Sunday, July 04, 2010
It’s hard for me to relate to events that occurred over two hundred years ago. I have only seen them dramatized or read about them. In other words I have little to no perspective. I know that a lot of people utilized a lot of courage to make some pretty big decisions. Fortunately for us they were the right decisions but at the time, no one, especially they had any way of knowing that. They went with faith. They sort of linked arms and jutted out their jaws and went forward with a dream, a vision and a hope. Their actions allow me to live in a country that is free. Please note, I didn’t say perfect, just free.
I took freedom for granted until a few years ago. I always had it, little chance of losing it, nice to have it and it sucks if you don’t. I got caught up in researching my family history. I guess that happens as you get older. You want some answers. It was there I was introduced to Dobra.
Dobra was born in Lodz, Poland in 1936. Her mother was twenty six at the time and there is no record of a father being involved. Dobra’s mother worked as a tailor’s helper and Dobra spent her brief life at her mother’s side.
When the Nazi’s reached Lodz in 1940, Dobra and her mother were confined to the Lodz ghetto, Muhl Gasse 43, Flat 3. Their crime was their faith. They were Jewish and Adolph Hitler wanted to be sure that he kept all Jews where he could keep an eye on them until he decided what to do with them.
He came to that decision in September of 1942. All children and elderly people in the Lodz ghetto were rounded up between September 3 and September 12 and executed. Dobra was six. She was torn from her mother’s arms, forced to kneel in the street and was shot in the back of the head.
Dobra never got to do a lot of things I take for granted. She never was free to think, or too grow or to express her opinion. She died alone. She watched other children die as she stood in line and waited her turn. There were no bikes or birthday parties.
This horrifies me as an adult. I can only imagine what it was like for a six year old. I can’t imagine what it was like for her mother to look out the window and watch her child die at the hands of people who had taken it upon themselves to define what freedom meant for someone else. Two years later, as the Allies approached Lodz the remainder of the ghetto, along with her mother was liquidated. That word, “liquidated” sounds so neat and tidy. It creates a perspective that attempts to soften and distort the events.
I started writing this last night and had to stop. I became too emotional. I sat and stared at the screen and started crying. I put it down and went to bed. After a bit Joan asked me why I was crying. I told her and it was quiet for a bit. She hugged me and said.
“You can’t save her, but at the very least you have an idea of what people go through who are discriminated against for no real reason.”
As usual she was right.
On a very simple level if you are reading this blog, you have felt some of that pain. You are overweight. You have been laughed at, poked fun at and left out of things people who are not over weight are allowed to enjoy. People think you are lazy, not motivated and stupid.
Ghettos do not solely exist in the physical form; they have deeper and stronger walls when they are constructed in our minds.
We look at people and we evaluate them based on race, gender, sexual preference, height, weight, religion, and the list goes on and on. If you fit some sort of perfect mold you are allowed to be free. If you don’t, well then that’s too bad.
I lied in bed last night thinking about what Joan said. Finding my distant relative Dobra served the purpose of reminding me that there is a world where people do not care.
As I drifted off to sleep these words rang in my ears.
“Let freedom ring and when it does we will speed up that day when all of God’s children, black and white, Jew and Gentile, Catholic and Protestant can sing the words of the old spiritual; “Free at last, free at last. Thank God almighty we are free at last.”
Thursday, July 01, 2010
I hadn’t been to a lunch meeting of the Optimists for over a month. Work kept me out of town. I was looking forward to seeing a lot of folks I had missed in that time. Everyone that greeted me congratulated me on my weight loss and the article they ran on me in our local paper about healthy life styles.
When I sat down to eat three or four people came over, sat down, looked at me earnestly, and said. “You’re cursed, you know that don’t you?”
Yes I did. You see the last three people my gym featured in their articles not only gained all the weight they lost back they added about fifty percent. This is a small city and everyone knows everyone so people notice and BTW: People are cruel. I’m not going to detail some of their remarks but suffice to say I got scared.
See I am within twenty five pounds of my initial goal weight. I been batting around the same five pounds for a month and even though intellectually I know what’s going on I am still getting scared. I’m scared all the weight is hiding in my bedroom closet again and it’s going to come creeping back on to me and I’ll be a Spark failure. Then no one will love me and BTW did I tell you I’d be a failure?
I am really not sure what can make you more miserable, being fat or being thin? So I did some stuff that I know none of you have ever done, like eating below your calorie levels and amping up your cardio to burn a bit more. Anyone here ever get worried about eating and start cutting some really weird corners because you are scared that an extra bite of whole grain bread is going to add fifteen pounds to you? You may not have done it but a dollar to donuts you thought about it.
As a once famous bald headed female exercise leader said “Stop the Insanity.”
Suffice to say I was a basket case. It was like running a 5K in quicksand (Wonder if they have a podcast for that?) The harder I tried the more bogged down and anxious I got.
I went to a friend’s Spark Page to thank them for something and I actually stopped for a minute and read it. (LOL) They had been someone I had admired for some time and have been successful in fighting the good fight. But I had never read what “they stood for.” Maybe it was because I had all kinds of time on my hands yesterday or maybe my guardian angel sent me there but as I scrolled down the page I saw this line:
“Eat to fuel my body and my life, not just be below my calorie range.”
“Oh wow!!! Someone actually had the same thoughts I did!!!” Weird as it may seem, I felt better and I had a lesson reinforced at the same time. Somewhere in the Bible it says “Nothing is new under the sun.” That one line made me feel like I wasn’t alone. I smiled a bit and actually had a bit of a tear well up in my eye.
“I’m normal,” I whispered.
We think and do crazy things sometimes. Our fears get the best of us and once they latch on to us they are like a pit bull, they don’t let go. Our fears are what drive us into doing silly stuff that only hurts us in the long run.
You guys may get really bored in hearing all this but I really believe three things create a good foundation for our success.
You are worth more than you can ever imagine.
You deserve only the best and should not only expect it but in most cases demand it.
You really are who you hang around with.
There are so many of you who have motivated and inspired me in so many ways and just like yesterday I am so grateful for it. I choose to hang around with really great folks and if you are reading this, you are one of them.
Time for breakfast.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
It has always been my favorite quote and it has followed me around all my life. Every time I have hit a rough patch or haven’t quite been able to discern something it sits there staring at me.
I had a tooth pulled Monday. Actually it had to be cut out because it had grown into my jaw and needless to say there was pain involved. Most people ask their oral surgeon about post operative care. My questions related to resuming my C25K training, using the elliptical and stationary bike and resuming weight training. I’ll give you the short answer. All I can do is walk until the stitches dissolve which should be by next Monday, hopefully. On the bright side I really didn’t need the narcotics they prescribed. By this morning ibuprofen did the trick. But I am digressing here.
All I could do today was sit around. I have a hard time talking. I can’t really exercise. Television is, well its television and I wasn’t in the mood to read. I began to ask why as in tilting my head upward towards heaven and saying “Why?”
Be still and know that I am God.
Between me, you and the gate post that really irks me sometimes. I know it is necessary, but it still irks me. Some days I don’t want God to be God. I want Him to be what I want Him to be, which is someone who gives me everything I ask for, immediately. The heck with lessons learned and creating foundations and all that rot. Hand it over………… Now!!!
Be still and know that I am God.
I know why. I just don’t like that I know why. God has to slow me down. If He didn’t, then only He knows where I’d be off to with my half baked ideas and plans. He asks me to rest, to relax and mostly He asks me to listen to what He has to say. He gives me all those opportunities to do those things and frankly, most times I pass. I can imagine Him sort of throwing His hands up, rubbing His chine and creating an impact tooth.
He sends me friends with ideas, advice and encouragement and He asks me to take the time to listen. I do, mostly. He asks me to take a deep breath and stand still for a bit so everything can be put into place for me to do my best and be my best.
When I was a kid I hated it when they read the Scripture From the beginning of Matthews’s gospel. It the one with all the “begets.” Goes from the beginning of time until the birth of Jesus. There are a bunch of names that no one can pronounce and it takes a long time to read. Oh sure there are your heavy hitters in there like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and Solomon. But there were also the people no one really knew. People like Azor and Zadok. You don’t hear those names bandied around on Sunday morning
Azor and Zadok and a lot of others were people just like me and you; people who peered off into the fog trying to make sense of it all. Sprinkled in there with the kings and prophets were farmers, carpenters and shepherds; every day folks who struggled and wondered and got bored.
Imagine if it were possible for us to go back in time and tell them that they were a link to salvation. Some car wash dude, scraping gum off a fender wall is in the direct line of salvation history. He probably wouldn’t believe you. I know I wouldn’t.
I think, like all those folks in Matthews Gospel we aren’t supposed to make sense of the whole of creation. We are supposed to have faith, to live good lives and to use every tool God gave us. Sometimes it means letting our engine idle while God directs traffic so we have the best and greatest opportunity to serve Him.
Some days, for me it means that even though I have been a “good boy,” by doing all my exercise, logging all my food and getting enough rest, the scale needle stays stuck, like some divine hand holds it in place. We are asked and called to believe and I think the most important lesson God gives us to believe in ourselves no matter how small or great the odds. To believe we are worth, we deserve it and we are loved. Some days nothing moves forward because we can’t see those amazing things
It’s why we have to sit and nurse a pulled muscle or a broken digit. It’s why the very best thing really always isn’t because in the Divine mystery there is something so much better out there for us.
Be still and know that I am God.
So I sit here, trying to make sense of it all. A sore jaw isn’t much but I have come to learn that it and things like it can be the beginning of something awesome, wonderful and well, LOL, Divine.
Be still and know that I am God.
Monday, June 28, 2010
It took me a few minutes to get it all straight in my head. I’m glad Mass lasts awhile. During the sermon our pastor talked about being on a weeklong youth retreat with one hundred eighth graders. He talked about how they played games and sports and had a lot of fun all day. The evenings he said were reserved for God.
“The main thing,” he said. “Is to remember that the main thing is the main thing.” It’s really okay if you stop reading and take a few minutes to figure this out. I know it took me a few. Don’t worry, this is not going to be a continuation of his sermon, LOL, I’m not that eloquent.
I thought about it and after a bit I thought how it applied to what we are about here at Spark. I can only speak for me, but my purpose in being here is to be healthier tomorrow than I am today. In order to do that I need the support of everyone who is willing to give it to me. Being healthier means I have a lot of choices I can make when it comes to what food goes in my mouth, the exercise I do and the teams and people here I associate with.
Last week while I was out doing my C25K training I jogged past a church that had a sign out front; on the sign was a saying that caught my eye:
“It wasn’t the apple on the tree that caused the problem; it was the pair beneath the tree.”
Choices, LOL, from the beginning of time it has always been about choices. I can’t say I’ve always made the best choices in my life. I was morbidly obese at one point in time. I am slowly cycling through obese on my way to simply being overweight. That’s a choice I made.
I show up here every day on a regular basis and if I do nothing else I chart my food and exercise. At the end of some days I smile and at the end of other days I frown. The main thing is I am here. It’s my choice. I am challenged by many of you to grow in ways I never would have thought about even six months ago. It has opened a whole new world for me.
A healthier me is going to be a me who will be able to do everything he wants to and more importantly everything he is supposed to do. Being worth it and deserving it come with a price. It means that since I know what is expected of me, and how I should live, I have an obligation to pass that on to other people. Some days that can be a difficult choice. Some days I don’t feel all “Sparkified.” Some days I feel like sitting in a corner and being smug and content. Some weeks if I gain weight I want to be left alone because it is so much easier to ignore the choices I made during the week. Or Maybe I was too tired to hit the gym one day. I don’t always want to be reminded of that. I’d rather sit here and let you think I am the guy who always makes the right choices. I always don’t.
The good news is that since I have been here I see the meter trending more and more towards making those right choices on a regular basis. It is easy to forget what the main thing is all about. It’s about you being everything you were meant to be and that comes by choosing wisely.
The main thing has nothing to do with being perfect or being better than anyone else. It means knowing that when you have those glorious days when everything comes together for you that one day you will be able to share that vision with someone who, no matter how hard they are trying, just can’t seem to make any progress. It means you will encourage and cajole and maybe sometimes even challenge someone else to be healthy.
“The main thing to remember is that main thing is the main thing.” If I don’t, if I make all the wrong choices for me, and I never get the opportunity to go from disciple, one who learns, to apostle, one who teaches. The main thing is my health and my gratefulness to God for allowing me to find that health.
I am worth it, I do deserve it but really seeing and believing it in my life comes down to the choices I make. That’s the main thing.
I made a choice to be your friend and you made a choice to be mine.
That’s a pretty good start don’t you think?
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