Sunday, May 09, 2010
My mother quit school when she was sixteen. Her father had died, it was the Depression and she had a younger sister. There were no programs to assist families back then. She did, as she so often told us, what she had to do. She never looked back, she never complained. She went to work at a dairy and worked there until she met my father some seven years later. I was born ten months after my mom and dad’s were married. My dad worked three jobs and my mom raised four kids. We weren’t poor, we weren't rich. We had three meals a day, sturdy clothes and a roof over our heads. If we were supposed to be unhappy someone forgot to tell me. Other than the occasional fights with my brother and sisters my life could be called pretty normal.
I was never greeted at the door by a woman wearing pearls and a plate of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. I don’t ever recall my mom saying or doing anything that could be categorized as inspirational. She was my mom. I got a feeling that she was, and still is, in a category most moms are in. She may never have looked across the table with an inspirational quote; she simply taught me the things that are of value in my life.
She taught me to always tell the truth, never to steal, or cheat anyone. She taught me to respect people, young, old or in between.
My mom is a very spiritual person but you wouldn’t know it if you talked to her. She said if you make a big deal out of things then you already got your reward. Better to pray, be quiet and wait for good things to happen. She taught us our prayers. She and my dad still go to Mass every morning. They are seventy eight and eighty six. Until my dad's vision started going bad a few years ago they walked to and from church daily, about two miles round trip.
I thought of my mom yesterday when i read a by C.S. Lewis it says; "The thing is to rely on God… Meanwhile, the trouble is that relying on God; you have to begin all over again every day as if nothing has yet been done."
That’s my mom. Every day you start over and every day you start with a clean slate. You work real hard and good things happen to you.
The success my mom had in life, she said, came from raising four decent children, who know the difference between right and wrong. I'll bet your moms the same.
I am almost fifty seven, yet every time I get sick I call my mom. She listens and then says "You'll live." I roll over and go back to sleep knowing I’ll be okay, because my mom said I would.
They are simple values, values that sometimes get lost in the modern mix. Today is an opportunity to reflect on what my mom taught me and issue myself a report card on how well I have done in learning.
Male or female we all share one common value: We all have moms. Some of you are lucky enough to be a mom. What a blessed and amazing opportunity you have to share who you are, with a child and help mold their future, just like yours and mine were molded.
I know I am right, coz my mom says so.
Saturday, May 08, 2010
First and foremost a sincere thank you to everyone who comments on my blogs. I appreciate your insight and your support and when I use your wisdom with other people, rest assured you get the credit. I am stronger, wiser and much more confident because I know you guys are there and that whether I gain, weight, lose weight or stay the same I know I am accepted and I am loved here. That is an awesome feeling.
I am not, however an octopus. There have been close to four hundred responses on my blogs, this week alone. Each comment left was read and again I am grateful for the support and encouragement. I am physically unable to respond to that many postings. I feel terrible because some of what you guys write to me by way of encouragement has made a real difference in my life and I consider each of you a true friend. I want to apologize if any way, shape or form I have hurt anyone's feelings by not responding on their wall or sending a goodie as my token of thanks. Please know each of you is my thoughts and my prayers on a daily basis and I value your friendship more than I can express on this blog. I feel so overwhelmed some days when I see the volume of response. Please know I do care.
Okay on to the next part. I lost five pounds this week and basically as I related last week after a 1.2 pound gain I was going back to Phase One as detailed in The Spark. That's what I did. I sorta established John's boot camp to get back in line. It worked. While I am satisfied with the weight loss most importantly I saw where I was getting sloppy and I made the adjustments to correct them. So, way to go John, you are really your own hero.
This morning I participated in my first 5K. Before you get too terribly impressed Joan and I walked it. Three of the kids went along as well as one daughter-in-law and they ran. About two blocks from the finish I looked at Joan and said "What the heck......." and started to run. Joan started to run too. That was cool. The neatest thing for me was the discussion she and I had as we were walking it. She asked me if a year ago I thought we'd be doing something like this and my answer was no. Thank you Spark. No way without this process would I have ever even dreamed of walking like that. Next year I run it.
Now for the important stuff, explaining some status updates from earlier this week.
I made my doctor cry.
My doctor hadn't seen me since I started Spark. I had a sixty pound weight loss and she was so happy she started crying. Told me I made her day. I was glad I could make her happy.
My addiction to General Hospital
About three weeks ago I had a day off in the middle of the week. Because of my travel and how hectic things get I actually plan these off days. I was flipping through the channels, found General Hospital and began watching it and then I just had to know what was coming next. I started DVR'ing them and I watch them when I get home. Yesterday I had to catch up on Wednesday and Thursdays before I found out what sentence the judge passed on Michael for manslaughter.......
So there you go.
It's International Barbecue Festival weekend here so I get to go look at arts and crafts this afternoon.
Have a great Saturday.
Friday, May 07, 2010
I am my own hero and you are yours.
As we slog and slosh through our days and pin our hopes on saints and other sinners, when all is said and done the real hero in my life is me and you in yours. We never see it that way. We tend to compare ourselves to other people and when we do, we inevitably come up short in our performance. It’s because our life is not their life, plain and simple. We benchmark our activity against what we “are supposed to be” and rather than savor the very unique perspective we provide the universe. We dwell on all our mistakes and shortcomings until we reach a moment where we throw our hands up in despair and exist in some sort of funk that slowly kills our spirit.
We are never good enough and eventually neither are our heroes. Whether they be in sports, politics, or entertainment they possess the same flaws, the same weaknesses and the same failures we do. Theirs are simply magnified by the large stage they command. When they finally do fail, we abandon them and curse the fates. We mutter to ourselves “If they can’t do it, neither can I. What’s the use?”
Become your own hero.
Look at your life and chronicle the adversity you have overcome in your life. Look at the sum total of your journey as you sit here this morning and then pin a huge medal on yourselves. No one but you knows the triumphs and the tragedies. No one but you knows how hard you may have struggled to reach a goal that others may have found easy. Remember how good it felt when you reached it? Remember the enthusiasm, the confidence? You were ready to slay the world.
Become your own hero.
“But John, there are people who have endured a lot more in their life than I have in mine. I just don’t feel right standing here with my chest puffed out taking all the credit when so many people suffer.”
No problem is a small problem if it is your problem.
Remember how you struggled with the same four or five pounds in what seemed like an eternity? Recall how you persevered and triumphed? No one but you knows how difficult that journey was and no one but you knew how sweet the victory was
Maybe you were the last person at the gym before they turned out the lights or you kept going to zumba until your legs didn’t end up in a tangled mess. You strutted to the car then, didn’t you?
Be your own hero.
It may be the triumph of working out five days in a row even if it was only for ten minutes a day. That was your marathon. That was your victory. Your victories are so personal and so dear that you should be proud of each one of them and let the world know how good you feel.
When you and I become our own heroes we become positive examples. When we become positive examples to other people we encourage them to become heroic in their own right. It is one continuous positive circle.
When I make the choice to overcome adversity or destroy an obstacle that is in my path, I am providing myself with the motivation and inspiration to continue my journey and be a hero.
Guilt is never, ever a positive motivator and despite what some well intentioned people might say, there is no such thing as “good guilt.” Never feel guilty when you fall, wear it as a badge of honor like veterans of so many wars do. Grizzled, battered, and bowed at times, they move forward confident that the next battle will produce victory because their past failures provided wisdom for the future, not guilt.
They are heroes, just like me.
Just like you
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
Terry and I had been talking for close to an hour. He had told me fifteen times how his lack of success in life stemmed from a verbally abusive father. Fifteen times, I know because I was keeping track. I’m not sure whether it was out of frustration or genius but I put my hand out in a motion to stop him.
“When’s the last time your dad ragged on you?” I asked.
Terry moved some papers around on his desk, looked at me and in one of those sotto voices we all get from time to time replied “Well, he’s been dead for over twenty years, so I guess twenty years.”
“And you have been using that as a reason to not be successful?”
He looked at me a minute, sorta with that hurt puppy dog look.
“I make excuse too, ya know, probably more than you. Lemme tell you a story.” I began.
Monday morning was my last Ab-Blast class for two weeks. I could tell the instructor was frustrated with us because she kept repeating the same instruction to us over and over again:
“People, keep your heinies down please!!!”
Finally she told us to stop, sit on our mats and look at her.
“If you don’t do it right people, you are only cheating yourself!”
It was like the heavens opened for me. (I still couldn’t keep my rear end down completely, but I am working on that.) I can use anything I want to motivate me and help me reach my success and I can use anything I want to prevent me from reaching my success. I am only cheating myself.
How many of you write me and tell me that skinny or fat you will still be my friend? Joan will still love me. I have built in excuses if I choose to take them.
I have built in reasons to be successful also. I have a good food plan, a solid exercise program and a clear set of goals and objectives. If I choose to “fudge” on them, well I am only cheating myself. It’s easy for me to blame everything from the alignment of the planets to the New York Yankees for my failure. In the end it’s only me that determines my success.
Yes, we have obstacles and there are mean and cruel people in our path who for whatever reason do their best to stop our forward progress.
I keep a button in my brief case. I have carried it for close to twenty years. It’s one of those “not buttons” You know the button with the little circle and the line through. The writing beneath is says “Them.”
You know “Them” they are the people we blame for our failures. Their cousins are “those people.”
The button was given to me by a friend I met in the late eighties. She carried a purse full of them with her. She said she refused to give anything or anyone power over her. She gave me the button and then told me the story that went with it.
She was walking home from work one evening. It was a nice night, sorta like the ones we have this time of year. She lived in a suburb of Washington DC. Three blocks from home she was attacked, repeatedly by a group of men. She was raped repeatedly and left clothes torn and in a coma, in the gutter. A man found her six hours later when he got his morning paper. She was told it was a miracle she survived the attack.
She suffered organic brain damage because of the trauma to her head. That was minor compared to the emotional horror she endured. She didn’t work for two years. She told me when I met her she was paralyzed, both physically and emotionally. Until this day, she walks with a slight limp in her gait and has problems putting a complete thought together at times.
One day she was in a small shop and saw the button and she told me it was like an angel touched her on the shoulder. She purchased all the buttons the store had, went home and decided it was time to start living again. She went back to college, not just any college, Georgetown mind you, and graduated with honors. When I met her she was working for the US Government in their state department. Since then she has started a successful business of her own.
I keep that button with me. Maybe I don’t look at it enough, but yesterday morning after I left Terry I put it on my lapel to remind me, that the only person who controls what happens to me is me.
I can make all the excuses I want to but when I do then “They” win. “They” are right. Abusive parents, spouses, siblings or friends. The moment I let “them” gain control of how I live and how I react, then Brandy, my most amazing fitness instructor is right.
I am only cheating myself.
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