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Food and Customer Service (This One I Have Never Quite Figured Out)

Friday, August 27, 2010

The part of training that I most enjoy is the training event itself. It has always been a form of performance art. If you are entertained in you will be likely to remember what you learned. I use story telling as a vehicle to impart a message. That’s the fun part. Then there is all the preparation that goes into making a program effective. There is making all the physical arrangements with hotels and conference centers and catering groups. If those experiences go as they should eighty percent of the time I am usually ecstatic. I have never done a public training event that everything has gone as it should have. That’s life.

This past week I had more challenges than normal and I was unhappy with some of the changes that were made at the hotel, without anyone calling and saying, “Hey John………..” While we had a break on Tuesday the catering manager sat down with me and gave me the “It’s my entire fault John.” Speech complete with sack cloth and ashes.

The hotel neglected to tell the restaurant that there would be twenty five people for lunch on Tuesday at 11:30. They only had one server. We didn’t get our food for close to an hour. The hotel usually cuts back on staff when they are below forty percent occupancy. I wouldn’t have had an issue with any of this had someone told me up front. I would have adjusted earlier in the day. And BTW don’t blame it on the new person who’s been out of school for two months. She’s the trainee!
If something goes wrong and it is past fixing I’d like to know what measures are going to be put in place to make sure it’s not going to happen again. If it’s going to happen again then I am going to go elsewhere. I don’t get upset, angry or bent out of shape. I don’t expect to be pampered or waited on. I just expect to get I was told I was going to get.

The catering manager says “What can we do to make this right, John?”

Nothing. What are going to do in the future? I am pretty much a pragmatist.

That’s when the catering managers smiles and says “I know what!!! We’ll send up a big plate of cookies!!!

No you won’t. I was preaching health and well-being as part of the success equation. People in the class who knew me asked what I had done to start getting healthy. I was spreading the Spark in a covert manner. I was telling them about all the epiphanies I’d had in the past nine months or so. A plate of cookies? No thanks. Just make sure it doesn’t happen again.

An hour later there is a rap on the conference room door. I open it and there stands the poor trainee carrying a massive tray, (I’m not exaggerating here.) laden with brownies, cookies and chocolate covered strawberries. I wouldn’t be stretching the truth a bit if I told you that the tray may have weighed more than poor little trainee Kara. She looked at me with one of those “This wasn’t my idea looks,” smiled set the tray down on the table and made a quick exit. Everyone is looking at me and at least I am wise enough to know when I have lost control of a situation. To my credit I didn’t eat any of the goodies. I was tempted, but I didn’t.

So I ramble on to raise this question: Why do people think food solves a problem? Give them a massive sugar rush and they will be okay? Is it any wonder we face an obesity crisis in this country? If things go awry shove a cookie in their mouth and at least the near diabetic coma will mask their frustration?

Thank you Spark. I mean that sincerely. Nine months ago this stuff never would have crossed my mind. Now I’ll take my business elsewhere. A friend who used to work at that venue moved to another venue and she’s already emailed me. Bad news travels fast.

We need to stand up. I have zero credibility with my students if I preach the values of self-worth, the value of deserving success and the importance of who you hang around with and then allow my actions to show the exact opposite. When I endorse a product, a company or a venue whose actions go directly against what I am trying to do, what does that say about me?

You may think I need to chill, but then I have to ask, where do we draw the line? This stuff isn’t easy by a long shot, but when it works and works the way it should work, then it is well worth it. I still do not understand why food is the “great equalizer.”

Have a great day

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CATHERINEL66 8/29/2010 2:39PM

    Ugh, I think it's because, in the hospitality business, it's what they CAN give without having to explain to higher-up corporate management about why they screwed up and had to comp part of the bill.

I do events as part of my job (used to do many more and on a much larger scale) and it's frustrating from a professional perspective when you have to worry about the venue/caterers doing their job (which is often the biggest part of the event expense). I understand your frustration. I want to be able to focus on my guests experience and what they're *supposed* to get out of it, not babysit the venue (which comes with its own professional staff).

Next time, ask for the cash discount when they suggest cookies. :0
"Cookies? How about cash?"


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    I think that I would told the caterer that when I told him no cookies I meant no cookies. What was wrong with this man??? Very rude.

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    That is so true! I don't know why people can't understand when we say "no cookies," that's what we mean.

Great blog, John. Thank you for sharing this.

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AJDOVER1 8/27/2010 12:14PM

    I just attended an Emergency Responders Class where a lot of emphasis was placed on keeping "familiar comfort food" in our emergency food supply. If there's an earthquake we may lose everything but weight!

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CARTOONB 8/27/2010 12:06PM

    Can't tell you why food is the great equalizer, but I do agree with your decision to change venues. The manager obviously didn't listen to you or your wishes. Sounds like it's time to move on.

Great job, btw, living what you teach.

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LOOKY-LOU 8/27/2010 11:05AM

    Huh, I would have never thought of that if you hadn't blogged it!

I however have found's like treasure hunting with a GPS...I keep telling people about it because all age groups can do it, it involves at least walking and more strenuous hikes if you want to, but mostly....THERE IS NO FOOD INVOLVED!!!

Blog on my friend!

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MUSTANG_SALLY2 8/27/2010 11:03AM

    I was raised in a family where food was the “great equalizer.” That same family then got upset when the “great equalizer” started walking around with me as body fat. Um, 2 and 2 is 4 right???

I hated the teasing and the nasty names but I hated them most from a certain brother. I though family was suppose to be on your side? Ugh!

The “great equalizer” and I are learning to live on the same playing field and not be enemies. I want the world to learn this too.

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TXRMOM 8/27/2010 10:00AM

    Great story. Thanks for sharing it, and good for you for realizing what was going on. Food is the great comforter- whenever I had a disappointment in school, mom made cookies or ice cream. No wonder I have a problem today!

Like you, I have been affected by what I've read on SparkPeople, and as a middle school teacher, I no longer give out candy or other edible treats as rewards. I keep granola bars for kids who haven't had breakfast, and I hand out stickers as treats. The scratch and sniff kind are particularly popular:)

It really is amazing to realize how deeply ingrained some of this stuff is!

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STORMTMB 8/27/2010 9:40AM

    Well John, most "comfort foods" aren't great for us. As a society we've learned to make food a part of every bonding activity, whether it's a loss like a funeral or a celebration like a birth or wedding. I particularly like the phrase that says if food is not part of the solution, why am I looking in the fridge? I do that waaaaaay too often. As a culture, we need to change our way of thinking (and comforting ourselves).

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MKPRINCESS007 8/27/2010 9:21AM

    Life does not ever cease to amaze me. My first thought, since this is the way this rolls out now with "customer service" is that even a massive sweet tray is cheaper for them to "offer" you than some kind of reduction in the fees you were being charged or anything like that. That just doesn't happen these days. Since it was the catering manager, my guess is that was all the cards he had to play. Sad. If he had been listening to you, he could have made it a fabulous fruit tray and call it a day. Sigh. That would be thinking outside the box.

Customer service is a rare, rare event these days. I get an attitude at the drive through when I am trying to get an unsweetened iced tea. People talk like heck to others, who are paying for the privilege. So, I would love to say I am surprised by what you went through, but I am not really.

Food is the great equalizer, in my opinion, because it is a basic human need that culturally is equated with hospitality. A good friend of my mine is Irish, born and raised in Belfast. It is highly insulting to not accept a specially prepared cup of tea in her world. Highly insulting. So, I think the equation goes back from the beginning of time. Now, to just change the mindset to healthy sharing. That is the challenge.

As always, you are awesome!

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NICOLEMC2 8/27/2010 9:12AM

I never really thought of it that way but it does happen.
When something happens, the first thing we think to do is throw food at it!!

I work for a bank and when we've made a mistake (which we will gladly admit when it happens) we give them a gift card for for a grocery store or a basket of goodies...

Wow now that it's in my head....that's all I will focus on *G*

Thanks for a great blog!!

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DOLLBABE56 8/27/2010 9:10AM

    One of the earliest memories I have is when I was sick with measles and my mom brought me a pastry to help me feel better. Food was always the comforter.

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HDHAWK 8/27/2010 9:02AM

    I think you did the right thing. If more people did that sort of thing, we may not have such an obesity epidemic as a country. We treat our kids when they do something right or when they have a bad day. We do the same with ourselves. Every time I'm with friends, it seems there's food involved somehow.

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ELIZABETH525 8/27/2010 8:55AM

    Awesome job on sticking to things!! I think people as a whole seem to think food will fix things. It is just how society thinks...which is why we as a society are obese. Think about scrape your knee as a child...mommy gives you a cookie. You go to the get a sucker. A resturant messes up, they give you a free meal. It just seems that food equals making life better. So you end up with emotional eaters, stress eaters. But by being on Sparkpeople, you are breaking that cycle. We all are. We just have to keep spreading the word and hopefully, if enough of us do this, the world will not be as obese as before.

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JECKIE 8/27/2010 8:40AM

    Great post!

Food is the "problem solver" because we are less likely to be angry when we get that sugar rush. It makes us feel good, in turn making us more amenable towards those who "wronged" us. Same reason we go out for drinks/dinner on a first date - it relaxes us.

NOT a great thing for our waistlines or more importantly our hearts! I'm with you - I'd rather know what the plan of action is to ensure the event never occurs again. I don't want an apology, I want a plan!

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YOGINI_JACKIE 8/27/2010 8:28AM

    "A plate of cookies! No you won't" A little LOL to that one. The same thing would happen to me every Christmas when all of my students would bake me something. At least it gave me something to bring to parties.

I don't have a problem with food for celebratory purposes, but as an apology? Poor form. I think it's amazing that you were able to hold off on temptation and practice what you preach. Here's to a great weekend!

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EDWINA172 8/27/2010 8:23AM

    One of my favorite quotes is-

"If my actions don't align with my words, I have no idea who I am." Coach Joe Downie

I don't know why food is "the equalizer". I'm thinking it started when we were infants. Our crying promted mom to try everything to soothe us? The bottle worked. (how could we cry with a bottle in our mouths anyway?)

Great blog John. Stick to your guns. You are a man to be proud of. I am proud that you are my friend.

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Goals and Success

Thursday, August 26, 2010


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DOLLBABE56 8/27/2010 7:15AM

    John, I have been pondering the question "what makes me successful" since yesterday? I still have no idea. I suppose I will keep pondering.... emoticon

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HDHAWK 8/26/2010 11:29PM

    John, you sure do throw out some tough questions. Don't get me wrong, they make me think! I appreciate your insight.

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AQUABUNNY 8/26/2010 3:52PM

    Great vlog, John! I decided my answer to that question is: Success for me is accomplished if I use my experience and knowledge to benefit myself (such as knowing how to make my workouts more challenging based on what I have learned from fitness trainers and sparkpeople) and in turn at least one other person (helping a friend, colleague, student, etc.) EVERY day of my life.
Thanks for posting this, great things to think about!

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EDWINA172 8/26/2010 3:11PM

    You sure do make me think! I guess my definition of success would be that I learn daily or do something that is a little scary, challenging. I love goals and achieving something new feels like success to me. I want to be a little bit better than the me of yesterday.

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STORMTMB 8/26/2010 3:05PM

    For me, success is mainly about using my talents and strengths to make a contribution where ever I am, whether it's at work, at home or in other activities or helping my friends. I haven't felt successful at work in a long time because I haven't been allowed to use my strengths - and my boss knows that!!! I stay in thejob for reasons much more important than money (yes, a conscious decision). I know when I've done a good job, whether it's a project, a work-out or doing something to help someone else. I feel good about it and almost always others do too. That's success to me.

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JPRICE217 8/26/2010 1:51PM

    enjoyed your blog John. It really made me stop and think about what success really is and how I am successful

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LUVMYK9S 8/26/2010 11:58AM

    What a great blog John! And what a difficult exercise of defining success.

I'm sure the definition is different for everyone, but to me it would be learning something every day, being inquisitive and still being able to find wonder in life.

I guess this is something I will have to really ponder for a while ...

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MIBELLALUNA 8/26/2010 10:15AM

    Hey, be sure and pick up an air/filter/white noise machine for the wife before she has to stay in the noisy hotel!! My sister carries a desktop/table side sized one but I'd be inclined to bring my giant one if it meant getting better sleep! :)

"To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded."- Emerson

The above was my fave quote that made me exhale and feel proud of our animal rescue work. I think I felt relieved that 'success' didn't have to mean saving EVERY animal, b/c no one can. HOWEVER..hmm..I think the fact I am still curious about life everyday is equal to success, as long as one is living and learning and growing, you are successful, imo. Like they always say, if you aren't GROWING you are dying...just ask my plants! :)

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YOGINI_JACKIE 8/26/2010 8:35AM

    I am also an early riser, so trash trucks (and the occasional ambulance) don't bother me!

I really like your success exercise. I feel as though success and learning are intertwined. If you never change or evaluate the way you do things, you will experience less success. In other words--as a teacher, I want to continue to be innovative; if I am still spouting out the same lesson plan 30 plans from now, it will not be as far reaching.

Hehe, you being the 7th child. Joan must be a patient woman :-P 57 is not old in my book.

Hope you have a good day as well!

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TEDYBEAR2838 8/26/2010 8:25AM

    emoticon I enjoy your video blogs, John. You are doing Great!

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"Why Do You Do It?"

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Availble on YouTube @

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IFDEEVARUNS2 8/26/2010 3:18PM

    Great blog/vlog! I would add to this that I do it because I can, and that's a powerful thing to acknowledge. I'm just beginning to realize how much mind can triumph over matter.

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DEE797 8/26/2010 2:09PM

    John, I am so glad I came across your blogs/vlogs. They are thought provoking and insightful. The "Why do I do this" and "How do you define success"; have given me some things to think about for sure. Thanks again for sharing them with us. Wishing you continued success on your journey! emoticon

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JPRICE217 8/26/2010 2:00PM

    Thank you for the great blog as always, I am on this journey for me!

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KATRIONAH 8/26/2010 2:47AM

    John...I am new to your blogs...and I watched and left feeling pretty good. You are so right bout things. After watching I asked myself "Why Do I DO THIS?" Sadly at this point in my journey I feel I have to. I am not very good at it and don't have any stamina. HOWEVER....I Do what I can do. AND....I hope that one day soon like you...I can say I do it cause I like it. That I want to do it. Your blog was very motivating. Thank you......Karen emoticon

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MKPRINCESS007 8/26/2010 1:03AM are definitely making me cry now! I feel so honored that you mentioned our conversation in your Vlog! I have been thinking alot lately about power, ummm, ok influence, and how people influence one another. I am a student of human nature I guess. You are right in so many ways, we MUST do this for ourselves. We need to find what lies within us that is the "crisis" , the turning point. Once you reach it, truly reach it, you don't go back. The guy that asked you why you do it..........well, he hasn't reached it yet.

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1WALKINGMAN 8/25/2010 11:06PM

    Good thoughts.

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HONORINGGOD 8/25/2010 10:25PM

    another great blog thank you my spark buddy emoticon

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FLUTTER-BY)L( 8/25/2010 7:00PM

    You are right on thanks for posting

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TEDYBEAR2838 8/25/2010 6:03PM

    Thanks for the good blog, again. :)

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KSGROTHE 8/25/2010 4:44PM

    Thanks for another great vlog, John!

I'll join the chorus in saying that I don't think 57 is old. The thing is, I think how old one seems is based on how they act. My mother seems older than she is because she is not active at all and mostly seems to prefer to sit around and maybe read. Her older sister seems younger to me because she is very active and enthusiastic. "Old" seems to be more an attitude than an actual age! And you do not have an "old" attitude to me.

Keep up the good work!

- Karen

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WANDAH3 8/25/2010 4:28PM

    Hope your day was good too!


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OUTDOORSWOMAN 8/25/2010 3:57PM

    Is it possible to set your video blogs to not load and play when the page is accessed? I know on other video blogs I've seen elsewhere, you have to press Play or Start before it begins. The way you currently have it set up causes problems with my ISP.


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SPCLLADY02 8/25/2010 1:30PM

    Thank You John!!! I keep falling of the "Wagon" but after listening to this Vlog, I asked myself "Why do I do it?" and posted my thoughts on the bathroom mirror and the refrigerator door so I won't forget when I fell like I am falling off again. I look forward to listening what you have to say tomorrow. I am going to go for a walk before the heat starts soaring. Have a GREAT DAY..

emoticon emoticon

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VAMPIREQUEEN1 8/25/2010 12:17PM

    Love the Vlog! After I watched this I asked myself the same question "Why do I do this?" It opened my eyes to my true reason for losing weight: To feel better about myself! I know those other answers are true to, but not the first and most important reason, though! Thanks! You inspired me!


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LUVMYK9S 8/25/2010 12:07PM

    Thanks John for another awesome vlog!

You are so right that I do this because it makes me feel good about me! That is not only the best reason, but the only reason!

57 is certainly NOT OLD ... I have an aunt that I have NEVER thought of as old and still don't ... and she is in her 70's! Still works part time and is very active.

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DANAB1106 8/25/2010 11:27AM

    Makes Me Feel Good About Me - That is it right there. I think that is best reason in the world to do something...anything. This was another awesome blog! And 57 is NOT OLD...that is coming from a 33 year old.

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ROGUE_RUNNER 8/25/2010 10:41AM

    Im so glad I found your VLOGS :o) You make me smile and giggle. Thank you for your wisdom! I think it's AWESOME that you listen to Kelly Clarkson and Lady Gaga :o)

You know, when I first started back at this (I lost 70 lbs 2 years ago and then gained most of it back) I decided that I needed to figure out WHY I was doing this so that I could be successful. I decided that "To look good" wasnt a good enough reason for me. I couldnt determine a "good enough" reason so I stopped thinking about it for a while. This vlog has helped me re-visit that. You are right, my reason should be "because it makes me feel good about me". I need to feel good about Adrienne and the woman that she has become (and is becoming). Thanks for this!

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STORMTMB 8/25/2010 10:34AM

    I said to my doctor yesterday..."I want to get old and to be in the best health possible." I am doing the work now to get things straightened out so that I will be one of those spunky old women still extremely active in her 80's, 90's...

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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DOLLBABE56 8/25/2010 10:21AM

    I really like this blog John. I do this because it does make me feel better about myself. I can't believe how great I feel when I've completed a run/walk on the treadmill. I never, ever thought that I, of all people - and 53 at that - would be able to run. I surprise myself every time I get on the treadmill. I can't wait for the cooler weather so that I can take the training outdoors. We have a wonderful nature trail that I can't wait to try. Anyway, great blog.

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SARAWALKS 8/25/2010 10:16AM

    57 is certainly not old! I am 65 and that's not old either! LOTS of life left to enjoy! It's funny how sometimes we can be blind to that. Doing it for yourself - the best way since you will be your own closest company for the rest of your life and the more you like yourself, the better company you will be! emoticon I think that's way different from "self-ish!"

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Defining Success and a Big Thank You

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Availible on Youtube @

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GEEMAWEST 8/26/2010 12:26AM

    You sing much better than I do. LOL

Great blog, as always. I love being involved in beta testing. Sounds so technical!

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DOLLBABE56 8/25/2010 9:43AM

    Well thank you too John! I think I'll go check out your BlogSpot!

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HDHAWK 8/24/2010 10:20PM

    I hope your presentation was a success! I'm sure it was! Enjoy your time in Nashville!

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KELLEA927 8/24/2010 6:58PM

    Thank you! What a great message and so true!!

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WANDAH3 8/24/2010 6:17PM

    Thank you for another wonderful blog John. I believe that your session today was a complete success...because you are a success in my eyes and in the eyes of many of us here on SP. If in someway we contributed to your are welcome and on the same have contributed to ours.

Enjoy your time in Nashville,

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TEDYBEAR2838 8/24/2010 4:47PM

    I know it's gonna be emoticon

You are such a positive person!

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LUVMYK9S 8/24/2010 4:28PM

    I hope your seminar was well received this afternoon as I am sure it was! Thank you for sharing.

"If you're telling the truth it isn't bragging." Love it!

Sometimes its hard to give yourself credit for your own accomplishments.

Have a great Tuesday and a great trip!

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JENNY888 8/24/2010 10:30AM

    I hope your presentation today is everything you want it to be and that I know it will be.

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DANAB1106 8/24/2010 10:01AM

    I knew it! I knew as soon as I "meet" you what industry you were in because I used to represent motivation speakers and corporate trainers. I am so glad you do that because you are so so talented.

Oh I so needed this today! I have the biggest self worth issues, but I am getting better. It's one of those where I have acknowledge the issues.

Thank you John for each of your posts and all of your comments. I really hope you have a great trip.

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YOGINI_JACKIE 8/24/2010 9:47AM

    Hehe, I loved the singing. I totally agree with your sentiments about self worth and saintliness. Oh, I am right there with you that Spark is for so much more than diet and exercise. Thanks as always for your words of wisdom, and I hope you enjoy your time in Nashville!

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SARAWALKS 8/24/2010 9:39AM

    Thanks, John! Your 5K experience inspired me last night! Happy Tuesday to you too! emoticon

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NJMATTICE 8/24/2010 9:32AM

    Good Luck with you presentation this afternoon. I look forward to hearing how it is received. Have a good one!

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SWEETMOMMY41 8/24/2010 9:29AM

  thanks so much for sharing,John. you are welcome! have a wonderful day!

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ELLYN63 8/24/2010 9:22AM


Good morning, and thank you for starting off my day well! emoticon

Good luck on your seminar this afternoon.

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ZURDTA- 8/24/2010 9:04AM


"If you're telling the truth - it isn't bragging." Excellent motto!

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WISEONE68 8/24/2010 8:48AM

To bring back an old phrase, and I may date myself here--"You are the BOMB!!!"
I have found through my journey--since 2001 when I first started Weight Watchers (my first REAL effort at weight loss) that there is SO much rich information, encouragement, and REAL caring out there. In the WW meetings I received so much info; as an employee for WW, I learned even more; and, here at Spark, even more.
If you can find a way to "bottle" that, and present it in a way to help others---then GOOD FOR YOU!!! Sounds like you are using what you have learned, put it alongside your talents and gifts, and are using it to help others. That is what this is all about, right??? Wonderful!
I am proud to call you "Friend"! Hope your day goes well and the new seminar is well-received!!!

Blessings, Friend!! emoticon

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When Real Growth Comes From Real Pain

Monday, August 23, 2010

Friday was supposed to be an oasis at the end of a busy and chaotic week. It turned out to be a desert island. I had a personal training session scheduled at nine and a massage at one and the rest of my day had been cleared so I could get ready for a labor seminar I am teaching Monday-through Wednesday in Nashville.

My personal training session went great until five minutes before it ended. I got very sick to my stomach and thought for about five minutes I was going to pass out. Usually I have two meals in me or a meal and a light snack before my workout. Friday I had only eaten breakfast and a light one at that. Not only did I feel embarrassed but I physically felt crummy. But there was hope!!! I had my massage at one and I felt wore out and drained when I arrived. The massage didn’t help much. As she explained when she finished, massage often thins the blood and since I had almost passed out that morning I was going to feel a bit crummy. By Saturday morning I felt great, but Friday at two I felt like a large boulder had landed upon me.

I went home and sat in the living room staring off into space. I started questioning everything I ever did and wondering how in such a short period of time it seemed like everything I touched crumbled apart. (Read any of my blogs over the past few days. You will get the picture.) Two of my friends here had written really insightful and open blogs about being “people pleasers.” That weighed on my mind as I sat there. They were describing me to a tee. As bright, witty and handsome……….. Okay you might argue about the handsome part……. as I am there is no real reason for me to feel as insecure as I do at times. I have a really hard time relaxing and feel that if I am not busy I am pretty worthless.

I am reading a book by Joyce Meyer and it’s about her road to health through diet and exercise. One suggestion she makes is that when you are faced with a dilemma you can’t figure out or your willpower is in short supply, ask God to do the “heavy lifting.” So I did. Be careful what you ask for…………

I was thinking about my kids. They are great. We are proud of all of them just like you are proud of yours, no matter what anyone else says. They’re your kids!! I thought how I don’t tell them that often enough, how proud I am of everything they do and then I got that queasy feeling again. It has to do with stuff I haven’t dealt with.

In a nutshell my mom and dad have never told me they were proud of anything I have ever done in my life. Now the rub is that they never told me I was bad, they just told me anything I ever did could have been done better. When I started losing weight and was featured in our local newspaper my mom wanted to talk about how my brother had lost weight also. Not one word of praise. I hadn’t seen my mom and dad since Thanksgiving. They are getting older; they are both in their eighties so if I get a chance to see them I take advantage of it. Last Sunday we drove to Milwaukee from Chicago to spend the day with them.

When my mom walked in here was her first comment. “Why isn’t Paul, (our son) getting married by a Catholic priest.” No hello, no hug, just that. I just sort of looked at her. My dad says “When Mary and Joes kids get married I know they will marry Catholics and be married in the Church.” (Mary and Joe are my brother and sister.) Geena is Lutheran, her dad’s a deacon in their church and that’s where they want to get married. That’s my life. Whatever I do there is usually something wrong with it. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bash my parents blog. I was clothed, fed and generally taken care of. I was just never affirmed as a human being.

So as I am sitting in my living room Friday and I begin to realize why I had become such a people pleaser. I always felt I had to better to be equal. I always felt the whole world felt like my mom and dad did. No matter what I did, it was never good enough and once we started having kids it transferred to them. Let go on record by saying I don’t think I was really terrible growing up. I did normal kid stuff but no real biggies. I am different from my brother and sisters in how I think and mu opinions. My parents also believe I don’t have a “real job” because I work from home, etc. I moved away from Milwaukee when Joan and I married, my brother and sisters kids attended five star universities while we always told our kids the most important thing in life was to be happy.

As all this whirled through my mind I cried. I cried because I was hurt, because I was mad, and because why couldn’t I have seen this sooner? It was a crummy weekend. I felt like I was detached from everything and everybody. In one respect I had “seen the light.” In another I kept wondering why they didn’t love me as much as they did everyone else.

I was angry. I was angry with me because I hadn’t seen this sooner and taken steps to fix it.

When I woke up Sunday morning I realized the only feelings I could control were mine. I went to the gym and I proceeded to run a 5K on the track. I had never run that far in my life. I cried the last lap. Bawled like a freaking baby, and they were tears that cleansed me. They were tears that were happy tears. I did it!! I posted my accomplishment on Spark and on Facebook. One of my Spark friends has also become a Facebook friend and she sent out congrats as many of you did on my accomplishment. But then a funny thing occurred. I started getting congrats and accolades on Facebook from people I don’t even know. For a while they were exploding my cell phone. Gosh it felt good.

You take recognition, you take love, and you take praise where you find it. It may not come from where you want it to come from, but love is love and if it comes sincerely, it’s equal to any other. You start to realize you are not alone and that now that you understand the obstacles in front of you, you can work to remove them. It’s all mental. The picture in your mind has to match the one you live. It’s a struggle for sure, but one that’s worth it in the long run.

Thanks to my two friends who got the ball rolling by having the courage to be open and vulnerable about themselves. You helped give me the courage to open up too.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WANDAH3 8/24/2010 7:39AM

    John, how wonderful that you have reached such a milestone in your life. Congratulations on seeing and being your own validation! It took me years also to get to the point of where I realized that any true and meaningful validation had to come from within. Yes, it is nice to receive from others, but it's only when we get in touch with our spirit inside and believe from within that we truly set ourselves free. You my friend, make me humble. Thank you.

Have a wonderfully blessed week.


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TEDYBEAR2838 8/23/2010 9:57PM

    You are emoticon
You are LOVED by your Spark Family!
You are made by God and HE DON"T MAKE NO JUNK!

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MOMTO3BOYZ2000 8/23/2010 7:56PM

    John, thank you for your post. I think you might be surprised how many of us has felt that way in the past. And while you don't want to lay the "blame" on anyone, it helps to understand or come to grips with some of the feelings that we have kept deep down inside...scared to let them surface. But they need to be brought in to the light and dealt with...that is the only way we can move on.

I hope your week goes better than your weekend!

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CLOVER2 8/23/2010 7:07PM

    This one hits pretty close to home for me. I haven't talked to my mother in months, I was living with her to help take care of my dying dad, when she couldn't emotionally do it anymore. After he died she changed, the cruelty she would shower on him then became mine. She would say things to me that were incredibly cruel and always hostile and sarcastic to the max. Finally when she hit me during a fight I knew I had to move out. She moved in with my cousin and any time I was around her at some point would just have to say something cruel. I almost made it one day, I was on my way to the car and thought that maybe this time it wouldn't happen. No such luck...the knife came out. Her lot in life then became my fault, if I hadn't moved out none of the things that happened after that would not have happened, all I had to do was do as she said because "I'm your mother and you WILL do what I tell you!" This to a 56 year old woman. Now the problem is that the longer I go getting in touch with her the harder it gets to make that step. The guilt is constant, but I don't think I can take pulling a knife out of my back too many more times. Especially when it's someone who is supposed to love you. Thank you John, you are so inspiring, but what to do, what to do??


Comment edited on: 8/23/2010 7:30:35 PM

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HDHAWK 8/23/2010 6:54PM

    I am a people pleaser too John. Unfortunately, my children have a father like your parents. My son finally decided to go to school to be a motorcycle mechanic and my younger son wants to do something similar when he graduates. Of course, they've been told to find a job where they "use their mind, not their hands in order to make more money". I support them in whatever they do. At the end of the day I want them to have passion for whatever they choose to do and to be good people.
I have some of my own "issues" to work through as well. I'm glad you're sorting through some things for yourself John.

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GEEMAWEST 8/23/2010 5:20PM

    OMG John!! I think we have the same parents!

Congratulations on your personal breakthrough and your 5k. That's awesome. And you are awesome!! Don't ever let anyone convince you otherwise.

Love, Cheryl

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MYRNACARRIER 8/23/2010 4:35PM

    Thank you.
Forgiveness and possibility.
What a wonderful gift we give ourselves when we see our struggles through this lens.
I must remember also to affirm my children and my grandchildren.
I will print out this blog to continually remind me that "small things done consistently create big results". How profound that effect on someones life.
Thank you. emoticon emoticon emoticon

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    Good grief, John. What is wrong with your parents?? The next time they say something that you feel criticizes you or hurts your feelings I want you to promise to to tell hem how it makes you feel. Tell them like you told us. This blog was meant to be shared with them. I can guarantee they don't realize what they are doing and if they do then it's better for you to know the truth. Maybe in the time they have left they may be able to make this right. I can't believe that they would not be proud of a son like you.

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LUVMYK9S 8/23/2010 3:33PM

    Thank you for being so open with your feelings ~ great blog!

My parents were divorced when I was very young and I never really had a close relationship with my father. I know my mother tried her best, and I know she was just trying to push me to be better to reach my potential, but I never thought I was quite 'good enough'. Thank you for the reminder to tell my son how proud I am of him and that I love him just the way he is!

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SANDYK4BAMA 8/23/2010 3:26PM

    Wow. Everytime I read your blogs I am so stunned that someone else thinks like I do, feels like I do, and now, was even raised like I was: never ever good enough, someone else did it better, etc etc etc. I expect that is why we feel and think the same, because that's exactly how my growing up life was. Now if I could just have that cleansing cry ~ but it wells up, then I get mad, and it just eats a hole in me. Maybe you can coach me on that part some day, or maybe someday, when I just can't take it anymore, it'll all just come running out like yours did. I hope to someday be as enlightened as you are, and please know, you are sincerely one of my heros. You touch my heart everytime I read about your journey. Thank you so much for sharing!

I Love You, man!!
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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LUCYSUNFLOWER 8/23/2010 3:09PM

    Wow, with different people and different circumstances this blog could be about me as well. I do not understand my mom and I never will. I also know that the way she perceives me is more about her than me and that I cannot change her or make her love me the way I deserve to be loved.

I have been trashed by well-meaning people who think that I am cold and uncaring by putting my well-being ahead of my mom's. I envy people who had ideal upbringings and have healthy, happy relationships with their parents, but I also want to tell them to put away the rose-colored glasses and accept that the rest of us might not have been so blessed!

You are doing very good things for yourself and facing down this pain will free up a chunk of your soul to do other wonderful things. While I am sorry you have experienced so much pain, I also thank you for sharing it. I am quite alone in some areas of my life, and today you closed a gap for me.

In the words of my favorite therapist, "sometimes family is best loved from a safe distance". In my words, "I try to love them from outside the splatter zone"...

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JAMJOJAM 8/23/2010 1:18PM

    As I read your story and about how you cried when you finished running the 5K, I had tears in my eyes. Way to go, you rock and you are also a great writer. emoticon emoticon

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CMBELISLE 8/23/2010 12:55PM

    It's funny how much our parents can affect us even LONG into adulthood. I'm glad you finally made a realization that you needed.

My Methodist mother and Catholic father were married by a Catholic priest who told my father that my mother would never be a good Catholic, but would honor the contract she had to sign promising to raise her children as Catholics in order to be married by a Catholic priest. While she did as promised and raised us all in the Catholic church, none of us currently attends a Catholic church and half of us have joined the Methodist church. Funny how her own beliefs were passed to us even though we were raised differently.

As for your son and his soon-to-be bride, thank goodness you have the good sense to know that it's best not to unduly influence your son's choices. My step-daughter was dating a nice young man whose mother decided she didn't like my step-daughter simply based on religion - he and his family are Catholic, my step-daughter is not. It's a shame that so many people can't see beyond their own religious beliefs and accept that no one religion is perfect for everyone.

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BOURNBABE 8/23/2010 12:42PM

    emoticon emoticon

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JENNY888 8/23/2010 12:02PM

    I am glad you are finding that affirmation that you needed earlier in your friends on Spark and Facebook. That type of affirmation can be just as valid as the affirmation from your parents. Recognizing the hurt and also seeing the best in your parents at the same time is a big step, just as finally running the 5K was also. Yes, you are right. It is a mental thing. You have taken the physical steps to get where you want and now you are taking the mental ones. Congratulations John.

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GRANDKATZ 8/23/2010 11:37AM

  John, your blog has opened up some thoughts about my parents. They did the right, clothes, shelter, but neglected the emotional part. I really only remember the criticism and put downs. Anyway you have given me lots to think about.

Congrats on your 5K run. A wonderful accomplishment!

emoticon emoticon

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NJMATTICE 8/23/2010 10:57AM

    Making some nice progress! Way to root out that old baggage and move forward. I'm proud of you! I am continually moving toward total forgiveness. It is a daily task. Keep on top of it, Johnny!

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LOOKY-LOU 8/23/2010 10:44AM

    Well John, you made me cry this morning....thank you for sharing such a personal story.

Now, I am off to tell my kids how proud I am, and how much I love them...thank you for the very important reminder!

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MUSTANG_SALLY2 8/23/2010 10:02AM

    My parents are in their 80s too. I wonder if it was a generational thing? They often tell me how wonderful my siblings are... are they saying I'm wonderful to them? Ugh!

I'm so proud of your 5K. I cannot wait to post that very thing. I wanna be an athlete!

Great job!


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GETFIT2LIVE 8/23/2010 9:44AM

    It is not until we face our pain head on and where it came from that real healing can begin, John. Affirmation from our parents is the deepest need a child has, and when it's missing, it affects us in the very core of our being. My parents loved me and cared for me well, but somewhere along the line I got the idea as a child that I was somehow not quite as good as I could be or should be; if I got a B, it should have been an A because I was 'capable of more,' that kind of thing. (Children are the best recorders of information but the worst interpreters.) I hope all the well deserved affirmations that have been coming your way will help fill in the void somewhat and allow you to heal deep within.


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STORMTMB 8/23/2010 9:38AM

    I was verbally bashed by my Mom on my birthday 2 weeks ago, both in my birthday card that she sent and on the phone when she called. Same as what you described. Not even an "I love you" just busy telling me what I don't do for them. Hurt so much that I cried myself to sleep. I know where you're at. Most people think I'm cruel or weird for not being close to my parents (or wanting to be) but I have too many stories like what you described - and darn, it hurts.

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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YOGINI_JACKIE 8/23/2010 9:22AM

    "Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bash my parents blog. I was clothed, fed and generally taken care of. I was just never affirmed as a human being."

--I totally know what you mean by this, and although my parents were very supportive, I was often made to feel small when I was at work, even after slaving away to make sure everything was perfect.

I agree with your comments towards the end though--your affirmations may not always come from the source that you are expecting it (read: your parents), but what matters is that there are people out there who appreciate all the good that you do.

Congratulations on running your cleansing 5k!

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DOLLBABE56 8/23/2010 9:00AM

    It is wonderful that you and Joan have been so loving and supportive of your children - especially given you experience. You are such a giving person. Yes, it is a shame, and it is hurtful to not get the support and love you deserve and are due - you are worth it and so much more. Your children are very lucky to have a dad like you - in spite of your own parents. It is what makes you you! A terrific, caring person. You have begun healing. We are all here for you.

Comment edited on: 8/23/2010 9:01:07 AM

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SARAWALKS 8/23/2010 8:25AM

    I am so happy that this "knot" has begun to untangle for you. It is amazing how much can be healed by the light and the mercy and the comfort of the Holy Spirit! I'll be praying for that, for you. emoticon

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TIME4AFITME 8/23/2010 8:17AM

    I can so relate to some of that. Congrats on the 5K


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NANN66 8/23/2010 8:04AM

    I admire your courage and I so can relate to what you wrote!!!
Thank you!!!

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EDWINA172 8/23/2010 7:55AM

    This really hits home. Is sad that we don't get what we want from the one related to us. A kind word. Recognition. Is not too much to ask for. We shouldn't even have to ask. Makes the old saying, "friends you pick,'re stuck with" ring so true.
I'm so proud of you and your 5K. There is no going back.

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ZURDTA- 8/23/2010 7:34AM

    Oh John - your parents sound like my mom. And so I too am a people pleaser - for very similar reasons. I am glad you managed to clear you head about it all - cleansing tears - and hope you have a much better week!

Oh yes, and congratulations on running the 5K - that's just brilliant. I cannot run just yet - but I will get into it once my back is stronger.

"The picture in your mind has to match the one you live. It’s a struggle for sure, but one that’s worth it in the long run."

So true - so very true.

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HONORINGGOD 8/23/2010 7:28AM

    Wow some of that really hit home! emoticon emoticon

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HONORINGGOD 8/23/2010 7:28AM

    Wow some of that really hit home! emoticon emoticon

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