Thursday, July 08, 2010
One thing I look forward to when my granddaughter comes to visit is the walks she and I take. Yesterday morning we talked a bit about her starting school next month. She’s worried kids won’t like her because she has red hair. I told her red hair is better than no hair and she giggled, squeezed my hand and we walked on. As we came close to finishing up I asked her if she’d like to play on the playground in the church parking lot across from our house. She looked at me and said we needed to get “all dolled up” if we were going to church. I told her we were just going on the playground to play and in all honesty I don’t think it mattered to God what we were wearing.
She stopped and looked up at me.
“Daddy says there is no God.”
“What do you think?” I asked her.
“I’m not sure.” She said. “Do you believe in God?”
“Yup” I answered
It’s hard to appreciate being five. There is a bit more pressure there than you realize. Dad and mom know everything. Their word is gospel. Both sets of grandparents believe in God. So here you are, this wonderful child and you don’t know what to believe or whom.
As we started to cross the street she tugged on my arm a bit.
“The next time you go see Him, can I come along? After I see Him then I can tell daddy He is real.”
Now I have my head cocked sky ward and I am looking for a real definite bit of divine intervention here. A few angels, maybe a saint or two, something!!!! We cross the street and she swings for a while and starts talking about baking cookies and going swimming. Stuff like that.
We head for home and as we turn into the drive way she looks at me again. “When you talk to God next time, would you ask Him to let me know that He’s there?”
“I can do that,” I say with my voice cracking a bit.
She smiles and says “Good!! “ She runs ahead of me into the back yard.
I am left to ponder what just happened and my mind is blank. I have had many profound moments in my life but none more so than this one. Leave it a five year old to take thousands of years of spiritual history, Biblical studies and Divine inspiration and neatly condense into a simple request. I murmur a quick prayer for Him to watch over her and guide her, knowing it’s already been answered.
I stood looking at nothing and was overwhelmed with how blessed I was to have this moment.
“Just have Him let me know He’s there.”
Yeah, Ava, me to. Me to.
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
I received A Spark Mail from a friend today wondering why they were not "featured" as a friend on my Spark Page. After going "huh?" a few times I found out that you can actually rank your Spark Friends to put the people you contact most right out there for the whole world to see.
My first reaction was to laugh. Then I got sad. It's sort of like getting to sit with the cool kids at lunch, being picked first for the recess kick ball team, getting a raft of Valentines, stuff like that. That stuff never happened to me. The only Valentines I got was from my mom. (Yeah I was a major dork.)
My Spark Friends are listed in the order they became Spark Friends. If you are a Spark Friend of mine then I love all of you equally. If you are not a Spark Friend, dont worry I love you also. That means you are included in my morning and evening prayers and I talk to my family and friends about you in first person, present tense.
I am not going to rank you. That would force me to choose, honestly I cant. I think you are all one very wonderful group of people. Some of you communicate with me more than others but I think that's because we share common interests, like being crazy, LOL.
At the same time I am not throwing stones at anyone who does rank their friends. I wrote this because I am getting these odd Spark Mails and I know what it is like to feel left out and I dont want anyone to feel left out.
I love you all.
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
My phone rang yesterday afternoon and the voice on the other end was one I dreaded hearing. Everyone has a person like that in their lives. They are the person whom nothing ever seems to go right for. The whole world is blanketed in clouds and nothing seems to ever work out, ever!!!
I sit and listen and I roll my eyes a few times because past experience has taught me that a lot of what he is saying to me is an exaggeration of the truth. Things might be bad but he will make them worse because he is competition with the rest of us to be the most miserable person in the world.
He has spent his entire life pushing people away from him. He hid himself in his work and missed thirty years of the life that occurred outside of his job. His wife, an energetic woman has more active interests than I have active thoughts. She developed them to keep her sanity while raising two kids alone. His son and daughter tolerate him. He doesn’t understand why and his grandchildren only want to be around him only when they have to be. He is retiring in six months and doesn’t know what he is going to do.
So I sit and I listen and when he is done moaning and complaining I tell him I’ll talk to him later on. He asks me if he could call me tonight to let me know how things are going. I tell him sure. Why not? Whether I agree to or not he will call and I will listen.
I hang up the phone and go back to work. My whole train of thought went out the window when he called and I am getting angry. Deep inside of me I can feel “that little voice,” starting to grow louder and louder. Call it what you will, conscience, guardian angel, inner self……….. I don’t like to hear it. It asks me a question. “What if you are all he has, John?”
“Baloney!!! He has his wife and kids and people he works with.”
“What if you’re the only one who listens, John?”
Did I mention I hate this inner voice sometimes?
I try to drown it out with music and preoccupation with why my pool pump keeps kicking out but it won’t go away. I had been down this road before so I throw my pen on my desk, sit back and close my eyes. What I don’t want to face is that in many respects I AM all he has. He is lonely, he is confused and mostly he is scared.
Truth be known? I don’t want to be all he has and it’s not because I wish more for him. It’s because I want to put on my two hundred dollar running shoes and my Spark tee shirt and be a cool kid and go running. I want to take care of me. I want to be accepted by everyone and eat at the popular lunch table and not have to sit with the kids who smell like sour milk.
I don’t ever let those thoughts leave my mind and enter my mouth. Mostly they ruminate there and that darling inner voice reminds me of ‘fill in the blank.” You have probably been “fill in the blank,” to me at some point in the past seven months. You have encouraged me and you have kidded me and you have been stern with me and at times you rolled your eyes when you were “talking” with me. But you always listened patiently and you probably said a small prayer that I would “get it” one of these days and then you could worry about yourself. But you never pushed me away.
I am a very visual person and when I ponder a visual definition of Spark People I see these two open arms, sort of like your grandma, waiting to take you in and support you.
I have learned balance. I have learned that if you want help you have to help. I learned that here.
I have learned that if you want help you have to grow some courage and ask for it. . I learned that here.
When he called last night I sat and listened. When he finished I told him that tomorrow would be better if he wanted it to be. I reminded him how much he was worth it, how much he deserved to be happy and how one day it would all fall into place.
When I finished, he thanked me for listening, just like I am thanking you for the times you listened and will continue to listen to me, praying all the while, that someday I “get it.”
I learned that here, from my friends.
If there was no Spark People, John would be much poorer for it.
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
A friend directed to me to a blog the other day that questioned the overall benefits of Spark People, specifically the reliance some people have on each other through online friendships. To be honest with you at first I was a bit peeved. I have gotten to know some of you quite well and your advice and guidance to me has been critical to the success I have had so far. At its least, each of you who has interacted with me has been an invaluable resource and a tremendous support team.
I sat back in my chair and calmed down. After a few minutes it dawned on me that the person writing the blog had done me a great service. They had caused me to count my Spark blessings.
First and foremost, in close to seven months my health has improved tremendously. I have lost close to seventy two pounds. Losing the weight came from balancing my diet with my activity levels and if I didn’t have the nutrition and fitness tools here at Spark to guide me I don’t know that my progress would have been as significant as it has been.
Because I lost the weight I am more active. Joan and I do a lot more together. We walk most morning for at least two miles. On the mornings we don’t walk I will ride my bike for eight to ten miles. I enjoy every moment of it. My kids have told Joan they enjoy the healthier me much more than the old fat me, because I am in a better mood.
I got a wok as a Father’s Day gift along with some healthy cook books. I am doing all kinds of cool things with it. The food I get comes from the local Farmers Market.
We eat in more than we eat out.
Turkey is my friend, lol.
If you had told me around Christmas time that I would be in the process of training to run a 5K the least I would have done would have been to laugh at you. But here I am, so, so, happy that after two weeks of medical and dental issues I can run this morning. You’d think it was Christmas around here. I am amped!!!
On August 1, I begin working with a personal trainer. I spent two months choosing one based on my needs and the personalities of all involved. (I can be high maintenance at times.) It’s time to go to the next level, learn new things and reach my goal of losing one hundred pounds.
I am writing much more than I ever did in the past. I blog here daily and I write two other blogs weekly on motivation and leadership issues. Basically it is a lot of things I share here but for a different audience.
My picture has been in our local newspaper as a success story.
Most importantly there is you, my friends. You have supported me, encouraged me and laughed and cried with me. You have taught me some really valuable lessons. You have not always been kind and gentle when you delivered your message but it seems that it was I needed to hear at the time.
As far as spending too much time on Spark People? I spend a total of about two hours a day here. Most of my writing comes early in the morning before my day begins.
There is an issue of virtual friendship. I have met people from all over the world here. Without this forum I would have never known any of you. I would be poorer because of it. I read where many Sparklers get together and do things have close friendships and I think that’s great. I live in an area where there aren’t too many people involved in Spark so I don’t know many people face to face. No big deal.
Bottom line? You get out of life what you choose to get out of life. I am very prejudice. I would be lost without Spark People and if you’ll notice the last word in Spark People is people.
I am blessed to have found this process and even more blessed to know you. If there is something wrong with that I can’t see what.
Thanks for being part of my support system
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.”
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