Thursday, May 13, 2010
My favorite story from The Bible centers on Moses, a whole bunch of cranky people, lack of water and God. Moses leads the people into the desert where they wander for forty years. They are hot, they are tired and they are thirsty. They put a lot of trust in Moses and I am quite sure he felt the murmurs and whispers that he had lost it. It seemed as if he could do nothing right.
Moses goes up on the mountain for his daily meeting with God. He tells God that the people are grumbling, irritable and most likely a bit smelly because they haven’t had any water in quite some time. God ponders all this for a moment, and points at a rock. He tells Moses to take his staff, walk over to the rock and strike the rock one time and one time only and the people will have more water than they know what to do with.
As Moses is walking towards this rock he is looking down the mountain and looking at this mob that wants to cut his throat. “No way,” he thinks. “No way, is one tiny tap gonna supply all the water we need. I mean He is God and all but I better give it more than one bash, just to make sure.”
So he does. He hits the rock three times. Out bursts the water, problem solved and Moses figures he can move on to other issues. With a smile on his face and a song in his heart Moses descends the mountain. God stops him.
“Moses” God asks. “How many times did I tell you to strike the rock?”
“Uhm, one time.” Says Moses. “But I figured that I better hit it more than that, just to be sure.”
“You figured?” God asks.
The long and short of the story is that God tells Moses because of his lack of faith in what he was asked to do; he will not enter the Promised Land. In other words he won’t get what he has worked so hard to attain.
What does this have to do with C25K training? Well it comes down to being a matter of trust. It means trusting a program I believe in and trusting me to succeed.
I decided to train to run a 5K. “Use the C25K program John. It’s proven to work!!!” Person after person gave me that advice. So I sat down, read the program and decided it would work for me.
I started on Monday and I have to tell you the first week seemed awfully skimpy!! I mean three times a week for twenty minute a session? That didn’t seem like a lot. Better that I added some additional training on my own and on the days I wasn’t doing C25K training I needed to step it up a bit. The end result was late Tuesday evening I had a hard time moving. The heck with the program!!! I knew better!!!
Now I know none of you have ever done anything like this. I mean no one would ever consider eating way below their calorie level because they figured that by doing so they would lose weight even quicker. I mean no one should eat THAT MANY calories. So maybe we eat a lot less, our stomachs shrink and don’t lose any weight at all. We don’t follow exercise regimens because we know better and wind up hurt or dejected because we did too much.
Along with diet and with exercise this change I am going through has to incorporate other things I never thought would enter the fray. I have to learn to build and develop trust, not only in the programs I use but in John. I can’t trust me, however, unless I really care about me and I can’t care about me if I don’t value me!!! It means that even when I don’t feel beautiful, handsome, charming and witty, I believe I am. I believe I am capable of doing anything I put my mind to even though at the precise moment I may feel like a total and complete failure.
It means I trust and if it says on the package,” hit the rock one time and one time only”, then I do.
On top of being really good looking I also read minds. I know what you are thinking. “Yeah John, I trusted before and I got messed over.”
Me too. Been messed over more times than I care to count. But even at my heaviest, in my darkest moment, when every time I stepped on the scale and it went upward, I kept telling myself “You will get this John, you will find a way. This weight will come off. No matter how many times you fail you will get this one day.”
Then I found Spark and I found you. Yeah, you, reading this right now.
I hit the rock once.
I didn’t know this until a few months ago but do you know it took Moses and his followers forty years to make an eleven day journey? I think I would have fit right in
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
When I begin work with a new coaching client I ask them to give me a one sentence definition of what success means to them. I stress one sentence. In most cases we start off with two pages that are full of good stuff, goals and objectives, but not a definition of success. The process usually takes about two weeks and when you are finished you have a pretty good idea of who you are and what you are about.
It’s very frustrating because the first time I did it I learned the most valuable lesson about John I will ever learn:
I had no clue where I was going and I had no clue how to get there.
I had a lot of “sound bites:” that I had used to define myself, but if you took them away I had a lot of goals and objectives lying around in my backyard like a bunch of flowers that weren’t quite sure where they needed to be planted.
Ask people how they define success and most likely you will hear things like “security,” “wealth,” “prosperity,” or maybe “peace of mind.” Those are all outcomes or end results. They are the finish line and as any runner will tell you, it’s a good idea to know where the finish line is. The preparation it takes to get there shouldn’t be over looked, otherwise the finish line is just a mirage.
“If you learn to wait, you will lose the weight.”
That is my current definition of success. If I am patient with myself, allow myself to evolve, to learn, to depend on the wisdom of other people who have gone before me, I will be successful. When I think about my failures it was because I wanted to rush everything and not allow my mind or my body to adjust to the changes it was going through. Quite simply they both rebelled and said “We will have none of this!” The end result became frustration, followed by failure and then despair. Can anyone say “hand me another donut?”
Spark has helped me learn to wait or if you want to apply another acronym, learn to be patient.
Lemme give ya two examples:
A few months ago I was contemplating embracing a vegetarian life style. I wrote a short blog one Sunday about my desires but also quickly added about all I knew how to do was spell “vegetarian.” (Thank goodness for spell check.) I was overwhelmed with positive response. People gave me all sorts of resources. Now the old John, the impatient one, the one that wanted to see results NOW would have thrown all the meat in the house away, read about half of each article, took a billboard out on the interstate proclaiming himself the holiest and purest vegetarian of all time, and promptly failed. He would have told himself that this stuff worked for other people but surely not for him and it became another thing he was no good at.
I would like to tell you I not eating meat at all, but I can’t do that. What I am doing is gradually changing my life style, and reducing the amount of meat I am taking in learned to be patient and allow their bodies to change.
The same is true about exercise. When I started Spark I was walking, cycling and using the elliptical. I had been down this road before and so as much as I wanted to do more because I felt, in my head, I was ready to try out for the Olympics, my body told me to be patient. I’ll admit to you I got bored, which is why I decided to shoot for walking in a 5K race. The closer I got to race day, the more I walked. Joan decided to come with me, so I had a walking buddy most days. It was a wonderful experience!!!
I jogged the last third of a mile or so and surprised myself. I had a false belief that if I ran more than ten feet I would fall over dead. I didn’t. Joan and I followed up Sunday with a two mile walk and as of yesterday we both started C25K training because we would like to jog a 5K in the fall. I got lots of support from friends here. I have learned that it will be okay if that first 5K run is in November, December, or even later. It will come, when my body is ready and I am comfortable with my success.
“If you learn to wait, you will lose the weight.”
We do not realize, our unhealthy life style was an evolution also. Four days out of five, I don’t like reading what I just wrote LOL. I want it now and I want it all.
Thanks to you and so many like you I am learning to wait, to be patient because the day will come when I will see the results and oh my gosh, will they be great.
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.
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