Friday, July 15, 2011
I was overwhelmed in by all the love, support, encouragement and suggestions you sent my way yesterday. I started to respond to each of you individually and quite frankly got over whelmed by the responses. (Iím using over whelmed a lot, arenít I?) So from the bottom of my heart I thank you and my aching legs thank you. I have come to believe that Spark People personifies the definition of perfect balance. When you need support and encouragement it is there for you to strengthen you, to help you get through your ordeal and usually it comes from people who have been where you are at. I see it as a give and take because I know that being part of this community means that I have a responsibility to support you when you need it. Lord knows the challenges and the Spark Points and all the other cool things are fun but I know in my heart, this journey may have ended after a short while if I hadnít felt the encouragement of so many of you and from being inspired by many of your journeys. You, each of you are my heroes.
We are all about giving. That part comes easy. Admitting that we have weaknesses, that we contemplate failure, that we often need a life raft, thatís the difficult part. When I ask for your help it means I am open and vulnerable to you. It means you see me as I really am not how I create myself to be in your eyes. I believe itís the healthiest thing I can do. I believe that asking for support, prayers, love, energy, call it what you choose, helps make me better and stronger. It is one of the four life principles that I cling to so strongly: ďYou are who you hang around with.Ē
Iíve undergone this amazing transformation since joining Spark. Iím not afraid to show you who I am. Iím not afraid to open up and say ďI canít do this alone. Can you help me please?Ē I am not perfect, never will be perfect and never want to be perfect. I want to be the very best John I can be. When I share my weakness with you it is not to suggest Iím going to give up, itís acknowledging that I know where I can turn when I need strength. Itís a tip-of-the-hat to each of you because I respect you so much. I hope you feel the same way. I hope you feel that in me you have a safe haven when you need it. Someone who will understand and not judge.
When I am struggling with something or lifeís thrown me a curve ball Joan often suggests I blog about it and see what suggestions you guys have. Please do not misconstrue my call for support as a signal that I am giving up. As long as Iím complaining Iím still breathing, as the saying goes. So thank each of you, very much. I am glad I have the weekend ahead of me. Many of you wrote long responses and made some reading suggestions that I want to look at and research.
Finally, I want to address one comment in particular because it really bothered me. Out of sixty eight responses I received one negative one. It began like this:Ē QUIT BELLYACHING! Think of the people who can't walk due to a spinal injury! Quit feeling sorry for yourself!Ē
I am not feeling sorry for myself, least I donít think I am. I have experienced something that Iíve never experienced before and with the frustration I feel comes a bit of fear. I think part of being healthy is knowing when you need to let some emotion out before it eats away at you. I have always been an active person and being sidelined to this degree is something Iíve never gone through. Are there people in worse shape, you bet!!! I do not minimize anyoneís pain, suffering or challenge. We are here to learn, to grow, to share and to be healthy. Real honesty requires that I share the ten pound gain as openly as I share the ten pound loss. I donít look at being honest as whining or complaining. Maybe the person who wrote that comment has a loved one who has a spinal cord injury or is disabled. Yes, I agree I will always have it better than many people, but it doesnít take away from my frustration, only confronting that pain alleviates it.
Thanks for loving me, really, I mean it. If ya all were here yaíd get a big hug.
Now itís out the pool, ugh!!!! LOL
Thursday, July 14, 2011
I donít often find myself discouraged to the point that it affects my usually cheerful demeanor. Oh, I may complain and moan but inside of me I am eternally looking for the pony under the pile of manure. I am grateful and thankful for all I have. I believe in myself, I know what my value is and because I made a smart choice to include you as a friend. I hang around with most excellent people. I am a success in many aspects of my life and I count my blessings. I fail often but am not a failure. I get discouraged but usually put ďThe Sun Will Come Out TomorrowĒ on ITunes, listen to it a few times and wait for the clouds to clear. There is not a lot that slows me down. Maybe thatís the lesson Iím supposed to learn here.
About a month ago my legs began bothering me, more specifically, my hamstrings, then my gluts, then my quads and finally my knees. The pain got worse, stabilized, got worse, went away, came back and repeated the cycle. When I wasnít in pain I had a hard time walking. My legs felt like someone poured concrete in them. If I walked on a flat surface or one that sloped I was fine. Anything slightly uphill resembled a crab walking. It sure isnít fun. I normally walk two miles a day, and was spinning three times a week.
Iím not a huge fan of taking pills so for about three weeks, with my doctors support, I tried a number of things to alleviate the issue. Massage therapy was an option but not a cheap or painless one. If you have never had a myofascial release technique performed on you Iíd recommend lots of Advil prior to having it done. I almost passed out. I applied ice, rested, didnít do any walking, running, or cycling. I did upper body strength training but only those exercise I could do while seated.
All I kept hearing was ďrest, rest, rest.Ē Itís the only cure.
So now Iím not exercising and since food is my drug of choice I start medicating my frustration with food. I gain 12.5 pound and feel like Iím the Goodyear Blimps twin brother. Iím totally frustrated. Try not being able to put your pants on without sitting down first. Yeah, I know there are folks worse off than me.
My doctor and I caucused on Tuesday. I told her the holistic approach hadnít really put a dent in the pain and lack of mobility. Off to an orthopedic man I went. The diagnosis is moderate to severe tendinitis of my hamstrings and because they are so weak itís affecting my gluts, and knees and everything else. So he suggested an anti-inflammatory for a week or so and swimming. Fortunately we have a pool but guess who doesnít know how to swim, LOL? He went on to tell me that Iíd probably did a bit too much spinning and running for a fifty seven year old obese man. (Really, I love this guy because he has the same bluntness about him that I appreciate) So the muscle group has to heal and he said itís not uncommon for it to take up to a year for this to happen.
I know there is a lesson here. I just wish it would reveal itself and I could get on with life. Iím cranky, crabby and impatient with life. Did I mention Iím eating everything in sight? I look out the window and see people running and I get bitter. Iíd appreciate love in any way you choose to show it. Whether its prayer, energy or simply your support.
Thank you for letting me share me and thank you for being my friend. I value that most of all.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Sometimes giving up is easy. Itís even easier to judge someone who has given up. Not that you or I ever give up. Thatís for quitters, losers and the like. Excuse me while I put my smug hat on for just a bit, K?
My daughter works with someone who has won our city gold championship for amateurs the last five years running. Last year he won the state amateur championship and made the final qualifying tournament for the US Open. He missed qualifying by two strokes. Thatís not to shabby and considering he is the ripe old age of thirty three, he has lots of accomplishments left in his bag. I picked up the paper yesterday morning to read he had withdrawn for the tournament before Sundayís final round began. I called my daughter at work to find out why. I wondered if heíd been injured or ill. As my daughter put it ďHe was so far behind dad and he said he just wasnít feeling it yesterday so he decided to quit. He was ten strokes behind. He decided to go home and relax.Ē
ďThe nerve of that man,Ē is what I thought. ďWhat kind of example is he setting? Just because he couldnít win, he quit?Ē
LOL, LOL, LOL, LOL. Yeah, like I donít ever give up!!! Like I donít quit tracking my food when I have a run of bad decision days and go over (sometimes WAY OVER) my calorie limits. I mean whatís the use? I already blew it didnít I?
How about when I donít exercise? Maybe I had a schedule challenge and missed a few days but instead of getting right back to it, I use it as a reason to give up. Woe is me, life isnít fair. Iíll never be like ďfill in the blank.Ē
When I quit I blame everyone around me and am very careful not to take any responsibility for my actions. If the world would just bend a little to the left and move forward about ten feet then just maybe I could keep my commitments. And anyway, who knows but me, right? If I blow it I just donít tell anyone and secretly judge all those other quitters. When I am judgmental I am simply wasting a precious amount of energy thatís been given to me to use for good and healthy activity.
When I encounter a failure in my life or an obstacle that seems over whelming to me I only have two choices. The first is to fall to the ground, curse my fate and give up. The second is to admit I blew it, look for the reason why I blew it and try to figure out how not to blow it again. Itís the old live and learn principle. Itís why diets donít work. They donít allow for the failure factor, the subliminally preach judgment. Those of us who are obese know its really easy to judge all our own failure at the drop of a hat.
Donít find me redeemed, dear friends. Iíll contemplate giving up again. Itís part of human nature. As long as I continue to judge myself Iíll judge other people. I have to work on me and the principles I believe in
I am worth the effort and yes even the failures
I deserve to have success even though the price is often a painful one
I am who I hang around with
When I believe I am whole and healthy, I am whole and healthy.
That should keep me busy for the next twenty years or so.
Monday, July 11, 2011
I usually do my Sparking early in the morning. I have the house to myself, itís quiet and Iím in no big hurry. Yesterday morning as I huddled with one of my teams I noticed a blog title over to the left side of the page. It was titled ďLouise Hay: Forgive But Not Condone; Can It Work?Ē I read it. It was good. I was not convinced and as I told myself at the time, it gave me a lot to think about and really, seriously, do you think I wanted a lot to think about at 6 AM on a Sunday morning? I donít think so!
It hit a tender spot, a spot I didnít want to deal with. Iíve been very angry with the Catholic Church for a long, long time. I cannot in any way, shape or form condone the actions of an organization that lies and protects people who use their authority to molest children. Not only is it wrong, itís criminal. Six months ago a young man in our parish committed suicide in front of the church because he had been abused by two priest most of his life. Neither priest was at our parish. The hierarchy promised an investigation into the matter. That was in February. To date there is no news. Joan and I decided that we would continue to attend church weekly but would not contribute to the Church. We just increased our contributions to other charities. I enjoy going to church. It gives me an oasis of peace. I can sit, pray and sing and lose myself. What I didnít need to read was a blog on forgiveness, twenty minutes before I went to church!!!
Iíve come to realize that health, real health, is so much more than what goes into your mouth, or how quickly you can sprint or cycle. Real health is a balance, it is the fine art of learning to let go, to find reasons TO forgive and not hate. It hates the sin, not the sinner. It knows deep down inside of you that if John wants to GET healthy and STAY healthy, well John needs to deal with his issues. Iíve been really angry for a long time. That anger has slowly eaten away at my soul.
I got to Mass five minutes before it started. I slid into the back pew. Next to me was a young lady with a toddler. The little girl came over to me and smiled and waved and did what little kids do in church. Her mom looked wore out. She also looked like she was in need. Her clothes were worn and ripped in a few places and so were her daughters. If you have ever seen a look of despair on a personís face, well this young lady had it on hers. When it came time to take up the collection I did what I always do, I stare straight ahead. I wonít lie. The blog Iíd read sort of tugged at my heart and mind. If I really believed in the Gospel message, the message of love and forgiveness, then wasnít I simply exercising some self-satisfying form of control by not contributing? I didnít want to think about this.
The usher handed the basket to the young lady and at the same time her daughter ran to where I was sitting. As I looked up I saw her mom digging in her purse. She pulled out a dollar bill and about five coins. She put them in the basket and handed it to me. I just stared. As I handed the basket to the usher I started to shake a bit and then I covered my face so no one would see me cry. At that moment I saw all the things I was holding on to, the entire place in my heart and soul that was filled with unhealthy hatred, anger and judgment and not one of those things was doing anything to make me a better John. You see, I have all that anger because I know the things I direct it at I canít control and rather than concentrating on the things I can control, well, Iíd rather focus on the negative. Jesus told the story of the widow who gave her last dime to her church and he said this woman had so much more faith than someone who gave for what they had left over. She gave from her necessity. When that young woman dug into her purse and pulled out the dollar or so, I saw no hesitation, no doubt, just a tremendous amount of faith. She could have justified giving nothing, like me, but her actions spoke the knowledge that she would be taken care of and provided for. I spent the rest of Mass looking at the areas of my life I attempted to engineer and manipulate. I saw all the things I wasted energy on and where I needed to let go. Letting go of the things I cling to so tightly isnít easy. Between me, you and the rest of the universe, it scared me half to death.
Itís really not negotiable, at least not for me. If I want to live a balanced life then I have to clean out my closets and fill them with positive things. Iíll never condone what has happened in the church but I can forgive and when I do, Iím making ah healthy statement about my life. No revelations today, no really happy endings, just the knowledge I have a lot of work to do.
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