Monday, May 10, 2010
Sometimes the lessons that help us the most are the hardest and most painful ones to learn. I know that’s true for me. So you sit there reading this and you say to yourself “Well, duh John. I know that.” Do we? I think if we did we wouldn’t as a wise man once said keep living up to the definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
My son Matt has been divorced for almost two years. In a nutshell, his wife decided she enjoyed being single more than she enjoyed being married and decided to practice being single before she ended the marriage.
Before I go any further I want you to know this is not going to be one of those “My kid is perfect and he’s been wronged” rant. He’s not perfect. He was devastated when she left. She took their daughter and I can only imagine what he felt and continues to feel. He trusts no one. He was so happy to be married and I suspect from what he shares he feels as if he failed. He is thirty two and he feels lost and abandoned. To him there is no God. If there was, none of this would have happened.
I have spent a lot of sleepless nights. I cried, I prayed, I wondered if maybe I should have seen this coming and advised him about it before he got married. I got angry and irritable and just wasn’t much fun to be around.
Oh yeah, I ate. I ate a lot. Eating was something I could do. I couldn’t “make it all better.” I couldn’t control his life and it was like it kept raining and I kept wondering where they put the sun. Did I say I ate a lot? I felt cut off and I needed to fix this, because isn’t that what Dad’s are supposed to do?
I carried this inside of me for a long time. Some days it was right up front, other days pushed to the rear by other concerns. But it was there, this tension, this emotionally queasy feeling inside of me.
While all this is going on I begin my journey towards health and discovering who I really was under all these layers of physical and emotional fat. One night as I lie there wide awake that small voice spoke to my heart.
“You have your own journey to worry about. Leave him to me and concentrate on your own journey, John.”
I was stunned. This is my son. He needs me.
“Then he’ll ask if he needs you. Walk your own road John.”
I would like to tell you that I leapt out of bed, woke Joan up and said “Thank you, Jesus.” Far from it.
I got majorly angry. This wasn’t good advice. Kids look to their dads to fix stuff and by God I was going to do this come hell or high water.
“Why are you so afraid to look at yourself John?”
That one got my attention. Over the next few days this light of realization got brighter and brighter inside of me. I saw, that when I didn’t want to look at me and the areas I needed to improve in my life I found some crusade to go charging off on or some poor soul to help who needed me. I always made sure they were issues that no one would argue with. I became exhausted trying to right the wrongs and then never had the energy to deal with me.
That’s mainly because I was scared to look at me. I’m like you and you’re like me. We all know where the trap doors are inside of us, the ones marked “danger.” We are scared to open them because if we do, then we have to deal with what’s on the other side. Better I deal with your stuff rather than mine. Let’s all make nice and smile and the sun will come out and then we can hold hands and sing “Kumbaya!”
Yeah, I got my own road to walk, my own stuff to deal with. I bleed a lot, and Lord knows I cry a lot, but hey……. I am getting better and healthier every single day. Most of it is me facing me, but a lot of it is these bright lights along the side of the road that flicker a warm smile or a soft reassurance. You are holding one of those lights and while I cannot walk your road and you cannot walk mine we can encourage each other, care for each other and love each other as we move closer and closer to being who we are. We stand on the side of each other’s road with lights to help guide the way home.
I still love my son. I am here if he wants to talk. Joan and I are both here if he needs a shoulder to cry on, but it’s his journey and I have mine. All I can do is have faith and leave the rest to God. I am at peace with that.
I had a lot of difficulty accepting this. Joan told me she understood it about six months before I did. I asked her why she didn’t share it with me. She told me I had to find that peace all on my own. She loves me, she prays for me.
That’s the way it is for all of us, I think. We have to walk that road knowing that there are many others to help us, to guide us and to support us, but first we have to see the path ahead.
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
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