positive thinking

Sweet Suprise

20140714_095551

To say that a five year old can be impatient is an understatement. For them, the air is still electrified with constant discoveries assailing their senses in the best of ways. They are Magellan, Marco Polo. And the world awaits. How could they stand still? Why should they?

We adults, on the other hand, have spent several decades in conditioning. Our eyes closing to the wonders around us, and we would-be visionaries grew up to have mortgages and car payments, too many to-dos, toilets to be scrubbed and schedules to keep. We barely have time for sleep, let alone for dreaming. Really dreaming.

A few months ago, my little family and I were standing in line on a soccer field, waiting for my son to have his picture taken. The adults, myself included, were standing and staring, reining in the occasional stray child. The nonconformist rebels.

My son and his little friend were trying so hard to be still. “But Mommy, my body is telling my brain that it just can’t stay still much longer!”

Then, it happened. Her words came out of my mouth, unbidden. My mother telling my son and his friend to sit and look for a four-leafed clover. As she had told me to do countless times in a life long past.

Their bodies were still, for the most part, and their wills were occupied.

The little patch of clover at our feet that I don’t really remember seeing in the first place, was dotted with miscreant dandelions. Pretty patches of yellow in a sweet patch of green. They looked and looked, but never found a four-leaf. But during his search, my son occasionally picked a dandelion or two, and a couple of fragrant clover blossoms, and gave them to me.

“Mommy, I picked these just for you! Will you keep them forever?” Blue eyes hopeful.

“Yes, of course I’ll keep them forever.” A hug and a kiss, and a mother’s hand brushing against his freckled cheek.

I hold onto them for a while, then tuck them into the little side pocket of my purse.

Today, I was looking for something. A boring, grown-up something that I knew was in there somewhere.

Frustrated, I take everything out. Wadded up napkins, receipts, a pen, more receipts and some loose change.

My fingers scrape the bottom seam, and there’s something not a penny, or a Tide stain stick. Something soft and delicate, dry and crumply.

I draw it out. My little wilted waiting bouquet.

It had survived months in the crucible of my life on the go. Pounded down, smothered, by bills and checks and keys and my cell phone. Day. After. Day.

Still, they have color, and fragrance, and shape. Identity.

We were all Magellan once. I think we all are still. Where are you keeping your dreams? Your mind’s occupations? Are they dormant, glazed over by an “I want coffee,” “when will this day be over,” or an “I’m so tired?”

Go. Outside. Breathe Deep. Look for the four-leaves in your life. Look up. Look down. Search. If you don’t find one, it’s okay. You’ll find something else. Just keep your heart open.

Advertisements

The Journey, December 1, 2013

The time…
2013-12-01 13.52.42 (551x640)
has come.

My diet survived Thanksgiving, I think.

I haven’t weighed over break, but I will be doing that tomorrow at work. My biggest worry is that I’ve gained, my biggest hope is that I’ve remained steady, and my biggest wish is that I’ve lost. Right now, I’m hoping for keeping steady :). Y

Regardless of the results of tomorrow’s weigh in, I have come to an unsettling realization of truth. Yes, I have been making more healthy eating decisions. Yes, I have been making progress, and I’ve lost 13 pounds. But, I know something is missing. I know that I need to once again take up exercise (insert noir film foreboding music – DOM, dom, DOOOOMMMMMM!).

I have mixed feelings about exercise. In the past, I have enjoyed it, and I have loathed it. It has served as both an escape and a punishment, and as leverage by a man who once swore an oath to love me and cherish me. At one point, I ran several miles a day, every day. Biked, hiked, and did ridiculously challenging (and effective) toning exercises, all in pursuit of that elusive carrot called “good enough.” Good enough to love, good enough to keep. Even though it’s been 7 years since that relationship dissolved, it is still a struggle to tune out his words. Yes, it was a very dark time in my life, but I always had hope. Sometimes I borrowed it from the few people who had an idea of what was going on. Sometimes I pulled it up from somewhere deep inside. Sometimes God poured it over me in the most unexpected ways.

So, today, as I look at my running shoes, mocking whispers from the past rise up, trying to tell me I’m a failure. Trying to tell my I’m not pretty. Trying to tell me I’ll never be “good enough.” And, do you know what I say to that? ENOUGH! I’ve always been enough of anything I’ve needed to be. I’ve worked hard, I’ve learned, I’ve grown, I’ve given, I’ve loved, I’ve hurt, and I’ve failed. But, I have NEVER GIVEN UP. I might have a soft voice, but in my heart of hearts, I am a fighter. I am stubborn, and when I’m broken, I am remade stronger than I was before. It might take me a while to heal. It might take me a while to tie up the laces. But I always have hope that I will, one day. And today, my friends, is one of my many, many “one days.”

If you are struggling with, well, ANYTHING. Know that your one day is coming, perhaps today. Hang in there, be strong, and have hope. Lace up those shoes, lovelies. 🙂

The Journey, November 20, 2013

So, have you ever had one of those days when you just felt icky? You look at yourself in the mirror, and you don’t just feel like you have a double chin – you feel like you have a double face?? Yeah, me too.

Just last week, the day before my weigh-in, I felt that way. I almost didn’t weigh. I thought, maybe I’ll put it off a week. Besides, it won’t help my self-esteem if I’ve gained, right? Then I thought, no, be true to yourself. If I had gained weight, then I at least needed to face the truth and deal with it. Take my medicine like a big girl, so to speak.

While I was walking downstairs at work, heading toward the scale several of us use to track our weight, I kept thinking things like, “Well, I’ll do better from now on.” “Hopefully, I won’t have gained more than 1 or 2 pounds.” Or, my favorite, “I sure hope nobody notices my second face.” You think I’m kidding, don’t you? LOL

I stepped on the scale, expecting the ceiling to open up above me, and the scale to explode, ejecting me up and out. Usually, I look away from the number display, waiting a few seconds for it to settle before I face the truth. This time, I figured, go big or go home. So, I stood there, watching the LCD digits go back and forth, bravely awaiting my fate. Finally, they stopped. The number I saw took my breath away. I had met and EXCEEDED my 10 pound goal! Yes, friends, I’ve lost 11 pounds!!

I walked back to my office with a spring in my step, and stretching maybe a centimeter or two taller. I was so proud of myself! Then, since it’s a bit of a walk to the opposite wing of the building, I had a little time to think. I had almost chosen not to face the truth. I had almost chosen to hide. Again. If I hadn’t weighed, I would have accepted the idea that I had gained weight (and possibly had a double face), that I had let myself down and failed. I might have let myself become trapped in disillusion and decided to give up. But, I took a chance on the truth, and I’m so glad that I did.

Is there something holding you back from facing the truth? You know, if you’ve ever watched the old G.I. Joe series, you’ll be familiar with the saying, “Knowing is half the battle.” Friends, it’s so true.

If you can face the truth of your situation, no matter what that might be, you will have power in your life and over your life. When you make decisions from a vantage point of veritas, your north will always be true, and you will reach your destination.

The Journey, November 5

Well, it has taken a little while, but I am now down 8 pounds, and hoping to hit that first 10 pound goal by sometime next week 🙂 In the long run, I have many more 10 pound goals to go, but I am going to celebrate this one and not worry just yet about the next one. Afterall, there is (or should be) joy in the journey, right?
I have struggled a bit this week with enjoying where I am, not only with my weight, but in other areas of my life, as well. I have had to remind myself more than once that there is beauty, value, and worth in my life, in me, in the here and now. Of course, there are things that never fail in bringing a smile to my face, like my wonderful son and his effervescent personality. Or a beautiful sky. Or chocolate. ;p But, I think that there is something in all of us that wants to be seen, to be known, to be recognized as a precious, unique being. We desire affirmation.
For too many years, and even now at times, I looked to others for validation. Of course, this is normal to a degree. But, there is a difference between seeking the approval of others in your life and seeking permission and empowerment from them. We can trust some people with our power, but not all, and we are never meant to relinquish it. It was given to us to wield in love each in our own way.
Our power is made up of many things – the sum of our experiences, our strengths and our weaknesses, our gifts and talents, our motivations and passions. It is unique to each of us. Custom-fitted to our path in life by God to perfectly equip us for the long road before us.
It can be easy sometimes to forget who you are, who you are meant to be. It’s easy to blind yourself to your giftings and worth, to deny the fire that burns within. But, my friends, when we choose to do that (and yes, dears, it is a choice), we live a lie. We are commanded to walk in truth, yet we are so easily misled into thinking it’s okay to be false to ourselves. We are meant for so much more.
When I was a senior in high school, I had to select a personal motto for the yearbook. I chose, “To thine own self be true,” from Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. I stumbled away from that many times. But, the words served as sort of a North Star over the years. I may have felt lost over and over again, but knowing that there was something more, somewhere, gave me hope that I would find the high road once more.
So, wherever you are on your journey, whether you’re working toward a healthier lifestyle, a new career, or a brighter outlook on life, remember that there is a better way, a higher way. And, every journey walked in truth will be a positive experience in the end. Hang in there, put one foot in front of the other, and soldier on.

We are Fargo

By now, most of us have heard of the Wicked Witch of North Dakota. https://twitter.com/mlucerobertson/status/395934324588949504

She is a woman who has taken it upon herself to judge her fellow “villagers” in the Fargo, Moorehead, and West Fargo triad. Evidently, she feels parents are not doing a good enough job of taking their children’s health in hand and has decided to take matters into her own hands, thoughtfully choosing Halloween to make her stand. How considerate of her.

Without going down the road of the origins of the holiday or arguing who should celebrate what, let’s look at contemporary reality. For all practical purposes, our western Halloween observances are centered on children. We encourage them to enjoy their imaginations on this night over all other nights of the year. We tell them that, on this night, you can be anything you want to be. Superheroes, doctors, astronauts, robots, faeries. On this night, preschoolers toddle down the street, holding the hand of a loved one while wondering at the lights and decorations. They practice saying thank you to the friendly neighbors who smile and give them Tootsie Rolls. Older children spray imaginary spider webs while saving the world one grimacing jack-o-lantern at a time. The grandma next door admires a princess’ tiara and everyone hits the house on the corner because they give out “the good stuff.” Do I even need to pull out my The Great Pumpkin wildcard?

Unfortunately, for some children, thanks to the WWoND, the dream will be cut short because, instead of the candy their “slimmer” friends receive, they will be handed a slip of paper. The friendly pumpkin on the corner will serve as a temporary distraction from the cruel message it precedes. Some younger children might not be able to read the words, and some might not understand. But others will. Say, the ones 6 or 7 years old and up. The words will say something like, “You [sic] child is, in my opinion, moderately obese and should not be consuming sugar and treats to the extent of some children this Halloween season.” But the message…ah, now, that will say something much, much more.

To the child who receives such a letter, the message will be many things. Things like, “There’s something wrong with you.” “You don’t deserve to have the same fun tonight as your friends.” “You’re not good enough.” You’re not pretty enough.” “You’re not athletic enough.” “You don’t live up to my expectations.”
Labeling. Judgement. Cruelty. Injury. Harm. Brokenness. Legacy.

Some of these children and their families may have the ability to laugh it off. And, I say, more power to you. But, for some of the children who will receive such a note, on a holiday that is supposed to lay all children equal, the effects can be devastating, lasting far into their lifetimes.

For several years, there have been increasing reports in the media of children and young adults who have taken their lives due to being overwhelmed by bullying, cyber-bullying, and general harassment over their physique. Too fat, too thin, too tall, too short. These little souls had swords of words driven into them by people who were thoughtless and cruel. Those acts crushed their self esteem and tore their hearts asunder, and somewhere on a table in a house on a street in North Dakota, a woman has a stack of paper daggers aimed at the hearts of the children of her city.

I do not know her name. I don’t know her address. I don’t know her. But, I have felt the pain she is willing to throw at the innocents of Fargo, and there is one point that we agree on. It does take a village. It takes a village made up of a nation that is willing to stand up for its children. To protect them from cruelty. To protect their innocence. To protect their dreams and their futures by pouring so much love and encouragement into them that the harsh words of a stranger fall feebly to the ground and blow away with the wind.

And so, to the children of Fargo, and their parents, I stand with you. If you knock on a door or ring a doorbell and find yourself face to face with the WWoND, and she hands you a piece of paper, be strong and know this. She is secretly more afraid of you than you are of her, all bullies are.

How to believe in yourself when you just, don’t…

So, that’s kind of a trick title. It implies that I have an answer to offer, right? Sorry. I don’t really have an answer, but I do have sort of a direction to point you in to help you find your own answer.

First, if we seek an answer, we must have a question. So, what’s your question? My question has changed over the years, but it usually sounded something like, “Why am I even here? Will I ever be good enough? Will anyone ever like me? What’s wrong with me? When am I going to have the future I want? What can I do to make my life better?” Do any of those sound familiar to you? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that, for most of you, those queries are quite familiar.

Now, let me tell you about a dear friend who accidentally changed my way of thinking with one sentence. My friend, a cool fusion of funk and sophistication, is a gorgeous girl of Asian descent who rocks the art of modern class. (If you’re reading this Down Under, you know who you are 🙂 We were chatting one day over lunch and she chirped out, “I’ve never had problems with self-confidence.” Everything in me went stock still when I heard those words. I was so blown away by her comment that I almost forgot I had food in my mouth. I had NEVER heard someone say that. Correction, I had never heard a FEMALE say that. From that moment on, my friend became a curiosity and an object of personal study. I didn’t understand how she could say something like that. How could a grown woman live through her childhood, teen years, young adulthood and into a marriage and NOT HAVE LOW SELF ESTEEM? Honestly, the idea boggles my mind still.

But, what if that’s the way it’s supposed to be? What if every girl is supposed to be self assured? What if she’s supposed to believe in herself? What if there is some sweet, beautiful balance between confidence and self-contempt that we are meant to strike? Wouldn’t that be, well, wonderful?

So maybe some people (like my friend) never doubt themselves. Maybe they’re born that way, or maybe they’ve had so much love poured into them that the thought to despise themselves never entered their mind.

I had love poured into me as a child, too. Unfortunately, my environment punched a lot of holes into my little person, and I didn’t have a high capacity for retention. But, I do believe that we are meant to believe in each other, and to need someone to believe in us, to have someone to believe in. We borrow confidence like a shared resource, pouring in and pouring out.

Accept the positive that others pour in. Seek out sources of love and kindness. Be a willing vessel, be a healthy vessel – patch the holes so that, one day, you can pour out, too. There is an endless supply of love that flows from our Heavenly Father. He shares it with us. He DESIRES to share it with us, to refresh us and bring us joy and strength. So, when you meet those shiny people who are so full of love they spill over onto you? Let them. Let God nurture and heal you through them.

We’re not all like my friend, but we can be 🙂 I think the most amazing thing is knowing it’s out there. It’s free. It’s waiting for us. We just have to open our eyes and our hearts, and step into the flow.

The Journey, October 25th

So, I have now lost 7 1/2 pounds! If I can just replicate these results say, 10 more times, I’ll be close to my goal :0) Seriously, though, I am so happy to have surpassed that dreaded 5 pound wall. It feels good to be a winner!

Have you ever noticed how, when you set out to accomplish something, the emotions in the process run through a cycle? It reminds me of the classic cycle of grief. Now, of course I’m not trying to liken weight-loss to something as devastating and painful as losing a loved one. I’ve been there, as have most of you, and we know that that is a cruel beast unto itself. But, when we lose weight, we are letting go of something.

We like to say that we’re losing weight to be healthy, and we act excited. But, many times, the trigger for losing weight is negative, at least it is in our minds. We feel bad about how we look. We feel guilty for not being more energetic with our kids. We feel ashamed when we compare ourselves with others. We feel we’ve been irresponsible when we get a bad health diagnosis. We can even feel invisible and ridiculous for trying to lose weight when it seems so difficult or even impossible to accomplish.

We have to fight an uphill battle not only against outside forces (like doughnut Friday at the office or lonely nights with Ben & Jerry), but against our inner voice as well. And we grieve. We grieve the past. We grieve a little part of us that seems to have been lost. We grieve our bad habits.

Even so, we have hope. We must have hope somewhere deep inside, or we wouldn’t try in the first place, right? Before starting this weight loss journey, I was very upset with myself. I felt I had let myself down, and perhaps even those who love me because I was not living up to my full potential. When you are overweight, you say no more than you say yes for a million different reasons, and you try to tell yourself this is reality – deal with it. But, when I decided (again) to lose weight, I started to feel excited. I wasn’t really dreaming of being a size 4 again, but instead was looking forward to wearing the next size down jeans that have been in my closet for 2 years. That sounded like something I could do.

The first few weeks were a bit of a struggle. I fought against my old ways. When something upset me, I couldn’t run for chocolate. (Well, not every time anyway 🙂 ) For some reason, this time I powered through. I didn’t give up. I allowed myself to feel the emotions instead of drugging them down with sugar and denial. I found myself living in the moment more. I found myself being real more. And you know what? I like it!

Years ago, I heard a message by T.D. Jakes. He was talking about accomplishing goals, and he said the key to accomplishing a goal was having discipline, desire, and delight. Back when I was beginning as a runner (something I hope to pick back up one day), I thought of that message. I found myself disliking the discipline in the beginning, but as I progressed, I found myself desiring that time on the road. And, as I made it a habit to run 3-5 miles a day, I took delight in it. I used the time to pray, to meditate, and enjoy the mythical “runner’s high.”

I think this formula can be applied to anything in life that we want to turn into a habit, like living a healthy lifestyle. The discipline hurts at first. We strain and struggle against so much – emotions, apathy, environment. Then, we have a taste of success, like breaking through the 5 pound wall. This creates a desire for more. And, one day we wake up to realize that we are taking delight in our new lifestyle.

Be encouraged, friends. Losing weight is truly a journey, and our emotions will make for interesting scenery and pit stops along the way. But, just remember to get back on the road and keep moving. You’ve got this!