Saturday, December 30, 2017

Rhythm Divine

A beautiful Irish blessing I found painted on The John Lennon Wall in Prague, Czech Republic:
"May the best of your past be the worst of your future."<3
Since the onset of what has turned into a running career, this year has by far been my worst. In nine years of running, this is the first year where there's been no improvement, in fact there's been quite the regression. I was minutes off my PRs in every distance, most notably a near 20 minutes off at the masochistic disaster which was the Columbus Marathon this fall. Despite a sprained ankle that had me temporarily side-lined last spring and a respiratory bacterial infection after my travels in the summer, I’ve been healthy. It wasn’t due to a lack of effort, or any dramatic changes in my training from years past. So, what was the culprit behind the demise of my running success in 2017? The answer is easy: the “feel” was missing. What is the “feel,” and how do you get a hold of it? Well, it’s complicated, but I will try to explain it as best as I can based on what I’ve learned about “feel” this year.

Prior to leaving for my excursions this summer, I was overwhelmed with what I initially thought was travel anxiety. I had to force a smile when asked if I was excited for my trips, because on the inside I was dealing with what I can best describe as a deep feeling of emptiness of which I couldn't control despite my best efforts. Before my Eastern Europe trip early last June, battling these feelings I couldn't quite wrap my head around, I sat outside the departure gate in the CLE airport contemplating whether I should share my pending experiences or quietly go off the grid for a few weeks abroad. It wasn’t until I wandered through the international portion of the JFK airport, filled with more culture and diversity than I’ve ever been exposed to in my 34 years of living, that the “feel” began to be ignited and I knew this trip was bigger than me. Prior to my trip to Ireland at the end of last July, I experienced similar feelings of emptiness, and was nonsensically bawling in tears to my brother the night before I was to leave. Once again, this deep sensation followed me through to the airport; I had to suck in the tears as each person I encountered lit up as I told them I was heading to Ireland. It wasn’t until an extremely talkative, enthusiastic gentlemen sitting next to me on my connecting flight asked if I was going home when he snooped on my ticket stub and saw Dublin. It was a bit invasive and irritating, and no sooner than I sat down next to the overly gregarious guy did I wish to be sat somewhere else, but with his simple question, the “feel” inside me was ignited, and I once again knew with certainty that this trip was also bigger than me.

Despite these seemingly empty beginnings, my travels this summer were loaded with countless moments of “feel." One particularly special “feel” moment came while travelling through Eastern Europe during a stop we made in the beautiful, peaceful city of Bratislava in Slovakia, one of the many places in my travels of which I have ancestry. As we were being introduced to the city and its layout, I heard the song Rhythm Divine by Enrique Iglesias blasting from a restaurant. Why old-school, Spanish Enrique was playing in Eastern Europe I have no clue, but immediately, my mind flew backwards in time to 2000, when I was wandering through a music store in Madrid, Spain. It was a multi-floored music store, and in this store I purchased the CD to Enrique’s album. I listened to this CD on loop endlessly on my Discman on my spring break trip throughout Spain and France, a trip I managed to self-finance as a highly motivated, hard-working 17 year old in love with a world I had yet to see but was deeply driven to discover. There is little I remember from my trip to Spain and France, in fact my memory of climbing to the top of the Eiffel Tower, one of the most iconic structures in the world, is completely gone, so much so that re-experiencing the breathtaking beauty atop the Tower last summer brought back nothing; sadly enough, it was as if I’d never been there before. How that is possible, I do not know, and to be completely honest, my amnesia is both confounding and terrifying. But in this particular moment, seventeen years later, listening to Enrique blare through the quaint Slovakian streets at 11 o’clock in the morning, my memory of my life changing Spain and France trip could not have been more vivid; the “feel,” although hard to put in words, immediately rushed backed to me. It was a moment of pure joy, where the years of my life seemed to collide, where time didn’t seem to exist, serving as proof that although many of the details have escaped my memory, my high school spring break trip to Spain and France profoundly defined who I was and who I am meant to be. In that moment, I knew with absolute certainty that I was exactly where God intended me to be. 

Somewhere near the "Rhythm Divine" in Slovakia this summer. <3

Life over the years has had me err on the side of stoic, so it is fair to say that all of this "feel" was quite the awakening. God has blessed me immensely leading me abroad, and although they began empty, the “feel” I gained in both Eastern Europe and Ireland were truly soul deep. It was the "feel" from Eastern Europe that led me to Ireland, and the "feel" from Ireland that has left me with a complex “feel” of what I can best describe as a cultural identity crisis: a “feel” of confusion but also of intense clarity, a "feel" of individualism but also of deep connection, a “feel” that is raw and authentic, a nakedness from all the layers and labels that conceal my true self. This “feel” has taught me a great deal, much of which is difficult to put into words, but I can say that from this “feel” my view of “home” has changed. Since graduating college back in 2005, finding a “home” is something I’ve struggled with. I’ve moved many times, and now that my family is growing and my siblings are starting families of their own, I often feel lost in my place. God has me on a separate journey that I don’t yet fully understand, but I’m trying to stay close to Him and do His will, no matter how challenging it may be or how often I erroneously veer away from His path. I now see “home” as more of a concept, rather than a physical place; I do not believe our permanent “home” is here on Earth. Until we get to our true “home,” I believe we need to rest on “feel” and trust in it. I believe it is through “feel” that God helps us to live through this life, and gives us hints as to what we will be going "home" to in the next: an eternal life filled with absolute peace, love, and joy. My pre-travel emptiness I could not fully understand at the time, but I'm thinking that perhaps this was God’s way of emptying me out, making me an empty vessel ready to be filled. Perhaps I needed to be emptied to truly let go and make the most of a journey already laid out for me. 

For all of us, I believe that the “feel” is different. It transcends our bodies, our minds, and even our hearts, but somehow unifies the three, enabling us to overcome insurmountable odds and find meaning in our lives. It is timeless, mystically connecting past, present, and future. It is that tickle inside that makes us giggle at inappropriate moments, bringing light to hard times. It is in the nostalgia that helps us hold on to all of those special people, places, and moments we encounter along our busy, tumultuous life journeys. It is that spark, that chemistry, deep in our soul when we fall in love with the right person or learn about that great opportunity. It is in the miraculous mystery of the Holy Eucharist at Mass. It is in the beauty of art, music, writing and other forms of expression, the things we do that we love. It is the courage we get to stand up for what’s right, regardless of the circumstances. It is the strength we need to push through physical and mental challenges, whatever they may be, despite all of our imperfections. It is what carries us to keep going even after we fall, to do the impossible. Looking back on my life and this year in particular, I firmly believe that this “feel” is something divine. A Rhythm Divine. I am faithful that it is the Holy Spirit residing in each and every one of us, like a caged bird singing, hoping to be let out, and I believe it is up to us to faithfully open the cage.

With all this said, I’m not sure we can control where the “feel” is directed. We have to be cautious that we don't let our own expectations, or those the world puts on us, silence the "feel," as more than often, it surprises us in exciting, unexpected ways and is usually not aligned with our plans. I can say with absolute certainty that the “feel” was not aligned with my running this year; it was redirected in other areas intended for me to grow in ways that running couldn’t fill for me. As for next year, I’m still trying to figure out the “feel,” but I know that it has once again been directed towards global travel. This particular “feel” began last January, on a blustery, cold Saturday night while sitting in the Cedar Lee movie theater in my all-time favorite CLE neighborhood watching the movie Lion (it is a beautiful, miraculous true story, be sure to see it if you haven’t already). While watching this movie, deep in my soul, I felt, “I gotta get to India.” Later that week, I learned about a program through the US State Department that gives teachers the opportunity to travel abroad and connect the world with their classrooms. Although you can only select regions of the world that meet your preference and you cannot choose your ultimate destination, something about the entire experience connected to me and sparked a drive in me; I felt deeply that no matter the odds, I needed to apply for this opportunity. And so I did, printing my completed application so I would not need to re-write my essays if I needed to re-apply the following year. And at the end of last June, after five months of waiting and many prayers for patience and acceptance of whatever was in God’s plan for me, I learned that I was accepted into the program. I was elated, overloaded with emotion, beyond humbled, and filled with utter disbelief. To be honest, it is easier for me to accept and rationalize rejection, and it can be more difficult to accept and understand my worthiness for gifts of such immense greatness. I was also nervous for the next steps, which included a 10 week online course for this fall, as I am highly involved in my school, but after earning a Master’s degree while teaching a few years back, I knew it was possible although extremely difficult. The "feel" was there ever so strong, but never the less, I was nervous. In addition to being a highly committed member of my continuously growing family, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to balance it all, and the potential for the embarrassment of failure was heavily dangling in my mind like an ongoing pendulum in motion.

It was most certainly an intensive, challenging 10 weeks, in more ways than I expected, and that pendulum heavily dangled in mind up until the submission of my final assignment. But the course was filled with “feel,” deeply connected to who I am as a person and as an educator, and so I was able to give it my best and successfully make it through. I learned a great deal from the rich, multitude of elements embedded into the course, growing both professionally and personally, and was able to infuse what I learned into my classroom and school, and have plans to do much more into the future. And at the course’s conclusion, plus a week and a day waiting period that felt like three and a half billion years, and after many prayers for patience and acceptance of whatever was in God’s plan for me, I received the news of a dream come true: I’M GOING TO INDIA! I can hardly contain my anticipation, and after a few nights of intermittent sleep due to overwhelming excitement and disbelief, I’m finally coming to terms with this incredible gift as a reality. My soul is on fire and I feel blessed beyond what my words will allow me to express; I can’t help but “feel” that this must be destiny!

A Christmas gift from a dear friend, colleague, and role model who has helped to put the whole world in my hands. I can't believe I'm making my way to this part of the globe! 

With all the excitement ahead for 2018, I’m not sure I’ll have enough “feel” to carry me through training for a marathon. After Columbus in October, I took a month off from running, and have spent the past month running every other day with long runs on the weekends. Even with time off, my knees are still feeling pretty sensitive as they have for some time now. There’s no real pain, but they definitely feel worn; I’m thinking it's patellar tendonitis. I am not planning to run a marathon this spring, but will likely run a few half marathons if my knees and all else are okay. Although I was thinking of running NYC next fall, I’m starting to feel unsure if I want to make the commitment after receiving the exciting news about India. I was also thinking of running an international marathon, but now that is definitely not happening in 2018. I will need to make a decision on NYC over the next week, and will be praying to make the decision aligned with whatever God’s will is for me, because who knows, I just may be destined to pull off a Shalane Flanagan (in my own, much slower/non-elite, right)! 

This has been quite the year, for better and for worse, but loaded with blessings and "feel" as part of a plan bigger than me. Coincidentally enough, in the midst of my travels this summer, my Mom dug up a report I completed on my ancestry back in 1997 when I was in the 8th grade; 20 years later, I visited every single country in that report! Even more coincidentally, I left out Croatia from my report, and that is the only country of origin that I didn’t make it to this summer. It is a very odd coincidence, but as Einstein said, coincidences are God’s way of remaining anonymous.  It is a very powerful “feel” of “home” travelling to countries of which you have ancestry, and I hope to make it to my last destination, Croatia, someday. There is so much I have yet to learn, and if anything became evident from my trips this summer, it is that my passion for adventure seeking goes deep into my genome; I must admit that I have some pretty bold, curious, courageous ancestors! My Croatian Great-Grandmother, widowed after my Great-Grandfather died in World War I, left the comfort of her home to bring my young Grandpa Pavicic to America, an unknown place where they didn’t speak the language or have any familiarity. My Irish-Canadian Grandpa Scully, who was raised on a farm and didn’t even have a completed high school education, came to America by train with his brother, earned his US citizenship by serving in the air force during World War II, and successfully built a great career in sales. Despite the uncertainty and the vast unknowns, they were committed to making a wonderful life for their children and all the generations to come. These are just two examples of why I am so proud of my DNA and "feel" a deep sense of responsibility to live my life to fullest, but I could go on, and my sentiments are confirmed by science! According to the book I’m currently reading called Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst written by the brilliant and witty Robert Sapolsky, who is a Stanford biologist and neurologist, 23% of Europeans and European Americans have a gene mutation linked to novelty seeking, extroversion, and impulsivity. After 35 year of adventures in living as no one else but me, and after all I’ve learned recently about my ancestors, I have to say that I “feel” 99.9% certain that I have inherited this mutation. <3

Life is GOOD; I'm going to try hard to let go, trust God's plan, let the "feel," aka the Rhythm Divine, take over, and we shall see what 2018 has in store!  I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and Holiday season. I wish all a wonderful New Year filled with growth, surprises, newness, and excitement, and as the Irish say, may the best of your past be the worst of your future! :-)

<3 MP :-)
My 8th Grade Nations of Origin report uncovered this summer...
...completed 20 years before I'd make it to every.single.country I studied!

Bangs and Pre-Braces. :-D Thank God for Trista Carter and Dr. Scotese! <3








Friday, December 29, 2017

MP's 2017 Reading List

Below is a list of books I've read this year for a variety of reasons. Some books I read out of curiosity from a historical period, some because they were suggested them to me, others because they looked appealing on the shelves of Barnes and Noble. With that said, please note that this is not a list of recommendations. Also note that I felt compelled to write reviews for some, and not others, but this is not indicative of preference over the others.

1. A Dog's Purpose

2. Diary of an Oxygen Thief

3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

4. Brave New World
  • Picked up a Brave New World for a little science fiction entertainment, not expecting powerful spiritual enlightenment!  Suffering, instability, confronting temptation, courage, heart-ache, seeking more purpose from life than our own temporary happiness, perhaps this is part of what Christ is teaching us through the Passion. "But I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want goodness. I want sin." Amazing, imaginative (definitely "out there"), contemplative, beautifully written book I have to highly recommend!
5. Mere Christianity
  • I love C.S. Lewis and highly recommend Mere Christianity to all, regardless of your faith. The week following reading this book, there seemed to be a flood of amazing things that happened and encounters that have left me feeling enlightened and empowered, which perhaps I would have overlooked or viewed as inconsequential prior to reading his book. It's simple, conversational, common sense in tone; he explains his views with humility and without forceful, threatening preaching. Good, insightful words for the soul in troubling times. "Give up yourself, and you will find your real self." Extremely grateful to have stumbled by this one! 

6. The Case for Constructivism

7. Calm My Anxious Heart

8. The Book of Joy
  • Love your neighbor as you love yourself; remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. Book of Joy is a must-read, but a slow, reflective one. Beautiful life perspectives from the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Tutu, and the author/witness Douglas Abrams who's trying to make sense of it all.
9. Evicted
  • Poverty is so complex, it's hard to distinguish cause from effect. It's easy to blame the system, or to chalk up it to individual responsibility, but the truth is if you haven't lived it, you can't truly know it or proclaim a justifiable opinion. But, we can better understand it. When a brilliant mind is paired with a good, courageous heart, projects like that of Matthew Desmond's Evicted, a first-hand account of the lives of American families living in extreme poverty, can open our understanding, and in doing so, change our world.  There's so much I didn't know about the housing crisis for the poor in urban cities (including CLE), and the landlords who are making huge profits (in some cases net gains in the millions) off their tragic living conditions until reading his book. It's not an easy read, and what I have learned has weighed heavy on my heart throughout my cozy spring break, but it has already had a tremendously positive impact on the way I see the part of our world more easily ignored. I'm not sure what the best solution is to these deep, horrific problems, but I truly believe that kindness can go a long way. Acting with kindness does not mean ignoring wrong-doings, systematic or individual, or pitying the less fortunate with our guilt of privilege. But rather, through kindness, we can acknowledge the universal rights we all have as human beings trying to make it through one day and on to the next, we can accept that any knowledge we have of the life of someone we do not know as superficial, we can seek to understand the world from perspectives different than our own, we can pray, and most importantly, we can try not to be jerks to each other. Through simple acts of kindness, I truly believe the solutions we are searching for will emerge in each of us, and in doing so, we can ALL have the opportunity to live good, meaningful lives, and together we can sustain our world as a good, peaceful, beautiful place. Kindness is not an ideal, but rather a simple solution that can conquer a complex problem.
10. Jesus: The Pilgrimage
  • I have to highly recommend Jesus: A Pilgrimage, a book I've been reading slowly and delayed finishing, as it is one of the most beautiful, authentic biographical journeys I've ever read. It is written by Father James Martin, a brilliant, insightful, interesting, humble Jesuit priest (and very real person) you may know as one of the commentators from the CNN documentary series Finding Jesus (which I also highly recommend). He beautifully, honestly, and precisely describes his understanding of the complex duality of Jesus' humanity (because Jesus was a very real person, who sneezed, got the stomach flu, had friends, felt hungry, cried, laughed, suffered, just like you and me) and his divinity (because Jesus is God, performed miracles, lived without sinning, and rose from the dead, unlike you and me) through the story of his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, his depth of understanding of the gospels, and upon reflecting and sharing his own life experiences (he was a corporate business man before coming a priest). To know Jesus is a true gift, and for me personally, an ongoing journey. This book has shed so much light for me on that which can be difficult to comprehend but worth seeking to understand nonetheless, and further enriched the relationship I work towards continuously building with God. It will inspire and enlighten all, regardless of faith, and open the door of the life and love which is Jesus Christ, who understands our limitations and frailties, and accepts and loves us for exactly who we are anyway. Very sad to finish the book, but would be VERY happy to lend it to anyone interested! Just let me know.
11. Mother Teresa of Calcutta
  • "Mother Teresa would surely say, "Father, you don't need to travel to Armenia at all to discover Jesus," just as she often said, "You don't need to come to Calcutta at all to discover Jesus in the poorest of the poor. The poor are right there where you are, very often in your own families. Look for them, find them, and put your love for Jesus into a living action for them."" Her humble philosophy always puts so much into perspective for me. Find your Calcutta.
12. The Abolition of Man

13. When Breath Becomes Air

14. The Nightingale

15. The Boy on the Wooden Box

  • While wandering through what remains of the Jewish Ghetto in Krakow, looking for a bathroom along with bit of alone time before our final tour of the day began, I found a sweet little bookstore tucked in one of the buildings. Extremely intrigued by the complex contradictions that made Oskar Schindler, I made my way into the bookstore hoping to find a book connected to the area that would help me gain more perspective (as well as a bit of peace after an overwhelming day). Immediately drawn to this book, I grabbed it without confirming that more than the cover was written in English. Fortunately, it is in English, and it is one of the greatest gifts I could have been given from my Eastern European travels. Schindler is most certainly a hero, risking his own life to save nearly 1,200; but he isn't the only hero. Leon Leyson was one of the youngest on Schindler's "list," and after surviving the horror of the Holocaust and the struggles that followed, he kept private all he endured until he was discovered by a local reporter after the movie Schindler's List was released. His gentle humility, a man whose childhood was traded for oppression, torture, and starvation, is of a beauty and inspiration of which there are no words. Although he believes Schindler is the only one who had a choice, I wish I could let him know he did have a choice. The courage to live and fight for survival, for oneself and all the generations to come, in the worst of the worst circumstances, that is most certainly choice. I wish I could let him know that he, formerly Leib Lejzon, made a difference and did the best of things in the worst of times, is therefore by his own definition, a hero. I'd also like to give him a huge hug and thank him for being such an authentic, exceptional, beautiful teacher and human being. But, after living a long, wonderful life, his time came in 2013, and I can't do that. However, while reading the last chapters of his book, a large tree branch fell and nearly hit me, which I can only take as a sign of what I can do, which is share his story and offer to lend his book, The Boy on the Wooden Box, to anyone interested. It is not an easy read, but it is real in every essence of the word, and gives the perspective we all need to better understand the horror of a time unfathomable, and sheds light on the good that comes from strength, courage, and love. Inspiring and filled with humbling life lessons, his story is proof that life is always worth fight for.
16. Man's Search for Meaning
  • In continuation from my last post, I have to share these words that perfectly coincide with my sentiments on the choice made by the courageous and humble Leon Leyson, along with all the brave souls who suffered and fought through the Holocaust. Initially intended to be anonymous, these words come from the book, Man's Search for Meaning, written by the brilliant and brave Dr. Victor Frankl, a neurologist and psychiatrist who survived Auschwitz. Through this book, he shares his raw personal experiences along with deep reflections dissected from psychological, philosophical, and spiritual perspectives.  Hoping to give practical hope to all those enduring their own personal suffering, he decided to add his name to this gift to ensure credibility; the humility of Viktor and all of the survivors I've learned about is incomprehensible and just so beautiful. Powerful, honest, insightful, complex yet simple in meaning, he illuminates the darkness of the harsh truth of the Holocaust and explains that for all of us, in life, where there's a "why," there's a way, no matter the odds or circumstances. The time has come to close the chapter, for now, on this part of my travels, but the impressions, lessons, and memories will stay with me forever; I know that there's a lot left for me to do with all of this, I suppose my responsibility now is to move forward and figure it out! I am eternally grateful for the blessing of these life experiences; I promise to never forget to the best of my ability, to share what I learn with others, and to always have trust in God no matter the odds or circumstances. "When the impossibility of replacing a person is realized, it allows the responsibility which a man has for his existence and its continuance to appear in all magnitude. A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears towards a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the "why" for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any "how."-Viktor E. Frankl, survivor/hero
17. Uncle Tom's Cabin

18. The Narrative of Frederick Douglass

19. Pride and Prejudice

20. The Glass Castle
  • I've been skipping this book over for quite a while. Although intrigued, every time I'd pick it up, I'd immediately put it down. It seemed so heavy and a little too real; I just didn't want to go to there. Last weekend, looking for something raw and authentic, I finally took the plunge. As anticipated, it was difficult to read. Anxious for when life was going to get easy for the writer who lived a life of challenges simply unfathomable,  I couldn't put it down; I was waiting for the silver lining. And, well, in the last 30 pages of this book, I could hardly read the words because my eyes were flooded with tears. No book or movie has affected quite like this one. Through her writing, Jeannette Walls so eloquently shows that the imprint of love is deeper and more profound than all failings, imperfections, hardships, and wrong doings; even when we can't see the silver lining, it's there. Not an easy read, but one well-worth it and I have to highly recommend it to all.
21. Building a Bridge



Not listed are my many readings on Global Education. Message me if you happen to be interested in those readings. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

39 Forever

August 30, 2017


If you know my Dad, there's no doubt that you know very well that he's a talker. As kids, we knew that a trip to Marc's was never a quick trip, church on Sundays was a sort of social hour; he was always talking! It wasn't until recent years that I noticed something special in Dad's talking, a quality in him that defines who he is and the type of person I hope to be. Dad indiscriminately talks to everyone with sincerity and without condescension; through his talking, he has a gift of making everyone feel that they matter. It is no wonder that the elderly, the sick, people with special needs, children (in particular his 7 grandchildren who LOVE their Papa) are so drawn to him. Dad also talks beautifully in front of huge crowds; he may be the only person I know who truly enjoys public speaking. He does so without stuttering a word or losing focus, in fact he doesn't even need a prepared speech, because when he talks it is directly to people, right from his heart. He has a way of finding the perfect words in tough moments, those moments when everyone else is speechless, and has brought comfort and peace to many through his heart-felt words. 

Today, we had part 1 of our celebrations of my Dad's 70th birthday (part 2 is in two weeks!). We know he missed his cousin/best friend, who we all call Uncle Jess, who passed away over this past year; Dad made sure to wear the legendary "39 Forever" t-shirt he bought him for his 40th birthday. But don't be too sad, Dad, I'm sure he was there the entire time, talking away right next to you. We all love you, Dad, and are so grateful for all you do, for all your love, for the example you've set for us, and for the crazy, huge, beautiful family you've created. HAPPY 70th BIRTHDAY!!! #39Forever

December 5, 2017


Last night, we celebrated the birth of one of the best human beings most have ever met. This may sound exaggerated, and I may be slightly biased, but if you have the gift of knowing him, you know it’s true. As a brilliant scientist, the life of every party (the star of every wedding soul train), a 311-enthusiast (and all things 90s), a committed Cleveland sports fan, a coach of any sport where one is needed, an interest-free mover, a rational, logical thinker and informal therapist, a comedic genius,  an exceptional chef and host, a highly dedicated, loving, trustworthy son/father/brother/uncle/Godfather and everybody’s best friend, he is extremely multifaceted, to say the least. In fact, I’m sure I’ve left some things out, as he fills more roles and means a whole lot to more than he’ll ever know. I’m not sure there is anyone else on this planet so willing to put the needs of others before his own, not because he has to or because he expects anything in return, but rather by nature of who he is and who he chooses to be, quite like my big brother, Paul Pavicic, Jr, who celebrated his 40th birthday last night. Although he is social media-less and may never see this (and is too humble to accept any credit for who he is and the amazing gifts he’s given us all), the world should feel a bit brighter and happier today knowing a person of this caliber exists. Thank you, Paul, for choosing to live your 40 years with saint-like dignity, for challenging us all to be better people through your example, and for giving us reasons to keep going with a smile; you will forever be my hero. And a special thank you to @ampavicic for planning such a thoughtful, perfect celebration and for being such a wonderful, loving wife to my brother. 💜

Saturday, December 23, 2017

A Runnerella Story

Sunday, November 5, 2017


I’ve watched this girl set blistering, recording-setting paces for marathons, just to get caught in the end by her opponents. I’ve watched her hit the wall in the heat, but somehow pull through to the finish, collapsing at the finish line. A few weeks after the devastating Boston bombings in 2013, I crept up on her while she was casually running in the Nike Women’s 1/2 Marathon, LOL, because I wanted her to know how much she’s influenced me. She humbly thanked me and was so sweet to talk to; it was truly an honor to run next to her. She’s competing in an era tainted with corruption, and has collected medals retroactively after her opponents have tested positive for doping; I cannot imagine how extremely frustrating that must be. Just 9 months ago, she faced one of the most severe injuries of her career in the midst of her training and couldn’t make it back to Boston, her hometown race that means so much to her. Today, she proved that you can work really hard, you can do the right thing, you can have integrity, you can be honest, you can be kind, you can get injured, you can screw up, you can lose (repeatedly)...AND you can achieve great things on this Earth. Today, Shalane Flanagan fulfilled her dream and conquered the world, winning the NYC Marathon, a beautiful, inspiring moment, and a hopeful, positive example for all mankind. I feel so proud to be American, and so proud to be a marathon runner.

Columbus Marathon 2017

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Closing out my many, many rollercoaster miles in the 30-34 age group with marathon #14 tomorrow morning. I’m so extremely grateful to have once again made it here, energized and healthy, although the road hasn’t been easy. To be honest, at this point in my running career, I am so cautious to register for races, and even more cautious to share my plans, because of how fragile this gift can be. Running has forced me to accept that I am flawed, I am vulnerable, and I am not a machine. I am very, very human, and feel in my heart that tomorrow is a true blessing. I’ve been battling a serious case of the jitters over the past few days, but I am super excited to experience all this opportunity has in store for me. I plan to give it nothing but my very best, knowing that it’s all in God’s hands, and as said perfectly in the 2nd reading at Mass tonight, “I can do all things in him who strengthens me.” LET’S DO THIS, CBUS! 💜😇🏃‍♀️



Sunday, October 15, 2017

My expectations for this race were dichotomous, to say the least. Although Chi-Town last year went smoothly on limited training, it just hasn’t been the same this time around. But despite the struggle, I’ve made it through each workout and was hitting my paces. But the “feel” was missing. And so, I expected today to either be a break through PR, or a break down crawl to the finish. And, unfortunately, it was the latter. As soon as the gun went off, I had to use the restroom, and spent the first four miles contemplating (better yet, obsessing LOL) whether or not I should stop. I didn’t, and eventually the urgency passed, but by mile 6, my internal gas light went on. I was out of gas with 20 miles to go; my breathing was fine, nothing really hurt, but I just felt like I had a 15 lb weight attached to each leg. I really, really, really wanted to drop out, but at that moment I understood why, “I can do all things in him who strengthens me,” was not only in the readings at Mass last night, but written on a group of runners’ t-shirts who lined up near me at the start line. I didn’t drive down here to wimp out; I was going to finish what I started, no matter how slow and ugly. And it was slow, and ugly, and I just couldn’t connect with the course. To be completely honest, counting on high-fives from the sweet kids serving as Nationwide Hospital patient ambassadors was what kept me going. I read all their bios before the race, and they were like little celebrities to me; I made it my goal to give each kid a high-five, a big smile, and a “THANK YOU!” no matter how much I was hurting, and that’s what got me through. With that said, this wasn’t a failure; marathons are unpredictable and don’t get easier with experience, and this is one of the many reasons why I love them so much and am so grateful for each opportunity I get to run them. With all things considered, (plus it was humid and windy), I’m proud that I finished my 14th marathon and earned the heaviest marathon medal EVER. I can hardly wear it bc it’s literally weighing me down right now, LOL, but it will serve as a tangible reminder for me that no matter how heavy life can be, if you stay close to God and remain faithful, there’s nothing you can’t get through. 

Thank you to all who came out to support us, was great to see many former students and friends out there, and a special thank you to the brave kids from Nationwide Hospital for giving me the power to make it through to the finish line today. 

Looking forward to a break and easy miles until I heal and get the “feel” back, and to be able to enjoy my favorite time of year! 💜



A few days later...




This is somewhere in the last 10k of the marathon. I honestly couldn't tell you which specific mile, but I can tell you that underneath that smile is a whole lot of pain, exhaustion, and embarrassment. It took everything in me to stay vertical and forward in motion, despite how badly I just wanted to lay down. I was running a pace well-over 2:30min/mi the goal race pace I had trained for, but a sluggish shuffle forward was the best I could give. With so many talented runners walking on the side lines, it was tempting to give in to the pain, but I knew if I stopped, I'd never be able to power through a marathon again once I allowed quitting to become an option. Even worse, I knew it'd translate into other life challenges that require pushing and forward movement in tough circumstances, no matter how painful, exhausting, or embarrassing they may be. I wasn't injured, but rather had hit “the wall,” and I couldn't submit to quitting, and so for the sake of my running future and all the other challenges in my life, I forced myself to keep going. And I did. And, in this moment, I chose to make the most of it, and had fun with the camera guys. In a state of what was likely delirium, LOL, I cheered, smiled, and laughed, and the guy next to me did, too, I'm sure for many of the same reasons. 

Perhaps if this marathon had been a day later with cooler, less turbulent temps, it would have been a different race, the other end of my expectation dichotomy. Who knows? It just could have been! And that's the beautiful challenge of the marathon, you truly never know what you're going to get; you have to accept it, maintain faith, do your best, and move on. I'm definitely feeling that anticlimactic feeling I've felt many times before, a need to release the potential that got locked up on the course in Columbus this day, but it will be some time before I let it out. With so many other challenges in my life right now, and a bit of on-off tendititis in my knee, it's time to take any type of training off my plate for the foreseeable future. Once 2018 comes around, I'll start making plans. I’m thinking about making another appearance in NYC next fall, and I'm also considering combining my passion for global travel with running, and just may make plans to run an international marathon! Just going to pray on it, look for opportunities, find what inspires me, and follow my heart. 💜

Happy FINALLY Fall, everyone! 💖



Akron 1/2 Marathon 2017

Saturday, September 23, 2017

I love Akron because it challenges me. It forces me to stay present and focus on each mile, to let go of miles that were tough and keep hanging on, to fly when I feel good, and to stay positive when four letter words start popping into my head, the worst of course being QUIT.  Yes, the weather was warm, yes, it's a tough course, and yes, I forgot to hit "start" on my Garmin and lost track of my first two miles, but despite it I put forth the effort and tried running strong. I kept telling myself that it was going to be tough no matter what pace I ran, and tried really hard to hang on and not get too discouraged by my mile splits. And, well, I hung on...and crossed the finish line with one of my slowest half marathon times in years. Over four minutes off my Akron 1/2 course PR. I'm disappointed and feeling a bit deflated (and frustrated: tried cheering myself up with Starbucks, just to get home and discover that they made me the wrong sandwich! 😏)But, I do know from all the peaks and valleys of my running career, that the effort is what truly matters; I know this race made me stronger and better prepared for my next race (and I can get my sandwich another time...and will double check it's the right one!). I just need to focus on maintaining a stronger tempo pace, regain confidence, and I know that the results will eventually match my effort! I'm still wavering a bit on a marathon this fall, but I'm going to keep training and as long as I'm healthy and have the time, I just may do it! CONGRATS to all Akron finishers, in particular the 26.2ers, you guys are AMAZING! 😁




My Akron 1/2 Marathon official time: 1:34:18, 7:12min/mi (lost miles 1 and 2 on my Garmin 🤷‍♀️)

A few days later...




I got up at 4:30 am on a Saturday morning and paid a lot of money to look like this. LOLLLLLL! 🤣 But in all seriousness, after a few days to reflect and wring out all the emotion, I have to admit that this race was really good for me and has me feeling extra grateful for the gift of running. No matter how good, bad, or ugly, every race gives me the opportunity to put myself to the test, both physically and mentally, and no matter the outcome, I learn a whole lot and I grow. Everything in my life just seems to make more sense through running, and as I feel myself getting older, I'm reminded by life that I won't be able to do this forever. So, for this race and all it's lessons, although it wasn't pretty, I  am very grateful and know I'm truly blessed. 💜😇"My mama always said you got to put the past behind you before you can move on. And I think that's what my running was all about."~Forrest Gump



River Run 1/2 Marathon 2017

Sunday, September 10, 2017

These past 4 weeks of training have been difficult. I came home from Ireland to a jam-packed schedule with no time for R&R, but figured I'd get caught up with a few early nights to bed. And, well, there just didn't seem to be enough time for those early nights. And, to make the jet lag worse, I came down with a bacterial infection called H-flu (that was detected unintentionally through blood work done for a physical exam, thanks to my guardian angel) that wreaked havoc on my respiratory tract. I was cured thanks to antibiotics, but then the antibiotics took their turn on my colon (I'll save you from those details LOL). Then, my Garmin of 7 and a half years bit the dust; that little watch, bought for me by @momma.kp, means a whole lot to me. I was heart-broken. 

Two weeks ago, after an awful long run followed by a tempo run cut short a few days later, both thanks to my angry colon, frustrated and exhausted, I was ready to throw in the towel for this fall; it was just too much with everything else going on and I couldn't rationalize sticking it out. But then I started thinking of all the reasons running makes happy, and my mind immediately went to one of my favorite fall races, the River Run 1/2 Marathon. Knowing it wouldn't be my best run, I decided to give it a try and focus on at least hanging on to marathon pace, while relaxing and enjoying the pretty scenery. And what a great decision the race was! It was a beautiful, cool morning, and although my mile splits were terrible and I struggled to hang on towards the end, I averaged well-below where I was hoping and managed to finish in 1:31:24. Not a perfect race, not a P.R., but it pushed me and is something I can definitely work off from. 

I never seem to lose my endurance with my time off, but strength and stamina are things I always have to build back. I'm going to take one week at a time from here, see how things go, and just may try a 26.2 this fall. I've got my plate very full, my training will be limited, but as long as I'm healthy, why not at least try? Fall is my favorite time of year, and nothing seems to make it quite as special as a pretty fall marathon. Plus, my new Garmin is actually pretty awesome and I need to break it in.

I'll end this post with a quote that was in my running thoughts today, one of the many reasons I keep running despite the setbacks, said by Dr. Howard Thurman: "Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go do that, because what the world needs is people who are alive." 💖

Hope everyone had a nice Sunday, and that all in Florida are safe, secure, and surrounded by loved ones. 😇



Sunday, August 20, 2017

Dublin-->Dublin 2017

July 28, 2017: Cleveland, OH, USA-->

I came home from my Eastern Europe (Berlin-->Warsaw 2017) trip deeply moved; the experience brought to surface a multitude of feelings that I couldn't simplify into words if I tried. Everything I learned about brought me home with more questions than answers, calling me to do a great deal of reflection on myself and humanity as a whole, and how the will of God is woven in and among us all. Like all great learning experiences, it is from these questions that a certain restlessness is stirred up within us; our curiosity is ignited, doors of opportunity start to become more apparent, and we are driven by a passion to understand God, ourselves, others, and the beautiful world by which we are all connected. My initial plans upon coming home were to flow into a cascade of books, documentaries, prayer, and conversing with family, friends, and colleagues, but something was stirring in me to do more; I was so distracted by this stirring that I could hardly focus. 

After taking a few days to recover from an awful case of jet lag due to some travel mishaps, I knew this stirring were "those" butterflies and was feeling the drive to keep traveling, although I had no idea where to go. My initial feelings were to continue exploring in Eastern Europe; I love it there and feel deeply connected, it is such an overwhelming, powerful feeling going to areas in the world of which you have ancestry. With those sentiments in mind, after talking with my parents, it was clear where I needed to go, but it was somewhere totally new, the other part of who I am. In less than 24 hours of this conversation just a week after coming home, I was on the phone with a travel agent, and after consulting with my extremely logical, responsible big brother to make sure I wasn't being irrationally impulsive, I booked another trip. A trip to a place that has been dear to my family, in our traditions and our identity, particularly my pure-bred, red-haired, green-eyed, sweet Mommy who was born on St. Patrick's Day back in 1947. A place that has always felt surreal to me, more of a dream or rather a "maybe someday" destination, that the mere thought of brings tears to my eyes, warms my heart, and sparks my soul. 

And, well, I suppose today is "maybe someday" because, well, I'M GOING TO IRELAND!!! I'm a bit overloaded with emotion and have got another case of the jitters; I'm not sure I believe this is really happening! I am just so beyond grateful for this blessing and hope to do whatever is willed to me along this part of my travel journey. I will try to post pics along the way if I can.

I still have yet to sit down and write about my summer travel experiences thus far, but if I can share a few words in reflection it'd be these: when you are struggling, suffering, unsure of where you are in life, don't fight against who you are or give up on the tugs in your heart. Those feelings are just signs that you are really living; I don't completely understand why, but I think that perhaps it's the cost of our free will, the free will that allows us to choose to love God, each other, and ourselves. So don't despair or settle for less, but rather look up, know God's plan for you is bigger than your own, and keep going knowing that you are accounted for, wholly accepted, and deeply, unconditionally loved for exactly who you are. 

I suppose it would only be appropriate for me to conclude this post with an Irish Blessing:

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

And with that, Check ya later, CLE (...until we meet again)! See you soon, Dublin!!! 💚

July 29, 2017: Dublin, Ireland

Dipping right into Irish culture: Guinness and live music! 💚☘️💚


Live music everywhere, on the street and in the pubs. Joyful, kind people and such a happy environment. Feels so much like St. Patrick's Day in the CLE!!! 💚☘️💚

July 30, 2017: Kilkenny, Ireland-->Cork, Ireland

In beautiful Kilkenny, home of ultimate hurling! 💪😮☘️ Fun afternoon biking and learning about the history and culture here; the Irish have SO much pride in who they are and where they come from. Don't be deceived by the blue skies, they weren't there for long, LOL! I totally underestimated how chilly it is here, but no worries, it was just a good excuse to get myself a made-in-Ireland scarf to keep warm and take home with me. 💚



Kilkenny ✌️☘️



Free range beauty 💚💚💚


First European bike tour that actually gave out helmets (they were good for the rain HAHA) ☔️☘️💚

July 31, 2017: Cork, Ireland -->Clare, Ireland -->Galway, Ireland

Blarney Castle! 💚


Made it to the top and kissed the Blarney Stone! Daunting (but not as creepy as it looks LOL). 🤣😘💚


One of the rooms in the Blarney Castle 💚


Stunningly beautiful Cliffs of Moher. 😍Attempted to walk to the edge of the cliff past the fence buttttttt it started to torrential downpour, it was super muddy, and I didn't want to drop my phone (or fall LOL, came pretty close coming back down 😬) Heading to the Aran Islands tomorrow! 💚


Dinner= beef stew marinated in Guinness. 😄☘️💚☘️


One more pretty castle pic: Dunguaire. So incredibly beautiful here. 💚

August 1, 2017: Galway, Ireland


Blessed with a picture perfect day today! 💚😇💚


Spent all day biking the insanely BEAUTIFUL Aran Islands. Truly felt like I was in a dream. People speaking Gaelic, green/blue water, gorgeous rock formations, sweet cows and horses everywhere. Peaceful, serene, gorgeous (with the exception of trying to remember to bike on the lefthand side of the road. I could never drive here. LOL 🤣). 💚☘️💚


Pretty Irish ponies 💖💚💖💚


A story I must share from tonight: I took a little post-dinner solo walking tour (need to burn off those potatoes!) of Galway since we'll be heading up North tomorrow and there's still so much left to see here. While trying to make my way back to the hotel, I got a little confused at a round-about, and pulled out my map. Within 20 seconds, literally, an Irish man pulled over, rolled down his window, and asked if I needed help. How sweet?!?!? When does that happen?!? It can be hard enough to get directions when you ask in many places, let alone have them offered to you without having to ask. The humble spirit and genuine kindness of the Irish is so uplifting and just so, so, so heart-warming. 💚☘️💚

August 2, 2017: Londonderry/Derry, Northern Ireland

Exceptionally amazing walking tour today in Londonderry/Derry, a dash there as the name is controversial in and of itself, led by a very wise, inspiring Northern Irishman man who's part Chinese and part Irish, interestingly enough! As a Buddhist, he gave us his perspective without Protestant and Catholic bias, and WOW, there is a whole lot I didn't know. One of the things he said that I found most inspirational was with respect to conflict. He said his Buddhist mother taught him to always find resolutions to conflict as quickly as possible, whether it be conflicts with your family, your friends, within your country, or even with yourself. Without quick resolutions, conflicts fester so deeply and consume us to the point where we can't even explain why we had the conflict in the first place. There's still a great deal of conflict here in Northern Ireland, in fact we've been strongly advised against wearing green or orange or discussing politics or religion while here, but our tour guide persisted that despite the unrest there is hope. He said that our presence as tourists is evidence enough that there is hope. He firmly believes that peace is possible, but not through the bombs and violence they've been inflicted with in the past, but rather education. It is through education that we learn how to understand one another, appreciate our differences, and recognize our similarities, because after all, what we all need is the same: to be accepted, to be respected, and to have the ability to love and to be loved. 💖✌🙂😘More Londonderry/Derry tonight, and Belfast tomorrow!


And if you didn't know (I didn't), the song Zombie by the Cranberries is with respect to the violence in Northern Ireland. And now it's in your head, in your heaaaaaaaaaaaad. (and hopefully the Andy from The Office version). You're welcome. 🤣


Peace Bridge ✌
Very, very intense watching of the Celtics soccer game at Peadar O'Donnell's. 😁


And we're just observing in the corner, soaking it all in. The Irish are most certainly very, very passionate people! 🤣


To fully embrace the cultural experience: Jameson. ☘️

August 3, 2017: Belfast, Northern Ireland


Gorgeous day filled with beautiful views of Giant's Causeway! 😍💚😍 Remnants of a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago, science says. Remnants of a Scottish giant running away from a trickster Irish giant, legend says. 🤷‍♀️☘️😂


Somewhere over the rainbow (top left)! ☘️
Titanic museum!


Peace Wall that divides the British side of Belfast from the Irish side. 😰Will hopefully be coming down at some point in the near future. 😇 Had another great tour today from a local, who lived during the violent years. She didn't think she'd live to 30; the stories of her childhood living in a war zone and her overall attitude put a lot into perspective. Like our last tour guide, she's also very hopeful for peace here. 😇

August 4, 2017: Dublin, Ireland

Made it back to Dublin this morning and learned about the art, science, and history of Guinness! ☘️


It's science. Pretty amazing. 💚🤓


Even the pour is science! I'm proud to announce that I passed the practical on the perfect pour (and was commended for my precision and conscientiousness; always the overachiever 😉) and am now officially certified. 😁☘️


This right here is by far my favorite site in Dublin: St. Patrick's Cathedral! In the park where I'm standing is said to be the location where he baptized the first Irish Christians!!!!!! 😮💚☘️💚☘️💚😇


Inside this BEAUTIFUL cathedral. Feel so beyond blessed to be here! 😭💚☘️
St. Patrick's story. Will post more on FB later. 💚


Another of the interior of St. Patrick's. Will post more later! 💚


Such a fun night for our farewell (aka see you next time) to beautiful Ireland! 💚


Irish dancers! 💚☘️💃🏼🕺


More Guinness-marinated beef and (of course) potatoes of multiple varieties! 💁☘️

August, 5: Dublin, Ireland--> Cleveland, OH, USA
I don't think there was a day that went by on this trip without tears. Tears of gratitude for this amazing life experience. Tears of sadness learning about all the hardships my ancestors and all the Irish have been burdened with for centuries, and all the hardships that still persist today. Tears of awe gazing into the beautiful, Heavenly countryside knowing my DNA at one time had been on this soil.  Tears of joy interacting with all the happy-go-lucky Irish; their friendliness, genuine kindness, and witty sense of humor coupled with their distinct accents, twinkling eyes, and sweet smiles warmed my heart and will stay with me forever. Tears of pride for my heritage; I feel prouder than ever to say I'm part Irish American. Tears thinking of my family, in particular my Grandma Rosemary Dean Scully, who's jewelry I wore anytime I got the opportunity to look nice, and my Mom, Kathleen Scully Pavicic, who exemplifies every bit of Irish culture in everything she does, says, and is. It was a bittersweet good bye to this beautiful country last night. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world, and considering I just spent the past week in Ireland, it's fair to say that I most certainly am! God always has a way of answering prayers we don't ask for; it wasn't in my plans, but this spontaneous trip was the essential, perfect exclamation point to an incredible summer of travel. I'm super excited to come back home; I will be starting my 11th year of teaching, a year that is most certainly going to be a crazy busy one filled with lots of new challenges, but I feel refreshed, energized, and all set to go! SLAINTE, Ireland. I love you from the bottom of my heart, and hope I'm lucky enough to make my way back someday. XoXo 🤗😘💚☘️💚☘️

August 9, 2017: Phases Salon, Willoughby, OH, USA


Maya Angelou said frequently, "When you learn, teach," as well as, "When you get, give." These are words I try really hard to live by. Today, I was blessed to be able to give my crazy long hair to Wigs For Kids. THANK YOU @annierobinson10 for your courage, amazing attitude, and for being such an overall awesome person; you will forever be my inspiration. And THANK YOU to @cartertrista who has been serving my family for the past 20 years (and now up to 3 generations!), you are a true genius, but what puts you on a tier all your own is your heart; THANK YOU for the commitment, love, and care you put into your work, and for all you continue to do so graciously for my family and me. I'm super excited for my much-anticipated new look, and am extremely grateful to have been blessed with this gift I'm able to give and the good people who've inspired and helped me along the way. 😇💜💇