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.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Beautiful

Today I was looking at a photo of one of my instructors in a yoga pose and another sweet friend that they do through a program on Instagram to encourage others to embrace fitness and the beauty that each of us has inherently within us.  Plus, they get sweet SWAG bags occasionally that I'm told totally rock.  We are all so incredibly different and remarkably special that it truly saddens me when folks just give up and accept feeling bad rather than trying to shine.  Yes, these two are very beautiful women externally...but even more so on the inside.

Since I began the weight loss journey, I have gone from feeling unlovable and not really wanting to be touched...for fear of shocking someone with unexpected padding I suppose...but the reasons don't really matter.  I had decided that being beautiful was not something I'd pursue because I've really thought that inner beauty was so much more valuable...and I still do.  Fortunately the people closest to me didn't have a problem with the weight other than a concern about my health.

But while I was accepted and felt valuable to my family and friends, what I also know is that within each woman is a little princess who wants to be looked at adoringly.  Not all of the time for the majority of us...but every so often.  As we get older, the accolades begin going to the younger set and then we begin to look good "for our age" or "in that outfit" or "with that haircut."  We're generally okay with that...but every so often...we want to feel beautiful.

Even when we are tired, sweaty, exhausted, just woke up, are being lazy, or with our hair in a ponytail and no makeup on.  Even if we have extra weight, or our arms seem to have wings, or there's some battle scars from carrying the children in our bodies that we wouldn't trade for the world.  Even if we are forty, or seventy, or the perpetual thirty-nine.  We want to bring delight...a flash of something lovely...a wisp of something sacred.

Beauty.

I have recently seen something going around Facebook that wants people to post five pictures in which they feel beautiful.  And what an exercise it has been to observe.  There are any manner of photos on display from just after childbirth to finishing a marathon to candid shots of laughter or moments from the past that show the delightful child they were at age seven.

I've decided that the photos that make me feel beautiful are those that have been taken recently.  My hair is a mess, my makeup has gone MIA, and I'm generally covered in sweat from doing something at the gym.  I've learned that for me...feeling beautiful means feeling capable.  Not any feature on my face, or anything else in particular.  When I feel like I can do something impossible...I look at myself with delight and imagine that God is smiling.

One of the blessings about being open about my journey and about this struggle is that people open up about their own.  They can't find the motivation to get started.  Cannot find the time, energy, resources, or will to do anything more than what they are doing to get through the day.  I completely understand that because that was me for 20 years.

Now I feel a bit like Rip Van Winkle in that I've awakened into a world that I don't really recognize.  With regard to my habits, my body, and my potential, anyway.  I'm doing things that I wasn't doing seven months ago.  I'm thinking differently about what is possible.  Not comparing myself to others...but against my own ideas about my limitations and potential.

Sometimes you just have to decide.  You have to really just be tired enough of the status quo to give something different a fair chance.  To be prepared to do without your comfort foods, your TV time, and your Diet Coke in the morning.  To learn to wear clothes that don't swallow you and get used to wearing clothes that fit.  As my instructor and friend, Allyson says..."get comfortable being uncomfortable."

I now view "uncomfortable" not with trepidation...but with excitement.  Because if something is hard for me...then I know that if I stay at it...eventually it won't be.  There will always be something else that is...and that's fine...but this has been life changing for me.

If you want to make a change...you decide.  Nobody can do that for you.  They can't bribe you, threaten you, shame you, force you, or do it for you.  They can encourage and help you...but the truth is...it is up to you.

I've decided to see this through.  Yes, it has helped immensely that I have a strong support network and wonderful examples who have been interested enough to help me out.  But even if they were in place and doing all that they do that I have been so inspired by...I still had to decide to try to pursue a beautiful path.

Funny thing...once I did...the teachers appeared.  God works it out.

Sometimes the path has been really rocky to test my resolve.  Full of plateaus that seem to go on forever followed by small glorious victories that keep me from being disheartened.  I cannot count the number of people telling me that they wish that they could get to the place to want to start.  My answer to that is...you just start.  It doesn't have to be an Oprah moment...you just start where you are.

And then you don't quit.  Ever.  You just keep getting stronger, happier, freer.  Your path will be unique to you, but I'd be willing to bet that you won't regret it.

Tonight I sashayed through the aisles of Publix wearing what I do to the gym as I'd just come from workouts.  A pair of black capri pants that have a tendency to cling, a pink sports bra and hot pink shirt that my workout partner, Sandra gave me.  I was dancing in the aisles to the music as I walked the perimeter of the store.  I was smiling and feeling a little funny for not caring that I looked a little like a Solid Gold Dancer.

A funny thing is that lately I've just started randomly dancing for no reason.  Never mind that I can't dance in a graceful and becoming fashion.  I just move.  I dance to my trainer's ring tone ("Ain't No Stopping Us Now") because someone always calls him during workouts.


I dance to songs that are in the MetCon class...even when the yoga students are trying to get in there and set up their mats.  They care not.


I'll dance to pretty much anything.  It doesn't seem to matter.  What does matter is that the joy that I get from movement sure beats the stress I had from trying to not be seen before.  Not that anyone was in my aisle.  Thankfully.  (For them.)

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that even a step in the right direction...done consistently...may inspire you to take another one.  And then another.  Before you know it...you're on the journey.  It isn't always easy, but nothing worth having usually is.

I would be lying if I said that I don't love feeling better, being able to do more, and watching other folks start believing that they can get after it too.  To me, that is the most beautiful thing of all.  It really is.

I don't know if you'll turn into a dancing machine on aisle 7 or will start training for a marathon.  If you'll take Zumba lessons or ballroom dance, or start bench pressing a Buick.  You may get into cross-fit or may go pure barre.  I don't know.  It's always interesting when folks start moving.

Who knows...you make strike a pose on "What's Beautiful" on Instagram like my two gym buds and get free stuff.  Sounds pretty awesome...truth be told.

Whatever you do...or don't do...just remember that you are beautiful.  You are amazing.  You are capable.  Never forget that.  Not for a minute.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Reflections on Cleaning

I spent the better part of this past weekend cleaning my house.  And I'm going to take a big chance here and be as transparent as possible to let you know that this was quite a feat for me.  I normally clean best if I'm angry, and any angst that I have these days gets extracted from my being at the gym.

Before you make that face (yes, THAT one) about my admission of the missing Susie Homemaker gene (I can trace it back three generations...so far), please be aware that there are some areas of the house that stay clean because I'm weird about it...the kitchen...the laundry...and the sheets on the bed.  But everything else just kind of takes care of itself so to speak until I can muster up the enthusiasm to get after it.

If I peer into the toilet and the bowl looks dingy...I clean it.  I'm on no schedule...although I have valiantly tried to do so because I tend to work really well with schedules.

But since all of my spare time lately has been used up trying on clothes, ironing, pulling weeds and dealing with life, it has been a shockingly long time since I mustered up enough enthusiasm to do a good "deep Spring cleaning."  What better time to do that than the first day of Summer, right?

When I used the word "shockingly" I'd like to give you a little bit more insight so that you know where it was.  I don't want your imagination to take you to "OMG Hoarders" shocking or even "Shall We Check Her Mental Facilities?" shocking.  It was more "I Haven't Seen the Top of the Dining Room Table Since Christmas" shocking or "What Exactly IS Piled up in the Laundry Room?" shocking.

You know...we live here.  That kind of shocking.

Unless, of course, you are one of those people who cannot sleep until you've washed the three spoons in the sink and wiped down the counters before you go to bed.  In which case...you probably should stop reading because you probably feel the need to go take a shower about right now.

I started with the master bathroom and Jill helped me by using her little steam mop while I cleaned the tubs and sinks and toilet.  I have small white tiles in there with black dots...a look that I thought was charming in 2001 when we built the house, but now I find somewhere between "impossible to keep clean" and "what in the WORLD was I thinking?"  The shower is in strong need of being redone from the insert that we put in when the house was built with the idea that one day we'd rip that out and tile it up and put a solid door on it instead of the glass and chrome combination that has gaskets that turn the most putrid color of green if you don't stay after it.

Of course, if you want to be all positive...you can just consider it "LeSeuer green."  That almost sounds attractive.  But frankly...a shower shouldn't contain anything around it the color of English peas.  Just saying.

I won't even go into the contractor knob in that shower that was the one thing I asked the plumber not to use because that pea color gets all up under that ball and it is impossible to get out.  But he did.  And it's been there for going on 13 years now.  One time Big Dave brought home another knob thingy...but it cost $60 and I think that I can find something on a clearance rack somewhere cheaper than that.  Seriously.

Bottles of this or that were thrown away, and I finally decided to sacrifice three violets that have been on life support for about six months to that great recycling bin in the sky.  They sat around my tub and I watered them every Thursday.  The remaining two look healthy enough.  For now.

I moved into the bedroom...cleaning dust off of surfaces and taking the multiple laundry baskets with clean clothes in them and consolidating them into piles on the bed.  After I changed the sheets, of course, and remade the bed.  Let's just say that Big Dave won't have to buy or quite frankly even wash any tee shirts or socks anytime soon.  I must have put thirty sock balls and the same number of folded shirts on the bed for him to put away.

On his side of the bed, of course.  He always appreciates that little surprise after an hour on the couch snoring to the likes of "Dirty Harry" and all he wants to do is fall into bed.

Due to the consolidation, I now have four laundry baskets...which is honestly too many for the two of us so I tried to cull a few of them.  The broken one that has been retained because the others were full of clothes is now in the trash can.  Finally.   A pink one was relegated to the guest room for towels and the others are in our bedroom waiting on dirty clothes to be deposited into them this week.

Yeah, we'll see how that pans out.  I'm betting that the dark blue one will not contain darks and the white one will not contain whites.  They'll both be full...but sorted?  Hardly.

After moving from the bedroom I went into the laundry room to see if there was anything I could do about the countertop that I haven't seen since 2012 when I spent an entire day in there with a toothbrush and a promise to never let it get that out of control again.  Except I did.  Generally when people were coming in and I needed to stash stuff...fast.

But I was determined.  So, the laundry room was cleared of the debris that had been parked there because I had no idea what to do with any of it.  I cleaned out the washing machine (gag-worthy) and dusted the dryer.  Am I the only person who gets dirt and dust from the lint trap everywhere?  Because of this issue...I keep Lysol wipes in there to clean up everything after every load.  Of course, it helps if you actually remember to use them.

I "steam mopped" in there as well and was mortified at how dirty that floor was despite frequent mopping. I would really love to have one of these little cleaners...but then Big Dave might retire and quit mopping.

I love it when Big Dave mops.

Plus, I did find thirty-seven cents in the laundry room...two carpenter's pencils, a couple of bits, and fourteen socks without mates.

From there, I moved to the rest of the home...dusted, cleaned, threw out, threw away, and boxed up and now the house looks like a home.  The table is clear, the vincas that I purchased last weekend were finally planted, and everything is as it should be.  Not perfect...but nice.

Except for the ant invasion.  I used to respect ants.  Now I just want to kill them by any means possible.

But we'll leave that alone for now.

I think what happened to me with regard to this current round of lax housekeeping was that I grew okay with things the way that they were.  I ignored the laundry baskets dotting the bedroom floor and the dust that settled on every surface.  I left the sheets from the last visitors on the bed because I didn't go into that room often enough to care and we rarely get guests without some serious advance notice.  In two weeks when we start "Family Visit July"...I'll be changing sheets every week for a month.  I want the rooms to feel welcoming and not dusty or unmade or full of stuff that needs to be put somewhere else at best...or set on fire in a blaze of glory at worst.

Last year, I crammed a ton of c-rap into Jill's old closet because it made sense to do so.  I could shut a door.  I could forget it existed. My niece and nephew (the "little people") went in there anyway to get the ginormous blue bear that Brian won for Jill when he was little for a photography session that kept them entertained for the better part of an hour.  Dixie and Riley were included in the festivities and neither of them appears to have any lasting psychological issues from it...so we're good.

This year, I want to be able to welcome guests to a cheery room with lots of space and not a speck of dust.

Okay, that last one was hilarious...let's go for "a tolerable amount of dust" instead.

Life passes quickly and sometimes we collect items from this decade or that, from this trip or family member or because something was a great price and found its way into our vehicles.  We take these items and bring them into our homes and they become the backdrop of our days of waking and sleeping.  But every once in awhile, we have to realize that it is far better to get rid of that which is just clutter or in the way or just not necessary.

Sometimes we outgrow items and other times we move on to another hobby and the remnants stay around in case we get back to it someday.  Except we rarely do.

I realize that we Americans have so much that we have problems like "decluttering" and "weight loss" that the rest of the world does not struggle with because they have so much less than we do.  And although God has provided me with a beautiful home in which to live my life...I tend to take that for granted until company is on the way and I want to show them my best.

Why not show my best every day?  Why not deal with the little things so that I can truly appreciate and be grateful for the blessing not only of a roof over my head...but for order and peace and joy.  Why not show my thanks to God by being grateful for this gift instead of griping that I have to clean my baseboards.

Which I totally do...but let's not go there.  Yet.

I like order.  And since I have to keep my house in order for a month...I'm hoping that it becomes a new good habit.  At least I know that I won't be mortified to bring people all up in this house.  Which is good.

There are still a lot of things to be taken care of...like returning the chicken wire to Home Depot that sounded like a good idea to protect our strawberries from the birds but only works if you actually take it out of the package.  Like clearing the countertops of items that should be stowed away in the pantry and dusting the living room mantle that I forgot until I saw the dancing dust emanating as the sun hit it this morning.  Washing the outside windows and putting sheets on the queen bed in Brian's room...as soon as the memory foam pillow top thingy arrives from Amazon because he'd rather sleep on my couch than the bed that isn't "comfy enough."  Cleaning the bathrooms again because I like to make doubly sure that I give my guests a spotless tub, sink and toilet because I'd quite frankly appreciate the same.

I don't know what would make housework less like drudgery to me other than looking at it as an act of thankfulness for everything that has been given to me.  Hand-me-down family furniture, the Christmas cactus that refuses to die (bless its heart) even though my watering skills are lacking, and the dishtowels that sweet friends have given me over the years that hang from my oven door.

So. Very. Much.

Instead of grousing about having to clean my house...I want to see it as a privilege.  To feel about it the way that I did in 2001 when we moved in and everything was newly painted and beautiful.  The realization of months of poring over magazines and colors and different styles.  To see it as our home...where my children and their friends laughed and family has gathered.  To see it through the eyes that my sister, parents, niece and nephew do...or my friends who stop by when they can brave being out this far from town.

In two weeks, my son and sweet Brecksyn will be here for the 4th of July...and hopefully we will sit and enjoy fireworks but even if we don't...I know we'll enjoy each other's company.  The next week will bring the folks...to celebrate my Mom's birthday and do some fun things that I refuse to tell them about because I like planning a surprise and I can't think of people more deserving of one.  The following week will bring my France-dwelling beautiful little sister and the "little people" as Dixie knows them and the pool will be used nearly constantly and I'll get more hugs and kisses than I deserve but I'll eagerly and greedily take them over three way too-short days.

I can hardly wait.  For all of it.  Every second of that time under this roof.

So, if you have rolled your eyes at all that is before you to do today in the home that you live in...and you need a reason to get yourself motivated to turn off the television and get what needs to get done handled...just do it out of joy.  Thankfulness.  Anticipation.  Expectation.  Love.  And a heart full of appreciation that you have somewhere to lay your head.  Somewhere grand that God has given you.

Just remember if stuff takes too much of your time to manage...you have to divorce it.  Pass it on, donate it, or make a conscious decision to just enjoy the time you have to spend to keep it maintained.  Much like I do when I run my hands over furniture that my Gammy ran her hands over to dust a generation or two ago.  It ties me to her and to the knowledge and appreciation of growing up to be just an average kid in a truly remarkable family.

That's what I'll be doing this next week as I finish up this housework.  Being grateful.  Remembering time that has passed and people I have loved that I miss as I prepare a place for those I love who are coming to grace this home with their presence.

When I think about it that way...I can honestly smile as I pick up the dustrag and can of Pledge to handle those places that I've missed or overlook.  I really can.  

Plus, that steam mop is pretty awesome.  Just don't tell Big Dave.