Friday, March 12, 2010
A friend of mine called the other day. I hadn’t heard from him in awhile. He’s had a rough twelve months or so. His father passed away right before Christmas 2008. He had struggled with diabetes for over twenty five years and was in poor health all that time. Like most other things in life you “get used to” things. His dad died rather suddenly. One day he was laughing and talking the next he was dead. Shortly after that my friend found out he had diabetes. A few weeks ago he found out he had something called celiac disease which comes from intolerance to gluten. It’s been a rough year. He has always rebounded from anything that’s been dished in his path. During the past year I have watched him slowly slip into a depression.
He is one of those people who will talk when he’s ready to talk and in the ten years I have known him it never happens any sooner than that. The good news is once he gets it out he is pretty concise.
“I’m angry with my father,” He began. “He left my mother a financial mess. He knew better than that. Your parents are supposed to be your heroes.”
I had to smile because the damn had burst; he was ready to face his demons so to speak. Was I?
I laid in bed that night thinking about the last part of his statement, “Your parents are supposed to be your heroes.” Joan and I have six great kids. They are not perfect but neither are we. We raised them to be themselves and no one else and we think they are pretty good people. Oh how I wished I had left it there!!
I began to think about all those times I wasn’t a “hero” to my kids. I started reviewing all the mistakes I made. Off in the distance I heard a voice:
“Pity, party of one, your table is available.”
It was going to be a long night. Why did this have to happen now!! Fortunately my inner voice intervened. (TYVM Father, Son and Holy Ghost!!)
“Okay so maybe you weren’t a hero all the time. Why can’t you start being one tomorrow?” It wasn’t this holy, voice from on high. It was sort of a “duh, John” voice. It said “If you are not happy with the way something is, change it.”
“Duh!!!” (Sometimes I wish it would leave off the duh part.)
I have the power to change anything about me I don’t like. No one else does. I can blame mom, dad, Joan, the kids and the fact that one of my favorites got voted off American Idol last night………… It is not going to change who is responsible for what happens to me.
It struck me that it really is all that simple. I am the one who makes it complicated. I throw in all kinds of terms and conditions and then when you don’t live up to them I have a built in excuse not to move on. It’s never, ever me.
While I am responsible for me, if I do not learn from other peoples positive example than I will not be completely successful. I was traveling all day yesterday and I was tired when I got home. I had already decided no cardio today. I was too wore out. I needed a break anyways. My attitude was poor. I had a whole raft of excuses.
I started reading Spark People blogs and boy-oh-boy did I get a wakeup call.
My good friend AMABILE75 has been put through the ringer the past few days. She has some health issues she’s concerned about and if you read her profile and her blogs, well just let me say this: She is in my top ten of inspirational people…….. of all time. Her blog yesterday talked about exercise, walking up a jillion flights of stairs and then beginning preparation for a 5K run in July. This is while she is living with her medical issues.
“This is the last call for pity, party of one.”
I was humbled. I had a sore neck, a sore back and I was cranky. I changed clothes went to the gym and I have to tell you it was the best work out I have had in two weeks. This morning I feel energized and refocused. (Thanks Tara)
The only person who can change me is me, but if I try to do it alone it won’t ever work. When I need something I turn to those in my life who can help, guide or show me a different perspective. To me that’s the true secret of being a Sparkie.
In three months I have created relationships that God willing will last a life time. But in the end it’s all up to me. I can succeed or fail but it’s my choice.
It’s your choice too.
Knock em’ dead today my friends
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Because i am going to be traveling today I wrote this last night. Hence, the past tense.
While Joan and I were eating dinner tonight the topic of rewards surfaced. We got into a discussion how from childhood on we associate success and accomplishment with food. Look at birthdays---- we have cake. We have son getting married in September, the biggest struggle he and his bride are having is choosing the meal for both the wedding and the rehearsal dinner. We celebrate love on Valentine’s Day with chocolates. It’s no wonder a lot of us waddle instead of walk!!!
I don’t blame society. No one forces me to put anything in my mouth. I choose what goes in and what stays out but how often do I eat things or drink things without even thinking? I think it’s called conditioning.
We talked about this for awhile and then Joan started talking about non edible rewards. Now for a guy who is as smart as I am there are days you have to draw me a picture. She praised me on how well I have doing. My indicator isn’t always the scale it’s the “hug test.” Joan hugs me and then calculates how far she can get her arms around me. So far it’s worked.
Joan has never nagged about my lack of health. She has encouraged, she has told me she was concerned but never has she gotten cross.
Then she dropped a bombshell on me.
“How close are you to your goal weight” she asked me?
“Oh gosh, about 60 pounds,” I answered.
“Well how about when you reach it we get you that Harley you wanted?”
OMG, OMG, OMG
(Rarely am I without words.)
Me on a Harley, All the cool kids would be jealous. My long mane of hair flying in the breeze. (Okay so I’m bald!!!)
I had planned on vacuuming out the car after dinner. As I did so, I started strategizing. I could double my cardio, reduce my calories to about five hundred a day and in about three weeks I’d be humming “Born To Be Wild.”
Then that gosh darned inner voice of mine cleared its throat. (I sort of figured it would show up.)
“If you use that logic John, the only Harley you’ll have will be the ones you see in a magazine.”
My inner voice is always so darned right. You think just once it could go along with me!!!
“Realistically you couldn’t really get one until next spring, which is about thirteen months away. That’s a little over four pounds a month.”
What struck me was how quickly I was ready to jump back on the merry go round. How quickly I would revert to old behavior, starve myself, crash and burn and blame Joan for enticing me. I have a long way to go, but………………. I have a lot of time to get there and it’s thanks to people like you that all this change will come, no worries.
Don’t get me wrong. I hope my progress stays as it is and I learn more each day, but I got a good lesson tonight in how far I need to travel.
But you wanna know something? Without you, (Imagine me pointing my finger right at you, right now) I wouldn’t be aware of none of this. (I know double negative!) You guys who read what I write and help guide me are part of my strength.
Yes you have your flaws too. I think we all do but I also think we are all “Wounded Healers” caring for each other as much as we care for ourselves. So thanks guys for help making me aware of who I am and what I need to do to be me. Thank you for your love.
The Harley is not the important thing; it’s just the vehicle that confirmed to me that I know some really cool people and have the most amazing wife in the world.
This is where you stand up and imagine me sitting back in my chair and applauding you.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
When I am not blogging or writing I actually do work. I don’t call it work. I call it getting paid to have fun. It was a goal of mine for a long time and about ten years ago it came true. It was the culmination of dreaming and believing in a lot principles and ideas when other people gave me one of those odd sort of looks. The thing about my job that I enjoy the most is guiding people through a process that helps them reach their goals and objectives. It doesn’t matter whether they are personal or professional goals, just as long as they reach them. I believe that when we start reaching our goals it becomes a legal steroid for our self esteem.
Most of our goals are long term goals that require a lot of effort and diligence and all the really great stuff we learn from each other every day here in Sparkville. They are noble and worthy goals and just talk to anyone who has reached one of those goals and they will puff their chests out with pride. But they do require us using an awful lot of our internal resources to reach them. If you are not in a habit of enjoying your successes you can run out of steam in a hurry… just ask me!!! I know from personal experience.
What do you want to do that’s fun? I mean right now, while you are reading this blog. What’s your daydream? (I keep wishing for a full head of hair) Why don’t you do it?
A goal can be something as simple as planning a day of shopping with some friends or going to an athletic event. It is something to look forward to, something to be excited about. I know tracking every last bit of food that goes into my mouth is important but I don’t get up in the morning look at Joan and say “I am so looking forward to tracking my food today, honey. Care to join me?” I look to have some sort of fun to look forward to each day.
A good goal should provide us with stimulation. I had two very crazy short term, fun goals. I wanted to be in the nightly parade at Disneyland and I wanted to have my picture taken with Snow White. I achieved both goals. I have a pin to prove I got to march in the daily parade. (I got to dance with some large bug) There is a picture on my desk of Snow White and I. (The cast member who was portraying her did an excellent job. She asked me where I was from and when I told her Kentucky, she asked me if I had come all that way on horseback!)
Big deal John. I agree. But it was fun planning them and I got to tell my friends and family about them and my children still roll their eyes when I bring them up. They caused me to ask myself what else I could do? It got me in the habit of setting goals, reaching them and in the process feeling better about myself.
I am getting healthy so I can be happy. Losing weight, working out, and smoking cessation are all activities that help us reach our goals. They are a valuable means to a wonderful end. This is the most important lesson I have learned so far in this journey. All of the things I do every single day are activities that will lead me towards my life goals.
That’s why I am in the habit of setting daily and weekly goals that serve no one but me. They are fun things but every day when I flip over a calendar page I have something to look forward to. And I do. Then I put a gold star after my name because I deserve it.
I hope you do to.
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
My wife looked over my shoulder as I typed the heading and said, ‘Are you sure “undependant” is a word?”
I laughed. “It is now.”
I am a dependant person. In many ways I depend on the good things in my life. They are as someone once said “the fabric that is me.” They are my family, my friends, both three dimensional and virtual. They are my principles and my values. They are my compass. Without them I just drift.
I have struggled with my weight for what seems like a life time. My self esteem was tied to that number. If it went down I was wonderful. If it went up I was a complete and total failure which meant it was time to bring out the donuts, which meant thirty minutes later I was in a sugar induced state of depression contemplating my total and complete lack of value. I was so ashamed. Here I am this bright eloquent, charming person, who is so quick to help others and he can’t even help himself. I would look in the mirror and I would avert my eyes. If you really knew me you would hate me.
I was dependant on a number of things but mostly the scale. It ruled my life. Ever go weigh yourself before you decided whether to have a candy bar or a piece of fruit? Ever get to feeling kind of shaky and go to the scale to make yourself feel better? Ever go buy a new scale because the perfectly good one you have had for only a month, “just couldn’t be right?”
I would begin a diet and my total and complete self esteem was tied in to “the number.” If it was a big one, I would do the happy dance. If it was a gain I questioned my entire worth. I would dread weigh in day. I was dependant.
I don’t feel that way anymore. Yes, I am conscious of what the scale says. It just doesn’t control me the way it used to. How come?
In the past three months I have worked very hard on discovering myself. As one of my Spark Friends said, “Flying high sure beats digging deep.” Amen. It’s nice to stand up and cheer, give yourself gold stars when things are going well. It’s difficult to dig the foundation to sustain those wonderful feelings. But every time we find some dingy old box in our metaphorical basement shouldn’t we give ourselves a gold star anyway?
What was I really saying when I looked in the mirror? I was questioning my value as a human being. It wasn’t about the additional hundred pounds hanging off my frame it was the lack of value I saw in myself. This stunned me because I have always prided myself on being positive and upbeat and all that other cool stuff. It was a wakeup call.
I am working very hard on being happy. The weight loss is a manifestation of my happiness. Yes, I weigh once a week, but with each successive week I am less and less dependent on what that number says. I am building confidence in what I do during the week. I am beginning to know that if I follow “my plan” I will get good results.
I believe in me. I believe in what I am doing. I spend forty minute each day exercising. I would like it to be at the same time each day but it always isn’t. Some people I know tell me I should push myself harder, do more, be more. I will, when I am ready for it.
I have a plan and my plan allows me to grow which allows me to shrink. I couldn’t have done it without starting to live a complete life that wasn’t dependant on a lot of negative factors.
My journey is blessed by my family, by my friends and by this wonderful process I have embraced.
I am “Undependent.”
Monday, March 08, 2010
Steve was orphaned at birth. He spent the first eighteen years of his life in orphans homes. At age eighteen he joined the Navy. After four years in the Navy, Steve used the G.I Bill to become a gemologist or as we call them, a jeweler. Steve lead a comfortable life in a major Midwestern city until the day Sadie called.
Sadie was one of Steve’s “high end customers.” After forty years of marriage Sadie and her husband were getting a divorce. Sadie had caught her husband in the back seat of their Lincoln with a young lady of questionable virtue and a significant amount of marijuana. In the divorce settlement Sadie was now the proud owner of an industrial manufacturing company. She didn’t know anything about running a company nor did she want to. So she called the only person she really trusted, her jeweler.
Sadie’s instructions were clear. Get the place ready to sell. Since her husband’s interests lied elsewhere for the past five years or so things weren’t in great shape. Steve, by his own admission, didn’t have a clue. He was a jeweler.
He told me years later that he tried very hard to employ basic common sense. Apparently it worked. Eighteen months after taking over the company was showing a profit and all of a sudden Sadie didn’t mind owning a manufacturing company.
I asked Steve one time what motivated him and he shared with me that his life was a series of challenges and just as soon as he would deal with one challenge another would pop up. He had no family, no real friends when he was growing up.
He opened his desk drawer, smiled at me and pulled out a sheet of paper.
“I found this when I was in seventh grade. I am not sure who wrote it but you can keep it. I have plenty more.” He said.
A copy is hanging on my office wall. I have sent it to countless friends over the years. I share it with you this morning because it seems so appropriate in our journey towards health.
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will.
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill.
When the funds are low, and the debts are high.
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh.
When care is pressing you down a bit.
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.
Life is strange with its twists and turns.
As every one of us sometimes learns.
And many a failure turns about.
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don't give up though the pace seems slow.
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt.
And you can never tell how close you are.
It maybe near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit.
It's when things seem worst
That you must not quit!
Steve has been dead for close to five years, but I wont ever forget his lesson. Have a good Monday
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