee short as my parents plane was landing early – like way early. The jet stream was clearly in their favor today. Picking them up was quick albeit it took me awhile to find them. Usually they wait inside for us, but they decided to wait outside. My mom definitely made up for the airport snafu with the tumblers she picked up for as a Caribou. As you can imagine, anyway my parents come to town is a dream day.

Thankfully since their plane was early, I was able to make it home in time to make my 4:00 yoga class. I just joined Open Heart Yoga Studio in Boynton and it’s absolutely amazing. Wednesday’s class is all about loosening muscles and improving strength and mobility. If ever there was a class designed for me, it is this one. I simply love it. Fortunately, I was able to share the experience with my mom today. I knew it would be the perfect anecdote to the stiffness that comes with flying.

Our night ended with Sal’s pizza and family time. That’s right not only do I have my parents in town, I also had all three of my boys home tonight. It’s like a lunar eclipse of a blood moon it happens every 3,543 years. I’m just happy to have the family home especially since Jake leaves on 20 days for the Air Force. We even hit a landmark as the Mayor is finally taller than his Grandma. All in all, in the immortal words of Sponge Bob, “It was the best day ever!”

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Almost Friyay!

You know the best thing about Thursday is that it is almost Friyay!! I love Fridays. The day brings an air of satisfaction as it symbolizes yours survived the work week. Moreover, it signals that you’re about to indulge in the rest and relaxation that is the weekend…. And then I wake up, remember I’m a hockey mom and accept there’s no rest for the weary.

I’m back at Zumba this week, which feels amazing. There’s nothing better than being reunited with my girls. My recently injured tendons are handling it okay. It’s odd because Zumba doesn’t really bother my left posterior tibial tendon. However, it really bother my right tibial tendon. Of course, it is the opposite when I run. Unfortunately, neither side can seem to agree on which activity it can tolerate, which is beyond frustrating.

One thing that doesn’t bother my ankles, is aerial yoga. Unfortunately, the invasions haven’t been working so well this week due to major sinus congestion. In fact, they’ve been borderline painful with tons of pressure. I did, however, notice that afterward my sinuses felt clearer.

Tonight I had a plan in mind to help decompress my back while opening the sinuses. The first try didn’t go so well and was pretty uncomfortable. On the second try, I just screwed it all sorts of way and was able to gracefully fall out of the silk. Fortunately, I found great success with subsequent attempts. The key tonight was closing my eyes and concentrating on my breath as my body and sinuses became acclimated to the inversion. Success!

I’ve since eaten dinner, so there will be no more inversions for me tonight. However, I’m writing this post as I am laying in the silk swinging ever so gently. You can’t beat it!

Before settling into the silk, I headed upstairs to see Hammy the Hamsters new and more secure digs. Much like our chameleon, she made a break for it over the weekend while we were at hockey. When Goalielocks discovered she was missing, he let out a trill of a sound that was unintelligible

Upon hearing this confounding noise, I quickly headed upstairs to see what was wrong. I quickly realized he was in hysterics as Hammy and escaped. He, of course, was convinced that she was dead and gone, but I had hope.

I had a gut feeling that she was in the Mayor’s room finding and I was right. It took 3 of us 20 minutes to lure her out, but we were successful. Goalielocks put her back in the cage and put books over it, so she couldn’t escape. Meanwhile, I had the foresight to have all the doors closed and items placed underneath the door, so she couldn’t get out of his room.

Unfortunately, no more than 24 hours later, the escape artist had escaped again! We were back to hysterics. This time she hadn’t made it out of Goalielocks’ room. She had stashed a lot of food and herself in the tiny space behind his armoire. With the help of Hubby, he was able to get her back into her cage. Since she had escaped twice in a short span of time, we moved her to a smaller cage with much less space between the bars.

Fortunately for Hammy, her new cage arrived tonight and she is loving life. She’s got plenty of space and activities to do. Meanwhile, we’re thrilled because she can’t sneak out of this cage.

We’ve had a hell of a week between colds, sinus infections, escaping hamsters and almost surgeries. I am definitely looking forward to relaxing this weekend and catching up on some rest. Well, at least when I’m not at the hockey rink…..

Back At It

After skipping the 5:30 am class on Wednesday, due to a sinus headache and running on CST, I was back at it this morning!  I know, I know those of you that know me are in a state of shock that I’ve made it to not 1, but 3 5:30 am classes in the last week.  The truth of the matter is I feel much better during the day when I log an early workout.  I think more clearly, I have more energy and the endorphin rush lasts most of the day. #winning

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Tomorrow I’ll be back at Burn for a 30/30 class, which is a combination of spin and a circuit class.  Honestly, for me it is the perfect balance of cardio and strength training.  Moreover, the 30 minute spin session is much easier on the tendinitis.  Since I re-joined Burn in October, I couldn’t be happier with the results.  I’ve been taking Barre, Yoga, Aerial Yoga, Circuit Burn, Power Burn and Spin classes at the gym.  I’ve been a cardio queen for much of my adult life, but thanks to my awesome instructors at Burn I’ve gotten a lot stronger. I couldn’t have imagined being able to do one-legged planks and crunches on the TRX when I started.  Now I can do them with relative ease – thanks Adam!

I wrote about the glamorous mom life that many of us lead.  As a hockey mom, I don’t have the luxury of being able to go everyday or every weekend.  For example, last weekend we were in Chicago, so I planned my workouts accordingly. This way I was able to maximize my time in the gym before heading north.  This week isn’t much different with games on both days.  Consequently, Sunday will be my rest day as it is also a travel day.  Meanwhile Saturday morning I plan on enjoying circuit burn before heading to the Mayor’s hockey game.  Since I was up early this morning and plan on getting up early tomorrow, I’m off to bed.

Tonight’s song performed by Santana – Ft. Rob Thomas is “Smooth.”

Realities of Mom Life

The realities of mom life aren’t nearly as glamorous as Gloria from Modern Family would have you believe.  In fact, they can be quite the opposite of glamorous unless you include cleaning up vomit in your definition of glamorous.  I know I don’t!  In the 18.5 years of motherhood, I’ve learned the key to motherhood is the learning to be agile in your planning and expectations.

While I would love to have nice things and perfectly clean house, I’ve found with three boys in the house it is darn near impossible.  When the boys were younger, we removed all of the toys and furniture from our upstairs loft.  At the time, and still to this day, my boys use the space as their mini hockey rink.  Yeah, it’s crazy.  Yeah, there’s damage to the walls and floor.  I mean, who doesn’t love when the kids take permanent markers to their new wood floors?  But you know what, my boys have had a blast spending their days/nights playing mini-hockey.  Moreover, it is much better than video games.  As a mother, you quickly learn which battles to fight and which ones to let go.

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I always have high ambitions for my weekends. I’m going to go to the gym, run all my errands, hang our with friends, organize my closet, etc.  The reality is again I have to be agile in my expectations and planning.  My plan may be a bit grandiose given my hockey mom schedule.  While the reality of what I’m able to accomplish, in my own mind, is quite paltry compared to my ambitions.  I guess when my kids reach 18, I’ll have time for all of those grandiose plans.

Moreover, this weekend in Chicago I had hoped to see downtown and eat relatively well.  I can’t say that ate completely poorly, but Giordano’s -while amazing- is not anti-fat ass compliant.  Fortunately, we only ate there two out of the four days.  As for the sight seeing, our hockey schedule simply didn’t allow for it.  I had planned to do this Monday before heading to the airport, but this plan was derailed by both boys’ teams making the semi-finals. It wouldn’t have been nice to see downtown, but truth be told I’d rather be watching my boys at the hockey rink.

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While we were in Chi-town, the hubby installed the yoga silk.  Initially, I had envisioned that I’d be the only one using it while the rest of my family made fun of me for it.  Oh how I was wrong.  Surprisingly, my younger two boys (in particular) love doing inversions in the silk, swinging on the silk and laying back in the silk relaxing.   I’m not mad that they love it, but I’m definitely going to need to buy another silk for the house.  I had hoped that the boys would use it post-hockey practice to help decompress their backs while opening their chest and shoulders.  Thankfully, they’re doing this, but I think they want to live in it.

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Meanwhile it was back to work for me with a sinus headaches courtesy of the cold weather and flights.  Fortunately, I only came back to 1,000 emails.  That made for a fun morning. Truly, it was nice to be back at work and back into our regular routines.  My body was clearly still on CST as I woke up way later than I had hoped.

We’re back to a daily song and tonight’s song performed by The Cranberries is “Dream.”  I was devastated to read that we had lost yet another amazing musician, Dolores O’Riordan, from my formative years.  One of the first albums I bought was The Cranberries album Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?.  It was also an album that both my dad and I were really into.  For me, it was one of the first times my dad’s and my musical tastes aligned on music.  Of course, now it is a much different story with a lot of my musical preferences heavily influenced by my dad.

Priorities

Priorities – everybody has them, but we’re not always effective in prioritizing our lives or sticking to those priorities.  At the beginning of every new year, people around the world set resolutions and intentions for the forthcoming year.  Consequently, in January that gym is absolutely full.  Not to worry fellow gym rats, in the coming months the crowd will thin out.

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The beautiful thing about priorities, when executed right, is that they help keep us on track while living a fulfilling life.  For example, when you make fitness a priority, your more likely to carve at time (even if it is at 5:30 am) for our workout.  This year I’ve  committed to getting stronger.  In order to make that happen, I have to accept that the 5:30 am workouts are here to stay.  With my work schedule and the boys hockey schedule, the early morning workouts are key to meeting my goals.

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I went to spin this morning, which was fabulous.  Of course, it was miserable getting out of bed at 5:00 am, but it was well worth the short term misery.  Since I’ve worked out early morning the last two days, I’ve noticed my mornings at work are much smoother and I’m much happier.  Moreover, I’m more mentally alert.   The only drawback is by early afternoon I desperately need coffee or I’ll fall asleep.

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Post work, I headed over to Burn for aerial yoga with Monica.  Honestly, its a bit more complicated since I have to wear sneakers all the time.  I have to confess that I did take them off for the inversion part of the practice.  Aside from that I had to worry about my sneakers getting caught up on the mat or the hammock.  Like the other classes I’ve taken this week, I had to modify to accommodate my legs.  Confession time: it is super hard to take a decent selfie upside down, but I sure had fun trying!

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Despite the sneaker and tendon issues, aerial yoga was a complete blast.  We had a great crew tonight and shared lots of laughs.  Truly, I love the way the inversions feel in aerial yoga.  Its truly like a weight has been lifted off your back and shoulders.  Each week in class, I can feel myself getting stronger and stronger, which is awesome.  When I first started aerial yoga, I struggled to do a pike.  Now I can do ten pikes without struggling.  There’s nothing better than seeing yourself progress in your practice from week to week.  Its a great feeling!

Tonight’s song performed by Linkin Park is “Castle of Glass.”

Brilliant Combinations

When it comes to brilliant combinations, you may not think about designer dressed with sneakers.  Since I’m unable to wear heels or any other shoes except for tennis shoes, I’ve had to pair my BCBG dresses and nice jackets with my kicks.  Now I love my Asics, they’re the best running shoes around.  I just don’t love the dress and kicks look.

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It is reminiscent of when I worked in the insurance industry in Minnesota.  In the winter, I would wear boots or somewhat sensible shoes into the office.  Consequently, when I got to the office, I’d put on my stilettos.  Stilettos on the ice are a sure-fire way to break your back, hip or head.  Fortunately, there’s no ice or snow to contend with here.  Unfortunately, that just makes my shoes look like a grand fashion faux pas.  I have to keep reminding myself it is only temporary.

Last night, I went to spin class, which my tendons tolerated pretty well.  Admittedly, I had to modify my ride to accommodate the injury.  For example, instead of going into 2nd or 3rd, I would stay in the saddle.  I was able to ride in 2nd position for a while, but I had to be judicious about it because too much time or resistance in that position resulted in discomfort.

Tonight I went to yoga.  Let me tell you, yoga in running shoes is pretty darn clunky.  It would have been hard to do a flow class in my kicks.   I found that I couldn’t get into my arm balances as my shoes kept getting caught up in the mat.  Oh well, it is a small price to pay for fully recovered tendons (hopefully soon!)  Fortunately, my instructors at Burn have been amazing in helping me modify moves in the classes to protect my legs.  Rather than do a flow class, Monica led an amazing stretch class.  It was exactly what I needed.

Since I’m headed to Chi-Town on Friday, I’m trying to get some great workouts in before I go.   My new year’s resolution was to start attending the 5:30 am classes at Burn.  Thus far, I’m 0-3.  After tomorrow morning, I intend to be 1-3.  Tomorrow morning is a circuit burn class, which is the same class I attend on Saturdays.  My teacher, Amanda, is freaking phenomenal.  Not only does she make sure we’re all maintaining our forms, she’s quick to provide modifications for those of us nursing injuries.  It makes a huge difference!  I’ll let you know tomorrow night if I was able to get up at 5:00!

Lastly, we’re almost ready for Chicago.  The last of our winter wear should arrive yesterday.  I’m so looking forward to spending some quality time with Goalielocks and the Mayor.   Moreover, I looking forward to seeing my bestie Jenny and hanging out with my fabulous hockey parents.  As we held our poses tonight, I was reflecting on how lucky we are to have so many amazing people in our lives.  We’re truly blessed.   The photos I’ve included on the blog are from three of my favorite hockey trips: Ottawa, Peewee Quebec and Minneapolis.

Tonight’s song performed by Shakira at her Paris concert is a “Nothing Else Matters/Despedida” medley.  As an aside, “Nothing Else Matters” is one of my absolute favorite songs.  I loved watching this clip from her concert and witness the universal nature of a great song.  It is awesome hearing the audience sing along to it.