One Good Phrase: Roo Ciambriello (Brush your shoulders off)

One Good Phrase: Roo Ciambriello (Brush your shoulders off) October 30, 2013

I didn’t know Roo Ciambriello until I joined her as a World Vision blogger in Guatemala. And after five days, we knew each other well enough to perform many dangerous stunts…

Look at that form!

Roo has a blog called Neon Fresh, which is as cool and interesting as it sounds. And she is a gem: Not only does she sometimes walk around her home in a horse mask, she is also an incredibly compassionate soul. (I loved seeing her engage with the children we met in Guatemala. She has a natural gift.)  I’m excited to introduce you to her today.


I was running on my treadmill in my basement today. I’m not a runner, nor do I pretend to be, but I clock miles on my treadmill in the pursuit of good health. I have earbuds in so I cannot hear myself wheezing, and my goal is to run three miles faster than I did a few days ago. Wheeze, pant, stare at the time and groan because, really? only four minutes have gone by? I look straight ahead so I can’t see the digital time on the dashboard moving painfully slowly. As I do, a box of candles across the basement catches my eye. The word “fragile” is stamped on it.

I am not fragile, I say to myself. Wheeze, wheeze, run some more. Press on to that glorious 3.1 mile mark.

My childhood was marked by pain and secrets and misdirected anguish. I was still a teenager when a doctor told me that my mother sat at death’s door, when my nights then alternated between praying bribes and numbing my hurt with reckless behavior. As an adult, a wife, and a mother (whose own mother is alive and well), I’ve made so many mistakes that “I’m sorry” may be my two most frequently said words.

All of this is… uncomfortable. Uncomfortable to think about it, write about, and certainly share with the Internet. After many years of ignoring the difficulties surrounding my first two decades of life, I’ve forced myself to explore it, understand how it has shaped me, and attempt to make peace with it. Learn from it. Grow in spite of it. As a certified grown-up, grateful for grace that has been so abundantly extended to me time and time again, I am incredibly aware of my character flaws and shortcomings. I am grateful for new mornings, new minutes, and new chances to try again. I can fall, get up, and as the great poet Jay-Z said, brush my shoulders off. The beautiful thing about it is that we are not who we were the day before. It’s a steady rhythm – to fall, get up, brush the dirt off my shoulders, receive grace, learn a lot, grow a little…

Wheeze, wheeze. Come on, Pandora, give me a good song to run to. Wheeze, pant. Plenty of falling, but enough grace to keep from breaking. I’m ignoring the bright red numbers on the treadmill dashboard again. I look up and see the box of candles in my basement once more. It is fragile, but we are not.


Roo Ciambriello (that’s ru cham-bree-yellow) is a copywriter and the blogger behind the sort-of-funny NEON FRESH. When she’s not writing stories on the back of potato chip bags or blogging, Roo contributes to sites like Adweek’s AdFreak (branding biz shop talk) and Babycenter (parenting shop talk). Roo lives in coastal Connecticut with her husband, three daughters, and possibly a rabid raccoon. You can find her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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