Tuesday, September 10, 2013

This is a recap - rerun of my trip to NYC

Several people have asked me recently about my experiences in New York City when I was invited to appear on the NBC Today show. This post is very long....and contains the reflections I originally shared with my Facebook Group: WE CAN CHANGE OUR LIVES.  It is a re-run for the new members of the group/blog that have asked me. Pictures from the trip are on my website:  www.theresaborawski.net

Good Morning my friends! I am in a whirlwind of emotion this morning. If I am dreaming, please don’t wake me up! If this is indeed real, then I am ABUNDANTLY BLESSED AND ETERNALLY THANKFUL! Today is March 1st, my 2 year anniversary of beginning this incredible journey. Even though I am a person of great faith, I never could have even imagined that 2 years ago today, that the last words I spoke to anyone (my sister) on that day…”you little _____, I’ll show you!”…would have led me to this moment of great joy. Some might say it is ironic or coincidental that I am leaving for NYC this morning. ME??? I say that this is all part of God’s plan….that exactly 2 years to the date….I would be getting on a plane with my sister…the last person I spoke to before emptying those soda bottles into the sink and dumping the sugar bowl in the trash…..heading to NYC to celebrate and share this miracle! I am blessed beyond measure and am overwhelmed with gratitude today! I am a bit apprehensive about the flight and the chaos of the city, but mostly, I am fearful of the “lack of control” I have over the situation. I have always been a person who likes to be in control of her own life. I seldom ride in a vehicle with others; I prefer to drive myself because then I know I will be on time and can leave/escape when I want to. I am uncomfortable accepting dinner invitations at others homes because I have no control over what will be served and wonder if there will be anything that I will be able to eat and remain on my plan. I seldom make concrete plans or commit to activities, because I don’t like to surrender control of my time, and if I say that I am going to be somewhere, I’m usually going to be there. I prefer to come and go as I please. These next few days will be a surrender of control. My brother-in-law is driving me to the airport; I am at his mercy as to when we leave and what time we will arrive. The Today Show is sending a car to pick us up at the Airport; I must trust the driver to get me to where I need to be because I have no idea how to get to the hotel. I am heading to a city that I have never been to, and have absolutely no idea where anything is at, what is there for me to see, etc. I am surrendering control of my environment. I have no idea what Kathy Lee and Hoda will ask me on Monday morning. I am trusting that I’ll be able to think on my feet and not embarrass myself. Giving up control is not easy, but today, I am going to be forced to completely surrender myself to God and say humbly, “You have brought me to this day; I trust that you will take care of me and lead me down the right path”. The lesson I am trying to learn today is this: there are many things in our lives every day over which we have absolutely no control…..obvious things…like the weather and the speed at which time passes. We cannot control other people and make them act or feel the way we want them to, no matter how hard we try. We can, however, control our actions…..how we react to the weather, what kind of mood we are going to be in on these cold, dreary winter days…..how we react to the struggles/worries/concerns of the day…how we respond to situations and people that irritate or frustrate us... We have control over what comes out of our mouths….the words we speak to others, and the words we speak to ourselves…( are we telling ourselves internally that we “can do this” or “we are victorious” or “we are beautiful and worthwhile…IN SPITE Of our faults and imperfections?”). We also have control over what goes in our mouths….DO we really want to eat that? Or take that drink? Or light up that cig? Or …..fill in the blanks. We usually have no control over those things that happen to us…the death of a loved one, the sickness or crisis of a family member or friend, the loss of a pet or a job or a relationship….or…., but we do have control over “how we are going to feel”. Today….I am going to have to surrender my safety , my security, my being….to others and to God. I humbly say, “Here I am, God….I’m grateful that you have brought me to this day, and I’m trusting that You will lead me and direct my steps over these next few days!” Thank you, my friends….for your prayers, your words of encouragement, your support….and your acceptance of me. I’ll keep you posted as I am able. Plane is scheduled to arrive in NYC at noon. Today….let’s make it a good day! Remember…you have no control over the things that will happen TO you today, but you do have control over how you will react to them!

It’s early Saturday morning and I’m finally getting a few minutes to reflect on the experiences of yesterday. Of course, I had to wake up at 3:30 am in order to so, but I’m an early riser anyway. The city is full of all sorts of amazing things to see and do, but it operates at a pace that is way too fast for this ole country girl. I prefer to slow down a bit and “process” things in order to fully enjoy them. Yesterday was a whirlwind of activity and “firsts”.  The experience of the airport, both in Detroit and LaGuardia, was interesting in and of itself. I’m really glad that I had Kelly with me; she is a pro at traveling, and knows exactly what to do and where to go. Day didn’t start out so well, though. NBC had booked my ticket and I already had a seat assignment before Kelly booked her ticket. Therefore, we were not supposed to be seated together when we arrived at the airport. The flight was sold out and they were looking for volunteers to take another flight. Kelly was concerned about us being separated, but I told her to leave things be. At the last minute, she was able to get the seats switched…and we were together in the very last row of the plane. She thought we had had an aisle and a window seat, so she gave up my original seat in center of plane and her coveted window seat. When we got on the plane, however, we discovered that we were in the last row alright…but it had no window…just a blank wall. She was quite upset for me because we couldn’t see anything but a wall and were seated in a row that felt like a closet. At first, I was disappointed, but told her that apparently, this was how it was ‘meant to be’…. When we reached our seats, there was a flight attendant sitting on a very small bench…not sure it is even a seat…right in the back of the plane…next to us and between the bathrooms. She was on her way to NYC to catch another flight she was “working” to London. She was very friendly and we talked at length before take-up. I was so anxious about the flight…and those 20 minutes of waiting before take-off were filled with delightful conversation, and helped me to relax and calm down. She asked why I was going to NYC and Kelly told her about the Today Show. She was amazed to hear my story and called the other 2 flight attendants over to hear it. The opportunity I had to share my story with them reminded me of the very purpose of my trip…to give thanks and celebrate the gift of new life that I have been given. It also helped me to feel at ease, knowing that this flight attendant, who was not working the flight…would be sitting right there the whole trip…to reassure me…comfort me…and tell what I needed to do if things didn’t go as planned. One very interesting observation of the flight….something that absolutely amazed me…..shortly after we were in the air, the entire plane was filled with sunlight. I couldn’t see out any windows, but could see the sunshine shining and reflecting in the plane. I was confused because it was cold and overcast when we left Detroit. My sister told me, “It’s because we are way up above the cloud       s, where there is only sun.” I hadn’t thought of that before….but it made me really reflect on a profound concept.  Clouds, darkness, struggles, pain, depression, anxiety….temptation….whatever we are consumed by on those difficult days…..sometimes seem to overtake us and block out all the goodness, hope, light, courage…..again…those things that give us LIFE and Light and Love, and we don’t see any way that things will ever be any better.   BUT….as I discovered today….all we have to do is figure out “HOW TO RISE ABOVE IT….how to keep looking up…how to keep ascending….how to  break through it…..because…ONCE WE DO…once we break through “those clouds…or storms, even”…. The sun is shining…..the sun NEVER STOPS shining….things just “get in the way!”   SO....2 of the many lessons I Iearned yesterday….”go with the flow” and “rise above the darkness”.  I hope that you will be able to break through those things that are blocking the light from your world…Keep looking up…Keep working toward your goals…keep surrendering your life…Keep hope …Trust me… I know… I saw it today with my very own eyes!!!!  Make it a good day!

Saturday in NYC was exhilarating, emotional, and educational, and eye-opening. Because we are only here for a very short trip and there is so many things to see and do, we had to pack as much into the day as possible. Not exactly the way I like to do things, but I suppose it’s the only way to take in as many of the sights as possible in a very limited time. This caused me a bit of stress and really pushed me outside of my comfort zone because I prefer to do things at a slower pace and to “take in fully” what I am doing. I think A LOT….often times, TOO MUCH…and I prefer to really ponder and reflect on things in a deep way. It wasn’t easy to do that when there was so much stimulation, noise, talking, etc…, coming at me all the time. I had a wonderful day, but I honestly couldn’t wait to get some “quiet, Theresa time” to let the things I saw and what I was feeling at the same time, sink in. I snuck those moments in when I could yesterday, but it wasn’t until very late last night, and now, very early morning that I get that time. I have only been getting a few hours’ sleep each night. This has been a challenge for my sister who needs a full 8 hours each night. Me, on the other hand…..am so excited about my new life and all the new experiences that are happening to me, that I don’t want to sleep. The same is true at home; I wake up automatically without an alarm about 3:30. Today, I woke up at 4:30, but didn’t go to bed until sometime after 1:30 ish.  BUT…here I am, in a quiet, dark room, thinking about the blessings of yesterday, and experiencing peace and quiet!

The day began yesterday with a 6 hour guided bus tour of the major NYC sights. We started out with a short bus trip to one of the boat docking marinas where we boarded a water-taxi that took us down the East River for a wonderful view of the some of the cities beautiful buildings. This is a great way to see the incredible architecture and various shapes of the buildings. When you are on the street, it’s hard to fully appreciate the shape and uniqueness of the structures because they are too tall and you are too close to take it all in.  This observation taught me more “personally” than historically. I’m only somewhat interested in history and architecture; I’m more interested in “what am I personally going to take away from this and what lesson will I learn?”  Lesson learned…..being “too close” to a situation…good or bad, but especially bad, makes things look worse and distort the view. Sometimes, when we “step away”…or “back away” and put some distance and between us and something ….(like a worry, situation, problem….or even a goal…like losing 40, 50, or even 100 pounds, finding a job, earning a degree, repairing a relationship….whatever challenge we have personally,).. .helps us to see things differently and from a new perspective. Other times, when we are too close to something, our “View” or “perspective” is blocked by ‘other things’.  In NYC, it was other buildings, signs, traffic, trees, noise…..even other people….were often getting in the way of me seeing the thing clearly.  I’ll think often about this question….“what person, thing, feeling, fear, etc… is “standing in my way”….”stopping me from fully appreciating , seeing things clearly….drinking in….all that life has to offer me?  Is it my emotional baggage…..like fear, apprehension, guilt, insecurity……is it people….like family, friends, colleagues, relationships…….is it just “too much stuff”….physical stuff, or job demands, or busy-ness and lack of time, or just stress or chaos or laziness or depression or…..fill in the blanks.  What is it in your life that is ‘standing in your way” of meeting your dreams….losing that weight, meeting your goal, repairing your relationship, landing that job, getting out debt, beating that addiction…..finding joy?  My advice….take a step or two…..or several blocks……back and look at it from a distance. Put some space between you and the problem….and then take a look at it from a new angle. If there is something in the way…..find a way to “get rid of it”…”let it go”….take a different street.  So much more to share as time permits….these thoughts flooded my mind in just the first 20 minutes of the trip….it was a LONG…day…so much more to tell!

Part of our guided tour yesterday included a 2nd boat tour, this time on the Hudson River to see the Statue of Liberty. We had a short walk to get down to the dock to catch the “water taxi”.  The little stroll was a bit melancholy for me because we passed through several blocks of complete devastation left by Hurricane Sandy. Buildings and store fronts are empty…with signs of “uninhabitable” hanging on them.  In fact, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty are still closed due to the storm damage, so the only way to see it is via boat ride. It’s mind-boggling for me to even try to comprehend how the sea could become so angry that it would spill water for blocks and blocks, taking anything in its way.  Many places around the city…even  those places away from the water , sustained damage and are closed or under renovation. The museum at Ground Zero still has 50 feet of water on the bottom (underground) 5 stories of the building and the city doesn’t know what it is going to do to get the water out. Most of the contents of the museum have been lost.  But…on a more positive note…. I saw Lady Liberty!!!  Seeing the magnificent statue brought tears to my eyes…literally!  Once again, not for the typical “touristy” reasons….like seeing a landmark, or hot tourist attraction, or symbol of America, or any of those reasons, but because I CAN TOTALLY RELATE to the statue in a deep emotional way.  As the boat drew closer to the statue, and she was coming in to view, my heart began to race a bit and excitement grew, probably in much the same way as those early immigrants felt when they saw her in a distance.   To them…she represented FREEDOM…an opportunity to make a new start in a new world…a new life, free from the oppression they were leaving behind.  Do you know what it means to me????  The very same thing ---FREEDOM!….not exactly in the same way as the immigrants…..but yet very similar.  By the grace of God, I have been blessed with Freedom as well….Freedom from oppression, freedom from the prison of obesity, immobility, isolation, depression…emotional and physical pain….freedom from a life lived as a spectator, instead of a participant. Like them, God has set me free….and given ME a chance at a new life...brought me to a new world…filled with new challenges….but for the first time in many years…A life FULL of hope and a future.  Was it easy for them…..to be strangers in a world they didn’t know???? To face challenges they knew nothing about?? No, it was not easy at all. I wonder how many times they said “why did I ever come here in the first place???  It was so much easier back in the world that they knew…even if it was an oppressed world! I have said those types of things A LOT on my journey.  Life wasn’t physically easier when I weighed 400 pounds and lived in the wheelchair, but it certainly was “less complicated” in many ways! Like those early settlers, I sometimes feel like a stranger in the world of “normal sized” people.  I had ….and still have….and will continue to have….experiences that are totally foreign to me…like shopping for normal size clothes…dealing with strangers talking to me, or approaching me to start a conversation…or taking a trip…on a plane…to a big city….appearing in newspapers and on national television!  These things push me outside of my comfort zone, but are exciting and liberating and challenging….and so forth. I still have…and will continue to have….moments where the seas roar around me, threatening to sink my ship and capsize me.  I still have things from the “old world”... (thoughts of discouragement, unworthiness, doubt, fear, etc…) that needs to be thrown overboard so they don’t sink my ship….. SO….when I saw the statue of Liberty….I immediately gave a prayer of thanksgiving…..for the freedom we have as citizens of this great country…for those that are currently serving to defend her….and those who gave their lives trying to ensure our freedom…..and for me personally….the Freedom and new life I have found by losing the weight.   My question to you all…..What type of burden or worries are holding you hostage?  What things do you have to leave behind to find a new life….and most importantly….what are you going to do when the road gets rocky and the seas get rough?  Are you going to turn around and go back in the other direction, or jump off the boat, or are you going to be like those early immigrants and keep heading to a new world???  The choice, every day is ours to make!  BUT… WE CAN CHANGE OUR LIVES…..for the better! 

Later that day.....
Ok..come on now... I know the burning question for most of you....even more than, "What is Theresa going to wear on TV"...is "What is Theresa eating in NYC???" SO... here it goes.... I have been here for 3 1/2 days...and I have not even been tempted once to indulge in all of the goodies that are EVERYWHERE.... I packed a suitcase full of food...protein bars, oatmeal, splenda, sugar free salad dressing, fiber bars, drink mixes, etc....and have eaten fruit and yogurt from the corner deli, was able to find chicken, vegetables, stir-fry, all sorts of healthy options on almost every street corner. On Firday night, I ate 1 piece of NYC style pizza...without pepperoni...probably less than 400 calories and still within my plan. On Saturday night we went to Korea town where I was able to order chicken and broccoli off the menu. The chef even cooked it without deep frying it or breading it. Talk about diversity... we were one of only a handful of people that spoke English...in a packed restaurant! I tried using the chopsticks, but ended up dropping most of the food on my lap, so had to ask for a fork! Because of all the walking we've done in the past few days, I will probably be one of very few visitors to NYC who actually LOSES weight while here!!! My sister, on the other hand, has been enjoying corner hotdogs, roasted nuts, cookies and other goodies. She says, laughingly, that I am going to be inducted into the "Joy Fit Club" and she is going to be in the "Joy, it doesn't fit me Club!" We've had a lot of laughs about that.


Sunday in NYC was by far the best day yet. The ONLY thing I really wanted to make sure that I did while here is to make a visit to this beautiful cathedral…the 2nd thing I wanted to do is to find a thrift store and see if I could find a treasure or two.  Today, accomplished both….and so now I am ready to come home. Anything else that happened today would just be “gravy”…..fat-free, of course! (Come on, at least I’m smiling, instead of saying, “oh my goodness…I’m going to be on TV in about 6 hours…YIKES!).   So, early Sunday morning, I woke up and headed down the block….by MYSELF….(look at you go, girl…walking the streets of NYC alone when only 2 days ago, you were freaking out about going to the airport!!!!!)…to go to mass at St. Patrick’s.  I get up SOOO early…like right now, it’s only 3:45 am on Monday morning….and my sister needs a lot more sleep than I, so I let her sleep and headed to mass alone.  As I approached the Cathedral, my heart sank….in fact, I was almost to the point of tears….because the entire outside of this majestic building was covered with scaffolding and plastic and wood…..the cathedral is undergoing MASSIVE renovation and just about the entire building was hidden beneath construction materials. How could this possibly be happening….disappointment almost took my breath away.  Well…my motto of the trip thus far has been….well, I guess this is how God wants it to be! He must be going to speak to me in some other way.  I went inside….only to discover much of the same…..All kinds of scaffolding, plastic, taped off areas…again, I felt a twinge of disappointment, but still…there were areas that were not under renovation…and the entire presence of the cathedral was nearly overwhelming and took my breath away. I stood at the doorway…looked inside at this incredibly massive and majestic building and was nearly blown away by the moment. The cathedral was packed…because mass would be starting in a short time, so I found a seat. Because so much of the area was blocked off, I ended up sitting in a side vestibule…behind a huge pillar….with absolutely NO VIEW of the front altar area. They had set up TV screen monitors all over the church so people could see the priest and the altar for mass. I ended up sitting in the cathedral…but watching Mass on the TV because I couldn’t see the celebrants from where I was at.  In fact, I would have to say, that more than ½ of the people were in my same boat. YET, I could look up and see many beautiful things around me. Many of the beautiful stained glass windows were covered from the outside, so the sun was blocked out with very little light showing through.

It’s here… the day has arrived, ready or not, here it is! It’s 5:30 am. I have been up already for 2 hours, enjoying the darkness and stillness of my room while my sister sleeps. I’m not sure what I’m feeling…a bit of apprehension, but not extreme stress….at least at this moment. That may come later as the time approaches. I’ve already had 2 cups of coffee and have been using this time to clear my mind of worry and just try to stay relaxed and focus. I received a comforting text right from a dear friend right before I drifted off to sleep and I think that it helped put me at ease. I’ve received so many emails and posts on Facebook and I know that there are so many people surrounding me with love, support, and mostly prayer. And after all… it’s only about 4 minutes…its’ really not that big of a deal, right?  I don’t know what will happen when I get to the studio…all I know is that the producer is picking me up at the hotel at 9:10 to escort me over to the Studio, through security clearance, for hair and make-up. I’ve not spoken to Joy Bauer or the hosts yet and I don’t know what they will be asking me or what the format will be. I have already taped a minute audio track telling a little about my story. This audio will be used as part of a video slide show segment full of my most unbecoming “Fat Pictures”.  That clip has been the most difficult for me to deal with. Knowing that in about 5 hours, pictures of me at my absolute worst will be shown across the country and will end up “permanently” out there on YouTube and the internet for the rest of my days has made me completely vulnerable. No longer will this “past Theresa” be a secret from those I meet. No longer will I be able to hide. No longer will my pain and sadness be buried deep within my heart. It will be embarrassing, humbling, and perhaps even a bit shameful for me to watch and to share with the world….and yet…it is that THERESA….that has made THIS THERESA…who I am today. It is those experiences…those losses, those moments of sadness and hurt…that have led me to this day…to this tremendous opportunity. It is those experiences and images that have helped to build character and strength, and will hopefully make me a kinder, more compassionate soul. It is that THERESA that you chose to befriend and love.  It is that THERESA that lives in this new THERESA.  SO…with that being said… I suppose the only thing I should be feeling is complete, absolute gratitude…to GOD, and to you.  If I can capture those feelings and that gratitude, then I will be able to walk out on that set with confidence and joy….internal joy…and Physical JOY…JOY BAUER.  Isn’t it ironic that my life is filled with deep down, bubbling over kind of joy internally….and I am soon to be a part of the JOY FIT CLUB????  Coincidence????  I think not!!!  My sincere hope…is that someone…somewhere…will hear my story today, see it on the internet, read it in the paper, come across it on FB…wherever….that one person….will find hope, courage, inspiration to make a change in his/her life, and most importantly, I hope that God will be glorified in and through this experience.  He has brought me to this moment…at this point…all I can do is surrender this day to HIM and say…Here I am!  Keep the good thoughts and prayers coming. I’m going to need to be surrounded them.   I’ll be catching a flight home later this afternoon…once I get through the show, I can start getting mentally prepared for the flight.  THANK YOU!!!!  I hope I don’t disappoint you!   As that old cigarette commercial once said, “You’ve come a long way, baby!” Thanks for being a part of the journey.

Wow!  All I can say is WOW! I have always had a creative imagination, but I have never imagined that I would have had a day like today. I am overwhelmed by the number of posts and comments that have come flooding into Facebook today since the show aired….many from people I don’t even know!  It’s hard for me to grasp that this is all really happening. Just 2 years ago, I was on the verge of death, both from the obesity and the fact that I was just about ready to give up. I hadn’t really been “living” for several years at that point, but rather just “watching” other people live. I truly believe that I have been blessed with a tremendous miracle!  What a privilege and an honor to be given the opportunity to share it with so many people, with the hope that they, too, will realize that ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!

                The day started very early, like most days. I took several hours in the very early morning…between 3:30 – 5:30 is am… to mentally and spiritually prepare for the show. I spent a lot of time reflecting on the journey and those things and moments that brought me to this day. Mostly, I gave thanks for this gift, and prayed that I would be able to share it with dignity, honor, and respect, and that God would be glorified by my words and my actions.

                After a short walk to the Today Show studio in Rockefeller Center, a producer led me through security down to the “green room” where I joined others who were scheduled to appear on today’s show. I was led into hair and make-up and sat in a studio chair


Good Morning….It’s back to reality today! This past week has been an experience of a lifetime!  I am so grateful for the experience, but will be glad to get back to what I do best….work with students to help them stay on track and achieve their goals.  Being invited to be a guest on the Today Show took pushed me beyond my comfort zone and allowed me to experience things that I never even imagine I was capable of doing, nor would have ever even considered before. God was with me each step of the way….and so was my sister! I’m not sure that I would have survived the trip without her support, encouragement, and knowledge. She is a pro and maneuvering through the airport, checking in, planning routes, etc., not to mention, reminding me that I CAN and TRY things that I would have otherwise not even attempted. I am so blessed to have had this experience, and even more blessed to have had her at my side. 

Today, I am very tired…in fact, I’m exhausted. I suppose it is more from the emotional whirlwind and the release of adrenaline than it is from lack of sleep. I guess I was na├»ve in thinking that once the plane landed back in Detroit, that this adventure would be over…Boy, was I wrong!  I was not prepared for the amount of emails, Facebook posts, comments on all the websites, etc…that appearing on the show would bring. I am so honored….and so humbled…at the outpouring of support that has been sent my way. It is such a blessing for me to know that so many people watched the clip and were inspired to make changes in their lives. After all…that was the whole purpose!  I pray that I will always be open to these opportunities and always be willing to share my story…warts and all.

After the show, I was really flying high. In fact, I was on cloud nine.  Kelly and I decided to spend our last afternoon visiting the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center. As I got off the elevator, I almost lost my breath when I looked out the window at New York City. The view from the Top…I’m not even sure right now how many stories high….was absolutely incredible!  The sun was shining brightly and the view was spectacular. I could see for miles and was able to pick out many of the landmarks that I had visited over the past few days. It was an appropriate way to end the trip of a lifetime.  I told my sister that I needed a bit of time to myself just to decompress and reflect on my experience, so I found a window and perched myself there. I slowly began to look around….and try to get in touch with the many thoughts swirling through my brain.  What was I supposed to learn from this, I asked?  How can God speak to me…here at this moment?  What on earth am I doing so high in the air, when I’m actually uncomfortable with heights?  

I continued to enjoy the view…but then I began to focus a bit more on what I was seeing….and you know what….. I soon discovered that the view of many of the buildings and landmarks wasn’t nearly as incredible as it was “at ground level”.  From the top… I had to look down upon things to see them. I wasn’t able to see the incredible uniqueness of some of those beautiful buildings….all I could see was the roof…often the “ugliest” part of the building because it showed the most wear and tear from rain, wind, storms, etc…and housed the heating/cooling elements…exhaust systems….whatever all those mechanical and technical things are.  The roofs were not reflective glass…the roofs did not have intricate detailing and architecture…the roofs didn’t shine with sparkling glass…the roofs didn’t have people standing on them…the roofs couldn’t speak and smile and interact.  Suddenly the view from the top wasn’t all that spectacular. Sure, it was an awesome experience to see once….but in actuality….being down on the street….looking at things at the same level…with feet planted firmly on the ground… is much more fulfilling and life-giving.  Hmm…. I thought about my own life and the experiences I have every day working with students at the college and interacting with people in a variety of ways…either in person, on Facebook, at church…or even in my day to day relationships and interactions.  To me…it is life-giving to look eye to eye…face to face…to see the joy and pain and excitement and frustration...in another….to be on the same level…not any better or higher up than anyone else. Sure, I’ve lost a lot of weight…sure I just appeared on TV…sure, I’ve been getting a lot of media attention…but that doesn’t make me any different than any other person. It means that I have been abundantly blessed…but so are you! 


One step forward….two steps back!  This polish girl grew up loving a good old Polka and the whole one step forward, two steps back thing…fits right in on the dance floor. BUT…it also kind of describes many days in my life.

 While in NYC, my sister and I decided to embrace our fear and take a trip on the subway. Both of us were a bit apprehensive because we had heard some pretty grim stories about it, but we were tired of paying such high fares for a taxi, and really wanted to get the full “New York City” experience. We had no idea what we were supposed to do, what a METRO CARD was, where to get off, or where we were headed. When we got to the ticket station, we were surprised to find that we were only 1 stop….equivalent to a few blocks…away from where we wanted to go, but since we were already there in the station, we decided to try it out anyway. We actually felt a bit more comfortable knowing that we were only going to be on the train for 1 stop…the equivalent of a few minutes. What could go wrong in that amount of time, right?  The ticket man looked at us like we were nuts when we paid $5.00 for the two of us to ride a few blocks, but to us, the experience was “priceless” as they say in the commercials. He told us to take the B-D train and get off at the first stop.

 We headed down to the tunnel….AND THROUGH THE TURNSTILES….to wait for the train. Notice how I capitalized TURNSTILES???? That is because just going through the turnstile was LIBERATING!  It was the first time in many, many, many....years that I was able to walk through a turnstile straight!  I quit going to the movies, ball games, and amusement parks…even the zoo…a long time ago because I could hardly fit through the turnstile and didn’t want the embarrassment. Thank God I am tall because I could usually stand on my tippy toes and walk sideways through, but in recent years, when I gained so much more weight, I wasn’t going to take a chance of getting stuck.  Those experiences were some of the many that I had just simply forgotten about….until Friday night….when I walked through the turnstile. My sister kept on walking; she had no idea what kind of emotion was going through my mind at that moment.  Most of you probably have never even thought about that kind of situation and what it means to someone who is obese…or even disabled. In any case…it was a victory for me! 

SO…we stood there with a plethora of characters from all walks of life….some looked like people that could have been coming home from work…others were tourists like us…and others were obviously street people. I heard someone say that for $2.50 he could ride the subway all night long and have a place to be warm. Imagine that! The train raced up to where we were standing and I was in awe.  I had never experienced anything like this before and I was wide-eyed….Wow...is this small town girl that had never been in a taxi until that evening….really standing in the subway at NYC about to get on?  I was nervous and excited at the same time. The doors opened and I took a deep breath. The train was full of people...many of them standing holding on to bars…just like you see on TV!!!  Kelly and I rushed through the door into the crowded area with a smile on our faces…partly because we were excited that we were conquering a fear….but mostly to hide our nervousness. The doors closed quickly and the train took off with a jerk. WOW! The subway really moves quickly! It was shaky and noisy, and I wondered how long it takes people to get used to it. I’ve since learned that some riders have to ride the subway for an hour or more every day.  It seemed like as quickly as it got started, we were slowing down….ready to get off. The ticket man did say 1 stop; right….we asked each other? Certain that is what he said, we exited the subway after 1 stop…into another crowded station, not even knowing where we were. The trained race away…leaving us there to find our way. Kelly spotted a sign….but we definitely were NOT where we wanted to be. It turns out that we got on the train GOING THE WRONG Direction!

How many times in life have you felt like that???? Me??? Many times!  More times than I care to count, actually. Life is like that…we head in a direction….we take a job that we are certain will be our “dream job”, we enter a relationship that we are positive will last a lifetime, we make a decision that we think is best…buy a car, or a house, or a boat, or …..that we are sure is a great deal…start a diet that we just KNOW will work this time...only to find out that we were headed the wrong way!  SO….what did we have to do??? We had to seek answers…we had to find someone who could point us in the right direction…we had to ask for help. Surprisingly, it was a complete stranger that told us what we needed to do….someone that we would have least expected to help us. She told us that we needed to get on the train heading in the other direction. We were grateful for the advice and eventually found our way to another station to wait for a new train. This time, we had to go 2 stops….one…to get back to where we were…and two to get where we wanted to be.

 I have had this type of experience so many times in my life…It seems like I take 1 step forward…and then 2 steps back.  Dieting…or exercise…or decision making…or dating…reconciliation with a friend or family member….you name it.  We think we are making progress…and then something gets in the way…we are weak…we blow the diet…we smoke a cigarette or take a drink or charge too much on our charge card or spend too much in the casino…we offend someone or forget a birthday....WHATEVER…..and we end up 2 steps back.  The GOOD THING?????  All we had to do was get on a train going in the other direction…sure, we had to go farther to make up for our error…but we had an experience and we learned something. Just like in life….we have to work harder to lose those few pounds we gained over the holidays or pay off those bills….but we learned from the situation and hopefully came out of it with more resolve to do better…to get where we want to be…to work harder…..TO ASK FOR HELP or DIRECTION/ADVICE/MEDICAL INTERVENTION…  If we continually do the one step forward, two steps back thing, we are going to end up a long ways away….but when it happens occasionally….just go with the flow…and do what we did…get on the train moving in the other direction. You WILL…..I assure you….get where you want to be!  Just don’t get off the train unless it’s going the Wrong way!!!   Go ahead, conquer those fears and take a chance…Like me, you might just find out that you “enjoyed the ride!”


Pretending to be….Many of us can likely recall a time during childhood when we played “pretend” or “dress-up”. Perhaps, we dressed in our mother’s high heels or apron, or put our dad’s baseball cap or uniform for work. Me? My best childhood pal, Susan, and I liked to dress in fancy clothes and hats that her mother had collected over the years. I also liked to play “church” and pretend I was the priest. I’d line my dolls up against the railing going down into the family room and murmur some mumbled, jumbled up words that resembled the Latin spoke at Mass…(dating myself a bit, eh? It was the early 60’s!) When my sister was born, we played “house”, and I was the mother. Sometimes, “pretending” can be fun…even beneficial….like when we “pretend” we’re not scared so we don’t chicken out and turn the other way. I once heard someone say…Fake it till you make it….When you are faced with something that pushes you outside your comfort zone…something that you are afraid of doing…and failing at…like a job interview, a speech or talk you have to give, a discussion with someone that may be difficult, a diet or exercise plan…a test in school…or ….fill in the blanks…sometimes going ahead and trying it….pretending that you can do it is the first step. You can build confidence in yourself and gain strength by telling yourself that you have what it takes…that the strength lies within you, and that you CAN DO IT…even if you are trembling, fearful, doubtful. The more you believe you are capable, the more capable you will be!  We will not succeed at everything we attempt. We will not be able to resist temptation at every single party. We will not be perfect, and sometimes, remembering the failures is much easier than remembering the successes. We have to keep reminding ourselves, however, that there have been many times where we “triumphed” and many times where we “did well” or succeeded at whatever we were attempting. Focusing on those occasions, rather than our failures, will build confidence and spur us on. If you Fake it till you Make it…you will likely find out that you can do things you never dreamed possible.

On the other hand…pretending is not always a good thing…like when we pretend we’re not disappointed when someone lets us down, or rejects us…. or that we’re not hurt when someone makes a joke at our expense. That kind of “pretending” can be very harmful. I know, I have had a lifetime of it. I spent a lot of years, “pretending” that things didn’t bother me, instead of dealing with them. That is partly why I gained so much weight. Instead of facing the hurts in life, I tried to bury them with food. Some of you may be able to relate…we can bury our hurts with all sorts of things…alcohol or drugs, shopping, other addictions…or even under personality traits…like sarcasm, negativity, jealousy. Sometimes the “pretending” results in anxiety, sickness, or depression.

While in NYC, my sister and I went to Macy’s department store in Herald’s Square. What an experience. The store takes up an entire city block and is 10 stories tall! Amazing! I had only ever been in a Macy’s store 1 time before; that was on Black Friday this past year, and I was only there for a few minutes. But…so many people told me that going to Macy’s in NYC was a “must do”, so we went. I must admit, I was excited to be there…to see that place where the Thanksgiving Parade goes by…and the place where the Santa’s in the old Christmas movies abides…to ride the wooden escalators that I had heard about…just to be there to see what all the “magic of Macy’s” was supposed to be. I had even opened a Macy’s charge card the week before my trip…and had a whopping $250.00 credit limit…JUST IN CASE… I decided I wanted to buy something. When I walked into the store, my eyes widened and I was in awe. First of all, it’s huge…2ndly, it was packed with people...resembled the crowds on Black Friday. Finally, it was bright and shiny and beautiful….a whole lot different than the dollar store or Wal-Mart, for sure!  Oh boy, I said to myself… “I had better start “pretending”… that I fit in here…it certainly isn’t the type of store I’m used to shopping at. (Ok, no thrift store remarks from the crowd!  LOL). We entered the store near the handbag collection. There were purses in every color, every style…all beautifully arranged. Unbelievable to a small-town girl like me; I’ve never even been in a Coach store, although I do own 2 purses I scored at a “garage sale” in Canton! I picked up a handbag, glanced at the price tag, and let out a gasp….”3,475.00 dollars!”  Yikes! That’s more than I paid for my car!!!  Pretend girl…pretend like you do this all the time….I will admit, it was kind of fun to pretend that I could…or would…actually buy a new purse.  Next stop… 2nd floor.  Are you ready for this…the ENTIRE 2nd floor is nothing but shoes!!!!!  For a little while, I was in heaven!  It was amazing to see all the different styles and colors and shapes. It really was something I had never even imagined. I spent the next hour looking at shoes…and trying them on…and pretending that I could “possibly walk” in heels that high!  It was a blast! I almost even bought a pair of red high heels…not the $975.00 pair I tried on…but a $60.00 pair I was certain I couldn’t live without!  Practicality finally kicked in, however, and I walked away from the shoes….likely  with more enjoyment from the hour of “pretending” than from actually purchasing a pair of shoes that  I have absolutely no place to wear.  I did end up buying a couple of things off a hidden clearance rack on one of the 3 floors full of ladies clothing, though!

It was a really fun way to spend a few hours in NYC. The next day, we went to a thrift store and I didn’t have to pretend a bit. I had a blast and came home with some great treasures.

 Lesson learned:  It’s perfectly fine…in fact...quite enjoyable…to “pretend”….as long as reality lurks below the surface and is easily gotten back to. So…go ahead and “pretend” you are not scared when you are holding the hand of someone you love who is going in for surgery or your child is getting stitches. Go ahead and “pretend” that you will be okay when someone you love is dying and you are aching inside. Go ahead and “pretend”  that you are not fearful when getting on rollerblades….or starting that diet… or contemplating looking for a new job or… having a baby or …getting married…OR…….fill in your own blanks.   You may be surprised at how strong you really are!  You CAN change your life….if you don’t believe it now…FAKE IT till you MAKE IT!