Sunday, February 28, 2010

Of Parties and Paradigm Shifts

Today I was in a room of about fifty or sixty young women who are either freshmen at Alabama or high school seniors on their way to Alabama this Fall. Each was attractive, friendly, and bright...and all were showcased in a backdrop of a lovely home, beautiful decor, and a table of food that Southern Living would not be ashamed to photograph. The day was sunny and warm enough to throw the back doors to the house open after weeks of rain, cold, and even snow.

The guests came and went, and there were sounds of laughter everywhere. The talk of excitement about college, and introductions made were all intermingled with hugs and whispers of "she's so precious!" and "go talk to those really great girls over there..." The sounds of a recruitment party in full bloom before it goes into overdrive in the Fall.

I was blessed to have the opportunity to talk with some of the freshmen as the party was ending. Four cute girls...each unique and special in her own way. Their commonality? The bonds of sisterhood and being the possessor of a great smile. We were talking about how full they were from sampling from the refreshment table all afternoon, and how they were anxious to get back to Tuscaloosa to study but had really enjoyed the day. Gotta love that.

Somehow the conversation went from the delicious food to losing weight and then to wishing that things were different. Nothing important...just a discussion reminiscent of the warning that my Mom sounded years ago when she said that I may as well focus on the good points I have and not on what I wish I could change. I think that this is a common thread among women...we all tend to want the opposite of what we have. The truth is that most of us think that we would love to have smaller thighs or a different hair color. We'd love to be taller if we are shorter, or have curly hair if ours is straight. Very few of us are entirely happy with the cards that we are dealt...and that is most unfortunate...and futile if you think about it.

Suppose that someone offered to fix your biggest thorn in the flesh...but in return you'd have to give up your greatest joy. Would you trade? I know that if I could trade my excess pounds for my family or my desire to write, I certainly wouldn't. Oh, don't get me wrong, I need to work on fixing my weak points...especially those that are out of line with scripture, but the imperfect parts of me are part of what makes me...well, ME.

I looked at the girls' sweet faces and told them not to change a thing...and not to wish to. The looks that they were given were to made to not only reflect their family, but to attract people...and that one special someone to them someday. Each of us has preferences...and the people that they love in this life will be attracted to the external before they have a chance to look within. So, that hair color, eye color, smile, weight, height, and figure type are all a part of the package that someone looks across the room one day and says..."yes, that totally works for me...maybe I'll go talk to her..."

I don't know why that came out of my mouth, or why I felt the need to express those thoughts to them. But in doing so, I had a paradigm shift of my own. I realized that who I am and who God created me to be is important to the people that He brought into my life. I may not be perfect in my own eyes, but in the eyes of my friends and family, I am perfectly acceptable. Well...most of the time anyway...and there's a lot to be said for that.

So, those of you who are out there wishing that you had more of something or less of something else...remember that you are someone's idea of perfection in some way. It could be a beautiful spirit, a talent, a gentle and quiet manner, the fact that you are dependable, or you may be someone who spreads joy and laughter everywhere she goes. Just hang in there, look at the beauty and focus less on the flaws. Those are generally only there to keep us humble while helping remind us to keep our eyes on Him and our worries in the proper perspective. At least that's what I was reminded of today...surrounded by beauty, laughter, and enough food to keep me on a treadmill for the next decade...or two.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


Tonight I have a gazillion strawberries in my possession. I am supposed to dip them in pink tinted white chocolate and deliver them to a tea on Sunday. The attendees will probably eat a few of them, but the "unsuitable" ones are mine all mine.

There is something that we all love about having more than what we require. I know that we love the sight of a Christmas tree laden with gifts or lifting the lid on a brand new box of chocolates. I used to love the beginning of school with all of the school supplies neatly lined up and available for my use. After the laundry is put away, don't you just love to open the linen closet and see that (YES!) there are towels available for your use? At work...although a rare occurrence sometimes...I love it when someone has recently made coffee and the pot is full so I can just grab and go. I also love it when I find a coupon that means that I can have BOTH items I've wanted instead of having to choose.

As a kid, I'd love it when I would wake up in time to watch all of the Saturday morning cartoons, and there would be a new box of cereal to enjoy. Halloween was a time for unlimited candy without parental intervention after the initial scan (and before it magically just disappeared somehow). Summer was a time when there were days and days of no obligations or homework...when life just seemed to stretch out forever.

While proper planning and discipline (all grown up ideas) help make these moments possible...sometimes we are just the lucky recipients of other people's maturity, labor, or thoughtfulness. I mean, as a child, it never occurred to me that Halloween candy found its way to my bag because someone thought to purchase it at the store and took the time to distribute it. I suppose I just thought of it as a right. We were free in the summers to sleep late or roam the neighborhood because someone else was working to keep a roof over our heads. I also didn't realize - until adulthood - that someone did without so that our Christmas mornings would be magical and exciting.

All of us know the opposite of having enough. We want to go to a concert...and find that the tickets are sold out. We want to go on vacation, but the checkbook laughs. Or we are in the middle of printing a document...and the ink runs out. We call these minor inconveniences of life...but what they really are is well...LIFE. We also know the annoyance of the bing of the gas gauge when we are short on time, or the dreaded realization that someone has used the last of the toilet paper. Yikes.

And then there are the times that we have too much of something...and we aren't especially thrilled. Excess ant invation in our kitchen...two occasions on the same night. We look in our closets and can't possibly squeeze another item in and are forced to deal with the reality of abundance. Or we look at a table at Thanksgiving and find that what looked so wonderful and tasted so awesome has rendered us incapable of movement...for awhile anyway.

I believe that the key is finding the way to strike a proper balance in life is contentment. Realizing that sometimes we are going to have more than enough, and other times we are going to wish that there was more. Sometimes it is difficult to do when our stress levels make us feel like we are standing on a ledge outside a fifty story building or when we look around to see that we appear to be in the boat alone. The truth is...we are never alone. We just have to rise above it all and start leaving our unhappiness with a situation in God's hands.

I personally believe that those times that we end up with abundance to make us appreciate those times that we do not. But our best bet is to accept what is...and to work toward something better if we can. Life will throw us curveballs...we just either need to hit them out of the park or learn how to get out of the way.

Contentment seems elusive to most of us because we are caught up in what the world tells us we are to chase...romance, wealth, excitement, travel, or knowledge. What we should be more concerned with is being who we were created to be...and savoring the moments that we are given. We invest a lot of ourselves trying to satisfy the desires of our hearts instead of simply following our purpose.

There have been many times that abundance has been overwhelming, and other times where not having enough has truly hurt. I suppose it is all a matter of perspective. I just know that being content with either is the secret to happiness...and I definitely want an abundance of that.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Basic Scrapbooking

A few days I mentioned my scrapbooks and received a number of comments. I like comments. So, because I have had limited human interaction for the past couple of days and am highly desirous of more comments, I'm putting a few thoughts out here. I realize that a certain segment of the reading population couldn't care less about this, but just read on. I can't promise it will be interesting...but maybe it will be interesting to someone in your life. If not, well, my apologies in advance.

I am a fan of Creative Memories scrapbooks. This is primarily because it is what I started with, is something that I've used for fourteen years and can vouch for, and I now have so much of it that to go to something else at this point in time is a colossal waste of time and money. But there are a lot of products out there and on eBay. What you want to make sure of is that whatever you are using is both acid free and lignin free. The acid will damage your photos, and the lignin in the paper will make it brittle and non-archival. Think about an old newspaper article or a piece of construction paper that your child made something out of over a decade ago. Lignin-loaded paper...both.

So where to begin?

Well, the first step is figuring out what it is that you want to do. A vacation? Senior year? A chronological family history? A memory album for someone who is showing early signs of dementia? A Christmas album? This choice alone will dictate how long your project will take and how much angst you are likely to experience.

The first piece of advice that I would give you is to either locate the photos of the particular event that you want to chronicle, or get your photos in chronological order. The easiest way to do the latter is with photo boxes. Creative Memories sells a big one that holds 2,500 photos; which is surprisingly not as many as you'd think.

After getting them in order, you go through each packet and remove the ones that are duplicates (securing them in a separate place in order) and throw away the fuzzy ones. If you want to give some photos away to someone who might enjoy them more than you (photos of the ex-boyfriends of your daughter would fall into this category) all means...mail them on...set fire to them...whatever.

Anyway, you'll then look at the photos and can make a decision as to whether or not you want to put them on a page. Back in the day...before digital photography...we often took six pictures of the same thing to make sure that we got a good one. That overkill is obviously not going to work on an album page. You really just want to pick the best ones...and even if you leave the second best one in the worries. You might recapture it later in another project. Or not. I'm just trying to keep you from stressing over it.

For a 12 x 12 inch album, you can get anywhere from four to six photos on a page. You might want to cut some of them down (crop) and use decorative items such as paper behind the photos and stickers. The ideas in this arena are endless and are available online. I would caution you to not go all spend-crazy and buy up things because they are "cute." I speak from experience. What you want to do is plan your page and THEN go shopping for things to enhance the pages. It is a lot more cost effective and keeps you from getting overwhelmed.

Just layout the pages and think about what it is you are trying to do. The correct answer is "preserve your memories" not "put every photograph ever made into this album or die trying." If you take the latter approach, you will find yourself facedown in your album at 3 a.m. wondering why you ever thought that documenting your baby girl's senior year was even remotely a good idea. Especially on those days when you don't particularly like her.

If you have a lot of your photos in digital form, you can just drop various photos into templates to make books using such photo websites like Snapfish and Shutterfly. Costco and Kodak also have this type of book available for a reasonable price. If you have a some of both. There are no hard and fast rules. I have not converted to digital because I just cannot deal with learning that right now. I tend to jump in whole hog and I don't have time for any more obsessions right now. I have decided to ease into it after my son leaves home. In the meantime, I'll just look at it so that I can figure it out somewhat.

Good luck with your project! I welcome any specific questions and I'll give you my opinion. Shoot, someone who is more qualified than I am might even jump on in there and help you out. Just remember that whatever you do will be treasured and enjoyed by people who will not be able to believe that you took the time to do this for them. Or not. But you'll feel good about it anyway.

Scrapbooks are a visual history of our lives. They make us laugh and cry and remember. When life is moving at the speed of is nice to have a place where time stands still...and then can be neatly returned to the shelf. Enjoy!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Of Pearls and Swine

Some days you have the opportunity to use your experiences to benefit someone else. God gives you the moment...and you step through the point of no return and you just speak your heart. And the words flow gracefully and lovingly out of your mouth. God's words...His noted in the Bible. You note that everything that happens to us is in His plan...and is in His control.

And then you finish...and realize with sickening clarity...that you might have just tossed your pearls of wisdom before swine. least right now...that is what I highly suspect.

Many women are very protective of their girls. I know that I am. Part of this is because we as women feel like we have to activate our "mother bear" instinct and claw to death anyone who bothers our cubs. The other part is because there were times in our lives when we probably wished that someone had been in our corner...and they weren't.

Earlier today, a mother was commenting on a situation that involved her daughter, and she was expressing her anger over how it came out. She felt that the other young lady involved needed to be held to account, and should have been forced to honor a commitment she made. And if that's all that you knew about the would probably agree with her. I mean, on the surface...we all want to believe that other people raise their children to be perfect in our eyes. Isn't that the point? Of course not. We really just want them to be perfect so we can enjoy tearing them down. Or we want them to be perfect so that we can associate our children with them. Either way appears to be a win-win for a certain segment of the population.

But what she didn't mention was that her daughter had commented that she might need to get out of their agreement. She may not have been aware of it...or maybe she just chose to keep it out of the story to make her situation easier to support. Because if we are feeling bad for her daughter...then we can certainly make a villain out of the other young lady.

She is also probably not aware that I have heard of her wrath before today by more than one person. This cannot be good as most of my friends know that I am not interested in gossip and they rarely confide this sort of thing to me. That means that if she has shared her point of view enough for me to hear it more than once...she's pretty much going on and on and on about it ad nauseum to anyone within earshot.

I guess she probably forgot that I've been down this road before. As I told a friend of mine today...I still have the tire marks from this particular bus still on my back...and definitely still on my heart. You don't forget when people attack your child unfairly.

I've listened to women who share good news and I've listened to women who want to share every tidbit of dirt...real or imagined. So, no, I did not fall for this particular rendition of "my poor baby."

Instead I reminded her that God is in control of what happens to her daughter as well as the other young lady. I reminded her that her angst is unnecessary. She may as well go ahead and learn it now. In less than a year, her daughter will be making some pretty serious decisions about how she spends her time and what recreational activities she will engage in. It's called "being in college" and NO, it is not always fun...well, for parents anyway. Her anger about the situation - while well intended - was the response of a mother who hasn't been through the reality of letting go. I gently reminded her that this was coming, and tried to reinforce that this will not be the last time that her child is hurt because someone else was inconsiderate. Her job is to help her rectify the situation without attacking the other person. You know...that whole forgiveness thing.

She didn't seem to like my point of view but she politely listened. That didn't really surprise me either. See, I am pretty sure that at some point in time, this particular lady was possibly a passenger on the bus I described earlier. The one full of grown women who decided who was worthy of their support and their favor. Anyone who wasn't perfect enough or important enough...or heaven forbid...TOO perfect...need not apply. Oh, I was bitter about it at one time, but I have been so blessed by such wonderful, caring friends, that I just attempted to find the high road. It wasn't always easy...but eventually I found it, and the air is certainly clearer up there.

I find it difficult to understand this tendency in some adult women. I have noticed that they will use every weapon in their arsenal to gun down anyone who crosses them. So what if she's only 17 years old and thought that you were a woman that she could trust? Who cares if you are paying to send your child to a Christian school...when someone has hurt your baby's feelings? What does it matter that you are in a position of authority and your annoyance with this young lady might carry heavier weight with those who don't know any better? No, just go right ahead and keep going on and on about it. Never mind all that.

As I've reviewed this conversation today in my reminded me that I can tolerate a woman going after another woman and having an honest disagreement. Mother to mother? Fine. But what I absolutely, positively, and completely cannot stomach is grown women going after a young woman. Primarily because I know firsthand the residual damage that people like this can do. Why? Because I've been struggling to forgive this kind of hateful and despicable behavior for the past several years.

So, maybe my pearls of wisdom were left in the parking lot or perhaps I gave her a different way of looking at it. I don't know. I just know that it really made me angry to witness this firsthand as it is bad enough to simply hear about it. I received enough grace to make it through the conversation, and for that I am very grateful. And maybe...just maybe...she didn't trample my pearls of wisdom underfoot. Here's hoping...

Sunday, February 21, 2010


I have been a scrapbooker since January 18, 1996. I know this because I remember random dates...and because the sweet consultant who got me started on this journey gave me an invitation she found from that party. That means that this hobby isn't fly-by-night, or even any longer an obsession. It is just something that I do for my own satisfaction or as a gift for someone else. Judging by how many supplies I still have, I'll be doing this for awhile...

Through the years I've made close to 30 albums for myself. I've also made them for people who have either asked me to (two of three years of a son's high school plays), I've volunteered to (a 5th grade class), friends or family. It is something that I can do that cannot really be replicated, and it is something that is never outgrown. I have always liked the fact that it is an excellent point of reference guide (ie. I know when Brian had chickenpox) and a record of our lives as a family for future generations. Oh, you can order photos in neat little books now, but in my opinion, these are best for events such as weddings. The old fashioned scrapbook with paper, stickers, and embellishments is a little mini-masterpiece that people normally appreciate immensely. Each page is unique and reflects the artistry of the scrapbooker. Yes, I know that digital scrapbooking is changing a lot of this, but I will always love the fact that I've invested a lot of hours being my family's historian. And I will never tire of looking at other scrapbookers' masterpieces.

While not as active as I used to be...when this hobby bordered on obsessive, including a stint as a consultant myself...I still have enough supplies to scrapbook for the next five years at my current level. In one way, this insures that I'll keep at it. In another way, I am amazed that I've spent so much time, energy, and money on this through the years!

Last night, during a visit from one of my "other daughters" from Jill's high school days, we were looking through some old scrapbooks. They were attempting to find some hideous photos from 2000...when the girls were together celebrating her 10th birthday. This was as Jill said...before she found her way to a hair straightener and her way out of the Limited Too. Oh, we found them. And they were as funny to look back on as we thought they'd be.

What I realized looking at the pictures is that this hobby has provided a record of the family and those who have been in and out of this house. Forgotten connections were there in living color. There were even a number of photos in the graveyard of boyfriends past, of braces on and off, bangs growing out, and fashion "don'ts"...just as you'd expect.

What got us motivated to search these photos out was seeing a rehearsal dinner video I've been finalizing of a young man from their school who graduated five years before they did...but someone that they remembered. The photos of seeing the two of them growing up inspired looking for a few photos that would provide equal enjoyment one day. I laughed to myself thinking of the ironies of life...and realizing that with Jill's wealth of embarrasing photos to choose from...she'll probably end up with someone who has twelve photos of his entire growing up years because he is the third child and Mama was way too busy to be bothered with a camera or lost them in a move. It happens.

I don't know who the other person in the girls'rehearsal dinner videos will be. I just know that within the next couple of years, they will begin seeing people that they know well pairing off, setting dates, and picking out china. On one hand, I am ready to see this. On the other is quite terrifying. Right now, I feel like this is eons away, but when I looked back last was a longer trip looking back than watching their rehearsal dinner videos will probably be.

The scrapbooks transported me back to a time when life was simpler and it seemed that time moved slower. Some of the photos were from ten years ago...when my biggest worries were getting the tuition paid and paying for braces. At age 14, she met her high school sweetheart, and we looked at a picture of them from October 2004. I was amazed to realize that he has now been out of her life for the past three years. Wow. The pace of life is dizzying. That hardly seems possible.

Perhaps in a few weeks...after the taxes are done, the rehearsal dinner video is delivered, and a few other loose ends are tied up around here like spring cleaning and the dreaded search for a formal dress for me to wear this summer, I'll sit down and catch up on my scrapbooking. Maybe I'll be able to recapture those elusive fast moving moments from right now that seem to be running on overdrive. And perhaps we will sit down again...the girls and me...and look at what is going on right now ten years from now. And laugh...and laugh...and laugh.

Friday, February 19, 2010


Today I heard someone give a public apology for bad behavior, and it was covered by the media. This isn't either regard...the bad behavior or the media coverage. But something in his apology stuck with me. I am not quoting here, but what he basically said was that with all of the access to everything money could buy, long term blown out of proportion idol worship and a realization that the "no's" in life were as rare as weight loss in America these days...he developed a sense of entitlement. Shocking, yes? No...sadly, not really.

I mean, we have set things up in such a manner in this society that we expect someone to fix all of our problems, and we get angry if they don't. We want to be able to take something to get cure whatever ails us. We want to pass through this life doing everything that we want to matter who has to pick up the tab. And I for one...and sick to death of it. I am also, to some degree...guilty as charged.

I'm tired of hearing accounts of perfectly healthy adults drawing a government check instead of finding work. I can't bear watching MTV or any number of cable channels that show idiocy under the name of "reality TV." I am weary of seeing people take advantage of the system...just because they can. I'm also tired of seeing all of us giving celebrities a "pass" just because they happen to have been plucked from obscurity by the luck of the draw.

I say that because I believe that each of us has within us the ability to be on the red carpet in some manner. All of us were made by the same creative genius...and all of us have a reflection of His spark.

And I suppose in that way...we are entitled to expect that reflection to be noticed. But sometimes we forget that we are a wisp of a reflection and begin to think that we are the source of the light. Sometimes this amnesia is because we are reminded of this illusion day in and day out as was the case with the star of the news conference today. Other times, we feel like other people should notice our brilliance...but nobody does. So some lose touch with reality until people are left with no choice but to give them negative attention. And other times, we feel like we have to look out for ourselves...and we aren't really concerned who has to pick up the check, the work or the responsibility...because we deserve to be happy.

Entitlement is a tricky thing. It seems like we have the upper hand, but that's because while we think we are in control...we are instead growing roots of denial and weakness. When we think that we are ready to move on...we find ourselves tethered. Parents these days don't do much to keep these roots from taking hold, either. We don't want our kids to struggle, be unhappy, or feel like they aren't enough...especially if we have been in those shoes. But in doing so...we let them believe that they are supposed to be happy all of the time. You need something? Charge it! You're feeling bad? Shop! Someone got something new? We'll get you one, too! Ridiculous...but sadly...reality. Happiness isn't a right or a guarantee. Besides, other than people and occasionally pets...happiness does not come from anything external to us.

So, as I listened to this individual talk about how he was deluded into thinking that he was allowed to write his own rules because of who he was...I thought about some of the things I've come to believe I'm entitled to because I've been so blessed. A family. Enough to eat. A job. Health. I need to pay attention when I start feeling like somebody owes me something. It is at the point where I begin to start the justification process that the downward spiral begins.

We all have something that we might feel we are entitled to in this life. Or perhaps we are teaching people in our care that they should come to expect things to roll in their favor. Life is wonderful, but sometimes it is hard. We are not entitled to happiness...only the pursuit of it. And sometimes even the pursuit isn't all it is cracked up to be.

So, fight the tendency to settle for what the roar of the crowd and listen for the small quiet voice. Expect nothing...but be generous with what you have...with people who have their priorities straight or who might need a helping hand. Be grateful...and don't expect that your life is to be charmed or that it is someone else's responsibility to make it that way.

It really can be a fine line sometimes...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Reflections on Walmart, Alli, and Money

Tonight I walked three Walmart. I came in through the garden center because I absolutely detest parking closer to the Home Depot across the street than to the building. Because most people who go there to grocery shop, there is minimal competition on the other side of the lot. I have found that this totally rocks.

Because I try to be a good customer, and because the garden center entrance is sometimes skinny on carts, I brought in one from the lot. Once reaching the doors, I heard that lovely "clang clang clang" that is apparently the trademark of all Walmart carts except the motorized ones. Those ride smoothly...they just give out halfway across the store. I know this because I've seen numerous stranded MeeMaws over the years when they weren't running me down in the aisles or parking in front of whatever I needed for just short of an eternity.

I walked across the store and realized that my Walmart - because it isn't "super" has a limited selection in certain areas. I was attempting to find DVD-R disks and labels for the wedding videos I've been working on...and have now finished. There are 8,000 different types of printer ink in the Electronics Department, but I never did find the disks or the correct packages of labels. Nor was there anything close to what would be deemed an intelligent life form employed within.

Navigating to the grocery section to pick up a couple of items I was able to locate three packages of dog treats, nine packages of half price pink and red napkins and plates, a couple of the actual items on my shopping list, a supersize box of dishwashing detergent, two bags of Reese's peanut butter cups that I can't even eat but purchased because they were half price, and a box of Alli.

Alli...a cute little name for orlistat capsules. These are touted by the following on the box "helps you lose more weight than dieting alone." Yeah, you'll eat less out of FEAR. Some of the other "issues" are not so pleasant such as "gas with oily spotting" and "loose stools". I'm not so sure that I want to do this, but I'll take all of the tough love I can get right now to keep me on track. This box says you are to eat a "low-fat diet." I'm betting that is an understatement. It would probably be safer to just eat chalk.

I went back through the garden center to check out, and I am still amazed at how much money I spent purchasing nothing. Granted, I had coupons, but WOW. Naturally, the Alli purchase meant that my exit set off the alarm system, which is always mortifying...but we figured out that the Alli was the culprit.

I then went to Target to get the missing items...which I was able to find. I also had the opportunity to catch up with a friend who also has a daughter at University of Alabama as we wheeled through the cleaning supplies. She and I are living parallel lives in some regards...most notably the fact that we wish we were able to send more money to our daughters but know in doing so we are doing them a terrible disservice. Sometimes it is good to have those encounters...because you realize that you are not alone.

I finally checked out, and lugged all of my oh-so-important purchases home. I was greeted by the dogs who were a little put out that I was late feeding them. They brightened up at the dog treats and are now both passed out in their beds. I am forgiven.

I write all of this not to bore you...but because I realized something vitally important today. It was that many of us have enough money to meet our basic needs. We therefore do not feel guilty about spending money on items that are not imperative to our family's well-being...or ours. We buy things because they are neat, they are on sale, or because we happen to want them. There's a huge difference in wants and needs, but in recent years, those lines have blurred. And then we wonder why our kids don't seem to appreciate everything that we give them.

I know that my attitude needs to change, and I am going to try to be a far better steward of what I have. And once I hold myself to that standard...I will then expect my children to be held to the same. They have far higher expectations as to what we should be doing for them than we had of our parents. My casual treatment of my money may be partially to blame. I can blame society...where I sent them to school...or any number of cultural changes over the past twenty years. But the only one of these variables that I can the example that I set.

So, for the next 30 days I won't be spending. After doing an inventory of the freezer and the pantry this weekend, it is abundantly clear that I clearly have abundance. We won't starve. In fact, a few missed meals are definitely in order. And that is where the Alli comes in. The fear factor alone is enough to keep me scared straight. Trust me on that one...

Lazy Day

Today I'd like to write something funny or enlightening or even entertaining. But I have absolutely nothing particular on my mind. I rarely have days off without plans, but due to the weather and my need to have some uninterrupted "me" time, I've spent the majority of the past four days in the house. I left for church, but other than that...I've been within the four walls of my home...and I have liked it.

I have worked most of my life. My first job was as a newspaper inserter at age 14, and for the most part, I have worked ever since. Most of these years I spent chasing a career until many of us do...that work is a job that is a means to provide for the people that I love. It is something to be respected, but it shouldn't follow you home.

It is not often that I have time to myself. I steal some away at nights to write or I work on numerous short term projects. I detest housework, but I do break down every now and then and get that taken care of for the comfort of my family. I've been blessed with a husband who doesn't mind keeping the kitchen clean, and has the ability to make a room look clean once he's been through it. This ability is sorely lacking in me, and is a definite benefit.

Now, as I sit here, I realize that my inner introvert is very happy with my own company, an old movie on TV, and this computer. I suppose that in all of those years of trying to balance everything...I got incredibly tired. It is exhausting climbing that proverbial ladder that is on the wrong wall. I expended a lot of effort, and I probably wouldn't do most things differently than the way I did, but I certainly did cram too much life into too little time. Over time, it just becomes a way of life...something like second nature.

So, today, when I had an entire day to myself...why did I do nothing terribly practical? Why did I not tackle that giant to-do list? Why do I not want to get out of my pajamas?

I guess the older I get, the more time I want to spend experiencing life or just resting, and less time managing the maintenance of stuff. I want to know what is going on in the lives of those I love. And I want to invest less time and energy into things that don't really matter in the grand scheme of things.

Today was a nice day. It was quiet and cold and had no agenda. There was no mail to sort and no pressing chores that needed to be done. I could have thought of a few, but just couldn't muster the enthusiasm to do so. I've just spent the past 24 hours breathing in and breathing out.

Somewhere, there are friends who are not so fortunate. And in other places, there are friends who are happy and excited about the future. I just know that for all of us, we need these days that are like the pause button on the DVD player of our lives, to allow our spirits a chance to unwind.

In a few minutes, I'm going to get dressed and run a couple of errands. I have a busy week on tap starting tomorrow. But for now, I'm just savoring the oasis of "no demands" in my sea of busyness and demands. I know that I've certainly needed a respite. It is just so difficult to justify when there is so much to do and so little time.

I suppose the solution is to just be grateful for the time that we have that is unallocated. Maybe we normally invest that time into caring for others, but sometimes it is best if we lavish it on ourselves. Especially those of us who have families that get the best we have to offer most of the time.

Maybe I'll take a bubble bath before I head to Walmart...hmm.......

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentine's Day

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day...the day of love...and a mighty great excuse for chocolate consumption and focusing our attention on those that we love. All of us have someone who is our valentine. Either our significant other, our children, parents, siblings, neighbors, or friends. These are the people that speak to our hearts...those that we would drop everything to care for...and those that make our lives richer.

I'm looking outside at a beautiful morning and my yard is blanketed in snow. The air is cold and moist and the landscape is beautiful. In a few months, the colors, scents and sounds of spring will be alive and vibrant. But is cold, quiet, and peaceful. Almost like the air outside is holding a secret of wonderful things yet to come.

It reminds me that there are changes in life coming that we cannot see...although we can in some ways predict. When we are young, we find that sometimes we are surprised when those changes come. We are so entrenched in the heat of battle for our independence that we sometimes fail to notice that someone left the key to a particular freedom on the table and walked away. Sometimes that is because we have approached a birthday milestone like 16 or 21, and other times because we have earned the right to manage our own lives.

As we get older, we marry, buy homes, purchase our own cars, follow a career, or invest our time in ways that some people may not understand. And then there are the curve balls of life that knock us down or out temporarily. Nobody really signs up for those, but most realize on the other side...that their lives are often changed for the better.

But today, I am thinking about all of the people that comprise my friends and family, and how much I hope that they are happy, well, and fulfilled today. How very blessed I am to have lots of valentines. If I were in third grade, I would have to have at least four or five boxes to hand out. I'd get the good kind...with the really big suckers or a little package of M&Ms attached. Those were always my favorites to receive.

Do you remember how wonderful that used to be? Making the little box or bag for your valentines in class and then later opening it to find it full of paper greetings from your friends? I do like the fact that the teachers began making everyone give each member of the class a valentine...because I did have a secret fear that I'd be forgotten. It was my safety net to counteract my spectacularly overwhelming excitement about any and every holiday.

My mother often says that one of her biggest worries for me then...and even that I'd build up an event so much in my imagination that the reality was always a letdown. I have guarded against that tendency in recent years, and now that it is under control...I consider my enthusiasm for life to be a gift. It took a number of years to understand that I was actually an optimist that was disappointed a lot instead of a pessimist. It was quite a shift in my thinking that I'll take any day.

Because is full of surprises. We get an unexpected bouquet. Our mailbox contains a wonderful card from our folks. We win first prize in a baking contest in the 6th grade with a heart cake. We wake up to a beautiful ground cover of white. Or we get an extra day off that we desperately need.

Happy Valentine's Day! I hope that your hearts are full of joy and contentment this weekend. May you receive chocolate, flowers, cards, or just the kind word that you need to hear. May your troubles melt away like snow in the sunshine...and may your laughter overwhelm your tears. Don't look at what is going wrong with your life today...look at how much you are loved. And if you ever doubt that...just look up.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Weight Warrior

I have been eating like a normal human being for the past four days. I say that in a completely positive I am incredibly proud that I have made it this far. Many times, I have started out like gangbusters, and then ended up like some kind of food intoxicated version of Amy Winehouse surrounded by Kashi wrappers and TOTALLY in denial. I mean, Kashi is healthy, right?

I have several issues with staying on course, and thought I'd catalog these to remind myself where the potholes are on the road leading out of the land of obesity. I usually enter "rehab" at this point - otherwise known as Weight Watchers - but I just cannot deal with shelling out $60 a month to be mortified on a weekly basis. It used to be punishment enough to have to listen to the perky lady named Donna discuss how "totally awesome" a certain frozen meal was or watch Ricky get yet another star for losing five pounds. I did find it quite hysterical, though, as I sat in there one night with the iPod on and Collective Soul's song "Heavy" came on.

I'm a veteran of Weight Watchers. I attended my first meeting in 1977 when foods were "legal" and "illegal" and I've followed every program that has come down the pike since. What I've really primarly done is watched the weight go on, and have watched the weight come off. Oh, don't get me wrong. When I went to the meetings...there were very nice people there, mind you. And all of them were very into getting their weight off. I just felt like I had entered the Twilight Zone some weeks. I just couldn't handle all of that acceptance and support.

I don't want to be told that it is okay that I ate an entire box of fudge bars because they were only 2 points each. I also am not interested in coming up with strategies for dealing with holidays. I don't want a strategy...I want a new metabolism. I don't want to feel all mad at myself when the sweet lady weighed me and said "you'll do better next week..." when I knew that I had been all about that cheese dip at Ixtapa.

What I really needed was to go in and have to face a taser or something if I didn't lose weight. Or have some heavily armed personal trainer forcing me to exercise and reminding me to quit whining like a girl. I need THAT kind of know "scared straight." Oh, but no. I got sunshine and rainbows and the occasional coupon. What I needed was fear and loathing.

But I am hopefully back on the permanent road to recovery. I know this because I really, truly, honestly NEED to do this for myself. Before this was always to make other people happy. It is hard to pass up something you really like for someone else. You have to want to get it off...for YOU.

First of all, I've had to get a handle on portion size. My idea of a serving and what is shown on the box are two completely different animals. I tend to eat Jolly Green Giant sized bowl portions. What I need is to be eating more like a Smurf. I hadn't really realized how large my bowls were until I compared one of mine with one from my grandmother's house that she used frequently. Mine are nearly twice the size of hers. And I'm about twice the size I was when I lived in her house. Simple math.

I've also had to force myself to drink water all throughout the day instead of drinking it like I'm at some kind of MTV spring break chugging party. The first two days, I didn't drink much until after lunch...which showed up in the eight bathroom trips I made that afternoon. Two of them were during my aerobics class (yes, I left the room). I used to love water, but I've gotten a bit snobbish about my liquid intake here of late. I figured if I have to be miserable anyway...I may as well go for the full prisoner experience with the water...except that bread consumption is also so not happening.

Yes. No bread. I am eating potatoes and rice in moderation, but I'm afraid that if I get loose with some bread, I'll be off the wagon in no time. For some people...bread is bread. For me...bread is the gateway drug. I get into eating bread...and the next thing I know I'm bowing at the altar of the Pillsbury Doughboy. Not cool.

Sugar is also not my friend. It is actually easier to give up because I am using the Special K crutch. I knew that cereal with chocolate pieces in it would be totally awesome. It is. Other than my Special K, and coffee creamer, I am steering clear of sugar. I haven't started hallucinating yet...thankfully. Plus, since I sign my e-mails with "K"...I like the fact that the cereal box tells me I'm special. I don't hear that expressed nearly enough because I have kids.

I'm also weighing every week...and will be seeing the results. After the first OMG! moment a few weeks ago, I have come to embrace my inner linebacker. Next Tuesday I will get on the scale again and it had better register a weight loss of at least a kindergartener. (Just kidding...I'll settle for a newborn.)

Hope that I have good news to report next week. The exercise should help, as should getting through the first few days of eating normally. I'm there...and happy to be through it. You know...where you have to go to bed to keep yourself out of the kitchen. Yeah. I've also quit yelling at people and have pretty much gotten over myself. I even thought that the Lean Cuisine was excellent today. (That's disturbing, now that I think about it.)

Anyway, for those of you who have never struggled with your weight, I hope that you will eat better just to feel better. For those of you who are weight warriors, I hope that you slay the dragon. I'm right there with you. I'm also praying that God will continue to grant me the ability to stay out of the shackles of food addiction. He is able to do anything...including keeping me motivated. And for that...I'm willing to keep on fighting the battle of the bulge.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I've been in a funk for the past five days. Some might call it a mild depression, or lack of sun (shocking with the gazillion inches of rain we have had in the past two months) or just some seismic hormonal shift. I don't know. I truly don't care. All I know is that I'm ready to crawl out from under the rock and try to shake it off.

I've thought about what has been bothering me, and I've had a few minor epiphanies. None of them are especially original, but after mulling them around for awhile, I've compiled a list of things that I'm old enough to not have to tolerate anymore or that just express my mindset. I'm sure that there are others, but these are the ones that are ready to hit the light of day.

1. I am too old to have to do things that I don't want to do in the few hours that I have to myself at this point in my life.

That means: I don't have to buy candles/cookies/candy/popcorn/cookie dough or anything else from anyone's child unless the child asks me to support them. If the child doesn't ask...I don't think I should have to buy. I am currently working off the Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies from 1978, and I don't need to confuse my cellulite by adding some from the current year.

It also means that I don't have to go to cantatas, functions, gatherings, or meetings unless my employer tells me I'm going during working hours. Oh, if I WANT to go...that's my choice. But I'm tired of feeling like I "must" do something when I would rather be investing my time somewhere else. I love my friends, but I also love my time.

2. I am not in a competition with anybody.

If your child is the Homecoming Queen, I am jumping up and down with joy for you. And when my child wins a medal in Science Olympiad I'd like to think that you think that's pretty cool. And most of the time, this is the way that it all plays out.

However, there are those times when someone says, "OH." and gives me the impression that they think it is unimportant because it isn't an "elite" award like "state champion" or "queen" of something. Whatever. I'm as proud of kids who lose weight, overcome adversity, are nominated but don't win, or get a scholarship as I would be about those winning honors and awards that are considered "elite." While I'm proud of my daughter for making cheerleading in high school, I was equally proud of the fact that she stayed at it and kept trying out when she didn't make it in middle school. See, I know that she can handle adversity. Some kids who have had a charmed life cannot. And because she can, God has something amazing planned for her life. Hide and watch.

I think that in this culture, women are especially competitive, and many women take glee in dropping emotional atomic bombs. Guys leave it on the field. Some women aren't happy unless there is total annihilation. I don't get it. It is particularly heinous in junior high.

I've watched girls make bad decisions when they are young that were made out of immaturity, ignorance, or because they were trying to fit in. Most people outgrow this tendency, and we need to cut them some slack if they do. I am not the same person I was in my teens, or twenties or thirties. I make mistakes. Most people do. Anyone who doesn't make mistakes (or can hide them well) should consider themselves blessed and quit trying to elevate their own status by trashing everybody in the vicinity.

So, when you see someone's daughter (or someone's mother) pulling herself together and doing well...cheer her on! For heaven sakes, shut up about who is doing what and let God work it out. I'm not suggesting that you let a friend sign up for "Girls Gone Wild" or that you don't intervene when it is appropriate, but whatever happened to treating people the way you want to be treated?

A few years ago, I was blessed out in my office by a woman who was angry with me...and I was totally blindsided. I've never quite gotten over the pain of that because some of the things she said were immensely hurtful. This week, someone ran into her and mentioned her name in conversation. It brought back everything, and that has been part of the problem this week. I suppose I mention that to tell you to be careful what you say to people. I expect that one day, she will have a similar experience and find herself on the other side. It normally works that way. And before you tell me that I need to get over it...just know that I've forgiven...I just can't seem to forget.

3. There's nothing wrong with speaking the truth. Preferably, in love. If they don't get it, though, sometimes you have to yell.

Lately, I've realized that a lot of things are my fault. Not really, but that's the impression I get. I am not responsible for other people's inability to manage their own lives, and my entire existence is not supposed to be dedicated to making sure that the people I love have every desire of their heart. Frankly, I don't think that anyone has enough money to do all that they want to do, and if they do, they find that in time it either runs out, or they have to create drama to break the monotony (ie. Lindsey Lohan, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, etc.)

I've decided that I have done all that I can do to insure everyone's happiness, and beyond is what it is. However, in response to any whining...since I've already spoken the truth in love numerous times...I'm just going to yell. Something to the effect of "ENOUGH ALREADY."

Today I was told that a lady at the pharmacy in Tuscaloosa gave Jill grief about presenting an expired prescription and then showing up at the wrong store when the doctor's office faxed a replacement in. I called that pharmacy and told the manager that although I'm sure they tire of dealing with college kids, we parents expect the same level of professionalism that we get in non-college towns. I reminded her that some of these college students probably have no idea how to deal with pharmacies because Mom and Dad have always done it for them. I told her that the reason they wandered into her pharmacy was not only because it was close to campus, but because it was most likely the store that the families use at home. I could tell that she had a paradigm shift, and I hope that she reminds her staff that they are there to serve customers. Even clueless ones.

4. My time is valuable.

I love doing things for other people. I really do. I'm not exactly the poster child for mercy, but I have invested my time in ways that God led me...or I've declined. Sometimes, though, I cannot seem to muster up the enthusiasm or get a sense of direction about what I am supposed to be doing. So, I flounder. I'm not responsible for the results, I am only responsible for following God's direction.

I have sometimes been angry with myself for messing up an assignment. Other times, I thought that I did not always invest well...but you never know. The time I spent driving girls around, helping with Bible study at school, writing notes, helping with English assignments or teaching people may have actually been worthwhile. All I can say is that I love the people that I come into contact with as I believe that they are my mission field. Sometimes they think I'm weird. Sometimes I guess I am.

But my time is valuable. Everyone's is. That point was driven home to me this week at the premature death of one of Jill's high school classmates. None of us know how much time we have, and so we need to make the most of every day. It isn't always easy. We want to be appreciated. We'd like to be significant. We have a strong need to matter. Sometimes that means that we have to make tough calls about what we can and cannot do.

Thanks for letting me be a little reflective here. I know that everything I've said are things that we all know. I just believe that life would be far sweeter if we actually took time to appreciate people and less time trying to impress them. I tend to not trust people who brag about their possessions, and I don't particularly enjoy hearing gossip. I'd much rather hear about something wonderful going on in their lives, or just see them and get a quick hug.

Life is short. Some days go on forever, but those days roll into years and then into generations. That's why I wanted to write this tonight. I'm ready to step back into the sun. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Fairytale

Today I have been organizing and scanning photos for a rehearsal dinner video for a couple that is getting married later this month. He has just finished dental school, and they have been dating since they were teenagers. The pictures are amazing...seeing them as a part of each other's lives through all of the highlights to date. The families are friends, and both sets are delighted. I can imagine that their wedding will be a wonderful celebration of two people who figured it out early and are now making a public declaration of what they've known in their hearts for awhile.

Last night, I went to see a movie that was billed as an "all-American love story." I'd been planning to see it for weeks. I'd even read the book. I wasn't disappointed. There were women of all ages who wanted to see on the screen what they would love to see in real life. Except in real seems that the forward girls win out and a lot of great ladies with beautiful but quiet spirits sit on the sidelines. For awhile, anyway.

What I did realize sitting in the theater was that the reason that some of the best love stories are what they are is because there is always something that must be overcome. In essence...there has to be distance, or bad timing, or some other drama. Without it, sometimes people still have a sweet story...but there is usually something to overcome.

Every fairytale that we hear as girls involves witches, spells, or evil stepmothers. In real life, that equates to bosses, baggage, and crazy people. Sometimes we long for that fairy godmother who will come and magically give us our moment in the sun. Others of us would just like the peace of knowing that we have good friends who will have our back. And some of us just want to hold on to some strand of hope that all will work out as it should in the end.

That hope is why we applaud when we are staying at a beachfront hotel and we see the groom kiss the bride after watching the wedding from our balconies. It is why so many people are glued to reality shows like "The Bachelor" each week. It is also why we will squeal with delight when we see the new engagement ring...and we want all of the details of the proposal.

If the glass slipper fit us...we tend to think that everyone should find their Prince Charming. If it didn't...we want to try to figure it out for someone else. The little girl inside all of us believes that this is our be pursued and won and adored. If only men actually understood this longing...they might understand women far better. It seems to be how we were created.

Some young women seem to meet their princes early in the game. They seem to have a charmed life from the first date to the altar. Others get their hearts broken along the way but keep hoping for the best. Sometimes they doubt that the day will ever come for them...but they refuse to give up just the same.

Several years ago, Julia Roberts' character in "Pretty Woman" refused a deal that would have been a step up but not what she figured out along the way that she deserved. She said that she wanted "the fairytale"...and at the end of the movie...she got it. Most of the time, it doesn't work out that easily...but for those women who refuse to lower their standards...they often find that their faith in themselves is rewarded.

I read something on the internet several years ago about women being like apples. The best apples were at the top of the tree wondering what was wrong with them. The apples on the lower branches were picked off and the fruit that had hit the ground was being consumed as well. The men just did not seem to notice the better apples. But one day, the men started looking up for something without blemishes and bruises...and eventually started climbing the trees after the better apples. The apples that were there waiting for someone to be worthy enough to attempt the climb.

In truth, I've told that story to young men...telling them to look up the tree and not be afraid to scale that tree...while warning them of the rotten apples just sitting there on the ground for the taking. I've also told the story to young women who are patiently ripening into glorious women waiting on someone to be brave enough to risk the climb. It is a risk, of course. The higher you climb...the higher the risk of a fall.

But all in all, don't we love it when everything works out as it should? When we attend a wedding and see the joy in their faces. When we can celebrate the popping of a question or can sense that all is right in the world when we meet someone's new significant other.

Fairytales...sometimes it is easy to be cynical, and then other times...we are reminded that something wonderful is still out there waiting to be savored. And occasionally, we get to be fairy godmothers or the supportive friends in the tale. And when it all comes helps us understand why we all still believe in magic.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


In my desk at work is a yellowed copy of "The New American Webster Handy College Dictionary." The front cover is missing and has been for as long as I can remember. The back cover is there and is showing its age as well. The pages are brittle and occasionally I'll lose a page off the front that contains the minutiae that explains how to pronounce this or that and may be incredibly helpful but I pretty much doubt it. I have no idea where I actually acquired this dictionary along the career path, but it has been packed and unpacked as I've played musical banks. All I can definitely say is that I use it every few days or so at work. I trust that it will be in my right top drawer and will keep me from making heinous spelling errors. It has been quite trustworthy so far.

In my job, I analyze financial statements, but I primarily write. Sometimes the keyboard sticks and I misspell something, and other times I just don't like the word I've chosen, and I am in search of a synonym. I suppose that everybody is plagued by the spelling of certain words, but it is a particular pet peeve of mine. Not if other people misspell words...but if I do. I've had to learn to get over myself these past five years because from time to time I'm just going to miss something. It happens.

And then there's that distressing problem of relying too heavily on "spell check." Just because something is properly spelled, it doesn't necessarily reflect what we intend. A particularly mortifying example would be leaving the "l" out of "public." Been there. Done that.

Anyway, I use the dictionary fairly often and have come to rely on it. At home, I cheat using the search feature in another window when I am writing. I've had to rethink this policy as of late. My recent mangling of the word "pachyderm" (kindly pointed out to me privately by a teacher friend) taught me that you can't always place blind trust into something. Dang that Google.

According to the dictionary on my desk (which I consulted before leaving today), the definition of "trust" is "reliance on the integrity, veracity (which means truthfulness, accuracy) of a person; confidence." Forgive me for giving you that definition within a definition if you knew it, but I didn't. However, that being the definition, who can you really trust?

You certainly can't always trust yourself. I can prove that being in a room with a caramel cake for longer than 30 seconds. I also know that my impressions are often faulty. I've met people that I liked on sight but learned as the layers of friendship were peeled back that I was dealing with someone totally foreign. Other times, people have initially annoyed me beyond belief, but over time I've learned that I'm responding to their defense mechanisms instead of the heart of gold underneath. I've made commitments I've broken, and I've fallen short. I've stepped in it and I've avoided obligations. While I trust my instincts in most areas, I also know that I am not invincible. I am human. And the one thing that I can completely trust is that I am in no way perfect.

Other times your perception of a situation is simply wrong. You see life through the cloud of your unique experiences, biases, impressions, and even hormone levels, and you may totally misjudge it. Being wrong...especially can make you stop trusting yourself and start relying on other people to make decisions for you. If you need this for a season of life...fine. But out of something like fear or is just ridiculous.

People will let you down sometimes. Somewhere along the way, you may have found that people are (gasp!) imperfect. Maybe you've set up rules for yourself that keeps people at arm's length or perhaps you've just given up and become a doormat. Maybe it was when you were a child and realized that Santa Claus was actually a tradition and felt like you had been lied to in the name of the magic of Christmas...and felt foolish for being so gullible. Perhaps you trusted a friend who stabbed you in the back or embarrassed you publicly. Or maybe you were led astray because you believed what someone said and later found out that they lied to make it easier on themselves. We all learn the lesson in different ways...but we all learn.

Some people put their trust in the government. This is a tenuous prospect at best. The government is a political animal with a ferocious appetite and very little conscience. Laws and lawmakers change, and those who rely on the government sell their productivity and individuality for a monthly check. The programs are normally put in place to help people on a temporary basis. It is now - sadly - a lifestyle option.

You certainly can't put your trust in money. Markets go up and down, fortunes dry up, and technology makes items obsolete. The newspapers are full of stories of heirs to large fortunes living lives of debauchery and excess. This practice of cutting the butterflies out of the cocoons means that these people never build the muscle to figure out how to make life worth living, and are doomed to weak and unproductive lives. They may look pretty...but they are not functioning for the purpose that they were created.

Money is a cruel taskmaster. There never seems to be enough of it, and people will do some pretty twisted things in pursuit of it. It doesn't buy security or true friends...ask any lottery winner. Kept in its proper is not necessarily negative...but money alone certainly cannot be trusted.

You can't trust your education, your experience, or your marketability. Skills have to be updated. Jobs move overseas. The new boss may not like you. Even if your intentions are good...someone may take it wrong...and accuse you of trying to interfere. So, what is a person to do?

In my experience, I've been blessed with many people in my life who have been worthy of trust. They are not perfect people, but their hearts are pure. But the only one who has not let me down is God. Sometimes I've thought that He has...and sometimes I've disagreed with him vehemently...but I know that He is there and that He is real.

We can put our faith in that knowledge. And we can do our best to prudently trust ourselves and those around us. We have to remember that we will sometimes have to forgive other people...and they will have to sometimes figure out how to forgive us. And in is built.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Badonkadonk - The Reality Series

Tonight I went to aerobics. Oh, be nice. I have been going to the same gym for the past twelve and on...(mostly OFF lately...which is the problem) and I feel quite at home there. So, imagine my surprise when I was walking across the room to get some water, and I saw a glimpse of something following me in the mirror.

Oh yes. My badonkadonk. And from what I could needs its own zip code.

How did this happen? I mean, I know how much I weigh because I make the little Weight Watchers scale in the bathroom at work cry every Thursday before it flashes up a number that would make SEC defensive linemen proud. I used to live in denial, but no more. I had to drop out of Weight Watchers (formerly known as "Rehab") because I already know everything that they talk about. I figured that it made more sense to set that $14 a week on fire and just save the two hours of drama every week for all of the good it was doing. It is an excellent program, don't get me wrong. If you haven't been...and want to try should. But I need something a little bit more hard-core. Like being locked in a room with Jillian Michaels for about a year. Or perhaps being let out of a vehicle in the middle of the desert with nothing but water for 40 days.

Ah, I'd just retain the water. SO unfair.

Before the "sighting," I had wondered why I was so tired after 20 minutes on the eliptical machine not to mention why nothing looks decent on me anymore. Now I's the monkey on my back. Or more back end.

I've done difficult things in my life. I've had two children. I've walked 60 miles in three days to raise money for breast cancer on two occasions. I've moved a child into a dorm room on the 11th floor on the same day that 900 other girls moved in and we had to wait for the elevator for the south. I've been blessed out by crazy people and I've potty trained my dogs. I've been a banker for 25 years, and have been married almost as long. I've lost people I've loved and I've had surgery at least seven times.

Frankly, losing the weight can't be as hard as it will be when I have to drop off my youngest at the college of his choice in a year and a half. There are days that I miss my daughter, but thanks to the wonder of text is almost like having her at I'm coping.

Today showed me something that I didn't want to know...but really needed to see. I can't let my guard down or else I'll end up on one of those reality shows where someone has to be taken out of their house with a crane. I think not.

Oh well, my goal is to just get rid of it before I give it a name and welcome it to the family. Unless, of course, I can claim it as a dependent on my taxes. Hmmm....

Monday, February 1, 2010

Prayer Request

Today I’m sending out a prayer request. I won’t say if it is for me or for someone else. Because God knows and He will decide how it all plays out. Plus, since it is my belief that we are all interconnected in the family of faith, anyone’s prayer request is mine by default as well. So, please don’t wonder, and don’t worry. I’m not.

The day is blue and fresh and crisp and outside the world is coming to life. People got into vehicles to drive to jobs this morning that they are either passionate about or once were…and are performed because they are a means to provide for those that they are passionate about or are responsible for supporting. The aroma of coffee is in the air, and the sounds of office equipment can be heard tapping along comprising the heartbeat of corporate America.

The heat is either on at the level of Hades-lite, or is non-existent, and much ado is made about one or the other. Someone is discussing their weekend plans, and there are customers coming to and fro…doing their business and personal transactions. All is typical of any given Monday.

The faces of those who greet us are not radiant or calm. They are the faces of people stretched way too thin but resigned to be here for the next eight hours. Faces showing the sum total of choices made over a lifetime or those with some vestiges of youthful exuberance still remaining. Occasionally, someone comes in wearing a big smile and without a care in the world. I find that them refreshing, but note that they are usually retired and in good health

If only it was possible to reclaim the passion about work…about life…about anything! The closest substitute seems to be the familiar jolt of caffeine…if one is fortunate enough to get to the coffeepot prior to the office hog that tends to swill down the majority of the pot without the inner voice reminding him to make another pot…EVER.

Or perhaps the passion is in the joy of watching sports teams perform well…even if the players are the age of one’s children. Maybe it is the thrill of seeing the face of a new baby, or the elation of a father when his son’s pinewood derby car wins…providing yet another trophy that will one day provide a “stay or go” dilemma as most trophies eventually tend to do.

There are those who woke up to the familiar heartbreak of a relationship gone sour or anger at a body that allowed sickness to invade. Perhaps it was the incessant quiet of someone whose presence is no longer there physically but is still strongly there in spirit. Maybe it is the constant nagging voice of responsibility…of bills arriving…or the deafening thud of pushing off those bucket list items into a “someday” file that eventually is transferred to “impossible dreams” in permanent storage.

Maybe the stress is from looking into the bathroom mirror and realizing that the time in the sun has left its mark as surely as it kissed our skin in our younger years when we didn’t care about things like skin cancer or wrinkles. Or maybe it is just the knowledge that we now possess that every day holds little promise for something spectacular to happen…especially when we are on alert waiting for the other shoe to drop…as it almost inevitably does.

Oh, there are good days. There are days when we get to attend a concert, or hear news that makes us smile, or our bodies surprise us with a burst of energy. Days where we get on the scale and register a weight loss, someone blesses us unexpectedly, or we spend time with someone who makes us smile. But most days, we accept that many of our dreams are fulfilled and that the brass rings that we have been quietly expecting to come around again simply won’t be. Occasionally, we even see the evidence that they were actually captured by someone who had less to lose than we did at the time, or were more decisive than we might have been. These are the promotions that we won’t receive, and the understanding that to some degree…we swim in a sea of obscurity. Sadly, sometimes that realization stings.

They say that with age comes wisdom. I don’t know if it is as much age…as experience. We are more accustomed to seeing the reality of situations instead of the way we did through the rose colored glasses of our youth. The trappings of life no longer impress us as much as they once did as we’re starting to downsize. We realize that big houses have hefty mortgages, need to be cleaned, and are expensive to maintain. When our children leave, the house becomes deathly quiet, except for the gentle (or sometimes not so gentle) snoring of our husbands on the couch, or our dog chasing a tennis ball through the family room. We understand that “new car smell” wears off in a relatively short period of time and that some idiot running a red light can depreciate our vehicles in the blink of an eye. We also know that our children will grow up and occasionally make choices that we do not like…or will be hurt in ways that we cannot repair by people who sometimes think they are doing the right thing. We also know that our canine and feline friends are only with us for a season, and often break our hearts at their passing.

My prayer request is that the mantle of responsibility be lifted for a few brief moments for all of us every day. That the right decisions we somehow made in spite of ourselves will bring us indescribable joy. May we celebrate the fact that we were sometimes snatched back from the brink of some life altering bad choices because we heard someone’s voice in our head telling us to back away…and we actually listened. May the sicknesses and weaknesses that tend to invade our physical bodies be held at bay and not allowed to roam free. May we forgive ourselves for falling short of our expectations and of God’s best for our lives because of our stubbornness, ignorance, laziness, or fear.

May our relationships be strengthened and may we from time to time see a glimpse of what our existence has meant to at least one other human being. May we have a period of every day when time feels suspended and we are actually able to live in the moment…without worry of what we should be doing or about the troubles of tomorrow. May our hearts find communion with God so that He can hold us in His hands for just a few moments of true peace and quiet and whisper to us that we are loved and are significant in His eyes.

I pray that God will also help us remember that we are all interconnected. That people who have harmed us - or hurt those we love – are supposed to be forgiven and forgotten. May we drop our need to control outcomes, the hands of time, and the hearts and actions of other people. May we love the people who enter our homes without reservation…even if they never look back after they leave...and we find that it causes us pain. Allow us to give ourselves a break for failures in appreciation for those who sacrificed for us. Let us assume that they knew that we loved them, and they were valued by other people in our stead.

But most importantly…may we find the driving passions that once defined us simmering somewhere just below the surface waiting to come back to life in new and positive ways. May Mondays be a day of possibilities instead of resignation to more of the same. Allow us to shed those responsibilities that we should be passing on to others and let us discover the gifts and talents in us that lie dormant. May the reawakening of these dreams, passions, gifts, and talents infuse our pastel days with vibrant hues reflecting deep meaning and godly purpose.