Sunday, June 12, 2011
I read a story once about a teacher who was given a list of her students on the first day of class. Next to each student’s name was a three digit number. At the bottom of the page was the exhortation “CONDEFDENTIAL.” The teacher assumed these large numbers represented her students IQ’s. She locked the paper away in a safe place, went home, scrapped her lesson plan and prepared a new one that was designed to teach and develop geniuses. After all, that’s what the paper implied. Her results were no less than astounding. Students in her class who had been average or those who had been borderline were treated like geniuses and so they began to act like geniuses. This included high grades. I’m quite sure the teacher received a few accolades herself. After all, her class not only ranked first in the school, but in the district as well. Shortly before Christmas break the assistant to the principal visited the teacher after school one day. It seemed that the teacher had neglected to turn in her student’s locker assignment sheet at the beginning of the year. The teacher looked confused.
“It’s the sheet of paper with the students name and a three digit number after the name,” said the assistant.
“Oh,” the teacher replied.” I thought that sheet was a list of their IQ’s”
“We can’t give you those,” said the assistant. “Those are CONFIDENTIAL
The teacher left for winter break disheartened. She thought she had been blessed with a group of geniuses. A friend suggested she continue to believe the students were all highly intelligent and teach them as if they were. The teacher said she couldn’t. She knew differently.
I’ve been living with a weight plateau of sorts for close to a year. I know what you are going to say: Everyone has them, everyone goes through them, and it’s a fact of weight loss. Want to know something? I can tell you the day, place and time that mine began. I can tell you why it began. I read an article that said EVERYONE goes through some sort of plateau during their weight loss. It just so happened the article I read was written by someone who went through this three year agonizing experience and ended by saying something to the effect that “You can run, but you cant hide.”
Now………….. Before you prepare to fire off a response let me say I have no physical reason for not losing weight. My thyroid is operating fine. My cholesterol levels are in line. I have no food allergies that create mayhem in my body like other people have to endure. My only reason for plateauing. I know there are people whose weight loss journey has been stymied by a host of medical issues and once they found the best protocol to deal with them, they began to move towards their goal. One of my BFF’s here went through physical agony for a long time until she found an enlightened doctor and a good solid nutrition program.
I’m talking about John. John read he was going to plateau and so he did. As I was walking this morning it dawned on me that my super developed mind created a really subtle way to halt my journey. Reaching my goal and dreaming all the stuff I’d dreamed of doing is a little too scary for me some days. Some days I don’t want to be the genius in class. I want to hide in the corner. I get scared, I get nervous and OMG what if I fail? Do you know how dam#$d embarrassing it is for me to look at my weight ticker and see it gathering dust?!?! It got so bad I removed it. So I take solace in the fact that “EVERYONE” plateaus.
I’m scared of success. I got so used to being the fat guy who breathed hard and when things started going the other way I really freaked. Oh, I didn’t run up and down the street screaming. I just created a subtle change and learned to live with. Like the teacher who believed in geniuses I’ve believed that everyone reaches a point of failure. I know people here at Spark, good dear friends, who hit extended plateaus and simply gave up.
Our minds are amazing tools. I can convince myself of anything if I believe in it strongly enough. So it’s back to square one, back to losing weight, getting healthy and being a success.
Uhm, what plateau?
Friday, June 10, 2011
Yesterday afternoon my friend Ron was comatose, non-responsive and his close friends and family had resigned themselves to the worst. He had been in a coma for slightly over a week and the doctors were not giving a good prognosis.
I went to the gym last night and when I returned Joan told me she had received a phone call. Ron was awake, walking, feeding himself a regular diet and basically knew who everyone was. Sometime in the early evening he had sat up in bed and smiled.
He has a long rehabilitation road ahead of him but his doctor said this was nothing short of a miracle.
Just thought I'd share
Thursday, June 09, 2011
When Lisa sat down at the table she was crying. Not the big tears, but the ones you needed a Kleenex for. She looked as if she’d been crying for a while. Lisa is one of my clients. I work with people in her situation who have a limited income or are in adverse circumstances. I tell them the maximum I’d charge and the minimum. I tell them to pick either or a figure in between. It’s a matter of trust and honesty and if I can’t trust them and vice versa there is no sense working with each other. Surprisingly most people choose the middle figure. I know they are financially strained but I’ve found that a person’s dignity is more important than a lot of things and if I didn’t charge something most people feel that its charity. I would help someone and have; pro bono if they just couldn’t afford anything. My business clients pay about ten to fifteen times the hourly rate Lisa does and I feel I have an obligation to put something back and help people. You might call it an intention.
Lisa was crying because at the last moment her child care option collapsed and wouldn’t be available. Lisa is a single mom; she is raising her daughter without any support from anyone else. Right then and there if I could have taken a picture of Lisa and put it in the dictionary it would have gone next to the definition of “lost.” I asked her if she tried the YMCA. She told me they had started their program the day before and didn’t have an opening. I smiled. I’d been on our YMCA board for three years. The current Program Director was a former client and as most clients end up becoming…………. A really good friend. I excused myself for a minute and called my friend. I gave her Lisa’s name and she said that she would find a place for her daughter and yes there was scholarship money available for her. All she had to do was come in and sign some papers.
When I got back to the table the tears dried up for a few minutes. Lisa’s next issue was life insurance and how she was really worried that if something happened to her there would be nothing for her daughter. I smiled. We have a friend who sells life insurance and had some of the experiences similar to Lisa’s and is younger to boot. She agreed to meet with her and set something up.
I left Lisa smiling, got in the car and headed on my way. I had vinyl to pick up, a toilet to buy and more paint. In between all of that I had a few more clients. By three in the afternoon I was stressed out and worn out and I was sitting in a parking lot waiting for Joan to come out of the grocery when it hit me:
I had just had the best day in a long, long time because I had done something for someone else with no motivation of “What’s in it for me!!” I invested part of my day doing something for another person. It felt so, so good. I sat in the car and smiled, then I cried a bit and then inside of me the clouds parted and a huge ray of sunshine burst through and gosh I felt so good. There is a song and part of its lyric went through my mind. “A good day is any day that you’re alive.”
Yesterday morning when I checked my account balance the big check a client owed me had been deposited into my account the night before. A few minutes later, our contractor told me my office would be ready to move back into sometime today. Maybe one had nothing to do with the other but I really believe that taking the time to give to someone just so they could have peace of mind…………..
We like to use the saying “What comes around goes around,” to refer to people who have done something selfish or wrong. I think it refers to everything. I think the more I go out of my way to help you the more I will be helped. It’s not about me. It’s about us!
BTW: I still can feel that bolt of sunshine. My problems aren’t gone; they are just easier to manage. If you are reading this it could be because you care, with thought of yourself
Wednesday, June 08, 2011
In the center of town stands a massive sassafras tree. I pass it each morning on my walk. It’s been there forever but I never really noticed until the other day. Beside it is one of those historical markers. I’d stopped to tie my shoe and I saw a sign that told me this tree was “first mentioned” in town documents in 1861. According to the plaque it had been around for a good while back then. I kept walking and I thought just how long that tree had been there. It had witnessed The Civil War, both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, bot wars in Iraq……… I’ve missed a few I’m sure along with so many other events we mark time by. People were born, people died and that tree stood there, strong and regal. It provided shade for generations of people. It was there before I was born and it will be there long after I am gone.
In her book Quantum Wellness, Kathy Freston talks about” setting intentions”. An intention is different than a goal because it’s an activity you commit to day after day. It has meaning to you in your journey. For example one of her intentions is that she is silent as she eats her breakfast. It allows her to focus on her day and gather some much needed spiritual energy. It’s a behavior or intention she practices each day. I have been looking for such an intention in my life
As I walked past the tree it dawned on me that I am simply a visitor on this planet. I do not own it or anything on it and truth be told; by some of my actions, I do not honor it as a visitor should. If I came to your house to visit I would respect you, your wishes and your customs. I would be very careful not to disturb anything. You would do the same for me. Yet here I sit on a planet where I am a guest and I treat it as if it should bow to my whims and fancies. Long after I am dust, that tree and many others will continue to provide shade and life for millions of people. As is stands strong through turmoil I am simply passing through.
My intention is to walk by that tree every morning and remember that everything great and small, important or seemingly insignificant deserves respect. That respect begins with me. It begins with looking into the mirror and shows a healthy respect for myself and my life. It begins when I value every part of me as much as I possibly can and realize that while I am only a guest on this planet, I have an important responsibility. It begins when I look into your eyes and see the amazingly wonderful value inside of you.
Tuesday, June 07, 2011
I often reassure people by telling them “No problem is a small problem if it is your problem.” I believe it when I say it. Sometimes it’s very easy for me to sit back and look at another person’s issues or concerns and hear that tiny voice inside of me whine, “What’s their problem? They don’t really have a problem!!! They need to quit complaining.” It’s an awfully selfish perspective. I grew up with my mother and a cadre of old nuns dressed in black wagging a finger under my nose and reminding me that there was starving children all over the world who’d love to be where I was. I’m quite sure there were and still am. I was remonstrated to accept my suffering, whatever it was in a noble manner and move forward. It usually ended with the promise of “a place for me in heaven…..” Actually it only served to make me bitter at times. Any issue that occurred in my life was minimized by starving third world people.
I had become, as many have, a product of the times. I cared about me and my concerns because the good Lord knows no one else will. If you have a problem, well that’s your problem. I slowly began to change when I saw the brave behavior of many, many people who were succeeding in their lives despite their problems and issues. They not only acknowledged their issues but they embraced them, owned them and wore them as a badge of honor and dignity. I started to notice that those people who seemed to have so little to give in a material sense were always first in line to give freely and without reservation. In spite of their own issues and problems they acknowledged that mine were EQUALLY important to me. I thought they were angels or maybe even saints. They honored my pain and suffering.
I write that lengthy tome as a preface of sorts to the tiny but powerful revelation I had yesterday. My blog on Job began with my own personal tale of woe. As I reflected on it a bit I started to see that my sufferings and trials were not making me angry and bitter but rather opening my mind to a feeling of love and compassion for those around me. It is really easy to snap at people, take a break from your goals, be unavailable because “you are going through a lot.” Everyone understands and it’s a great opportunity for me to lick my wounds. It is much more difficult for me to accept I’m not Super-John, life does hit me in the gut occasionally and it should not stop me from reaching out to those around me.
Maybe that was the point of this rather painful lesson I’m going through. Maybe it is there to remind me that I am frail and I am strong and loving, all at the same time. Maybe it happened to show me what life is really all about. It’s about joining hands with the person next to you and sometimes dragging them along because they haven’t the strength to walk on their own and by the way, you are limping themselves.
Health is not only the number on a scale, the circumference of your waist, whether you binge or not. It’s not only the knowledge in your head, often it’s the growth of your heart and your soul.
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