Wednesday, September 26, 2012
You guys seriously have to check this out! The joy this woman must have felt!
How were YOU proposed to?
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Hiking has become my meditation, my peaceful sliver of life, my inner sanctum of calm. It is my zazen, my time to be in the present and breathing in the moment. Meditation is very crucial to me for two reasons. It gives me time to reflect on my life, my goals and about what is important for me. As my feet strike the ground I am able to concentrate on my breathing, how my body feels, the smell of nature around me. I am centered. I am in the presence of the here and now, stumbling into spirituality.
At the beginning of my weight loss journey, I asked myself some difficult questions. What opportunities am I going to lose out on if I don't get healthy? How will my health deteriorate? How will the hospital look when I'll have to go for heart surgery or dialysis treatments? Will my lupus progress and become a LIFE-THREATENING disease? Then I developed another picture of myself, a healthier, slimmer, stronger self. What will I do with a leaner body and who will I be doing it with? Where will I be and how will I feel when I am there? How will my life be better if I lose the weight??
So my thoughts shifted to wellness and not "diet." I had been on them all. Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers. The Cabbage Soup Diet (not a pretty sight in any way, shape or form). With each one I lost quickly, but gained back quickly as well. I had to find my OWN way, armed with the knowledge that I learned about my OWN body's needs, how it ticked, how it responded. (A crucial part to wellness is to know yourself. Understanding who you are as an individual helps you to work with your natural tendencies.) I tried running, I tried bonking, I tried cycling. But I was forcing myself into something that I did not enjoy. I am NOT a marathon runner. I am NOT the woman-version of Lance Armstrong.
But I AM a hiker.
I bliss out when I am focusing on the dirt beneath me. It's almost as if I am becoming one with something greater than myself and the energy of the earth itself seems to fill my every sweat-soaked pore. I ooze out of my own self-consciousness. My breaths are exhilaratingly-labored, my heart is beating in unison with each deep gasp. Any negative self-talk at the time wisps away like a puff of swirling smoke when I realize that I am in control of my destiny. I am in control of my body. I am in control of my life.
I've dropped the "perfect" mentality. I've dropped the illusion that I am not strong enough. I've gained self-respect, stamina and have seen the physical, mental and emotional changes that have occurred as a result of finding what is right for me. Now when I fall down, I get back up again, dusting off the doubts and self-delusions of failure. When I stumble it DOES NOT mean I have erased everything I have accomplished to this point. It means that I just pick up where I've left off.
With that I've gained a natural high. On life. My senses are heightened, my endorphins are rushing and I am more alert. My legs are toned, my heart and lungs move more freely. It's almost like I was in bondage before, wrapped in a stifling illusion of limitations...
And I have finally, FINALLY, burst free.
With a vengeance I proceed forward, looking forward to the next degree, the next level, of intensity. With each rock climbed, each hill conquered, I am liberated...
And I am finally being me.
I love you. God bless.
Monday, September 24, 2012
First, there was the initial misunderstanding. Brian looked me square in the eyes and opened his mouth.
"Better not buy meat in New England."
"What??! Why? What happened??"
"I don't know. I didn't watch it."
"You didn't watch what? The news??"
"Wait...what did you say??"
"I SAID Baltimore beat New England!"
"Oh. I thought you said...never mind."
"Are you hearing things again?"
These things seem to be happening alot lately. It's either that he is not speaking clearly or my mind has been elsewhere. It's probably been a combination of both if I am to be completely honest.
I have worked hard to get where I am today. Mentally, physically, spiritually, I have been delving deep into the heart of me and finding out all kinds of things. Like, what makes me tick, what tickles my funny bone, what God has given and taken away in my life. I've been restless. In all areas. Some days have been wonderful, some filled with uncertainty. But each day I've been looking closer and picking at the things that seem to unsettle me. I've asked myself why they do, what nerve do they hit and why do they hit it a certain way...
I've also torn the soil out from under my feet on my hikes. I've begun each adventure with tender steps only to find myself tearing it up within minutes. The more I think, the harder I trod, the faster I go, as if to keep up with my racing thoughts. Afterwards I am spent, out of breath, only to fall to the earth heavily and suddenly begin speaking to God...
I've realized that I am only one person. I realize that I am beautiful in my own way and I just wish that I had realized it sooner. I realize now that I have tried so hard to be someone else's definition of a good person when all I had to do was be ME. For I AM a good person, made just the way I was supposed to be in the very beginning. I've wasted so much time...when all I had to do was just be silent, listen to my heart and go with God's quiet whispers.
"Well? What's going on with you, Michelle?"
Turning to look at my husband, eyes wide, I put my arms around him and spoke my heart.
"Am I doing okay? Am I somebody that, if you just met, would want to get to know better? Am I interesting? Good? Weird? What am I?"
I could feel his arms pull me tighter and I heard him take a deep breath as he rested his head on top of my own.
"You are doing okay. You are good, a little weird, somewhat hard-of-hearing, and definitely someone I would want to get to know better. In fact, I DO want to get to know you better. Today. So why don't you try talking to ME a little more instead of just yourself? I'm here, ya know."
Yes. I know. For 20+ years he has been. Through the good AND the bad. He's been there, allowing me to "find" myself. Allowing me to blunder, fail, succeed. There are times I do not agree with his point of view (and vice versa) AND we've had disagreements that would burn the hair off of a monkey's back, but we've still managed to find our way through. I try, also, for the most part, to take his advice as well.
So, I'm going to trust him AND MYSELF that I am doing okay. The rest of the day before he had to leave for work was, well, WONDERFUL. We laughed. We even playfully chased each other around the house before we collapsed on the back deck in breathless chaos. Then I realized something...even though I've known all along that I love my husband, I LOVE my husband....
And I love you. God bless each and every one of you. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. Through and through.
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
I didn't want to do it.
I didn't want to get dressed, stretch and go walking. I didn't want to fool with it at all. I decided in my heart-of-hearts that I could "get by" without one day of hiking. Plain and simple. Whatever. Yada, yada and yada. Then I saw the box of donuts that Brian had bought for his lunchbox. Hmmm. Looking around, not seeing anyone, I took a step closer. Pinching my bottom lip between my thumb and index finger, I toyed heavily with the thought...no one would know. No one.
Then my brain started blaring.
"What's this?! You get on Spark and tell everyone to do their best, to BE their best and you're gonna SNEAK a DONUT?!"
"Shush, annoying little one. What do YOU know? I've worked hard. I deserve it."
"You are a hypocrite."
"WHO'S a hypocrite?!"
"YOU. Wahhh, you don't "feel" like walking today. Whatever! How many times have you told someone to put one foot in front of the other and the rest will take care of itself?"
Then it seemed, as if on cue, the old man came around the corner. His face lit up then suddenly frowned when he saw me hovering near his goodies. Tsk-tsk-tsking me, he scowled and removed them from my presence.
"Have you hiked today?"
"Uhhh...no. Not yet..."
"You're usually out the door."
"Yeah well what?"
"I was getting ready to go."
"Really? In your house slippers?"
Fifteen minutes later, I was "appropriately" dressed and mumbling to myself. It's chilly outside. It's too "breezy." I'm "not feeling it" today. Grabbing my iPod, I crammed the ear pieces into my ears and took off out the door. Just one trip through. That's all I was willing to put into it.
"Shut up, brain."
I put on Alter Bridge, my favorite band, and the song "One Day Remains" came screaming through. Atop the hill, ready to begin my ascent into my woods, the phrase "And I ask you, why do you question the strength inside?" enveloped my ears. Hmmm. Then another, "When the distance to your dreams starts being reached, don't lay down and die."
What? Oh no, I'm not going to lay down and give up, not when I'm THIS close...
Then Myles, in his beautiful voice, bellowed out, "You need to know how it feels to be alive!"
Then, suddenly, as if something kicked me in the rear, I took off. My heart raced, my legs burned and something sat my heart on fire. With each drop of sweat that I felt running down my back, I pushed harder, climbed harder, breathed harder. I could feel the muscles pulling in the back of my legs, growing stronger with each forceful step. Then I realized something...
I wanted more.
I climbed, descended, climbed some more, almost at a running pace, until I could breath no more. Laughing, I plopped to the ground and massaged my legs, breathing in deep breathes and exhaling with jubilation. Checking my watch my eyes grew big. One hour and fifteen minutes?! No kidding, I just started a few minutes ago...
Then Myles said to me, "I see in you more than you will EVER know..."
Closing my eyes, I removed my ear pieces and listened to the air around me as my heart rate and lungs returned to normal. My stress was spent. My irritation, gone. My slothful temptation definitely silenced. I was left with calmness and a peace that can be described with no words.
I returned to the house where there was a lone donut laying on the table and a note from Brian which said, "Did you get lost? Leaving for work. Here's your donut. If you still feel like eating it."
Throwing it in the trash, I surmised that it would be one less donut for him to eat when he got home. He didn't need it either.
"Well, now, looks like you proved yourself wrong."
"Thanks, brain, I did it!"
"And you did two and half more miles than your norm! High five!"
"How do I high-five my brain?"
"It's time to stop talking to yourself now..."
There's going to be days when you don't feel doing jack-squat. Perhaps those are the days when you can break through your own barriers. When you can prove yourself wrong? Your thinking CAN be tragic to your state of mind... or it can be magic, surprising you with your true potential.
Which is it? Only you can decide. But let me tell you something...I don't want to be a hypocrite and tell you to do something that I am not willing to do myself. I proved a major point to myself today. Unless I am physically ill or have a handicap or broken bone that prevents me from doing something good for my body, then there are NO excuses. NO EXCUSES.
Don't question your strength.
Your dreams are within your reach. They are.
God bless. You are loved...more than you'll ever know.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
I was trying to clean my bathroom last night when I realized I didn't have enough space for "my stuff." When I say "my stuff," that means lotions, creams, serums, oils, shampoos, conditioners, the usual things that women accumulate here and there for a "youthful glow," "younger-looking skin" and "bouncy, youthful hair." (I'm a junkie. I should have bought stock in Avon years ago.) I've got banishing creams, dramatic firming creams, tonics, spritzes and sprays. Got crow's feet?? Heck, I got a cream for that! Discoloration under the eyes?? Well, I got something for that, too.
One evening a few weeks ago, as I was getting ready for bed, I slathered on my concoctions and the Old Man walked by. He has this somewhat-annoying habit of crowding into the bathroom with me, pretending to look for something, when he turns, with hands on hips, looking at me.
"What's that one for?"
"What? This?? Firming lotion."
"What's it firming?"
"My th...can't you tell???"
"Ya know, one of these nights you're gonna slip outta bed like a fish." Picking up the small vial of eye serum he squints to read the fine print. "Hydra...hyda...dicapryl...pfff. CARROT SEED OIL??"
"Don't squint. It's bad for the eyes."
"That's okay. I'll just eat some of this because carrots are good for your vision. Right??"
I didn't mind his quips. He has given me a "hard time" for this since we got together over 20 years ago.
We went out to dinner Saturday evening. He was sitting across from me and we began reviewing the menus. I was trying to decide what I wanted to order and happened to glance up at him. He had laid his menu down and was staring at me. I apologized for taking so long and he shook his head slowly, reaching across the table to take my hand.
"You need to stop."
"I am 52 years old. Do you realize how many of the guys at work think you are my daughter???"
"Your picture. I have it on my locker door. I think that you need to cool it now and just age gracefully WITH me. Do you realize how pretty you would be with gray hair? Why do you try so hard? You don't have to. I was smitten with a twenty-year-old beautiful girl. I'm in LOVE with a 43-year-old mother, grandmother, wife, woman. There's nothing you can do with the crow's feet, honey. Between you and me, they are, well, just sexy."
And there I sat, in the middle of Olive Garden, amidst the all-you-can-eat-breadsticks, with alligator tears in my eyes. He looked at me and winked.
"Do you know when I think you're most beautiful?"
I strangled out a, "When?" through my touched heart.
"When you first wake up in the mornings, hair all over the place, free of make-up with those great big gorgeous brown eyes, then you smile. It makes me a giant jittery mess." And then he feigned shaking...
The dinner was wonderful. Amazing.
I went home and washed my face. I dabbed a little cream on the corners of my eyes. I wanted to do more but...
We went to bed and I felt his hand caress my hair. Then it wandered to my face. He must have caressed my cheek forever...and I heard a sleepy voice say, "Ah, so soft..."
I'm probably not going to give up my hair dye anytime soon but today I bagged up alot of the potions in my cabinet. I have kept a few essentials, just regular lotion and face cream (sorry, Brian, but me and Oil of Olay cannot part at this time). But perhaps I need to just "cool it," like he said. There is nothing wrong with trying to look your best, I believe, but there IS such a thing as over-kill, too.
I believe, as well, that beauty is more than skin-deep. Some of the most beautiful faces I have ever seen are the ones that are just simply smiling. From the child that has gotten all dirty and sweaty from a day's worth of play outside. From the face of the elderly woman across the street who's face has a hundred wrinkles...but each one has a story to tell. From the face of the one who has seen adversity and blazed through it with grit and hard-core determination.
That is TRUE beauty through and through...
I want THAT.
Hey, do me a favor and look in the mirror today. Don't fret over the pimple on your forehead, the crooked nose, the little lines forming around your eyes or mouth. Look at the beautiful, unique, one-of-a-kind individual that you really are and OWN it. You are wonderfully made. From the top of your head to the bottom of your feet, you are just the way you were meant to be. Don't you realize that when you smile, it is a gift? To yourself? AND ESPECIALLY others?
Do your best to be healthy and happy. Exercise. Eat right. But most importantly, be confident that your true beauty comes from WITHIN. That's what people will remember the most.
Not if you used Miss Clairol No. 20, Deepest-Darkest-Brown.
God bless you today. You are loved. And most importantly, you are gorgeous. Just the way you are.
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