Do you know the legend of the Cherokee Indian youth's rite of Passage? His father takes him into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone. He is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. He cannot cry out for help to anyone. Once he survives the night, he is a MAN. He cannot tell the other boys of this experience, because each lad must come into manhood on his own. The boy is naturally terrified. He can hear all kinds of noises. Wild beasts must surely be all around him. Maybe even some human might do him harm. The wind blew the grass and earth, and shook his stump, but he sat stoically, never removing the blindfold. It would be the only way he could become a man! Finally, after a horrific night the sun appeared and he removed his blindfold. It was then that he discovered his father sitting on the stump next to him. He had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm. We, too, are never alone. Even when we don't know it, God is watching over us, sitting on the stump beside us. When trouble comes, all we have to do is reach out to Him.

Let's be more aware of all the choices, situations, twists and turns that brought us to this place right here and now. They May Be Miracles.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

What If's (Random Things I Think About At 12:30 am)

What If...

  • I train to do a 5K or longer and actually RUN it...not walk it?

  • I don't snack on chips or sweets?

  • I actually succeed at weight loss?

  • I actually defined myself as a thin woman and not an obese woman?

  • My children got to see me as a normal (thin) woman for most of their lives instead of how they've seen me so far?

  • Normal for my children would be me keeping up with them, not making excuses for the things I can't do?

See, my reality so far - how I've defined myself for years - is opposite of all of these things.  Even when I was thin, in my head I felt like I looked the same either way.  In my head I didn't truly believe that I would stay that way.  I don't know how to change my mind to believe that if I do lose weight that I can stay that way.  I still don't believe it's possible for me.  

I do think the things I say out loud and write should be positive and opposite of what I'm doing in this particular entry.  From all that I've learned over the years I do know that the only way to change your belief is to think, say, and write things the way you want them to be.  However, it seems at this moment that I need to face reality head-on...I sort of think that I need to "call out" all those beliefs that I am currently carrying with me. 

The everyday miracle in this scenerio won't be me losing weight.  It will be me believing myself as someone who can eat normal and keep a decent weight; it will be me believing myself as a middle-aged athlete;  it will be me believing myself as a good example for my children; it will be me believing myself as a beautiful woman worthy of my husband's admiration.  It's a huge order...and that's why it's an everyday miracle.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Babies and Children Are The Answer To World Peace

There is no doubt in my mind that babies and children are the answer...the world peace.  Dan and I only have three children, but each time we had a newborn and would go into public somewhere it was like bringing the sunshine itself into the atmosphere around us.  Often times it would seem as though a rock-star had walked into the room, store, down the sidewalk, in the park...wherever we would go the new baby would attract attention from complete strangers.  I can't tell you how many times a person would tell me that it brightened their day just to look at my baby.  And there are countless times that a friend or family member would take the baby from my arms so they could hold it and get their "baby fix".  My mom to this day loves the sound of a crying newborn...(in moderation).  The cooing, and babbling sounds they make and, yes, even their cries (if you're not the one up all night with them) can bring such warm and peaceful and joyful feelings to the soul. 

They get a little bigger and then they start to walk and discover things, and figure out how to do new things all the time.  As a parent you watch with joy over each new discovery and how proud they are of themselves.  My children will get a look on their face which says, "did everyone just see what I did?"  as they look around with a big grin checking to see if anyone saw them.  And still, as toddlers and new talkers, complete strangers love to approach them and ask them questions and get them to smile.  It brings so much peace and joy to people to be able to spend a small minute with a little child.

Many times I've posted stories on facebook about the funny things my children do and say.  I post those things because they make me laugh and I can't wait to retell it hoping that it makes someone else laugh.  I love getting feedback from people knowing that it caused them to grin, roll their eyes, and especially to recall a time when their own children did something similar.  I see posts from other people on facebook where they are looking for that glimmer of the child they once had as theirs grow older. 

I worked with teenagers for many years before having my own children.  Each year a graduating class would come through and the parents would say to me, "It was like the blink of an eye...they were babies just yesterday."  It was said to me so many times that I felt like I had what I called "the curse of reality about babies and children" - when my children were born I knew I had to take in every minute as though I would wake up tomorrow and they would be grown up already.  Knowing this I try not to take their childhood for granted. 

Ever had a dream to be a rock star?  I have my own rock band right here at home!  We have play drums and guitars and tamborines and triangles and pots and pans and tupperware and very loud voices which sing into pretend microphones or spoons...we're living that dream.  Ever dream of being a movie star?  We have all the dress-up clothes an actor could dream of and imaginations to go with them!  Ever wish you could go out dancing again like you used to do in high school and college?  We dance here every night almost with the music as loud as we want...and we get to pick the music we like the best!  It can be Laurie Berkner one night, Great Big Sea another night, Miley Cyrus...Mika...80's...90' favorites...whatever we want!  Kids are GREAT dancers and singers!  They don't care how good or bad they are...or how good or bad you's just about having fun!

There are so many innocent things that children say and do that make grown-ups smile and laugh.  I've told of the time I went in for lunch duty at school and had the children lined up to go outside for recess when I looked over and watched one little girl act like she was walking with a cane all bent over and holding her back.  She looked up at me and said, "Look Mrs. May!  I'm 30!!"  The other day I went in for lunch duty again and stayed for indoor recess.  One little girl was writing on the chalk board.  She asked me how to spell the word "be" - she said, "you know 'be' like 'be a good friend'."  I told her how to spell "be" and meanwhile was helping another child with another game.  She then asked me how to spell "friend."  I told her.  When I finally looked up to see her work on the board I read these words, "Be A God Friend."  Obviously she had spelled "good" wrong - I could have corrected her, but it caused me to pause and reflect on the meaning of her sentence.  To a child both are probably one in the same.

So with all of this being said, it seems obvious to me that babies and children are the key to world peace.  It seems to me that if allied countries would work harder at being "God Friends" instead of "Good Friends" that it might be a  step in the right direction.  We adults could take a lesson in having more fun...not worrying so much about how good or bad we are at something.  If stopping for a moment to look at a baby can bring so much peace to a person's heart, why can't stopping for a moment to have a pleasant conversation with another adult...looking someone else in the eye and seeing the child hiding in there?  Let's work at being "God Friends" - remembering that we're all connected no matter how long we've been on earth.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Let's Be Honest

My closet is overflowing with clothes.  If I wanted to I could probably wear a different outfit each day for at least a month, maybe longer.  That's just the clothes that fit me right now...I have a whole different wardrobe down in the basement in a large closet.  To be clear, I'm not a horder - I have given away many piles of clothes and sold others in garage sales. 

Here's the problem.  With all those clothes I still end up putting the same 3 or 4 outfits on each day/week...wash them...repeat.  At one point I asked a friend if she would nominate me for "What Not To Wear" so that I could get a new wardrobe.  But just recently when I was having an honest moment with myself I realized that even if I were to go on one of those shows where they teach me how to dress and proceed to give me a brand new wardrobe, more likely than not I would find 3 things that I really liked to wear and the rest would pile up in my closet and never be touched.

I have decided that it's a comfort zone situation.  In my mind I think the few things that I like to wear look half-way decent on me, feel comfortable, and wash easily.  On the days that I decide to go out on a limb and wear something else - or go to a dinner party or out somewhere that I have to "dress up" - I feel paranoid and wonder the entire time how bad or good I look.  Is the color right?  Does it wash out the color in my face?  Does it show the "rolls" in my belly (more than usual)?  Does it make me look shorter, squattier, boxie, rolly-polly, like a football player?  Maybe I just look like an alien with one eye...or a slime monster that swishes around.  Those days I use product and blow dry my hair, put on makeup, and wear jewelry so that perhaps the focus will be up at my head and not at what I'm wearing.  In my head I believe that magically people will only see my head and nothing if it's not all one package.

I was thinking about all of this yesterday and today while getting the same sweatshirts that I wear every week.  (sidenote - Those who know me and care about me might be happy to know that I finally retired the salmon colored "Polo" sweatshirt - well, it's not completely retired, it's just burried deep under the pile of sweatshirts on the top shelf of my closet.  I found 3 other sweatshirts that I happen to like better lately.  So some change is good, right?)  As I was thinking about all of this I just had to apply it to other areas of my life and may have unwrapped a reality about myself, the way I think, and why my weight has been a life-long struggle.

See, the comparison comes in when I think about the food I eat and serve my family.  I REALLY like certain things.  I really like pizza.  I really like fried chicken (esp. Hopocan Gardens in Barberton for a treat).  I really like bread.  I really like spaghetti, rigatonni, fetuccini alfredo, and buttered noodles.  I really like french fries, baked potatoes and mashed potatoes.  These are a few of my fa-vor-ite things....!  So, any time in my life when I was at a decent and healthy weight I gave up those foods...traded them in for healthy food.  Again, I do have healthy food in my fridge and pantry (just like I have lots of other outfits in my closet), they're just not my favorites!  To think about giving up the things I like the best once again just doesn't sit right with me.  And ask any fat person, including me, we KNOW what it takes to be could anyone NOT know this day in age??  We are in the information era...we are inundated with information!  I don't need any more information.  I know every "secret" of weight loss that exists!  (You mean, if I exercise, eat whole grains, lots of veggies, lean meats, some fruit, and occasionally all the bad foods I like in moderation that even I can lose weight??  Really??  Shocking!!!!) Truthfully, I like healthy food too!  I like all food!  There are maybe 3 foods I don't care for...but out of everything that's not bad.  No, a diet plan is not what I need...I don't think so at least.

It seems to me my weight problem stems from the same place as the clothing issue...wherever that place may be (probably Neverland).  It has something to do with resistance to change...fear of change.  My fear of changing clothes is that uncomfortable feeling that I just don't look right...and mostly that I look as fat as I really am.  My fear of dieting or changing my eating habits is that I won't get to enjoy my favorite things anymore...ever...or at least not as much. 

I've asked God to help me many times in my life with weight loss.  I've asked Him to magically let me wake up the next morning and be skinny.  Understanding that He doesn't do "magic" but mystery, I've asked Him to simply change my mind and way of thinking for me to make it easier on me.  That's been a no-go too.  I know that's not how God works either.  Really, this one's kind of on me, don't you think?  I mean, look, God gave me this vessel to walk around in here on earth so that I can do good for others and work according to His plan for me.  He charged me with the responsibility of taking care of this vessel.  So to go to Him and ask Him to do it for me...well, that's sort of counter productive.  He has given me all that I need in order to do the right things for myself and my's just a choice in the end. 

So, is it my choice to change or not change?  Can I be ok wearing something different?  Can I be ok eating the right way and treating my body the way I should in order to accomplish the things I was sent here to do? 
Can I deny myself the foods I love the most in order to make myself better?  What would it take?  I don't want a doctor to tell me I'm on the edge of a heart attack...and yet, I know I must be.  I don't want my kids growing up thinking that it's good to eat these bad foods all the time...and yet, that's what they're learning so far.  I'm a walking hypocrate.  So what is my prayer for my life and for those of you who have this or other similar struggles?  I believe God can give me peace of mind, people to support me, and all the strength it takes to make those kinds of changes.  Changing clothes...just a humorous similarity to the real problem.
I pray that God gives us all the strength, peace and support we all need to make the changes we need to make in order to be able to bless the lives He intends for us to bless.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Another Kind of Ride

June, about 10 or so years ago, I went to Cedar Point for a day with teenagers from Crawford and Marion counties and other adult chaperones/leaders.  Part of our leadership program involved going out on fun excursions occasionally.  I've been to Cedar Point many times in my life, in fact, I worked there a few summers while in college, but this story takes place that June day, about 10 (or so) years ago.

My friend and co-worker, Jodi, and I were standing in line to go on the Power Tower.  Having worked at Cedar Point for a few summers I had been on the Demon Drop many times and never thought it to be a very "scary" approaching the Power Tower I think we both were pretty comfortable that it would just be something fun to do.  We had to decide whether we should be "shot up" really fast, or brought up slowly and dropped suddenly...two different lines.  She had already done both so it was up to me.  Since I figured the "dropped suddenly" option would be much like Demon Drop, I opted for the "shoot us up" really fast line.   Some of the teenagers we had come with were in the opposite line not far behind us. 

Interestingly, the longer we waited and the more I heard the sounds of the ride and watched people go ahead of us, the more anxious I became.  I started wondering if I really wanted to go on this ride.  It was much, much, much, much higher than the Demon Drop (I am really fearful of heights).  It was finally our turn to get on the ride.  We sat down, pulled the bars down over our head, and someone came around to check and make sure it was locked.  We sat there while others got on and as we sat there I started to really FREAK OUT!  I turned to Jodi and said, I don't want to do this anymore.  I want off.  Do you think they'll let me off?  She laughed at me and said it's not that bad...just calm down.  I started trying to wave at the workers to come over.  No one would come over.  I started yelling that I wanted off.  No one heard me.  I yelled the "f" word (kind of like, "get me the 'f' off of here") forgetting that the teenagers were watching us.  I heard them laugh and one of them said, "Dustine just dropped the 'f' bomb!"  (Incidently, if those kids could hear me way over there in the other line, why couldn't or wouldn't a Cedar Point employee hear me or help me??)  Nothing.  I was going to ride this ride.  I was buckled in and it was going to go.  Out of my control.  Nothing I could do to make it stop.  My heart was beating a million miles a minute.  And the ride took off and shot us straight up the tower as fast as it possibly could.

We got to the top of the ride and, I kid you not, in those SECONDS at the top I turned to Jodi, laughing, and said, "This was a BABY ride!!  I can't believe I was so scared!!  What a dumb ride!!" 

I took this experience with me, as you see, even to this day.  Every time I get overwhelmed by something I start to think of "the baby ride".  Life is so much like it!!  We look ahead of us at this monumental, huge, scary looking event (losing a job, moving to a new city, starting a new job, electric out for several days due to weather, the death of a parent, spouse, child, friend) sometimes the event is out of our control...and we think, "I want off of this ride!!  Someone get me the 'f' off of this ride!"  Sometimes we even think, "I never asked to be on this ride!"  And there's no way off.  Our seat belts are buckled and we HAVE to ride.  The wheels are in motion and we are being "shot up" as fast as the ride can possibly take us.  What do we say, what do we do when we're real life? 

Most of the time, don't we look back at that thing, that monumental, huge, scary looking event and say, "Well, that wasn't so bad now, was it?"  Don't get me wrong, some things, like death, are far harder to deal with than other things - but even with the really hard things, like death, when we get to the other side of the pain, we can consider the possibility that we are much stronger than we thought we were.  We may not necessarily say, "that was a baby ride," but we might say, "I hated that ride and I never want to ride it again.  However, I know I will have to at some point, and I know that I can."