Monday, January 29, 2018

Family Vacation - Part II

We arrived at the port and looked at the massive pile of luggage that we were taking onboard.  Where I can go for eleven days to Europe with a bag that will fit in the overhead compartment, I've found that it is apparently dangerous for me to be given free rein with a big bag.  I packed enough clothes for a week, and then had a carry on with everything I had forgotten but needed to shove in there and another small bag.

Five day cruise.  Not thirty.

Granted, I had a full size container of Lysol wipes, a huge can of Lysol spray, full size shampoo and conditioner (WHY? WHY?), two kinds of lotion, things I might need, a first aid kit, two cans of sunscreen, bingo markers for everyone, enough underwear to last for two weeks and what amounted to every wearable piece of clothing I own in case I needed it and five pairs of shoes.

What was not included was a bathing suit, shorts, the top to my pajamas, and AA batteries.  But whatever.  I spent so much time trying to get everything that the experienced cruisers told us we might need that I most assuredly overpacked.  Rookie mistake.

We arrived in Mobile, where getting on the ship is more organized than I'd imagined, and then we went up and around, and here and there, and then finally took a walk up a ramp to get onboard.  Everyone was feeling excited and a little bit ready to see how it was all going to look once we got there.  Brochures or photos online can only do so much.

We arrived at our midship cabin near an elevator (sadly, not the one we really needed to be by but all together.  We unpacked, and then began to explore just a bit.  Found the Lido Deck for lunch and began to get our bearings.  We then pulled away from the dock and were off on our adventure.

Bear in mind that in my opinion...the adventure was everyone getting along and having a good time for five days.  Even sightseeing in Progreso or Cozumel couldn't tempt me.   But then again, that's because I didn't want to pay 25% of the entire cruise amount for one outing.  Even if the tour of the chocolate factory was awesome.  Even if there were adventures to be had that I missed beyond the shops on the pier.  To me, the real adventure was learning how to cruise.

And learning how to sleep on a bed that was a wee bit small for me and remembering to step up when I went into the bathroom.  Learning how to find anything on the boat without getting hopelessly lost.  Understanding that since steps are not my friend right now, patience at the elevators was a must.  That taking breaks for naps with Brooklyn meant that I would have some downtime that I honestly needed more than I knew.  That my goals of enjoying bingo would be seriously curtailed when I realized how much those games cost to play.

The food was fine and there were plenty of healthy options.  Not that the burger I ate on Day 2 would be considered "healthy" by any stretch of the imagination.  But we ate at different places every time and I even enjoyed tea twice while we were out to sea.  Nights were spent together dining in the main dining area - but due to the fact that we were a bit late signing up for the cruise - we ended up in "choose your own dining" - which meant we ended up sitting somewhere different each night with different wait staff.  Some were better than others.  All tried to give us a good experience.

We were on a Carnival cruise - and their specialty was the chocolate melting cake with a side of ice cream.  I believe that each of us had it at least once.  There was enough variety, though, to not want to repeat dinners too often.  One night, they offered us escargot.  Probably my favorite thing that I had on the ship.

The weather was in the 80's, so Big Dave and Brecksyn went down the big water slide a number of times, and we spent a lot of time out by the pool deck people watching and listening to the activities.  Dean entered the "Hairy Chest Contest" and made it to the second round.  He wasn't all into "breaking it down" as much as one guy so he took his participation medal along with a few others and then we sat and watched the two finalists get dressed up as women and start conga lines.  There are sometimes upsides to not being crowned the victor.

The best parts of the trip were sitting around together doing absolutely nothing...although Brecksyn and I did play bingo once and blew $60 in what amounted to fifteen minutes.  Um, no.  I didn't really venture into the casino other than to walk through it to get to trivia - but the guys did.  Both of them were fixated on a "claw' game in there and I'm fairly certain that one came away down a little and the other came back ahead a bit.  Nobody won a jackpot or free cruise or anything, although Dean was there when some guy described as a "huge redneck" won $8,888 in a slot machine.  Good for him.

Speaking of trivia, I went down and found a group and they were very kind.  I offered up a few correct answers and made myself a part of their team.  When we won, I got the participation medal.  It was very unexpected but nice of them.  It wasn't the "ship on a stick" trophy that was also offered intermittently, but it was fun.  And will probably be fun to hold onto until I find a teacher who needs an award to hang on her bulletin board or something.  It did, however, make me feel really nice for fifteen minutes while I wore it feeling really, really smart.

We did a couple of comedy club visits...and due to my early bedtime...we were at the "clean" version.  Both were extremely different and yet hilarious.  We did not get picked on at either although we were a little afraid we would be due to our close proximity to the stage.  It was good to laugh...and other than the singers in the atrium or in the bar as we passed to go to the comedy show...we didn't see any shows.  It was fine.  Folks, I was in bed before 10 most nights because that is how I roll.  But I was up at 6 to welcome room service with my bagel and carafe of coffee.

I truly adore room service.  Especially when it is free.

It was an interesting group of people on board the ship - folks from all walks of life - and in all shapes and sizes.  I'm not judging, but it was a slice of life that ranged from average to truly "what the ?" If you really want to feel good about yourself...get out there sometime.  Just quit judging yourself and be grateful that all you have is Problem X or Problem Y.  I had fun getting to know a few random people that I kept running into like the woman and her completely silent husband from Michigan who knew all of the words from AC/DC's "Shook Me All Night Long" and sang them on the Lido Deck.  Or the lady with the purple hair and the walker who was super fun to talk to.  Or the man in a wheelchair and his wife who were conversing with me during lunchtime one day.  We had conversations with people from every country you can imagine and some I'd forgotten existed.

And every single one of them was enamored with Brooklyn Jean Bolden.

I met some ladies that I did "tea" with both times because I was hanging out lost by the elevator (not an unusual occurrence) and they asked me where I was trying to go.  They didn't know about the tea, and so they decided to join me.  Big Dave felt bad thinking I'd be up there alone, so he joined us just to chat the first time.  All I'm going to say is that I have now had enough cucumber sandwiches to last me awhile and that I've finally truly had a tea where I've had my fill.  It was glorious.

The "having of one's fill" is also something that happens about day 3 of the cruise.  I suppose it is the portion controlled dinners that made it possible for me to see how much better it is when I'm not being presented with so much food that I cannot possibly eat it all.  We are in the habit of taking food home, so it was a little weird to see a smaller portion.  But it was actually quite perfect.  They have that down, by the way.  I was given enough and maybe a tad over.  But not enough to gorge myself on or to leave the table feeling miserable.  I spent the last two days eating a whole lot less than I did the previous three, and I came home not really interested in eating anything at all.  I'm sure that will pass.  But it was a great lesson to learn.  And so far...it has stuck.

We had two stops at Progreso (Yucatan) and Cozumel.  We planned no excursions.  The truth is that it was just too difficult with a party of 7.  We got off the boat at both ports and spent time at a duty-free shop at Progreso and a shopping area at Cozumel.  At the latter, there were two or three other cruise ships there that day, and we had a lovely light lunch at a place called Pancho's Backyard.  We bought souvenirs and tee shirts (Big Dave) and just had a good time.

The trip was not without its little bit of drama, however.  Our cabins were extremely warm for the first two nights...something that took going through housekeeping to guest services to finally resolve.  It is hard enough for me to sleep at 68 degrees in the house...78 is something different entirely.  We ended up with two Carnival bathrobes, Jill and Dean received free internet, two steakhouse meals and a bottle of wine.  Brian and Brecksyn received two steakhouse meals and a bottle of wine as well as a discount on her spa visit.  Once we resolved the temperature in the cabin, the boat ran into some rough seas for two days.  The first day wasn't so bad heading into Cozumel, and we were delighted that the weather was fine for us to go ashore.  But at dinner that night, the captain came on to announce that we were going to be in choppy seas through the next day.  He wasn't kidding.  You know it is bad when barf bags suddenly appear in the receptacle by the elevator.  We spent the last sea day rolling around and basically doing nothing but resting.  Brooklyn was the only one who got sick and it was one and done, bless her heart.

I'll admit to still feeling that rolling just a bit even as I write this two days after getting off the ship.

Towanda only made a couple of appearances...the most notable calling out the family who broke in line to get on the elevator when we'd been standing there.  Naturally, we ended up back in line beside them as we were getting off the boat.  Bunch of jerks.  She also was a bit insistent in guest services since being nice that morning had netted nothing being done by that afternoon.

But all in all, it was a wonderful time.  The trip was reasonable, I had towel animals on my bed every day.  I went to learn how to do it at a seminar they had and did one and was lost at the other.  I now own the book, and Brian's only fear is that he'll come home to find one on his bed every time.  I'm sure that there are worse things that could happen.  And probably will.

Jill turned 28 on this cruise...something that we were able to celebrate as a family.  They gave her a gift certificate to the spa, two pieces of cake, and we had a cake sent to her room.  She had a really lovely birthday and I hope felt as special as she is to us.

I'd highly recommend taking this cruise if you want some family time that is within reason cost-wise and will give you plenty to do and eat and drink and see.  I hope we can do another one sometime soon...and have every intention of keeping my eyes open for good deals down the road.  You never know...I may just get to swim with the dolphins someday.

On an excursion...although of late there are a number of people taking unauthorized dives into the ocean.  Mercy.

Thank you for reading about our little "adventure."  Can't wait until the next one.  :)



Sunday, January 28, 2018

Family Vacation - Part I

First post in a very long time, and it will be in two parts, but I wanted to keep this recap in a more permanent form.  I have yet to figure out how to add photos, but I'm not going to worry about that right yet.  There's time to add those somewhere down the line.  Maybe.  Possibly.

The family vacation is something that has been immortalized in Chevy Chase's "Vacation" movies, something that occurs with frequent regularity in many families if the crowds I see at the northwest Florida beaches which are crammed full of tourists is to be believed.  Likewise for every tourist site in other places I've visited such as London, Paris, and New York.  I witnessed crowds in Highlands, North Carolina when my folks lived there every Labor Day Weekend, and we won't even get into what Orlando looked like last year when Big Dave and I finally said "yes" to the Hilton people who wanted to give us three nights for $99 if we would sit through an hour and a half time share presentation.  Knowing he was the "King of NO" after the weddings...I knew we'd be okay.  What I didn't know is that they'd sell our name as a form of punishment to other sites who wanted to give us like trips to see if they could do better and crack the nut of our resolve.

Hilton has been contacted by Towanda on two occasions for that breach of confidence.  They deny it vehemently, but I'm not buying it.  Or their time-share either.  I did, however, enjoy the three nights there, getting to see Epcot after all of these years, and a particularly fun afternoon involving margaritas and tiki glasses in a restaurant.  We still have those glasses, by the way.

Family vacations are unique - like fingerprints.  Some families have a second home that they visit on the weekends.  Everyone gathers there and spends time as a group.  These folks may occasionally plan something different, but they spend a lot of family time together at the lake or beach.  We've been blessed to be invited a number of times to join people and have had the best time.

Others might have a trip that they take each year to Disney World or to a condo somewhere at the northwest Florida beaches.  Some families like to go camping, or to do something educational, or just take off to visit family that lives too far away to see on the spur of the moment.

My family vacations have traditionally been to visit family.  It might involve something fun at the other end or along the way, but it is primarily a long car trip.  We load up, pack a cooler of snacks, try not to lose our minds, and arrive somewhere that is normally not a hotel but someone's guest room or fold out couch.  This has been the pattern of my vacations throughout my childhood and into early adulthood.  I'm grateful for this time...day trips to Disney...some time at St. Simons Island when I was ten...but for the most part the family vacation involved family and more family.  I honestly believe that it was those days of being in my Uncle Jimmy's pool that made me want one so badly in my own backyard when we built our home out here.  It has brought me such joy to watch my children, their friends, and my niece and nephew enjoy it all of those years.  All that is missing is Aunt Lorraine's Charles Chips tins with potato chips and chocolate chip cookies in them that we ate for snacks.

In 1986, my folks, sister, and Big Dave and I went on a family vacation.  We did some touristy things.  Ate well.  Enjoyed each other's company.  Until one got seriously sunburned and the fun turned to trying to get him comfortable.  Fast forward to 2006 to another family vacation.  This time, a group of us went out to conquer London and Paris.  Three days of rain, fractured nerves and exhaustion provided a perfect storm to match the rain that was messing up our (read: my) carefully laid out plans.  I've written extensively about this trip by day...so I'm going to just let that sit right there and keep on going...other than to say that once we got to Paris...things got easier...and I'll never forget hearing the news that Linda was expecting Tara standing by the Arc d'Triomphe as traffic buzzed around us.

This year, Big Dave and I were floating around the pool one lazy afternoon trying to come to grips with the fact that we'd survived two weddings and a wonderful but exhausting foray into the world of grandparenting.  Our kids have lived independently since 2008 for Jill and 2013 for Brian and we've long come to grips with the "empty nest."  There are some things about this that are absolutely wonderful and we've adjusted to very well.   However, several years have gone by and we are trying so diligently to spend whatever scraps of time we have that often find someone or other in the midst of something that is making them tired or frustrated or schedules have conflicted to such a degree that it has proven impossible to get everyone corralled and happy for any period of time beyond 48 hours.

Basically, life has intervened.  That happens.  And now our family is growing.  Brooklyn has a schedule.  We know not if there will be other grandchildren to consider in the coming years.  We all have different work schedules and more to work around.  And since we don't have a beach house or a lake house...we wanted to figure out something that we could all do that would be fun for everyone and not break the bank.

Floating around on the water in the pool that we don't get in nearly as much as we should, we discussed the possibility of paying for a vacation that we could all enjoy.  But there would be limitations.  Things we'd need to work around.  Different ages and interests.  Cost of entertaining that many for that long.  Different goals for vacation time.  It was a big discussion...but very enlightening.

We discovered that all vacations can be broken down into one of four categories.  There is the family vacation...where you spend all of your time visiting family.  The relaxing vacation...where you just want to sit somewhere and read, hike, chill or sit in a beach chair.  There is also the "event" vacation - where you are doing something specific...such as Disney, Six Flags, Dollyworld, camping, or something similar.  And then there is the sightseeing vacation...where you run off of an itinerary and just want to see as much as you possibly can since you may never pass that way again.

Naturally, I have always done family vacations and when we visited Europe, I have since found that sightseeing vacations are my preference.  Big Dave prefers a relaxing vacation where he just sits and does nothing because the man runs from can to can't most of the time and really just needs a few days to sit down.  Both of us are okay with an occasional event vacation...like we did last January for a few days at Epcot.  But we realized on that afternoon that it was time for us to make some concessions.  Big Dave doesn't want to fly.  I don't want to sit at a resort.  We aren't made of money.  His best time to be off is in January.  He likes tropical.  I like tours.

We finally decided that we would consider a cruise out of Mobile, AL if one was in our price range and everyone wanted to do it.  We checked into it, got a great deal on a cruise in January, and counted four other enthusiastic "yesses."  Brooklyn didn't really get to vote on this one.  But we figure that there will be time somewhere down the road for her to have some input.  Loosely translated...at some point we are doing Disney.  All of it.

We booked the cruise as part of their Christmas gift and started the countdown. And before we knew it...it was the Mardi Gras ball in Mobile for LaLuna Servante that Aunt Wendy is in...a day to recuperate in Mobile and then we got in the car and headed for the docks...

For Family Vacation 2018.  :)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Cleaning It Out

Today I have been cleaning out some things in my house that desperately needed it.  Not that I don't go through my closet often to rid myself of anything that I can no longer wear because I'm pretty good about that.  But I'm not so great when something is perfectly good but doesn't exactly lend itself to life as I currently know it.  

Because I've been tied up this week doing invitations for a sweet bride to be and boot camp and training started back this week, I kept pushing everything into cute little piles all over the house and just flat out ignored it all.  Walked right by the Christmas stuff that was accidentally overlooked despite my best efforts to be all organized.  Left a pile of things on top of the dryer including 32 odd socks, a Snuggie, two blankets and enough lint to weave something substantial if I were a true Martha Stewart or Earth Mother type.
Which I so am not.

Yes, I did indicate that I am the proud owner of a Snuggie that I don't use.  Which is honestly the problem.

It is my fervent belief that if I have something in my possession that does not serve a practical, entertainment, or sentimental purpose...I don't need it.  Because like it or not, every item that we own in some measure also owns us.  We have to dust it, put a tag on it, fold it, store it, or heaven forbid pay for a storage facility to house it.  Our lives are simpler if we eliminate that which does not serve us so that we spend no time serving it unintentionally instead.

No, the pictures I have in my home will continue to get dusted because they are important to me.  The little Grumpy Cat doll sitting here staring at me as I write this that was a gift from my friend Andrea stays because she entertains me and reminds me of my sweet friend.  But the plastic salad bowl that I schlepped home from work that originally contained a Zoe's salad because it was too good to throw away is sitting here daring me to find a place for it.  

And I will.  On top of the cabinets in the laundry room where it will sit until I find a use for it or it gets so laden with dust that it is tossed unceremoniously into the trash.  I think of the possibilities...filling it with a meal for a family and making someone's day a whole lot easier perhaps.  But the recipient would need to be mighty, mighty hungry.  

I currently have ten items that need to be returned to one store or another including two vials of red food coloring, three workout shirts, a kitchen item, two Rubbermaid spice organizers that don't fit our cabinets and a plug for the stove we bought six months ago that didn't fit so we used the one from the original stove.  Yeah, the original stove that is currently living on the garage waiting for us to find a part (and now apparently...a plug that fits) so that we can move it to Jill's house to replace the one she has in her kitchen.

Sigh.

I have  really been convicted of this in my life and am determined to correct this in 2015.  There is really no excuse.  I have no children (other than the furry ones) living at home.  I've moved 98% of Jill's things to her house.  Brian took 98% of his things with him to Huntsville.  What remains is truly my problem.

And what a problem it has proven to be.  A perfect storm of someone who likes to repurpose things, who doesn't have time or money (at the same time) to finish certain projects (like curtains)...so I don't even start.  But after a few years, I get tired of the bedspread that is still usable and is too good to throw away.  So I don't.  I keep it.  

For years.

The games that we play once a year, the dozen or so beach towels, and the items that came from my grandmother's house that I don't use but also don't want to part with at this time.  The furniture that I'd like to replace in certain rooms but cannot because one of the kids might want it.  The room of furniture that Jill brought back to fill our study when her roommates moved in with their own furniture.  The maple table that Big Dave and his brother made by hand that sits in the room formerly known as Jill's because neither of the kids is ready for it and we don't have anywhere else to put it after I inherited my grandmother's dining room furniture.

Those are things that I'm going to deal with...but there are a whole lot of things that honestly need to move on to someone else who will need or enjoy them.  Books that I've read once and won't read again, decorations that have never fit my home but I was hopeful one day I'd figure it out.  The four different decors Jill managed to accumulate over four years of college...remnants of which still hang around here like unwanted guests.

I won't even go into the Longaberger baskets that I just had to have in the 1980s that are beautiful...and functional I'm sure.  Or the kitchen items that I never use.  Brian took the garlic press with him back after Christmas break.  He cooks.  And knows that he needs a garlic press.  I hope he enjoys it.  If he uses it once...he'll have used it more than I did.

The acquisition of "stuff" - even if it is acquired from the sale rack, inheritance, or gifts still needs to be managed.  Every so often you have to cull the coffee mugs because nobody needs 47 of them unless you are running a group home or a brothel.  

We're running neither of those around here and yet...

So, for the time being, I am trying to divest myself of 100 items a month for the entire year.  Why I chose that number doesn't really matter...it just sounded like a good number that meant business.  I can give away magazines, books, clothes, and the pair of eyeglasses I discovered in my car's glove compartment today that I can't really see out of that will be donated to whoever is collecting them.  I threw out two pair of sunglasses because I wear prescription ones to drive, both pair are scratched, and I need to buy a nice pair for the beach that costs more than $5 on the clearance rack of Ross For Less.

I want more time to enjoy what I have and to know what I have.  There's a freeing sensation that comes from just letting some of this stuff go.  Plus, I get to bless others...which totally rocks.  It'll be an adventure - this going through every drawer, every cabinet, and making decisions as I clean out this house.  

Because it is time...

Okay, FINE, past time.  Stay tuned.  I'm sure there will be a story or two in there somewhere.  


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Update From the Trenches

I ran into numerous wonderful friends today while showering some brides-to-be...some that I haven't seen in awhile...and several of them noticed that I'd lost some weight.  I suppose I can understand how shocking it might be to see someone lose a considerable amount of weight in a not-so-considerable amount of time...but alas, it is what it is.

I'm grateful, by the way.  And I don't mind telling the story...it never gets old to me.

One question came to me at church today that I haven't had asked so far from a sweet lady who I am not friends with on Facebook or that I interact with on a regular basis.  She's seen me around but apparently didn't register who I was until today.  She stopped me and asked me if I'd had surgery. I suppose that's a fair question...but since I've been so open with everything for the past nine months...it caught me a little bit off guard.

No, I did not have surgery...although I did consider it.  Why wouldn't I?  I was 140 pounds overweight with no turnaround in sight.  I accepted who I was and my friends and family loved me anyway...and believe it or not...my health numbers were always very good.  With regard to the surgery, I researched it fully and had some testimonials from people I trust completely.  My issue was that I knew that if I had the surgery but didn't find out how to fix my problem and change my lifestyle...it would just be a temporary fix.

But more importantly, my spirit kept telling me that this was a battle royale that God was going to fight through me.  And He has...and is.  But that is my story...and for others who quietly wrote another one that has also had amazing results...that is not judgment.  The bottom line is that we are all trying to get healthy.  I think we're getting there.

My biggest challenge right now is being comfortable.  Settling for "good enough" instead of "great."  Celebrating too many things too often.  Not making my limits as stringent as they need to be.  Getting frustrated when weight loss slows to the 1-2 pounds a week that is considered healthy instead of the cosmic leaps and bounds I experienced several months ago.

But there are the little changes.  The pushing to do something I didn't know I could do.  The fact that I ran a 5K (3.1 miles) without stopping on the treadmill on Saturday just to see if I could instead of the two miles that I intended.  

I am grateful to be getting some things right...but I cannot just say "BOOM!  DONE!" at any point because I'm not done.  Far from it.

I explained to a friend this weekend that my issues with food are very similar to those of an alcoholic or a drug addict.  I'm addicted to a substance.  The only differences are...mine is legal...and I have to partake of a certain amount of it to survive.  I am not pretending that my food addiction is anything akin to the hell that people addicted to other substances are...but if you've never been there...you honestly do not know.

So, management of it is critical.  I'll never be cured and will always be subject to the whims of well meaning folks who want me to drink a little of this or eat a little of that in the name of fellowship.  I have to be extremely careful in that regard.  Not crazy...but careful.  Because all it takes is a few days away from eating correctly and a week off from the gym and I risk a relapse.

So I keep going.  I keep trying.  Continue striving to move toward the goals I've set for myself.

There is something beautiful about people on a mission.  Folks who are enthusiastic and passionate about what they are doing.  I get that because I am attracted to people who just love what they are doing because it ramps up my hope that I can have that same experience.  I believe that a lot of folks have seen a dowdy 50-something woman try to transform her life...and have been unbelievably kind to me in the process.

One person reminded me today that "you do this..." meaning that I lose weight and then gain it back. It's true.  I've done that.  But I've never been set up as well as I am right now to succeed.  I've also understood that this battle is the Lord's and not only my own.  It feels completely different somehow.

I know that I'm waxing all philosophical tonight as I think about some of the conversations I've had this weekend...from people that I've known and loved as friends for years.   Who are ready to join me in trying to live their own dreams by finding their authentic selves.  Who aren't ready to just have the part of their lives where they feel fit and good behind them.  Who realize that 60 is the new 40.

I have learned so much these past few months that I wouldn't even know where to start listing.  I suppose the biggest lesson is that physically...90% of it is what you eat and 10% is about exercise.  That your success is 90% your attitude and 10% everything else.  That it is never too late...and that most of what you hate doing in the gym is what is going to eventually have to be dealt with because that is what is going to help you the most.  That when you run...for the first ten or so minutes...your mind will try to get you to stop.  If you keep going...it will eventually quiet and your breathing will regulate.  I didn't know that because I'd never run for ten minutes before.  Not really.  Running is about 90% in your head and 10% in your body when you first start.

I have met people who have been helpful, people who are threatened by my changes, and people who keep talking about my "willpower" or "self-control."  Hardly.  I just removed failure as an option.  I still do.

My reason for writing this is that I need to put in writing that I am just a few pounds away from having 100 pounds off my frame.  100 pounds.  1-0-0.  I need to get past that number so that I can address the 40 pounds behind that as well.  I've come a long way...but I still have a long way to go.

I realize that there are people reading this who are wondering how to get 10 pounds off rather than 100.  Well, you just do it.  You just decide.  You stop eating crap.  You commit...and the teachers will show up.  They certainly have for me.

I'm grateful to everyone who has said a kind word, shared some encouragement, given me tips to do better, inspired me, helped me stay faithful to the program, exercised with me, passed down some clothes, loved me when I was heavier and still love me now, or prayed for me because you knew I needed it.  All of that has made a difference.

And still is...


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Filing Off the Rough Edges

One of the hardest parts about being an adult is realizing that sometimes you just have to let things be.  Not changed, not fought over, not pursued relentlessly...just left alone.  Kind of like emotional poison ivy that you have to remember not to scratch or you'll spread it everywhere.

I suppose most of us have things that get under our skin. And I am fairly certain that these vary from person to person.  Someone may have a true issue with profanity, with one-upmanship, with folks who say they'll be there but aren't, or who get emotional over everything.  Not the normal anxiety over something major...but upset to a level that is entirely inappropriate for the situation so as to draw attention to themselves.

That drives me nuts.  Along with continual self-promotion disguised as "inspiring others."  That last one is why I get concerned every now and again that I talk about the weight loss journey too much.  Of course, I try to talk about the potholes in the road to success, the fact that I am not perfect, and the struggles as much as I talk about the successes.  Personally, I prefer it when people keep it real.

I am being annoyed at this point in time by someone who has an enthusiasm level that is so far over the top that I can hardly stand any interaction.  She doesn't care, and obviously this is my problem...not hers.  But because this has been going on for several weeks and is pretty much making me feel the opposite of "inspired" which feels something like "incredibly annoyed"...I've decided to break it down to see what in the world my problem is.

Again...my problem, obviously.

I realize that I have some places in my life that are a little rough around the edges.  Some of it comes from being in the trenches for years and feeling a little like I have to take care of myself instead of relying on others to do it.  The rest comes from a sometimes out of control "Type A" personality that most people don't really see because I try to keep it as much on the "down low" as is possible.  Sometimes it works.  Other times...not.

I tend to blame these "leaks" on my alter-ego otherwise known as "Towanda" after the character in "Fried Green Tomatoes" who just had enough of everything and finally just rammed her car into a sassy young thing's car over and over because she'd taken "lip" one too many times.  I prefer to think of "Towanda" as "righter of injustices and heinous customer service" because somebody clearly has to do it.  Although my children used to see a little "Towanda" in my eyes and would quietly plead with me to not have a meltdown in the middle of Old Navy.

Sometimes I'd listen.  Sometimes not.

I realize that these rough edges aren't terribly spiritual...but every so often folks just need to hear the truth unvarnished.  Need to hear that their policies are idiotic.  Need to know that their waitstaff needs to care.  Need to solve a problem instead of passing it on.  And sadly...sometimes need additional diction lessons so that I can understand what in the world some of them are trying to patiently explain in what is clearly a second language to them.

I'm fairly certain that Rudy in India, Sue in Singapore and Josie in Miami aren't really named Rudy, Sue and Josie and that they really hate talking to "the crazy lady from that Alabama."  Kind of like the person I spoke with last week that I told to quit calling my daughter at 1:00 a.m. to tell her that her battery was low on her home alarm.  It has since been fixed...but when I share with you that had I received that call...someone would have needed counseling...I'm not kidding.  Fortunately, the little apple who witnessed enough "Towanda" in her young life to hold her own made someone's night I'm fairly certain.

Bless his heart.

Part of life is filing off the rough edges so that we are more like Jesus.  And yes, He got hungry, tired, angry, and felt immense pain.  But He also had incredible patience.  He understood that we forget easily.  That we aren't perfect.  That we fail daily.  And He loved us anyway.

Which is really what I should do with the person who is bothering me by posting incessantly on a group page that I'm on about what she's eating, every success she's having and how awesome she looks in everything.  I am not made less by her success.  Granted, I'm not inspired by it either...but there is no reason for me to allow this to keep me from shining in my own unique way just because I don't want to get on other peoples' nerves.  Although I'm sure that from time to time I probably do.

I need to file off that rough edge that occurs every time she posts anything and try to understand that she probably does not have any idea how this is affecting me.  And even more truthful...she probably doesn't even care.  After all, it is none of her business what I think about her...any more than it is my business what anyone thinks about me.

I could be more gracious and just understand that she is excited and is shouting it from the rooftops.  I could understand that when you succeed at something really, really hard...that you've earned the right to crow a little bit.  After all...how many people have I told that I've lost 90 pounds?  People who haven't asked...and probably couldn't care less.

Seriously.

Maybe the best thing for me to do is recognize that if this is bothering me...I need to see what it is driving it.  Is it jealousy?  Do I want to be part of the discussion and feel like I can't because she comments on everything?  What is it?  I think that is the burning question that begs to be answered so that I can move on and quit rolling my eyes at someone I don't even really know.

See?  Totally my problem.

There are a lot of rough edges that each of us have that can either be filed down or can be sharp edges for someone to be hurt from coming into contact with us.  I don't want to hurt anyone.  And I certainly don't want to seem snarky, unsupportive, or mean.  I'm honestly none of those things on a regular basis.  All of those endorphins from exercise you know.  Plus, I try really hard to keep a handle on it lest it gallop across the field of my life sowing all kinds of destruction.

From a biblical standpoint, I already know the answer...I'm supposed to love.  To accept.  To expect nothing out of people but look for opportunities to be supportive.  If I can't do that...I don't have love in me...and my witness is false.

Yeah.  That's not good.

So, I'll be working on a little bit of filing this afternoon.  Off this rough spot that has been bothering me off and on for months.  Because I've already wasted a whole lot of energy being irked and ungracious.  That energy would be better spent doing something productive.  Like lifting someone else up.  Sharing a kind word.  Doing something for a dear friend.  Praying for people who've requested it.  Helping people who can't repay me.  Being a blessing.

Hard to do that when someone might get impaled on a rough edge.  Time to work on that.  Actually...past time.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Illegitimi Non Carborundum

Sometimes I turn on the news and just listen to what is going on out there until it becomes impossible to bear any more.  One party is put out about this, another about that, someone feels that their rights are trampled, another is tired of having to constantly give up ground to make another side happy that never seems to actually ever be happy.  It's quite depressing actually.

Then I remember the immortal words..."illegitimi non carborundum."

I have friends on different sides of the political spectrum, and they find my politics a bit amusing.  A little hayseed more than likely...and definitely reflective of where I live.  They are brilliant and talented people that just see the world a little differently than I do...and other than that, we tend to get along pretty well.  And then there are those who see as I do but are even more devoted to certain points than I ever thought about being.  It is an interesting and colorful world out there.  

People also range on the view of religion and God's existence and how much tolerance should be acceptable.  How to define "love" or "false prophets" or "caring for people without regard to 'x' or 'y'" but perhaps in spite of it.  How to remain on the narrow road when the wide one is gyrating and pulsating all over almost everything attached to the word "entertainment" and seems to get more lurid and raunchy every year.

And prouder of it.

Folks also differ with regard to cohabitation, moral absolutes, bringing children into the world, where they choose to live, what they choose to carry, and how they spend their time.  

Sometimes it is downright overwhelming.  It will grind you down if you let it.

It is times like these that I tend to have to check out for a few days and do nothing but watch the Hallmark Channel, clean my house, love on my shih tzus and pray for the best.  Where I have to walk room to room and recall how grateful I am that I am living where I am and that most of the dreams I had for myself at 22 have already come to pass.  Where I go for a run because I still can at 51 and because I'm currently living the dream of getting weight off that has been attached to me for long enough now that it feels weird when it turns up missing.

Not that I'm complaining.  Not that I want it back.  No. No. No.

Not that I didn't eat a glorious meal last night that was on my program but was probably more protein than I should have eaten in one sitting.  Because I totally did eat it.  One does not simply leave a wonderful steak uneaten in a place where taking it home is not an option.  One runs it off over the next two days. 

Today my time is limited because it is devoted to a friend that I have known for twenty-nine years.  I'll do whatever needs to be done today (after my gym time this morning) because I'm capable of doing it and it needs to be done.  I find great joy in avoiding anything negative today...because I'll be so busy trying to help her that I won't have time to notice if the world is on fire.  I won't have to think about political differences because everyone comes together for weddings.  I won't have to exhaust myself mentally...because I may be doing it physically.  That'll work for me.

I realize that we all love the idea of a perfect world where people get along and everything is fair...but honestly, life isn't fair.  There will always be some person to mess up the "Pay it Forward" line at Starbucks.  Mostly because they just want to be left alone with what they came for instead of the bigger picture of "doing for others unselfishly" that this game we play seems to to suggest we are capable of keeping up at all times.  We aren't.  Our time is limited.  Our patience can be stretched and tried.  Our financial capacity is often less than what we hope for because we're asleep at the wheel of managing it properly.  And people get put out because a lady wanders into the midst of it and just wants her $2.25 cold drink and doesn't want to play the game.  That does not make her a bad person.  It makes her Lucy with the football.  And in America she still has the right to pick it up and go home.  

I've seen the Ice Bucket Challenges on Facebook all week (for ALS awareness and financial support) and I've also seen people complaining that we shouldn't waste water like that when others don't have clean water to drink, some people turn it into a Hardees ad (wet tee-shirt contest) or that it does enough for awareness.  That ticks me off.  Greatly.  If you don't like it...just shut up.  Just don't watch.  But for the love of all that is good...try to see the bigger picture.  It is working.  They've raised untold millions of dollars for research that is desperately needed in a really, really short time.  It has brought out the creativity of some folks, and has been an amazing outreach.  But - of course - some people just have to pick it apart - pick, pick pick.  I have no idea why.  Their points are valid, but they are stupid in the big picture.  I wish people would look beyond themselves sometimes and their beliefs and their rights and their whatever.

Sorry.  And if you were one of those whining...well, now you know how I really feel.  If you know me...this won't surprise you a bit.  But that's really because I'm a big believer in "illegitimi non carborundum."  I've been taught that disagreeing with someone does not make me a bad person...or them a bad person.  We just see the world differently, and we are both convinced we're right.  I know when I'm to the point of arguing about something...that I certainly am.  Convinced...and right.

I am tired of hearing about things being "fair" when frankly all of us have something that we've achieved, been exposed to, learned to do, etc. because something was unfair.  We've benefited from "unfair" and our job is to try to bring others up to that level instead of cutting down those who are achieving just to make those who choose not to feel better about themselves.  

I've never been accused of being a "bleeding heart" and I'm okay with that.  I suppose that comes from trying to help people in "true need" only to find out that they weren't really in need.  Those who are in need are generally very quiet about their circumstances and very grateful for everything that they do have.  Those who aren't really in need simply aren't.  Most of the time, anyway.

But enough about all of that.  Today is meant to be a day of doing for others and just enjoying the weekend.  Of ignoring the clamoring voices on the radio or television telling me what is wrong with America, the President, my fellow citizens and the world.  I don't need to be reminded for the next 24 hours.  I plan on checking out and hoping for a respite from all of the madness, fighting, back-biting, struggles, fury, and pain by focusing on something lovely.  

I'm not planning on exerting my rights today (unless the people at the deli mess up my order) and I'm not saying that there aren't things in life to fight for to try to change.  I'm just saying quit picking the nits and back away from the flame every now and again.  Put down your weapons and just regroup.  Don't hear a few words and write someone off.  Let folks just be wrong if they are.  Just let it all be.

For 24 hours.

Then go for 48.

Here's hoping that you have a wonderful weekend out there.  There's a lot of good out there...even if we have to remember things like "don't let the bastards get you down" - because that's probably the most important advice my mother ever gave me.  Or if you want to be all classy...use "illegitimi non carborundum"  ...even if it is only "mock Latin" according to Wikipedia.  

Keep it real, folks.  I'll do the same.  After all, the "illegitimi" are out there just waiting to try to take us down.  Don't let them.  Don't give them the satisfaction.  And get over the fact that I used that word.  Sometimes it is what makes the point the point that it is.

You get that, right?

Good.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Thank You

I read something last night that I shared on social media that pretty much sums up where I am at this point in time in my life.  As I have as one of my primary focuses (wouldn't "focii" be so much better of a word here?) these days getting weight off...I have started to notice that perhaps I might be making other people roll their eyes a little bit here and there.

When something is important to us...be it our children/grandchildren, a project or business we are involved in, our church, political happenings, neighborhood or home improvement, or the current state of our favorite sports team...we tend to be a bit passionate about it.  We'll spend hours smocking a dress for an infant who is just going to spit up on it anyway.  We'll paint the walls of our home and spend weeks tracking down the perfect comforter to make those folks on Pinterest green with envy and our friends even more so when they find out that we got it on clearance and had a great coupon and free shipping.  We'll train for months to run a race...not caring if we come in 302nd...just that we finished.

In my case, I couldn't feel more supported.  Folks have been giving me verbal high fives for months.  It has been - some days - what keeps me going when I get stuck on a weight that refuses to budge to the extent that I think it should.  It has been wonderful to have people notice the work that has gone into this transformation...and to not feel invisible.  That used to be the goal, by the way.  Invisibility.

But there may be someone out there who thinks I'm putting it all in their face.  That when I succeed it just pokes them to feel bad about themselves.  There's a line that can be crossed where people shut you out because you won't quit yammering on about your successes.  That's the line I've been trying to avoid.

But back to what I read...

Photo

THIS.

I'm competing with myself.  I'm trying to shatter my own limitations that I somehow imposed on myself through the years.  Things like...

"I'm not a runner."  (Not today...and not technically...and yet, I can run for 20 minutes on a treadmill without stopping on a good day.)

"I'm too old to lose weight."  (I'm 51...I'm still here...it's not too late.)

"I don't do squats because I am worried about my knees." (Once you build up the muscles in your legs...yes you can.)

"My metabolism is shot."  (Complete B.S.)

"I'll always shop in Women's sizes."  (Not anymore...and I'm not going back.)

"I don't have time to work out." (I don't have time to work out and do everything I want to do as well.  This had to be a priority.  Hopefully, my friends understand.  My husband does.  Which rocks.)

"I can eat what I want as long as I burn it off." (The quality of what I am eating is a huge factor.  I cannot eat what I want because if I do, I won't feel like burning it off...so I probably won't.)

"You cannot wear clothes that fit because they cling." (So what if they cling?  It is what it is.  It isn't necessary to have something so large that it doesn't touch my body anywhere...which was my definition of "not clinging" previously.)

"High heels are too hard on your knees...flat shoes only."  (Wedges are fine.  And cute.)

"I hate stairs." (I do 156 stairs every day at work at least once.  That's six flights.  I'm a little gassed at the top but it passes very quickly.  Plus, knowing I have to do this if I go to the cafeteria is a huge deterrent to go anytime other than at lunch.  Even to pick up fruit.)

"I can't eat oatmeal without cream and sugar."  (Yes, I can.  With cinnamon and berries.)

"I do not want to drink coffee black."  (Then I can give it up or embrace the bitter.  I get to choose.)

"Black is slimming."  (Perhaps, but after twenty years of it in the Women's Department, I'm embracing lime green, and hot pink, and believe it or not...white pants (gasp!).)

But even with all of that, I know that sometimes when someone improves, it holds up a mirror to us that says, "why are you not getting after it?"  If it does and inspires you to get after it...awesome.  If it does and makes you feel bad because you can't or won't...that's not the intent.  I felt bad about it for twenty years with a few periods of success during that time...but the daily flogging of my weaknesses certainly wasn't helpful to me or productive in any way.  I suppose I'm talking about my journey so much because it is what I'm living right now.  Kind of like an expectant mother talks about babies all of the time or a bride-to-be eats, breathes and sleeps her wedding day and upcoming marriage.

There was someone who posted something this morning that made me roll my eyes, which is why I felt the need to put this out here.  She is farther along down the path and cannot resist posting photos of herself impressed with the muscularity of her legs.  There's a part of me that is, "Whoo hoo!  You go, girl!" and another part of me (probably the part raised by my grandmother) that thinks this is over the line.  It is one thing to post your cute new outfit...another to post the muscles in your legs.

The funny thing is...she has come so incredibly far that I really hate to begrudge her the pleasure of doing so.  I know the work she has put in to be at this point.  And in truth...I don't know her personally.  I don't know what she has had to overcome to be able to feel confident enough to put that out there.  I don't know if she views her legs as her best feature like some of us do our eyes or hair or skin.  I don't know if it was the shock of discovery that running was changing her legs in a way that she liked so much that she wanted to share.

Bottom line: Who am I to judge?  Especially when I am doing a little bit of the same.  Because I'm so excited that I am moving from Point A to Point B instead of languishing in doing it in my head and not in reality.  Making plans and not following them.  Trying and starting out well...and then fizzling.  Self-sabotaging.  Starting again on Monday.  Giving up...tuning out...living with it.

So, if you are seeing these incessant posts from me about exercise and feeling better and losing weight...know that this is a journey that I once kept private but was encouraged to share by people who were asking, "What are you DOING?" The truth is...what I'm doing is not as important as why I am doing it.  That is the real key.  That is what my program has made me face.  That is what keeps me motivated on days when I'd really rather choose the easy path.  The less sweaty one with fewer muscle aches and far less winded one.  The one that used to feel comfortable but is now detrimental to me.  The one that made me want to be invisible instead of invincible.

Thanks to those of you who are cheering on the sidelines and who read and tell me kind words that are like balm to my worn out old psyche.  To those who lead by example and show me that it can be done.  To those who encourage me in ways too numerous to mention.  To those who work out with me and tell me that the tight capri workout pants are just fine...quit fidgeting.

I love walking with people on journeys of discovery or as they discover brave new worlds of children, grandchildren, travel, weddings, new homes, new cities or whatever.  I am grateful for those who are walking along with me on this one.

Thank you for that.