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Pictures on the Shelf

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Friday, April 13, 2012

I was talking with a friend over the weekend who has also lost a lot of weight. She said that when she visited her in-laws house she went into the study and saw framed photos of her and her husband on the mantle. These frames held pictures of a woman she no longer knew. She said she was going to go in when they were out of town and take all the pictures out and replace them with new photos. She wondered how she had let herself “go” and get so big. I've wondered that too, it's like when it's happening you don't *see* yourself clearly.

I get it. I do understand that feeling of wanting to destroy pictures. And what she said got me thinking, and prompted me to look at my own shelf.

I saw a larger me, yes. But I also saw a life that was being lived DESPITE those extra layers of fat that surrounded me. Despite the pain that I was in. I think it takes a certain spirit to not only live through this, but to go out, set goals and accomplish them despite the “largeness” and the world being as critical as it is and un-accepting of that.

Here's what I found on my shelf:

This first photo is me when I was maybe in 5th grade, giving my sister Kara a piggy back ride. Holding her felt important to me.

A picture of me with my best friend Cheri, who has accepted me at every size - we've been friends for 25 years now, she always knows how to make me laugh.

A picture from my wedding day. Even though I had to get my dress made by a dressmaker as the style I wanted wasn’t in my size, I was beautiful and happy.

A picture of me in England. I went with a group of 11 strangers. This was out of my comfort zone. I got a scholarship to attend, and I knew that this trip would change me and it did. This was where I discovered my faith that I thought was long gone.

Me graduating with my Bachelor of Arts degree from DePaul University. I earned that degree working full-time and going to school full-time. I left my home when I was younger and only 18 yrs. Old. I had to work hard for everything I’ve gotten and this was no different.

My new role as a mother. Looking into her eyes was endless and holding her I felt I was holding the world.

My sister Missy’s wedding day (I’m on the far right). I was so happy for her and her new life ahead.

My nephew Tony’s first birthday party. Playing with the kids makes me feel like a kid again.

These pictures show a story. It isn’t a sad story, but a story of a life lived.

I think about my husband and what his experience with me has been, looking at myself through the picture frames has made me try to see myself through his eyes. Although I had always struggled with my weight, at the time I met him I was coming off of my anorexic phase and I was a size 8. Through our dating I grew, and when we got married I was a curvy size 16 and weighed over 200 lbs. He still loved me.

After we got married is when I really packed the pounds on. I went from a curvy 16 to a very unflattering size 26. All in a year’s time.

Why do I tell you this? Because I used to think that my husband was a saint for staying with me through this journey but looking back at my pictures on the shelf, I see a woman who despite the odds has soared. Had I not lost the 100+ lbs. that I have so far, would it make me a different person? Not in the ways that count. See, my husband stayed with me for who I am, for that spirit inside, that is who he fell in love with, not the outside wrapper. And my friend I told you earlier about is an amazing person too, and her weight, even when she was bigger, did not define her.

And so this blog isn’t about “Yaay me, I am so great.”. It’s just my observations of what I found on that shelf. But really, this blog is about YOU. How many times have you felt “less than” because of your size, or any restrictions it may give you? How many times have people maybe pointed at you, or laughed behind your back? And you know what? You are living despite that. You are making goals, working toward goals and becoming new people – not destroying that old part of you, but enhancing it and embellishing it. Letting that spirit SHOW . Because you are all great spirits as well. We all have the power inside of us to reach outside of our comfort zones, to sign up for that 5k, to train for that marathon, to go to a new country. Being on this journey helps us see ourselves through new eyes.

I would have never thought at the beginning of this journey that the very classes I was taking to start incorporating working out into my life that I would one day teach. But I am studying to be certified at the end of the month to teach Walk Live classes through Leslie Sansone’s Walk at Home program.

This morning my 5 yr. old daughter looked at me as I’m practicing for the movement exam, and asked me why am I going to teach classes? She went on to say “You’re just a mom.”

That gave me a laugh, "JUST a mom" (is that all? LOL.) (It's funny how we are viewed by our children). But I told her that I want to help other people change their lives like I have. I've been given a huge second chance. And I'm not wasting one minute of it. I want to just ooze inspiration everywhere I go! And maybe this will plant a bit of inspiration in my two daughters to go for their dreams, too.

I just wanted to simply say that wherever you are, right NOW, it is enough. You are amazing, just as you are. Will you be even greater someday? I have no doubt about it. Whatever you wish for and dream for, it can happen.

We all have those old pictures on the shelf we'd rather never see again. But I ask you to perhaps embrace the person you are, once were, and who you will be.

And remember, just like Dorothy – you have had the power all along.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I was motivated to change by a photo of me--I was happy, surrounded by friends--but I was NOT happy when i looked at me in the photo. I looked HUGE to me--and that helped me change. You have written a great blog--we all find whatever will motivate us wherever! Hope all is still well with you!!
    1819 days ago
    Well said!
    1913 days ago
  • __AMY__
    You haven't posted !!! I am curious on how you are doing so far.
    1929 days ago
    Lotus flower! Your blog never disappoints! It has been a while since I logged onto spark and you were the first place I visited and I am so glad that I did. You are getting such great insight which I believe is such a key to real change. Loving yourself and respecting yourself as a beautiful child of God. Your blog gave me goosebumps and I am smiling from ear to ear reaffirming this truth for myself. We are not lacking...our life does not start once we reach a certain size, certain weight, certain look. Our life is a gift to be treasure now!

    Thanks for the great inspiration...just what I needed! Keep up the great writing!
    1939 days ago
    I loved reading this! Thanks for sharing. Although it all struck a chord in my heart as I read it, I liked the part where you mentioned how gaining the weight just sneaks up on you. I've been thinking about that, and how my gain happened, a bit lately and realized that now my weight is sneaking back down too. ;o)

    1959 days ago
    1962 days ago
    Just inspirational - thank you!
    1995 days ago
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and inspiration with us...you are a beautiful, blessed woman and I love that you appreciate the journey as well as your accomplishments! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2006 days ago
    Great blog! I really need to appreciate who I am and what I am, despite the weight, and your blog made me think twice about my life and my family.
    Thank you!
    2010 days ago
    Thank you for sharing those great thoughts and inspiration. I am the person behind the camera alot of the time because I never like any pictures of me. I have to get in front of the camera more and let my two sons know that their mom is living! I hope they can look back at pictures later in life and see me and them having fun... even if I am almost 300lbs, I am still their mom and I love them. They will be my motivation as I start my journey again... this time I know I can and I have the power inside me to do it! Thanks again this blog. oh and I have just started Leslie's Walk at Home Videos... I cried like a baby when I finished my first full mile without stopping. now on with the rest of the DVDs.

    2013 days ago
    Many years ago I decided to be the person behind the camera instead of in front of it because I did not want to see myself in pictures. Your story has really inspired me to get out there in front of the camera and let everyone see that I am not avoiding life.
    Thanks for sharing your story.
    What a great way to see how far you have come.
    2014 days ago
  • MISSLISA1973
    What a great blog. emoticon
    2016 days ago
    With tears in my eyes, I just want to thank you for blessing my soul and inspiring me today. This blog has just shifted my thinking. I am enough right now and working toward being even better.
    2019 days ago
    You used a quote at the end that I often think about.."I had the power all long," just like Dorothy was told by Glinda the good witch. I wish I had realized it sooner. But I also realize those years I spent morbidly obese were not wasted, I had a great marriage, raised three wonderful sons and held a full-time job while holding down the home front. Now...I am pursuing other avenues...doing some substitute teaching after I had given up my dream to teach 35 long years ago when I couldn't find a teaching job after graduating from college. This might have been because of my weight, and I know my lack of ambition pursuing it as the years passed was due to my weight, how embarrassing would it be to stand in front of a classroom of young people, many of whom would be making rude comments about my appearance? I just didn't think I could endure that.

    So even though we like to tell ourselves the weight didn't affect our lifestyles, it did and does. And I was lucky like you--I had a hubby who loved me through everything, because he always saw what was inside! And inside I like to think I have been a good person, empathetic and kind, hopeful and loving, always trying to do the right thing.

    Great blog--I will come back and read this again...you give me inspiration!
    2025 days ago
    I am struggling today. It was like I was supposed to read this. Thank you. I have been working very hard at being healthier and reaching a healthier weight. For my self and for my kids and husband. I am working hard but not seeing results on the scale. We are in full "beach trip" mode and I was beating myself up for not looking better in a bathing suit this year. But it will be better, because I AM healthier, I DO work out more and I am so much more than the numbers on the scale. This trip with my family will be an amazing blessing to enjoy. No time to waste with self doubt. Thanks for the reminder!
    2026 days ago
    This Blog is wonderful it speaks to my inner beings thanks for sharing emoticon
    2027 days ago
  • AWOOD1973
    I've this blog... Even though I am JUST NOW reading it! LOL
    What a wonderful reflection of yourself! Great blog!!! How truly inspiring you are!!
    2027 days ago
    Awesome blog. Kudos to you!
    2032 days ago
    Thank you for sharing this blog. I totally needed it. I just got home from vacation and was looking at the picture seeing nothing but a beached whale. I told myself that I have to kick things into high gear, and I do and will but this blog helped me to see that I at least was out living life and having new and exciting experiences. THANK YOU for helping me see that part of my life!

    2046 days ago
    Thank you for the share! Wonderful!
    2047 days ago
    What a joy to read....thank you :) emoticon
    2049 days ago
    Well said! It's so easy to say "when i get to my goal weight i'l......" even though theres no reason to wait until then. Very inspirational.
    2050 days ago
    Very well said. It definitely makes a person think. I painted my walls last year yes last year and didn't put pictures back up because I was not happy with how I looked. I think I am now ready to put them back up. Thank You
    2051 days ago
    Your blog spoke volumes to me...at a time I needed it the most. I need to read it again and again. Thanks for sharing your insightfulness.
    2057 days ago
  • LINDA!
    Wonderful blog!
    2060 days ago
    This is an excellent blog. I think way too often we try to put out lives on hold before we reach whatever weight. You sound like a lovely, fun person. Best of luck!
    2061 days ago
  • THINNER321
    Well done blog ...in every way! emoticon
    2061 days ago
    Great blog. Congrats.
    2062 days ago
    great blog!
    2062 days ago
    2062 days ago
    This was a wondeful blog! You have a way of getting to the heart of things! Love Ya!

    2062 days ago
    I love this blog. I think it is so important to accept yourself at every point - thanks for expressing that so well. emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2063 days ago
    That is wonderful!
    2063 days ago
    So inspiring. It made me cry.
    2063 days ago
    Very moving, thank you for sharing.
    2063 days ago
    This was a great blog! What a more accurate way to look at pictures of us heavier. People always think of how they "could've" looked at certain events, and how it would've made the picture look better, but they're overlooking what's really important: experiences and memories.
    2063 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/18/2012 10:45:36 AM
    2063 days ago
    2064 days ago
    I love your perspective! You are a very good writer. We are all made up of where we came from, the paths we took and the obstacles along the way. You are celebrating the journey and encouraging all the rest of us to do the same, instead of "waiting" until we are thinner and then living our life. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
    2064 days ago
    You are a great writer, and have a great perspective. so glad to read this today. Amazing.... emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2064 days ago
  • JUST4ME71
    Terrific blog! Thanks for sharing. What a neat perspective into the "big picture." It's so easy to discount our blessings because of one (or a few) flaws. If what we "see" is self-defeating, we have to remember that the power is within and take control. I am guilty of perceiving myself as a little less lovable/human when I don't see what I like smiling back at me. This blog helps me to remember the good times and what makes us tick. It also gives me a little kick to find the strength to know what was truly important and heart felt.
    2064 days ago
    Beautiful. Thanks for sharing. emoticon
    2064 days ago
    What a wonderful uplifting blog. I think you are very thought provoking and so sincere. I love that you understand that life is worth living, and to love yourself for who you are. Your weight doesn't define you, the people in your life do. What a great husband you have, he obviously expresses his love for you and he too is sincere. As far as your daughter saying your just a mom - always remember - that is the most important role in the world. Don't ever be offended by that, I wish all these years I could have been just a mom, now my baby is graduating and I have missed out on so much. You are probably the Greatest mom, you have a great heart, I can tell that much from your writings. Thank you for a lovely blog to help lift my spirit today.
    2064 days ago
    A great blog...good for you and aren't you glad you have those pictures that celebrate your life regardless of what your weight was?
    2065 days ago
    Thanks for ur story, happen to me few weeks ago and I asked my husband why u let me look like that. I have lost 65 pounds and feel great. Thanks to SP and the encouragement of people like u. emoticon emoticon
    2065 days ago
    Wow that was awesome and brought a tear to my eyes. Thank you for sharing and your right, just because I'm changing me doesn't mean who I was, wasn't awesome. Thanks for reminding me.
    2065 days ago
  • EUNIQ3
    That was beautiful. Thanks for sharing!!
    2065 days ago
    I love this!! Thank you so much for sharing!!!
    2065 days ago
    This was a FANTASTIC blog. THANK YOU. It was good to read right now.

    2065 days ago
    Nice blog and great pics thanks
    2065 days ago
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