I am telling myself at this very minute that, "Theresa, you don't HAVE to go to work....you GET to go to work....How blessed you are to have a job!" Make it a happy, positive thinking, kind of day.
Monday, March 31, 2014
I am telling myself at this very minute that, "Theresa, you don't HAVE to go to work....you GET to go to work....How blessed you are to have a job!" Make it a happy, positive thinking, kind of day.
Sunday, March 30, 2014
It’s a beautiful sunny Sunday here in Northern Michigan. The current temp, according to my computer, is 44 degrees and it feels like spring is in the air. It was a lovely ride to church this morning and I just came back from my first walk of the season. The weather today has provided me with so much “food for thought” thus far. Not really a surprise, is it, that something as insignificant as the weather can turn into one of my rambling posts! But….here is a glimpse into my thoughts this day…..
As you may have noticed from an earlier picture I uploaded, I still have A LOT of snow in my yard. There is about 6 inches in some places, but other places still have well over a foot, and the piles of shoveled snow still double that. I looked very carefully, hoping to see a small patch….even a few blades….of shriveled up, brown grass…..but there is no sign of that…..AT LEAST IN MY YARD! But…..that is not the story in places nearby. I was surprised to discover on my drive to church that just up the road, there is lots and lots of visible ground. In fact, some places on the north side of the road, are nearly void of snow, while those on the south side, like my place, are loaded with it. It doesn’t take much science to figure out that those places exposed to the wind and sun on a regular basis are going to show progress much quicker than the rest of us. BUT….What is the lesson here, I pondered on the drive home and then later during my walk.
I kept thinking…. “You have to get out of your yard to see that the new life of spring is happening around you.” HMMMM…… well, that makes perfect sense to me on this personal journey. What does “my yard” mean to me? Certainly, it’s more than property lines… rather, it represents my SELF…my comfort zone….my selfishness, self-centeredness, my fear, my doubts, my weaknesses and temptations, my sadness and pain……you get the drift. I lived in the safety of my “yard” for those horrible years when I tried to drown my emotions with food. I built up walls around myself. I surrounded myself with barriers, emotionally ones like isolation, and physical ones like 250 extra pounds of flesh, with the sole intention of keeping others out, of protecting myself from further pain and grief, of hiding inside my own turmoil. I didn’t allow others in my “yard” and I didn’t leave either, except when absolutely necessary. As miserable as it was, I was content to live there in the darkness, because it was safe and no one could hurt me there, until it got so bad that I was no longer living. Actually, I wasn’t really content, but I had forgotten what it was like to LIVE, to feel joy, to feel healthy and whole, and I didn’t think that life would, or could, ever be any different. I just didn’t think it was possible. In a sense, just like the snow in my yard…. I didn’t even imagine that things would be different…..just up the road.
But then, one day, a miracle happened in my life! How or why it happened is something that I daily try to figure out. But one day, out of the blue, God showed me that “just down the road” that life could indeed be different, but I had to be willing to venture out of the safety of myself….to leave my own will and fears behind….to trust that He would be with me every step of the way. I had to be willing to “step out of my comfort zone,” to let go of the pain and hurt, to trust, to become vulnerable, to do whatever it took to get myself out of the life I had created for myself. Not an easy thing to do by any means and yet…..the new life was right there waiting for me to enjoy. Until I was willing to surrender my will and admit that I was powerless and didn’t know the way, to change my way of thinking and way of eating, and begin to look at things in a new way, I would never know true joy and peace. Until I allowed the Grace of God to shine light on the dark areas of my life, there would only be pain, bitterness, grief, and sadness. But once I allowed Him to change my thoughts and my heart, my body began to change as well, and thus, this new life has emerged. Until the “light and warmth of the sun” hits the snow-covered areas of my yard, there will be no signs of new life and the ground will remain cold and frozen. HMMM…… Until you allow the power of the “SON….or however you define your God” to melt and mold your will, you will continue to live in darkness and despair.
So….today…. I encourage you with two thoughts…..First, I know first-hand that “just around the corner” lies signs of new life, but first you have to be willing to risk leaving your old-self behind. And 2nd….. even when it looks like NOTHING IS HAPPENING, that you’ll never see progress, that life will always be this way….TRUST ME when I say that your “new life” is not very far off and things are changing before your very eyes, even if you don’t see it reflected on the scale, in the mirror, or in your relationships. Get out of the “darkness of yourself” and allow the Light of God to transform your life.
Finally…..ask yourself…. “What is it that you must be willing to risk, to leave behind, to surrender, in order for new life to happen” and “What is stopping you from venturing out of “your yard”? There is change in the air, my friends….just don’t lose hope!
Saturday, March 29, 2014
I remember one time, many years ago, when my mother told me that, “God never said that life would be easy, honey, but He did say that He would always be with you.” Those words have sustained me through some pretty tough times over the years, and they taught me to look for those ways in which God lets me know that He is with me.
Sometimes His presence is easy to recognize, especially to those of us that are moved by nature. A glorious sunrise or sunset, the rise of steam off a lake on a summer morning, the full moon, a sky full of star on a clear night, or a breath-taking sight…..are all reminders to me that God is present in His creation.
Most often, He uses people to make His presence known; oftentimes, complete strangers. I have shared before about those people….the hairdresser, my dentist, and my rheumatologist….. who, unbeknownst to them, planted the seeds that led to my decision to change my life. If I ever get that book started, they will be mentioned in great detail.
Yesterday, I was given an incredibly wonderful gift from someone I barely know, a former school friend of my mother named Nancy. Nancy and my mom were classmates and friends for many years but they lost touch with each other shortly after my mom married my dad in 1962. Most of you know that both of my parents have died, my father when I was 8 and my mother when I was in my 20’s. Earlier this week, I received a “friend request” from Nancy, and because I recognized the name from my childhood (mom had told me about some of her close friends), I accepted her request. Nancy told me that she had some things she would like to send to me and asked for my address. Last night, I received a package in the mail…a gift that I will treasure forever.
I opened then envelope and inside was a stack of pictures of my mom from her teen years, along with several letters that mom had written Nancy in the early 1950’s. There was also a picture of my dad. Other than the senior class pictures of my parents, I had never seen any of the others she had sent. I sat in the lazy boy and looked at these photos as the tears rolled down my cheeks, and read those letters, written in the same handwriting that had signed my birthday cards and wrote notes to my teachers over the years, and just smiled and said, “Thank You, God” for the reminder that I am never alone….not on this journey….nor on any other. The love of my parents, although their physical bodies are long gone, will never leave me for that very love gave me life. As I read those letters, written when my mom was a young, single working woman, and looked at those pictures of special times spent with friends, I got a glimpse into a side of the woman that gave me life….a side that I never really knew. The mom I knew was a mother and wife….not a single woman buying new shoes, purchasing a new car, taking trips, going to work, and dealing with boys. By the way, "What's up with boys"; I never had to deal with them before this journey! :-)
Although mom was a just a young adult, and I’m a 50 year old single woman with a job, a love of shoes and clothes, and issues with boys, etc.., it was one of those “ah-ha” moments to realize that at one time, she was just like me. She died too early in life and we never got to talk about those things, and suddenly I really missed her, but yet, I’ve never felt closer to her in my life than I did…and do…at this very moment. I wonder what she would think of me now! Those photos and letters, likely just items taking up space in Nancy’s attic, are a gift that will be treasured by me for years, not only because of their “physical” attributes, but because the very act of kindness on the part of this stranger of tracking me down and going to the trouble of sending them to me, was God’s way of strengthening and encouraging me on this journey.
Those pictures caused me to think a lot about my mom, and in doing so, I was reminded of her strength, her faith, her determination, and character. I began to think about other things she told me, but mostly, I was reminded of her incredible kindness, in the midst of her own heartache of losing a spouse at 34, and being left alone with 3 children under 8 years old. I was reminded of her faith…the faith that trusted that God will give her what she needed to cope with her heart condition and the struggles of day-to-day life…the faith that gave her strength to keep fighting….to keep trying…to keep on being happy….to be better. The same faith and character she passed on to me…..the same determination that has and will help me succeed….the same desire to help others…..the same love that gave me life. Just remembering “that” was just the boost of energy that my weary spirit needed to keep going, to keep trying, to keep working. All of this, because a stranger reached out to me, instead of tossing those pictures into the trash. What a gift…..what a blessing….what a treasure! Will Nancy ever know what her kindness meant? Probably not!
When I spoke to the Rotary Club a few weeks ago, I reminded my audience of the importance of always treating others with kindness and compassion because we never really know how our actions will affect another person, how what we say may give someone hope or encouragement, how God may use us to speak to another, or how what we do…..even something as simple as holding a door, offering to help, making a phone call, listening to a story…..or as ordinary as mailing a photo or newspaper clipping to someone…..may change his/her life. You, my friends, are given opportunities each and every day to make a difference in someone’s life….and by doing so….you will be changing your own.
I guess what I’m really trying to say is that “deep within you” lies everything you need to succeed at changing your life. Sometimes, though, the busyness of life gets in the way, and we need a reminder or an opportunity to dig deep and get in touch with that spirit and will. Who was the person that first believed in you…..believed that you could do whatever you put your mind to….that you were special? Was it a parent, a grandparent, a teacher or neighbor???? Who believes in you now? A spouse, a best friend….a stranger named THERESA???? Do you have a symbol of some sort of that strength…..perhaps a necklace, or memento….maybe a religious item like a cross or rosary….maybe a bookmark or photo….any sort of thing. I have many….some worn pinned to my bra right over my heart, and I surround myself with them on a daily basis, and when I find myself weak or weary, I pick them up, hold them, and just reflect on those people…most of them dead; many still alive….that believe in me and found value in me BEFORE and find value in me NOW.
Maybe…just maybe….it’s a good time for you to get those old photos out….to reconnect to your past….and find yourself a visual reminder that YOU CAN…and YOU WILL Change your life! You have what it takes….even if it’s buried in the clutter of doubt, fear, anxiety, or pain. DIG DEEP….and never underestimate your ability to not only change your own life…but to change the lives of others by every act of kindness that you take the time to do. Remember, what may seem insignificant or “no big deal” to you, may be a blessing to someone else….a way in which God shows someone else that HE IS PRESENT!
Thank you, Nancy, for an act of kindness that has given me a renewed strength to inspire others for the Glory of God!
Friday, March 28, 2014
Are you going to have an “Aww….man” or an “A-men” kind of day? I had a really rough night last night. My neuropathy was especially uncomfortable and painful, making it difficult to sleep and I was up and down most of the night. When I did fall asleep, I’d wake a little while later with nightmares that left me trembling. Just one of those nights. I’m an early riser….somewhere around 3 am every morning… and am almost always awake before the alarm goes off. Today, however, the alarm woke me at 3:00. The sound of the alarm startled me out of another bad dream. For most of my life, the sound of the alarm was greeted with an “AWWW…..MAN”, I don’t want to get up…..but today, it was an “AAA-men, it’s morning and that terrible dream has ended!”
I made my way into the kitchen to get a cup of coffee; when I looked out the window, it was pouring rain. If it were summer and I was planning on a parade or a ballgame, I would have said, “AWWW….MAN, it’s raining), but today it was “AAA-men, it’s raining!!!! After months and months of snow, the rain was a welcome sight because it means possibly, just possibly some of this snow will melt, and I may have a chance of seeing some bare ground in my yard before the first of April.
A few minutes ago, I opened the vitamin C bottle and popped one in my mouth. Immediately, it was an “AWW….MAN, Theresa….you just bit into a non-chewable Vitamin C, instead of the chewable ones you thought you had. YUCK! YUCK! YUCK.” The bitter taste in my mouth was awful, but it quickly became an “AAA-MEN” moment because suddenly, that incredible craving for the mint chocolate chip protein bar that was tormenting my mind all morning disappeared in the midst of the bitter aftertaste of citrus.
I then headed to the closet room to pick out a sweater for work. I pulled a pretty magenta colored one off the shelf and noticed the Salvation Army price tag on it (got it for $1.00, but I purchased it not for me, but to sell on Ebay because it’s one of those Black White House Market brands (I’ve never owned anything from them but saw the store in the mall so thought it must be some kind of big deal) and thought I could convert my dollar to several more. I pulled the price tag off and when I did, the entire brand name label came off as well. “AWW….MAN…. I can’t see it on E-bay now!” So I put it on, never, ever expecting it to fit because it is a much smaller size than I have ever worn….and to my surprise, it fit….snugly, but fit….. So now, my “AWW….MAN, I can’t sell it now, has become an “AAA-Men, I have a new brand-name (I think) sweater!”
All of this and it’s not even 6 am yet. I think there is a lesson waiting for me today!
We hear stories about people who encounter what at first appears to be a roadblock, or a hassle, or a problem, but later find out that it was a blessing in disguise. There were some whose lives were spared on 9-11 when they were late for work and were not in the World Trade Center when it collapsed. We hear of others who missed a plane due to a delay in a connection, only to be spared death when the plane went down. We miss a turn and end up taking the long way around, later to find out there was a terrible accident on the route we take every day. If you think about it, you’ll likely come up with all sort of things like this in your own life.
In terms of my personal journey….what at first appeared like a set-back, turned into a motivational factor when it inspired me to try harder. When someone brought in donuts to work….the “AWW…MAN, you can’t have a donut” uttered to me by my co-worker, became an “AAA-MEN…. I could have one if I want, but at this moment, I’m strong enough to say, I DON’T WANT ONE” reinforcing my determination to succeed. Likewise, the “Theresa, you’re never going to lose all that weight by yourself” or the “I don’t think you can do this….or that” turned into a challenge when I said to myself, “REALLY, oh yeah….You just watch me!”
Today…. I encourage you to look at things differently. Choose to turn those “AWW….MAN” things that happen to you around….into “AAA-MEN, I’m so blessed” moments. It’s not going to be easy to be positive all the time and in all things, but I’m guessing if you try really hard, you will find many opportunities to turn an awful lot of annoyances, irritations, struggles, issues, temptations…..you name it....from an “AWW…MAN, poor me” kind of moment into an “AAA-MEN” kind of moment! Make it a great day!!!!
Thursday, March 27, 2014
I had a very pleasant early-morning conversation today with a new friend and after I hung up the phone, I headed to the bathroom to take my shower and get ready for work. On the way, I noticed one of my kitties sleeping soundly on the couch. Lightning (the cat) looked so adorable and I because I was feeling kind of warm and fuzzy from the phone conversation, I was overcome with the need to pick up kitty and just cuddle her for a few minutes. I should know better!
Lighting is one a few strays that have made their way into my heart. Yes, I do that with stray people too , what can I say, I’m a softie. J She is not particularly friendly, never has been, but on “her terms” she will come to me and jump on my lap. She’s been in my home for about 7 years and we’ve made a lot of progress, but still, it’s always on “her terms.” But today, she looked so sweet and so I sat down and picked her up….and she quickly let me know, that this was not a “her term” moment. I should know better and this morning I have a few scratches on my chest as a reminder.
It’s no secret that I think too much, often for my own good. This morning is no exception. All the while I’m in the shower, my mind is mulling over this silly cat and my unwelcomed attempt at affection. I kept thinking about the old saying, likely quite familiar to most of you, “Let sleeping dogs lie.” There is so much wisdom in that phrase and it’s a reminder not to spend my time and energy on those things and those individuals and those situations that are not open or inviting me in. In other words, pick your battles, and don’t put your energy and your nose into situations that clearly aren’t asking for it. There is nothing worse than preaching to a wall, beating a dead horse, or trying to change the behavior of SOMEONE ELSE. No one wants to be told to “quit smoking, do on a diet, quit doing this or that” and former “addicts, big girls, drinkers, smokers…Whatever” are the worst. Focus your energy, your time, your effort on CHANGING YOURSELF….the way you think, the way you feel, the way you act, the way you eat, and by all means, Let Go of old hurts, fights, pettiness. If you forgive, you must be willing to let it go. Let those sleeping dogs lie. This journey is about YOU, not someone else.
Sometimes our insecurities and low self-esteem cause us to TRY TOO HARD, especially in terms of friendships and relationships. I’m going to try to find the clipart that immediately comes to mind….and I’ll get it wrong in attempting to quote it verbatim until I find it, but essentially it implies that NO MATTER WHAT WE DO…We cannot make someone love us. Instead, we need to make ourselves LOVABLE by being the best that we can be. We do this by being open, by being kind, by doing things to make ourselves feel better about ourselves, by learning to accept our imperfections, and working hard to change those things about ourselves that we are not pleased with. This could be our quick temper, our habits, our appearance, our behavior, or any number of things.
I encourage you to spend some quiet time when you can, and ask yourself about your MOTIVES….Why are you actively trying to change your life? Why are you trying to lose weight or quit a habit? Why are you attempting to be a better person…to grow….to be happier and healthier? Is it to MAKE SOMEONE ELSE like you or is it to make it easier to LIKE YOURSELF? If you do the things you do…..this can be anything….buy extravagant gift for others…..always sacrifice your own needs/wants/desires for someone else….wait on someone hand and foot….give up on your dreams…..feel guilty if you take a walk or a class……this list is endless….IF you do these things, just so someone or many “someones” will Like you or find value in you, then you may be doing it for the wrong reasons. I’m not just talking about Love relationships….I’m talking about all relationships. Likewise, if you are changing your life….losing weight, whatever, just so someone will LOVE YOU or find you attractive, you need to think about that motive. Sure, the result will be a better looking, healthier you regardless of the motive….but in reality, that person or persons may not like the NEW YOU any better. In fact, in some cases, they will like you less. I know…I’ve been there. My life changes and new way of thinking have caused complications in my relationships and friendships because not only has the way I look changed, but mostly because the way I think has changed. Be prepared…..you may get flak from others when you want to go to the gym or spend more grocery money on fresh produce. Some may become jealous and try to sabotage you. Others may might have difficulty if you start getting compliments or attention. Mostly, this is likely rooted in fear that you will no longer LIKE THEM if you start LIKING yourself.
Bottom line…..I can’t make that dumb cat be friendly on command any more than you can make someone else like you more by losing weight, working out, being a better cook, keeping a better house, getting smarter….WHATEVER. But….Doing those things will make you LIKE YOURSELF better, feel better about yourself….which will in turn make you more likeable to others. I’m not going to attempt to make Lightning want to be picked up and cuddled, but rather, I’m going to make my lap inviting and cozy tomorrow morning when I drink my coffee, and very likely, she’ll end up there purring in my ear. Change your life…… “On your terms”….to improve YOURSELF…… and very likely, you will find great success. Have a great day everyone!
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Hello everyone. I think it is a real moment of "epiphany" when one comes to believe something in his/her heart rather than because someone "told them." Click the video below if you'd like to hear my thoughts on the matter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-sZHwJk3r0
Monday, March 24, 2014
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Happy Spring! Not only is today the first day of spring, but it’s also a special day of remembrance in my life. My thoughts today are not necessarily connected in any way to weight loss, and yet, in a sense, they are. Mostly, I’m sharing some deep, personal reflections on the anniversary of the death of my very dear friend and pastor, Fr. Thomas Sauter.
Ten years ago, this morning, I had the tremendous privilege of holding Fr. Tom in my arms as he went home to be with God. Ten years have come and gone since that day, and yet, I have never forgotten the impact that his life – and death- had and continues to have on my own life. Some of you knew Fr. Tom; most of you do not. In fact, most of you didn’t even know me at that time in my life.
When I was just a little girl, about 5 years old, Father came to St. Mary’s, Rockwood as pastor. I was in kindergarten at the time. Shortly after his arrival, my little sister was born, and my father became seriously ill with a heart problem. Father came to our home often to bring my dad communion and he always made a point of talking to or teasing me when he visited. I enrolled in the Catholic grade school and attended mass regularly with my family and we all got to know this somewhat gruff, but very kind-hearted priest. When my dad died a couple of years later (I was 8 years old), Father decided that he “needed a secretary” and hired my mom. He had survived for three years without a secretary but since mom was now a young, single parent with three little kids to support, this was Father’s way of helping us out. As a result, I got to spend a lot of time roaming around the rectory and getting to know Father Tom. He sort of became my “surrogate” father, a role he played for many years.
I continued to attend the grade school and Father was there for those significant moments in childhood. He heard my first confession and gave me my First Holy Communion. He awarded me my 8th grade diploma and attended my high school graduation party. By the time I was in high-school, I was volunteering at the church and teaching religious education. Later, he hired me full-time as the Director of Religious Education and we worked side-by-side for 15 years. He truly was a great friend, mentor, and in many senses, a father-figure. He gave me advice on dating (tried as he may, I never took his advice to find a nice catholic boy to settle down with, although he often hand-picked prospective candidates…. J.) He paid my college tuition to the seminary out of his own pocket, but that meant he could read all my papers and see all my tests! He taught me so many life-lessons and really helped me become the person I am today. It’s no wonder that his death has been the most difficult loss for me to date. It’s been ten years, and his KC jacket still hangs in my closet; his Notre Dame hat and breviary (Prayer books for the Liturgy of the Hours) still sit on my dresser; and I still carry his rosary in my purse. I am the person I am today….a woman of faith; a woman with a servant’s heart; a woman who tries to be kind and compassionate…..because of his influence in my life. I will be ever grateful to God.
When I was just a kid, I made a promise to him that I would take care of him when “he was old.” Of course, it was just a promise made in a casual conversation in the backyard and one that I honestly never thought would come to fruition. But yet…it did…and I was given the tremendous privilege of helping him in his advancing age and declining health; much in the same way that he helped countless parishioners over the years. Because we worked together for so many years, we came to know each other quite well. It was only natural for me to help him move from the rectory, find an apartment, pick up things from the grocery store, make sense of the stuff from the doctor, etc…those very things that daughters and sons do for their aging parents. When I lost my job in Rockwood and moved up north to take another, the hardest part of leaving was leaving him behind, even though I wasn’t that far away and came home on weekends quite often. Still, I missed him dearly.
Less than six months after I moved north, Father became quite ill. Eventually he was unable to care for himself and I had no other option but to move him into a rehabilitation care facility (nursing home). This happened on December 23rd. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I remember the day I left him there. I walked from his room, past the Christmas tree in the lobby, and just sat in my car in the parking lot and wept like a baby. Many of you have had this experience and you know exactly what I’m talking about. Fortunately, I was able to “bust him out” on Christmas Day and he said mass for me and my family on Christmas Day in my Uncle Bob and Aunt Kathy’s living room. He sat in his wheelchair; we had a card table altar, and sang songs acapella, but to me, it was the most glorious Christmas Mass I have ever….and likely ever will….experience in my life. An absolute wonderful memory.
In the following couple of weeks, he grew weaker and frailer. For about 3 months or more, I would work 10 hour days at work (up north) and then make the 200 mile drive south every Thursday night and would go directly to the nursing home. I spent almost the entire weekend with him, often staying right there with him, sleeping in the chair, watching the golf tournaments on TV, praying the words of the Office (daily prayer for priests) when he was too weak, celebrating mass with him, just the two of us using his food tray for an altar, mostly just being there for him. After he was ready to sleep on Sunday night, I would kiss him goodbye wondering if I’d see him again, then leave to drive back up north and then work four more days, and head back to his bedside. It was exhausting, and yet, the greatest privilege of my life. There is no greater blessing in the world than to be able to care for someone in their final days…even though it’s difficult, tiring, frustrating and heartbreaking to see a loved one suffer. It was harder on him to realize and admit that he could no longer care for himself; that he needed me to shave him, feed him, help him dress. Learning to accept help and admit dependency is just one of those life-lessons he taught me. After all, he was as “independent” as I am, and I have as much difficulty admitting that I needed help as he did. This was one of the main reasons I ended up being 428 pounds….I thought I could handle EVERYTHING myself. Big mistake!
Father had a stroke on March 17th. I got the call, packed a bag, and headed to the hospital. He was alert when I got there; we talked a bit, and then he slipped into a coma, never to fully come out of it. I spent the next few days, until his death, at his bedside. I moved into the hospital room and was there with him for his final days. He passed peacefully in the early morning hours of March 20th, 2004. I doubt that I will ever forget those last days or the man that gave me the opportunity to care for him in life and death.
One of the reasons I am spending so much time reflecting on this situation is because this death was a tremendous loss to me and the way I processed it and grieved it (or didn’t, I guess, is more truthful) was a big factor in my weight gain. His death, along with a few other losses that happened in that same time-frame, were extremely difficult and left gaping holes in my heart. Instead of processing them in a healthy way, I chose instead to mask the pain with food and drink. I fed the pain with potato chips and M&M’s. I washed down the hurt with soda. I didn’t allow myself to grieve and process the pain, but rather, withdrew and wallowed in my sadness. Another big mistake! I should have sought counseling; I should have joined a grief support group; I should have……. ANYTHING….but what I did.
I’m not unusual….many people do the same thing. Many people turn to drugs, alcohol, food, porn…whatever….to deal with pain, grief, despair. It’s likely the key to all addiction. Until I began to understand what I was doing and WHY I was eating, I couldn’t do anything to correct the situation. BUT…fortunately, by the grace of GOD, I have been given a chance to remedy the situation. Is it easy? Nope! Do I have really bad days? Yep! It is the hardest thing ever….to allow myself to feel the sadness, to remember those difficult times, to recall the feelings, to deal with life today, my schedule, my fears, my life, etc…and yet, IT IS SO WORTH IT!
Father used to tell me all the time, “No cross, no crown” meaning that Jesus had to suffer the betrayal, crucifixion, death, etc. first before the glorious resurrection. Sometimes we have to go through really hard times before we can experience true joy…sort of like childbirth I suppose. We have to spend time in the valley before we can appreciate the mountaintops. We have to experience loss before we can rejoice in victory.
For those of you that are in the role of caregiver….know that I know EXACTLY how exhausting and difficult it can be, but I also know that you will one day look back on these days and wonder how on earth you found the strength to go on day after day, but likely, you will realize one day that this is one of the greatest privileges of your life. For those of you that are grieving loss….doesn’t matter who it is you lost or how long ago you lost them, pain is pain, sadness is sadness, missing them doesn’t ever go away (even after 10 years), know that I know EXACTLLY how it feels, but one day, it will get easier and your heartache will be replaced with joy when you realize how blessed you were to be loved. For those of you that are using food, drugs, work, alcohol….whatever…to fill a void, know that I know EXACTLY why you are doing so…but I hope you don’t continue to make the same mistakes as I did. There is a better way to deal with it.
Like I said, my words today were mostly just for me to process…..but if you are reading this now, it means you have reached the end….and I appreciate you allowing me to share my thoughts….my pain….my joy….and for being there for me. I hope that I can be there for you too!
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Today is the last day of winter! I finally purchased a new laptop and had to go pick it up after work last night. I ordered it from Walmart (for my international friends, Walmart is a very big department store that carries just about anything one could need: groceries, clothing, housewares, pharmacy items, etc….really a bit of everything) and had it delivered to the store.
In any case, I hadn’t been in a department store in several weeks and was surprised at how the merchandising is all geared to spring and summer now. Bathing suits, beach toys, gardening supplies, summer toys, etc. were displayed around every corner. This certainly gave me hope that warmer, sunnier days are ahead. I must admit, I sort of got “caught up” in the marketing and ended up purchasing a couple of pair of shorts (last year’s stuff off the clearance rack and a real bargain). It felt sort of weird to be buying shorts when I was dressed in a sweater dress, winter jacket and boots, but nonetheless, I took my new items home so that I’ll be ready when the warmth arrives.
Spring officially begins tomorrow and as I look out the window this morning I can see the snow piles glistening under the glow of the security light. The news is on in the background warning the viewers of the snow/ice/freezing rain expected today and for the next few days, and the forecasted temperature for Sunday night is 0 to 5 below. And yet….in spite of all of this….. SPRING begins tomorrow!
The weather today could certainly cause me to doubt that it will EVER BE WARM…..and yet, in spite of appearances, I believe that it will be. WHY? Because I have faith in change…..I have hope…..and I know that things are not always going to be “as they appear.” I shared yesterday that a friend of mine died yesterday. She is gone….just like that….passed away in her sleep. To many, she is simply “dead” because that is how it appears. But not to me…..I know, that even though she is no longer physically alive, she is not dead, but rather enjoying her new life in heaven. How do I know? Because my faith tells me so….my faith tells me that I will see her again someday and that she is with God. Even when it doesn’t appear that way right now.
All of this reminds me of my/our individual journeys. We might be struggling at the moment to believe that life will EVER be different….that we will EVER lose the weight….that our circumstances, whatever they may be, will EVER be better….that we will EVER feel better, be happier, be thinner, be free, be financially secure…..be anything other than how we are today. Perhaps you are filled with doubt today that you will ever reach your goals, you will ever lose weight, that you will ever kick that habit. Perhaps you are at the point of wanting to give up because you have lost hope. Perhaps you are sick and tired of trying and failing. I just want to assure you that IN SPITE OF HOW THINGS APPEAR TODAY…. things are not always going to be like this. How do I know???? Because I have faith….in God and in you!
I encourage you today to look beyond the current situation and TRUST in your ability to succeed and in your God. I doesn’t matter if you get on the scale today and it shows a number that makes you want to scream. It doesn’t matter if your pants are too tight or your teenager hasn’t talked to you in three days. It doesn’t matter if you tried before and failed. Those things DO NOT DEFINE YOU….they are not a reflection of your future…..they are not a sign that you are worthless or hopeless or a failure. They are simply a reflection of the way things are TODAY….just like the snow piles in my yard. THIS IS NOT YOUR FUTURE! In spite of how it appears right now, it will not be like this forever, but unlike the weather, it isn’t going to happen by itself. I cannot control how fast the snow melts, how quickly it warms up. I cannot make the daffodils bloom or the grass to turn green….but it will….in due time. YOU, on the other hand, can control your future. You can control your reactions to the crap that comes your way today. You can choose what you put in your mouth….and what comes out of it. You are responsible for your future; you are an instrument of change; you are God’s partner in transformation. Don’t’ give in to despair…Don’t give in to doubt….Don’t give in to discouragement….and above all….DON’T YOU DARE GIVE UP! You can…and you will CHANGE your life!!!!!! Make it a beautiful day….and get ready for the new life of spring, of change, of wellness, of joy… Today is the last day of winter…and Yesterday was the last day of your “OLD LIFE!”
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Monday, March 17, 2014
I like this.... Fruit is one of my "loves" but I often feel like I should be limiting it. This has helped change my thoughts a bit. Yesterday, I spent $50.00 at the grocery store on fruits and vegetables but I came home with a big bag of gorgeous looking honeycrisp apples, a bunch of pears, a cantaloupe and personal size watermelon, and an assortment of veggies. Very expensive but so GOOD for our bodies. I can't wait for plums, nectarines, and peach season to arrive! I tend to include a lot of "in-season" fruit and veggies because that's when they taste the best. I've been enjoying Florida strawberries these past several weeks but they seem to be fizzling out now, at least in my small-town grocery. What's your FAVORITE fruit?
Sunday, March 16, 2014
One of my favorite things about living in rural northern Michigan is watching the wildlife that abounds in the backyard, especially the variety of colorful songbirds. It’s been a hard winter on the birds and animals so I’ve spent a lot of money keeping them fed the best I can. I have so many different birds and different kinds of feeders; many more will arrive with the warmer weather and the feeders are constantly full of activity, especially in the winter.
One problem, however, that no one seems to have completely mastered, is keeping the squirrels out of the feeders. The feed stores here are stocked with all sorts of baffles and squirrel proof feeders; the birding books and magazines have sorts of suggestions such as greasing the pole, mixing hot pepper in the seed, etc….but I’ve yet to find a way to eliminate the problem. Last week, however, I thought I may have out-smarted them, at least for a while, when I hung the feeder on a hook way up high (about 5 inches) from the roof overhang. There, you little buggers, how are you going to reach them now???? Once again, I was wrong! Yesterday I sat and watched as a black squirrel made his way to the feeder, hung upside down, and filled his belly. I made several trips to the window, banged my hand on the glass, opened the window and yelled at him multiple times, and yet, I only managed to scare him away for a few minutes and he’d be right back at it. Darn squirrel!
I finally gave up and decided to watch him. Sigh…… This situation caused my mind to wander and again I wondered what “lesson” God was trying to teach me. (I think too much for my own good sometimes!) As I closed my eyes to reflect, the words, “Against all odds,” kept coming to my mind. I thought about that for a long time and began to think about all those people I know and have read about or heard about over the years that accomplished great things “against all odds.” That squirrel knew exactly what he wanted….and was so determined, that he would do whatever necessary to get it. He’d outsmart me; He jumped incredible distances; He took big chances of falling or missing the target when he jumped into the air with the hopes of landing on that feeder; He was knocked down over and over again, likely getting hurt in the process. And yet….he never gave up; he never kept trying. Over and over and over again he leapt toward the feeder, hoping to get to the sunflower seed. So much focus. So much determination. So much courage. And in the end????? Success! I gave up trying to scare him and he ate until his belly was full.
There is so much to be learned from that silly squirrel. Those very characteristics are the ones that are necessary for us to be successful in our own journey. Those are the characteristics that allow people to accomplish things that others might deem impossible; meet goals that seem unreachable; handle situations…trials, illness, hardship, grief, unemployment, anxiety, addiction…..that seem unbearable and unconquerable. I often look at people and wonder “how on earth did he/she get through that, how on earth did that person have the strength to keep going when his/her world was falling apart, how did they find the courage to go on, how did they manage to keep it together?” How?
I often look at my own situation and wonder how I ever got through those difficult days of loss, pain, grief and how/where I got the strength to lose this weight. I suppose the story has gained such interest in the media because it seems impossible, like it couldn’t really have happened, and yet, here I am! I often wonder how I continue to keep going with all the various things that are vying for my time. I suppose, in a way, I’m like that squirrel and I wanted to walk and regain my life SO BAD that I was willing to do whatever it took to get it. Of course, NONE….and I mean NONE of it would have happened on my own; it is God-power….with only a smidgen of cooperation from me….that got me and continue to gets me through each day.
Today, I encourage you to think about that silly squirrel. Ask yourself….WHAT is it that you want SO BAD that you will do whatever it takes to get it…..even if you fall and have to try again and again and again? What is in that “bird feeder in your life” that you will keep trying to get? Will you give up and run back into the woods or are you going to keep trying over and over and over and stay focused? This squirrel FINALLY got the seed, against all odds! You, too, will get your miracle, even when it seems like an IMPOSSIBLE situation right now!
Don’t lose hope! Don’t give up! People who are sick get better without explanation. Relationships endure distance and separation and grow despite the miles between them. People do lose weight even when it seems impossible. Addicts become sober. People find jobs. Grief and sadness turns into laughter and peace. The underdog often wins. Keep on jumping….keep on trying….keep the faith and keep your eye on your dream. I have faith in you!
Saturday, March 15, 2014
It’s very early Saturday morning and I really should be working on homework for my classes that resume next week, but I’m not at all motivated to do so. I came across this great clip on Facebook and it has become “food for thought” this morning as I sit in the darkness drinking my coffee. In a little over two months from now it will be daylight at this time of morning and I’ll be drinking coffee, walking, or riding my bike outside. That is, if the snow is gone by then! It is melting a little at a time, but gosh, there is still so much. Yesterday it was 40 degrees and some progress was made; today it is below freezing again; it’s supposed to be 5 below zero tomorrow night. This fluctuation in temps….snow melting one day….more snow the next….a bit more melting….and so forth, is so much like our journey. But I remind myself that SLOW PROGRESS is still progress!
We’ve all likely have experienced the same thing. We lose a pound or two one week; we gain a pound or “turtle” (new word that I learned when I spoke to the Gladwin T.O.P.S. group that means staying the same) the next; then we make progress….and so forth. It’s a slow process to go from winter to spring and it’s a slow process to change one’s life…..lose weight, kick a habit, fight depression, whatever. The most important thing…the thing that gives me hope…is that even though it is happening SLOWLY…very SLOWLY….I can see progress in the melting snow pile. A little bit here and there. Sometimes I have to look really hard to see it, but day-by-day, I can see a bit more progress and a little bit more of the roof appears. I’m keeping the faith that one of these days…….spring will arrive. You, too, must keep the faith that ONE OF THESE DAYS….you will see the progress….even if it’s an up-and-down time for you right now…..One of these days…you will reach your goal. You will fit into those skinny jeans. You will be able to walk to your mailbox or up the stairs without gasping for air. You will wake up happy and not have to work so hard to be positive. I will see the grass….one of these days….and you will see your progress. Just don’t give up…in spite of “how it appears”. In due time, my friends….due time!
Good Morning! It was a busy week this week with speaking engagements. What a joy and a privilege to share my story with two different T.O.P.S. groups and the Clare County Rotary Club! Here are a few pictures that someone shared with me from the Harrison group. It looks like I was having fun. Hope that at least one person walked away with a renewed spirit and the motivation to make positive changes to improve the quality of his/her life.
Thursday, March 13, 2014
Good Morning friends! I was short on time this morning so I decided it was easier to share my thoughts via a Youtube Video. Click below to hear about a banner that was hanging in the church where I went to speak yesterday. The words on that banner meant something so different to me yesterday, even though I have said those words hundreds and hundreds of time over the years. Here is the Youtube link for those that can't get videos on your mobile device: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bQcoWoYjO4
Monday, March 10, 2014
Note to self: Being home and a bit "under the weather" is NOT an excuse to go off track. When we are fighting a cold or the flu, or any other ailment for that matter, our bodies need rest, fluids and gentle care....not junk food! Hope everyone is having a good day!
Sunday, March 9, 2014
Over the years I’ve known people who, for deep psychologically unbalanced reasons, were content to be “sick” in mind, body, or spirit because they craved attention and suffered from emotional problems, but I don’t know many people that enjoy having a cold. I certainly don’t and I’m not happy about the one I have either. I hate them, not just because they make me feel miserable, but because they zap my energy and I have too many things to do to feel ”icky.”
I spent a bit more time than usual in the lazy boy chair yesterday looking out the window. The sun was shining and the feeders were just loaded with hungry birds. Even the deer were out milling around the backyard yesterday, so in spite of how I was feeling, the view was actually quite lovely. The thing that captured my attention most of all was the icicles dripping from the roof. As I’ve shared before, this winter has been especially harsh here in the north woods, and there is at least a foot and a half….closer to two I think, feet of snow on the roofs of my house, garage, and out-buildings. Each day there seems to be another home or business that caves in because of the weight of the snow, and people are a bit anxious these days, wondering if their roofs will bear the weight. For many of us, yesterday’s sunshine was an answer to prayer, even though the temperature didn’t rise above freezing, because it meant that some snow would melt under the intense rays. We are expecting more of the same today.
I was captivated yesterday by the continual drip, drip, drip of melting snow. The rhythmic dripping was soothing and fun to watch, but at this rate, it will take weeks to melt it all, especially when it gets so cold at night (right now it is 1 degree) and it freezes back up at night. My human nature just wishes I would wake up and it would be spring and all the snow would be gone (minus the weeks and weeks of mud that will accompany the snowmelt) and the daffodils would be poking their heads through the soil. Wouldn’t that be lovely???? I know, however, that a very quick warm-up would be disastrous and would cause severe flooding, roof leaks, impassable roads due to mud and potholes, and septic systems saturation, among other things. This is a case where….too fast….is not good.
I couldn’t help but think about my journey and how similar it has been, and continues to be, like those dripping icicles. In the beginning, I just wanted all the weight to be GONE…quickly and without work. Why couldn’t I just lose like 10 pounds a week??? At this rate it’s going to take me years! Gosh, it is SO SLOW…I’ve been doing this for MONTHS and I’m still in the same size! Thought after thought like that. You’ve been there, come on admit it. It’s human nature. We are impatient and we want what we want when we want it. And yet, weight loss, wellness, addiction recovery, relationship building, training for a 5K or lifting weights….any of our issues or life changes…..don’t just “happen” overnight. It takes day-to-day, slow, continual effort to make progress. Long-lasting change is a slow and gradual process, much like the dripping icicles on my eave. Too much too fast, especially with weight loss, leads to a whole slew of problems. Slow and steady….a little at a time…..one drip, one pound, one thought, one step at a time.
Those icicles are frozen solid this morning….no progress at the moment….but I have faith that they will eventually start dripping again….maybe not today or tomorrow….but some time. I know that the snow will eventually melt and spring will eventually arrive and the daffodils will eventually bloom….but only after getting through the mud, spring rains, and thaw-freeze-thaw cycle that accompanies spring. Likewise, I know that YOU and I will eventually get to where we want to be in our journeys. We will eventually reach our goals……but in the meantime, there will be weeks where progress seems to halt, there will be plateaus, there will be days when we just want to quit and give up…..BUT WE WON’T! Why????? Because we KNOW that like the seasons, life is a process, and we are works in progress. Change does not happen overnight……no matter how much we whine, or complain, or want it to.
If you happen to live in a cold climate, take a few minutes to look at the icicles next time you see them and remember that slow and steady wins the race. Be patient….and trust that you will get there! Keep on fighting the fight! You can do it!!!!
Saturday, March 8, 2014
For those that have been asking....here is a list of the upcoming speaking engagements that I have committed to thus far. To invite me to speak to your group, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|March 11||Harrison T.O.P.S., Moose Club, Harrison|
|March 12||Gladwin T.O.P.S. 10:00 a.m. Gladwin, MI|
|March 12||Clare Rotary. 12 noon. Doherty Hotel, Clare, MI|
|May 9||MEA Ladies Day. Lansing, MI|
|May 16||State Recognition Day for T.O.P.S., |
Soaring Eagle Casino, Mt. Pleasasnt
|September 20||Regional Rally for T.O.P.S. , Gladwin, MI|
Sigh…..if only this was false and whining DID burn calories....We would all be much lighter! Even though I am blessed beyond measure, I still do my share of whining, especially when I’m tired or stressed. I suppose we all do, but it is an area that I’m trying to improve on. Instead of immediately complaining about things like the weather, people that push my buttons, or things at work, I try to find ways to turn it around. Perhaps you find yourself whining instead of being grateful as well??? Since whining doesn’t do anyone any good but simply robs us of joy and energy, how about trying this instead???
Instead of….Gosh..it’s freezing…when is it EVER going to be spring…..How about…."Wow…it’s already the 8th of March. We’re getting closer to the April showers that bring May flowers….and honestly, hasn’t the sun been shining more often these days?”
Instead of….Aww man….I stuck to the plan and went to the gym and all I lost is ½ of a measly pound this week…this stinks!…..try….. “Look at me… I’m making progress, even if it’s slow, it’s still progress.”
Instead of….Why don’t you kids EVER pick up after yourselves…… try “I am really blessed to have such great kids, even if they are slobs they make me smile every day.”
Instead of….I’m sick of eating salads and vegetables while everyone else in the house is eating burgers and fries….how about “ I really love the taste of steamed brussel sprouts or roasted cauliflower…..YUMMY!” Ok, so this one is a stretch.... :-)
You get the drift. Some of this is far-fetched and NO ONE can be grateful and positive ALL the time, but if you consciously think before you speak…..think before you lash out….think before you whine or complain…..you may be able to find something positive in the situation and you’ll find yourself a bit more peaceful and content….and for sure, you’ll be happier and those around you will be happier too!
SO…..TODAY…instead of me saying… “I REALLY hate this stupid cold and runny nose…I’m going to try…YIPPEE…I have an excuse to stay in my jammies all day today!!!”Make it a whine-free, positive day!
Thursday, March 6, 2014
If you are feeling blue....defeated.....unfocused or unmotivated.....anxious, depressed, whatever.... I encourage you to take to heart the words of this clip.... and LOVE YOURSELF for who you are TODAY...just like you are TODAY....regardless of the refection staring back at you when you brush your teeth....and realize, that like me, YOU TOO, are a work in progress. Believe in your potential....Believe that how you feel....how you look....how you think....and how you behave today....IS NOT the end of your story. You have the power to change....to evolve....to grow and blossom ....and to become the person God wants you to be. Don't give in to today's feelings....keep hope alive! Do what you need to do to make it a great day. I'm going to give it my best....even when my best isn't my typical best. Don't worry about being PERFECT.....worry about being your best...and better than yesterday.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Today I am feeling very grateful because I am remembering where I was exactly one year ago at this very minute. I was sitting in the hotel room in New York City getting ready to appear on the TODAY show to share my story with the world. My, how my life has changed since then. Last year at this time, this Facebook group had approximately 30 members; today it is just a few shy of 1300. Last year at this time, only a handful of friends, colleagues, and family members knew about my miracle; today the story has circled the globe multiple times. Last year at this time, I was just a small-town, naïve girl who had been blessed with a miracle and wondering what on earth I was supposed to do with it; Today, well today….. I am still that girl…. Still wondering what God wants of me…..still searching for answers…..still fighting the fight to become a better, kinder, gentler person!
So much has changed….and yet so much has stayed the same. Ever the same is GOD….He was, is, and always will be so good…so faithful….so present. To Him be all Glory. Today, as I reflect on that day in NYC, I renew my commitment to this journey…and to all of you….that I will be here to support, encourage, and help you, much in the same way that you are here for me. God has brought us together….the TODAY show, the other media stuff and interviews, the blog….all this stuff….was simply the tool that God used to connect us. Don’t doubt that you are here for a reason. Don’t lose hope that you, too, are a miracle. Don’t give up on your dream. WE can do it….together!
For those that are new to this group, below is my journal entry for last year at this time, written before my television appearance. I thought perhaps you’d like to share in my memories of this day. Make it a good day today, my friends!!!!
It’s here… the day has arrived, ready or not, here it is! It’s 5:30 am. I have been up already for two hours, enjoying the darkness and stillness of my room while my sister sleeps. I’m not sure what I’m feeling…a bit of apprehension, but not extreme stress….at least at this moment. That may come later as the time approaches. I’ve already had two cups of coffee and have been using this time to clear my mind of worry and just try to stay relaxed and focus. I received a comforting text right from a dear friend right before I drifted off to sleep and I think that it helped put me at ease. I’ve received so many emails and posts on Facebook and I know that there are so many people surrounding me with love, support, and mostly prayer. And after all… it’s only about 4 minutes…its’ really not that big of a deal, right? I don’t know what will happen when I get to the studio…all I know is that the producer is picking me up at the hotel at 9:10 to escort me over to the Studio, through security clearance, for hair and make-up. I’ve not spoken to Joy Bauer or the hosts yet and I don’t know what they will be asking me or what the format will be. I have already taped a minute audio track telling a little about my story. This audio will be used as part of a video slide show segment full of my most unbecoming “Fat Pictures”. That clip has been the most difficult for me to deal with. Knowing that in about 5 hours, pictures of me at my absolute worst will be shown across the country and will end up “permanently” out there on YouTube and the internet for the rest of my days has made me completely vulnerable. No longer will this “past Theresa” be a secret from those I meet. No longer will I be able to hide. No longer will my pain and sadness be buried deep within my heart. It will be embarrassing, humbling, and perhaps even a bit shameful for me to watch and to share with the world….and yet…it is that THERESA….that has made THIS THERESA…who I am today. It is those experiences…those losses, those moments of sadness and hurt…that have led me to this day…to this tremendous opportunity. It is those experiences and images that have helped to build character and strength, and will hopefully make me a kinder, more compassionate soul. It is that THERESA that you chose to befriend and love. It is that THERESA that lives in this new THERESA.
SO…with that being said… I suppose the only thing I should be feeling is complete, absolute gratitude…to GOD, and to you. If I can capture those feelings and that gratitude, then I will be able to walk out on that set with confidence and joy….internal joy…and Physical JOY…JOY BAUER. Isn’t it ironic that my life is filled with deep down, bubbling over kind of joy internally….and I am soon to be a part of the JOY FIT CLUB???? Coincidence???? I think not!!! My sincere hope…is that someone…somewhere…will hear my story today, see it on the internet, read it in the paper, come across it on FB…wherever….that one person….will find hope, courage, inspiration to make a change in his/her life, and most importantly, I hope that God will be glorified in and through this experience. He has brought me to this moment…at this point…all I can do is surrender this day to HIM and say…Here I am! Keep the good thoughts and prayers coming. I’m going to need to be surrounded them. I’ll be catching a flight home later this afternoon…once I get through the show, I can start getting mentally prepared for the flight. THANK YOU!!!! I hope I don’t disappoint you! As that old cigarette commercial once said, “You’ve come a long way, baby!” Thanks for being a part of the journey.