Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Are you ready?

 
The time is drawing near......Big changes are just around the corner. Remember, if you always do....what you always down....you'll always get what you've always got! Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired?   It doesn't have to be that way.  The decision is yours. Now is your chance to live a different life! Are you almost ready? 

Making resolutions



Well, my friends, 2013 will soon be coming to an end. What an incredibly wonderful year it has been for me. As I go throughout the day today, I will likely be thinking a lot about the blessings of this past year and also about my hopes and dreams for 2014.  I have not made my New Year’s resolutions yet; that will come tomorrow morning during my quiet time of reflection. Last year I made 10 of them; and for the first time in my life, I kept almost all of them!

As you go about your day today and as you ponder your own resolutions, I want to share some thoughts I have about making resolutions.  So many times when people make resolutions, they make them knowing full well that they are so lofty and unachievable that it is very unlikely that they will be kept beyond a few days or weeks.  Part of the reason I was able to keep my resolutions last year was because they were specific….realistic….and contained “actions” rather than goals.  Perhaps you will have success in keeping your resolutions if you think about actions as well. Let me explain……

Instead of saying, “I’m going to lose 50 pounds (or whatever number you choose)”, perhaps saying “this year I am going to replace my fast-food lunch each day with a healthy lunch I pack at home” or “I am going to limit my “eating out” to one day a week instead of 3 or 4” would be a better choice. Or “I am going to alternate one bottle of soda with one bottle of water” or some other healthy options.

Instead of : I am going to save money in 2014, try: this year I am going to bring a cup of coffee with me in a travel cup each morning instead of going to Starbucks or Tim Horton’s.  Or: I am going to cut coupons for products that I know I would purchase anyway and put the money in a jar.  Or: I am going to have a garage sale this spring and use that money for Christmas gifts.

Instead of: I’m going to join a gym and exercise every day, try: This year I am going to take the stairs at work and I am going to consciously park at the far end of the parking lot every time I go to the store. Or: I am going to learn a new hobby or sport.  That way you’ll be sure to be more active even if you don’t make it to the gym several times a week.

Instead of: I am going to be a nicer person, how about, ‘this year I am going to send a card/note/letter to at least one person a month, or I am going to stop before I say anything negative about someone, or I am going to let the person behind me in the checkout line with only a few items go ahead of me…. Or……

Instead of: I’m going to work on my relationship with God, how about, “I am going to get up 10 minutes early each day so that I can spend some quiet time in prayer and thought before beginning my day.  Or I am going to try to attend church at least once or twice a month or I’m going to try to read a couple of books with a spiritual theme. As a result, you’ll grow in your faith.

When we make resolutions that include actions or concrete things, we will find that those things become a habit, a way of life, and as a result, the goal of the resolution doesn’t seem so overwhelming and will be realized. When your resolutions involve improving your life, your well-being, your health, and the lives of those around you, you certainly won’t fail.  I’m not sure what my list will look like, but I’ll be sure to share it…or parts of it in a day or so. I’ll be anxious to hear what resolutions you plan to make.

Be safe if you are out and about tonight…..and keep on believing that 2014 will be a year of great joy….a year of change….a year of growth. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Pictures from Christmas 2013

Christmas morning

My niece Noora

Today was my first day back from my trip downstate for the holidays and I’ve been trying to get things caught up a bit before heading back to work in a few days. It’s hard to believe how much effort goes into planning for the holidays, and how quickly the days seem to pass. A part of me was wishing that I could just skip Christmas this year so that I wouldn’t have to come face-to-face with the pain of celebrating the holidays without loved ones, but the more sensible part  of me knew that avoiding the emotions would not be very instrumental in the healing process. In spite of my apprehension, it turned out to be a wonderful week, full of much love and special times of grace with friends and  loved ones. I truly am blessed!

 
Ironically, in a few months when I look back on Christmas 2013, I sincerely doubt that I will remember what was served for dinner, what gifts I opened up, what type of wrappings they came in, or how tiring and stressful it can be to travel.  More than likely, I will remember the joy on the faces of the little children when I pulled out the guitar and they got to play instruments as we sang carols. Or the conversations I had with cousins and relatives that I don’t get the opportunity to see very often. Likely, it will be the love I felt when I visited my nun friends at the IHM motherhouse and spent the day with my dear friend, Sr. Therese Michael, and the joy on her face when I agreed to stay for dinner. It will also be the happiness of seeing my childhood friend, Susan, and her daughters , one of whom is about 3 weeks away from delivering her 2nd child and the complete joy in  visiting my dear friends, the Tilley’s and opening a Christmas card from them with the greeting: to our “6th child.” They have treated me like one of their own since I was a young child and they fill the void left by the absence of my own parents.
 Or maybe sharing breakfast with one of my former students that has remained a close friend and is now all grown up with 3 children of her own. Of course, there are the kids….the nieces and nephews….the new babies and the old ones…the aunts and uncles and my brother and sister and cousins.  The bottom line???? It’s not the THINGS I enjoyed; but rather than PEOPLE and the TIME spent with them that made this one of my best Christmas’ ever.
Those memories will nourish and strengthen me on my journey and will provide me with inspiration to keep motivated, because just 3 years ago I was unable to do many of these things. My life was one of physical and emotional pain and although I was always “in the room” for the holidays, I was not truly PRESENT.   Trust me when I say….being PRESENT…..in Life….is the best PRESENT of all! I encourage you to  do what you have to do in the New Year so that you can be PRESENT and enjoy each day of your life. I pray that your Christmas season was one of wonder and grace as well.





 My friend of 35 years and former teacher,
Sr. Therese Michael Dudek, IHM


You are not alone on your journey!

 
I believe wholeheartedly that God speaks to us in many ways throughout the day. Some like to think we have angels around us; others like to think it’s our deceased loved ones sending us messages; some like to call it a coincidence, but for me, I believe that it is God’s way of making me aware of His presence at all times. I’m just not always open to it, nor do I recognize it.
Did you ever notice that after you buy a new or (new to you) car that you suddenly begin to see them everywhere? Likely you never noticed all the blue sedans on the road until you had one. Then, you see them everywhere. We all know that those other vehicles were there all along, you just didn’t notice them.  I think it’s like that with God too. I think that He is always with us every step of our journey, but it takes effort to recognize Him.
I’ve shared many times before in various venues that I pray each day that my eyes, ears, mind, heart, etc. will be open to the presence of God in all things and all circumstances, good and bad. This truly is my prayer, and it’s amazing that once I began to “look”....to “listen”….to attempt to “recognize”   Him in all I meet, hear, read, all the ways in which he makes himself known to me. Likely, He is speaking to you as well throughout the course of the day.  It may simply be a couple of words that catch your eye and leap off a page in the newspaper or magazine. It might be a phrase or a post you see on Facebook or a song you hear on the radio or bits and pieces of a conversation you overhear in the store. Sometimes it’s as simple as seeing the smile of a stranger or the kindness of someone you meet throughout the day. When you make an honest attempt to recognize God in all things, you will be amazed at all the ways in which He lets you know that you are not alone.
Earlier this week I had one of those moments where I know that God was speaking to me, but I’ve yet to fully understand what He is trying to tell me. At this point, I don’t need to know exactly what it means, I just need to recognize that I am not alone on this journey.  While on vacation downstate this week, I was driving along I-94 on my way to a friend’s house. I don’t typically drive that freeway, but I was going to stop to a store (yes, a new Salvation Army thrift store that opened up  J where I ended up meeting a woman who is now a member of this group…coincidence, I don’t think so!) I had been driving along, deep in thought and watching the road because there was a lot of traffic and I’m not fond of highway traffic. I wasn’t really thinking about anything in particular but just reflecting on the many things that had occurred over the previous few days and the conversations that I was privileged to have with friends and family. I wasn’t even really aware of anything around me, until I happened to glance up and a billboard caught my eye. Now, I had been on the road for about ½ hour at that point and had not noticed any of the dozens of billboards lining the highway, but at that moment, I happened to glance up at one and the words, “I am an agent for change” just jumped out at me. I think it was for some sort of college or something…I don’t even know.  But I saw those words and went, Hmm…Yes, I am an agent of change…in my own life and that of others. Immediately I looked across to the other side of the road and there was another board that said, “Sometimes you just need a little more” from McDonalds, I think. This was followed immediately by “Trust me with your heart”…..with the picture of some cardiologist or something from a hospital. I don’t even know. All I know is that I was driving along, not paying attention to anything, and then boom, boom, boom…in a matter of 15 seconds or so, I see these three messages out of the blue.  What it means is yet to be revealed fully; that doesn’t matter to me as much as knowing and believing that God was communicating to me. I was overcome with a sense of peace that regardless of what happens to me…of the struggles, temptations, emotions, joys and triumphs that comes….I know…and believe that I am not alone, but I need to Trust God and others with  my HEART…I need MORE… more peace; more love; more quiet time; more faith; more (the list is endless)….so that I can be open to the ways God wants to CHANGE me…and the ways that God wants to use me as an AGENT to inspire others to change as well.
I am by no means trying to force any religious anything on you. I am simply sharing with you the source of my strength for this journey. This is the type of thing that gives me strength; that gives me hope; that keeps me motivated; and has helped me to stay focused. I cannot do this alone. I did not lose the weight on my own power, nor can I keep it off on my own. I need God…and I need others.  Whether or not you have a relationship with a higher power, I encourage you to be open to the ways in which God does and will communicate to you that you are NEVER alone in this journey called LIFE.  Changing your life….trying to be a healthier, better, kinder person is not easy, but it is much easier when you have friends to support you along the way. Remember, You are not alone…..I am here…God is here…and there are a lot of people in this group that are here to support, encourage, cheer you on, and pick you up.  Keep an open mind and an open heart, and don’t be surprised at the ways God speaks to you. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Meet Matt Dixon

Good morning friends. As you know, this group and my blog is about changing one’s life for the better. Obviously the most visible change in my life has been the physical transformation from weight loss, but honestly, the biggest change has little to do with weight and more to do with a change of heart and mind. To me, this is where all change begins, and it is an on-going process.  When we first begin our journey….whatever that means and whatever road you take….we may not really “THINK” differently. Mostly we just HOPE that we will change, and that this time it will be for good.  It is along the way that we begin to see ourselves and our world through a different lens and we begin to view life with a new appreciation. As we change our thoughts, our lives begin to change. Oftentimes along the way, God sends us people….both in person and online, sometimes even complete strangers, to help us see things differently, and who bring out the very best in us.
 
About two years ago now, I crossed paths with one of those people; someone who has taught me many things, who inspires me to be better, who helps me understand and appreciate life. He is a student at MMCC by the name of Matt Dixon, and he is a member of this FB group. Matt is a remarkable individual and has developed great wisdom as a result of his own personal journey and transformation. I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing his story, but I just continually marvel at how far he has come since we first met and have enjoyed watching him discover his full potential and succeed.
 
Matt has quite a story and he is very open in sharing it. Like many of us, he has had many life circumstances that he has had to deal with. His past was one where serious addiction, shame, and hopelessness was a daily reality, but with a lot of hard work and the support of others, he has completely transformed his life and for the first time in years, he is realizing the he has  future full of hope. He has been clean for many years and although it is a daily decision and battle, he continues to challenge others to get in touch with their emotions and their past and inspires them to change. He is a living example of Transformation and can also be called a “miracle.” He definitely has taught me many things along the way, even though my struggles are with different physical demons, we both struggle with the same mental and emotional issues, mostly doubt, fear, unworthiness, etc. Like me, it is a daily choice for Matt to be happy…to let things go…to choose the high road….to trust and surrender everything to God.
 
In the lowest points of Matt’s life…..just like each of us….he had serious doubts that his life would ever be any different, that he would ever amount to anything, that his future would ever include anything other than the life he knew.  Today….as a result of a lot of hard work and a daily decision to surrender his life to his “higher power”, he is a changed man and is well on his way to fulfilling his dream of becoming a college graduate.
 
When Matt began college a few years ago, he was in his 30’s….unemployed….living in his sister’s basement…and had serious doubts about his future. Over the past few semesters, I have had the privilege of watching him grow, in knowledge, wisdom, confidence, and maturity. He was hired at the college as work-study, is well-liked, hard-working, and respected, and is continuing to succeed in his classes. Each day he grows more and more confident.  This semester, (I hope you don’t mind me sharing this, Matt), he earned a 4.0 in his classes!!!  After years of ‘screwing up”…’failing’…being self-centered (his words, not mine), he is now an HONOR STUDENT in college!  I am so proud of him…..not simply because of his grades (which by the way totally ROCK), but because of the ways he has grown as a person….as a man.  And more importantly, I am proud of the way he is willing to share his story….his past…his struggles with others so that he can inspire and encourage them to change. He is a true success story and yet, it isn’t easy. He will be the first to admit that it is a DAILY DECISION. He makes choices each day…sometimes each hour….that he never wants to go back to his old way of life, even when the temptation becomes overwhelming. 
 
As you go through these final days of 2013, I encourage you to think about the New Year…and the new possibilities it can bring, and know that there are so many people who are here to share in your journey, to give you hope, to encourage and support you. Your struggle may not be with weight, or drugs or alcohol, but regardless of what you wish to change in your life, very likely you will find that we all deal with the same “mental, spiritual, and emotional things” that threaten to cripple us and keep us from being truly free.  When we begin to change how we think….the rest of the things will fall into place.
 
I am so blessed to have met Matt and  I give thanks to God for the ways in which He uses Matt to inspire me and give me hope.  I’m sure that Matt wouldn’t mind if you wish to message him privately. He gets strength from sharing his story and helping others.
 
WELL, DONE MATT DIXON…and thank you for the privilege of sharing in your journey. YOU ROCK!!!!
Are you willing to share your story?????

Friday, December 27, 2013

Be grateful that your NEEDS are met. Be Hopeful that your WANTS can be too!



I am a firm believer that God always meets my needs. Perhaps not always my “wants”, but certainly my needs. Sometimes my needs are not met in the way that I would like them to be, but even in the hardest times…the times of unemployment and economic hardship, I always had food to eat, even if it came from the food bank or the dollar store, and a roof over my head, even though it leaked and it sometimes got so cold in the house in the winter that my living room curtains froze to the window. Even in the times of sadness, depression and grief when I felt isolated and alone, I always knew that there was someone, actually many, who would drop everything to come to my side if only I would call….or allow them to help. Things were very difficult for many years and because I focused more on those “WANTS” instead of being grateful that my “NEEDS” were met. I felt empty, alone, and sad.

Because I spent so much energy comparing myself….my circumstances….my life to those around me, I failed to recognize the many blessings that I had, and to give thanks that all my basic needs were met.  I felt inferior to others because I didn’t (still don’t) have the financial resources to take trips or drive new vehicles. I had virtually no self-esteem because I was so heavy and out-of-shape. I felt “useless” because I no longer had a job that was life-giving.  I felt  “left-out” because I chose the single life rather than to accept any of the marriage proposals I received. I felt sad because I was grieving the loss of loved ones and alone because I had pushed others away out of fear that they, too, would die or leave me. I so WANTED life to be different, but didn’t even imagine that it could ever be.  

So I turned to food. I tried to fill the void, the emptiness with something other than God. Food became the only way that I could escape the reality of my pain, both physical and emotional, and because we all NEED to eat, there was virtually no guilt involved. Perhaps your “drug of choice” is in the form of alcohol, a cigarette, the casino, pornography, shopping, or even nobler things like excessive “volunteering” or “religion.” Most addictive behavior stems from our attempt to fill an emptiness inside that cannot be filled with “things”, but rather only with God (or your source of spiritual strength/your higher power), or our desire to ‘forget” that our life is not perfect and that we don’t have everything that we “WANT”.

 I encourage you in the next few days….as you prepare yourself mentally and spiritually to begin the new year and to make a commitment (or renew the one that you have already made) to change your life, to take a few minutes to reflect on those NEEDS and WANTS. Make a list of those things that you truly need…..and also a list of those things that you WANT, those areas of your life that you WANT to be different. I am guessing that many…if not all….of your basic needs are met, and many of your “WANTS’ are things you could live happily without. Look at those needs….and make a resolution to be GRATEFUL….THANKFUL….HAPPY, because they are met, even if they are not met in the ways you’d like them to be.  Look at those WANTS….and decide which are truly the most important….and  what role you must play in making them a reality. If you WANT to take a vacation, what do you have to “give up” to save money to afford one?  If you WANT a new car, what can you do to increase your income (2nd job???). If you WANT world peace….how can you make your own world …your household, your place of employment, your family…more peaceful? IF you want a deeper relationship with God, what are you willing to do to nurture one (attend church, make quiet time?) If you want to meet new people…what can you do to become more social? If you WANT a better job, what do you have to do to update your skills….perhaps enroll in a college class (it’s not too late!)?

 And if you WANT to change your life…to become healthier and happier…to give up a habit or lose weight…WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO to make it happen?  What things…both physical like booze, junk food, cigarettes, and emotional, like negativity, ungratefulness, anger, fear of failure, unworthiness,  must you give up in order to have the desires of your heart? What behaviors must you change….and more importantly, ARE YOU READY TO DO SO?  FOR LIFE????

Look around you today….try to see the many ways that God meets your NEEDS each day; Be grateful for what you have and be HOPEFUL and CONFIDNENT that many of the things you WANT can become a reality with a combination of God-power and will-power!  YOU CAN DO IT!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Make your Christmas Miracle come true!

 
I hope that you BELIEVE that your Christmas Miracle is not only POSSIBLE...but that IT CAN and WILL HAPPEN, but you must do more than believe....You must work to make it become a reality! You can...and you will do it. Can't wait to see your MIRACLE pictures next Christmas! GOD IS GOOD!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

 
Happy Christmas Day! Things may or may not be the way you want them to be today; you may or may not receive the gifts that you want; you may or may not be in the situation/health/emotional state that you want to be; you may or may not have the life that you desire this Christmas, but today is a day of gratitude, a day in which we ponder and give thanks for the miracle of that first Christmas....and for the MIRACLE that can and will happen for you this Christmas and in the New Year.

Like that first Christmas, however, it took cooperation between Mary, Joseph, and God to bring forth the new life that changed our world. You too, must be willing to cooperate....to put yourself in 'uncomfortable" situations....to say YES to all that God has waiting for you....to be willing to go "wherever" He leads and endure the sacrifices and hardships that will come with your journey, so that YOU TOO will celebrate and rejoice in the Christmas Miracle of a new, healthier and happier life that God has waiting for you. It may take months...or years for you to realize it and see the results....but I encourage you today to BELIEVE that All things are possible with GOD, and that you, too, can have a new life of great joy and peace. Do what you need to do to get through the day, but sometime today, find some time to ponder and give thanks for the miracle that God has already begun in your life. BELIEVE in it....TRUST in it...Say YES to it....and be willing to do what you need to do in the new year to make it happen!

Have a peaceful.....joyful...healthy and blessed Christmas Day!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Are on on Santa's Naughty or Nice list?

 
OH boy.....there might be quite a few on Santa's naughty list if this is true!
 Have you been naughty or nice?????

Sunday, December 22, 2013

a bit off-topic but meaningful to me.



This is "off-topic" for our group in a sense, but still, so many of us are grieving loss this Christmas to I thought I'd share it with you. Whatever you do...and however you choose to celebrate....just don't let your sadness be an excuse to make poor choices that will sabotage your journey. Be strong.....and know that you are not alone in your journey.

So many of us have lost loved ones this year and this will be our first Christmas without them. It's even hard when it's the 2nd or 3rd or 20th Christmas without people we love. I came across this poem and thought it was so beautiful. I hope that it brings you as much strength as it is bringing me as I face this holiday week with a bit of emptiness in my heart. I must admit, that nothing can compare to Christmas in heaven. May the memories of past Christmas' help wipe way the sadness.....and may we all be reminded that LIFE IS SO SHORT....so don't le the small, petty stuff that is likely to occur this year ruin your celebrations. We never know who will be celebrating his/her first Christmas in heaven next year. Cherish those you love, remember and honor those that have gone before us, and pray for those who grieve and have the merriest Christmas you can.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Good for a chuckle



Started my day out with a chuckle.....but if Santa came to my house, he'd likely get this instead of cookies!  LOL.  I'd even settle for "educational toys" like the text books I need to buy for my two college classes that will start in January. Hope everyone has a good day today and gets a lot accomplished!  Make it a happy one!

Friday, December 20, 2013

A break is drawing near....


This is the HAPPY face of someone who is going to be starting Christmas vacation at the end of the day! Yippee!!! I am so ready for a break and some time of fun with family and friends.....no cookies, though! I hope those of you that have to continue working through the weekend...or even on Christmas Eve/Day find joy in your work and feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of each day.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Drop the cookie...... Say NO!

Even Santa has to say NO to cookies..... Come on now....put the cookie down. I know you have to make them...but you don't have to eat them....or taste them.  You can do it!!!! 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

It's the Little Things that make Christmas


Gosh, what a busy week it has been! Like many of you, there is more to do than hours in the day, and yet, I have to continually remind myself that Advent is a time of peace….of hope….of joy, and that the true purpose of this season has nothing to do with the “stuff” I have to do. It is, after all, the “little things” that make this a season of joy.

I’ve written before about some of the wonderful Christmas’ seasons that I experienced over the years. Sometimes, in my quiet time, I like to sit in the darkness of a room illuminated only by the lights of my tree and nativity scene, and remember those special holidays. It often causes me to smile when I think of the moments shared with my parents and grandparents and the Christmas masses I attended for nearly 40 years that were celebrated my dear priest friend, Fr. Sauter, all of whom now celebrate Christmas in heaven. I’m often overcome with a sense of peace, and feel loved, secure, and very happy thinking about those days, even though I miss them dearly, especially this time of year.

Ironically, not one of those favorite holiday memories are of “big things”, but rather are of experiences, moments shared, conversations, things that happened, etc.  I can’t tell you how many different kinds of cookies were on the cookie trays when I was kid; but I can remember the fun I had baking and decorating cookies with my mom, sister, and grandmother. I can’t remember how many….or how extravagant the Christmas cards were that I received any given year, but I do remember the joy of receiving a hand-made card from some of my elementary students or a niece/nephew. In fact, I’ve saved many of them.  I don’t remember how “many” gifts or how beautifully decorated they were that I received any given year, but I can recall many gifts that were chosen especially for me….made especially for me….or extremely meaningful “gifts from the heart” like the year my aunt and uncle paid my taxes when I was unemployed and delinquent or the home-made plastic canvas decorations my grandpa made each year with the year on it.  Even though I used to be the “Martha Stewart” of Christmas, I can’t even recall any particular d├ęcor for any particular Christmas tree, but I do remember some ornaments that were made either by myself in grade school, my nieces/nephews/students, or grandparents. The memory and love of those individuals is felt each year when I unwrap those precious ornaments, even if I don’t put them on my tree. I remember things like “Christmas caroling”, “Grandma’s cinnamon rolls”, “sponsoring a needy family with the Borawski’s”, “leaving cookies and milk for Santa”, “watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on TV”, and “being the one who got to put the baby Jesus in the manger on Christmas morning.” It’s the traditions…..shared experiences….family time…..that put meaning into the holidays, not the crazy, busy, things we spend so much time, energy, and money into and are trying to frantically get done this week.

When I think of wonderful Christmas memories, it’s the people and the traditions that made them special. I have a big….most would call it “ugly”…Styrofoam Santa face hanging on my wall in my living room and a beat-up old Santa Claus figurine with plastic boots, ratted up hair, and a dingy velvet suit setting on the shelf.  These two items have been a part of my Christmas celebrations for 50 years now….since my very first Christmas, first at my own childhood home and that of my grandparents, and after their deaths, in my own home. It would NOT feel like Christmas without them, not because they are gorgeous and lovely, but because of the people they represent and the memories attached to them.

With all that being said….I’m giving myself (and you, too if you’re stressed like me) this reminder to put my time, effort, and energy into the “little things” that matter, not the things that the world is trying to tell us matter. After all….what do you want your children/grandchildren/friends/family…..even yourself….to remember about this Christmas 5 or 10 or 50 years from now?  If you are honest with yourself, it’s not how beautifully decorated the gifts are (that’s why they make gift bags) or that you had 26 different kinds of cookies (you shouldn’t be eating them anyway) or that you opened up 14 gifts on Christmas Eve (who do you really need anyway)?  So…take a break….watch a Christmas movie….call or visit a friend/neighbor….and allow the true meaning of Advent to permeate your heart and fill you peace, so that you may spend the rest of this week doing those things that are essential and that matter the most. Certainly there are things we must do to clean, decorate, prepare, cook, wrap, etc….but don’t lose focus on what really matters in the end.   Make it a joyful day and take good care of yourself!

 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Make it a good day!

Good Morning.... Went out to start my car a little while ago and the actual temperature on the display read 13 below zero! Now THAT'S cold.....but the ground is covered in a fresh blanket of glistening snow, the sky is clear, the nearly full moon is shining brightly and the stars appears so close you can almost feel like you can touch them....AND...my car started! I have a feeling it's going to be a good day! Well...more than a feeling.....a PLAN to make it a good day....r...egardless of what happens in the course of it! Remember....we cannot control the things that happen in our day-to-day life....but we can control how we REACT to them. Stay focused...and stay positive!

This is undoubtedly a very busy and sometimes stressful time of year....Look around and be aware of all the "little miracles" and "little blessings" that will come your way this day. Make it a good one!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Don't fall for it!



Don't fall for this one, my friends. OR....any other temptation like...."just one little bite won't hurt" or "Come on, it's Christmas, what's ONE cookie going do?" My priest always says, jokingly, when we have potlucks, bake sales, or picnics, "I've blessed all the calories out!" Don't fall for it.....Be strong! Make it a good day!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Finding J.O.Y. in the holiday season


Imagine my delight in finding this clipart AFTER I created the video below talking about the same thing!  For many, the holiday season is one of great joy, but for others, it can be downright miserable. Click the link below to hear my thoughts about Finding Joy in the holiday season.

video

Here is the YouTube link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r61eFuGza_w&feature=youtu.be

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A heart-warming true story: It's better to give than receive!

Good Morning everyone! My post today is a rather long read. I know, what's new? It actually isn't about my journey, but it's a story that I wrote a while back for one of my college classes. It is a true story about something that happened to me many years ago when I was working at St. Mary's in Rockwood. It's long....but it's a heart-warming Christmas story about the importance of Giving, rather than receiving. If you choose to read it, it might put you in the "Christmas spirit!" Hope you enjoy it. It is one of my favorite memories from my days in Rockwood.



My mother taught me many things. Some things, like tying my shoes, simply made my life easier. Other things, like “love your neighbor” and “stay close to your siblings” have dramatically impacted my life. She was a remarkable woman of great strength and compassion. A widow at a very young age, my mother raised three small children alone and still managed to be a self-less example of charity and love. Although she endured pain, loss, and loneliness, she still made serving others a priority.  One cold December day several years ago, I finally understood what she meant when she said, “The more you give away, the more you will receive”. Mom had said that phrase to me many times as a child, but I thought she was only trying to convince me to give away some of the toys that were cluttering up my room. I had no idea that she was teaching me a life lesson that would one day change my life. On this particular winter day, only a few days before Christmas, I was nearly robbed of my faith in humankind when a group of thugs entered my car and stole boxes of food and gifts that were waiting to be delivered to the poor in my community.

I worked as a Director of Religious Education for a small Catholic elementary school; and like the children in my classes, I was anxiously looking forward to Christmas and the break from school that would accompany the holiday.  The weeks since Thanksgiving were very busy at the school and the children spent their days making gifts for their parents, rehearsing songs for the Christmas program, and collecting food and toys for the needy. One could sense the excitement when walking down the hallway. The lobby was packed full of boxes of canned goods and other non-perishables; teddy bears, games, and dolls were stacked up everywhere waiting to greet a happy child on Christmas morning. The children certainly had outdone themselves with their generosity. One of my last jobs before taking the well-needed holiday vacation was to deliver this food to the local food pantry for distribution. The task was huge and the boxes were heavy, but the knowledge that I was helping to make someone else’s holiday a bit brighter made the job of loading the car seem effortless. I was walking on air; that is, until I went out to my car with another box of food. My car was parked right outside the door of the school with the doors open, making it easy to stack the boxes in the back seat. I trudged out the door, carrying a box overflowing with macaroni and cheese and singing, “It’s Beginning to look a lot like Christmas”, a song my student choir would perform later that evening during the school’s annual Christmas program. When I reached the car, I literally dropped the box to the ground, causing cans of soup and peas to roll underneath my car.

What? Am I losing my mind? What happened to the rest of the boxes?  Where are the gifts I had purchased for my family? I stood there, my mouth wide-open, in total shock. I was speechless and could not believe my eyes. Was someone playing a practical joke on me or did I just get robbed, right here in broad daylight, only a few yards away from an elementary school full of students? I quickly glanced in the front seat and confirmed my worst fear. Not only had some thoughtless thugs stolen the food for the poor and the gifts I purchased for my family, but they got my purse as well! Shock gave way to anger, then to panic and fear, as I realized that my driver’s license, checkbook, credit cards, and several hundred dollars of cash were gone. Tears began to flow down my cheeks as I plopped to the ground in a pile of snow.

I had never been the victim of crime before; in fact, I didn’t even know anyone who had ever been robbed.  This was a small, friendly town and the police station was directly across the street. How could this possibly have happened? As I sat there in the snow, my fear turned back to anger as I realized that this one act of crime would affect so many others, people who were already victims of unemployment and poverty. The tears continued to flow when I thought about those who were dependent on the food to feed their children, as well as my own personal loss. I had just cashed my paycheck and without a credit card or proper identification, I would not be able to replace the gifts that I had so carefully purchased and wrapped for my family. What about all the credit cards in my wallet? How would I ever notify the card companies before the thieves used them?

I was completely overwhelmed with emotion when the maintenance man came out with another box of food. I told him what had happened and he helped me to my feet.  We went back in the school to notify the police and I noticed the last box waiting to be loaded. “Well, at least we have three boxes of food left to feed 75 families”, I muttered sarcastically as we entered the school office.  The principal quickly ordered a lock-down of the building. The children, oh dear Lord, the children; I had forgotten about the children! Thank goodness no one got hurt. I began to think about the horrific possibilities had an armed thief entered the building filled with students and staff.  The ending of this tale could have been so much worse.

After the police arrived and took the report, the principal suggested that I go home for the rest of the day.  I was an emotional mess so I took her advice and I headed to the comfort of my home to begin the process of cancelling my credit cards. The quick drive home seemed to last an hour. I entered my house, which was beautifully decorated for the holidays, and I began to weep again. This time it was sadness propelling the tears. I sat down in front of my Christmas tree and looked at the nativity set that meant so much to me. My grandfather made the stable for me the first Christmas that I lived on my own, and my mother had purchased the delicate porcelain figures for me as a gift the year I moved into my own apartment. I treasure this nativity set now because both my grandfather and my mother have passed away. I sure miss them; my mother would know just what to say to make me feel better. I tried to focus on the faces of Mary and Joseph, and think about how frightened they must have felt that first Christmas. I looked at the gentle smile of the poor, perhaps cold and hungry, shepherd boy and tried to somehow reconcile my anger and sadness with “the true meaning of Christmas”; but my spirit was broken. The thieves had not only robbed me of worldly things, but they may have taken my Christmas spirit as well.

I sat there crying until I remembered that I needed to begin notifying my creditors of the robbery. “I’m sorry to hear of your misfortune, Miss Borawski, certainly we will cancel your card and send a replacement in 10 -14 business days, and by the way, Happy Holidays”, was the standard reply I heard a dozen times.  “Happy Holidays”, are you serious, I thought. How could I ever have a happy holiday when I don’t even have a gift to give to my nephew, or my sister, or my grandmother? How am I even going to direct the Christmas program tonight, when my holiday spirit was riding around with a car full of stolen gifts? Sadness turned back to anger as I muttered to myself, “So this is the thanks I get for trying to do something nice for someone else.” I would have been better off to just be a selfish scrooge; who said it was better to give than receive, anyway. I was angry, sad, and frustrated all at the same time. My head was pounding, my eyes were swollen, and I was physically and emotionally spent so I headed to my bed, pulled the covers over my head, and tried to fall asleep. Maybe I would wake up to discover that this was just a bad dream.

 A couple of hours later I woke to face the reality that not only had I been robbed, but I also had an obligation to the children who had worked so hard to prepare for that night’s holiday program. I quickly showered and changed into my festive attire and headed back to the school, trying to fight back the tears as I passed the holiday decorations lining the light poles along the way. I had to turn off the radio in my car because I could not bear the sound of the joyous holiday carols. “Fake it, Theresa, just fake it”, I told myself as I traveled the snowy road.  This certainly was not the first time that I ever had to smile when I felt like screaming. I gave myself a pep talk and entered the building, already filling up with proud parents, grandparents, and nervous youngsters waiting to perform.

Word of my misfortune had quickly spread throughout the small parish community, and I was greeted with hugs and words of comfort as I worked my way to the front of the stage to make the last minute preparations before the show began. “The show must go on,” I told myself countless times when I felt the tears well up inside of me. Satisfied that everything was set to go, I took my place in the front row to wait for the show to begin. A nervous child let out a scream at the sudden darkness and the principal appeared in the spotlight. The principal always opened the Christmas program with a prayer and welcoming comments, and tonight was no exception. She began:

This morning something terrible happened here at St. Mary’s. Miss Borawski’s vehicle was robbed as she loaded the boxes of food that you so generously donated for the poor. The thieves not only took several boxes of food, but they took her purse and the Christmas gifts that she had purchased for her family members. We have never experienced anything like this before, and although we are saddened by the news this unpleasant event, we are thankful for the safety of Miss Borawski and all the children and staff. Food and gifts can be replaced, but human lives cannot. Still, we are all grieving the loss of our security and our holiday spirit as well, but once again, the kindness and generosity of this parish has been overwhelming. Miss Borawski, please come up here on stage.

I was stunned. What on earth was she doing? Doesn’t she know that my legs are already weak and I’m barely holding it together now? What is she trying to do to me?  I slowly made my way onto the stage. Blinded by the stage lights, I turned to face the crowd. I heard the curtain open behind me and the principal asked me to turn around. The stage was full of stuff. Boxes of food and toys and gifts were piled on top of one another. I did not understand what was going on.

“Miss Borawski, all of this is for you, from your parish family”, the principal said while handing me several envelopes. She continued:

I made a few phone calls this morning and word quickly spread about what had happened and all afternoon donations have been pouring in. The food is for the poor, and the boxes of gifts are for you to give to your family and friends. The envelopes contain cash and gift cards to help you through the holidays. Please accept these things with our love and appreciation. We cannot thank you enough for all you do for so many people and we will not allow some thieves to rob you or us of the Christmas spirit.

 “But there is so much,” I quickly protested, and “these gifts are much nicer than the ones I lost”, I kind of chuckled.  “Well”, the principal replied, “I guess the more you give away, the more you receive”. Just then, a bell went off in my head. Had she just said what I think she said? Where had I heard that before: The more you give, the more you receive? Suddenly I remembered my mother and the words she had said so long ago, and I longed to see her again to tell her that I loved her and that I finally understood. 

Tears began to flow down my face again as I lovingly thanked the audience and made my way back to my seat. In that moment, I suddenly understood the joy of the shepherd boy as he bowed humbly before the newly born Christ Child, broken and poor, yet overflowing with the feeling of peace and good-will, and for a brief moment, I swear I could smell my mother’s perfume.                        

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Lastest interview with Nate from Natesway.com

Good Morning my friends......

Lest you tire of hearing the story told again and again........Here is my latest interview.....with Nate from Nate's Way. Just published on the web last evening.

http://www.natesway.com/2013/12/09/in-just-two-years-i-lost-275-pounds-theresa-borawskis-unbelievable-story/

Monday, December 9, 2013

Theresa's survival tips for holiday parties




Getting through the holiday parties without going off track can be very difficult....but it can be done! You don't have to be one of the many who will gain 5-7 pounds during the Christmas season. Watch my video to learn how I am going to get through the many parties and gatherings without going off of plan. It can be done!!!! I've done it...and You can do it too!

video

For those that can't view it here....try YouTube:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C42qjc3ABhA&feature=youtu.be

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Picking up the guitar again.....


It seems that every day bits and pieces of   “Old Theresa” returns in one form or another. Sometimes I have to work really hard to confront the “old, negative thinking…unworthiness…bitterness…sadness, pain, etc.” and the characteristics and habits that led to my obesity and sadness and that I’ve tried to so hard to change in recent years.  But some things, like compassion, determination, strength, joy, and perseverance have returned in a better, more mature way and have helped “New Theresa” to grow and change.


As much as I always used to enjoy the holiday season, I’ve found myself on some days this year just wishing that it was over. I’ve been tired, extremely busy, and pre-occupied with other concerns, and yet, Christmas is going to come with or without me. This Christmas will be different for sure. I’ve lost 3 family members this year, beginning with my stepdad, Tony, in January, my aunt Bev in May, and recently my cousin Bridget. Their absence will be felt greatly by my family and I’m sure there will be moments of intense sadness,  but I really have two choices: Either I can dwell on my loss, or I can be grateful for the years of love I shared and draw strength from the memories of Christmas’s spent with them. I decided yesterday that I was going to just embrace reality….and all the emotions that are bound to be present…. and make this year the best ever.

 

Music has always been a big part of my life. In my previous career in ministry, I directed a children’s church choir and music and dancing always filled the hallways of the school during November/December as we practiced our songs for the school masses and Christmas programs. In my younger years, I’d gather the young cousins and we would do some singing on Christmas Eve. My step-dad Tony always played carols on his harmonica as we all sang along. Last year, when he was very weak from a recent surgery and an extended hospital stay, we were fortunate to have him home for Christmas. His presence…although weakened and frail….was the greatest gift ever. Our visit got even better when he used his walker to go into the living room and pick up his harmonica off the end table and proceeded to play me one of his favorite songs – Jingle Bells. Tears flowed from both of our eyes as he struggled for the breath and the strength to play….to continue on with a tradition that was part of my life for almost 40 years. That moment was the best Christmas gift I could have been given. I don’t think I will ever forget that moment. I need to draw strength from that memory, and so many others over the years, and continue on with the tradition of music and singing. Certainly there will be a lump in my throat every time I hear Jingle Bells, but it is only because I loved and was loved deeply. For that, I am so grateful.

 

Inspired by that memory, I did something yesterday that I have not done in at least seven years:  I pulled out my old guitar. Playing guitar used to be a big part of “Old Theresa” and my former job as Director of Religious Education and teacher. I’ve never been very good at it, but those memories are of happy days. The pain of losing that job….a job that I loved so much and defined me….was so deep that I simply put the guitar away and haven’t  played it in many years. That part of my life was over…and any reminder of those days was too painful to deal with. Although I’ve thought about those days many times over the years, I never had any desire to ‘revisit” those memories in any concrete way. Ten years ago my life was very happy and I felt loved, valued, and at peace. But life changed very quickly when I lost my job, my grandpa died, my priest friend became sick and later died in my arms, I went back to college…got sick, gained weight. You know the story. Memories of those days were buried very deep….and the guitar was a reminder of the life I used to lead many years ago. For the past 7 years, I didn’t have any desire to go back there.  The development of the Rheumatoid Arthritis and the pain and crippling of my hands only made it easier to avoid the guitar.   BUT…..the time has come…..to resurrect the music….to find the song in my heart again….to create new traditions and new memories!!!  And so….Yesterday I began to do just that.  Tony would want it that way. Tony would want the music to go on. Tony would want me to play…and remember the times we played together. Even if there are tears…they will be tears of gratitude that death cannot take away love and because my faith assures me that we will be reunited with our loved ones again someday. I encourage those of you that are missing lost ones...because of death, divorce, military, distance. anger….whatever the reason….. to try to get in touch with your pain and sadness. It will be difficult and you may even want to “just skip Christmas” or avoid dealing with the emotions because it hurts too much. Like me in the past, you may want to “feed” the pain with too much eating or drinking just to get through it. Trust me…that will only be a temporary solution. I encourage you to give yourself permission to feel whatever it is you feel so that come the New Year you will be ready and free to begin your new journey. Try to find a way to honor your loved ones; perhaps lighting a candle or displaying a picture to remind yourself that they are with you in spirit. Whatever you do, don’t give in to the temptation to emotional eat, drink, spend, act out, or say things you’ll later regret.

 

Picking up the guitar again after all these years was a bit awkward. For one thing….I discovered that the guitar didn’t “fit” anymore! I put the strap over my shoulder and it just literally fell off.  The strap was adjusted to a much larger body and I was surprised…and pleased…. to have to move the strap about foot shorter!  It was great and a very visible reminder of how far I’ve come by the grace of God.   I also discovered that “I am way out of practice.”  I haven’t forgotten the chords or the finger placement, but certainly my chord playing needs work. I was muting the strings and my fingertips no longer have the calluses necessary to play a clear, crisp strum. It’s much harder to hold the pick as well because my hands have weakened from the RA. The guitar was out of tune….the chords sounded off-key…and I broke a string, but I managed to plunk out a version of Jingle Bells that slightly….very slightly….resembled the song. Certainly I need a lot of practice!

 My hope is to bring the guitar and the assorted instruments (bells, sticks, wood blocks) to our family gathering on Christmas Eve and have then little ones sing for their parents and grandparents.  I’ve done the same thing with their parents….and the now-teenage cousins….many years ago. Thus, the tradition lives on!!!!  But…if this is going to happen…then I need to do some serious practicing in the next two weeks. I need to strengthen my hands and build those calluses. I need to practice…and do it over and over each day. Admittedly, it sounds terrible now, with many mistakes and out of tune “plunks”, but it will get easier with time and effort.

I couldn’t help but think of how this relates to us on our journey to better health. Perhaps we have done the whole “diet, healthy lifestyle, exercise, habit-kicking….whatever” before. Very likely, you weren’t always ‘overweight, out-of-shape, addicted…..or bitter, angry, jealous, selfish, or self-centered”. Perhaps you used to have better habits….going to church, saving money, visiting relatives, giving to the poor…..  But, like me, you may have encountered “hardships…..disappointment….hurts….illness….grief…..depression….unemployment (whatever it is)” that caused you to stray off course, or just “lay it aside.”  Perhaps you want the best parts of your old life….your healthy life….your happier days….to happen again. Perhaps you are trying to make a change….or you are anticipating changing your life in the New Year. Perhaps you are ready to “pick up that guitar”….to let go of the pain….to deal with the grief or addiction….to bury the hurt and make a NEW…JOYFUL SONG….To live a new, happier healthier life.  I hope so!!!!!

Like me and my guitar…you likely already know how to do it. You’ve either done it before….lived the healthy lifestyle before…but you have either “forgotten how” or “deliberately left it behind” because it got hard, or you didn’t want to “deal with” the emotions. Perhaps you’ve been successful in losing weight but have gained it back…and then some. Perhaps you were once committed to exercise or visiting the gym, but let your membership lapse or quit the aerobics class. Perhaps you just got too busy or allowed other things to become more important. Now is the time…Now is the time for you to pick up your “guitar”….knowing fully well…that it is going to take a lot of practice. You are going to make mistakes (gosh, that sounds AWFUL)…you are going to “forget how” (how do I play that B7 chord again?) ….you are going to want to give up because it’s hard (ouch, my fingers hurt). You are going to be too busy (I’ve got cards to write, gifts to wrap, decorating to do.) You may have to pull out the books (read labels, get an APP to check calories, read about nutrition, join a gym) to re-learn to do what was once second-nature. You may need to find support and help from others. There is no doubt that you are going to have to put a lot of effort and work into it. You are going to have to find time in an already busy schedule to devote to your new lifestyle. You may even wonder if it’s all worth it…..will it even matter….will you stick with it this time. It’s just like me and my guitar….(I’m too busy to practice…it’s going to be a pain to haul the guitar downstate for Christmas…will it just be for a one day thing or will I continue to practice and play into the New Year….Will anyone even care or appreciate it….will it even matter).  It may not matter to anyone else in my family, but certainly it will matter to me. Playing that guitar on Christmas Eve will be very significant for me personally. It will be a reminder of the joy that is day-by-day being restored. It will be a reminder of pleasant days long ago. It will be a sign that the good parts of “Old Theresa” are returning, but in a new way. It will be a way of healing…or remembering…of carrying on and building new traditions. It will be a way to express gratitude to God…for putting a song in my heart again.

 

 Changing your life may not matter to those around you. In fact, you may find that those closest to you prefer the “old you.” They may become jealous and want to sabotage you. They may give you grief about the cost involved of joining a gym or buying fresh fruit and produce. They may try to give you guilt about the time you must spend for exercise or meal preparation. They may try to persuade you to give up….because it may not matter to them. They may like the old you better. But like me and my guitar…IT WILL MATTER TO YOU!  Make these changes for YOU!  Start “practicing” now for your new life….even if you aren’t planning to start until January.  Start parking at the other entrance to the mall and walk to your destination while Christmas shopping. Start eating only until you are full at the parties, not until your plate is empty. Start making better choices. Start mixing low-fat or fat free sour-cream/cheeses in your holiday recipes. Start telling yourself that you can/will do it. Start allowing yourself to feel and process the emotions that are likely to surface over the holidays.  Practice good habits….knowing you are going to make mistakes….start convincing yourself that the time is coming…and that you are worth it…and you are going to be successful so that come January you will be ready and it will be easier. I know and believe that you, too, will make a joyful song….that you will change your life but you will have to practice it…be willing to mistakes…and practice some more!

 
Old Theresa

Tony and my cousin David leading us in Jingle Bells

Friday, December 6, 2013

I've uploaded the Uncommon Sense PBS TV interview!

 
 
 
 
For those who have been waiting....for many months....the PBS TV show interview has finally aired. The show is called Uncommon Sense with Junia Doan. I have uploaded a link to the interview on YouTube and it is also featured on my website:... www.theresaborawski.net. The one you will see has my name spelled wrong and the last couple of minutes are cut off, but here it is if you are interested in watching it. It is about 25 minutes long and is a pretty candid and frank discussion about my journey. I didn't have any idea what Junia Doan would ask, so it is rather informal and certainly not my best work. BUT...as long as God is Always glorified in the telling and re-telling of the story, then I am happy! Hope you like it! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFrbCePwZeM

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Start preparing for change...NOW!


Across the world, Christians have entered into a period of preparation for Christmas called “Advent.” In
my own faith tradition, Catholicism, we use a wreath to count down the four weeks. Children often use Advent calendars, which come in many different formats but typically involve opening a window or door on a paper scene every dat. Advent is intended as a time for us to get ourselves spiritually ready to welcome the Christ Child on Christmas, but more often than not, it becomes just a time of intense busy-ness as we run ourselves ragged with all the preparations for the holiday, shopping, baking, cleaning, etc. As we get closer to Christmas, the messages proclaimed at Church become more hopeful and more urgent that “the time is now!”  I’m not an expert in world religions by any means, but I’m guessing that other faiths have a similar period of spiritual preparation for their major feasts and celebrations.

 

I’ve been thinking about Advent and what it means to me personally and spiritually, but I’ve also been reflecting this week about what it could mean for us in this group, namely for any of you that have yet to start a serious journey to wellness (however you define wellness.) I’ve received dozens and dozens of emails from individuals around the world asking for my help and telling me that he/she wants to change their life…..but have yet to start.  (But I want to…I’m going to….I’m determined…..I don’t know how…Please help me…etc. is a familiar theme.). That is awesome!!!!!  That’s the first step…..recognizing that there are things that could be improved….recognizing that you may be a bit “out of control” in some areas of your life….recognizing that there are some not-so-healthy habits that you’d like to change. For those of us on a journey…recognizing that we may need to recommit ourselves to our plan after a period of “coasting” through the holidays may be necessary.  For me, it’s a daily thing….recommitting…and asking for God’s help.

 

Although any day is a good day to make a change, this time of year really is extremely difficult to do so. More often than not, individuals wait until the New Year. In the coming weeks, those of us who celebrate Christmas and New Year’s will be surrounded with temptations to enjoy the treats of the season. Holiday parties, family celebrations, Christmas breakfast and dinner, New Year’s, etc.  are all occasions where feasting, dieting, calories, health, etc. often get put on the back burner and are rarely thought about by most. Those truly committed, however, never let these occasions become a stumbling block, but admittedly, it is really difficult to stay on track. Only those with strong willpower, determination, commitment, and pre-planning typically make it through this period unscathed. I’m going to be one of them; are you??????

 

Many people make a commitment to change beginning in the New Year. Great idea! I think that as a group, we should all make a plan to start….to start again….or to recommit to our journey come January 1st. For those already on a plan…NO, this is not your excuse to “take a break” or “go off-track!” You keep doing what you’re doing!!!!  J I’ll share some of my strategies later in the week for getting through the parties, etc.  But for those that are “thinking about it”…make a commitment today…. to put serious effort into changing your life….come January 1st.  If you are serious about this…then NOW….during Advent…is the time of preparation to get ready to change your life.  Use these four weeks to prepare yourself mentally, spiritually, and physically to completely change your life…..PERMANENTLY. 

 

One needs to be mentally ready to succeed.  This means…in the coming weeks, start reprogramming your mind from one of “defeat” or “failure” to one of “success.” Start giving yourself positive reinforcement….start telling yourself… “I am worth it”, “I’m going to do this”, “I deserve to be happy and healthy”, “I have what it takes to succeed”, “This time I AM….going to lose this weight/give up this habit/beat this addiction/go back to church/save money/make it work/go back to school….”, whatever it is.  Get rid of the negative thinking…the doubts…the remembrances of past failures, etc…. day-by-day during this advent season so that come the first of the year, you’ll be CONVINCED and MENTALLY CERTAIN that you CAN…and you WILL Change your life for good this time! Let go of the bitterness, resentment, jealousy, hurt, unforgiveness, pettiness….essentially all those negative attitudes that are preventing you from true peace and joy. True, lasting change begins in the mind and heart; the body will follow.

 

This is a great time to become spiritually prepared as well. I’ve stated many times that my journey, my success thus far, only happened and continues to happen, because of the grace of God. I am completely powerless to do this alone and it is only by His power and His strength that I am able to get through each day. Each and every day I have to admit that I cannot do this alone and ask God for help to stay focused, to stay motivated, and to stick to the plan. I also ask Him every day to use this miracle for His glory and to help others. These four weeks of Advent are the perfect time for you to get in touch with your faith…your God….your higher power, and ask for help so that you may truly change and become not only a healthier person, but a kinder, more loving, compassionate, giving person that reflects goodness to all. Make a commitment now to go back to church…or find a church/temple/mosque…or spend more time in prayer/meditation/reflection/quiet time (whatever your preference). Plan now to become aware of God’s presence and blessings around you. And begin to practice “gratitude”, saying “Thank You” more often than “I want.”

 

Physically, there are also preparations that must be made. If you are dealing with health issues, now is the time to discuss your plans with your physician. You may need to be “checked out” before you start an exercise plan. You may have other health concerns….pre-diabetes…low blood sugar, high blood pressure, etc. that may require special care in planning your healthy meals. Make the appointment now…get the EKG now…do it in December so that you don’t have an excuse to put it off in January.  You may need to seek medical help for dietary supplements, vitamins, etc….if you elect to go that route. You may need to visit a dietician or nutritionist to find out what are healthy choices for you.  Some of you may want to speak to a medical professional about those “quit smoking” type patches and such. Start now to research different diet plans or programs to find one that you are certain will work for you…..one that you will follow FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE….not just for a period of time until you lose the weight.  Check out Weight Watchers, T.O.P.S., Overeater’s or Alcoholic Anonymous groups, or other popular support groups if you find you need that weekly accountability and interaction. Make a commitment to post more to our group or read fitness/health blogs online. Put your plan in place now so that you are ready to go!

 

Also, you need to physically prepare your environment for success.  Make a plan that you will get rid of all those things in the house that will be a temptation to you. Make sure all the holiday treats are gone (No, don’t eat them all between Christmas and New year’s! J) Send home “care-packages” or “leftovers” with your guests. Bring the extra cookies and goodies to a lonely neighbor or senior citizen. Start buying healthy foods each week…so that when Jan 1st comes, you’ll have all you need to succeed. Get rid of the junk food in the coming weeks. Shop for a new pair of sneakers if you are planning to start walking; purchase a calorie counting book and start reading it now; clean off the treadmill; pull the exercise equipment out of the basement or garage when you are getting out or putting away your holiday decorations.  Use these weeks to get ready….get your equipment ready….make a plan….check out the local gym or community swimming pool,  so that you will have NO EXCUSES to put it off a few more weeks into the New Year.

I guess in all my rambling, I just simply want you to use these weeks of advent to not only prepare your hearts and homes for the holiday festivities, but also to prepare your mind and body to Change Your Life….beginning today…or January 1st….whatever you decide works best for you and your life.  For those who are already committed…..ABSOLULTELY NOT is this an excuse to “take a break!” You keep going…keep on track…keep on keeping on! There is no reason why you can’t continue to lose weight during December. Certainly, you can at minimum, stay at the same weight.  All of us CAN DO IT……I BELIEVE IT.  You have to believe it too. After all…they say that “CHRISTMAS IS A TIME FOR MIRACLES.”  Believe that your miracle can…and will happen to you!