In August 2005, my daughter Joli was just 2 years old. On August 17th, we found out Joli had cancer and had to have emergency surgery to remove her eye. Even though her surgery was surprisingly quick, the road to recovery would be long and difficult.

Just a few days after we came home from the hospital, I was driving around town getting prescription medication, bandages, gauze, and some other supplies for Joli post-surgery. My sister, Grace, was with me and we decided to go and grab some takeout from the local Thai restaurant.

We called ahead and Grace ran inside to get the food.

I remember that feeling of awesomeness — in all the hustle and bustle of our now cancer-lives, I hadn’t paid any attention to how I was feeling. I was in pure survivor mode. 

But, this was my treat. I was looking forward to my full plate of pad thai with the crunchy peanuts sprinkled over the top; the delicious spring rolls that I would dip in the sweet-and-sour chili sauce; and the Thai ice coffee that was my extra indulgence.

Grace walked towards the car with the large brown paper bag in one hand and my ice coffee in the other. Hurry up, I remember thinking. That’s my food! I could feel my saliva building up in my mouth.

As soon as Grace opened the door, she placed the food in the small space between our seats. YES! That smells so… so …. so… 


The watery saliva in my mouth that was preparing for the sweet, spicy, and tangy noodles became acidic and unbearable.

I felt my body sweat. My stomach turned. My heart began to race.

Liza, it’s the stress. You’ve been keeping this all in, said Grace. It’s true. I had been. I had been the rock that my family needed.

No. I’m pregnant, I told her. I know I am.

Sure enough, in the midst of my first born’s chemotherapy. Her enucleation. Her prosthetic fittings. And, her exams under anesthesia. I was pregnant. 

At first, I couldn’t believe this was happening. Wasn’t it enough that my daughter’s body was going through unbearable torture? Now, my own body was going to be distracted?

Throughout the months, as Joli’s head became more shiny and bald, my belly became more round and pronounced. As Joli threw up from chemotherapy, I threw up from morning sickness. Many times, we were both snuggled in her hospital bed.

My pregnancy brought me closer to Joli. But, it also kept me at a distance. When she needed her diaper changed, I had to suit up in a paper covering and double plastic gloves just to make sure none of the chemotherapy drugs passed from my skin to my growing baby. Eventually, my belly grew so big that I could no longer snuggle my sick child in the bed. The hospital pulled out a rolling cot for me.

Each month, when we returned for chemotherapy, the nurses on staff would comment about the baby and how big my belly was growing.

They watched me fight for one life and grow another. 

Joli finished chemotherapy in late February.

On April 22, 2006 — Earth Day — that growing baby decided to make her appearance.

Quickly, on that morning, Jada was born.

My sunshine.

To this day, Jada holds a very special place in my heart. She was a gift in my darkest hours. She was a life force. Whenever I felt angry at the world during those months of treatment and surgeries, I felt Jada kick. It was like she was telling me to “Get a grip, Mom. Seriously.”

Outside of the womb, Jada still says that to me.

Jada is exactly who she was meant to be.

Her laugh lights up a room. Her smile brightens the darkest corners. Her brilliance shines beyond walls. She is feisty, sassy, and assertive.

Jada is the best of all of those difficult months.

I want to believe that all of the things we had to go through during 2005-2006 was to prepare me to be a strong mom, and to prepare Jada to be a strong human. She fights for what she believes in. She sees the good in all the bad. She is unafraid of speaking her mind.

Jada is my sunshine.

She is warmth, she is heat, she is light.

april 22 jada potato

Photo 57


Happy birthday, Jada. Thank you for all the ways in which you were meant to be.



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Well, I THOUGHT I was taking it slow….

Alas, despite my best efforts to completely ease into walking and running, my “almost-40-year-old-knees” decided differently.

Yes, friends. I’ve been hit with patellar tendonitis, otherwise known as “jumpers knee”, otherwise known as “runners knee”, otherwise known as “#^@&$^#&@###$@#”.

Thanks to a couple of medical professionals in my family, the course of treatment is simply ibuprofen for the swelling, ice, and a whole bunch of strengthening exercises. You can check out a great resource from Mass General here.

I have to admit, I’m feeling pretty pathetic. When I told my brother that I was having a pain in my knee, he replied, “Well, just cut back on your mileage.” I laughed and said, “Well, that would just put me back on the couch.” After all, it’s hard to cut back on 1.0 miles ….

So, if you’re a new runner, and you’re feeling a bit achy and sore, well, join the club. But, I know well enough to rest and then to try again.

This is also the push I needed to get myself to the running store and get FITTED and buy new shoes (I’m a huge fan of getting fitted… no more “I think these might fit” days). My current shoes have hundreds of miles on them, and it’s time to get new ones. As soon as I can walk normally again, it’s ON!

If you want to still push ahead and follow the training plan, then here are the three gifts (aka workouts) this week:

1 mile total for distance (you might want to try walking .25 miles and then “walking faster” for .25 miles)

12 minute walk-walk faster (alternating every 1 minute)

15 minute walk-walk faster (alternative every 1 minute)

I might be a week behind as I wait for this knee to settle down. But, I hope you keep gifting yourself these workouts!

Peace, love and resting for now,


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10 Minute Walk/Walk Faster

Ever wanted to start running? Cool! Join me as I move from a very slow walking phase to a half-marathon in a few months. If you’ve been following me for a while (or if you’re new!), you know that I’m a full-sized (or plus-size, or awesome-size) woman committed to better health and stronger organs. 

I have run a few half-marathons, but the winter usually destroys all evidence. So, each spring, I start with a half-marathon goal. Join me as I start very slowly! Stay tuned and stay in touch!

To check out the official Day 1 workout (which was Day 4 of a “Liza, get off your butt” plan), check out this vlog here:

Today’s workout was just a 10-minute phase of 1 minute walking and 1 minute “walking faster than you just did”. Alternate those until you get to 10-minutes. 

Coming up next: Walk/walk Faster for 12 minutes. You got this!

Peace and love,


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Long Spring Walk

If you lived above ground, you know that we New Englanders had kind of a rough winter. Thankfully, the weather seems to be turning and we are in Spring Season mode!

This week starts the official “half-marathon training.” But, rest assured, it starts off with a 10 minute run/walk. That’s right, once this week, just do a 1-minute walk and 1-minute jog (and you can define “jog” however you’d like). Do that rotation 5 times. Easy peasy. 10 minutes. That’s all. 

Because this weekend was just so beautiful, and because of some planning, I managed to gift myself a 5-mile walk. A slow, leisurely walk. The kind of walk where, if there were flowers, I would have stopped to smell them. But a walk none-the-less. 

You can check out the video here:

So, this week, try to get that 10 minute workout in. Think of it as a 10 minute gift to yourself! No stress!

Peace and love,


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Hello, everyone!

First, thank you to all of you who posted on Facebook, Twitter, or emailed me about wanting to join me on this beginning journey. I’m so thankful that you’re with me! In fact, this post is because YOU’RE keeping ME on the right track! This video is because you keep me accountable!

Just to keep track, so far, I’ve only done a 20 minute walk. Nothing fast. Nothing fancy. Just walked the dog for 20 minutes. If ONE walk counts as “doing well”, then, high-five to me!

Until this morning…

Yes, it’s true. I don’t run in the rain.

I barely even run when there is impending rain.

Don’t ask me where that comes from — I have no idea whatsoever.

But, what I DO know is that I committed to going on this journey towards getting back into good physical health. Today, my alarm went off at 5:30am and, though it was still dark, I could tell there was IMPENDING rain (see above).

Snooze. Bed.

Without my accountability to all of you, I probably would have just gone about business as usual. But, I knew I had to keep moving forward. So, I signed up for a virtual ballet class. Thanks to Gina’s absolutely busy lifestyle and her commitment to fitness and dance, I have been using VirtualFit on and off for 2 years. It’s an incredible way to get a great workout, to have a LIVE class, and to do it all from the comfort of my 4’x5′ rug in my bedroom. What I love about the class (vs a pre-recorded workout) is that I get to wave hello, someone on the other end says, “Great job, Liza!” and I see other moms struggling with the second set of sit-ups, just like me.

Tomorrow is a new day. I have my walking/running clothes by my bedside, again, in case it’s not raining.

Not too late, if you haven’t moved forward today. Before you go to bed, just take 5 minutes to close your eyes and breathe deeply. Or, if you can, get up and take a 10 minute walk tomorrow. Take the longer route back from class. Park just a little bit further. Go to the bathroom stalls on the other end of the building. I dunno. Just move a teeny bit more than you did yesterday.

Peace, love, and praying for sun,

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Hello everyone!

Over the past five years, my life has been an on-and-off start with running and training for half-marathons. Most recently, I trained for the Disney half-marathon which was held on February 22nd. But, unfortunately, due to medical issues, I wasn’t able to go.

Well, okay, medical issues and a record-breaking amount of snow in New England!

But, I’m starting up again!

Throughout the years, people have commented about wanting to get started with a running routine. Usually, they are asking because I’ve already posted that I was up to 8, 9, 10, 12 miles. BUT, here’s your chance to get in at the start WITH me! I’d love some virtual running company, and I’d love to hear about your own progress!

Today marked Day 1. I haven’t gone running since November 10, 2014 — a full 5 months ago….

I’ve decided that I want to run 13.1 miles before my 40th birthday in September, so I’m following a running schedule that gets me there. If you’re interested in checking out a great running schedule, I highly recommend Jeff Galloway’s run-walk-run method. It’s a great way to ease your body into running in those early phases, and it’s a very helpful way to keep going during those super duper long runs.

I’ll be doing a modified version of it — some days, I feel great and run longer distances. Other days, I just try to get myself out of the door and onto the road.

I’ll post a helpful running/walking video each week and would love to hear back from you!

Day 1: Walked for 30 minutes (2 miles) with the dog. My feet definitely felt tired – hadn’t walked that long and far in months. The roads are finally cleared of nearly all of the snow, and it was a warm 30 degrees when I left the house! Check out my “hello” video here.

Peace, love and taking it one step and a time,


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Yeah, yeah. I’m supposed to be writing this from the warmth of Orlando, Florida. Hot. Sweaty. Fresh from a 13.1 mile run. Dressed as the sassy, “ain’t gonna take no -ish” Lilo, and rocking a finisher’s medal.

Instead, my butt is wet from falling — yet again — into the snow bank as I try to squeeze my size 16 body through the 1/2 inch space between my car and the wall of terror (aka the aforementioned snow bank). Instead of red New Balance runners, I’m decked in two pairs of Smart Wool socks (stolen from my husband who, this very morning, said, “Anyone seen my Smart Wool socks?”) and a pair of winter boots that have seen more ice than Tonya Harding.

This weekend was supposed to be Half-Marathon weekend. Well, it IS half-marathon weekend, I’m just not there running it. You’re welcome for that $300 registration fee, Disney. Don’t spend it all in one place.

Back in July 2014, when the warmth was coming from the sun and not from my electric heaters, I had registered for the Walt Disney World Princess Half-Marathon. I was feeling amazing — running 5x a week and increasing my mileage up to 10 miles on a long run. I got to that point where I craved running. I looked forward to getting out there just as the sun was peeking through the darkness and watched as the sky changed from dark to a graffiti and then to blue. I loved the feel of sweat stinging my eyes, of peeling off my soaked clothing, and of the soreness of the next morning as I began another run.

While running was physical, it was also an emotional symbol of how far I had come. Years prior, I had recovered from a bilateral mastectomy. And, in January 2014, I had completed my precancerous journey and underwent a bilateral oophorectomy as a preventative measure for ovarian cancer. Soon after that surgery, my body began to age. I went into surgical menopause and felt my energy decrease.

Running was my way of fighting back. Running was my way of moving further and further from premature aging. Running was my way of chasing down my health. Running made me feel powerful, clear, and open-minded. 

In September 2014, I began to bleed. Mildly at first, but quickly the bleeding progressed into unmanageable proportions. I went to doctors who tried to diagnose the bleeding through invasive tests, changing medications, and even a surgical procedure to strip my uterus of tissue. None of those helped, and they in fact, left me feeling helpless, confused, and frustrated. 

At first, I ran through the bleeding. But, soon, I couldn’t be more than a minute away from a bathroom or I’d risk the danger of having an accident. And, those came many times. The unpredictable bleeding got so bad that I began to carry around a bag with a change of clothing — which I used a few times.

Whatever you are imagining about this experience, I promise you, multiply it by 2 and you’ll come close to what it was like.

I stopped running.

And, while we are all complaining about the snow here in Boston, I have secretly believed that Mother Nature was being kind to me in the way that she couldn’t. Seven feet of snow, I believe, is Mother Nature’s way of telling me that this running adventure was nothing I could control. She punished by body, but made it easier to accept.

I’m quite certain that, even if I was not going through these medical issues, I would have chosen to not train in this weather. I’m simply just not tough enough to go out in -2 degree weather, single lane roadways, and slippery conditions.

Mother Nature gave me a way out. We sisters take care of each other.

Just this morning, as I drove through yet another snow shower, I saw a bright orange jacket up ahead. A runner. On the road, braving the cold, wet, snowy conditions. In my car, I was at the top of the hill just as the runner was making his way up.

Instinctively, without any oncoming traffic on the other side, I moved all the way over, giving the runner plenty of room not only to swing his arms but also to feel safe sharing the road.

The car in front of me did not.

The car in front of me barely moved over. The car in front of me splashed into a puddle and passed the runner. The car in front of me showered the runner with cold, dirty, freezing water.

And the runner kept running.

As I drove by, the runner waved to me. Smiling. And, I started to cry.

I wanted that feeling — that “nothing can stop me” feeling. That runner’s high. That runner’s determination. That runner’s discipline.

And I remembered that we are all running versions of our own half-marathon every single day. For some of us, it’s physical.

For others, it’s a battle of mental toughness even when you want to give up and cry.


beautiful photo outside of a Catholic hospital. Snow fell naturally around the state of Mary. (not taken by me)

Peace, love, and running on,


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