Monday, June 20, 2011
She has a huge smile on her face as she walks up to me I the parking lot. Being five and being small she was having a hard time holding the card behind her back. She had this conspiratorial grin on her face as she looks back at her dad. With one swift movement she thrust a card and a hat forward and proclaimed, ‘Happy Pappy Day” I have every card and piece of art work she has ever given me. Some hang on the wall and some sit in a folder in my desk drawer. I have five Father’s Day Cards in an envelope.
“Open It,” she said.
Inside was a card telling me how wonderful I was and then she scrawled her name. Below her name was a peace symbol, well actually about five peace symbols. Four of them were scribbled out. She told me that she wanted to make sure she drew it correctly and she didn’t think I’d mind the four practice tries. Next she handed me a large red, white and blue hat, the kind you see Uncle Sam wearing.
“I told daddy you’d look silly in it. Put it on” I did and she laughed and giggled and covered her face. “You do look silly!!!”
Perfect love is not always perfect. It’s just open, honest and so what if you have to scribble out the peace symbol four times. You got it right on the last try and that’s all that counts. You want to have a good laugh? Give someone a silly hat, tell them to put it on, laugh and then beg to have your picture taken with them. Hold their hand, walk into a movie and enjoy yourself. Not once did I see our granddaughter make an effort to do anything more than be herself. I think she had more fun than anyone else and really isn’t that what life is all about?
I thought a lot about this over the weekend, mostly the four scribbled out peace symbols. I try so hard to be perfect, to get it right the first time, to be everything to everybody, and I lose sight of the fact that the real intention is to share and grow, to love and to be loved. Perfect love isn’t always perfect. Perfect love is simply the ability to keep scribbling out those peace symbols until we get it right and knowing the person on the receiving end understands what all that hard work was for. It means they share in the joy, the desire, the hard work and disappointment until they are looking at the acceptable peace symbol all their own.
My memories of my granddaughter will never be the end result, they will always be those moments when she was silly, when she struggled hard to write or draw what she wanted to draw, and when she danced around giggling, because I looked silly. That is perfection in progress. I could learn a lot from her.
Friday, June 17, 2011
Maybe there are mornings you look out your kitchen or living room window and you begin to wonder if you ever make a difference somewhere………… anywhere.
Somewhere there is someone who just joined Spark and is totally and completely overwhelmed by this whole experience. They are scared, they are a bit embarrassed when they read their first blog and they realize “Boy do I have a long way to go……….” They sit in front of their computer, sipping their morning coffee wondering what to do next. There are ALL THESE PEOPLE!!! They feel over whelmed by the entire experience and begin to wonder where the support will come from.
Somewhere someone feels very alone. They keep waiting for a Spark Goodie, a Spark Mail. Why doesn’t anyone ever read their blogs? They have very few Spark friends. They begin to doubt themselves, why they are here. Maybe, this is just like everything else they have tried……..
Somewhere someone is ready to throw in the towel. They have gone a week, maybe a month maybe even longer without showing any positive movement on the scale at all. Maybe, they even weigh more than when they first joined. They start to question their own value, their own worth. Every morning when they log on they keep hoping someone will leave a word of encouragement on their Spark page. Maybe today is the day they will meet a new friend. Maybe that new friend will help show them the way.
Somewhere someone has returned after a long absence. They couldn’t keep up with things so they gave up and now they are back and they are a bit nervous and scared. Maybe this time they will succeed.
So while you are looking out your kitchen window this morning and questioning your own value and worth realize that all it takes is stopping by someone’s page and saying “Hi,” sending a goofy Goodie and let them know that you thought of them. Maybe you invite them to join a team you are on or participate in a challenge with you and make them feel included, make them feel loved.
Do you know how many people there are in this world who don’t feel loved, who sit alone each day and how Spark has become their life line? Do you know how many people there are who believe they have nothing to offer, as if being a good mom or dad isn’t worth recognizing?
It takes five to ten minutes to find someone new or someone lost and muster up the courage to crash on to their page and let them know you are pulling for them. You don’t know how many times I have gotten a little nudge from one of you that’s made the difference in my day.
Now…………. Go do the right thing.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
So very many of you take time from your own busy day, your own challenges and struggles and your own journeys to support me on mine. Some of you I have known for a very long time. some of you I just met yesterday. My family knows who you are because when you are in need or when you reach a goal, drop a pant/dress size, run your first 5K, participate in your first triathlon or simply wake up one morning and realize, like I have, that you are worth all the effort you have put into this endeavor.
I pray for each of you, sometimes collectively, but please know that not a day goes by that I do not take you with my on my journey and adventure. When I teach a seminar I often use you as an example of courage and strength.
I dont write back to you very often and when I do it's only small words of encouragement. Some days my life is like a whirlwind and the next thing I know it is time for bed and I've had 8,765 responses to a blog and how do I thank them?
Thank You. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
I dont write to gain recognition, rewards or fame. Part of me writes for me, so I can spill out on paper the things that knock around inside of me. Part of me writes because I simply love doing it. A larger part of me writes because if I can share on ray of hope to someone else then I have done what my Creator asks of me.
Thank YOU. You are loved, appreciated and respected. I am glad you are part of my life. you are more real than many people in my own neighborhood. You are considered a close friend.
All of you.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
I had a bad workout yesterday. I dotted all the “I’s” and crossed all the “T’s” but I still walked away feeling uninspired and not very motivated. I walked to my locker and found that not only had someone walked in front of it and down the aisle with extremely wet feet but had also sat on the bench with what I hoped was a wet swimming suit. Bad, just got worse. I’m trying to get undressed without letting any part of me touch the wet floor or seat. I gave up and got two large towels, threw one on the floor and mopped up the wetness. I took the second and dried the bench. Feeling moderately relieved I headed for the shower. The hot water relaxed me and when I finished I reached for my towel, only to find I had left it in my locker and was now standing in a pool of my own water. Ugh!!! I got dressed and prepared to leave when Mr. Miller came around the corner. Mr. Miller is almost ninety years old and there is no such thing as a five minute conversation with him. He has proudly told me that in the fifteen years our gym has been open he has only missed three days. He looked at the shirt I had on, it had a Louisville sports team emblem on it, and asked me how much I knew about Louisville. I told him we’d lived there for over twenty five years. Did I know where the Portland section of Louisville was? His mother was born there. Yes, I did. We talked for a few minutes and he looked up at me. “I think I’m going to hell.”
“How come?” I asked
“I wished the Second World War hadn’t ended before I got a chance to kill the enemy.” He responded.” I was in basic training when they dropped the bomb and I never got a chance to shoot any of those people. I still wish I could shoot a few!!!” I reached for my gym bag and started to inch away. Mr. Miller kept looking at the ground. “They killed my brother……” he started. “ The Battle of Midway, June 4, 1942. They dropped a bomb on his ship and he died two days later.” ”For the next half hour I listened as he talked about the events of that day, how he had contacted shipmates of his brother, and how he believed his brother might have been married. He cried a lot and every few minutes he’d look up at me. Sixty nine years later I saw in his eyes the same love and pain and admiration he had for his brother the day he left for the South Pacific. I saw someone who cared very deeply and hurt as much as he had the day he found out his brother had been killed. I sat down on the bench and simply listened and for a minute I cried with him.
“Do you think I’m going to hell?” He asked me.
There are a lot of questions I believe I can answer, this wasn’t one of them. “Honestly Mr. Miller I can’t tell you how I’d feel if someone killed my brother. I’d like to think I could forgive, but I’m not sure. I do know this, people like your brother, millions of them over the years, sacrificed their life so you and I had the freedom to stand here talking to each other, being able to say whatever we want and not have to worry about being scared to say it!”
Mr. Miller just nodded and put on his swimming trunks and headed for the pool. I sat down for a second and realized the countless numbers of men and women, yesterday and today that get up each morning with the sole job of protecting me. They don’t get to choose whether they want to protect some people and not others, they simply do it. They wear it like a mantle, proudly yet unassumingly. I get to have my bad days because of them. Mr. Miller’s brother never had a chance to have a bad day at the gym. He just did what he thought he should do.
Yesterday was Flag Day in the USA. I forgot to remember until this morning.
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?
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