Ch-ch-ch-ch-changing

I have been a terrible blogger. I can’t make excuses, except…Life, with a capital L. I love writing and I love the blogging community, yet I feel it slipping away from me. There is nothing to do about it but sit myself down and start writing.

So. I have been on a journey since December. I’ve been on a spiritual journey for much longer, of course, but this is something new for me and it’s time to come clean and tell the world what’s happening to me. I need the accountability, for starters, and my friends can only listen to my rambling for so long before their eyes start to glaze over. This is a subject that is a frequent topic of conversation all over social media and everyone seems to have an opinion on the best way to go about it.

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Yes, people, we are going to talk about weight loss. Now, don’t get worried – I’m not a “coach” of any kind and I’m not going to try to sell you a program or a system, or powdered drink mix. I just need to talk about what’s going on with me without making my poor husband want to plug his ears.

Back in December I saw my doctor for my semi-annual checkup. I am a Type 2 diabetic and although my medication keeps my blood sugar in check, I tend to eat like I don’t even know what diabetes is. I do this despite the fact that my paternal grandmother lost toes and legs to this dreadful disease. In December the doctor ran my A1C, which if you are a diabetic, is a measure of your averqage blood sugar levels over the past 3 months. They usually like it to be under 7. Mine was 8.1. I have never, ever had an A1C that high in my life. Granted, it was right after Christmas, so I may have had more than my share of sugary treats (that I shouldn’t be eating anyway) which might have affected it. But still, I was shook.  It turns out that I am fairly fond of my toes, feet, and legs, and I do not want to part ways with them. It became crystal clear to me that I needed to change something.

Now, I am going to get public about something that most ladies don’t discuss. My weight has hovered around the 195-205 range for most of my adult life, with a few notable exceptions. I have dieted off and on for much of my life, including a dehydration diet in my teens that promised to pare off 10 pounds in 10 days. It worked, but then again, limiting your fluid intake drastically and keeping to 500 calories a day tends to drain off a lot of water weight. As soon as you start eating and drinking normally again it all comes back. I used to wrap myself in plastic wrap in hopes of sweating off some weight. Nope. I was a size 16-18 all through high school, I hated physical activity of any kind because I wasn’t coordinated and my weight made it difficult, and I loved (still do) sweets and carbs, like any good Southern girl.

I took various weight loss “aids” over the years, most of which you can’t buy over the counter any more, and for good reason. I used to buy Ayds – remember those? They were chocolate candies that were supposed to decrease your appetite. Of course, eating the whole box at once defeats the purpose. I tried laxatives (ew) but never for long. And I hated puking so I wasn’t going down that particular eating disorder path.

One of those notable exceptions that I mentioned was the time I took Phen/Fen. If you are a particular age, you may remember that phenomenon. It was the late 1990’s and people discovered that if you took these two medications together, it caused rapid weight loss.  Why? Because you had ZERO appetite, that’s why. Most medical professionals and some state governments did not look kindly on Phen/Fen but the clinics popped up like dandelions anyway. I had to travel across state lines to have my monthly checkups and get my meds. This one worked, but I felt like a zombie. Some nights I would only have a glass of milk for dinner because I was not the least bit hungry. Eventually it was discovered that Phen/Fen caused heart issues and the fad went away, just like my weight loss did once I began eating normally again.

For awhile I just accepted that this must be my body’s “happy weight” and maybe I’m meant to be this size. I gave away all my “small” clothing and started using real butter because, hey, life’s too short for fake butter, right? I ate what I wanted and counted on the Metformin to keep my diabetes at bay, never mind that I was on the maximum dosage. After all, I couldn’t see myself as one of those people who constantly watched their weight, ate salads without dressing, and used artificial sweeteners. And honestly, I hate depriving myself of anything. I’m a little spoiled, I admit, and maybe even childish that way.

But 8.1. Yikes.

Girl, do you want to live it up, or do you genuinely want to live?

So right afterward I was scrolling through the Book of Face and kept seeing ads for an app called Noom. (I am not compensated by Noom for this in any way, by the way. Just a believer.) The ads touted their psychology angle, which was new for me. It wasn’t free, but you could try it free for two weeks. So I signed up, fully intending to drop it after two weeks.

Except I didn’t, because it was working. Still is. This morning I weighed in at the lowest weight I have seen since my Phen/Fen days.

So I’m not going to bore you with long explanations of how/why it works except to say that no food is off limits, they send you articles and tasks every day, and the psychology was the key for me. My tastes are actually changing! I know, I know – I used to roll my eyes at people who said they’d rather have an apple than a cupcake but it’s true. (I’m sorry to all those people at whom I rolled my eyes) My husband has noticed and so have my kids.

I have goals, people. I want to get off or reduce some of my medications, which right now include Metformin, blood pressure meds, and a cholesterol med. I want to be able to climb the stairs at my office without panting for breath. And I want to be able to do the ropes course at the Adventure Park in Virginia Beach. That’s right – I said it. My goal weight is not that low (150) but I will reassess when I get there. Meanwhile I feel better, I have more energy, and I’m having a clothing crisis because nothing fits but I don’t want to buy new stuff until I’m finished losing. To be honest, I sort of resent how good I feel. Why couldn’t I feel this good when I was eating cornbread dripping with real butter? (yum, cornbread!) I’m learning which foods are my friends and which are not, and I’ve discovered that Greek yogurt is delicious and filling. Who am I?? What is happening to me?? I’m learning new things about myself and my relationship to food every single day.

The main thing I have found is that whatever I do to lose weight MUST be something I can live with for the rest of my life. As soon as I feel deprived, I have a tendency to quit, but so far I haven’t felt deprived. Any time I have been on a “diet” I knew it was short term, until I could lose the weight, then I could go back to “real” life. Well, this IS real life, and I can do this for the rest of mine.

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Blowing Off The Dust

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I can’t believe it’s been so long since I last wrote on my little blog! I don’t have any excuses other than…life. There is much to tell about what has gone on since my last post, but that’s not why I’m here today.

It’s January, so that must mean it’s time for a new WOTY, or Word of the Year, OneWord365, or whatever phrase you use to identify it. For the past few years I have chosen a word (or it has chosen me) to give me some direction for that year. Generally I start out strong and then…life.

I have to admit, I am not a fan of this year’s word, which is probably why it chose me. An online friend brought up the One Word question a few weeks ago so I started paying attention to see if a particular word would become obvious to me. I mentally perked up my ears and started considering the merits of the weighty words I heard in my everyday life. Then one morning I was driving to work and I happened to click over to the Christian radio station, and as I was listening to the song, the word “surrender” popped into my head. And like the obedient child of God that I am, I said, “Oh, God – not that one!” and quickly changed the station. But it was too late. Surrender had started to take root in my mind.

A couple of days later I was talking on the phone to my good friend Pam, rehashing our holidays with family and talking about our children. Several times in the conversation she used the word “surrender” until I finally had to ask her to stop saying that word. There have been other instances that confirmed “surrender” so I finally…surrendered to my fate.

As I have thought more about it, I realize that surrender doesn’t always have to simply mean “giving in”. When you surrender you are ceding control to a force that is stronger than yours. You stop fighting. The war is over and peace can now be achieved. Heaven knows I do not like to give up control so this is going to be a year of learning for me. I can surrender to Him because He is trustworthy, and in surrendering maybe I can find some peace. I can stop trying so hard to keep all the plates spinning because He is in control after all.

There is also the aspect of surrendering your worries – essentially laying them down at His feet. (I did consider “Let It Go” as my word but sometimes I get stuck on rules and that is three words, so no. But basically it’s the same.) Surrendering my children to His rule and not my own control. Not holding onto stuff (worries, anger, grudges, not to mention literal “stuff”). I am, after all, a Nerdy Wordy Girl who can turn a word inside out to find all the possible implications.

Clearly this is a something I can work on and maybe by the end of the year I will find myself in a better place spiritually. It’s a scary word and it drums up all kinds of vulnerable feelings, but it feels necessary. Stay tuned.

Beauty in the Broken: Five Minute Friday

I’m linking metaphorical arms with the Five Minute Friday community this morning, where we write for five minutes on a single topic. Today’s word is BEAUTY. Here we go!

It’s not hard to find beauty in the natural world. God, in His wisdom, has created a lovely environment for His children. The ocean, the mountains, the wonder of a newborn baby – they all sing of His glory and His love for us.

But what about the broken things? Broken hearts, broken lives, broken bodies, broken spirits – where is the beauty there? Somehow I find a thing more beautiful to behold when it’s been broken. There is something holy in the way God alone can fit our broken pieces back together, filling up the empty spaces with Himself. Too much perfection might tempt me to worship the thing and not the Creator of the thing. But the broken ones remind me of our need for a Savior.

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Want to join in? Visit fiveminutefriday.com.

Seventeen Years

So in the midst of all this medical stuff going on, my middle girl turned 17 years old.

She’s one year away from legally being able to vote and make certain other legaldecisions on her own.  This kid. Mercy.IMG_0589This kid took years to get here. Somehow I think she’s more precious for all the time it cost us to bring her into existence. She took her sweet time coming into this world and she’s been living on her own time system ever since. Don’t try to hurry her because it’s a sure way to slow her down.

She loves her music. She’s been singing since she could talk and began writing songs as soon as she was able to put words on paper. She took a few months each of piano, voice, and guitar lessons, and taught herself everything else from there. For her birthday this year she got an electric guitar to add to her two acoustics, one ukulele, and a keyboard.

She loves animals. She volunteers at the local SPCA in the cat room. She is tender toward her grumpy guinea pig and gentle with her sister’s pet rabbit.

This past two years has been like watching a flower unfurl in slow motion. She is stepping out of her shell, competing in a local talent show. She’s getting involved in the theater department. She’s doing improv comedy. She has found her “tribe” at school. We have fascinating conversations about things that matter and she has insight that astounds and confounds me, in all the best ways.

She is stretching her wings, reaching out, and becoming more like a grown woman every single day. It is both thrilling and soul-crushing to see how she needs us less and less. And at the same time I am struck by how much I still need to teach her and how little time I have left to teach it.

I found a video that I made for her several years ago and one of the songs I chose said, “Oh, darlin’ don’t you ever grow up, just stay this little” and while I certainly feel that way, it’s not fair to her to wish she would stay little forever.

As much as I miss that sweet baby face of hers, I want to see her blossom into full-grown womanhood. I want to see her step confidently out into the world, wherever life takes her. I want to see what she becomes.

Happy birthday, Super Seventeen. ❤

 

 

Small World

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It’s a small world. And for my family, it seems to be getting even smaller.

I haven’t written much about it here – honestly, I haven’t written much here at all in the past year – but one of my teenage daughters has been ill off and on for the past couple of years. It started with abdominal pain that we (and the ER doctor) were just sure was appendicitis, but testing revealed a perfectly normal appendix. Since that first ER visit back in December 2015, we have been in the ER quite a few times for stomach pain and just like the first time, they can find nothing wrong except that maybe she could be dehydrated and/or constipated. She has seen GI specialists and had multiple tests done until finally in December 2017 one of them had an abnormal result. We have been held hostage to this pain and we now have a name for our captor – gastroparesis.

This active, social girl of mine used to be a gymnast. She played lacrosse. She went to school, if not joyfully, at least willingly. She hung out with friends. She laughed and joked and was in nearly constant motion. She had sleepovers at home and at friends’ homes.

At the time of that first ER visit in 2015 she was on a competitive cheerleading team. She was a flyer and pretty darn good at it. She tumbled like the former gymnast that she was and relished the whole hair-and-makeup process that came with competitions. She missed a few practices due to random belly pain, but overall it wasn’t a huge factor. She stopped cheer in spring 2016 and took a break from sports for several months, not for physical reasons but for personal reasons.

Early winter 2017 saw my daughter taking up lacrosse. She was very enthusiastic about this new (to her) sport and a fast learner. Even after she broke her wrist while snowboarding, she continued to go to lacrosse and simply learned to use her non-dominant hand for everything. When spring came she again did lacrosse, although she missed a practice or two due to bellyaches.

Summer 2017 saw her taking up gymnastics again and even joining a competitive team. She also did lacrosse again, which was only a six-week program in summer. But this was when things started falling apart for her. Of the six weeks of lacrosse, she made it to three sessions and left early on another day. The only thing she could tell me was that her belly hurt. She was relieved when the season ended.

Gymnastics was hit or miss. After being very excited to make the team, she started missing practices. Her father and I tried to be understanding but it’s hard to do when you consider the amount of money involved in the team commitment. Finally in November she asked if she could stop gymnastics, and we could see how hard it was for her to ask so soon after she begged to do it, but we could also see the pain in her eyes. That’s one of the only visible ways to tell she is sick, because she looks the same on the outside.

Our world started shrinking.

She decided not to do fall lacrosse because she just didn’t feel she could make it through the practices and games. She had plans to try out for the school lacrosse team in the spring but that dream started to fade away. She went on some sleepovers but most of the time after a couple of hours she called us to pick her up because of her belly. It got to the point where she hardly saw her friends, and if she did, it was nearly always at our house because she could lie down if the pain started. She cancelled plans and had to send friends home on several occasions because of the pain as well.

Our world kept shrinking.

After many, many absences in the spring, she started school this fall but almost immediately started leaving early, going in late, and missing days due to the belly aches. She finally stopped going in mid-November. The belly pain, now localized to one particular spot, made it impossible for her to sit up in school all day. In addition to the pain, she started feeling nauseated and on occasion she would throw up after eating.

And our world shrank even further.

We have turned down many invitations and activities because of this mysterious belly pain. We have virtually stopped inviting people over because the pain is unpredictable and we don’t know when she is going to need one of us to sit with her and comfort her. We have left events early and stayed home when we would have preferred to go out. We don’t travel. There are days that I leave home for my part-time job and I have to turn right around and go back home because she needs me. Or days when my husband works from home because she just needs to know someone is close by.

We have seen our world shrink to the size of our home.

We have endured doctors’ appointments, tests, and visits where they not-so-subtly suggested that maybe it is all in her head (it’s not, trust me). We have seen doctors who literally threw up their hands and declared they had no idea what is wrong with her. We have worried over missed schoolwork and despaired that she will complete her current grade level with her classmates. Where we once thought we could at least see an outline of what the next few years with her would bring, now we face an uncertain future. Will she go back to school eventually? Will anyone ever find a way to stop or at least reduce the almost daily pain she is in? We don’t know, and that is an uncomfortable place to be.

She doesn’t eat much because she is full quickly. None of the medications prescribed for her have helped. She is tired a lot. We are living in the in-between and it is such a small space.

And yet we want to keep hoping and planning our lives as though this is going to change. It has to, right? Next month we see yet another specialist, and for the first time we are having to leave our immediate area and drive a couple of hours away for care.

There are good days when she feels almost normal, but then come the bad days when she stays on the couch and tries to sleep it off. We are hoping for the time when the good days far outweigh the bad ones and this period in our lives is only a memory. Meanwhile we keep putting one foot in front of the other and trusting in the One who holds the whole world in His hands.

2017 Wrap-Up and One Word 2018

Wait. Wasn’t it just January 1, 2017? Where did this year go??

2017 was a veritable tsunami of a year. I have to say I won’t be altogether sorry to see it go.

While we were busy living life, time passed unnoticed. And then when the dates change we all lift our heads and marvel at where the time went.

One big thing in my year was launching my daughter and her little family out of our house into their own place, and then a few months later, to another state. To say I will miss them is to seriously understate the situation. Three big chunks of my heart were packed up and hauled away, leaving gaping holes in my heart and life.

I continued working part-time as well, and I am blessed to truly enjoy both the work I do and the people with whom I do it.

We took one of our daughters on her first college tour. I sense more good-byes in the future and I’m taking the Scarlett O’Hara approach on that subject – I’ll think about that tomorrow.

I spent hours and hours, drove miles and miles, and spent many, many dollars in pursuit of answers for another daughter’s health problems, and this consumed a lot of my time – so much time that I don’t believe I have written on this blog for a solid year.

My word for 2017 was Open. I honestly can’t say how that has manifested in my life over the last twelve months. It really feels like I have been in survival mode all year, moving from one crisis to another.

I can say that my beliefs on certain issues have been challenged so maybe I have been more open-minded. I’m not as quick to assume that my way is the right way all the time.

I had to open my hands to let my daughter, son-in-love, and granddaughter move to another state and make their own way.

I’ve tried to be open to trying new things, even though I might not be good at them. I’m currently trying to learn brush pen calligraphy and not doing so well, but I’ll keep trying.

I finally got around to taking the Strengthsfinders assessment and the results really opened my eyes to some of my strengths and how they can be best used.

I guess Open wasn’t a complete failure.

And now it’s time to unveil my new word of the year. I don’t often have experiences where it feels like God is speaking directly to me, or like He’s whispering in my ear. However, when it came time to think about my new word, I heard it as clear as day.

FEARLESS. And not just in the “bold” sort of way:

FEAR LESS. That’s right. I’m supposed to be fearless and fear less.

You’ve probably heard that old line about how there are 365 places in the Bible where God says “do not fear” in various ways. I’m sure that’s not an accident. Just like it wasn’t an accident that I was in the Hobby Lobby store today and this sign jumped out at me.

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This is very timely, because as it turns out, I have a lot of things causing fear right now. They wake me up at night and stir up my anxiety to a fever pitch and cost me restful sleep. I’m not even going to list them out because it just makes my heart beat faster, and not in a good way.

I have things to do, God’s work that I need to be about, and I cannot let fear paralyze me or build a wall around me. My daughters (and granddaughter) need to see me step out in faith to do what God has called me to do so that I can set a good example for them.

So here’s to my year of being Fearless and learning how to Fear Less!

If you choose a word for the year, or a word chooses  you, share it in the comments.

 

One Word 2016 Review and 2017 Reveal

So here it is the year 2017 and time once again to talk about my One Word. Last year my word was Mindful. I started out doing quite well in being mindful of what I was saying and doing, but then Life interfered, as it so often does. In late January I accepted a part-time position which allowed me to work while my kids are in school, which is fantastic, but it leaves me very little time to write. You may have noticed this quite extreme decrease in posts on my blog. Or maybe not.

Anyway, with my time during the day occupied and having a generally lazy attitude most of the time as it is, I decided to choose one thing to concentrate on this past year and to be Mindful about it.

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I have two school-aged children who (apparently) do not eat much for lunch at school so when I pick them up afterward, they are ready for what I call “second lunch”. There is a nearby McDonald’s between school and home, so many (many, MANY) times we go through the drive-thru on our way home so they don’t perish from starvation in the 7 minutes it takes to get home. Don’t judge. Seriously, you’d think they hadn’t eaten in a week. I noticed that it is very easy to order, pay, and pick up an order in the drive-thru without even making eye contact with any of the employees, and it got me thinking. People feel noticed when you make eye contact. In fact, if you are trying to capture the attention of the opposite sex, one tip you will often hear is to make eye contact. Let them know you see them. Make the connection that comes with locking eyes.

So my goal for the year was to be deliberate (or mindful) about making eye contact whenever I was buying something or making a business transaction. It’s so easy to look at your wallet, the credit card machine, the signature slip – anything but the person behind the counter. I’m not sure why that is. Anyhow, I decided that any time I dealt with any kind of service personnel, I would make a point of looking at their eyes. At first I made it a sort of game by looking to see what color eyes he or she had. And then I added a smile, for good measure. Who knows? Maybe someone was having a bad day and they needed that little bit of contact. And after all, it couldn’t hurt. Later on I found myself looking for things to compliment, just to see if I could get a smile in return. I thought about how many people might go through a drive-thru window without ever really seeing the person inside, and I thought about how invisible it might make that person feel. Everybody wants to be seen, right?

How did it go, you ask? At first I had to remind myself to look up. It felt a little awkward, almost like staring, to look at the other person until they looked back at me but it seemed less creepy with a smile on my face. I suppose there were some who still thought I was a bit weird, but I’m used to that. My kids even noticed what I was doing and asked me why I was being so friendly with the McDonald’s (or Starbuck’s or Target) crew!

In my unscientific observation, roughly 99% of the time I got a smile in return. That’s a pretty good success rate, in my book. It’s just hard not to smile back when someone else smiles at you. Furthermore, this little project made me take my eyes off myself and concentrate on someone else, for at least few seconds anyway. And then I just kept going and started holding eye contact with ANYone who was having a conversation with me. I often had to turn my cell phone face down to keep from getting distracted, but I found I actually started LISTENING to what other people were saying and not just formulating my responses. Occasionally I took it a step further and asked pertinent questions just so the other person could explain themselves further and I could understand more. What a revelation!

(You know what? Other people are interesting!)

I have to admit here that once I got into the habit of looking for someone’s eyes and really seeing them, I sort of forgot about my One Word. It started to become such second nature that it didn’t seem much like a campaign any more. In fact, when I sat down to write this year-in-review I actually had to look up what my 2016 One Word even was! That’s how topsy-turvy my world has become with working a measly 20 hours per week. I was planning to write a post about how I lost my way with my One Word 2016. But when I looked up my word it all started coming back to me. I didn’t lose my way at all – I found it.

Now here comes 2017 and it’s time to choose a new word, or for a new word to choose me. Some years the word comes more easily than others and this is one of those easy times. You might say it fell right into my hands. My new One Word is OPEN.

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When I think about Open the first thing I wonder about is what in my life is closed up. I think about open hands and something my pastor said about opening our hands to let go of the things God wants us to stop holding onto, and also opening our hands to receive the plans He has for us. We can’t simultaneously hold onto the old and still have room for the new. I also think about open eyes to see things more clearly, and open ears to hear, and an open heart to love more deeply, open arms to embrace those around me, and an open mind to consider opinions other than my own. And then I think about being open, or willing, to try new things and that’s a little scary. But I’ve heard if it doesn’t scare you, you’re not aiming high enough, right?

Let’s swing those doors wide open and see what 2017 brings!