Sunday, February 24, 2013

Attention, Lying, and Whatever...January 2013

Well, January 2013 was a really big month for liars.  And before you roll your eyes and think I'm going to get all political with this can think again.  I am fairly certain that everyone knows where I stand with regard to the political landscape...and to point a finger would mean that I'd pretty much have to point at everyone hanging out in Washington D.C.

So, moving on...

This year started out with confessions about sports cheating (I'm looking at you Lance Armstrong), fake girlfriends, a hyped up Notre Dame football team, and Beyonce lip syncing the national anthem at the inauguration.  Most of us are pretty stunned that some of this has come out...but in this "let it all hang out" society...where people are putting photos of their cute (but naked) children on Instagram, where we are acutely aware of Lindsey Lohan's arrest record, and where flaunting your money, sexual escapades and trips to the gynecologist are pretty much standard was just a matter of time.

I know that back in the day, people kept their business to themselves.  And people lived and died by their abilities.  I think that most people know that Beyonce has the ability to sing the "Star Spangled Banner" - but she apparently thought that failing to show up for rehearsal and then actually trying to do it on her own might somehow be a "fail."  

And heaven knows we can't have that.

I think that some of my best lessons in life were learned by failure.  Just ask Big Dave and years of attempted biscuit making.  He'll tell you that we don't need an arsenal around here when we could just whip up a batch of biscuits to fight them off.  All I'd have to do is aim for their head...and they'd be out cold.  

Sometimes failing makes us want to be better.  And it doesn't mean that we are failures.  It just means that we haven't found the particular recipe for success.  So, we'll try out again next year...resolved to make the team.  We will get some tutoring so that we can actually pass Algebra.  We recognize that we are not as gifted as we think we are...and we learn to do something else instead...while learning to appreciate the talents that God gave other people.  Some people get stuck at that place...where they envy anyone else who is successful while failing to take time to develop their own abilities.  In fact, you probably know them their bitterness.

It was years before I realized that I was pretty average at almost spite of the gift of lessons and the time I spent trying to learn everything from how to sing to twirl a baton.  Average is't bad...average is...well, average.  It means that I'm better than some and worse than others.  And that's okay.  Yes, I am average in a great many are most people that I know...and I've come to realize that I only truly suck at a few.

And boy do I suck at those few.

I always wanted to be able to belt out a song...but my voice has no range.  So, I sing in church and I go silent on any note higher than an E.  Because - frankly - I don't want to rile up the dogs in the neighborhood...or get a glance from the folks sitting around me on the pew.  I am not necessarily afraid to sing...and I can carry a tune.  I just can't "sing."  But I am a huge supporter of those who can.  God blessed them to do it...and gave them the capacity to bring joy to others with that gift.  

Yes, yes, even at a cantata.  

I wanted to be athletic...but I don't really have that in me either.  I have no hand-eye games like tennis and softball are out.  I can't play golf, either, although a boss and coworker tried to teach me one time.  I am, however, quite excellent at driving the cart.  I've learned that I can do aerobics classes because I have rhythm (score!), I understand enough about what exercises work what muscles, and I love being sore from pushing myself to the next level.  I tried basketball in high school...thankfully, the ball was big enough...but I cannot shoot without looking like I'd be more comfortable doing a granny shot.  Probably because that's true.

I finally learned how to twirl a baton...but after high school.. or at the most college....there really isn't that much of a call for baton twirlers.  And the thought of wearing a leotard at this point in time is beyond comical.

But back in the day...


What I have finally settled on is that I love to write.  Give me a subject...and let me go.  It can be letters, calligraphy, or even this blogpost, and I am happy.  When I was young, I used to write poetry.  It was sad and heartfelt, and was a kind of therapy for me.  Maya Angelou, I was not, but being able to put words on paper - or into a typewriter (in the early days) and now into a computer - is what God put me here to do (in addition to caring for my family, my friends, and whatever else it is that I do).  But I'm not so naive as to think that what I do couldn't be better if edited properly.

And I suppose that is what Beyonce was thinking when she went with the taped performance instead of relying on her own gift.  She wanted it to be a perfect offering.  I don't really listen to her anymore - yes, because of her political views - but I can understand it somewhat.  But, I would have felt a lot better about it had she actually shown up for rehearsal on the day before like she was supposed to instead of just throwing out the excuse she used.  At least I would have found it believable instead of the comments of a prima donna who had the audacity to name her child Blue Ivy.

We all want to be loved and to be significant.  We want to put our best out there...and we want people to give us their best as well.  Those desires are ingrained deep within us.  And when we think we must...sometimes we want it so much that we will take extreme measures to get there.  When I think of the attention that the fake girlfriend has gotten Manti Teo and any attention aimed at the Kardashians...who I honestly do not understand at all...I'm convinced that this is probably going to get worse as society turns more and more away from God and more and more toward the world.

On a brighter note...I do find it refreshing when people are just who they are apologetically. They aren't in your face about it...but they just have to let you know what you are dealing with up front.  I've recently met a couple of these people who have a few bruises on the apple...but they have learned to leave it to you to realize that not accepting them for said bruises really isn't their problem.  It has been a bit of an education, to tell you the truth.  Because they want to be loved and feel significant even though they are making the best of choices that they've made or had thrust upon them.     

So, in that light, I'll try not to blame Beyonce for her performance, or even Manti for his complete and utter lack of discernment.  Because, honestly, we all have fallen short of our best and we've been grateful when we've been loved at our worst.  After all...who am I do judge?


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Making Progress

I am quite sure by now that if you are my friend on the Book of Face, that you are well aware of the fact that I have dragged myself up from my comfortable chair, knocked the dust off of my tennis shoes, checked them for dry rot, and held my breath long enough to get them tied as I bent over before starting back at the gym in November.  It was the end of a long and arduous process of living through denial and a cycle of failure that was taking up way too much of my mental energy to fight.  Much like industrious deadbeat criminals who hatch elaborate schemes to rip people off instead of just using all of that talent to find and keep a job, I was using up a tremendous amount of energy trying to avoid dealing with the inevitable.

Because, folks, no matter how much you want things to be different...there are only two ways to lose eat less...or you exercise more.  And frankly, you'll get to a point where you realize that you actually have to do both.  All of the time.  Every day.  Consistently.  Unless, of course, you are part of the 1% of the population that was born with a metabolism that could power an entire city if harnessed, or your body rejects the notion of fat storage.  I actually know people like this...they do exist.  And they are upset that everyone thinks that they are anorexic or aren't eating like normal people.  To which I acknowledge their pain...but I'm not really terribly sympathetic.  Because one of my superpowers is apparently the ability to gain weight.

And no, I will not be putting on a leotard and tights and putting a big FG on my chest for "Fat Girl."  That would be entirely too tragic.

Because, truth be told...I'm not a fat girl.  Now, I realize that I look like a fat girl.  My clothes are purchased in the Junior Zeppelin Department, and elastic is my friend.  But contrary to this is only because my brain and body just think I am.  Part of that is because I have sent my body the message that I am fat for the better part of 35 years.  And now my brain believes it and has moved to make my body reflect that reality.  For the mind is a powerful thing.

So is yours.

Anyway, of late, I've been trying to tell it the truth...that I am a healthy, vibrant, child of God.  Some days, it seems to respond to that message.  Other days, not so much.  When I am faced with a food choice that is not wise, I at least think about it.  And about once a month, I just throw caution to the wind and eat whatever I want for one meal.   Possibly two.

But even that isn't as much fun anymore.  Because it just sets me back another week.  Because I now know what burning off 200 calories feels like and can equate it to something that makes sense.  By the my is 26 minutes on the elliptical machine.  It used to be 36 minutes to burn the same number of calories, but I've gotten faster as time has gone by.  Which is a really, really positive development.  Because on day 1...I was happy with ten minutes on the thing.

But since I brought that up...I'd like to take you back to the first day that I entered the gym.  After months of being encouraged to show up by my son (who works there) and watching Facebook posts about friends in the gym...I decided that the time had come.  My daughter had been telling me that she needed a workout partner...and after throwing out every name that I could think of I realized that - ahem - her workout partner was...

That was in November of 2012.  Actually, it was in mid to late November.  I was wearing a shirt in size OMG and waddling by an entire room full of mirrors.  I refer to this as the "walk of shame."

Except I was harder on myself than anyone else there.  Everyone else was welcoming me and encouraging me to come back the next day...and the next...and so I have.

I am still not a fan of having to consider fitness a part time job.  But it is.  I'm not always happy that I can't go home and curl up in front of the computer and write about my day.  Or that Big Dave and I miss those precious thirty minutes in between dinner and the first gentle sounds of snoring emanating from the couch.  Sometimes the 30 minutes on the elliptical machine followed by 30 minutes on the bike is not my happy place.  Especially when someone else has the remote to the TV and they insist on leaving the set on NBC Nightly News.

Yeah, Towanda is totally not a fan of this.

But I do my time and I wait for my daughter to arrive and then we head downstairs for another hour of weights, machines, or whatever.  Sometimes the "whatever" involves pushing myself beyond what I did the day before.  Other times it could be me holding Jill's feet while she does abs.  Abs are something that I pretty much only aspire to as mine pretty much went into retirement in 1993, so I have fun just encouraging her along.  After all...I'm told that swimsuit weather is right around the corner.  I honestly wouldn't know.

Nor do I much care.

What I do care about is that every day be a little better than the day before.  There are no guarantees, you know...even if you stay focused.  Sometimes I just want to jump all over a pint of ice cream, or have a piece of cake in the breakroom.  When you have a lot of weight to seems like such a long path that you can easily get down some rabbit trail promising to do better as you wipe the crumbs from your mouth.

Is at times like these, when it is really, really important to have people in front of you who have your back.  Who tell you to get back on that elliptical machine and to say "NO!" next time.  Who tell you that your face is looking thinner and your behind isn't as "robust."  That you are doing great for just showing up...and are improving over time.  That they are proud of you for being consistent.

Anything really worth doing involves showing up.  And sometimes not just showing up...but pushing yourself to be just a little bit better.  My instructor told me this morning that we are all works in progress.  That you get to one level and you keep encouraging yourself to be faster, healthier, stronger...better.

And why not?  The possibilities are endless.  And so are the rewards.

I've had a number of people tell me that they are proud of me for doing something positive...and for making the hard choices.  I'm not perfect, but I was inspired by I like to think of it as just passing it along.  It is my dream to be at a normal weight and to cage the monkey that has been on my back for the better part of my existence. It really needs to move on...because beyond this...there are so many other things that I want to do in life.

Five months ago, I was in Europe on vacation...and although I didn't say a lot about it...I was absolutely frightened to death at how little control I had over my appetite and how old I felt as I tried to walk around London and Paris.  I'm too young for giving up...and I'm way too stubborn to let something like half of my normal weight handicap me.

Yes, you read that right.  I need to lose half of my body weight.  That's the downside.  The upside is...I might end up on the cover of People Magazine.  My Mom would be so proud.

But for now, I am just taking a day at a time.  I make poor decisions still...but I'm making fewer and fewer each week.  Eventually, I will get a handle on some of this...although I'm really happy that I can do an hour of cardio without hyperventilating or making bargains with God that if He gets me through the 30 minutes on the elliptical...I'll leave Lays potato chips alone forever.  Mom always told me that you can't make bargains with God anyway.  I've tried to keep my Lays consumption to a bare minimum just in case.

I hope that I can sit here and write about this journey a few months from now and will have more words of wisdom for those who are lacing up their shoes and considering that "walk of shame" past the mirrors in the gym.  Just do it.  Just hang your head and get it over with.  And after that...hold it high for having the courage to do something that is really, really hard.

Because it is.  This wanting to be better is always difficult.  But it is also worth it.  That is what I've learned thus far.  Plus, I've gotten a lot of quality time with my daughter and a host of positive people at Hogan's Gym...and you really can't put a price on that.

I'm down 20 pounds more or less and have a very long way to go.  But I'm down the road a lot farther than I was in November...and I'm very grateful for that.

Very grateful.