Monthly Archives: July 2014

Walking and Weighin’ and Being Sensible

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Photo from fanpop.com

Evidently I have great timing. Twice this week I’ve started a walk under cloud cover and ended up getting soak. Like Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility I begin with a blind optimism that I won’t get caught in the rain. Then I do.

I suppose like her the truth is I haven’t minded so much. After the heat of some very hot days a little cool and wet feels like refreshment.

And no, a handsome man did not come and rescue me, though my husband did attempt to  on his way home from work. I was only a block from home by the time he caught up to me so he just grinned through his open window and followed me around the corner. I grinned back through dripping eyelashes.

I’m feeling more optimistic than I have since I decided I needed the accountability of a Weigh-In Wednesday. The scale has receded instead of continuing its rising. I’ve taken walks despite the rain, and with the exception of one day this weekend when I watched the Lord of the Rings marathon and enjoyed all the treats lining our family room counter, I’ve been mostly sensible about my food intake.

(I was very good on Monday to make up for Sunday’s indulgence! Light and healthy!)

My rainy walk last Thursday included some tiny hail pellets. Yes, I do live in Colorado. 94 degrees that morning, stifling heat, then the rain and ice. ICE.

Tuesday’s walk started with glorious reminders of the beauty of summer.

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Soon the trickles started.

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I made it half-way through my walk before the rain got heavy.

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It grew in intensity for the mile and a half back home. Me walking, the cars splashing past.

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By the time I rounded the last corner the water rushed down the street next to me.

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I was soaked (picture coming on Friday).

But I have to say my attitude rocked. It doesn’t always, so I’m celebrating this fact and hoping it shows some sort of wonderful resilience forged in the fires of life. (More on that on Friday’s post, too.)

How are you doing this fine Wednesday? What successes are spurring you on in your journey of health? Where is it raining on your parade?

The rain will come. But even if it overcomes us there is One who is good who carries us to safety.

The One who cares sees every struggle of our heart and body. He is not callous to our pain. His heart is tender. He longs for us to call upon Him, to let Him take action. To be strong for us in our time of weakness, whether in our bodies or our hearts.

Hang onto your successes. Make good choices for health one at a time. Lean on the Creator when your energy and hope wanes.

Let’s do this thing!

Until next time,

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Lessons from Sam and LOTR: “There’s some good in this world.”

The things we do for love.

Some of them aren’t so hard. My sweet Sam, still recovering from surgery and growing increasingly tired of being tied to crutches, requested a Lord of the Rings Marathon. Extended version, of course.

After 12 plus hours of immersion in the trilogy thoughts continue to surface.

Yes, I’ve read the book. Watched the abridged versions of the Peter Jackson movies. Even watched the extended movies all in one day before. (Sam’s request one year for his birthday.) But with something as deep as Lord of the Rings it seems there is always a new take-away.

One of the things I’m pondering is this scene:

Frodo: I can’t do this, Sam.

Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.

Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?

Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.

When I watched this part of the movie, what jumped out at me is “There’s some good in this world.”

Not great revelation, but don’t we sometimes forget?

Life can grow dark. My mind can dwell on the darkness. Perhaps this tendency fueled my journey of recording 1,000 gifts. 

Writing my gratitude all over the basement walls changed me. Not that I live every, single moment in gratitude.

But I look for the good. Notice it more often.

Like Sam I know good exists. The darkness must pass. The sun will shine out all the clearer because of the darkness.

20140729_153036I read recently that perseverance alone is not enough. That true persistence is waiting on God with joyful anticipation.

Much of my life has been persevering with clenched fists instead of joyful anticipation. But maybe I’m learning. And part of my new understanding is that to embrace joy in the hard times I must remember there is good.

It shows up in simple places. The beautiful green after rain. The deep-throated guffaws of my boys, now all young men, shoveling down dinner while they crack their jokes. The feel of my husband’s hand upon my waist as I drift into sleep. Fresh strawberries. Friendship.

His gifts are everywhere. Even in the shadowed times there is good. Sometimes it’s a fight in my heart to see it.

But good is worth fighting for.

Until next time,

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Refreshment

20140722_093918-1The breeze brushes my face, wispy fingers cooling my questions.

It’s funny what conquers the ragged places. You think it will take something big–like getting the answers you want–but sometimes it’s the simplest relief.

Like this light wind whisking away the heat as we sit beneath the shade trees of our backyard .

It doesn’t answer the questions I asked last night. It doesn’t change the circumstances of frustration.

But it is LOVE.

And isn’t this life full of Him when I open my heart to see?

Conviction hits with that statement. It’s not always about my ability to open my heart. Last night’s questions weren’t coming from this happy, open place.

The breeze, this quiet moment away from the sweltering heat of my home and the suffocating heat of my heart is a gift. I didn’t earn it by being some goody-goody person living open and happy.

I have cultivated the notice of such by an intentional decision to say thank you. I did ask God last night for help when I felt the doldrums coming on. But I didn’t make the breeze. I didn’t force my heart open.

I think only God can open the heart. My will can ask Him to. My logic knows it is good for me. But the heart? That’s something different all together.

The heart is where HE lives. And He is hope. Joy. Peace. Love. All the things I long for. He opens this place to the Good.

When I cried out in the sweaty night, hot and tired, unable to sleep, He granted my body rest and awoke me to this day. This moment.

I’ve no doubt that His Spirit tempted me outside. It started with notice of wilting basil leaves, so thirsty.20140723_124649 Then the act of running up and down the stairs, back porch to plant watering jug in hand, awakened me to the possibilities.

Sam’s hot and tired, too. Maybe even more than I with all of his aching surgery hip and sitting in front of TV and gaming station, being tied to crutches, mostly trapped inside.

So we breakfasted in the breeze. Talked of everything and nothing. How this summer was his favorite summer of baseball ever. He thanked me for his childhood, precious son that he is, as we stared at the swing set which sits mostly still these days. I guess kids reminisce, too. Even as I silently mourned the decaying tree house, the lack of shrieking, giggling little ones, he celebrates the good, sees the big yard and the tire swing and dangling climbing rope and remembers. Happy. (And yes, I hear the lesson in that.)

Now we sit side-by-side, lap-tops perched on the patio table that speaks love, too (It once belonged to Bernice, and I know she would rejoice in seeing us here). We let the fresh air clear our head, cool our bodies, lift our spirits.

A pure, white butterfly flits by. Lands on the rose bush.

Bird song wafts on the breeze.

We believe again in season, in ups and downs, and how the downs don’t last forever. His crutches will soon be abandoned. The stuff that weighed on my emotions last night will pass. We remember that even in those downs there is relief. We discover gifts. Embrace love.

I am happy, too. Son beside me. Cool breeze refreshing.

Hope you’re finding joy in the simple pleasures, too, my friends.

Until next time,

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Authentic Disclosure

Person-weighing-themselve-007Commitment. Accountability.

I sit pondering them. Good words. Good concepts. Especially for someone like me who has an over-active conscience.

Last week I committed to you to “weigh in” on Wednesdays. Part fool, part genius, this idea. It puts me back under self-scrutiny, requires me to look honestly at my choices, and then to lay them bare before you.

And as a writer I could easily pen this post to make me look better than I am. But partial disclosure doesn’t help me grow, and it doesn’t give us an authentic walk together.

Besides, I’d feel dishonest.

The temptation is to focus on yesterday’s success. Hubby needed a ride so I was out of the house earlier than usual, throwing on clothes and downing a quick glass of water. No time for anything else. (Okay, I did go to the bathroom and wash my face.)

It’s been blazing hot here (for Colorado). The string of above 90 days is exacerbated by the fact our swamp cooler bit the dust. It’s hard to force myself into the heat for exercise only to return to a stifling house. Saturday Jerry and I braved it, but when the house cools little overnight the house doesn’t recover, allowing the temperature to creep up as day after day stays hot. Even as the heat intensifies in the sun of the day, there is a slow, steady increase of base temperatures, the coolest not as cool, the hottest hotter.

I didn’t attempt a walk on Sunday or Monday.

But yesterday! After dropping hubby at work I drove with an eye for a good place to exercise, pulled into a little park with a promising pathway, and texted home. Our older son didn’t have to leave for work for a few hours, and I felt it okay to be away from Sam (still on a motion machine, crutches, and Naproxen at home).

20140722_093918 (2)The short of it is I had a glorious walk for almost an hour and a half. The path wound from a cute little park to residential areas shaded by established, towering trees, and eventually beneath the highway. Once east of the interstate that cuts our city in half, the trail followed a stream, more trees, more shade. The endpoint was glorious. Another park, one of my favorites, typically too far from home to visit by foot.

There was a moment of concern. I hadn’t taken water and my morning included less hydration than in my usual routine. I’d expected the help of a water fountain I knew was at this second park, only it didn’t work!

With parched lips I took off on a lap around the small lake, then decided to head back to the trail by a different route. There, gleaming and functional, stood a water fountain I didn’t know existed!

Gulping the liquid, then holding several sips in my dry mouth before swallowing, I thanked God for the gift. Surely His Spirit had led me to the water.

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I did really well yesterday. Exercised. Ate wisely. Fed my soul with movement, quiet, natural beauty.

Now comes that authentic part.

When the heat of the evening kicked in the swelter also carried a case of doldrums. From 6 p.m. until bedtime I simply blew it. Consumed any calories I’d burned away with my morning walk, possibly more.

The temptation as I’m “weighing in” on this Wednesday is to emphasize the choice to walk. But the reality is my good choice was followed by a lack of self-control, which has been the pattern of the last week and a half.

In my defense I’ve had a bit of an unusual hormone surge. I’m almost 49, and my body can’t decide whether it should behave pre or post menopausal. It makes it tough to recognize symptoms I’d typically track with a calendar, like PMS cravings or mood-swings. Thanks to Body Balance I no longer suffer from those awful hot flashes, but like it or not my body continues in no-man’s land, trying to figure out whether or not to gracefully release its last vestiges of child-bearing.

The fact comforts me as I always gave myself a little grace in these times. It helps me better understand the cravings and lack of self-control and gives me hope that self-control will soon be a little less difficult to come by.

Still, I know better than to put off today what I could do tomorrow in the area of health, but I’ve spent the last several days breaking one of my own rules: Make the NEXT RIGHT choice. Don’t put it off for later. Don’t push back the chance to begin anew. Every right choice is a step back on the path to reaching my goals and reclaiming health.

Not only have I put off the decision to cut the mindless eating I did last night, I have also postponed another healthy choice. When I was on my weight loss journey I religiously did the BENew detoxifying cleanse once a month. While I strongly believe in the benefits of this cleanse AND found it bepurereduced my cravings for unhealthy foods, it’s one of the things I cut once I reached my weight loss goals. (Always trying to save a penny.)

Last week I realized it has been some time since I’d done a cleanse, and it would very likely help me with my struggle with cravings. I put the cleanse in the kitchen and honestly forgot for a couple of days to start it.

Then I was going to begin on Sunday, but it was so hot we decided at the last minute to slip away to a movie theater to bring relief from the heat and to give poor Sam a break from the monotonous home routine of therapy, ice machines, and crutches. So I put off starting the cleanse again. Thought I wouldn’t waste it on a day when when I chose to have movie snacks.

Here it is Wednesday and that little jar still sits unopened.

So time to make another commitment to you–putting this stuff out there helps me make good choices–I’m starting it TODAY. No more delay.

There you have it. The good, bad, and ugly of my journey to maintain weight loss. My behavior of last week won’t shave those five pounds that have crept back on. But I’m heading in the right direction. Making the next good choice.

How about you? The ups? The downs?

Until next time,

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Dedicated to the Creators

You enter into holy ground when you create ~ Allen Arnold

~To all my blogging buddies, author friends, and artistic companions~

I didn’t craft the following prayer. Allen Arnold did. It washed over me, a waterfall of grace. I had to transcribe it onto my computer. Copy it by hand into my journal. Share it with you. 

Creator God,

You knit me together in my mother’s womb. You created me with this unique passion to create. You invited me into this calling, so breathe into me your presence here.

You’ve broken my chains. You’ve rescued me from the desert.

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This is not about me. This is not up to me. Slay my striving. Replace my productivity with your presence. Help me not look to the world for inspiration but to your imagination filled with truth, goodness, nobility, grace, and love.

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Help me not to look to the world for validation for you have given me this calling, and you have given me my identity. I am first your son,

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your daughter.

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I consecrate this identity to you. My creativity to you. My heart to you. And my life to you. Reign over it all.

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I hunger for you God—your mystery, your wildness, your holiness. We get to do this together. To create with words. Stories of freedom, of healing, of adventure, of hope. I want to run with you, ride with you, write with you, sing with you, create with you.

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May our time be blazing with light and life. I cast out the enemy and any spirits of distraction, despair, or disheartenment. The enemy has no place in the process of creation. He is the author of lies. You are the author of life.

Grant me your peace. Grant me your presence. Your peace casts out fear. Your presence means I’m never alone. God, if you’re not in this let’s call the whole process off. I don’t want to do it without you.

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May my face glow from your presence. Let me taste your goodness.

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Give me a glimpse of the eternal stories and images only seen by those in the kingdom of heaven.

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May my creation reflect you as the Creator.

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May my calling reflect you as the caller. May the works of my hands make you smile. And last, may we do this together, Father.

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In the name of Jesus I give you me.

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Prayer by Allen Arnold. Taken from a speaking series by Allen Arnold, writer and speaker, given at the Colorado Christian Writer’s Conference

Weight Loss, Walking, and Wondering

Tonight I’m wondering about this blog. I knew my journey was inside out weight loss. Not just pounds, but inner stuff, too.

weight loss beginning and endBut the early days focused on the journey to fit back into my skin on the outside, even as you and I had some pretty honest dialogue about how the inside junk fought against the outside journey.

Many of you have hung in there with me in recent posts, which are becoming more and more about those interior places. The questions of the soul, not so much the body. That inside weight loss.

But the reality is we are body, mind, soul, and spirit.

I don’t want to let go of the forward motion of the body even as the focus has lessened as I met my weight loss goals.

The crappy truth is caring for the body isn’t a one-time success story. It’s still that every day journey I knew it would be, those every day choices I knew I’d have to make. I knew it in my head. Now that I’m a year and a half into this gig, I’m walking out the hard reality. Sometimes successfully. Sometimes not.

The thing is, I still need you.

I need the accountability of talking with you about this journey. I need your words spurring me on to stay on the path and not give up my hard-earned ground.

Maybe you need me, too?

Today I almost went back to the Fitness Pal app. I’d allowed myself a five pound range where I felt comfortable so I didn’t freak about every single pound, but I’ve let a few pounds creep on beyond that safe zone.

If I don’t pay attention it will ALL creep back: the old habits, the choices not to walk, the extra slices of pizza and chocolate cake, the hours with books and computers and movies and chats at a coffee shop without the balance of fresh air, sunshine, crunches, leg lifts, and movement.

Today when the novel I’m working on didn’t go so well I grabbed a tiny handful of Rasinets (you know20140715_213922 I’ve got a weakness for those!) but stopped myself and grabbed an apple instead of the rest of the box. It’s a small victory, but it is a victory, and great victories are won that way, one small choice after one small choice.

At lunch I put peaches into a BENew shake instead of giving into all the high calorie left-overs in the refrigerator.

The last two days I also chose to walk when I could have driven and chatted with a best friend while hitting the pavement instead of curling up with the phone in my comfy recliner. Another 6 miles or so of good choices.

Choices that have to continue if I’m going to be healthy and strong. I hope these choices will soon show on the scale. It’s crazy how much easier it is for the number to climb than decrease.

So my friends, even as I know this blog is so many other things, I don’t want to stop talking about the needs of the body as we did at the beginning. God made all of me, not just the parts within where a writer can lose herself. That’s too easy for me to forget.

So here’s my commitment to myself and to you. My goal is to write Weigh-In Wednesdays – a consistent once a week reminder that the journey of health is still important.

Please pray for me, that I won’t lose any more ground, that I can return to and stay in that comfort zone where I promised myself I’d live. That empty nest grief and hospital stays and family pizza nights will not derail me. That I’ll walk, breathe deep, and stay strong.

How about you? Do you need it too? This weekly reminder?

We’ve been in this together for over a year now. Let’s stay the course! I’d love your feedback. What are you doing to keep your body strong? To focus on the goals you continue to strive for? How can we encourage each other on our BENew Journey?

Let’s talk about it,

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Stress?

It was quite the day.

4:30 a.m. and I was already in front of the mirror, taming the wild mane of clean hair. I’d gone to bed with it wet to gain sleep time.

I’m not a morning person.

Packed my bag for the hospital stay. Put on my favorite shirt for the interview.

Hubby and I bundled our sixteen-year-old “baby” in the car, dreading the pain he would soon endure.

It’s our fourth hip surgery. Experience is helpful in these situations. It also makes you realistic about things like how much pain there is and how demanding the next few weeks are, how long the months to recovery will be.

At the hospital they take us through the paces. The doctor talks through options of what he might do depending on what he sees once he’s inside.

The anesthesiologist discusses options, too. We ask for the anti-nausea patch. Opt for a spinal over an epidural. Last time Sam hated the tingling in his feet.

One last kiss. My child is whisked away. Parents ushered away, too. We’re sent to wait.

I linger only a moment before a brisk walk to the van. My interview is on the other side of the big city. If traffic cooperates I can be there and back before while my son is still in surgery.

It’s 7:30 now, and I long for the coffee I feared would upset my system three hours before. But the traffic is heavy, and a Starbucks’ line seems unwise.

It’s stop and go, this tedious drive that used to take half the time before my city grew. Close to my destination I realize I will be late.

I’m interviewing for a demanding experience in a third world country. “How do you hand stress?” They ask.

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Photo from Wiki – South Sudan

I’m calm. So calm.

Stress. The files click in my mind. Stress was those seven years. When my husband almost died. When they almost took our home. When all four children faced sickness, surgeries, undiagnosed illness, broken bones, struggles academic, physical, emotional, spiritual.

When dreams crashed, and I fought for breath every day. Digging deep. Carrying on.

Stress was two years past the seven. When two car accidents stole my stalwart reserves, messing with my head, my emotions, causing headaches, pain in my neck and back, sensations still undiagnosed. Making me afraid to drive. Afraid to live, really.

But today is 2014. Not 2012 or the years before.

“I don’t know. I haven’t had much stress lately.”

If they are incredulous they don’t show it.

They know my son is in surgery. They’ve been praying for our family. They know I drove through rush hour traffic to get to them.

I talk about the hard stress years. How I had to be strong. How the car accidents stole my strength.

I’m in the van before I realize the absurdity of my answer. How this day. THIS day of surgery, little sleep, traffic, and interview I say I am not stressed.

I shake my head. They must think me delusional.

Or in denial at least.

I laugh at me. Did they do the same when I left the room?

Today is stress. Even more than normal stress.

But maybe I’m not so stressed I don’t know stress. Maybe I’m not in denial.

It’s a matter of contrast.

Those years, those nine years of unrelenting stress . . . did they teach me something? Show me we can endure more than I knew?

I’m deeper now. God is more established in me. Oh HE was always right there, but I know Him more. His faithfulness. His provision.

His ability to receive my pounding fists when I hate the things He allowed.

I trust Him more. He has earned that trust.

My friend says I’m happier this summer. Is it due to the reduced stress or the increased understanding of life, God, strength?

Maybe both.

My stress this surgery day is real, even if I didn’t articulate it in the interview. But it is not crushing real.

Some things are understood in the comparison.

Some things are understood in the perspective of a life lived.

And in this we have survived. Blossomed even.

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Until next time,

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