Friday, October 10, 2014

Reflections on Bay Harbor

 Hi everyone! It’s Friday morning and my little stay in Northern Michigan’s paradise is coming to an end in a few hours. The conference has been worthwhile and our presentation yesterday went very well. It’s been a lovely couple of days.  Yesterday after the conference convened for the day, I took a walk along the beach. It was extremely windy and there was an autumn chill in the air, but it was invigorating and beautiful. It was hard to ‘take in” all my surroundings; the view of the lake with the awesome hotel and homes behind me; the sound of the surf pounding against the shore; the feel of the sand beneath my sneakers; and the wind against my face.

At some points, it was a bit surreal to realize that this area is surrounded with multi-million dollar homes and each room in this hotel is privately owned and sublet to guests. I wondered if those who are surrounded by this beauty on a regular basis become immune to the surroundings after a while.  Does the sound of the wind and waves just become part of the background noise after a few weeks?  Does the drive along the shore simply become the route to and from the many errands that must be done after work?  Does the setting sun over Lake Michigan become just something that happens each night at dusk?  I’m guessing that yes, perhaps it does for those who live here.  After all, many of the wonders in our life go unnoticed as well; both mundane like the sound of the train speeding down the tracks,  or the traffic on the highway for those that live in an urban area, and the glorious like the changing of the colors of the trees, the wildflowers along the roadside, or the sound of the mourning doves that greet us each day.  Unfortunately, we often take things for granted and they become just part of the reality of our life; often because we assume that ‘things will always be this way; people will always be there; and life will continue to go on and on.”

Sometimes we go through life day-in-and-day-out, oblivious to our surroundings because we are busy or focused on other things that preoccupy our thoughts. Often we just assume that things and people will always be there; until one day….they’re not.  When did our parents or loved ones get old?  How did Grandma’s memory fail or health deteriorate right before our eyes?  When did the kids/grandkids/nieces or nephews grow up?  How did I miss that?  Too many times people die before we are ready to let them go and we wished we had just one more day to tell them we love them. Kids move out and we long for the smell of play-dough and cookie crumbs on the table. We tend to ‘put things off” because we assume that we will have plenty of time to do the things we want; see the things we’ve longed to; visit the people we love; and make the changes in our life that will improve our health and well-being.  Unfortunately, we sometimes run out time; we grow old; our health conditions become irreversible.  We become oblivious to the sights, sounds, and blessings around us….because we assume that they will always be there.

 I’m guessing that Lake Michigan is always going to be here for those in Petoskey to enjoy….but I won’t be.  I’m guessing that wind will continue to blow and the waves will continue to pound the surf….but I won’t be here to feel and hear it.  I’m guessing that “life will go on” long after I’ve departed this earth….but will it even matter that I was once part of the living?   While it is absolutely true that I would not be sitting here in this luxurious suite, attending a conference, and experiencing these new and wonderful things had I not took the first step to change my life, I recognize that losing weight was only a small part of my journey.  Changing my thoughts; changing my perspective; changing my attitude….and allowing God to change and transform my mind and heart from within is far more important. The weight loss is merely a visible sign of the invisible…but WAY MORE IMPORTANT….changes in my life. 

My guess is that if I asked several other average size guests here about their stay; their thoughts; their experiences at this conference, I’d likely not find many who are as deeply affected by this place as I am. I didn’t see anyone walking the beach yesterday afternoon. I didn’t see anyone on the balcony last night watching the sunset. Perhaps, it’s because “they’ve been here before; they’ve seen the sun set over Lake Michigan many times; they’ve other things that are important for them to do here; but perhaps, it’s because they “always could….and assume that they always will”….be able to do/see/feel the wonders around them. Maybe they’ve become immune.  Maybe they just don’t realize what a big deal it is for someone like me….who just a few years ago was dependent on a walker or wheelchair just to get into the hotel….or someone like you….that “can’t” right now….because of health, weight, addiction, fear, depression, anxiety, or ‘other life issues that get in the way. Maybe they’re experiencing the place in their own way; they’re on their own journey; expressing gratitude they’re own way.  Our individual journey is just that; personal and our own.

I am blessed, no doubt, to have been able to stay in a place like this for a few days but I am here only because the cost has been paid by my employer. Otherwise, I would not be here. There are many of you…if not most….that won’t be given an opportunity like this, either because of finances, health, age, circumstances, or location….but LIFE and BLESSINGS and NATURE and LOVE are free gifts. It may not be Lake Michigan….but even a puddle on the sidewalk can be a wonder if you realize how blessed you are to have water and rain.  There is no cost for the sound of the birds singing in the trees….but it is a glorious sound if you realize how wonderful it is to be able to hear.  There is no charge to look at trees against the sky, watch the sun rise or set, or feel the wind on your face….but they are priceless moments when you realize how blessed you are to see, feel, touch, and smell.  Life is a free gift…..what you do with it….how you experience it….how you live it….and how you use it to make a difference for those around you….is a CHOICE.  To me… it’s an even more important choice than what I eat for breakfast today, but I will eat oatmeal today….because I want to continue to be able to experience LIFE like this. I will make choices today that ensure that I keep the weight off so that I can continue to walk the beach as long as my body remains healthy. I will choose to treat my body well so that God can continue to use me to help others.

When you make good choices in your life…..beginning with how you THINK….many of the other things in your life will begin to fall into place. The scale is merely a reflection of your body mass.  “See” the world with the eyes of gratitude; “Respond” to the world with love and joy”;  “Place value” in people over things, and all the other things like weight, finances, and relationships will begin to fall into place.  Transformation begins in the heart and mind….and then…..the body simply responds. 

Have a wonderful day today….Be blessed….but more importantly….be a blessing to someone else!