Friday, December 14, 2012

I don't understand

Today as I sat in my office, the Health Room of an elementary school, I learned of yet another incomprehensible tragedy at another elementary school.  I watched the live feed on my computer, saw the sound bites with a little girl who was in the school when the shooting took place and the gut wrenching pictures of families trying to get information about their children, their babies, and I fought back both tears and the urge to vomit.  I turned the live feed off and did the only thing I could think of, I prayed.  This is a season filled with childhood wonder and joy as children everywhere anticipate Christmas and Santa and even Christmas vacation and this day, today, will forever change their thoughts and memories surrounding this very special time of year.  Their childhood innocence has been forever altered.

I spoke to both my children via live chat and realized I just needed to know they were OK and  to tell them that I love them.  I called my husband to see if he had been watching the events unfold on the television but I really just wanted to hear his voice, to see if he understood, if he could explain, all the time knowing there is no explanation that begins to make sense.  I prayed some more.

I talked to my friends, the teachers that I work with, looking into their eyes as they struggled to understand, knowing they were probably having some of the same thoughts I was having; we work in an elementary school, this is crazy, could this happen here, what do we say to the children next week when they return to school.  We had no answers.  It was unusually quiet in the front office as we left school.  What do we say...

So I sit at my computer and try to make sense of something that will never make sense.  How can a person walk into an elementary school with a gun which looks as if it should only be used by the military or police and take aim at innocent children, innocent adults?  How does that ever make sense in their head?  What did these babies do to cause them so much pain and anger?  In the end the shooter killed himself and saved the taxpayers a lot of money in legal fees but if in the end he was going to kill himself why didn't he just do that in a place where he is the only one who will die?

I will continue my prayers for the families of the children and adults who died today and for all of us who have been affected by this tragedy.  I will pray that those who make gun laws will finally realize things need to change and while I support the right to be a gun owner I recognize there are guns we should not be allowed to own, and I will pray for the family of the shooter who now carry the burden of his actions.

Tonight I pray for God's grace, peace and love.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Prayer

The tragic, unthinkable, incomprehensible act of a gunman in Colorado descended upon us all once again and I find myself struggling to understand; I don't.  How can anyone understand such an event?  As I listened to the news reports and the viewed the images in the media I became fixated on the outpouring of grief.  I heard about the unselfish love of at least 5 men who placed their bodies on top of their girlfriends and in so doing died while saving them.  I saw pictures of the father begging for news about his son who was later found dead; dying on his birthday, and I saw the picture of a beautiful six year old little girl whose life ended in that theater before it really had a chance to begin.  I fought back tears.  That little girl smiling, eating an ice cream cone stays with me.  I realized each of those victims regardless of their age was somebody's child, a priceless, irreplaceable gift from God.  

Sometime ago I came across a prayer written by Ina J. Hughes entitled, "We Pray for Children".  I printed that prayer and have it in my office at school.  I can't think of a more appropriate prayer for a day like today so I am sharing it here.

We pray for children
who sneak popsicles before supper,
who erase holes in math workbooks,
who can never find their shoes. 

And we pray, for those
who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire,
who can't bound down the street in a new pair of sneakers,
who never "counted potatoes,"
who are born in places where we wouldn't be caught dead,
who never go to the circus,
who live in an X-rated world. 

We pray for children
who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions,
Who sleep with the cat and bury goldfish,
Who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money,
Who squeeze toothpaste all over the sink,
Who slurp their soup.

And we pray for those
who never get dessert,
who have no safe blanket to drag behind them,
who watch their parents watch them die,
who can't find any bread to steal,
who don't have any rooms to clean up,
whose pictures aren't on anybody's dresser,
whose monsters are real. 

We pray for children
who spend all their allowance before Tuesday,
who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food,
who like ghost stories,
who shove dirty clothes under the bed,
and never rinse out the tub,
who get visits from the tooth fairy,
who don't like to be kissed in front of the carpool,
who squirm in church or temple and scream in the phone,
whose tears we sometimes laugh at
and whose smiles can make us cry. 

And we pray for those
whose nightmares come in the daytime,
who will eat anything,
who have never seen a dentist,
who aren't spoiled by anybody,
who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep,
who live and move, but have no being. 

We pray for children
who want to be carried
and for those who must,
for those we never give up on
and for those who don't get a second chance.
For those we smother…
and for those who will grab the hand of anybody
kind enough to offer it. 

We pray for children. Amen
Today my prayers will include ALL of the children who died in Colorado and will include the child who was the shooter and his family.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Finding happiness

I noticed it out of the corner of my eye as I walked past the front door.  It was just sitting there looking so ordinary on my porch; just a large cardboard box.  It had a plain address label which was addressed to me and a bright orange sticker which read "Fragile!  Handle with care"  The UPS man must have placed it there like he does with so many other packages only this time I didn't hear the doorbell ring.  I unlocked the door and wrangled the large awkward box into the foyer and carefully looked at the other markings on the box, totally forgetting about an online order I had placed  about two weeks ago.  There on the side of the box was a label that said, "Respironics."  Respironics is a company that manufactures CPAP machines and CPAP supplies which are used by people with sleep apnea. I had a moment of panic as I hurried to the kitchen to get a knife to open the box.  Sometime in May I had placed an order for 2 soft CPAP caps for Jay.  The order had never come but our credit card  had not been charged so I didn't give it another thought.  Jay and I had talked about the order for the caps and he assured me he had a backup cap and was fine with the apparent outcome of my order.  I forgot about that order until "Respironics" was staring at me in bold black ink from the side of a very large box. Oh my gosh!  That order must be here and it surely was messed up because 2 soft caps would most certainly fit in an 8 1/2" x 11" padded envelope without difficulty.  How many caps did I get and what was it going to take to get this all straightened out.  Panicked I tore into the box!  Packing peanuts in multiple colors came spilling out of the box.  I remember thinking, "who needs to pack peanuts around fabric caps?"  I dug though the peanuts only to encounter blocks of foam padding, lots and lots of foam.  My concern and panic was increasing.  What did I mistakenly order and what is it going to take to get this mess straightened out?  Then I saw it and I began smiling, grinning, laughing as total joy came exploding out of that large ordinary cardboard box!  You see that order I had forgotten about was for items I had seen on E Bay after discovering another cardboard box of memories and precious toys had been lost, mistakenly donated to Goodwill.  I had won an auction and this was my winnings.  There under my fingers was a Fisher Price A Frame house, not my house but another perfect house.  The tears came again but this time they for happiness found inside an ordinary box at my front door.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bring on the food challenge!

I have a blogger friend, Mimi, who writes about Weight Watchers in the 1970's.  She loves the era and frequently shares recipes from the WW program in the '70's complete with her taste evaluation.  She is brave, very brave!

If you, like me, did the Weight Watchers program in the '70's you may remember the FIVE fish meals per week as well as the MANDATORY liver meal weekly.  The were no free fruits and vegetables and no skim milk!  Ketchup you could have if you made it yourself.  Wow!  What great changes the program has made.

Mimi issued a challenge to her blog followers a month or so ago.  She asked who would be willing to cook up a recipe from the 1970's Weight Watchers program and blog about it.  I volunteered (and prayed)!  Here is the link to read my recipe challenge: Pink Fluff Salad as well as the other brave bloggers participating in Mimi's virtual potluck:


 CLICK HERE:   Pink Fluff Salad 

If you visit her blog, let her know in the comment section, I invited you!  Remember your manners  :)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Just a box of toys

This past week has been one full of anticipation and excitement for me as we prepared to welcome our daughter, son in law, and granddaughter who would be visiting from New York for several days.  Erika is now 9 months old and with her living so far away we have missed so many changes as well as quality cuddle time with her.  I am excited, we are excited!!  Saturday could not arrive quickly enough.

On Thursday I asked my husband to bring down the box of toys we had stored away for "someday".  He looked carefully in the storage space that flanks either side of our bonus room and found nothing that resembled a box large enough to contain those saved toys.  He came down and told me they weren't there.  I returned to the bonus room with him to conduct another search knowing he had missed them, praying he had missed them.  The box contained special toys tucked away for grandchildren someday.  There was the Fisher Price A-Frame house picked up a garage sale by my mother when Megan was little.  There was the Fisher Price rolling ball with the carousel animals that rocked and chimed as it was played with.  There was the Tudor style Fisher Price House, the school bus containing all of the wooden little people,  the garage and cars with the lift that moved up and down when the crank was turned and there was the barn and silo with all of the animals.  There were other toys and lots of wooden little people and there were countless memories of times our children played with those toys. They were tucked safely away years ago to wait until we needed them.  We wanted to share those toys with our grandchildren.  Some of those toys packed away so long ago would be great for Erika to play with now and so I had to search again.  They had to be there!  Jay surely was wrong.  We searched and as he said, no box of toys.  Maybe they were in the attic.  I held my breath and we looked but again came up empty.  Jay commented more than once that I looked upset and I was.  Part of something special was gone and I had no words adequate enough to explain how I was feeling and then the tears came, streaming down my face and dropping silently onto my shirt.  Jay didn't know what to say.  He tried to comfort me but I was lost.  Perhaps I could replace a few of the toys, and yes, they would be similar but they would not be the same as the toys I knew now were mistakenly donated to Goodwill when we cleaned out the storage areas several years ago.  It was no one's fault, it was simply a terrible accident.

I called Megan and told her about her A-Frame House and all of the other toys that were gone and she understood my sadness and disappointment.  I played on EBay as we talked only to discover they had several Fisher Price A-Frame house on their listings.  Somehow that fact made both of us feel better.

Megan, Judson, and Erika arrived on Saturday and there were toys for her to play with and she was happy but a part of me still watches her and feels my heartstrings tug when I think about what we lost.  It was not just a box of toys!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Eating My Way to Happiness

For as long as I can remember I have had a love hate relationship with food.  It has been the best way to celebrate the good times, the accomplishments, the goals met.  It has relieved my stress and renewed my strength after an anatomy and physiology final among other exams on my way to becoming a nurse.  Food has been my source of comfort when I was feeling sad or lonely, bored, angry, frustrated...  I love food!  I love eating!  Food has been my drug of choice.  Food IS my drug of choice.

I guess I am fortunate to have chosen food over alcohol or drugs but it is no less a problem for me.  I have buried my feelings by eating, in excess, often finding myself at the bottom of a half gallon of ice cream with no idea of how I got there or even what the flavor of the ice cream was.  I have baked chocolate chip cookies and instead of eating one or two I have looked at the cooling rack to find six or eight of the cookies gone. Did I even taste them? I have bought a pound of M&Ms at the convenience store often commenting to the cashier that I needed them for a recipe (God forbid he think I was going to eat them) only to go home, open them and eat the entire bag in one sitting hiding the empty wrapper in the trash to deny it ever happened but I would still be hungry.  Was I hungry?  Why do I continue eating like this?  What am I hungry for?

Figuring out the difference between physical and emotional hunger has been a battle.  I do better some days than others but I am still learning.  I often hear the same comments in the Weight Watchers group I lead and I can truly answer, "I understand!".  For those of us who try to eat our way to happiness there are no easy answers, no quick fixes, no magic words to make it stop.  I have lost almost 200 pounds and there are days when I still battle.  I win more or those battles than I used to but I still find myself on occasion with a bag of M&Ms or a spoon and a carton of ice cream.  I have learned to move forward from those times and forgive myself.  I am a work in progress.  :)

I follow a blog called, "Thighs and Offerings" which is written by a minister named Kate who by her own admission had a serious eating disorder.  She wrote about her battle with emotional eating in a post several years ago.  Here in her words is a description of her battle with pumpkin scones:

  "A pumpkin scone has been far more to me than an acquaintance, and far less than a friend. Truth be told, the role it has played in my life has been that of, I don't know, a lover, an ex-boyfriend you can't quite shake, who you keep seeing and who you keep letting in and who keeps breaking your heart." 

So what is the solution?  What do I do?  I have learned to ask myself two questions BEFORE I put anything in my mouth: Are you hungry and what are you hungry for?  If my answer is anything other than physical hunger I get out of the kitchen, out of the house and far away from any place that sells M&Ms!

Happiness is NOT found at the bottom of a container of ice cream or inside a package of M&Ms.  Happiness is found by loving yourself and knowing you are worthy of the effort you are making to take care of yourself and lose the weight you want to lose.

To those of you who read my blog and fight this battle Kate and I understand! 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Father's Day without my Dad

I said goodbye to my dad almost two years ago.  He had fought a very long battle against congestive heart failure and irreversible heart disease, it was time to go.  I was blessed to be with him during his final hours.  

My dad was an amazing man!  He was a child of God, a Presbyterian preacher, a husband, a father to four, a grandfather to eight and a great grandfather to one.  He was my role model and my friend and I miss him!  He lived a life full of love and service.  I have no doubts about where he is or what he is doing.  As he lay dying a wrote a blog which was called things my dad taught me.  I read it to him before he died and we cried.  He asked me to read it at his memorial service, which I did, and I fought the tears but proudly read it and I got through it.  I can think of no better thing to share for Father's Day so here it is again; lessons from my dad, life lessons.  Happy Father's Day Dad!  I love you!

Here, in no particular order, are just a few of the things my dad has taught me:

If you want to catch fish, you have to use worms and you have to bait your own hook.

When cooking, always clean up as you go.

When playing Boggle, making up words is allowed as long as you snicker while you write them down.  If you are lucky one of them will be a real word.

It is OK to eat your Nana's cream puffs for breakfast.

Patience is a virtue especially when teaching teenagers to drive or when taking  them to pick out a Christmas tree.

God is good all the time.

Say you're sorry and mean it.

Let go of wrongs.

Forgive and forget. (Yes I know those were similar but they were worth repeating)

Love unconditionally.

God always answers prayers but not always the way we expect.

Always do your best.

Never put off saying I love you.

Treat others the way you would like to be treated, especially when it is difficult.

Even grown men like to play with tractors.

When faced with a broken bike, it is a good idea to take it to a bike shop for repairs.

Pay attention to the details.

Dog names are reusable.

If you can't say something nice, be quiet.

Good people come in all shapes, colors, and sizes.

Doing the right thing may not be easy, and no one may notice, but do it anyway.

And finally the one that seems most appropriate on a day like today:

At the end of even the worst day there is always something to be grateful for.

Thank you God for this gracious and loving man you chose to be my father.  

- I tried unsuccesfully to get my dad's favorite hymn to play in the background.  He loved Fairest Lord Jesus which is a beautiful hymn.  I know itunes and youtube have a version you can listen to if you are unfamiliar with it.  Enjoy and be grateful!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Teachers and lessons

I am blessed to have in my life many AMAZING people!  They have taught me so much simply by being themselves.  It always looked so easy as I watched them being themselves but I have come to appreciate the challenges they have each experienced.  I am thankful for the lessons they have taught me and continue to teach me.

My dad was my first teacher. He taught me about love, patience, trust, faith, and God's never ending grace.  He lived his life with great joy, often beginning his day by proclaiming, "This is the day the Lord has made.  I will rejoice and be glad in it!"  He continued to teach even as he died reminding me that at the end of even the very worst day there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for.

Aunt Jean was another teacher.  She made the best homemade noodles, always allowing me to watch and help as she repeated endlessly each step.  She gave the best hugs; pulling me close and tight, wrapping her arms so securely around me you could feel her heart beating.  Unconditional love was her gift.

Another Jean was there during my very difficult teenage years.  She would listen, simply listen as I poured out my hurts.  She would nod and listen never interrupting or trying to correct me but rather let me pour it out until I had said it all.  Jean taught me how to listen and she showed me how to be a mother.

Sarah, (not her name), is a child at my school.  Her body has been contorted by scoliosis.  Her heart and lungs compromised as a result.  Asthma attacks require a portable oxygen tank.  Surgery to correct the scoliosis has nearly cost her her life and yet she smiles and laughs at the silliest things but has full knowledge of the battle she has had to fight too many times for someone so small and her age.  Sarah has taught me all about fierce determination.

Dannie is a former coworker.  He is one of the unfortunate ones with Diabetes.  While we worked together he battled to save a toe which would not heal due to his Diabetes.  When the surgeons removed his toe we thought he would be fine but diabetes frequently has other ideas and they had to amputate his leg.  Diabetes took his leg but did not touch the essence of who he is, what he can teach.    In February he posted this on Facebook:   

Today I came home with my prosthesis, and so I celebrate with a new icon, with apologies to Leo D. It will be tough and awkward going at first, but I'm a tough (and awkward) guy. Soon I'll be slow dancing with The Mrs.  

Dannie did dance with his wife and shared that in a post as well.  I rejoicedOn Friday Dannie posted another one of his amazing photographs on Flickr.  The photo was of his temporary prosthesis and while the photograph was outstanding I had to smile at his comment:

"This has been my temporary prosthesis since Feb. 21. I've completed out-patient PT, I have been driving, shopping, have been to a Pow-wow, have cooked and baked, and walked for exercise. Friday, I was fitted for my 'permanent' prosthesis, which will be carbon-fiber, titanium, stainless steel and will be very fierce!"

Danny has taught me that even in the midst of terrible personal challenges persistence, perseverance, humor and grace can prevail.

My newest teacher is Faye who is too young to be battling throat cancer and yet she is.  She was warned the surgery necessary to remove the cancer could cause her voice to change and yet in the depths of her battle she found her voice. She smiles when I know her throat must feel like it is on fire.  She steadfastly refuses to take any more pain medication and she keeps on putting one foot in front of the other.  Friday night she participated in The Relay for Life Walk.  Faye and her team walked all night raising money for other cancer victims.  She posted her pictures on Facebook; she is smiling, no grinning and she is joyful!
Faye has taught me all about joy.

I keep hearing my Dad whispering quietly: "At the end of even the very worst day there is always something to be grateful for."  I am grateful for the lessons and the friendships.

To each of you, and the countless others I have not mentioned may I leave you with this from a sermon by  Steven Furtick:

"May you walk in constant courage so that when you face an unchangeable situation in your life, you will have an unwavering faith in an unchangeable God!"

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Most Memorable Day!

Last Saturday, May 5th, 2012, began as most of my Saturday's do lately; the ungodly shrill of my alarm clock woke me up at 5:45 AM! I made my way towards the shower so I could get ready for my two Weight Watcher's meetings.  The first group I lead begins at 7:30 AM but I like to get there early so I get going.  I stop at McDonald's on my way and get a large coffee and a yogurt parfait.  I arrive at the center a bit earlier than I am required to which gives me time to get my meeting set up the way I want it, scan inventory to see how supplies are and check out any new products that have come in since Tuesday when I was last there.  I gulp down the yogurt, have a team meeting and unlock the door on time.  I am in my groove and I am happy.  The first meeting goes well and I move on to the second which goes equally as well.  It feels as if time flies.  I am finished.  Normally I would pack my stuff up and head home stopping by the consignment shop to see if I can snag any bargains but today I am in a hurry.  I am heading to Greenville for my Weight Watcher territory's Celebration event.

My husband drives me to Greenville and we discuss plans for the rest of the day.  I arrive on time, find the other Rock Hill staff members and we find a seat at a table and prepare for a nice chat and lunch.  Lunch was wonderful!  We had a beautiful grilled chicken breast salad complete with candied pecans and strawberries.  The salad dressing was a garlic yogurt dill and it was very good.  Chocolate mousse in a parfait glass was dessert.  I tasted the mousse but left it alone but did eat every bite of the dark chocolate garnish it was topped with.  After lunch the awards and celebrations began.  We had fun celebrating the total weight loss of the staff sitting at each of the tables.  My table came in second with over 600 pounds lost!  We added up years of service for each table and I was so surprised with the large numbers and we said a fond goodbye to our current territory manager, Diane, and a warm hello to her replacement, out new territory manager, Tisha.  I was sad to see Diane move on since she was the one who was willing to fight to get me hired.  She had faith in me.  She saw the flame and enthusiasm I wanted to desperately to share.  She understood!  I don't know Tisha and she doesn't know me but Diane was moving on to new challenges and a larger territory so I was happy for her.  I will get to know Tisha.  It will be fine especially knowing Diane hired Tisha!

Awards were next and I listened and watched as all of the awards were given.  It was a great event!  Everyone was having a good time.  My attention was peaked after Diane presented the outstanding Rookie Receptionist of the Year award.  I sat and listened as she began describing the qualities of the leader who would receive the next award, The Rookie Leader of the Year.  I remember thinking Wow as she described this leader and then the most unbelievable thing happened;  She said "This year's Rookie Leader of the Year is Lynn Thompson!" Did she just say my name?  I walked to the front of the room fighting tears, so honored, so humbled, so proud!  I remember saying something.  I know I said thank you. I am so grateful!  I am Lynn Thompson and I am the Rookie Leader of the Year for Territory 7115!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dear Friend

Dear Friend,

You sent me an email asking for help; looking for something to hold on to.  I read it and wept. I hear you!  I understand!  I have fought and continue to fight the same weight battle you are fighting.  As a nurse I understand all to well the physical battle you are fighting against cancer but I can't begin to imagine the terror or the emotional struggle you fight constantly as you battle cancer.  I ask myself how can I help, what can I say?  I feel so inadequate and unprepared but am humbled that you have asked me.  I will do my best to give you an answer and hopefully help you find something you can hang on to.  I will start with what I know for sure.

I know that we both were overwhelmed with the amount of weight we needed to lose and embarrassed that we let our bodies get to this point.  I know that I was disgusted and felt invisible yet knew that there was no way you could miss seeing me.  I know that the ONLY way I lost  the weight was to set little goals, 5 pounds at a time, because if I thought about the amount of weight I needed to lose I would have been overwhelmed with the enormity of it and would have never begun my journey.  Set small goals and when you achieve them, and you will, set another and another until you reach your ultimate goal.

I know that you and I both choose food as our drug of choice, a friend who is always there to make us feel better but I now know a true friend would not let you dig your grave with your spoon and fork.  A true friend would say I love you, you are beautiful, you are caring, you are worthy of a joy filled life.  A true friend would wrap their arms around you and say I value you, lets go take a walk because you and I both know you are not hungry for food.  I also know this is a process that is learned slowly and gradually but once you get it you find you don't find yourself at the bottom of a carton of ice cream or with an empty bag of Oreos in your lap; well not very often anyway.

I know that the process of losing weight, the kind of weight we needed to lose, is a marathon and not a sprint.  There are wonderful, success filled days and weeks and there are stumbles and falls that leave us bruised and beat up and defeated but those are temporary.  Think of both the good days and the bad as feedback and learn from it.  When you fall and are feeling defeated with voices in your head telling you, "I knew you couldn't do it," ignore them and pick yourself up, remind yourself you are loved and beautiful and worthy and start over with a grateful heart knowing you have the chance to begin again and again until the stumbles are less frequent and the falls do not leave you defeated.   Learn from your mistakes!

I know that I could not do this alone.  You and I are part of a wonderful caring group of people who understand this battle. Allow them to hold you up and support you until you are able to do it for yourself.  It is OK to be honest with them; laugh, cry, shout, tell them how mad you are they understand!  Be part of the group.  Come in and sit down especially when you don't want to be there because sometimes that is when you learn the most.  If you find yourself in the parking lot and can't come in, call me and I will come out and we will talk.  Use your friends!

I know you can do it.  I know you are worthy!  I know you will!

I know that fighting cancer is like declaring war on those cells that have invaded your body and that attitude makes a difference.  Declare war!!  Decide if you have this additional challenge right now you are going to fight like HELL and reclaim your life and your body.  Do it!  As you face your surgery repeat in your head, "today  they are cutting the cancer out of my body and it will be gone forever, good riddance!" Do not concern yourself with thoughts that your voice may change but rather rejoice in the knowledge you will be alive.  Who knows what kind of sexy voice you will end up with to go with your sexy new body!  Smile and reclaim your health.  If you have more radiation and or chemotherapy after surgery then think of it as your insurance policy.  It is destroying those sneaky cancer cells that thought they could hide from the surgeon's knife.  Be joyful that there is science and technology that is smarter than the cancer.  As each of the treatments begins say, "die you damn cancer cells die!" then don't give them anymore time.  Put your headphones on, listen to music you love and sing, even if you can only sing off key!  Do not give cancer the power to control your life!

At the end of the day I think it comes down to this;  Do the best you can do, forgive yourself.  YOU ARE WORTHY!

"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

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Invisibility update!

This afternoon I returned to the exercise class where only last week I had worked so hard that I had become invisible.  I was running a few minutes late getting there and getting set up because I had a hair appointment right after school.  I hurried upstairs to the bathroom next to the aerobics room and pottied while undressing (I am a great multi-tasker).  I hurried into my workout clothes, threw everything I had just taken off into my bag, slipped on the same gray tennis shoes with bright pink shoe laces and stepped into the aerobics room.   I grabbed a step and weights, set up and began following the instructor's directions.  As I settled into the routine I looked around and there she was; the one who thought people with flabby arms are gross.  I grinned.  I was set up immediately behind her.  Every single time she looked forward into the mirror, which she did a lot, she saw me!  This brought me an odd feeling of satisfaction.  We did shoulder presses, frontal and lateral lifts, biceps curls, and rows.  We held our arms at ninety degree angles and punched side to side while holding weights; my baggy arms worked hard but the skin hung limp, flapping as my arms moved.  She kept looking in the mirror.  I kept smiling.

The class continued and just as she did last week she did not pick up weights and the instructions given were followed only when it was something she liked to do.  The instructor must have finally had enough because she said, "Alison (Whoo hoo!  I have her name) what exactly are you doing here if you aren't going to do what the rest of us are doing?"  In my head I am jumping for joy, my smile is broader.  Alison said something about weights and a stiff back.  I seized the moment and said, "I don't mean to be rude but those of us with flabby arms are using heavy weights, following instructions and working hard!"  I believe I heard the instructor laugh!  It felt glorious to be VISIBLE!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Becoming invisible!

She was there tonight just two steps in front of me in the fitness room at the Y.  We were both there for the step sculpt class and we had both been there before.  I was one of the members working hard, breathing hard, sweating.  I had on my favorite short sleeve hot pink Under Armor shirt and my black workout pants and my dark gray tennis shoes with the new hot pink shoe laces which were purchased online to support a teenage girl fighting breast cancer; I was bright, hard to miss.  She had on a skin tight light blue tank top and similarly fitted black workout pants. She was average in size and she was directly in front of the instructor. Apparently she saw nothing wrong with doing her own thing.  I watched her as we went from move to move, all of us, except her, stepping up and down on the step while doing endless reps of rows, delts and biceps with hand weights.  She would work a while, weightless, and then get a drink and stand admiring herself in the mirror for several minutes as we worked on.  I never saw her break a sweat. I did see her comb her hair and put it back into the already neat ponytail it started in.  If we were doing 20 repetitions she would stop at 12.  If she didn't like the instructors call she would either look in the mirror or do what ever exercise she felt like doing which is not only distracting to the instructor but just plain rude when you are in the front row.  We all worked on and we worked hard, or most of us did.  Arms and legs were shaking, shirts were wet with perspiration, and muscles were exhausted when we finished.  Everyone stayed until the class ended.  Not much talking went on; we were working hard to breathe and ignore the burn in our muscles.

The cool down and stretching finally arrived and this is when I realized I had worked so hard I had become invisible.  Her comment might have gone unnoticed by me on any other day but for some reason today I heard her loud and clear, "I really hate to see women with all of that sagging skin hanging from their arms!  Why don't they just cut it off?  Don't they know how gross they look?"  I am mad, furious, but I am also silent.  Did she not see me?  How could she have missed me in that hot pink shirt?  She doesn't know a thing about me or the journey I have taken to get those baggy arms.  Is she so insensitive to those around her and so wrapped up in herself that she feels it is socially acceptable to make not only a statement but such a judgement?  I am getting madder but I remain silent.  I pray she never comes to the water aerobic class I teach because she will find out not only do I have saggy baggy arms but thighs as well.  My brain is shouting say something to her! Don't let her get away with such an insensitive comment.  Tell her you could choose to have surgery but why should you change something that works.  Tell her, tell her, tell her...

I left the Y, mad, fighting tears for all of the others whose arms sag, whose bodies do not meet her expectations but I WILL NOT apologize for my saggy, baggy arms and thighs.  I FOUGHT too hard to get them.  Next time I will not be silent.  Next time I will tell her and maybe, just maybe I will not be invisible when she sees me again.

Monday, February 13, 2012


This post was one I wrote last year for Valentine's Day.  I started several new postings about love but kept coming back to this one, so here it is again.

4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1Corinthians 13)

He was 16 and she was 15 when they met that July and yet something deep inside her told her this boy was different, special, worth getting to know.  She didn't have a lot of time to get to know him because he was getting ready to go to Sweden as a Rotary International exchange student for the year and yet they had enough time.  They wrote letters back and forth once, sometimes twice a week, and he called her on Christmas Day, something that had to be prearranged in those days.  They talked for just a few minutes yet it was enough.  He returned home at the end of his school year abroad and they spent the summer together and the next year until he graduated from high school and immediately headed off to college.  They continued to date and when he was home you rarely saw one without the other.  She had a moment of doubt her freshman year in college and broke off their relationship despite the fact they had already picked out an engagement ring.  Her mother was furious with her.  He was brokenhearted.  He returned the ring.  She dated other boys often calling them by "his" name.  By Christmas she realized her mistake and called him hoping to re-establish a relationship, begging for forgiveness; he was dating someone else but they talked and before long they were together again.  They married, had 2 children (a girl and a boy) and they now are Nanna and Gramps to their first grandchild, Erika Jean, whom they both fell instantly and deeply in love with simply by holding her and looking at her perfect face. They have battled the ups and downs that come with any relationship; the good times outweighing the difficult ones.  It is now 40+ years since they met.  They have been married 36 years.  She has been with him for more than 70 percent of her life and yet she still loves him with all of her heart and soul.  Tomorrow is Valentine's Day and the card she will give him will not begin to express the depth of her love for him and so she is sharing this on her blog again but writing it for him.  

To my loving husband, Jay, who I love more than words can ever express.  Thank you for sharing your love and your life with me.  You continue to show me what love is in everything you do.  I am blessed to have found you but know without a shadow of a doubt that God arranged our meeting at that church paper drive 40+ years ago.

Here are some profound answers from children when asked; "What does love mean?" 

'When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different.
You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.'
Billy - age 4

'When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore.  So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love.'
Rebecca- age 8

'Love is what makes you smile when you're tired.' 
Terri - age 4

Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.'
Bobby - age 7

My favorite is a four year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, 'Nothing, I just helped him cry'   

I know the answer to what does love mean.  I hope you do too!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Just saying...

I love meaningful quotes and phrases; I always have.  I can remember hours spent in my room with my best friend, Linda, making giant sized collages from phrases and quotes and pictures.  I had three or four of them on my bedroom walls, each one different but each one reflective of how I was feeling at the time.  I don't remember taking them down when I left home for college and knowing my parents they probably stayed right where I had put them until it came time to sell the house and move on.  Oh how I would love to have those now just to remember and reflect, perhaps even to contemplate what had been going on in my life during those days.  

It should come as no surprise to anyone that knew me then that I have found a new way to make collages and post words, colors, and pictures that I like or that move me.  I don't have poster board collages on the walls in my house but I have computer collections saved on multiple "boards" on an internet site called Pinterest.  I have created 23 different boards on Pinterest ranging from "Explaining and defining me" and "Words that speak to me" to "Things that make me smile", and "Yummy Goodness."  I have become addicted and creative and reflective and I love it.  I need to add a new board and called it "Pinterest things I have made" to give all of this time I am spending making my boards some value.  Neighbors and friends benefited from "Christmas ideas" as I baked up treats I had saved on a board.. My Grandchildren will enjoy the cardboard airplane directions I have saved on my "For Grandchildren" board and then there are the Valentine's day items I am collecting and saving just in case I want to make something special, just saying...

Here are just a few of my favorite images saved on Pinterest:

Friday, January 6, 2012

New Beginings!

Happy New Year!  I know, I know I am a bit late but I have been busy.  If you are someone like me who works out at the gym on a regular basis I did not have to tell you it is a new year.  There is absolutely no mistaking it.  The treadmill you have used every morning at 7 AM for months now has someone you haven't seen before on it and there are no available treadmills.  Your spot in the fitness class is also occupied by an unfamiliar face and the room is packed!  Welcome to the New Year!!  The second part of this New Year's crowd that you know for sure if you have been faithfully working out is this; by Valentine's day most of these new faces will have disappeared and you will once again gain residency on "your treadmill".  Resolutions to get fit fail and the population gets heavier.  Next year and the next year it repeats.

I was once one of those newbies at the gym taking up someone elses treadmill but there is a difference.  I didn't make a resolution to get fit or even to lose weight.  I set a GOAL!  I believe there is a difference.  A resolution is a wish or a desire while a goal is specific and measurable.  A goal has a deadline!  So I got on someone's treadmill and I walked and each day I came back and walked some more and I joined Weight Watchers and I followed the program and set a goal to lose five pounds, and I did.  Then I set another goal to lose five pounds and I did.  And then yet another five pounds and each time I set a new goal I shared it with my husband and I reached it.  Sometimes losing five pounds took a week but most times it took a month.  Once in a while it took much longer than that but I NEVER took my eyes off my goal.  I became fitter and fitter walking on that treadmill and eventually began a step class, then weight lifting and watched as I transformed my body, slowly, but successfully.  I walked a half marathon (13.1 miles) and then another.  Eventually I lost more than fifty percent of my body weight and was able to stand in front of my friends in Weight Watchers and earn my Lifetime membership.

New Beginnings the first morning I walked into the gym and got on the treadmill and again as I reached my weight goal with Weight Watchers and became a Lifetime member.  New beginnings when I became a Weight Watchers leader and lead my first group meeting.  Scary, exhilarating, so worth the journey!

Weight Watchers has begun a new advertising campaign and I am so proud of it.  Have you seen it?  Jennifer Hudson before and after her weight loss transformation with giant red letters spelling out the word BELIEVE.  That is the most powerful word I know!  In order to be successful at whatever you start you must believe in yourself.  I had to learn to believe I was worth the effort.  I had to learn to believe.