Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Weigh Down: Part 2

To read Weigh Down: Part 1, click here:

Forty pounds. Ten shy of half a hundred. One pound equals four sticks of butter, so one hundred and sixty sticks of butter that used to pad my body are gone. It has been a learning experience as well as a spiritual journey. I don't plan on writing about this again, but it has consumed so much of my life in 2014. As the year comes to an end, I'll share briefly a few pointers for anyone else who may struggle with weight issues.

I can't endorse any specific weight loss product or plan. You may be like me and just have to figure it out on your own. I learned that if I gave up or at least really limit carbs, the pounds melt off. Bread, (even so-called healthy bread or wheat) pasta, and cereal are not in my diet. Carbs hide in fruit and vegetables so you can't avoid them. But do some research and you'll find where they lurk most heavily.

If it comes in a box or can it's loaded with sugar, salt and fillers offering little or no nutritional value. Basically, those products are empty calories, same as fast food, which is from the devil. Most fast food restaurants offer a couple healthy options but since eating at those establishments was never a weakness for me, I just avoid them completely. If I ate an order of fries now I'd be sick all day. It would sit like a brick in my stomach and I'd practically feel the grease clog my arteries. Sit down restaurants way over serve portions. One dinner is enough for two or even three meals. You get used to consuming less calories and food stretches a lot further.

The scale will deceive you. It's hard for those of us trying to slim down not to obsess over the number. In fact, I got so irritated with my old scale that seemed pitifully inaccurate that I bought a new digital scale. If you are losing fat while working out, you gain muscle. Muscle carries more weight than fat. You will notice the difference in the way your clothes fit, but the scale won't budge.

Speaking of working out, I don't. I thought about getting a gym membership and going after work, but I know myself too well. After work I want to do one thing only. Go home. I even dread stopping at the store. When I'm at work, I'm always thinking in the back of my mind what I need to do at home. I just move more and walk more.

Often, after someone compliments me, they follow up with, "I wish I could do it." Of course, you can! There's nothing special about me. If I could bottle the attitude, the mindset, the determination I'd give it away. (You thought I was going to say sell it and get rich.)  You have to want it more than you want the Oreos and that doesn't come in a pill. No pill in the world will make you lose weight if you aren't willing to change your lifestyle.

We are fortunate to have access to food. In our culture we don't just eat for survival anymore. We eat for fellowship, for emotional reasons and out of habit. We don't listen to our bodies and eat only when we are hungry and stop when we feel comfortable. We are not starving as a nation like the pictures we see coming out of Africa. We should use our abundance wisely. We don't deserve it. We are blessed. Our relationship with food needs to change in order for us to be healthy.

Maintaining a weight loss is as hard as losing it. If I get sloppy for a few days, I notice it. I know this is how I'll have to eat for life and I'm ok with that.

click to enlarge:

Friday, September 19, 2014

My Little Birdie Left The Nest

Rebecca flew the coop. She pays rent and all the other bills that go along with the responsibility of being an adult. I'm sure she'll figure it out on her own. We all do, usually after making dozens of stupid mistakes financially and otherwise.

It's a new season of growth and change. I'm happy to see her spread her wings and fly solo. It makes me think I raised a girl who can make it in this world on her own and be a productive citizen.

She wasn't around much last year, so the adjustment hasn't been too dramatic, except that now she actually has her own home away from me. I haven't cried or really even missed her terribly. She's close by. If she would have moved to NY, like she threatens, I mean dreams of someday, I may have had a minor meltdown.

She still comes over to the old homestead and I'm always glad to see her. Right away I bombard her with... Are you hungry? Do you want me to make you a sandwich? Mac n Cheese? I have spaghetti. There's leftover chicken. From the first time we stick a nipple in their mouths, real or rubber, we want to nourish our children. It's in our DNA as mommas, as instinctive as breathing. Eating comes second to Rebecca, after finding her cat. She carries Ginger around like a baby. The cat must miss her too because she'll lay on Rebecca's bed while she's in her "old" room and follow her when she walks out. It is still her room. Lots of her stuff still lives here.

I get that she misses Ginger more than me but I don't care. I'm still happy when she is here, even if it is just to eat and take a nap with her cat. I will still raid the pantry and fill a bag or two with snacks for her to take home.

She is a nineteen year old student, employee, gifted writer, friend and girlfriend. She is strong, independent, talented, artistic, musical, her dad's daughter, God's daughter. She is many things to many people. But to me she is the first one to grow under my heart. The first one I fell in love with the second her body left mine. We may have functioned independently of each other when she was born, but we still needed each other desperately. I needed her as much as she needed me. If you don't understand that, you've never given birth. Now she is growing into real independence. She doesn't need me, my body, my money, (not yet anyway) my house or my food. I just like feeding her.

She doesn't need me. I don't need her. But I still want to be part of her life. I still want her. And I definitely want her to want me.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Home Alone...YEEESSS!!

For the first time since May, I have a whole, entire day at home all by myself. I have errands to run, but I'm putting them off til tomorrow because I just need to have this time. 

It's not that I'm bothered if the kids or Cliff are here. I just like being alone. I love to clean the house when no one is here. I love to get my stack of CDs and play music all day. Journey, Chicago, Bob Segar and the Gaithers. Is there any other music besides 80's and gospel? I sing back up for them, or sometimes lead. And loud. Really loud. The family is used to my spontaneous outbursts of praise and worship. The real reason I like being home alone is, I talk to myself. I have thought provoking conversations. I can get away with singing when they are home, but not so much with the rambling. This morning I talked to my dad, who died in 2001. I imagined what he would say to me after I told him all about his grand youngins. I have to say that instead of grandkids since I live in TN now. 

Besides that talk with dad, I've changed sheets, done laundry, vacuumed, sent a couple emails, made eggs for me and Molly and tackled James' room, all by 9:00. Molly, by the way, follows me around. When I vacuum she lays down in front of me because she wants me to vacuum her. I put the attachment on the hose and run it across her. She loves it. James' room was not too bad. I put away his clean clothes that he prefers to just leave stacked on top of his dresser and only filled one Walmart bag of trash this time. Two empty Goldfish bags, three Gatorade bottles and one granola bar wrapper. I didn't feel motivated to get on the floor and sweep out from under the bed. For that I would have needed the industrial size trash bag. There were stray chargers laying around, to various electronic gadgets, a chocolate milk stain on the carpet that he didn't care about and I forgot about and a pile of dirty laundry/shoes in the middle of the floor. I had to wonder how James and Rebecca came from the same gene pool. She is an ocd-neat-freak and he is basically a hoarder. I'm fairly certain that no DNA testing is needed. JK Honey. If you don't remember what that means, ask the kids.  

I just enjoy my own company. I've had several men tell me that their wives complain that they aren't around enough and that makes them lonely. Never mind that the men are working full time and going to school to better provide for the nagging wives. I don't get it.

Time to get to the dishes now. Segar is wanting me to accomp'ny him.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I'm A Lover Not A Hater...Or Am I?

I started out making two lists. Things I love and things I hate. Like/Dislike. Things that give me joy, things that cause me grief. I found that many things (and people) are on both lists. 

People who end friendships or relationships without an explanation: Most of us have probably either said this or had someone say it, "I really like you. I just don't want to date. Let's just be friends." It usually happened in person, unless the person was too chicken, then they'd call. If teenagers twenty or thirty years ago had the nerve to at least say something, why can't we as "mature" adults do it today? You know, break it to me gently. Let me down easy. But I really still love those people. I can't help it. I still miss them. Still wonder if it was something I said or did that made them dismiss me from their life and leave me like a wounded puppy by the side of the road. I hate that.

Cell phones/Texting/Technology:
So when we did this breaking up over the phone thing, chances are someone else in the house overheard or eavesdropped on the conversation. We didn't have phones in our rooms. The closest we got to having any privacy was covering the mouthpiece and whispering. We didn't have texting, tweeting, instagram, Tumblr or however else they communicate today. Try asking a kid who they have been texting for an hour and a half and they'll say, "a friend." I have liked learning some technology, even though I'm pitifully inept.  I like having a cell phone, ancient as it is. I think it's called a stupid phone because it's not a smart phone. I don't like texting and driving. I don't like that it's too easy to be misunderstood by high tech communicating. It didn't take Satan long to weasel his way into technology. Pornography married technology. Cheaters, swindlers and hustlers use it to scam people, mostly elderly, out of money. I hate that.

Kids: They monopolize our time, money, thoughts, and conversations. Just listen to a new mom talk. She can't do it without rambling on about how her sweet baby takes a three ounce bottle, burps, spits up, sleeps and poops. It doesn't change much as they grow. Then we brag about how mine is the only one in preschool who can count to one hundred without help. That would have been my Rachel. I'm sure I told at least a dozen people who were nice enough to smile and nod. Or how the Choir director puts her in Advanced Choir, before she really should be, because she's so good. Rebecca. Or a teacher says she wishes all the students were as polite and quiet as James. We adore them and want to make sure you do too. But that which gives us the most joy, has the capability of causing us the greatest heartache. 

Jobs: Even if you are lucky enough to love your job, some days you'll hate it. Ever have a co-worker who thought it was their job to work your nerves for eight hours straight? What about a boss who thought you should have the ability to be in six places at once, doing six different things? If you've held a job more than a week, you've probably thought, "I don't need this. I quit." Then it occurs to you, "Oh, I forgot. I do need this. I can't quit." We would have all walked off a job if only we didn't need it. As my brother says, "Every job sucks in it's own special way." Jobs provide more than a paycheck though. They give us a routine, a purpose, a feeling of pride and accomplishment. We get to socialize and make friends. We become part of a little community. We are teaching our kids to have a work ethic when we go to work even when we are tired or have a headache. 

Getting Older: Creases where there used to be smooth skin, bellies that were tight and flat become soft and cushiony, fillings that were put in teeth when you were twelve all crack and break, eyes grow dim, hair grows thin. Physically, getting old is not pleasant. Fortunately, there are advantages. We actually get smarter. With age comes wisdom. We learn a few things about life. Lessons we can pass on to anyone who will listen. I've learned to filter my words. I haven't mastered this yet, but I'm much better than I used to be. Don't gossip. I've learned that when you hug someone, let them be the first to let go. You never know how much they need it. When someone talks to you, make them feel like they are the most important thing in your world. Look them in the eye. Don't check your phone. Turn the tv down. Give them 100% of your attention. Trust your instinct. You really do have a little voice inside your head, but usually it just gets ignored. Listen to it. It is God giving you direction. I've learned that people will hurt you. It's inevitable. I've learned to forgive them. It's also inevitable that I will hurt people. I hope they can forgive me.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


My last blog was about an ax I have to grind with the church. The one before that was depressing as all get-out. So on a more positive note, and at the risk of jinxing myself, I'm ever so slowly winning the battle of the bulge. 

As a kid, my dad's nickname for me was Twiggy. That lasted til puberty hit. Since then my weight has been up and down. Mostly up. 

Where I work, nothing is too personal to ask a co-worker. When it's normal to ask someone when their last bowel movement was, nothing is sacred. Most people who have noticed don't just stop at, "You've lost some weight!" They follow up with a dozen questions. ("Excuse me, are you my doctor?") That goes along with working in a hospital I guess.  

"How much have you lost?" Honestly, I don't know. I didn't weigh myself one day and start a diet. Near as I can figure, 25-30 pounds since January, but most of it in the last few months.

"Are you sick?" It would never occur to me to ask someone who has lost weight that, but again, these medical personnel are a strange breed of cat. 

"Are you trying to lose weight?" Why yes, I am. I'm not fortunate enough for the fat cells to just decide they were tired of hanging around, so they'd pack up and leave. The struggle is real.

"How are you doing it?" Four words. Eat less. Move more. How's that for making it seem simple? 

This journey began in January. My blood pressure sky rocketed. I have lousy genes when it comes to blood pressure and weight both. If I got my weight under control, maybe the BP would improve and I could go off the Lisinopril. I made a couple changes then. I gave up my late night snack of cereal and milk. Oh, how I miss you Special K with your delicious chocolate chunks. Since then, I've just figured out what works for me.

I have a hard time being enthused about meetings of any kind, certainly not one where someone is recording my weight and I have the possibility of being ashamed and embarrassed if I gain a pound. Sorry, Jessica Simpson. No Weight Watchers for me.

The idea of eating packaged, overpriced food is nauseating. It may work for Kirstie and Marie. Not me. 

I'm not accountable to anyone. I don't count calories or points. I don't measure or weigh food. I don't pop pills. 

I don't have enough self control to stick to one plan or diet rigidly. My plan is simply made up by me. No name. It's sorta, kinda, but not really a low carb diet. While I have cut them down, I still eat apples and other fruit and veggies which are not allowed on Atkins. I've eliminated processed junk food and sugar. I eat more protein. Cottage cheese, tuna, chicken and peanut butter. I get the all natural, no sugar added peanut butter. It tastes like cardboard, but I figured out that if it's refrigerated it's not as bad and I can choke it down.

I do some stretching and moving. I'm not sure it would qualify as exercise since I don't break a sweat. Maybe I'll get there soon. 

While I'm liking the changes I see in my body, some have me rather baffled. Have I always had a freakishly long neck? It's the first thing I notice now when I walk by a mirror. I asked Cliff about it and he said it seems longer because it's skinnier and doesn't have a double chin covering half of it. I can feel my collar bones poking out now. I have ribs too. 

I'll keep working on this and in a couple months post some before and after pics. It won't be Twiggy though. Just a stronger, leaner, healthier version of me.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Why Is The Church Still Segregated? Yes, I am going there.

Surely I am not the only one who has ever contemplated this. I know the easy answer. Two words. Comfort zone. We want to stay where we feel most comfortable. It's easy and cozy, and it goes both ways. No blaming or finger pointing here. It is what it is. But I believe we have failed Christ miserably in this area. I find the term "black church" offensive. You certainly don't hear anyone say, "white church". And yet we are. Cities with very large congregations are more integrated. But in smaller churches, less than 200, you are hard pressed to find a multi-cultural fellowship. 

We need each other! We can learn from each other. White folks could use some soul and spirit. Our worship really doesn't have to be stoic, unemotional, looking more like a bunch of cardboard cutouts than people with passion. 

When I was growing up, on occasion my mom would take us kids to a "black church". She liked their singing. Honestly, I liked it too. They smiled. They improvised. (Have you ever heard our black brethren sing, No Not One?) Their heads bopped around. They sang the songs I liked, the happy-clappy ones, not funeral songs. But the singing was all I liked. I would have rather been at my own church where I didn't stick out like a sore thumb. These folks loved seeing us. They actually got excited whenever we walked in. It didn't matter to me how friendly they were. I was a white girl in a black church and couldn't wait til the final "amen". 

I've come a long way since then. I've learned that we have more in common than differences. There really is only one race. The human race. 

A few years ago, in a bible class, the teacher asked what are some areas you are struggling with. This morning I was extremely emotional, on the verge of tears before I sat down. You don't want to go to church when you are emotionally unstable because, guaranteed, someone will say something or a certain song will trigger a breakdown. An elderly man felt the need to share that he struggled with being racist. Ordinarily, I may have rolled my eyes, or even felt my blood pressure rise a bit, but his words felt like a knife this time. I burst into tears. I cried because I thought of my biracial niece. I cried because I was going to cry about something and this was as good a reason as any. I cried because the church is one of the most segregated places on earth and maybe it's because of men and women like him. 

My generation is, generally speaking, not as prejudice as the one before. Some of our parents and grandparents may have been racist, but we have learned to think for ourselves and I believe we have done a good job not passing down hatred and bigotry to our children. Our kids are more accepting and open minded of people who are different from them, and this goes beyond cultural differences. To their credit, they will befriend anyone who is nice to them. 

Growth only comes by stepping out of our comfort zone. As much as I'd love to see an integrated church as the norm, rather than the exception, I'm not convinced it will happen in my lifetime. Too many of us don't like change. My hope lies in my children and grandchildren's generation. While us baby boomers have made some strides, the real change will come when the church stops isolating and shunning people who are different than them and starts loving them. The young people today are just the ones to make it happen. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I've Been In A Very Dark Place

Dark. Sad. Alone. Confused. If you haven't experienced it yet, live long enough. You will. I don't care to share the reasons for my despondence. It's more than one thing. It always is. Sometimes life kicks you in the gut and you simply have to figure out how to heal your busted ribs and bruised belly. My healing has begun. It started with several hours of the "ugly cry" as Oprah calls it. God gave us tears for a reason. They cleanse. Release stress. Free us from emotional turmoil kept shoved down for too long. Unfortunately, the next day my eyelids were swollen and red. If one more person asked, "Are you ok?" "You look terrible." I was going to slit my wrist. Then I would look dead. Why do people say such absurd things? Do they think it actually helps to tell me I look like I was hit by a truck? I looked in the mirror. I already know, thanks anyway. 

It's a season....Nothing in life stays the same very long. It is a constant state of change. If you are happy, enjoy it. If you are sad, get through it. It won't last forever. Eventually, you will see the light at the end of the tunnel. And I do see a ray of sunlight now. I just have to keep moving toward it. 

I'm blessed to have a few close friends who have been my voice of reason and helped keep me sane. Where would we be without them? You know, the ones who you will always be friends with, because they know far too much about you. They understand your dark side, your sunny side and love you in spite of yourself. 

Eight verses pretty much sum up life. No truer words have been written. They remind me that valleys and mountains, highs and lows are part of the rhythm of life. 

To everything there is a season.
A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
A time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;
A time to tear,
And a time to sew;
A time to keep silent,
And a time to speak;
A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time for war,
And a time for peace.
Ecc. 3:1-8

My time of weeping is over. I'm ready to laugh.
My time of mourning is over. I'm ready to dance.