Monday, September 30, 2013

How bad do you want to be a butterfly?



How did it get to be Monday so soon??? Gosh, the weekend just flew by! The weather was spectacular this weekend here in northern Michigan; a true taste of Indian summer with temps in the mid to high 70’s and absolutely clear, blue skies by day and a soft gentle rain on Saturday night. Really, perfect weather, but likely the beginning of the end of the warm, summer weather as we transition into autumn and winter.

 

My pool is officially emptied and down and just waiting to dry completely before being put away for the winter. It’s only an 16 foot round pool that is about 3.5 deep, but it sure provides me with a tremendous amount of joy each summer. It’s kind of sad to see the empty spot where it once stood and know that it won’t be much longer and snow will cover that spot. But…spring will come again and in the meantime, the trees are just bursting forth with radiant color!  Not peaked yet, but the reds and oranges of the maples are spectacular right now. Hopefully, I’ll get to go on a color-tour drive next weekend. The next few weekends will involve getting the perennial gardens ready for bed and storing the patio furniture for the winter.  It sure is good to be able to do those things again, even if it means winter is knocking on the door.

 

While working outside this weekend, I noticed an abundance of fuzzy caterpillars all over the yard. I’m guessing there may be a slight increase in their numbers this year due to all the additional gardens I planted all summer to provide food for the butterflies and moths, but I’m also surmising that I’m just noticing them now that I’m physically able to be ‘out and about’ in the yard.  In any case, they are very cool.  It’s ironic that our group member Becca posted the picture to the site earlier today showing the caterpillar and butterfly image because I’ve been thinking about that concept for the past couple of days now.

 

The majority of the caterpillars I found were the brown and orange fuzzy ones. They don’t turn into a butterfly, but rather the Isabella wooly moth. Many of the others turn into butterflies, but nonetheless, the whole process of metamorphosis is quite an amazing one. We could learn much from the life-cycle of a moth/butterfly to apply to our day-to-day journey of change.  When I was teaching youngsters many years ago, I often told the story of the boy who found a caterpillar and put it in the jar. He took care of it and watched it spin into a cocoon. One day, he noticed that the butterfly was trying to come of the cocoon, but it was struggling so much that the boy cut a hole in the cocoon to help the butterfly escape. It was easier for the butterfly to get out, but it died shortly afterward because its body was wet and swollen and it couldn’t fly. The moral of the story is that the butterfly NEEDED to struggle and work through the process, because that struggle and difficult period of change, forced the fluid out of the butterfly, enabling it to fly.  Here is a link to the whole story if you’d like more of the details: http://instructor.mstc.edu/instructor/swallerm/Struggle%20-%20Butterfly.htm

 

On this journey that we call life, we often go from flying like a buttefly/moth to crawling for a period like a caterpillar to intense periods of “isolation, dormancy, emptiness, darkness where we seem to be just ‘standing still’ or even worst…lifeless (not physically dead, but emotionally/mentally/spiritually” only to work/struggle through that so that we can “fly and be free” again. Unlike the moths/butterflies in nature, we don’t go through this just once and then die, but rather over and over and over again.  Sometimes the periods of flight/freedom/happiness last longer than the “aloneness/difficulties/trials”; sometimes the struggle to find our way out of the darkness/pain are harder than others; sometimes we never ever have the courage to TRY to fly because we might fail or think we don’t deserve it, so we just stay ‘confined to our own cocoon” because it’s safer there and we “know how to live that way”. Sometimes we just “die” there….because we are too afraid to make the necessary changes and leave the past behind. Wherever we are……whatever our journey…..whatever our struggles…..it’s important to realize that none of those stages are ever “permanent” and we must, at times, go through the ups and downs of life.  BUT…..we get stronger each time we go through those changes and if we make truly life-altering changes, the periods of caterpillar/cocoon don’t last very long…BECAUSE WE KNOW HOW to fly and we can get back to that stage quicker. 

 

Unless you are a science major, most of us don’t know what type of butterfly/moth will emerge from any caterpillar of cocoon we might come across, but we know that if all the elements are right, it will one day fly. The same is true for us; most of the time we don’t know what “good” will come out of those crawling/isolation/struggling times we encounter, but if we have faith, we know that WE WILL come out of it and WE WILL one day fly, either for the first time or AGAIN!  We can…and WE WILL….change OUR OWN LIVES….just like those silly caterpillars will change theirs.  It’s just a process.  Just don’t give up! Ask yourself:  how bad to you want to fly?  Are you willing to go through the changes?  I AM!


Friday, September 27, 2013

That Green-Eyed Monster





Have you ever encountered that “green-eyed monster” called jealousy or envy?  I have, plenty of times; in fact, more times that I want to admit. This ‘deadly sin”, as it was called by the dear nuns who taught me in school, can literally rob a person of joy and peace. It certainly causes a lot of distress in life. I’ve been on both ends….one who felt jealous or envious, and in recent months, one who has caused others to feel jealous or envious of me. Neither end of the spectrum is a pleasant or healthy place to be.

 

I thought a lot of about jealousy on my drive in to work yesterday because it was very foggy, not like the brief, unexpected fog like I wrote about last week, but a more wide-spread, very heavy fog. In fact, many of the local schools were delayed and/or closed, but I arrived safely and all is well. Last week, I left work and the sun was shining and the parking lot was dry. It was a beautiful afternoon.  Less than 3 miles down the road, however, it was pouring down rain.  It wasn’t even supposed to rain at all that day…and yet, here it was…pouring.  Almost as quickly as I drove into the rain, I drove out of it. It was literally like a line….it was pouring on one side of the street and the sun was shining on the other.  The fog was kind of like that on and off yesterday.  It was clear and calm and the sun was beginning to rise…and then….it was so foggy that I couldn’t see in front of me….then it was completely clear again…and then foggy.  The periods of fog grew longer but were always followed by periods of clear, smooth sailing. Just odd Michigan weather….but in a way….like life.  But…the fog, and also the weird rain situation last week, did cause me to ponder jealousy and to take a closer look at my life.

Sometimes it seems like it is always RAINING (troubles, hardships, sickness…whatever) in our life and the sun is always SHINING (financial prosperity, good health, good looks, great kids, good education….whatever) on others.  WHY US?  WHY THEM? Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like you had a big cloud of darkness hanging over your head?  Maybe you wondered why “things always happen to me” and “why can’t I EVER GET A BREAK” or “Come on, God, how MUCH MORE do you think I can handle?”  Perhaps you’ve looked at your neighbors, friends, or family members and wondered….”what’s so great about them; why does everything go well for them when I have to struggle”.  Someone is always richer, prettier, smarter, healthier…SKINNIER.  Why them and not me????   Maybe you’ve muttered… “yeah, sure, I’d have a great marriage or relationship too if my spouse DID that…or treated me like that….or made that much money… OR whatever.”  Maybe it’s your kids…. ‘sure, my kid would be the smartest one in school if I didn’t have to go to work and sit and read to them all day when they were little’ or “the only reason he/she is on the team is because his/her grandmother is on the school board or they have more money or……”.  You get the drift. Likely, we’ve all been there at one time or another. Maybe we’re there now. 

 

Maybe we are really jealous of those around us that seem to be able to lose weight easier or faster than us. “Well…yeah, sure, they can afford to go to a gym….or “did you see how much it costs for fruit and produce; all I can afford is macaroni and cheese or Hamburger Helper”.  Maybe you’ve thought, “I could lose weight too if I didn’t have the GENES from my plump grandma or I didn’t have to cook for my family.”  That maybes are endless.  Whatever the case, it’s easy to feel jealous of others who are further along on the journey or appear to have an easier time sticking to a plan. I’ve been jealous….many times….and have also had strained relationships/friendships because of my situation now.  I’ve even heard someone say that it isn’t “fair” that God gave me this miracle and not them. Secretly, I’m sure there are some that are even hoping/waiting for me to put the weight back on.  Again…not a pleasant feeling…either end.

 

One of the biggest things that jealousy can do, other than destroy relationships, is rob us of our joy. Sometimes we spend so much energy focusing on “what others have that we don’t” that we fail to recognize all that we DO have. It changes our mindset from one of gratitude to one of resentment and can cripple us on our journey.  I wish I knew how to avoid that green-eyed monster, but just like all temptations we face, it’s one that we have a choice about. It’s not easy….in fact, it’s down-right hard….but if I/we truly want to be peaceful and enjoy wellness, I/we must continually look around at all the blessings that are given to me on a daily basis and learn to say, “THANK YOU GOD” for all things….even those periods of intense fog/rain (troubles/hardships/struggles/sadness/temptation/sickness). Or… I/we can pull off the side of the road in this journey called LIFE and just sit and wallow in the rain or misery and do nothing, but if I/we choose to do that, I/we’ll miss the sunshine that is lurking just up ahead. 

What kind of day are you going to CHOOSE to have?  Are you going to be grateful or envious?  Are you going to keep forging ahead through the fog and rain….or just sit and wallow in it. Today….I am going to strive for gratitude. I put on clothes that I purchased at the Thrift Store….but they fit and look good!  I drove my 13 year old car to work yesterday….but it started! I have to work at the “other campus” today……but I have a job!  I’m tired this morning….but it’s FRIDAY and I have the weekend off. I ate boring oatmeal instead of a cream-filled donut for breakfast…but it was nourishing and didn’t cause guilt. My life isn’t perfect…..but it certainly is great to be alive!    You may not be as thin…or as rich…or as healthy…or as happy as you’d like to be……but hopefully you are making progress….and you certainly aren’t as bad as you could be.  Make it a great day everyone!


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Happy Birthday to my sister!





If we are to succeed in reaching our goals in life, we need people to support, encourage, and share in our journey. I have been blessed to have several, (well if I count all of you, several hundred!) people who daily give me inspiration, motivation, prayer support, and mostly unconditional love!  I’ve written about many of them, but there is one that has been one of the greatest blessings in my life, and today she celebrates her birthday. I’m speaking of my sister, Kelly!

 

Kelly is 6 years younger than I and has been a source of joy for my brother and I, as well as the rest of our family. We had our typical sisterly issues….getting into my stuff, wearing my clothes, etc….but I cannot imagine what my life would be like without her!

 

Kelly and I have struggled with weight issues our entire life. There were times when one or the other of us would lose weight, but mostly, we’ve both been heavy since birth. The weight seemed to bother her more than I and she was always trying a new diet, losing and gaining weight. I, on the other hand and with the exception of a few diets here and there, just didn’t really care! She was successful in losing weight many times, and just as successful at gaining it back. That is, until now!  Today we are both working hard to maintain a reasonably healthy weight and are enjoying a freedom we’ve never known.


I truly believe that I would not be in the place I am today if it were not first and foremost for God, but secondly, for Kelly!  Many of you know that it was after hanging up the phone with her on March 1, 2011, that I began my journey. She had called to tell me that she had scheduled weight loss surgery and our conversation became quite tense as I begged her not to go through with it. After all, she had lost about 100 pounds the year before on a milkshake based diet through Henry Ford Hospital. Unfortunately, when she went off the shakes, she gained her weight back, and in her mind, this was her last hope.  Perhaps for her, it was. For many others, perhaps even you, it is the right choice. Each person has to find the plan and make the decisions that is best for him/her, and having surgery does not make the journey any easier or mean that the person doesn’t have to work just as hard. It just means that he/she has decided to take that path.  For me, however, it was frightening to even think about it. I have never even spent a night in the hospital, so I could not imagine having major surgery like that…..WITHOUT AT LEAST trying on my own first.  Needless to say, I was very worried and could not bear the thought of something happening to my sister. Perhaps, I was even a bit jealous because I knew that she would get thin….probably for good this time! Still, I was scared and did not want her to go through with it.

 

SO….I hung up the phone….and said out loud “You little……, I’m going to show you!!!”.  Show her what?  I was 428 pounds and couldn’t even stand up long enough to brush my teeth.  What was I going to show her????  I don’t know, but at that moment, something clicked in my head and I have never looked back. You’ve heard or read the story… I started dumping soda bottles down the drain and emptied the sugar bowl into the trash.  From that very moment, everything in my life changed and my journey began.  My conversation with her was the final straw in a series of other conversations/experiences that had happened in the previous 6 weeks, but she was the last person I spoke to before changing my life.  Even if my journey was ignited by sibling rivalry, I will ALWAYS be grateful for that conversation with my sister.

She had the surgery a few weeks later and both of us have changed our lives completely and are on the same journey to wellness. Even amidst the competition of ‘who wears the smallest size”, she has taught me so much about weight loss.  She has been the one who has ALWAYS believed in me….not just about this, but about EVERYTHING in life.  She encouraged me when I went back to college; she helped me when I was unemployed; she cared for me in my illness and welcomes me into her home when I go downstate to visit.  A few years ago, when I could hardly function and would travel home for the holidays, she would go out of her way to make me comfortable. She’d carry all my stuff up the stairs, load and unload the walker and drop me off at the door when we shopped. She’d go out of her way to prepare my favorite foods, even though her family didn’t necessarily like that kind of food. She’d  haul my stuff, carry my bags, give me great hair products from her store, and mostly, she loved me….even at my worst when I couldn’t love myself!

It has been great to have my sister to share in this journey. She only needed to lose about ½ as much as I, so she was always a few sizes smaller than me.  She taught me about nutrition and encouraged me to try new recipes. She got me hooked on Greek Yogurt and protein bars, even though I wouldn’t even try them until I had lost 200 pounds!  She gave me 6 garbage bags full of her “fat” but my “I hope to someday fit into” clothes. Now, we could probably both fit into them together!  We’d talk, cry, and laugh about things along the way and offer each other tips.  Conversations like….”have you noticed that you can cross your legs now”…or “don’t your arms seem really long now” …or “you know, a jigglely loose skin butt looks way better than a fat butt” are typical. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without her! 


Kelly has been successful in losing her weight but like the rest of us, has to work hard to keep it off. I am so proud of her!  It was so fitting that she was the one that accompanied me to New York City when I went to appear on the Today show.  She may be younger than I, but she is way smarter than I, and dealt with all the details of traveling, navigating the city, carrying the bags, etc. on the trip. They should have put her on the show with me because she is a miracle as well!

 

Today, my amazing, wonder-woman of a wife, mother, career woman, friend, SISTER…..celebrates her birthday. It is customary for us to say “Happy Birthday” to the one celebrating, but really, the day she was born was a “happy birth day” for my entire family!  I don’t get to see or talk to Kelly as much as I’d like to, but I hope she knows that I am truly blessed to call her my “sister…and friend!”

 

Who is/are that person/persons that are the “wind beneath your wings?” 




Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Is it a "Good Morning, God" kind of day?

Good morning my friends! I once heard the saying… “When you wake up each morning, you have a choice: You can say, Good Morning, God….or Good God, it’s morning!”  Today is one of those rare mornings when I wasn’t ready to get out of bed in the wee hours of the dawn, and my first thought was ….NO, I don’t want it to be morning already!   In fact, it was closer to 4:30 before I actually dragged myself up. It was out later that unusual last night with the speaking engagement and then I stayed up to watch as much of the Detroit Tiger baseball game as possible before I fell asleep. (They could clinch the division title tonight…Go Tigers!)  So…today…I am fighting the sleepy head syndrome, but it’s still a great day to be alive and it won’t take long before it becomes a “Good morning, God” kind of day.
 
One of my  friends is always telling me that I am a ‘negative” person and  I always look for the worst in myself. Every time he says this, of course, I become “agitated, pouty, whiny, and actually quite irritated” because I don’t think any of us want to think of ourselves as “negative”.  I try really hard…but admittedly don’t always succeed…in seeing the glass as “half full” and the “looking for the silver lining” in life’s situations. It’s probably true that it is much easier for me to see goodness in OTHERS than in myself, after all I still see “Old Theresa” in the mirror each day,  but I need to continually remind myself that I have a choice in how I react to things.  There is a fine line between being a “realist” and ‘being blind to one’s faults and failings”.   I did just that for many years. I was ‘blinded” by my weight, my issues, my fears, my pain and misery. I chose to focus on how “bad things were, how much pain I was in due to the RA, how pitiful my life had become, and failed to see that I COULD…with God’s help…do something about it.
 
In recent weeks, the two Retention Advisors that “do what I do” on the Mt. Pleasant campus have left the college for jobs elsewhere. This has left my department in a bit of a mess because we are very short-handed. As a result, we will be hiring two new people, but it will takes months to train them. In the meantime, I was told that I will be required to work a few days a week on the “other” campus.  I must admit, I am not really thrilled about it. The campus is about 45 minutes from home and it will cost me significantly more in gas; I will be working with individuals that I do not know very well; I will be “out of my own office” and will be dealing with a clientele that is similar, but yet very different, than my usual appointments.   Of course, I am willing to help out and do what needs to be done, but I am honestly not looking forward to it and have been silently dreading it.   That is, until yesterday, when I realized that this is one of those situations where I have no control over. I do, however, have control over HOW I AM GOING TO REACT TO IT!  Just like the approaching cold weather….just like this morning….just like every little thing that will happen to me this day.
 
  I cannot control people and how they will behave, no matter how much I try.  I can’t force people to like me or treat me a particular way. I can’t control the weather today or the diagnosis from the doctor. I can, however, control how I behave, how I react, how I ‘see things”, and how I treat myself and others.  So…in the past couple of days I have been thinking about all the “positive” things about working a few days on the other campus.  1; the trees are really beginning to change and I’ll get to take a mini color tour a few days a week on my drive down there, 2; I’ll be close to the big city…well big for up here, and will be able to schedule my hair appointment, shopping, errands etc. for days when I’m already down there as opposed to giving up a Saturday to do so, 3; I’ll get to know my colleagues better and will learn many things from them; 4; I’ll be meeting new students and am being given an opportunity to “make a difference” for someone who likely would have never crossed my path before; the list can go on….but really….the most amazing thing about this is that just two years ago, there would have been no way physically for me to even be able to do this because it was just too difficult for me to get around and I wouldn’t have been able to transport the electric wheelchair down there.  The fact that I can drive to Mt. Pleasant, park my car, WALK into the building, FIT in someone else’s office chair, CARRY my laptop and other things….etc… IS a miracle itself.  I have a feeling….no, not a feeling…but I KNOW…that this will be a good thing…IF…..and only IF… I look for the positive instead of focusing on the inconvenience, extra costs, and sacrifice involved.  How WE react to those things  which we cannot change….is WHAT CHANGES us!
 
In my weight loss journey, I have had to change my way of thinking about food.  Many times, when we are dieting (using this for lack of a better word, but as you know, I’m not…nor have I been in 2 ½ years on a ‘diet” but rather a journey/lifestyle that I will never be able to ‘go off of”), we focus on everything that we “CAN’T HAVE”.  Oftentimes, we feel deprived when those around us are eating birthday cake or snacking on nachos and wings while watching the football game. Sometimes, when we sit with a bag of rice cakes (whoo hoo!) we feel sorry for ourselves with someone else is eating chips and dip.  Sometimes we watch others eat dessert or pizza, or have a drink….or go shopping and buy something new….or WHATEVER…and we feel that we are “lacking” or “deprived” or “in some way suffering”.  This feeling of “poor me” I CAN’T eat an ice-cream cone attitude, either in ourselves or when someone else projects it on us (I’m so sorry, I feel SO BAD that you can’t eat this….etc.) is one of the biggest things that can sabotage us on our journey.
 
 I encourage you to try to look at things differently.  Instead of saying…Poor me, I can’t have that…or that…or that….Try thinking about all the things that you CAN have.  Keep a big supply of snacks/foods in your house…or office/purse/glove box, that are on your plan, so that when you get hungry, you can go to the cupboard/fridge and choose…..any number of fruits, any flavor of Greek yogurt, a protein bar or fiber one bar….15 calorie hot apple cider, a sugar free flavored sparkling water or even a soda, a sugar free cup of hot chocolate…..even a ‘fun size” candy bar or 3 Hershey kisses if you must.  Instead of “all I can eat is celery…..how about…Wow…I can eat ANY of this stuff…AND NOT FEEL GUILTY, aren’t I lucky?   Is it going to work all the time….nope…..but it will become easier with time and practice, and before long, it won’t be a “poor me” situation, but rather a “wow, aren’t I blessed to have all these choices” kind of thing.
 
Is changing your life hard?  You bet!  Do you have to make sacrifices?  Absolutely!  Will you sometimes feel ‘deprived”, “sorry for yourself”, or “like you are suffering”?  Guaranteed!  BUT…will it be worth it!  100% absolutely, YES…YES…YES!!!!   Life is going to happen around us….we are going to be faced with tough times….we, or those we love, are going to get sick from time to time….cars are going to breakdown…..we are going to be obligated to do things we really don’t want to do….AND…we are going to have days when we “don’t’ want to get out of bed”……BUT we must. We are even going to have times when we “go off our plan” or “fall off the wagon”…..and we will get to choose…Am I going to let this little slip-up, this little gain or set-back discourage me completely…. or am I going to start all over right now?  The choice is ours to make, sometimes multiple times a day!
 
  So….today…..are you going to join me in making it a “ Good morning, God,  kind of day????” 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sharing my story tonight



Good Morning! I have another speaking engagement tonight, so this morning I’ve been trying to quiet down my thoughts and empty myself so that God may stir in my heart and place the words there that He desires me to share tonight…..well that and deciding what to wear…just kidding…… well, sort of!  J  In any case I’m a bit anxious this morning. Although I’ve been given the privilege of sharing my story several other times in recent months, this one is a bit different. Tonight I will be speaking to an Addiction Recovery Group at the Church of Jesus Christ, Later Day Saints, otherwise known as the Mormons.  I know very little about the doctrine and creed of the Mormon faith, so my biggest concern is that my words are not offensive to anyone present. I need to trust that God has blessed me with this miracle and He will give me the grace to share it, as well as present me with the opportunities to do so.  SO…as I progress through my busy day at work today, I’ll continue to try to be open to the ways in which God speaks to me today……that…..AND…..try not to overeat because I’m stressed!

 

It really is an honor to go to this group tonight. Although my “addiction” is to sugar/food, and it’s likely that many of those present tonight will not have an issue with weight, I think I experience many of the same struggles as those who struggle with substance abuse, alcohol, shopping, gambling….whatever…. just like so many of you in this group. It’s great to know that we can learn from each other…we can support each other in our own personal battles….we can commiserate when we struggle, and celebrate when we see progress!  Tonight I will certainly share he story of my weight loss, but mostly, I hope to bring hope and courage….that no matter what situation one finds themselves in….no matter how difficult and painful life can be at times….no matter how bad of a mess we make of our lives, GOD can…and will….STILL help us turn things around!   If I can convey the message that “on our own”, we can do nothing…but by the grace of God….WE CAN CHANGE OUR LIVES….and WE CAN BE FREE….then God will be glorified and I will be at peace.  Keep me in your thoughts today, ok and Have a great day!


Monday, September 23, 2013

Embrace the season.


Happy First Day of Fall! It’s very early in the morning…around 4:30 am and I’m snuggled under a blanket with a hot cup of coffee, looking out at the darkness and listening to the sound of the furnace. Yes, it definitely is no longer summer, although the temps may fool me later this week. The weatherman says it’s about 30 outside, but I’ve yet to go out there to see how bad the frost/freeze was.  Unlike the few things in my life that I actually have any control over, the change in weather and the passing of time is going to happen with or without me. I suppose I might as well “embrace it” and make the best of it!

 

When I was much heavier, I used to look forward to the fall….not because of the gorgeous display of color, or the autumn holidays, or even the smell of burning leaves and apple cider, but rather because it was an opportunity to “hide” from the world. The shortening of the days and the cooler temps meant that I could begin to hibernate and spend more time indoors, by myself, away from the socialization that summer events often require. It was a time to “escape” into my own world, where I could eat in private, hide behind heavy sweaters and coats, go to bed shortly after I got home from work, and just basically “withdraw” from society. It was in that isolation that I often turned to food to fill the voids in my life. It was there that I could hide my pain, my size, my inner thoughts and feelings.

 

When my professional or family obligations did require my physical presence, I could “hide” behind big, baggy sweaters and jackets. It was also the perfect excuse to sit all covered up with a comforter or lap blanket when visiting friends and family.  Those items did their job in chasing away the chill, but they also were a perfect way to “cover up” so that I could not see…and more importantly…others could not see how “big” I really was, nor could they see the physical and emotional pain that was hidden deep in my heart. The clothing and blankets were just another layer of protection around me, keeping me from looking inward and coming face to face with the reality of my life. 

 

Today, however, THANKS BE TO GOD, autumn means something different! Autumn means that I might actually pick up a rake and tackle the leaves that will soon cover my yard, perhaps even “jumping” in them when nobody is looking!  It means taking brisk walks on warm, sunny afternoons, and making time to go to the fitness center after work.  It means going for a ride to see the beautiful display of God’s glory. It means looking forward to seeing friends and family for the holidays, and enjoying the company of others. It means enjoying the ‘fruits” of the season, like apples, pumpkins and butternut squash. Will I need to wear sweaters and coats and cover up with blankets….absolutely, but now, I will do so to protect my body from the cold, not to hide my “heart” and “vulnerability”. 

 

Autumn also means that “sticking to a weight loss plan” will become a bit more challenging and will require a more disciplined effort. Tailgate parties, Halloween, Thanksgiving…..Christmas gatherings….not to mention time spent indoors reading or watching movies, are all occasions of temptation. We all tend to eat more during the fall, so be prepared and plan ahead so that you always have a “back-up plan” and healthy snacks in the house or on your possession. As the weeks progress, I’ll share some of the ways that I have been able to get through those situations and still keep on track. I hope that you all will do the same; after all, we are all in this together and I learn so much from the sharing that you do.

I just came in from outside and it really is a bit chilly. The spot on the driveway where my hose drips slightly is frozen but the sky is clear and the moon is shining brightly. It’s beautiful actually! I went out there because I wanted to take a picture to mark the first day of autumn. I encourage you to do the same and post it on this site. It’s important that you take photos of yourself along the way because on days when you are feeling discouraged, you can look at some of those pictures and ‘see” that even though you don’t feel like you are making progress, a picture says something different. Often times we “can’t see” it in the mirror, but a “picture is worth a thousand words” and our faces usually show a loss of even 10 or 15 pounds, even when our bodies don’t necessarily do so. We might even be wearing the same size clothing, but our faces tell a different story!  

 

The picture I’m posting is in front of the Burning Bush that I planted in my landscaping adventures this summer. The bush is absolutely gorgeous right now…a flaming, brilliant red. It’s ironic that this tree is the most beautiful during this time of year, when we tend to think of it as “dying” for the winter. Reminded me that “we also truly shine….we display our “true colors” when we “die to self”. When we allow God to strengthen and transform our hearts and minds, we reflect goodness, health, and well-being.  As you continue on your journey to better health….and you ‘die to your temptations, whatever they may be’, be assured that you are the most beautiful. As you shed the “bitterness, anger, jealousy, frustration, greed….whatever”, you are actually allowing yourself to be more radiant that you even imagined.   LET IT GO….so that you may be free to be the best person you can….REGARDLESS of size or weight. BEAUTY and GRACE is not dependent upon numbers; it’s dependent on inner peace, confidence, and a loving, kind spirit. As you grow in those things, your body will follow suit. Be kind to yourself this week, treat your body, minds, and spirits well, and things will fall into place.

 

Have a good day everyone…and if you had a rough weekend, start all over today. It’s a new day…It’s a new season….perfect for a new beginning!
 

Friday, September 20, 2013

rambling on

 
Rambling on…..about nothing, really!   It is Friday….hurray! It has been a long week and I’m looking forward to the weekend.  I woke up early this morning, as usual about 3:15 a.m., and it was pouring down rain, but very warm. I love the sound of a gentle rain hitting on the roof, but I just couldn’t lay there and listen so I got up and started the coffee. I was hungry….not unusual these days because I seem to be waking up in the middle of the night hungry a lot, so I decided I would experiment with one of the apples that I bought this week.  I peeled it and sliced it up and just put the pieces in a bowl, sprinkled splenda and cinnamon on the top and popped it in the microwave for a couple of minutes.  WOW! It was delicious, at least to me anyway! The closest thing I’ve had to anything that even resembles a ‘dessert” in the past 2 ½ years has been Greek yogurt or some sugar-free jello on my birthday a couple of years ago, so this little warmed up apple tasted great!  It was a nice way to begin the day, especially when paired with a nice hot cup of coffee.
 
As I was sitting there, I thought… “I bet if I chopped up some apple and threw it in with my oatmeal for breakfast later that it would resemble the “Apples and cinnamon” type oatmeal that comes in the instant packages.  I eat only quick or old fashioned oats each day to save on the calories.  I decided I was going to try it later on.   BUT…..when it got time for breakfast, I took an apple out of the bag and happened to notice the nutrition information on the back of the bag.  EYE-OPENING to me!  I had absolutely NO IDEA that one small apple had 130 calories; I thought it was about 65!   YIKES!!!!  Why so many, I wonder????    I know that  130 calories doesn’t sound like a lot, but since I already ate one at 3:30, (actually it was so good I could have eaten 2 more), and I was going to have 225 calories worth of oatmeal with my shot of sugar-free French vanilla coffee creamer, I couldn’t justify adding another 130 calories to the oatmeal today.  I’ll have to try it another time, but I was just amazed at how many calories in a little apple. Who knew?  There are between 100-140 calories in a Greek Yogurt, so to think that the yogurt…with about 14 grams of protein is equal in calories to an apple was just a surprise to me. I guess I just assumed that it would be ok to eat all the fruit and vegetables I wanted and it wouldn’t be “that bad”, but  I really need to choose wisely which fruit I’ll splurge on. Melons, grapes, bananas….sweet corn, etc….can all add up calorie wise in a hurry, even though they are full of fiber and nutrients.   I had heard once that Weight Watchers considers all fruits and vegetables as “free” foods that can be eaten in any quantity.  Is this true???? I don’t know anything at all about the WW plan. Can someone enlighten me?  It would seem that unlimited fruit would cause me to gain weight, but perhaps it’s the way the body “burns” it or something.   Does anyone know???
 
In any case, the discovery was a reminder that we need to look for the “hidden” calories; those things that we don’t “count” in our daily total. Things like Ketchup, sweet and sour sauces, marinades, BBQ sauce….even “sugar free” gum or candies. It all adds up, so if you are “staying within your calorie allotment” and are not losing weight, (other than the expected plateaus), maybe you should look at all those ‘extra’s” that you eat without thinking.  For me…it’s WATERMELON!
 
On another note:  Took an early morning bike ride before work today. Admittedly, it wasn’t the “wisest” thing to do because I left at 6:45 am and it was still a bit too dark. I didn’t notice the darkness in my driveway because I have security lights up all over, but once I hit the dirt road beyond the yard, it was hard to see where I was going.  BUT….It was a gorgeous morning and I ventured on anyway. It can’t be dark for long, right???    The harvest moon is full, or near full, and was shining brightly and was just beautiful. The air was warm and smelled fresh after that early morning rain, and it was great to be on the bike and watch the darkness fade into daylight. Another nice way to begin my day.  I’m afraid, however, that those early morning rides/walks are coming to an end soon because of the increasing darkness each day.  Hopefully the weather will cooperate this weekend and I’ll get another few rides in. I hope you get a chance to enjoy the outdoors this weekend, even if it means just walking around your yard.
 
How did you begin your day….and what’s on your agenda for the weekend?  How are you going to keep on track? Whatever you do, make it a good one!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Don't give up what you want most

 
Don’t give up what you want most for what you want now. WOW! What powerful words. This is something that I remind myself of on a daily basis because so many times, I have been tempted to satisfy the moment and have forgotten about the goal.  It’s a very common situation and I’m guessing that you have fallen into the same trap and have made a poor choice at one time or another. Maybe you do it on a daily basis.
For me, the best part of this quote is that the principle can be applied to almost every area of my life.  Spiritually, I want to grow in my walk with God and be more faithful, kind and loving, but sometimes, more often than I really want to admit, I let “other things” get in the way. There are days when I just don’t “feel like” praying, going to Mass, doing the “right” thing, helping others. There are days when I’d rather just sit in the lazy-boy in my pajamas, drink another cup of coffee, watch the morning news, and just SIT. There are days when I WANT to be selfish and do WHAT I WANT instead of considering the consequences. There are other days when I’d rather turn the radio on in the car on the drive to work, instead of have a conversation with God. There are days…like this past Sunday…when I’m tired and just “don’t want to” get dressed for church.  Sometimes, I even give in to “what I want” at that moment, and I forget what I really want most. But sometimes, like Sunday when I reluctantly got dressed and went to mass,  I discovered that I am especially blessed when we “do what we should rather than what we want.”
 In my job, I often see students that “give up what they want most” (namely, to graduate with good grades) because they decide that “going to the movies, partying with their friends, skipping class, procrastinating…..whatever” is what they want NOW. As a result, they fail a test, have to pull an all-nighter to write that paper, or worse, quit school.  I did that way back in the 80’s when I decided that “I wanted to work full-time” and decided to drop out of college. How many times have you wanted to just “call off work” and go shopping instead?
 In relationships, it happens way too often. Sometimes one or the other parties become “tempted” by the attention, flirtations, and advances of someone other than their spouse or significant other, and end up doing something that hurts their partner or destroys the relationship. All because they gave in to “what they wanted” at the moment, sometimes destroying the relationship in the process. Betrayal and broken trust is a very painful thing to deal with. I’ve been there and it’s no fun. These days, I fight temptations like this on a regular basis because now suddenly “people want to get to know Theresa”. Hmmm….new experience for me, but as flattering as it is, I know what I want most and don’t want to hurt others. We do this even with family and friends when we put “our own wants and desires,” “spend bill money on something we just couldn’t live without,” “choose to go out with our friends” several times a week, or allow “other things” to hurt the family dynamic.
 The biggest challenge for those of us on a journey to better health and wellness comes in the temptations we face each day regarding food, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, gambling, depression (whatever we battle). Sometimes, we don’t think we can resist that piece of cake, or we tell ourselves, “I’ll just have one cookie….or one drink…buy one lottery ticket….or smoke one cigarette” and before you know it, we’ve gone way too far off track. On a daily basis, actually SEVERAL TIMES A DAY, I have to remind myself that “what I want most” is to WALK…to keep my mobility for as long as possible…to keep my weight in check…to continue to bring hope to others….to continually get stronger in body and spirit, so that I can say “NO” to what I may want at the moment, aka that bag of potato chips and a bag of M & M’s.  Even though I know that I could….(probably)….eat a handful of chips or a cookie….and NOT gain weight overnight, I don’t trust myself, so I JUST WON’T/CAN’T do it! I don’t think that I would be able to stop at just one cookie. I don’t trust that I could control myself…..SO… I have to always WALK AWAY from what I might want….at that moment. 
SO?  How do I do it???? I don’t do it by my own power: GOD does it!  I ask Him for strength and I pray…lead me not into temptation…..BUT I HAVE TO DO MY PART TOO. How?  By avoiding situations where I might be “tempted.”  If I’m not feeling particularly strong, I’m not going to put myself in an environment where I will be surrounded by high-calorie food. If I know that I’m prone to depression or anxiety, I don’t hang around negative people or put myself in unnecessary  stressful situations; I don’t allow others to project their misery on me.  If I had a problem with alcohol, I’d stay away from situations where there is excessive drinking; I’d make new friends if I needed to.  If I were trying to quit smoking, I wouldn’t keep a pack of cigarettes in the glove box of the car…just in case, and I definitely….definitely….won’t buy sweets and junk food at the store or keep anything like that in my house.   God gives me strength…He will give you strength too….but i/we must do my/our part as well.
 So today….or the next time you are facing temptation…… ask yourself…. “What do I want MOST” and don’t give in to what you might THINK you want AT THE MOMENT.  Walk away my friends….YOU CAN DO IT!  We CAN and WE WILL change our lives!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Don't eat your fruit in pie form!

 
 
Apples, Peaches, Berries....Oh my!  I stopped to the farm market this weekend and there is an abundance of fruit in season right now. Beautiful, fresh, colorful fruit galore!  Autumn is typically the time of apples....in all forms. Apple pies, apple cider, apple crisps....apple fritters, you name it.  All of these delicious treats and the aromas of freshly baked apple recipes in the kitchen.  There is nothing like it.....but you know what is even BETTER than that????   Being healthier, being thinner, being fit!  I am all about..."enjoying the fruits of the harvest, especially when they are in season....(hence the overindulgence in fresh watermelon these past few weeks!), but there are a lot better ways to enjoy the bounty than eating a half of apple pie-alamode! I bought a bag of apples at the market and am going to attempt to make a low calorie version of chunky apple sauce using Splenda this week, and I'm sure I can make an apple crisp in a low calorie version. I've also made mulled cider with the sugar-free hot apple cider packets they sell in the grocery store (in the aisle with hot chocolate, tea, coffees, etc.) Only 15 calories a cup and if you add a cinnamon stick, some other mulling seasonings, a bit of splenda brown sugar, you will hardly notice the difference. Of course, you can't get it at the cider mill, but still....isn't the pay-off of sticking with your plan worth it?? 
 
 Below is a link to a quick, low calorie apple treat that can be made in the microwave. I confess that I haven't tried it yet, but it sounded simple enough.  Do any of you have any low-calorie alternatives to fruit pies?  If so, please share them with us! 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Finding your way through the fog



Brrr…..baby, it’s cold outside! I know…what I am complaining about now….it’s a balmy 30 degrees….in a few months, 30 will feel like a spring day!  But…after 85 last week, 30 is cold, but once again, it’s supposed to be in the 80’s on Thursday.  Nonetheless, we got frost last night. This morning I went out to uncover the flowers and the sheets that I used were frozen stiff. Apparently, they got damp with dew and then froze, but most of the plants appeared to be ok. I picked a large bouquet for my office because one of these days….very soon… I need to just say, “Theresa…give it up” and let nature take its course”, but I’m a pack-rack by nature so whether it’s the seasons….(I didn’t take my Snowman Christmas tree down until March last year, remember????)  sentimental stuff….(I still have the cork pot holder trinket thing I made for my mom in kdg),  old clothes…(I better NOT ever wear those 6X clothes in the garage) or ‘drag me down relationships/friendships” even past hurts and or inconsiderate comments from others, I have a tendency to “hang on to it/them” too long. I need to learn to “let some things go” and look for the joy in the autumn!  After all, it was “hanging on to grief, unworthiness, doubt, fear, pain, past failures….etc.” that caused me to gain so much weight and kept me from losing weight for years.  It’s time to LET IT GO!!!!! 

 

I encountered an unusual thing this morning on the drive into work.  I have a very lovely, about ½ hour commute to work, traveling down some beautiful country roads. It is usually a time of quiet reflection and prayer.  I often see an abundance of wild-life, especially in the early morning. Last evening, I saw a coyote on the way home!  Pretty cool to see, but I don’t want them in my backyard! This morning, I was coming up over a large hill, heading due east and watching the sun come up when all of a sudden, without warning, I was in a cloud of fog/steam. Because of the cold temperature and the body of water on the side of the road, there was a huge area of steam rising up over the water and for a few moments, I was blinded and literally could not see a thing in front of me.  It was a bit frightening at first because it happened without warning and I was traveling at about 50 mph. I immediately slowed down and began to creep through the mist, knowing that the sun was shining very brightly on the other side.  Instinct kicked in and because I traveled this road many times, I knew what to expect. I didn’t know if there were cars or animals in the road, however, so I had to just creep my way along a few miles an hour. Fortunately, it didn’t last very long and before I knew it, I was back in the sunlight and safely on my way.

 

I thought about that incident the rest of the drive. It caused me to think about those situations in my life where… “things were cruising along at a nice pace, things were going well, I was experiencing success in my life/job/family, health, I was doing great in school….life was good”….and then…all of a sudden…almost without warning, THE BOTTOM FELL OUT!  A family member got ill, someone I loved died, I had an accident, failed a test, lost my job, someone I cared about hurt/betrayed me….whatever. You can fill in your own blanks, because I’m pretty certain you’ve experienced this in your own life; perhaps not the same as I, but nonetheless, you’ve experienced times when “Life was good” and then suddenly it “wasn’t”. 

 

In your journey to a better life, it is likely that you’ve encountered the same type of situation.  Perhaps you were doing REALLY GREAT on your weight loss plan, and then you “had a bad week”, really “blew it and gave in to temptation”, hit a plateau or even had a ….gasp….GAIN….at weigh-in.  You may have been like me and lost a lot of weight years ago, only to “go off the diet” and gain it all…and then some…back! Perhaps you had gone 6 weeks without a cigarette, (or a drink/pill/whatever you battle) and then something stressful happened and you took “just a puff or a sip” and you went right back to the habit.  Perhaps you were doing really well paying off a bill or saving for an emergency or whatever…and then you found something that “you just couldn’t live without” and went on a crazy shopping spree.  Maybe it was illness in yourself or a loved one when the “treatment” isn’t/wasn’t working any more. For me, I’ve been doing great at controlling my Rheumatoid Arthritis, and then out of nowhere, it rears its ugly head to remind me that it never really goes away. 

 

Like me on my drive this morning….when those times happen, (and they will happen), you have to “rely on instinct”….you have to slow down and take it a few yards/hours at a time.  You have to remember that “you’ve gone through tough times before” and came out on the other side just fine, likely even stronger that you imagined, even though it was/is unpleasant/hard/sad/completely miserable for a time.  If you’ve fallen off the wagon/weight loss plan, are experiencing a tough time emotionally, financially, physically, spiritually….whatever….and you can’t see “ANY WAY OUT”, trust that it is only temporary and YOU WILL GET THROUGH IT…slowly, inch by inch, pound by pound, day...or hour by hour, YOU WILL GET THROUGH IT!!!!!  YOU WILL have better days ahead…YOU WILL lose weight THIS TIME….YOU CAN…and YOU WILL…change your life/situation! 

 

Just don’t “pull off the side of the road and just sit there” because you can’t see HOW you will get through it/get back on track/make things better, whatever….Keep working…keep moving…SLOWLY and WITH CAUTION”….and YOU WILL….get to where you want to be. How do I know??? Because you/I have been down this road before…we KNOW HOW TO DO IT….We know what’s on the other side…and WE KNOW that THE SUN is shining, because if we look really hard, we can see it shining through the fog/clouds.   Don’t you dare give up!!!!!!!!


Monday, September 16, 2013

TOPS rally


Awesome….that’s the best word I can think of to describe last Saturday’s TOPS (Take off Pounds Sensibly) rally that I was invited to speak at.  In all honesty, until I was invited to speak at the Rosebush TOPS meeting back in the spring, I had never heard much about the program. Since then, I have had the privilege of speaking/sharing my story at several other chapter meetings.  Saturday….I had the absolute JOY of speaking to TOPS members from all over the state of Michigan. WOW!  What an honor, and what a wonderful group of people!

 

I can’t begin to thank them enough for the opportunity, and for the tremendously warm welcome I received. I saw quite a few familiar faces from the various “chapters” that I had met when I visited them during their regular meetings, but I met a WHOLE LOT of new people.  It was a very large…(and I don’t mean in body size, but rather in numbers, 200 or so)...group. It was so good to see so many people who are working hard to make healthy choices in their lives and to change their lives.  What a great group….and so FUN! They had skits, raffles, singing, and even dancing!  Even though I have never belonged to TOPS, I felt very much “at home” and am extremely impressed with the various programs they offer to support each other on their journey to lose, and keep off, weight, without the use of crazy fad diets, surgery, or diet pills.  I look forward to getting to know more about the program and gaining support on my own journey from the many people I met there, those I will meet at future speaking opportunities, and the many that have joined our group.  WELCOME!!!!

 

Although I spoke for a very long time, there is still so much of my story that remains untold. I guess that’s why I need to get serious about making time to write that book! There was not time at the end of my presentation to answer questions and the ‘burning question” that seemed to be the biggest mystery when people spoke with me privately at the end was, “what about excess skin….did you have surgery?”  SO…for those inquiring minds…….the answer is….NO, I didn’t have surgery and YES, I have a very big problem with excessive skin.  Literally, it has been one of the most challenging consequences of losing 270+ pounds, and it is something that I have to face every day.  It plays havoc on my self-esteem on a daily basis, but after consulting with a surgeon and discovering the cost, pain, risk, and scarring, I have…at least at this point…decided NOT to have surgery to remove the skin. 

 

When I spoke with the surgeon, I was told that it would cost approximately $80,000 dollars (my insurance does not cover it), involve about 4 or more different surgeries over a 2 year or so period of time, with extensive recovery time and an incredible amount of scarring. Literally, I would be carved up like a Thanksgiving turkey from my knees to my neck.  As I mentioned many times, I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, an auto-immune disease, and already have an immune system that does not function normally. I have to go to great lengths to avoid coming in contact with those that are sick. When I catch a simple cold, or get even a small cut, it takes 2 or 3 times longer for me to fight off the infection, and I often end up very ill from a ‘little cold”.  SO…the thought of having myself cut open with very long, extensive incisions, and the risks/complications involved is not too appealing. It would be a horrible tragedy to work so hard to get my life back, only to end up too sick…or worse, dead….because I couldn’t “deal with” the skin.   SO….

The next question is……WHAT DID YOU DO WITH IT?    Well, my friends….my new “best friend” is called SPANX! (actually mostly the “off brand” stuff you get a Meijer, Walmart, Kohls, Kmart, etc. because of cost).  Shape-wear can do wonders. Fortunately, it is the best kept secret for women, and shape-wear comes in so many different styles, colors, etc….definitely not your “grandma’s girdle” anymore! It is stylish and very comfortable, easy care, and really comes in great looking pieces. If you have the jiggles, you should try some, but be warned, it can be very expensive; hence the off-brand pieces, and you may work up a “sweat” just trying to get in and out of it, especially those 1-piece numbers! LOL.  Now, if I could only figure out how to take the layers of skin on my tummy and get it to my chest and my thighs to my derrière, I’d be in business! (sorry, guys in the group!) 

 

Please feel free to post/ask any other questions that you may have. I’m willing to talk about most things, as long as it doesn’t come at the expense of those closest to me. Also, if anyone at any of the various chapters took pictures of the rally, please email them to me. The few that I took were all too dark to post, and I’d like to create a TOPS page on my website.   Also, if there are any BEFORE-AFTER pictures you’d like to share, please send them along as well. It really helps to motivate me, and others in this group, to see PROGRESS, and we will be able to give you support and encouragement as well. 
 

Visit my website: www.theresaborawski.net to see more pictures from the Rally.
 

 

Friday, September 13, 2013

You have to empty your mind to keep your head up!



 

You have to empty your mind in order to keep your head up!

I was watching the morning news early this morning before work and I heard the forecast for a FREEZE ADVISORY tonight! What????  The weatherman said the temp may dip into the 20’s tonight. Brr……even for northern Michigan! I was more concerned about my flowers and how I was going to protect them from the elements,  than I was about keeping myself warm tonight. I’m just not quite ready to say goodbye to the flower gardens; in fact, I still have my pool open and was in it after work a few nights ago!

 

Before I left for work, I took a peek at the gardens just to see what I needed to do tonight and I noticed those sunflowers that I wrote about last week….the ones that “sprung up” unexpectedly and have been a source of delight.  Today I noticed that their heads were all hung down and their faces were facing the ground. When I looked at them a bit more carefully, I realized it was because their heads were so filled with seeds that they were too heavy to lift towards the sky.  Hmmm…….a lot of food for thought this morning.

 

I began to ponder…how many times has my head been “too full” of “stuff….mostly thoughts, mostly negative, bothersome, worrisome thoughts or doubts, fears, anxieties” that I had difficulty “looking up” or “keeping my chin up?”  The answer, is “too many!”  That used to be the everyday way of life for me a few years ago before I began this journey to a new life.  Oh, I used to “pretend” to “look on the bright side…..to put on a happy face…to lie and say, “I’m fine, thanks, how are you?”  Gosh, is that exhausting!  Trying to keep your chin up…trying to look up and see the positive….trying to look on the bright side….or have hope, when your head is so full of garbage, worries, fears, pain, depression, doubt….whatever.   Has anyone else been there?  Is anyone there now?  It’s downright exhausting!

Before I could truly allow God to change my heart, to deliver me from the bondage of obesity, to set me free from emotional eating, depression, and pain, I had to “get rid of the junk….not just in my diet…but mostly in my “head”.  My head….my mind….my thoughts….my life….my body…..was JUST TOO HEAVY…just too full….of thoughts/ideas/fears….LIES that I had told myself about self-worth, ability to succeed, etc.  As I’ve said repeatedly: the new body size is a visible sign, but the true miracle/transformation is of the mind and heart! Thank you, God!  And YES, I know, that it is very difficult to “look up” to “lift your head/heart/spirit”, “keep your chin up”, when your world seems to be crumbling around you, when loved ones are ill or have died, when finances are bleak, when troubles abound, and heartache and pain is a way of life.  YES, I know… I’ve been there…and STILL find myself going there from time to time. We all do…and LIFE is HARD sometimes, and sometimes “we just want to wallow” instead of being strong. Sometimes we are JUST TOO TIRED to keep trying. Sometimes WE REALLY DO WANT TO GIVE UP!  Today I tell you….DON’T!  Don’t give up…don’t quit trying….don’t give in to despair! It doesn’t have to be this way forever. It WON’T be this way forever.  YOU CAN…and YOU WILL change your life!

One other thing I noticed about those sunflowers….when I looked to see what they were so full of that that were too heavy to look up….. I noticed it was SEEDS!  SEEDS….the very thing that provides food for the birds I so enjoy….the very thing that causes NEW GROWTH….new plants…NEW blooms!  Those seeds are Life-giving…they are essential for the continuity of the plants….for the nourishment of bird, animals, and even people.  Hmmmm……in a sense…just like the times when “my cross is heavy….when my mind is full….when my head is spinning….when I’m looking down, at myself, the world, life.”  It is in those times, those struggles, those moments of difficulty/challenge/temptation….that we have the greatest potential to grow, to nourish/help/provide for the needs of others, to plant seeds for a beautiful NEW bloom in the future.  As birds enjoy those sunflower seeds, as the wind scatters them in the yard, as they drop and lie on the earth waiting to grow into a new plant….they become lighter and better able to LOOK UP and FACE THE SUN!   Perhaps, we need do that too. It is in these times of trial and temptation that we have the greatest potential to help others and to grow…in our faith….in our relationships…as individuals. BUT…. We need to  get rid of those thoughts…those negative feelings….those regrets….those hurts….those fears…those past failures and doubts…..so that we can find it easier to LOOK UP…TO KEEP our CHIN UP….to GROW into something new. 

I know I am going to start today….to empty my mind of all those things that are dragging me down and keeping me from looking up and holding my head up high. What about you? 
 


Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Mirror Doesn't Define Us!

 
Yesterday one of our group members commented about a song that she really liked. It is called Mirror by Barlow Girl.  I didn't get a chance to listen to it yesterday but I just played it this morning and WOW...what a great song and message! It was so fitting today because I had a very "be critical of Theresa" kind of morning while getting dressed. My dress is too short, my hair is too thin, my face looks old, my tan is fading, my teeth stick out, my excess skin is gross.......DO I NEED TO GO ON????  LOL"  Come on, admit it, we all have those experiences when we look at the reflection in the mirror and see only imperfections, instead of the face/heart of God.  What a silly morning....BUT....then... I heard this song and just stopped and thanked God for his mercy, his unconditional love, his spirit and mostly for dwelling inside of me.
On the way to work, I prayed the prayer that I pray each day....Lord, open  my eyes so that I may see "YOUR FACE" and "YOUR PRESENCE" in each person I meet this day. Open my ears that I may hear YOUR VOICE, in the sounds, conversations, songs around me. Open my mouth, that I may speak words of support, encouragement, inspiration, and love to all those who will hear me this day. Open my Heart, that I may love and show kindness, forgiveness, compassion, and genuine caring to all those I encounter. Open my mind, that I might KNOW...and UNDERSTAND....YOUR ways, GOD, and follow your path, and Open my hands....that I may serve and help those who need a hand.  This song reminded me that I must have eyes, ears, mind, and heart to see, hear, and recognize GOD's PRESENCE in ME first, before I can see it in others!  How silly we are to be concerned about the mirror....when no matter what we look like on the outside....no matter what size pants we put on this morning....no matter how bad a hair day we might have (there are many who have lost their hair...shame on you, Theresa)....We are all made in the image and likeness of our God. AND....HE thinks we are perfect.....just like we are.   Can we do things to make ourselves feel better???  Can we lose a few.....or many pounds to make our bodies healthier?  Can we take the time to take care of our appearance and have good grooming habits?  ABSOLUTELY....... But....in reality....WE ARE BEAUTIFUL, not because the world says so...(what do they know anyway?   LOL)...but Because GOD says so!!!!