Sunday, September 21, 2014

A lesson from a little watermelon

 Good morning….I hope everyone is having a peaceful weekend so far. It’s pouring down rain here in northern Michigan, but it’s warm enough to have the window open so I can hear the thunder rolling through the trees and the sound of the rain coming down. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get  my walk in before church, but nonetheless….in spite of the weather, I’m going to make it a great day.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of speaking at the TOPS Fall rally in Gladwin, Michigan. What a great group of people! Some of those present have heard me speak four or five times, so I was a bit at a loss in terms of what to share with them, but still, it was wonderful to be given yet another opportunity to share my miracle, and hopefully, just hopefully, I was able to give others there hope that they, too, can change their situation; or at least change how they LOOK at things.

I’ve said it multiple times, but honestly, even more than changing my eating habits or increasing my activity, I think the key to my weight loss was changing the way I think about things. That’s certainly not something I did on my own; but rather, I allowed God to change me from the inside out. Losing weight, giving up a habit, becoming a better person, growing stronger, overcoming grief, illness, temptation, depression, going to school…..even dealing with difficult people…..WHATEVER it is that you struggle with or want to improve is not something you can do on your own. For me…it’s my faith and belief that a power outside of me is in control, but I know that not everyone believes that way. For many, it’s the support of friends, family, or groups like TOPS, Weight Watchers, AA, or others. Hopefully, you find support and encouragement here…and through the sharing of my thoughts and the support of each other….you are beginning to look at things differently too.

Yesterday I shared the story about my watermelon.  By now, you all pretty much know that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE watermelon! It’s my new ‘drug of choice” if you will, replacing a bag of chips with M&M’s mixed in. I’m enjoying as much watermelon as I can now as the season quickly winds down. Soon, apples will be harvested...and I’ll be eating them instead. Last winter, after trying several times to get a decent watermelon….but without success…I decided that I was going to grow my own watermelon this year! Why not, I thought…if someone else can do it, certainly I could. Right? At least I could try.    Of course I doubted that I could at first, made up all kinds of excuses about how I knew nothing about growing them; that I didn’t have room for the big vines; that the animals would eat them; that it was too cold….etc. (you name it, I came up with all the reasons why I couldn’t possibly do this, and nearly talked myself out of it multiple times. 

After yet another bad watermelon (what did it expect, it WAS February and that watermelon probably came from South America or someplace far away), I finally made up my mind that I would try….and I would succeed. I researched and read all about watermelon. I watched YouTube videos. I told myself how wonderful it would be to go to my backyard next August and pick my very own home-grown watermelon. I thought about it; planned it; and couldn’t wait until the snow was gone so I could get at it! I was excited….about the possibility of a silly little watermelon plant. When spring came, I got ready. I found the container; I scouted the location; I had my friend take me to the community recycling place to haul compost; I picked out what I thought was the perfect plant and got it in the ground. I was determined…I was excited….I was hopeful. 

I knew it was going to take a very long time for that plant to produce a watermelon, but every day, multiple times a day, I would go out there to look for progress….any kind of progress. I chuckle now to think about it. Did I really think it would grow a couple of inches in 6 hours?  I watered it every day. I pulled any weeds that grew around it. I checked for bugs. I was invested in this silly little plant and I was so determined.  After the first couple of weeks, I realized that this was going to take a very long time and I grew weary of checking it 3 or 4 times a day, and I resorted to once a day or every other day. After weeks of no progress…and losing hope, I saw a flower…then another and another! Oh yeah… I’ve got this.  Such joy in a little, tiny flower.  A couple of days later, I saw it: one, tiny, little watermelon no bigger than the size of a pencil eraser. I was elated. YES, I’ve got this! I’m growing my very own watermelon!  As crazy as it sounds, I was just so excited. YES…YES…YES!!!

Weeks have now passed and I now have 8 watermelon on the vine. At first, I was so excited because the progress was quick and the vine seemed to grow 3 inches every couple of days but after all while, the vine quit growing. All the energy was going into producing that fruit, but then it seemed to come to standstill. How long is this going to take?  Geez…it seems lie for…..ev……er.   Patience, Theresa, patience. Days have turned into weeks and I quit going out there EVERY SINGLE DAY just to see that it was barely growing, and yet, I know it was. It just takes a long time. The excitement ebbed and flowed. Sometimes I had to force myself to water the plant in the early hours before work or late at night when I came home. It was so much easier to stay excited and motivated when I was seeing visible growth. It was becoming work now, and yet, I was committed and I was seeing progress….just VERY SLOW PROGRESS.

Well, yesterday, I took a look at my watermelon plant on the way to the Rally. The season is quickly coming to an end and we had frost in the forecast earlier this week. I’ve been buying watermelon grown here in Michigan for weeks at the farm market but I have yet to harvest one of my own. Yesterday, however, I actually picked one of my prize melons.  It is a whopping 3 inches in diameter!!! Not exactly what I was hoping for. In fact, a failure in the eyes of many, but not for me.  For me, it is one of the many ways that God speaks to me about my journey….a lesson and a confirmation that HOW I THINK about things is key to my success.   Let me explain….and see if it speaks to you as well.
Have you ever been here????
You want to lose weight more than anything. You look around and see you others who have done so and you are jealous. You dream about doing it yourself but you don’t think you could possibly do it. So you try to talk yourself out of it. You come up with every excuse in the book about why you can’t. It’s too hard; you don’t know how; you’ve failed before; you don’t’ have the tools or equipment; it will take too long….and a whole lot more where those came from.  For months you think about it…you go back and forth in your mind….and finally, you decide that YES, you are going to do it!  But how? You don’t know how. So you research it. You read about various diets. You talk to others. You read magazines and watch inspirational videos. You join a support group.  You made up your mind…and you know that you will succeed. You are excited; motivated; and determined and are just waiting to start (maybe the new year…maybe after vacation…maybe TODAY….just like me waiting for the snow to melt so I can plant my watermelon).

In the beginning, you do everything you’re supposed to. You follow the plan. You’re faithful in your exercise. You talk about it and are hopeful. You weigh yourself several times a day…just to SEE…..(you really aren’t going to lose 2 pounds in 6 hours any more than my watermelon plant was going to grow 3 inches in  that time). Every day you check and you can’t wait to see progress. You put so much energy and effort into your plan…..but soon you grow weary because it seems like it is taking SOOOOOO LONG. Are you ever going to get to that 10 pound mark?  You want to succeed so you keep at it whether you want to or not...and then….when you least expect it….you see progress. You lose 2 or 3 pounds that week. Your watermelon grows a flower…and then a tiny little melon. So now you are even more determined. You’re actually going to do this this time! Days turn into weeks, and you begin to grow weary and so now, instead of weighing yourself every day, a few days or even a week passes. Things have slowed down; perhaps you’ve hit a plateau and you are about to give up on it….but then….wait, you’ve lost another pound or two. I think my watermelon is growing…and look, there’s another and another on the vine!  YES! YES! YES!  And so you become even more determined.  And so it goes….ebbs and flows...the scale goes up and down…and days have now become months…and the summer is over.  You had hoped to lose 15 or 20 pounds by now….but you’ve only lost 10. You’re happy, but feel somewhat defeated because you expected more. You wanted more….and you feel somewhat life a failure.

Take a look at that picture of me holding my watermelon.  I was NOT successful in the eyes of most gardeners because my watermelon is only a couple of inches in size and certainly not edible. For all practical purposes, I failed, in spite of my efforts and determination. But did I, really….fail?   Hmmm….. it’s all about how I THINK about it.  Certainly I failed to grow an edible piece of fruit, but as I drove to the rally yesterday, I  kept thinking about how much I enjoyed the process; how much I learned; how excited I was to see progress….any progress.  Like all things… I have a choice in how I react.  I could look at that watermelon and see defeat….or I could look at it and see JOY…..and lessons….and an opportunity to do better next year. I could remember how excited and how much enjoyment I got from watching it grow. I could remember the hope and the possibility….or I could dwell on the fact that the outcome wasn’t what I was expecting.  Today…. I choose victory! I choose to be grateful….and still somewhat hopeful for the others on the vine, even though the growing season is now very short.  I choose JOY over sadness.

Next year I will try things a bit different. I will plant in a new location. I will try another variety; one that germinates more quickly for my short growing season. I will give it more space and nutrients…..and maybe, just maybe, I will get a watermelon I could actually eat.  But still…. I enjoyed the journey. I did not fail; I just got a different result than I hoped for….and besides, I still have 7 other watermelon on the vine and who knows…maybe they will double or triple in size in the next two weeks. Maybe not.  In the meantime, I will spray paint my little watermelon orange and put it on my desk and use it as a pumpkin….and a reminder that God turns even our PERCEIVED failures into success! It’s all about how I choose to look at things!

Today… I encourage you to think about your own journey.  If you have tried and tried and have not gotten the results you have hoped for….don’t feel discouraged. Don’t give up.  Progress is progress…even if it’s slow; even if you’ve not met the goal you set for yourself; even if you’ve hit a plateau.  Are you enjoying the journey?  Rejoice when you see progress….not matter how small. Celebrate each little victory….not matter how small. I did the happy dance when I saw a flower on that silly watermelon plant. Celebrate that you can zip your pants or that you made it through your vacation without gaining 5 pounds.  Whatever you do, don’t give up. Try something different. Mix up your exercise routine or add some weights. Don’t be discouraged if things didn’t go as you had hoped, but rather, be grateful for how far you’ve come and think about what you might have learned so far.  Next year, I’ll be trying again….and will be successful….even if I don’t actually get to eat my success.

Make it a great day today…it’s all about how you THINK. Think of yourself as a winner…..even if you only have a 3 inch watermelon to show as your trophy!