Friday, August 23, 2013

A place where love lives.

For forty eight years my in laws, Jean and Clair, lived in this lovely home in Canton, Ohio.  The Tudor style of the home is classic, the natural woodwork beautiful and the kitchen so comfortable.  My husband lived in this home for most of those years.  For forty six years this has been a home full of love.  I have been so blessed to be part of this family.  As a fifteen year old girl Jay brought me to this home to meet his parents and I was welcomed with easy conversation, french silk chocolate pie and lemonade in the kitchen and later for Sunday dinners always shared at the dining room table.  Sticky buns from the Woman's Club were served at many of those Sunday dinners. Summer brought homemade ice cream churned in the old fashioned ice cream maker at the side door and was devoured as soon as it was done.  Chocolate chip cookies, blueberry cream pie, Santa Claus cookies, and  brownies made from scratch were traditions which continue today, recipes passed down to children and grandchildren. Holidays, birthdays,weddings, anniversary's, woman's club, and even good byes have been celebrated in this home.  Many hours of my teenage years were spent sitting at the kitchen table just talking to Jean about the problems I was having.  She always listened but never shared her opinion about what I was telling her and yet that was enough.  Conversation was easy, acceptance and love was given unconditionally.  In the foyer of this home hung a framed letter that Clair had written to his parents shortly after meeting Jean.  A letter tucked away and cherished because he knew even then how special she was.  He presented the letter to her one anniversary not so long ago.  Love filled this home! Jean and Clair  have welcomed three grandchildren and now 3 great grandchildren into this home.  Their grandchildren and great grandchildren have played with special toys which were  brought out and then tucked away until they came to visit again; toys which  have now been passed down for me to tuck away and bring out when grandchildren come to play.  Love filled this home!

Today a SOLD sign stands in the front yard. Jean and Clair have moved into a new apartment in a retirement community and they are home.  Love fills their new home!  Jay and his sister, Barb, have just finished the final clean up before the house closes. The furnishings are gone and the rooms are empty. The marks on the door in the kitchen which record the growth history of the grandchildren will soon be removed by the new owners.  Walls will be painted, carpet replaced, and the kitchen and bathrooms will most likely be updated by the new owners.  The doors are closed and locked but the house is far from empty because this home was full of love and it is my most sincere prayer that the new owners can feel themselves surrounded by the love that was taught and shared here.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

What is love?

Valentine's Day is here again and my kids at school are so excited they can hardly stay in their own skins. Today there are cupcakes and heart shaped cookies and fruit skewers and more candy than any one child needs in every classroom in every school across the nation. School nurses, like me, hold their breath and pray that the parents read the labels of food they sent in to share and that the children with food allergies can get safely through the day with out a severe allergic reaction.  Florists have been in and out of the school   delivering beautiful bouquets of flowers  to faculty and staff. Pink and red are the colors of the day. Love is everywhere!

Several years ago I wrote a post about love and shared it here.  I am choosing to repeat that post again today because the message is worth repeating.  Here it is:

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 have battled the ups and downs that come with any relationship; the good times outweighing the difficult ones.  It is now 42 years since they met.  They have been married 37 years.  She has been with him for more than 70 percent of her life and yet she still loves him with her heart and soul.  Today is Valentine's Day and the card she gave him could not begin to express the depth of her love for him and so she is sharing this on her blog 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 42 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'   

Happy Valentine's Day!  May you be loved by someone who is so caring they will help you cry!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

There you are!

Have you ever watched the movie Hook?  I have and I have to admit it is one of my favorites.  It doesn't hurt that Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman are cast as Peter Pan and Captain Hook and Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell.  Exceptional artists playing exceptional characters!  You may be wondering why I am talking about a movie, especially the movie, Hook.  Well the truth is a line from that movie just popped into my head over the weekend and I can't get it out of my head.  The line is simple enough and was spoken by one of the lost boys after looking very closely at Peter Pan's face trying to determine if he really was Peter Pan.  Finally, he gazed deeply into Peter Pan's eyes and said, "There you are Peter!"  Here is a short video clip from the movie so you can see and hear those words in context:

Why is, "There you are Peter!" hanging around in my brain, popping up again and again whispering softly to me, annoying me?  Saturday evening I realized why and it came from a most unusual place, another blogger.  My daughter sent me a link to a blog she thought I would enjoy reading but she also pointed out the current post was one she was certain I would like.  So I clicked on the link to Mrs.Thor and read the story of an amazing woman, Amy, who shared that she had now lost 100 pounds.  Amy said, "I'm still afraid to write about it, still afraid to talk about it, still afraid to put it down as a record, still afraid to show off the mind-boggling before and after photo of the last 50 pounds I have lost, for fear that maybe it will stop, or go away, or I will wake up tomorrow and it won't be real."  She continued on with a powerful post concluding with, "And now, here goes nothing.  It's real.  I will wake up tomorrow and it will still be real."

How do these two seemingly random things tie together in my brain?  What does "There you are Peter!" have to do with this?  Where am I going with this post?

You see I understand Amy's fear to put her words in writing and back them up with a picture showing the Amy before and the Amy now afraid that if she actually put them in print they would somehow not be real tomorrow.  I understand because I had similar concerns.  If I had lost 196.4 pounds who was I now and who was the 196.4 pounds that are now gone? One hundred ninety six pounds is a full grown adult man! Was I the same person that started the weight loss journey or did somehow I get lost in the weight that was gone; was I gone?  This was the same weight I said I hated. Had I somehow disappeared?   Who was buried under the enormity of that extra weight?  Who was I now?  Was I even recognizable?  "There you are Peter!"  I took a deep breath and looked in the mirror, really looked at myself from all possible angles.  I am older and my skin shows the age and the stretching it has endured but I realized I looked like me!  I thought for a while about how I felt about my body, my life in general, my friends and my family and I smiled.  I am content in this baggy skin I wear.  I am happy, really, really happy I am fulfilled and I am loved. "There you are Peter!"  There you are Lynn!  Can you feel me smiling?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Striving for perfection

I feel I should explain why I have been silent for so long but I am afraid that my reasons are just like everyone else; I have been busy.  While this is true I also have to admit I haven't been moved to write anything that I felt was blog worthy.  I think carefully about what I choose to share and frequently find it so easy to sit and write a post, often inspired by something that just seems to pop into my head or affected by something I have seen or heard.  If you follow my blog you know I spend a lot of time writing about weight loss and related issues but none of this has seemed relevant until yesterday when I saw a post on Facebook.  It was a picture posted by Motivate Hope Strength and it caught my attention and resulted in me sharing it on my page.  Here is the post:

It's good right!  It is also ridiculous! No one in their right mind would smash their phone to bits simply because they dropped it.   This is a long stretch but don't miss the point it makes about making the wrong food choices;  you don't need to be perfect!  So you were eating well and then something happened, a chocolate iced, cream filled, Krispy Kreme donut perhaps, and you ate it!  The good choices became harder and then forgotten and you totally screw up your plan for the day.  So what?  Get over it!  We are all human and we make mistakes.  Sometimes we even make the choice knowing we are screwing up but you know what - life does not end and success is not out of reach.  Striving for perfection is not the goal.  Are you surprised I would say that?  The only thing I hope for on a daily basis is to do my best.  I mess up!  I make the choice to eat things for all the wrong reasons and sometimes I make the choice to eat something I know I could do without simply because I want it but I don't quit trying!  I have learned to forgive myself, to strive to be honest about the choices I make, and the reasons I make them and that undoing years of unhealthy habits does not happen quickly, easily or painlessly.  

I am not perfect.  I no longer strive for perfection.  I am good enough!

Friday, January 11, 2013

To the weight I have lost

I wrote this and posted it in October 2010 but tonight thought someone needed to know I understand how they are feeling right now.  Since writing this I have become a Weight Watchers leader, a job I love!  I am blessed to lead the Tuesday evening meeting and Saturday morning meetings in Rock Hill, SC.  Tomorrow, January 12, we are having One Amazing Day.  YOU can be AMAZING in 2013!  Come join us!

If you know me personally you know part of my story.  If you have been following my blog you have barely touched the edges of me.  Today I can share with anyone who wants to read this, a letter I wrote to the weight I have lost.  This letter was written after weighing in at my usual Weight Watcher's meeting and realizing I had lost more weight than I currently weighed.  The realization that I was less than half of who I once was overwhelmed me and so I tried to put those feelings into words. 

To the weight I have lost:

You are gone, good riddance!  I lugged you around way too long overwhelmed with the enormity of you. You no longer have any control or power over me.  I gave you way too much of my time and my life.  I hate you!  You stole years from me that I can never replace and filled me with frustration and sadness.  You made me feel ugly and stupid and inadequate.  You made me ashamed of myself.  You cheated me out of play time with my children as they ran through the sprinkler in the front yard and begged me to join them, when they climbed trees and when they built “forts” out of discarded furniture boxes which were far too small for me to get into.  You embarrassed me when we went to amusement parks and I was too large to fit into the seats of the rides.  I hate you!   You made me hide in public places.  You kept me silent when I wanted to participate in a group for fear of drawing attention to myself.  You cheated me out of the joy of a plane trip with my husband and instead filled me with dread as I wondered if the seat belt was going to fit around me or if I was going to have to ask for an extender.  I hate you!  You made me embarrassed to laugh and dance and enjoy myself for fear of being laughed at or ridiculed.  You made me a shadow in my own life. 

 Those days are over.

I have reclaimed my power over you and I will never see you again.   I am now less than half of what we were together.  Today I am saying good riddance to the half of me that once was you, forever.  I will not waste a minute mourning your loss nor will anyone else who has carried the burden of you.  You are dead and gone.  If I look back at you it will only be to see how far I have come.  I will be reminded of how strong and powerful I am.  I will walk another half marathon and I will improve my time.  I will fly to exotic locations with my husband.  I will look forward to someday playing with my grandchildren and teaching them how to climb trees, and build forts from refrigerator boxes, and I will be in the fort with them playing and telling them about their mom or dad.  I will continue to put on my bathing suit and teach water aerobics in front of strangers who are now part of my family and I will not give a second thought to my flabby arms or sagging thighs- remnants left by you.  Instead I will rejoice that I have arms and legs that work and let them show as a prize won after a battle which lasted way too long.  I will continue to encourage others to get rid of you forever, and I will support them when they come up short and try again and again and again until they too are rid of you and I will dance.  Oh, how I will dance!!  You see in the process of losing you I found me.  I will never again be a shadow in my life.  I will hold my head up and look to the future with anticipation and joy because now I know without any doubt that I was, and will continue to be worth the effort.

Before 376 pounds.  After 179.6 pounds!  Lost 196.4 pounds without surgery or drugs.