Wednesday, April 28, 2010
It dawned on me while I was eating my supper that I talk to you a lot but I don’t talk about you much. I don’t let people know that at the root of every good thing I do is the gentle and patient guidance you supply me, the insight you give me and the ever flowing river of love that keeps me going when I get all shaky and wobbly and want to go hide in a corner. I don’t let people know that I marvel at your patience with me and how often you say “Let’s try that again, John.”
I don’t share all the insights you give me. I pick and I choose not because I am covetous or proud but because I am scared. See, Lord, I have never had this many friends in my life. I know when I talk with you about that sometimes I can hear you laugh a little bit. It’s not that you are laughing at me. It’s the kind of laugh that is soft and suggests I am so very wrong.
I am no preacher. Some days I am not sure I am real good example of what a believer should be or is. I goof up more than I get it right. I am no theologian and I often confuse Scripture with Zig Ziglar.
But there is hope. The real reason I wrote this letter is to thank you. I want to thank you for blessing me with the ability to see you in everyone, even the people I get amazingly mad at on a regular basis. I see the warmth of your love in so many I meet and not only does it fill my heart but it allows me to smile at them in return. I want to thank you for the ongoing lesson of forgiving others because you lovingly remind me how often you indeed forgive me.
I want to thank you for touching my heart in so many ways. I open it to your love and the wisdom and love of other people.
I want to thank you for the faith you gave me, to believe that you would be there for me always. How you believed in me long before I came to really know and believe in you. There are so many examples you give me every day that supply me with hope and keep me moving forward when I want to give up on myself.
You ask me to reach my hand out in love and to encourage other people and I fear rejection. You ask me to help people know you, not through the “Amen’s” and the “Alleluias” but by how I live my life and how I honor others because they were made in your image and likeness.
Lord, I have a nutrition plan a fitness plan and a bunch of goals and I only have you to thank for my success in reaching them. You have given me the most wonderful family, the most amazing group of friends and a whole seven continents full of people, who you love just as much as you love me, that I have not yet met. People created in your image and your likeness, which have insights and talents and so many things I wish to learn.
To call someone a Spark friend almost puts a bit of an asterisk beside their name, Lord. It’s as if I have real friends and then I have “all those other people.” No more. From this moment forward I have friends, no conditions applied, only your children. Whether I ever shake their hands or give them a huge hug does not matter, they are my friends, all loved, all equal and all very much appreciated for what they share with me.
You taught me that.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
I wish I could get Spark points for enduring “one of those day.” I keep looking for the category but I can’t seem to find it. You’ve had them to. They are the night in the hotel where you feel like you didn’t sleep a wink. You wake up in the morning and you feel more tired than you went to bed. Your stress level starts to climb because you know the lack of sleep and healthy life styles don’t fit together really well. You are cranky, grumpy and three or four other dwarves all rolled into one.
Maybe you go out for your morning jog and you turn the corner too sharply and you feel a pull in your calf and you know you are done for the day, before you even get started. You rush to a breakfast meeting and the only healthy thing on the menu is water. You have your “me day” planned and one of the kids wakes up sick. The list goes on and on. It’s called life and honest to goodness I think it just sits there waiting until everything is just about perfect and it jumps out and yells “Boo.”
Being overweight doesn’t help us at all does it? Part of who we are as people who have had a lifetime of struggles with that aspect of our health is that our self esteem is very fragile. Throw us a curve ball, let life deviate us from our well thought out plan and we often go into a tail spin. Then we play the blame game and mostly we point that finger at ourselves.
We hear all the old voices; friends, family, co-workers. We imagine the snickers and the comments and we get scared to death that we can’t put the brakes on and in a few short hours we will be on the road back to ruination. Can anyone here say “Yo-Yo Dieter?”
I don’t have a scientific, inspirational answer for it. The is all I got this morning:
“Just Roll’ As in “Just roll with the flow.”
We get in trouble when we fight the current. We over compensate and after awhile we get so tired of over compensating we give up and let the current sweep us down stream. For many of us who are overweight that means we eat, and we eat a lot.
Rolling with the flow means you stick with your plan, you weather the storm and at the end of the day you can smile and put a huge gold star beside your name. You become stronger and you become wiser and you know that next unexpected storm that enters your life will be dealt with in short order and dispensed of. Every time you and I have victories please remember it is a GREAT victory. I don’t believe in small ones and even if it means I do the short version of The Happy Dance, so be it. I weathered the storm.
It is why you and I created a nutrition plan and a exercise plan and why we have a ton of Spark Friends. It means that when we a rolling with the flow, we are staying faithful to our commitments no matter how strong the gusts of wind are in our lives. It means when we are at wits end we post to a message board, write a blog or send a friend a Spark mail asking for support.
Honestly, have you ever known anyone here to turn away from you? Haven’t you and I been showered with a bunch of love when we asked for it? The tools don’t work for me if I don’t use them. I can make all the excuses I want to about being tired and preoccupied and the like. Each morning brings John a series of choices and each series of choices bring with it a consequence. It’s totally in my control to determine whether those consequences are positive or negative. That decision belongs to no one but me.
I know the storm will pass and I know I will be stronger for weathering it. That makes me a winner in more ways than I can count. You are my friend so that makes you a winner also. It makes you one of the people I know I can count on when the going gets tough. That means whether you acknowledge it or not you are very strong.
I didn’t sleep well at all last night. I woke up, showered and looked out the window at the fast food restaurant across the street from my hotel. How easy it would be to schlop in eight hundred calories or so because I just didn’t feel like fooling with being healthy today. I walked into the hotel lobby and sniffed the bacon and sausage and saw the pastries.
I went back to my room, got my now raggedy old cooler and ate my berry medley and whole grain toast I packed for the trip.
I still have a headache. I am still mildly cranky. But deep inside me, like a small flame I can feel this bit of satisfaction because I rolled with it this morning and stayed true to me. It wasn’t easy and I didn’t like it but I did it and I’m glad.
When I look in the mirror there is only one person I can thank or chastise for how I appear and think. That person is me.
If you need to today, get some love and support. We are all here willing to give it to you.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
One of my favorite movies is The Legend of Bagger Vance. There is a line in that movie you have probably heard before. It goes like this: “Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and then.” For the longest time, in my life, you could have said that sentence was going to be on my tomb stone. Really good things would happen to me and wasn’t able to tell you why or how. I would have success and I would attribute it all to luck. I would thank God and my guardian angel for letting fortune smile upon me. I never could quite figure out why it never stuck around. Don’t get me wrong, I’d enjoy my emotional windfall and I was happy I had it. It just never stayed very long. I started calling it “accidental success.”
It took me most of my life to figure out its origin and it will take the rest of my life and a lot of hard work to make sure it stays as far away as possible. Accidental success is the proud child of not knowing what you want and not believing you are good enough to have it. That’s why diets fail.
I know, I know. When you begin any process you set a goal. You work really hard to get there, make all kinds of sacrifices and when you achieve it you throw a large party. Now what? In some cases you are this thin, really good person with no guidance or direction and you revert back to the behavior you always had and in six months you have regained your weight. We decide it’s a fatal character flaw or lack of discipline. It is neither.
Most of us have been overweight for a really long time in our lives. I know I have. I don’t know how to live any other way that “fat.” I dropped two pants sizes and I looked at myself in the mirror this morning as I got dressed and I was marveling at how good I looked. It was like I couldn’t believe it. I should believe it!! It’s the product of over four months of hard work. I deserve it.
What are you going to do when you get there? How are you going to sustain your goal? Diet and exercise are key components, true. What’s going to sustain you spiritually and emotionally? I have discovered that unless there is “something” there very shortly I will start sliding back once I reach my goal.
Enough of the gloom and doom. Here’s the good news: The time to start planning is now!!! Start living the way you want to live when you reach your goal. Remove words like “someday” and eventually” and replace them with “I am in the process of.” Don’t’ look forward, look present and fold all those wonderful goals into your current behavior.
One of the things I enjoy doing is reading everyone’s Spark page. I see all the plans they have, the stuff they are going to do and it challenges me to ask myself. “What are you going to do when you get there?” I need to start looking at those things now because if I am just a skinny version of the fat me I will be the fat me plus all over again.
When I started this journey I told myself I needed to “get in shape” so that I could focus my life on what I really enjoy doing. I enjoy helping good people become better. That takes in a lot of ground and it isn’t just focused on work. I am a good spouse; I want to be a better one. I’m a good dad, but I want to be a better one. The list goes on and on. The time for me to start those things, those goals in motion is today.
I want to write a book………….. Better get started John
I want to do audio and video CD’s and DVD’s…………….. Start the project now dude.
I want to travel the world, speaking to groups of people and giving them hope…….. Stick with your plan!!
All that stuff sustains me and it may mean the difference in me eating the donut or saying to myself it is not worth it.
I lived accidental success for far too long. I am not going back.
What about you? Do you know all the great things you are going to do once you reach your goals? Share them please!!! I love reading about them.
Monday, April 26, 2010
I had two Spark friends reach their goal weights over the weekend. They were proud of their accomplishments as they should be. I was happy for them , until I allowed that evil twin brother of mine, AKA, my creative sub conscious, to lead me astray. No friends, you are not about to read some lurid tale of me donning a disguise and sneaking into an all night pizzeria to gorge myself on non fat mozzarella!!
I looked at the ticker on my Spark page. I looked at the big gap between where I was and where I wanted to be. I thought of those smiling Spark friends having huge parties to celebrate their accomplishments and I became sad. That gap between my ticker and my goal weight looked like a million miles.
“Woe is me, “ (Or something like that.) I sighed.
My shoulders slumped a bit. I’m going to be honest with you it took me until this morning in the shower to shake the feeling. Intellectually I said all the right stuff to myself. I knew I had done some good things in a short while. I told myself to heed my own advice about being patient. I meditated yesterday, thought about how good I felt during my cardio, all to no avail.
“Lord,” I implored as the water cascaded down my back waking me up. “Give me a bit of guidance, here.”
It came in two quick bursts. The first came in the form of a line another bald headed genius likes to say:
“It’s not all about you!!!” (I wish I got the kind and gentle guidance you see in the movies where God speaks while backed up by the Philadelphia Philharmonic.)
I thought about that for a few minutes and then into my head came a prayer I learned as a child. I hadn’t said it in years but as I stood there toweling off it rolled through my mind.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon:
where there is doubt, faith ;
where there is despair, hope
where there is darkness, light
where there is sadness, joy
O divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
I believe in karma. Give it any name you desire, what you give to others comes back to you. When you give goodness, love and encouragement especially on the days that you really don’t feel like it, I believe it will come back to you with blessings one hundred fold.
My progress in my march towards health has a lot to do with me, my attitude and my program but it has equally to do with you my friends who have opened your hearts to me and supported and encouraged me. There are days you most likely would have rather pulled the covers over your head than been open and present to others. But you didn’t.
It’s why you are amazing.
I am quite sure when I reach my goal weight I will be really pleased. I should be. It will be quite an accomplishment. In the meantime instead of looking at that gap with a forlorn gaze, I plan on spending the time as the prayers says “not so much seeking to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand.”
Care to join me?
(It dawned on me as I write this that nowhere in my journey have I ever thanked any of the main Spark people for making this forum available to me. I’ll correct that now. “Thank you.”)
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