Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Joan and I were cleaning out a closet a few weeks ago when we ran across some ďkid art.Ē We have six, all grown now, four boys and two girls, ages twenty four through thirty five. In a large plastic tub we found a bunch of memories. Joan sorted it and was going to give some of it to them on their next visit. A couple of them scrunched their faces and made remarks like ďGosh, I never colored in the lines,Ē or ďBoy I sure was a messy painter!Ē Itís funny in a way. I donít think Joan and I ever saw it that way. Instead of messy art we saw priceless treasure and I would hazard a guess that when their kids are old enough they will see the same thing.
I bring this up because as I looked at their gifts and their own reaction to them many years later; I thought about how I do the same thing with myself. People say all sorts of wonderful things about me, compliment me, shower me with praise and I only see the muffin top (Yes, ladies, men have muffin tops also!) when I look in the mirror. Where you see a warm smile, I see the need for a beard and moustache trim. You applaud me for my courage for battling through injury and disappointment, tell me I inspire you and I only see a wimp who could be doing more and wonders why anyone listens to anything he says.
As I was dressing this morning it dawned on me that in the eighteen months or so I have been part of this experience, no one has ever been critical of how I look, or whether I lost or gained weight on a given week. No one has ever questioned my commitment when I havenít reached a goal. Where I have hung my head at times I was only greeted by big hugs when I raised my eyes. Where I felt like a failure when I couldnít reach a goal, all I saw where thumbs up emoticons and words of encouragement. No one ever commented that I was coloring outside the lines!!! Oh, donít get me wrong. Iíve received plenty of well-deserved advice on how to break the mold of my own self defeat or tendency to be a people pleaser. It has always been given privately and with encouragement. Itís always been an offer to help not hurt.
Other folks donít see the messy art work, they just see the precious package it came wrapped in. It would do me well to look at myself the same way. There are smudges, there are rips and wrinkles, but splashed on the canvas of my life there is this priceless and precious beauty no one but I can attain.
The same holds true for you. It really does. Look at yourself the way I see you and imagine this really big smile of love and gratitude on my face.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Some days, itís hard to get myself in the right frame of mind. Some days I donít want to log my food or take the extra fifteen minutes to prepare something good to eat rather than stop for fast food or hit a vending machine somewhere. Oh, I know, itís really cool to SAY all the right things, post all the ďthumbs upĒ emoticons but Good Lord some days it just doesnít seem worth the effort. Some days, despite all my hard work and positive thoughts I feel like a blimp in a parade and wonder if my clothes will ever fit right!! I wish I could go to bed some days and wake up with an email waiting for me that says ďItís over, you made it.Ē
What keeps me going?
In the past week or so I have experienced this tremendous outpouring of love, support and friendship via this Spark community. The response to three blogs I wrote last week, the Spark Mails, friend additions and Spark Goodies touched me so very deeply. The recovering people pleaser in me started to have an anxiety attack over not being able to respond to each and every person who took the time to share themselves and their thought with me. I mean, LOL, what if you didnít like me anymore? Please know I am very grateful. It answers the solitary question above.
If you sit here today reading this you are what keeps me going. Your blood, sweat and tears, your devotion, your triumphs Ė all of it Ė is my main source of motivation each and every day. I cheer with each victory you have and I shed a bit of tear along with you when you have a setback. I donít think you realize how important your role is in my journey. I have known some of you for over a year and consider you as close to me as my family. Some of you are new friends and OMG, isnít it exciting to meet new people and learn new things. In a word I am blessed.
I am learning life is about balance. A key part of balance is gratitude. The more thankful I am the more I find I have to be thankful for and please realize that you are part of the reason that thankfulness grows each and every day. So when you have one of those ďsome daysĒ scroll through your friend feed, read a blog, send a Goodie, find some way to play a part in another Sparkers life, just as you have in mine and it will keep you going.
Thursday, April 07, 2011
All you have to do is look at the trees blossom and the flowers bloom to know that for death there is the potential for resurrection, whether you have a faith belief or not. Itís no by coincidence that the feast of Easter usually falls during the height of natures rebirth.
A fellow Sparker asked me why it was I got ďstuckĒ for close to a whole year. I had my hands poised above my key board to answer, when it dawned on me that not only was that a very good question but one that required some thought before I answered.
Let me do a quick recap. I joined Spark in December of 2009. By May of 2010 I had lost roughly seventy one pounds. About that time I started my C25K training. About that time I showed my first gain, when I weighed in one week. In the vernacular of my kids ďI freaked.Ē OMG I had a gain. Iíll tell you I felt guilty, terrible and all that not so very cool stuff. Yup, I know, everyone has a gain, even the cool kids, lol. For the rest of the summer I swapped anywhere from six to eight pounds. As of January 1, 2011, I had lost sixty eight pounds. If you read my Spark page you will see I reset my weight ticker and why I did so.
So why did I get stuck? The answer is simple but painful to admit. I lost faith in me. I got too good, too quick and when I didnít lose one hundred pounds in ten months I got scared. I hadnít taken the time to get comfy with my success. John was used to minor success, not the big time. John had been over weight for some time and now not only was he losing weight but he was running!!! OMG!!! The first time I had a gain; it was as if that small voice inside of me said ďSee, I told you that you couldnít do this John!!!Ē I panicked. I began trying to do all sorts of things I really wasnít comfortable with Ė exercising way too much, which caused me to hurt myself in both October and December. When that didnít work I decided starving myself might help to get me going. I was grasping at straws. If you had suggested standing on my head in pair of gym shorts on the busiest corner in town during rush hour would have helped, I probably would have done it. I could go on and on but you get my point. In short I found myself on a diet. My confidence was in the basement. I was tense, frustrated and felt like I was walking around in a fog. I didnít quit, I didnít leave I did something worse ---- I didnít care. I drifted along and quite honestly if it werenít for my wife, who has been well equipped with a large piece of wood by which to hit me over the head with for thirty seven years, and a few very close Spark friends I would have given up entirely.
It dawned on me one morning that I had panicked and stopped listening to the one person who knows best about me ----- ME. When I panicked I began to try everything everyone else was doing and I stopped listening to my body. Now, itís not that I didnít receive some awfully good advice at times; itís just that some of it wasnít tailored for me. Imagine knocking on your neighborís door and asking to borrow clothes for a special occasion. Chances are they are not going to fit.
I am learning to listen to my body and to support and supply it with what it needs. I am learning to do that in a really healthy way. I am learning to balance my body, my mind and my spirit so that they can work in harmony with each other. I am becoming friends with myself. Like the buds on the trees I see each morning I am starting to see progress and my confidence in what is right for me is returning. I wonít bore you with the detail. If youíd like to know specifics shoot me a Spark Mail and Iíll share more.
Advice for ya? Sure, why not, LOL. Listen to yourself, your soul and your body and in the end truely believe that death is followed by resurrection.
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
I am a recovering people pleaser. I didnít know what that was until about a year ago. A Spark friend sent me a private comment and in a very gentle but firm way told me I sort of needed to get over my need to be accepted by everyone on the planet and start living my life with a joyful emphasis on what I can do to make this world a better place to live in. Well you can quite imagine, that having lived my life for other people for so long and wanting desperately to be accepted by the entire universe, this statement absolutely devastated me. I couldnít really get mad at her; I mean I wanted her to like me. What to do, what to do?
I will be this way until I close my eyes for the last time. Thatís not the question. The time for hand wringing has long past. I crave peopleís attention and their approval. I wonít get all Freudian on you here because I believe my past life as it relates to today and two dollars buys you a diet Mountain Dew. I want you to like me and if you donít I immediately think I did something terrible. I decided I canít spend my life dwelling on past mistakes. Oh, donít get me wrong, I still get these little twinges deep inside of me to be desperately accepted and I have to find myself pulling in the reins to do anything for anybody at any time. I have just learned to be judicious in who I commit to. I have, in a word, established boundaries in my life.
Without being dramatic it was a matter of life or death. When I felt rejected or even not accepted I turned to food. It gave me comfort. Yet as I got older and my activity level slowed and my metabolism began to get sluggish, the food I turned to in an effort to soothe my anxiety became an even worse enemy. I went from being overweight to obese, to morbidly obese. My blood work was all border line. I had some really difficult choices to make. I chose health and happiness. It is not easy. There are days I have to talk myself down off a ledge, but I am getting better.
I had a bit of a grin on my face as I write this next line because I thought here I am writing about approval but Iím going to tell you I didnít write this to seek approval. I write it because I believe there are only two kinds of people in this world, people who will admit they are fearful at times and people who wonít. Those who wonít, are simply deceiving themselves. I write the things I write, I share my soul with you not for support or approval but to let you see a ray of sun light in a day that may otherwise be dreary. I write so you know there is another person out here who struggles but keeps coming back for more each and every day.
Yeah, Iím a people pleaser. Always have been, always will be, but I am learning to turn that into something that helps other people feel better about themselves.
Four things allow me to find balance:
I am who I hang around with
I am worth all the effort I put forth to be successful.
I deserve to be successful
I am what I believe I am.
It is my mantra. It is how I live and I share it with you in the hope you find some grace through it.
So I gotta ask youÖÖÖÖ.. Whatís your next move?
Tuesday, April 05, 2011
I was so touched by the comments and remarks on my blog from yesterday. Soem touched me in a most special way. They came from people who were on the verge of giving up. I wanted to share something with all of you.
In 1993 Jim Valvano, a basketball coach, was diagnosed with incurable cancer. A few weeks before he died he was honored by ESPN with an award for courage. That speech, wich I listen to at least throee or four times a month, is availible on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kx5xbyhsfo
Every time I watch it I feel motivated and humbled at the same time. It keeps me focused and it brings a tear to my eye. I thought I'd share
I hope it helps you.
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