Sunday, September 02, 2012
I lost another Spark friend the other day. I’ve been there myself. You are ready to hit the “delete” button on your account and find some corner to hide in. You are frustrated, you are ashamed, you are scared and most of all you just do not understand why “this thing,” doesn’t work for you. You tell yourself it is time “for a break,” or “time to move on.” I’ve been there, I’ve done that and I proudly possess the scars, wounds and insecurities to prove it.
I started my journey almost three years ago believing that if I ate right and exercised daily I’d look like a cross between Tom Cruise and Matthew McCounaughey. I lost 80 pounds, looked good, felt good. I worked with a personal trainer ran a few 5K’s and life was good. It was after about 6 months that I hit a plateau. I used all the traditional wisdom and nothing seemed to work. That plateau lasted close to two years. Truth be told I regained all the weight I lost because the only logical explanation for my issues were that I was a goof, up, screw up, sort of guy who wasn’t worthy of health. I pushed myself physically to the point where I incurred two moderate to severe injuries. The downward spiral steepened. My dad died in March and I immediately put on 10 pounds. I was right back to where I started.
Jesus tells the story of the Prodigal Son. There is a passage in the story that sees the father looking at the son returning home, “While he was a long way off.” The son, tired and dejected was coming home; hat in hand to ask forgiveness. The father, miles away leapt for joy. In so many ways I am that son. My head would spin, the scale would groan as much as my back and legs did. I felt eons away not realizing I was millimeters close to finding the right combination.
I wouldn’t give up.
I’d like to tell you it was because a few angels appeared in the corner of my office and showed me the light. Plain and simple, at age 59 I want to live a long time. I lost 6 pounds this week. I didn’t do anything spectacular. I discovered what worked well for John, put blinders on to the rest of the world and showed a bit of success. I exercised 30 minutes each day, I stayed within my calorie limits and I took time to “be present,” at least for ten minutes each day. Tomorrow I’ll write a blog on my September goals.
Today I am going to bask in the glow and joy of success. It was a long time coming. My confidence level is high right now. That’s because after 3 long years I do believe, in my heart, my own mantra, “I am worth all the effort I put into myself.”
Don’t give up dear friend. The road may be steep and long but every now and then there is an oasis of enlightenment that makes this journey worthwhile. As Cat Steven once said “Oh I’m on my way I know I am, somewhere not so far from here……”
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
I get eight or ten devotionals and motivations each morning and this one is always my favorite. I often pass things on or write about them dear ones because I get the feeling or intuition someone out there needs to read them. If you have the time to day would you pass this on?
"If you can make just one person smile today, if only by giving them one of yours it just might change their entire week... which just might change their entire life.
I know these things,
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Along with many of the other challenges I embrace in my life I am an emotional eater. Pick an occasion and I can find a reason to celebrate or bemoan it with food. It’s never healthy or nutritional food. Nope a change of attitude calls for a five star indulgence and everyone knows that usually includes things that cause arteries to clog. Those periods of indulgence are followed by moments of guilt, self-accusation and a general overwhelming feeling of failure. That ever happen to any of you? Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I walk around holding a ham in one hand and a chocolate cake in another. I self sooth with food and of all the bad habits I have encountered in life this has been the hardest one to deal with. But “ah-ha” there is hope.
If you are waiting to read about some quick fix, some magical incantation please skip the next part. It’s not. It requires practice and can often be very frustrating and it sounds simple. It’s taking a very deep breath, closing your eyes and being quiet. It’s pulling the plug on your mind and memory and for two or three minutes and letting everything settle. It’s rebooting and restoring stability and oh yeah, BTW, it works.
Afternoons are my busiest and most stressful time of day. I will feel myself going off in ten different directions one of which is towards the refrigerator. There’s a moment of panic followed by a moment of closing my eyes and letting everything settle down. It’s letting all the worries, cares and concerns take a break while I am quiet. I concentrate on my breathing. I allow my body and mind to disengage and to simply relax. I’ve noticed when I open my eyes the craving is gone or subsided to being manageable. The technical term is called “homeostasis.” It means that all of me and you are in balance. When I allow my emotions to override my sense of balance I have used food as a quick fix. Then I’m out of balance and all the nasty behavior that goes along with it.
“Yeah John, but I don’t have the time to take three or four minutes to refocus. I’m a busy person.”
Seriously, I thought that too until I did an informal time study on how long it took me to dig out some cash, walk to the vending machine, make my decadent selection, return to my desk, unwrap it, devour it, and spend a cursory moment or so kicking myself for choosing the Milky Way. It takes about three or four minutes. Same with walking upstairs to the fridge, looking through it, etc.
Close your eyes and breathe deep. Let your mind empty. All that stuff can wait. Let everything settle and let your body and mind find a natural balance. It’s not easy some days because we are not conditioned to be quiet. It can be scary but if you persevere you might still be hungry but you may choose an apple over a cookie. It’s called choosing with your mind rather you’re your emotions. It takes some practice and I can’t tell you I always get it right but I find it’s getting easier and so are my choices.
Two to three minutes, you have that for yourself, don’t you?
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Do you know those windows they build into bathrooms? They are frosted so you can’t see through them. You may hear laughter, excitement, maybe even some really scary stuff on the other side of them but you can’t see them. You can’t reach out to touch them, taste them or make them a part of your life and it frustrates you, because you know on the other side of that hazy glass are all your hopes, dreams, and everything you want to be. But they seem just out of reach.
It must be your fault isn’t it? You must lack desire or intelligence. Maybe you are too young or been told you are too old. You look in the mirror and you don’t like the nose, the hair, the smile………… So you decide you must change. You embark on a process to recreate, to reinvent. You work hard always looking to the right and left to make sure you are keeping up with everyone else and slowly you feel yourself falling behind. Oh, you have victories. They are small, sweet and do not sustain and when you are alone they mock and judge you because you couldn’t hang on to them the way “everyone else does.”
The glass gets thicker and the images on the other side seem to blur and are less recognizable. You work harder and then those voices get fainter and we wonder where we went. We are in pain and we convert it into suffering because we deserve to suffer for all the accumulated wrongs in our lives. We try to stay busy.
“Love What Is,” a quote from Dorothy Hunt. Sit up taller right here and now and embrace that person whose skin you are inside right now. They may be tired or frustrated, dejected or maybe just really frazzled about the edges. They may feel flabby and out of breath. Hips, knees or backs may ache. They weren’t the prom king or queen and a lot of days they just don’t get it. Make friends with them. Love what is, right here, right now and make them your bestie.
“Be still and know that I am God.” Fold your busy hands on your soft lap, close your eyes, even if it’s just for a moment and breathe. Forget work, family, friends and everything else that chases you and simply sit in the presence of what you call divine and drink in the love and energy.
Slowly the glass loses its hoar frost and you begin to see yourself not on the other side but alongside the you that you have come to love and adore.
“A jug fills drop by drop,” Buddha
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