Monday, January 12, 2015

Feeding your emotions

Happy Monday! I hope everyone is doing well and are settling into the New Year. It’s hard for me to believe that it is already the 12th of January already and the new semester at the college officially begins today. It will be a hectic week at work as students scramble to make final schedule adjustments and such. Like most of us when we began this New Year determined to change our lives THIS year, many students will attend class this week highly motivated with a desire to do better this time; to practice good study habits; to submit their assignments on time; Happy Monday! and to attend class.

Some of them, well, in fact, most of the students that I am privileged to work with, are in a make-or-break it semester, meaning they either have to get it together and improve their grade point average and completion ratio…..or they will lose their future financial aid eligibility. For them…this semester is critical to their future at Mid Michigan Community College.  Many will succeed, but many will simply give up because it becomes too hard or life issues get in the way.  I have the privilege of journeying with them; advising and supporting them; and reminding them of the benefit of hard work and the joy of success.

 Like them, I too, will “walk the walk” as I begin two classes myself, not to apply towards another college degree, but to remind me of what it’s like to be student, keep me current, and for personal knowledge and the love of learning. I am taking classes in Business Law and Legal Terminology. It is much easier for students to connect with me and listen to what I can offer them when they realize that I know what it’s like to balance school, work, and personal life issues. Taking classes while working full-time and maintaining my lifestyle, blog, motivational speaking and relationships will take commitment and motivation on my part and will require sacrifice and hard work, but the satisfaction when grades are posted and help I can offer  others makes the effort worthwhile.

My personal journey has been very challenging these past few weeks, and although I haven’t fallen off the wagon, I definitely have been struggling to stay motivated and focused, primarily  due to the whirlwind of emotions that have accompanied some new developments in my personal life. The 12 days I spent downstate over the holidays were the best ever, thanks in part to a special friend, but the situation has stirred up intense emotion that has significantly altered life as I knew it and has affected other people.  I know, however, that God is present and in control of all areas of my life, especially this one, and things will sort themselves out in time and I will find a way to balance things so that all parties involved are peaceful and secure.

Change….any kind of change…..can be difficult, especially at first, but I am confident that God has blessed me in a very big way and will guide my steps. In the meantime, I am so grateful for blessing this person has been in my life this past year, the emotional support and encouragement he’s given me on this journey, and the kindness, love, and friendship that has been lavished on me in recent weeks. Likewise, I have love, gratitude, and respect for all those who have been a part of my journey for many years who will always be a part of my life and in my heart, just perhaps in a different way.

I am approaching this situation just like I do/did my weight loss journey….first with gratitude….overwhelming gratitude for the way God reveals Himself and his love to me, then with complete surrender and trust in a God that knows what my heart, and then…..with the commitment to ‘enjoy the journey” and rejoice in each day, not getting hung up on the “this is too hard”; “it seems impossible”; “it would be easier to just give up”; or “it’s too much work”  but rather….. “Wow….today is a gift and I am so blessed” and YES…YES….YES…..all of it is so worth it….and JOY….real joy, deep down-bubbling over JOY….is present each day of our journey, not just at the end when we reach our goals.

I am no stranger to intense emotion. I’ve always worn my heart on my sleeve, “feel” deeply, and have a compassion that I hope is evident to most. I’ve been that way my whole life, but I didn’t always handle those traits very well. When I was hurt deeply, I turned to food to comfort me. When I was confused or sad, I ate chips. When I was happy, I ate cookies. When I was scared, I went to bed with Frito’s to drown out the thoughts in my head telling me to be afraid….of what? Death? Homelessness? That someone else would die or leave me? Being alone?  When I was sad...or happy….lonely…..or physically hurting….or stressed…..or……WHATEVER…..I distracted myself with food, perhaps like some of your did/do with alcohol, drugs, shopping, cigarettes, or other harmful habits. I justified my behavior, because, after all, “I was grieving, or hurting, or life sucked”, or “I’m in school; I’m doing the best I can; or I just care.” I chose NOT to see what I was doing to myself or accept responsibility. I turned a deaf ear to anyone who tried to intervene or suggest I make some changes. I “pretended” that I didn’t care about anything or anyone. I really was in a dark place….primarily because of emotional eating.  Fortunately, by the Grace of God alone, I have been set free from that type of thinking…but not the temptation to do the same thing, or the emotions that come with life and prompted the behavior in the first place.

Many of those original emotions….and a lot of brand new ones….have become norm for me in recent weeks, and I am fighting every day to handle them differently. Otherwise, I could end up right back where I was nearly 4 years ago, and I….with God’s help and that of others who journey with me …..WILL NOT let that happen!  Times like these are exactly why I have not allowed myself since March 1, 2011, to eat even one piece of candy; one bite of cake or a cookie; one lick of ice cream. I just don’t trust myself on the slippery slope of life.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is this: YOU are not alone on your journey. I’m not just ‘talking the talk” but rather am “walking the walk” with YOU!  I, like you, struggle and am tempted. I, like you, deal with life issues, although each of ours differ. I, like you, am afraid of failure; have ups and downs; experience joys and heartaches. I KNOW what it’s like to be obese or hopeless. I KNOW what it’s like to be free from the weight that once burdened me. I KNOW what it’s like to rejoice and celebrate, and I KNOW what it’s like to struggle. Mostly…. I KNOW… hard it is to keep motivated; keep committed; keep believing in a miracle; and keep focused…..but I’m telling you….and myself….and my friend…..that all that we endure today; all the work and effort; all the joy and struggle IS…and WILL BE so worth it.  Life for me…..even during this confusing time…..has NEVER EVER been better….and whatever God has planned for each of us…..will be beyond our comprehension

You have been called to this journey. Some of you have shared that God led you to read my story for a reason…for me to support and help you….and likewise, you to help me.  I believe that ALL things that happen; each person we encounter; each experience  we have is part of God’s story for our lives and happens for a reason.  God has graced you….and me… with all we need to be successful; to be happy; to be kind and loving….and to change our life. We simply must trust….and do our part each day by making good choices, cooperating with Him, seeking His presence, and trying to be better today than we were yesterday.
My friends… I am with you…..and I have faith that ALL THINGS will work out for you….and for me….as long as we don’t try to walk this journey alone.  Hang in there… strong…..and believe!  I am a miracle and the fullness of that miracle is unfolding right before my eyes…and I’ve never been more hopeful or happy… spite of the storms around me. Make the choices today….even the hard ones….that will lead you to the life that you desire as well.  Keep smiling….keep believing…..and keep on track!