Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas trees and memories

It was a gray Ohio day that day so long ago when my dad got me out of school early so we could go and pick out a Christmas tree.  I was so excited to be spending the day with him, just the two of us!  He knew I had high standards for Christmas trees and he also understood the temperament of a fifteen year old girl.  He had unending patience.

We went from Christmas tree lot to Christmas tree lot looking for the perfect tree.  It had to be tall enough, full enough and good on three sides.  Tree lot after tree lot left me disappointed.  I am sure my dad was getting frustrated.   There were certainly several trees we had seen that were fine but I remained steadfast in my quest to find the perfect tree.  It was getting later, colder, and darker when my dad finally uttered the words I knew were coming; "This is our last stop, find your tree."  I wandered around the lot several times and did finally settle on a tree but to be honest there had been several others at previous tree lots that would have been far better than the tree I finally picked.  I pouted the whole way home and did not say a word to Dad.

The tree was placed in the stand and set up in front of the large picture window in the living room.  It was tall enough and fat enough but there were some noticeable holes on one of the sides.  Dad never said a word but went straight to work.  He cut off some branches in the back and set them aside.  He took his drill and drilled holes in the trunk of the tree where the holes were and then stuck the branches he had cut off the back into the holes.  He wired some branches to hold them in better position.  The lights went on next, all blue, and finally the decorations.  I continued to pout not having anything to do with the tree of the decorating.  When the tree was finished I was called into the living room.  It was dark outside.  The living room lights were off but the tree was on.  I stared in disbelief at the Christmas tree in front of me!  It was beautiful!  I didn't look at my Mom or my Dad.  I don't know if my three brothers were in the living room with me but I was certain of one thing;  that tree, my tree, was the most beautiful and perfect tree I had ever seen!

Forty one years later this is the tree I remember.  This is the tree I will ALWAYS remember.

Thank you Dad for having the love and the patience to give your daughter such loving and lasting memories and the gift of your time!  I miss you!  Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Christmas Rerun!

Two thousand years ago in a stable in Bethlehem a woman named Mary gave birth to a baby boy and named him Jesus.  A star shined brightly over the stable leading the way for the travelers who came bringing gifts for the baby, the Savior, the Christ Child whose birth they had been told about by the angels.  Two thousand years later we still celebrate His birth.

December 25, 1980 at Saint Ann's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio I gave birth to a baby girl and named her Megan Elizabeth.  I was warm and well cared for. There was a room for me in the hospital and one for Megan.   Megan's birth had been planned for, prepared for and was waited on with joyful anticipation.  It was also celebrated by visitors bringing gifts.  As it nears Christmas day we prepare to celebrate her thirtieth birthday. 

Allow me to tell you about our trip to the hospital that night and the subsequent question we have been asked numerous times since her birth.  Christmas Eve, 1980, was cold and snowy.  The temperature was in the teens as we headed across town to the hospital.  The sky was brilliant and filled with beautiful stars and I  could not help but to reflect on Mary and the birth of the Christ Child that night so many years before.  Snow flakes dropped silently and the radio played softly as we listened to Christmas carols.  We arrived safely at the hospital and as we prepared to get out of the car I was aware that the carol that was playing was Silent Night.  What did you hear Mary on that special night?

The Nuns greeted us and we were settled in the Lamaze room.  My every need was taken care of.  Were your needs cared for Mary?  Were you comfortable and warm?  The night stretched on and labor progressed until it became evident it was time for the doctor to be called.  Dr. Cliff Raymond told us he raced across town almost spinning out on the freeway getting to the hospital in time to deliver our Christmas baby.  Megan Elizabeth was born at 6:40 AM Christmas morning.  She weighed 8 pounds 1 1/2 ounces and was 20 inches long.  The nurses wrapped her up in warm blankets and took her off to the newborn nursery to be bathed and checked thoroughly.  When she was brought into my room she was tucked inside a big red Christmas stocking!

He was wrapped in swaddling clothes and layed in the manger

I can't imagine a more perfect day to give birth than a day where people all over the world are celebrating Jesus' birth, love abounds and joy fills the air yet Megan and I continue to be asked if she feels cheated sharing  her birthday with Christmas.  Erma Bomback wrote a beautiful piece asking the same question.  I saw her column shortly after Megan was born and cut it out, had it laminated and saved it for her.

Here it is:


2-for-1 HOLIDAY OFFER: CHRISTMAS BIRTHDAYS



Happy Birthday, Jesus - and Aunt Martha and my cousin Dede, and everyone else that was born on this day.


The savior excepted, I think I know what the rest of you birthday babies are thinking.


All your gifts are wrapped in Christmas paper - as usual.


Most of the family has already whispered in your ear, "I bought you one BIG gift for both occasions."


Your Christmas cards have a P.S. on them: "Happy Birthday."


Your favorite cake is chocolate but you will get a white one with white icing, trimmed in red.


If you hear one more person say, "What a bummer to be born on Christmas," you'll slap him.


There are never any balloons on this day, only reindeer and pointsettias.


You are rarely surrounded by your friends at a party because they are at home celebrating Christmas.


My gift to you is a birthday column that is for people born on this day.


Why do you suppose you were chosen to share the most celebrated birthday in the history of Christianity?


There are 364 other days to choose from, but you were chosen to enter the world on a day when peace and joy reign. It's the best time to enter a world. Truces are sometimes called during wars - old prejudices and hatreds are put aside - and people who have never done so before reach out to one another.


No one could plan a bigger celebration of your birth. The streets are lined with Christmas greenery. Houses glow in the light of a million candles, and the anticipation of the day is almost more than a child can stand.


Whenever I hear of a person born on Christmas, he becomes special to me. Babies are always gifts, but to have an infant placed in your arms on this anniversary cannot help but invite memories of Mary holding her newborn for the first time with no less wonderment.


I think Christmas babies feel it too. Their birthday culminates in a season of magic. There has been no Bozo the clown doing magic tricks, no catered party complete with noisemakers, no planes in the sky spelling out their names in smoke. It is a day when the world turns kind.


I share a birthday in February with Rue McClanahan and Tyne Daly. It doesn't get a whole lot of attention...but then Silent Night, Holy Night is not our birthday song.

-Erma Bomback

Happy Birthday Megan!  You were and will always be the most perfect Christmas gift.  My wish for you is that you always know the love and joy that fills the world as people everywhere celebrate the other special birthday that day! 

It has been a year since I posted this blog and in that time my Christmas baby has given birth to her own little girl.  This Christmas as Megan celebrates her birthday she will have some idea of the joy we experienced on that very special Christmas morning as she and Judson celebrate their first Christmas as parents.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Birthdays and Butterflies

There was a beautiful yellow butterfly, floating around in the garden at the church as we prepared to scatter my Dad's ashes.  When the minster began speaking the butterfly settled as if to listen to what was being said and stayed on that flower until the service was done.  When the service concluded off he flew to places unknown but we all had seen it.  A year later my daughter is preparing for the birth of her first child, my first Grandchild and we are in New York with her as she waits out those final days.  I was sitting on her porch when I first saw it.  It was floating around the flowers near the steps, lighting for just a second and then moving on.  I looked again just to be sure of what I was seeing and there it was, a single white butterfly dancing on the flowers.  It was as if it was waiting for something, as if it knew something special was about to happen.  The next time I saw it I said, "Hi Dad!  I knew you would be around."  The butterfly landed and stayed.

The anniversary of Dad's death came but the baby didn't.  The butterfly still flitted around the house.  There was a beautiful double rainbow that evening.  "Hi Dad!  Megan is OK.  We miss you!"  Erika was born three days later.  Jay and I had to head home before Erika came home but I suspect there was still a butterfly near the front door welcoming her home.

October 26th was my mom's eightieth birthday and Jay and I were taking her out for dinner to celebrate.  I had ordered a chocolate cake with chocolate icing to take down to her and had only asked that Happy Birthday Mom be put on the cake and that the colors be soft.  When I opened the box to take a peak at the cake it took my breath away!  There on top of the cake was an artificial yellow butterfly.  When I gave the cake to my Mom she was thrilled.  I told her Dad must have just wanted to say Happy Birthday!  When I asked the baker what prompted her to put the butterfly on the cake she said she just thought it would look pretty.  I told her the story about the butterfly and she was touched.

As a teenager my Dad gave me a beautiful book called, "Hope for the Flowers" by Trina Paulus.  It is a great book about change and love and growth.  My dad loved this book!  You won't be surprised when you look at the cover, yep a butterfly.

Hi Dad!  I miss you!  Erika has your nose.  Thanks for letting us know you are fine.

                                                                     

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Nanna

On Friday, September 30th at 12:42 AM I was blessed to become a grandmother.  My first child, my beautiful baby girl gave birth to the most perfect, beautiful, baby girl I have ever seen.   She has ten very long, slender fingers and ten pudgy little toes.  She has her Papa Jim's nose and the sweetest mouth you have ever seen.  Her eyes are big and blue with the tiniest blond eyelashes.  She weighed in at 7 lbs 3 oz and is 19 1/2 inches long.  Perfect, beautiful, exquisite!

My husband and I were fortunate to be invited to be at the hospital for her birth.  We watched our daughter, our baby girl, experience labor, remembering our own experience.  When it was time to push we waited just down the hall and listened to the sounds of our daughter pushing and finally there was the sound of a baby crying, our grand-daughter crying, and we rejoiced.

I have a friend who gave me the most wonderful grandchild gift- a book called "The gifts of being Grand" by Marianne Richmond.  I sat and read it last night and smiled as I turned the pages.  Marianne wrote a wonderful book which is beautifully illustrated.  Here is just a sample of the wording that touched my heart last night:

"Welcome," you whisper and know more than maybe you're head over heels in love with this baby"


Welcome Erika Jean!  I am your Nanna and I love you!

Monday, September 19, 2011

I am looking in the mirror and I am smiling!

The message in the mirror! (click this link!!)

No explanation necessary!  I am joining the cause, will you help me?  Think of all the people we could reach if we all joined together.

Go to OperationBeautiful.com to read the latest notes.  You will be glad you did.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Little Miss Perfect

There she is staring back at me, "Little Miss Perfect."  I am never good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, thin enough and she just keeps staring.  I wish I could make her go away.  I have tried telling her over and over and over again that perfect isn't everything that good enough is fine but she isn't satisfied.  Perfection is the only thing she is happy with.  I work really hard to do a good job and there is always a "but"; dinner was great but,  thanks for coming but, the gift is perfect but.  It never ends.  I am so tired of trying to be perfect.  Does she know how exhausting it is to try to meet her standards?  How defeated she makes me feel? I am less than perfect.  I am me.  I am done trying to meet her standards.  I know as soon as I reach them they will change and I will fall short yet again.  How disappointing I must be to her, or is it that she is the one she is disappointed in?  I wonder.  I remember a great story taught to me in church; the story of creation.  When God surveyed all that he had created he said it was "good."  He did not say perfect.

I am enough and I am not perfect.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Watch out for Witches and Flying Monkeys!!



Last night was the night I lead my Weight Watcher's meeting.  The topic was supposed to be all about getting restarted, starting over, hit the restart button...  I thought those were great lead ins but I wanted to make the meeting more interactive, different, perhaps even exciting and so in my meeting last night I presented, "Weight Watcher's visits The Wizard of Oz.  Finding YOUR way to the Emerald City".  I had fun and I hope the members who attended last night did too.  I began with the house landing on the witch and asked the members to think about what brought them in the door that first night; what was their house moment.  They shared, everyone understood and I believe the members felt they had others who heard them and understood.  We found a plan (follow the yellow brick road) Weight Watchers Points Plus program.  We met Glenda the good witch (the leader- me) asked Glenda and the Munchins (other members) for further help and direction and moved on down the yellow brick road sticking to our plan.  We met up with the usual characters (Lion, Tin Man and Scare Crow) and realized each of us also needed to identify what we were looking for and that some of us had all that we needed but had gotten lost in the haunted forest.  We even battled off the Wicked Witch and her Flying Monkeys (temptation, loss of goals, losing track of basics) and yet we kept on going.  When we reached our own personal Emerald City we celebrated and realized while each of us may take a different road to get there each and everyone of us wants some of the same things.  We have everything we need in our WW plan and meeting and if we get lost we simply need to find the yellow brick road again and ask for directions.  We move forward with the knowledge we have friends and Good Witches who understand.

The Weight Watchers Points Plus Program we have all been following this year is awesome and it works!!  In case you have any question about how things have changed here is a blog entry from fellow blogger, Mimi, whose blog is called:  1972:  The Retro WW Experiment   After I read her blog I am pretty sure I would not have been successful presenting last night's meeting the way I did.  Read her post and let her (and me) know what you think.  Oh, and let me know which program you would rather be doing now; 1972 or Points Plus!!

1972: The Retro WW Experiment

Friday, August 26, 2011

A prayer for those in the line of the hurricane

This is a prayer I stumbled upon today while looking for something else.  I don't believe in coincidences so I am sharing it here and will continue to say it for all who are in the path of this storm.

Lord, your world is a mighty thing.
The winds can blow
The rain can come down in torrents,
The land can flood.
To know you, Lord, is to know your power
And to remember your love
Which is more powerful.

We watch for the approaching storm.
We look at the images on TV, the web, the news.
We tune into experts who tell us when to go
Or where to stay.

We dash out to buy.
We empty supermarket shelves.
We board up, we batten down.
We want to be prepared
Even if we’re not sure for what.

We wonder if our fears have gotten the worst of us.
We know the alarmists have had a field day
But maybe they were right.
Unless there’s something bigger than fear
And bigger than winds and rain.

Finally all we can do is wait
Because to wait is to trust
And to trust is to know that in this world
There is no power that can separate us
From the power that is greater than us.
All will be well, we pray.
All will be well.

By Rick Hamlin, August 25, 2011 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

STUCK!!

This week's topic at Weight Watchers was all about plateaus.  I opened my meeting with a flip that said , "Are you stuck?" and this cartoon:





The cartoon made me smile which is why I used it but it is also all to often true for those of us who have an ongoing war with our weight.  I hope I offered the members in the group that evening some things to evaluate when (not if) they hit a plateau (because they will) and I hope they understand it is normal to feel angry and frustrated.  What I really wanted to tell them was the positive side of a plateau but I stuck to the lesson plan.

Here is what I wanted them to know; want you to know!  If you are waging a war with your weight and you are losing weight even if it is an ounce at a time you are a winner.  Visualize yourself standing at the base of a very tall mountain with your weight loss goal represented  by the top of the mountain.  Your weight loss becomes the climb up the mountain.  Sometimes the climb is relatively easy and you get higher on the mountain quickly.  Sometimes the climb is very slow because the mountain is so steep but you continue inch by inch, tenth of a pound by tenth of a pound until one day you have made significant progress up that mountain.  You look back and are surprised by how much progress you have made, how far up the side of the mountain you are, you look up and the goal doesn't seem so unattainable any longer and you are excited!!  You might even do the happy dance and even take a longer look in the mirror and if you are brave enough, you might even look at yourself in that same mirror naked!  You climb on towards the mountain top and then suddenly and often without warning your climb and your weight loss comes to a halt.  Day after day you try and sometimes you gain a bit on the mountain and other times you slip backwards.  You become frustrated, angry and maybe even feel like a failure; once again you "can't do it.  Many quit at this point, discouraged and beaten by the mountain and the weight loss still needed to get to the top.  You find yourself standing on the dreaded plateau, a level place of no weight loss week after week.  

What if you chose to look at that plateau differently?  Consider this; you have accomplished a lot, you are thinner and stronger.  You feel better about yourself than you have in a long time.  You move easier and  climbing a flight of stairs does not cause you to become out of breath.  You have climbed part of that mountain, successfully.  You have put your body through a lot and now it is simply asking you for, or telling you, that it needs a rest, a chance to gather the energy and resources to get to the top.  Doesn't that sound better?  If you have stick with your weight loss plan, evaluate what you have been doing, and perhaps even get back to the basics that worked so well when you first began you will see the weight come off and you will continue up the mountain eventually standing at the top successful and at goal.  You have a choice.  Are you going to continue the climb understanding the plateau is simply a resting, regathering, reflecting place or are you going to turn around and go down the mountain you worked so hard to climb?  The choice is yours!

During my 15 year war with my weight I had many plateaus and I can assure you I was frustrated and on occasion screaming mad but I continued (often grumbling under my breath) knowing I was worth the effort.

The view from the top of the mountain is breathtaking!  I hope to see you there someday soon!  Look for me: I will be the one with my hand outstretched ready to help you if you start to slip.

“At any given moment YOU have the power to say this is NOT how the story is going to end!”                                                                -unknown-
                                                                                                                       



Friday, August 19, 2011

A truely inspiring evening

Last night I was privileged to be part of a panel of Weight Watcher members sharing our weight loss stories with 136 other Weight Watcher members who had come to hear how each of us had managed to lose 100 lbs or more.  Many of the members attending were fighting the same battles we had fought.  It was a most amazing experience.  I came away from the meeting inspired, awestruck and proud; not just of the weight loss but of the program that each of us had chosen to help us with our journey.  As I listened to each of the nine other participants share their stories I heard  many similarities.  The smiles on their faces and the occasional crack in their voices and the fight to hold back the tears spoke volumes!  I knew that each and every one of them understood what the other participants had experienced to get to where we were sitting last evening.  We didn't have to apologize for the emotions. We all understood.


So here are just some of the similarities I heard last night;
  • Every one of us had an "ah ha" moment of realization that something needed to change and change dramatically.
  • We chose the best program around and we persevered even when it was hard (and it was hard at times).
  • We never expected to be perfect because we are humans and we all have short comings.
  • We came to our meetings and we stayed for our meetings even if we had a bad week. (Especially when we had a bad week.)
  • We realized if we were going to be successful we needed to follow the plan in its entirety and understand that our own version of the plan does not work well.  ( Some, like me, were slow learners on this one)
  • We found an exercise program we liked (tolerated at first) stuck with it and now love to exercise.  Many of us have done some distance competitions either walking or running.
  • We recognized we can't do this alone and learned to ask for help and then listen when help is given.
  • We learned that we are stronger and more determined than we ever imagined.
  • We learned that losing weight is a constant process and when you have more than 100 ponds to lose it will be a like running a marathon rather than a sprint.
  • We learned that everyone of us came up short on occasion but kept on trying.
  • Not one of us gave up.
  • Almost all of us struggled to lose the last 10 pounds and thought it would never come off.
and finally each of us in our own way spoke the following words:  I AM WORTH THE EFFORT and we knew beyond any shadow of a doubt we are.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Teachers!

If you read my blog, thank you!  I have been very busy and therefore have been lax in posting.  My daughter is pregnant with our first grandchild and there was a baby shower to give.  I began leading my own Weight Watchers group and school will start on Monday so I have been getting my room ready and attending too many meetings.  I am not a teacher, I am a school nurse.

I work with amazing people who have chosen or rather been chosen to teach elementary school children.  I stand in awe of them.  My thoughts of late have all come back to them and so this blog is for them.  Thank you for doing what you do.  My children have been blessed to have wonderful teachers who were passionate about their jobs and it showed.  They are the products you molded and developed and they are remarkable.  I came across the following piece just the other day and it has gone round and round in my head.  I dedicate it to each of you. 

His Teacher's Hand


At first it sounded like a thanksgiving story, but the more I reflected on it, the more appropriate it seemed for any time of the year. The way I heard it, the story went like this:

Thanksgiving Day was near. The first grade teacher gave her class a fun assignment—to draw a picture of something for which they were thankful.  Most of the class might be considered economically disadvantaged, but still many would celebrate the holiday with turkey and other traditional goodies of the season. These, the teacher thought, would be the subjects of most of her student's art. And they were.  But Douglas made a different kind of picture. Douglas was a different kind of boy. He was the teacher's true child of misery, frail and unhappy. As other children played at recess, Douglas was likely to stand close by her side. One could only guess at the pain Douglas felt behind those sad eyes.  Yes, his picture was different. When asked to draw a picture of something for which he was thankful, he drew a hand. Nothing else. Just an empty hand.  His abstract image captured the imagination of his peers. Whose hand could it be? One child guessed it was the hand of a farmer, because farmers raise turkeys. Another suggested a police officer, because the police protect and care for people. Still others guessed it was the hand of God, for God feeds us. And so the discussion went—until the teacher almost forgot the young artist himself.  When the children had gone on to other assignments, she paused at Douglas' desk, bent down, and asked him whose hand it was. The little boy looked away and murmured, "It's yours, teacher."

She recalled the times she had taken his hand and walked with him here or there, as she had the other students. How often had she said, "Take my hand, Douglas, we'll go outside." Or, "Let me show you how to hold your pencil." Or, "Let's do this together." Douglas was most thankful for his teacher's hand.  Brushing aside a tear, she went on with her work.

The story speaks of more than thankfulness. It says something about teachers teaching and parents parenting and friends showing friendship, and how much it means to the Douglases of the world. They might not always say thanks. But they'll remember the hand that reaches out.
© 2001 Steve Goodier


Don't EVER doubt the difference you make!  I am thankful and blessed to work with each of you!  I pray you have a rewarding and fulfilling year.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Today I am grateful

This morning at 11 AM I stood in front of a group made up mostly of strangers and yet I knew each of them. I had walked in their shoes and experienced the same joys and frustrations they have experienced.  I understood. It was my final mentoring session in my quest to become a Weight Watchers leader.  My leader mentor was there in the back row next to my territory manager and another leader coach in training.  It was my responsibility to present the entire meeting and facilitate discussion and learning.  I was prepared and yet I was nervous.  This was so important to me.  I was reaching for another goal.  Today I accomplished that goal.  I am now a Weight Watchers leader and I have been told when and where I will lead my group!  We went to lunch and celebrated.  As I drove home from lunch I had some quiet time to think and reflect on this journey of 15 years and I realized how far I had come.  I have so much to be grateful for!

Today I am grateful for my husband, Jay and my children, Megan and Adam who loved me though my journey and seemingly overlooked my weight and celebrated every victory.  I am thankful for the hugs around my waist that were measures of my success as little hands got closer and closer together until they finally reached and wrists were clasped.  I am grateful for walks secretly timed with a stop watch and the encouragement to pick up the pace and beat my previous time EVERY time and I am grateful for the "Hill Warnings" as we approached any incline no matter how steep it was.

I am grateful for the many Weight Watchers leaders who showed me the way (Lina and Mary, Delores, Donna, Sue Anna and Kristy) to name just a few.  Thank you for lighting the way when I was lost and for celebrating each and every victory!

I am grateful for the other Weight Watchers members who went before me and those who sat in the meetings with me and understood the struggles and never judged, some of whom have become dear friends.

I am grateful for the 16 wonderful women I met in my Basic Leader Skills training, any one of which I would be happy to have as my leader and am thankful to call my friend.

Today I am most grateful for the 196.4 pounds of extra weight I lugged around for far too long as it taught me lessons I might never have experienced.  I am the person I am today because of my seemingly endless battle with that weight.  I am strong, resilient, determined, courageous, empathetic, loving and joyful for the experience of shedding those pounds.  I never in a million years would have imagined what I would find under those pounds!  Those pounds, gone for good, will now enable me to stand in front of a group of people at my Weight Watchers meeting and tell them and to show them that I hear them and I understand.

I reached for what seemed impossible when I first began this journey and somehow managed to meet and even exceed every single goal I ever set.  I am grateful.  I am proud.  I am ready!!

“How does one become a butterfly?” she asked. ”You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.” - Trina Paulus

Friday, July 15, 2011

Strong

Strong as defined by Dictionary.com:

adjective:
      1.  having, showing, or able to exert great bodily or muscular power
      2.  mentally powerful or vigorous
      3.  of great moral power, firmness, or courage
      4.  especially able, competent, or powerful in a specific field or respect 
      I have been thinking about what strength is ever since a fellow blogger shared Saucony's new television ad campaign on her blog.  It is a great ad with a great message for all of us facing new challenges which may seem, at times, to be insurmountable.  I don't care that it's purpose is to sell their product.  Take a look for yourself and then read the script.


      "Is it muscle or is it something more?"
      "Is it measured in miles or milliseconds?"
      "Is it your best time or your worst day?"
      "Maybe strong is just what you have left when you've used up all of your weak!"

      So my question is what is your strong?  Is it saying no to the wrong food choice or or to the request to do one more thing for you work or church or social group or even to the voices in your head saying you can't...?  

      I know for certain I found my strong in the process of digging out from under all of the extra weight I was carrying.  Do you know what I found?  I found a strong determined woman who when she looks in the mirror wonders who is the older woman looking back at her.  I found the woman who had the courage not only to start training to walk one half marathon but to finish two! I found the woman who knows without a hesitation of doubt that if you tell me I can't you had better stand back and get out of my way because I have my strong and I WILL, watch me!!

      "Maybe strong is just what you have left when you've used up all of your weak."



      Sunday, July 10, 2011

      Dear Weight Watchers Members

      Yesterday afternoon I successfully completed the WW Basic Leader Skills training and assessment and I want to share a few things from this experience with you.  I was in a group of 16 WW leader hopefuls and 4 outstanding trainers.  At times the process was nerve racking (you have 10 minutes to prepare your opening for your meeting and then present it), colorful (we were given markers with scents), delightful (conversation, down time, great meals) and even a bit like Hell week of a sorority initiation.  I came home exhausted but grinning from ear to ear.

      I am not sure if all of us made it, we didn't discuss it, but I feel comfortable assuming not all of us did.  The leaders that came out of that training session will be outstanding leaders partly because of the trainers and the process but also because of their journey and experience.  You will be grateful to be in any one of their classes.

      The 16 of us had a total weight loss in excess of 800 pounds.  It tickled me to be the "biggest loser".  We bonded as a group and I am sure lifetime friendships were born in this training.  So I would ask you to give us a try when a new meeting is offered especially if we are not who you expect to see when you walk into your meeting.  Over the next week or so each of us must complete 4 mentoring sessions with a leader trainer.  Our last session will attended by our territory manager and she will have the final say as to whether or not we will be leaders.  Please encourage us by participating in our classes.  Listen to the questions we ask and the brief personal experiences we share.  Enjoy our flip charts knowing that we are not artists and are doing our best.  We will do our very best to give you the kind of meeting you deserve and help you to be as successful as we have been so that one day perhaps you will want to be a leader.  Finally, take a minute to lets us know if there was something that you heard in the meeting from us or another member that made a difference for you that day.  We would appreciate it.  Be patient with us as we get our legs and find our voice.

      I promise to do my very best to HEAR you, to LISTEN to you and to help you find your way.  I will facilitate (rather than lead) YOUR class and it will be about YOU and YOUR needs and not about me!

      Sunday, June 26, 2011

      Reflections and imperfections

      I signed up for a "Thought for the Day " email on Oprah's site a while back.  I enjoy reading inspirational or thought provoking statements especially when they seem to cosmically connect to how I am currently feeling.  Friday was one of those days!  Here is the thought for the day I received in my email:

      "I no longer look at every reflection of myself and see a map of disappointments. I see vigor, curves and force, an organic tumble of sensual, sexual energy. I stand straighter. I breathe deeper. My heart opens."
      —  Lise Funderburg 

      The portion of this quote that stuck a chord with me had nothing to do with sensual, sexual energy, it was the powerful statement; "I no longer look at every reflection of myself and see a map of disappointments. I see vigor curves and force."  I realized I am now living this quote and I am so proud of myself and my journey!  I AM a woman who is still curvy but I am also full of vigor.   I hope I have become a force which will help others find their way and see their reflection in a positive way over looking the imperfections we all tend to focus on.

      Imperfect also spells I'm perfect!

      I looked in the mirror and smiled.  I am standing straighter and my heart is joyful!  I love my curves!  Watch me  :)

      Monday, June 13, 2011

      What the scale can't do!

      A scale is a tool or instrument that measures the weight of an object or person placed on its weighing platform.  It can give you your weight at that moment in time in that position.  Did you know if you step off some scales and then get immediately back on you may not get the exact same weight that you just weighed?  Did you know that scales must be calibrated regularly in order to be assured the number they give you is correct?  Did you know the surface the scale sits on can affect the way the scale weighs you and may give you an artificially low weight or, God forbid, an incorrectly high weight? 

      I have learned far too much about scales in the process of my weight loss journey.  I know I still don't like stepping on them and the process of weighing still makes me feel small and insignificant.  I also know the scale has no idea of how my day has gone or the week or even the month.  It has no understanding of how it makes me feel every time I step on to it's platform.  I sure wish I could kick it hard, really hard sometimes but the scale wouldn't feel that anymore than it would feel the joy I have when I see a weight I am pleased with.  Why then have I let this cold, inanimate object become so powerful in my life?  It knows NOTHING about who I am or what I have gone through to get to where I am today.  I certainly am far more powerful than a number reflected by a piece of equipment!  I have family and friends who love me just the way I am with all of my quirks and imperfections.  I am strong and healthy.  I have inner resources I never knew existed and I am braver and more courageous than I ever imagined.  The scale can't tell me anything about who I am; who I have become.

      Yesterday I typed "you are beautiful" into Google and hit search.  I smiled as I opened the first hit that I clicked on.  I am sharing it here:


      Get Off the Scale
      You are beautiful. Your beauty, just like your capacity for life, happiness, and success, is immeasurable. Day after day, countless people across the globe get on a scale in search of validation of beauty and social acceptance.
      Get off the scale! I have yet to see a scale that can tell you how enchanting your eyes are. I have yet to see a scale that can show you how wonderful your hair looks when the sun shines its glorious rays on it. I have yet to see a scale that can thank you for your compassion, sense of humor, and contagious smile. Get off the scale because I have yet to see one that can admire you for your perseverance when challenged in life.
      It’s true, the scale can only give you a numerical reflection of your relationship with gravity. That’s it. It cannot measure beauty, talent, purpose, life force, possibility, strength, or love. Don’t give the scale more power than it has earned. Take note of the number, then get off the scale and live your life. You are beautiful!
      -Steve Maraboli
      Quit giving the scale so much power!  Don't let the number on the scale tell you who you are!

      Thursday, June 2, 2011

      Greeting Cards

      I was in Target this afternoon waiting for a prescription to be filled and killing time.  I looked at all of the baby things, because that is what you do when you are going to be a Grandma, but I didn't buy anything (sorry Megan).  I wandered around in Housewares and looked at lamps and then found myself standing at the greeting cards.  I needed to pick up a card for my mother in law's birthday and for Father's Day so I got busy looking at cards in the birthday section.  It didn't take long to find an appropriate card for my awesome mother in law and so I moved on to Father's Day cards and began looking for a great one for my father in law.  I picked up one or two that just weren't quite right and then stepped back and scanned the rows for more cards.  I reached for one that held promise when I got sucker punched by the card immediately to the right of the one I was reaching for.  It said, " To Dad from Your Daughter."  My Dad will not be here this year for Father's Day and he won't be here next year or the next and he will miss his wedding anniversary and his great grandchild's birth, and lots of family celebrations yet to come.  My dad died September 27th. 

      I thought for a minute about picking out a great card for him and taking it to the place where we scattered his ashes or even putting it with the ashes I kept but decided against it.  I decided to share some things about my Dad here instead.

      My dad was a Presbyterian minister who loved teaching Christianity by the way he lived.  He loved my mom with his whole heart even though he once told me, "it takes a lot of patience."  He was an awesome father to my three younger brothers and me.  We went on month long camping trips every summer in a pop up camper and the four kids slept on bunk beds made out of aluminum cots (yep, it worked).  We saw lots of the country, slid down the sand dunes, took every free factory tour available, occasionally tied one of the boys to a tree to keep him from wandering off, and played for hours at the beach.  We all learned to ride bikes and drive cars and even to parallel park with Dad in the passenger seat.  He could fix anything from holes in live Christmas trees to broken hearts.  He rejoiced with every success we had and comforted us and showed us the way when we stumbled or when we failed.  He attended baseball games, diving meets, school plays, band concerts and science fairs.   He was a GREAT father.  He preformed the marriage ceremonies for my brothers but was just MY dad when I was married which was exactly what I wanted!  He taught my brothers how to be fathers by his example, and they are great fathers.  He baptized each of his grandchildren and got choked up with emotion as he did so but this is what he did anytime he baptized a baby.  He played with his grandchildren, taught them how to carve pumpkins, clean up the kitchen as you go when cooking, and how to cheat playing Boggle.  He took them to the circus, rocked them when they had an ear infection and told them exaggerated stories about their parents.  He married my daughter, his first Grandchild, and he cried.  He taught us all how to die and we cried.

      I decided I don't need a card to tell him how much I loved him, how much we loved him; he knows.  Each of us is who we are because of the example he led.  June 19th is Father's Day this year.  I think I will bake a chocolate cake with penuche icing (his favorite) and take a piece to my mom and we can talk about how much he would have enjoyed it.

      Happy Father's Day Dad, I miss you!!




      Saturday, May 21, 2011

      "A Farewell to Can't"

      "This goodbye doesn't make me sad.  I will not miss you.  I have discovered what it feels like to do the unthinkable.  The hard.  The long.  The challenging.  You have no business here anymore.  From now on, difficult will seem doable.  I will see the impossible as simply not yet conquered.  Farewell, Can't.  You will haunt me never again.  Hello Can.  Welcome to my world!"   (Outward Bound advertisement in Family Circle Magazine)

      Thank you Outward Bound for finding the words for me today!  I CAN!!

       

      Tuesday, May 17, 2011

      Endings and new beginnings

      It seems impossible that the baby boy I gave birth to in August 1986 has all of his belongings packed into a U Haul  and is ready to leave South Carolina tomorrow morning and head to Centreville, Virginia where he will begin his career and adult life as an Electrical Engineer.  Where did the time go and why did it have to go by so quickly?  I am so very proud of the man he has become and the things he has already accomplished but my heartstrings are stretched beyond their comfort level and I feel them tugging and even fighting to pull him back; slow down, don't go, wait, I'm not ready.  I'm not ready...

      Tonight we will go have dinner, the last dinner we will eat together for a while and we will enjoy the easy conversation and his smile.  I will order that piece of chocolate cake I have waited to have for months now and I will share it but it won't fill the enormous hole I am feeling in my heart.  I need him to stay just as I needed his sister to stay but I know I will let him go.  He will do so well and he will be happy.  There is a very special woman waiting for him to arrive and I am certain she can hardly wait to have him there so as my heart fights to let him go and be the man he has become, her heart is skipping beats as she waits for him to arrive.

      Here is the letter I wrote to him the morning of his High School graduation.  I feel the need to share it with him again.  I have changed some of the wording to make it appropriate for today.


      Some Thoughts as you Walk Towards Your Future

      August 8, 1986 seems like just yesterday and yet here you are with a Masters Degree in Electrical  and Computer Engineering ready to leave home to begin your career and set off on a whole new set of adventures.  Daddy and I are so very proud of you!  You have grown to be a fine young man.  You have always given all of yourself to everything you have attempted and the rewards have been many.  I remember those first few hesitant steps which quickly became a run.  I remember the first night you slept without your blanket.  I remember the first time you fell and scraped your knee and wanted me to kiss it and make it all better.  I remember you turning and saying, “bye Momma” the first day of Kindergarten and the tug on my heart with the realization you were not so little anymore.  I remember the first time you stood at home plate all dressed in your new baseball uniform and took your first swing at the ball and the pride and excitement on your face when your bat connected with the ball as you ran to first base.  I remember another baseball that hit you in the mouth leaving stitch marks on your face and turning your lip inside out  and the coach’s comment that you never cried (at least where he could see you).  I remember every award and every disappointment.  You are an amazing son!  Daddy and I will continue to have new memories of you and will always treasure those we have made.  As you walk out the door and down the steps, walk proudly and know that we are there, forever, cheering for you and ready to offer our support.  So stand up straight, keep your head held high and enjoy every moment of your journey!  You have earned it.

      And now some advice from your Momma

      Always believe in a power higher than yourself, whether or not you call him God.  Talk to him daily even if it just to say thank you.

      Be honest especially when it is hard.

      Be true to your word.

      Appreciate the gifts you have and use them to the best of your ability.

      Give of yourself unselfishly.

      Make new friends but always cherish the friends you have.  Let them know they are important to you.

      Think before you speak in anger.  Words can be deadly weapons.

      Never be hesitant to say I’m sorry and mean it when you say it.

      Don’t be afraid to share your heart or love unconditionally.

      Set realistic goals for yourself but never be afraid to aim high.

      Don’t be afraid to fail.  Sometimes we learn more this way.

      Reach for the stars!


      Wait!

      I love you!

      I am ready ..... (sorta)

      Step into your future!

      Footnote:  Adam has already left the house towards his future.  I could not post this last night as I intended because I needed him to be on his way to avoid the tears that I would undoubtedly shed.  I am ready!  I love you Adam.

      Thursday, May 12, 2011

      “Everything you need is already inside of you!”

      I have a friend who is struggling to find her way in her weight loss journey.  Several days ago she sent me a note expressing her frustration and asked for help.  She told of asking for help in her meeting and not finding what she needed.  She told of setting small goals, five pounds at a time, and falling short.  She told of "blowing it" even after a successful day.  I read the note and thought about how to respond.  I wondered how I could best help her find her way.  I understood!  After some deliberation I sent her a note back and asked her to answer two questions for me:  Why do you want to lose weight? and Who are you losing the weight for?  I haven't heard from her.  I am hoping she is still considering her answers and just hasn't responded.  I hope she does not feel that I too abandoned her.  I also hope she understands the importance of answering these questions for herself even if she chooses not to share her answers with me.

      I can say with absolute certainty her weight loss (any ones weight loss) effort will ONLY be successful if your answer to those two questions is anything other than totally selfish.  To win the battle of weight loss you must want to lose weight for you and you alone.  Your reasons must be "self" related; I want to lose this weight because I want to be alive to see my children grow up and have children.  I want to be able to fly in an airplane and not need a seat extender.  I want to shop in the regular sizes in a regular store!   I WANT.. This thinking will work!

      Once you have your answers your journey will begin with renewed strength.  Small goals will become easier to reach and maintain.  You will find as each goal is reached and you reflect on why you are working so hard it will become easier to reach your next goal and the next until one day you are exactly where you want to be.  There will still be struggles and days where you "blow it" but they will become smaller and more manageable and there will be fewer.  Your recovery from those days will be quick because you will have a clear understanding of who and why you are working so hard.  You will win the battle.  So friend I will say to you now and the next day and the next, "EVERYTHING you need is already inside of you" dig deep.  I am here beside you ready to catch you when you stumble and cheer for you as you succeed.  You are worth the effort!

      Monday, May 2, 2011

      You are Beautiful

      "Smile!  You are beautiful!"  It was there taped to the mirror in the front office bathroom at work several weeks ago.  It was accompanied by a picture of a grinning baby.  It made me smile!  What a great way to start the day.

      Several days later there was a new message, a more powerful message that caused me to stop and reread it.   "Don't let this mirror tell you how beautiful you are."  I read the message every time I am in that bathroom and every time I pause and think about the message. "Don't let this mirror tell you how beautiful you are"....  What is it about this statement that affects me this way?  (I also wonder who is the mysterious person who is posting these messages and why they are doing it but I am grateful for the message.)


      Our senses are overloaded daily with images on television, print ads, magazines which show us and tell us what beauty looks like and smells like, feels like and even tastes like.  The advertisers want us to believe we can be beautiful by buying their product or dressing a certain way or even using the "right" toothpaste.  Is beauty really defined  by how a person dresses, how much a person weighs, the color or their hair, their facial characteristics, their skin color, the toothpaste they use or how popular they are; outward  appearances?  Are these the standards you use to define beauty?  Is this the measurement you use for yourself or someone you care for?  Do you believe that beauty can only be defined by a person's outward appearance or does it more truly reflect the essence of a person; how they treat others,and how they live their lives?   What measurements would you use to evaluate beauty if you were completely blind?  

      The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines beauty as the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit.   A particularly graceful, ornamental, or excellent quality. Maybe I don't read this definition the way others do but I don't read anything that says beauty is just about physical appearance.


      Smile! You are beautiful!


      Don't let this mirror tell you how beautiful you are!


      Sunday, April 24, 2011

      Missing in action?

      Happy Easter!  It has been a while since I have posted so let me explain where I have been.  In my last entry I shared that I had been hired to be a Weight Watchers leader but this is not something you just start doing; there is training and more training!  Weight Watchers leaders and receptionists are a team and so all leaders learn how to be receptionists before they learn the ins and outs of being a WW leader.  This is what has taken up my free time.  I have now had 3 receptionists training sessions and done a 2 1/2 hour online training session.  Tomorrow night I will again step into the unfamiliar roll of receptionist at a meeting in York, SC.  I say unfamiliar because I never could have imagined all of the work the receptionists do for a meeting.  I stand in awe of the ease with which they accomplish all of their tasks.  I am much more familiar with what the leader must do having sat on this side of the room as a member for fifteen years with numerous leaders.  I am eager to begin my leader training but also understand the need to know the receptionist position.  My training continues....

      I went to my regular meeting on Saturday morning and smiled when I saw the leader who had been there for me as I lost the final pounds and reached my goal.  She cried with me when I told about completing my first half marathon and compared it to my WW experience.  She cried again with me the day I shared my letter to the weight I had lost with my WW meeting, and she cried again the day I reached goal.  She was not the leader of the meeting the day I made Lifetime but she had kept up with me and sure enough she was there with her camera the morning I became a Lifetime member.  This is the kind of leader I hope to be.  I want to know my members by name, without a name tag.  I want to help them get started on their journey, encourage them when they stumble, pick them up again and again if I need to and help them find their way and most importantly cheer for them each and every time they have a victory.  Thank you Mary Bell!

      "A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way."  John C. Maxwell

      I am on my way and I am ready!

      Sunday, April 3, 2011

      Setting Goals and Reaching Them

      The rung of a ladder was never meant to rest upon, but only to hold a man's foot long enough to enable him to put the other somewhat higher.  ~Thomas Henry Huxley

       
      I stood on the scale at that meeting and stared in shocked disbelief at the number looking back at me, surely it couldn't be right!  I looked at her, the one weighing me, with eyes pleading, hoping, praying, that she tell me that something was wrong with the scale; she said nothing. I continued to stand there, not moving, watching her write that weight, my weight, on my weekly weigh in log.  I got off the scale and took it from her and found a seat at the back of that Weight Watchers meeting.   I am numb and ashamed.

      What do you do when you need to lose almost 200 pounds?  How do you even begin?

      I began my journey by setting a laughable goal;  lose five pounds.  I knew I could lose five pounds but it was a goal I could attain and the satisfaction of having reached that goal should keep me going.  I reached that goal at the very next weigh in.  I lost 9 3/4 pounds!  I was elated and motivated but I knew I needed to set a new goal and so I did; lose five  pounds!  I continued reaching my goal and then setting a new one throughout my weight loss journey.  It worked!

      I have learned that setting a goal requires more than just stating your intentions.  It requires a plan and tools and support.  Weight Watchers provided me with all three of these.  I had a leader, and a room full of supporters, and I had a program that worked.  I followed the program, weighed in weekly or almost weekly and stayed for the meeting and I reached goal after goal until I ultimately stood on the scale and weighed in at my goal weight.  I needed a new goal, something to reach for, something to challenge me.  It didn't take me long to know exactly what my new goal would be: I would become a Weight Watchers leader!

      I had been told by several different WW leaders that Weight Watchers had a policy that required all leaders to be at their goal weight; I had a problem.  At my goal weight, which was set by my doctor, I was still 30 pounds above their goal weight (124-155lbs).  I needed a plan!

      A month or so before reaching my goal weight I discovered that the CEO of Weight Watchers had a blog.  Are you smiling yet?  Do you know where I am going with this information?  I had decided if I was going to hear a lot of "nos" in my fight to become a leader I would start at the top rather than work my way up through the appropriate channels before finally reaching the top and so I watched his posts and posted appropriate comments until the opportunity was right to post MY story.  I was very surprised when he responded to my post but he did, and to make a long story short he forwarded my information on to the appropriate people.  Step one of my goal was now complete.

      A month ago I had an interview with the WW territory manager for my area.  We talked quite a while but we connected.  The conversation was easy and my cheeks hurt from smiling.  When we were finished with the interview she said, "I want to hire you.  I think you will be a terrific leader!"  I fought to restrain my joy and resisted the urge to jump out of my chair and hug her and then reality hit when I asked what kind of a fight we were in for.  She smiled and said she was sending it straight to the top, to the CEO.  I grinned, and told her how I had already "talked to him" and then explained how she ended up getting my information.  She loved the story and told me to go back to his blog and tell him my application was heading towards his desk.  I did.

      Two weeks ago I heard from her again, this time with great news;  my application had been approved, she would contact the appropriate trainers in my area and she would get me trained to become a leader!  Just yesterday I had my initial training session and the next session has been set up for April 7th.  I am so close to meeting my new goal and I am so excited.

      What do I do now?  I pay attention in all of my training sessions and I prepare for the day I stand in front of "my class" and lead my first meeting.  I reflect on my journey; the struggles and the successes and I think about a new goal.  Did you know Weight Watchers has an award for "Outstanding New Leader" ?

      The rung of a ladder was never meant to rest upon, but only to hold a man's foot long enough to enable him to put the other somewhat higher.  ~Thomas Henry Huxley

      I am standing on the second step of my ladder and I am ready to step up to the next rung!

      Wednesday, March 23, 2011

      Determination, Success, and Above all Courage!

      At least once a  month as I sit in my regular Weight Watchers meeting someone who is new will ask me how long it took to lose "the weight."  I usually hesitate to answer this question but then I smile and I answer like this:  The first hundred pounds came off in a year the next nearly hundred took quite a bit longer.  I resist telling this new member how long a bit longer is because I don't want them to feel that I am typical of members with sizable amounts to lose and I don't want them discouraged before they start and yet somehow I think my truth is helpful to share.

      The truth is that it took me 15 years, yes years, to get to my goal weight and that weight is a number set by my doctor who did not believe it would be healthy or even safe for me to get to the Weight Watchers goal weight. If I was going to reach the Weight Watchers goal weight I would need to lose an additional thirty pounds!  The important thing to know is that I am happy where I am now and it is a lifestyle I can maintain and do maintain MOST days.

      During that fifteen year period I learned many things that have helped and sustained me along the way.  The MOST important thing I learned about losing my weight and keeping it off is that I had to believe I was worth the effort.  I am worth the effort and so I persevere!  I learned that when you are as large as I was and the Weight Watcher leader stands in front of the class and says, "Nothing tastes as good as thin feels" you know immediately she has NEVER had warm chocolate chip cookies straight out of the oven or peanut butter spread on bread fresh from the toaster or even a dish of Rocky Road ice cream from Baskin Robins because I can assure you they still taste amazing and are worth the extra exercise I have to do to burn off the calories from eating them.  I know I could list you at least another fifty foods that meet the same qualifications.  Food tastes great and most of us in that meeting know that or we would not be sitting in that meeting.  I have also learned that the Weight Watchers program works great; the Lynn  program, not so well.  On the Lynn  program I would follow the WW program religiously until the FIRST meal after my weigh in at which point I would think to myself I have a whole week to recover so...the eating would begin.  I began this practice with only one "bad" meal on the day I weighed in but soon it became both meals and included snacks.  I weigh in on Saturday so Saturday then became a bust.  Soon Saturday became Sunday as well and before long what I ate Friday night couldn't possibly show up on the scale on Saturday morning, but it did!  Reality hit me smack between the eyes one week when I realized it took me three to four days of the next week to get off what I had just eaten on the weekend and I just might be much more successful if I stopped the weekend binge.  Guess what; it worked!  The Lynn  program was put aside with all of the other discarded diet attempts but I continued on with WW and I did their program.  Pound by pound, sometimes quarter pound by quarter pound the weight came off and I found myself on the scale at my meeting at goal.  I fought back the tears but know that my meeting mates would have understood because that is what we do.

      My truth is there were struggles and the same pounds were gained and lost repeatedly but I kept coming.  I learned to do better and how to handle the rough times and that everyone stumbled and some even quit trying for awhile but kept coming and they too became successful.

      The other day I was struggling and I came across a great quote that put things back in perspective for me:

      "Some days, doing "the best we can" may still fall short of what we would like to be able to do, but life isn't perfect on any front-and doing what we can with what we have is the most we should expect of ourselves or anyone else." Fred Rogers

      I read it again and brushed the dirt off my knees, pulled my shoulders back, picked my chin up and started over.  I AM WORTH THE EFFORT!  "Failure is not falling down; failure is not getting up." (unknown)  The truth is that it takes courage to continue trying.

      My truths are that I am determined.  I am a success but above all I am courageous!  

      Be brave, you are worth the effort!

      "Courage doesn't always roar.  Sometimes, courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow." Mary Anne Radmacher


      Wednesday, March 16, 2011

      Letter to my body

      Dear Body,

      Today I want to apologize to you for the way I have treated you.  I took you for granted far too long and ignored your cries for help. You tried to tell me when I had eaten too much by making me feel sick to my stomach, occasionally even to the point of vomiting.  You added pound after pound of weight to my body hoping I would notice how tight my clothes were getting, but I bought bigger clothes. You tried to tell me I had put on too much weight for you to carry when my knees began to hurt and I found it was more and more difficult to run and then to even walk, but I ignored you.  I made excuses to avoid going up and down the stairs and asked my family to retrieve things for me.  I even managed to ignore you when my heart would race and beat irregularly; I was certain it was too much tea and so I stopped drinking tea.  But then one day my eyes opened wide and looked in the mirror and looked at the number on the scale and I saw what you had been trying to tell me and we began the process of changing together.  Today I want to thank you for sticking with me and helping me get my life back.  It is such a gift to still be alive!

      I have pounds of loose skin on my thighs and abdomen and arms.   When I stand naked and look in the mirror I look like a Shar pei puppy but I am grateful!  I promise I will not allow surgeons to cut you out of vanity.  Many people have asked me if I am going to have plastic surgery and I always answer this way, "The surgery I  need is cosmetic and is not covered by my insurance.  No one can guarantee me I will wake up from the anesthesia and they can't guarantee that I won't get an infection that could cost me my life or my arm or my leg so no, I will not have any plastic surgery."  Then I explain a bit further, this revelation that came to me.  I have two arms that work.  They bathe me and dress me and feed me.  They were the arms that embraced my husband when we were pronounced husband and wife and they were the same arms that held my babies after they were born.  They have extra skin but they are my arms and they are just right the way they are.  

      Thank you body for helping me to help myself.  I promise to always do my best to care for you the way you deserve to be cared for, to respect you, and to love you even on the days I have doubts.

      Here is a very moving and powerful video that is another woman's letter to her body:

      Letter to my Body from Ally Marks on Vimeo.

      Thursday, March 10, 2011

      Spreading my wings

      I was five or six when I learned how to ride my bike without training wheels.  We lived in Lutherville, Maryland in a cute Cape Cod style house on a corner lot.  It was summer and I had been begging my parents to take my training wheels off my bike so I could learn to ride just like some of my friends who no longer needed training wheels.  I was so excited when my dad took them off!  My mom was the one I remember holding the back of my seat and running beside me giving instructions and helping me maintain my balance.  I tried and I tried and I tried and I fell over and over again until my mom got tired and told me we would try again another day. She went back into the house.  I was not ready to give up.  I continued trying and falling many more times before my mind and my body finally realized what they needed to do to keep me on the bike in an upright position and off the ground which resulted in a glorious fifteen to twenty second ride without a fall.  I was on my way!  I continued to practice, sometimes falling but each time gaining more and more confidence and longer and longer successful rides until I could ride with confidence. I wish I could say I never had another fall but that would not be true.  I can say when I did fall there was usually not as big of a scrape because I had learned to catch myself or even to lay the bike down in the grass where my landing would be softer, but I would continue to have the occasional spill. Did I ever think I should stop riding my bike because of those spills?  No way!  Several years ago I got a bike for Christmas.  I had not ridden for MANY years but my mind and my body remembered.  Labor Day weekend of the next year my husband and I rode our bikes thirty-four miles on a trail called the Virginia Creeper.  I fell once and scraped my arm but I didn't quit.  I would have missed out on so much if I had! 

      So why am I writing about my childhood memory of learning to ride my bike? I am writing  to tell you that the experience of learning to ride a bike is no different than the experiences I have had losing my weight.  I know VERY FEW people who were able to get on a bike and pedal away without practice and falls and scraped up knees and elbows.  Many more people have memories that match mine; of a parent running beside them  holding on to the seat to steady them helping them learn to simultaneously balance and pedal.  They will tell you about falling and trying again and again and close calls where they caught themselves before they fell and they will tell you about tears and scraped elbows and knees and wounded pride.  They may even smile as they recall the experience and yet they all learned to ride a bike.

      This is my experience with Weight Watchers.  I had a leader and a room full of members just like me in various stages of discovering why we eat and how to eat and portion control, and healthy choices, and even exercise.  The leader was there to help us steer and show us the way; to encourage us to pick ourselves up and get our balance back when we stumbled.  The members cheered for each other and celebrated the successes and understood and even cried when someone was lost.   Each of us had to make the decision to continue trying or to give up and go home.  Those who chose to continue to try, like me, were successful.  It was not easy and all of us stumbled and fell occasionally.  We beat ourselves up and we cried but we also laughed and cheered for the others who were becoming successful and for ourselves.  We lost weight and we made friends and we rejoiced!  A few, like me, found themselves buried under all of the extra weight and like a caterpillar came out of their cocoon to discover they had become a butterfly!

      “How does one become a butterfly?” she asked. ”You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.” - Trina Paulus



      Monday, February 28, 2011

      On being full

      The unanswered voices begging for help at the Weight Watchers meeting continue to shout in my head; "I don't know when I'm full, I don't know when I'm full!"  I hear them when I am quiet and they continue to disrupt my silence because I understand the problem and felt the frustration when the statement was ignored.  I have to DO something to try to quiet them and so I will do my best to tell you what I have learned and maybe it will help you.  I certainly hope it will quiet the voices.

      • Being full is feeling satisfied but in order to feel satisfied or even able to tell if you are satisfied you have to be aware of what you are eating.  You sit at the table and eat one bite at a time and you put your fork down between bites and you chew more than twice before you swallow, and you smell the food, and you feel the food in your mouth, you notice the texture and the temperature and the flavors, you really taste the food and then you swallow.  You don't reload and shovel the food in and have your meal completed in 10 minutes.
      • "Satisfied" is not an emotion any more than full is but it can be influenced by your emotions and why you are eating what you are eating.
      • If you went to the kitchen cabinets or the refrigerator more than once before you picked something to eat and it is not meal time you are eating for a reason other than hunger.  Take a walk or call a friend or write a blog  :)  You will not get full from this kind of eating.  You will eat way too much and you will still be hungry because food was not what you were looking for.
      • You will NEVER feel full if the reason you are eating is not from the physical need to nourish your body.  You will be medicated with your drug of choice; the "friend" who never asks questions that start with, "Are you physically hungry?"  If you had stopped and called a friend and talked you might find you were no longer hungry and the feelings that were causing you to look for something to eat will probably be gone.
      • To understand what full feels like you need to get to know the feelings that arise not only in your stomach, but also in your head, your heart, and your body.
      • If food was such a wonderful friend ask yourself why your friend would let you do this to your body.  A true friend would not help you dig your grave with your spoon and fork.  A true friend would say;  I value you.  You matter to me.  You are amazing just the way you are.  How can I help you?  I love you!
      I hope this helps you grasp what full is.  Full is knowing you ate a healthy meal in realistic portions and even if you aren't certain how full feels you will trust that you are and that will be enough.