Thursday, October 10, 2013

Challenge - Day 25

As life happens I am not a consistent blogger. So, suffice it to say I'll make a summary here from the last entry until this morning.

I am, evidently, a consistent follower of my plan. I estimate I followed my plan 90% of the time. I didn't keep track that closely. My worst cheat day was two extra handfuls of raw, unsalted almonds in a fit of stress at work.

Results matter, so what are my results on this, the day after completion of the challenge?

A total of 7.75 inches lost around my body. I was disappointed with the numbers last night, but I need to keep remembering that people are noticing my health and shape has changed. They are commenting on weight loss and radiant skin. I have noticed these things too. I think I mentioned I went shopping in my own closet last weekend. I switched from spring / summer to fall / winter clothes. I got rid of *too big* and too shabby. I took clothes to both Goodwill and the local consignment shop. My clothes that went unworn for a year in the great closet hanger turnaround now fit me the way they are supposed to. This alone contributes to people thinking I've lost much more weight than I have. A close friend at work asked (somewhat seriously) if my total weight loss was 'like 50 lbs.' I assured her it was only 24 since April. 24 that I've lost and kept off.

So, the big reveal is this morning's weigh in. My ten day cleanse loss had been 8lbs. That was amazing in my mind for 10 days. I expected big loss for the second phase, the 14 days. I was a little disappointed, but I had no set number for expectation. I lost an additional six pounds. Overall I've done away with 30 pounds of weight in six months. My BMI has gone from 37 to 33. Still 'obese' but so much better. With 19 more pounds loss I will be under 200 lbs...I cannot tell you when I was under that number last. My best guess is junior high school judging by photos of me in high school and jr. high.

So, what have I gained? I have gained energy and a reaffirmed commitment to life. I have a spring in my step and do not get winded climbing stairs in multiple flights now. I have always enjoyed my Spinning workouts at the gym, but now I feel like and do up the intensity as much as possible to stay within the training ranges. I've also been planning my post-challenge binges for about a week now. This morning, I didn't really want to blow that, so I sit with my HBEGGS (hard-boiled eggs) and kiwi berries. I packed my salad for lunch and snacks 'as usual.' I want to keep the weight off. I will let myself have some 'indulgences' but if it goes like last night, it won't be out of control. (A friend at work asked to cook dinner for me between end of day and preparing for a library workshop we needed to observe. It was her shrimp scampi. The recipe was clean save the linguine--it wasn't whole wheat. I went sparingly, probably had a half cup and not more with five large shrimp cooked in garlic, olive oil and lemon with parsley. It was delicious and filling.)

So, I am changed, for the better after this challenge. I encourage anyone to try it but strongly recommend that you are committed from before you begin. I didn't want 'unclean' foods throughout the challenge because I decided that the results would matter. I loved that I could prepare for the week and then spend less than five minutes each day preparing my meals. Shopping in my fridge from the preplanned menus was awesome.

I am to wait ninety days before trying another cleanse according to what I've read. That's roughly 12 weeks, so come January I will be ready (perhaps) to begin another cleanse. I have friends who are starting the program this week. I encourage them to be encouraged. I will support you, listen to you and answer questions from my own perspective. Know that your journey is yours. It's an individual experience like none other. You are in control and you decide what works best for you.

Peace be with you.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Challenge - Days 8/24, 9/24 and 10/24

I can hardly reconcile the ability I've had in staying with the program. Really? 10 days? No starches, no dairy? Who is this girl?

Me. I managed to keep on target and not allow myself to binge when crises have hit. I'm over committed a great deal right now and I'm still making myself do what I need to do. I stepped on and got measured within the last 24 hours. I've lost some inches--and stayed the same in some areas. I've lost a total of 8lbs by the wee early hours of the morning on Day 11! Can you believe it? I do workout, but I'm not a demon about it my any means.

Yesterday was eye opening in many ways. I was at lunch with my best friend at work. She and I sat at a cafe table in the concourse of the library and a fellow employee asked if she could leave her BK bag on our table while getting a paper from the machine. Sure. BK was never my favorite, but when the smell of that bag hit my nose I thought I was going to lose it. IT SMELLED TERRIBLE. I wanted to run away from it. My friend assured me it was only for a minute or two. She was right, but foul, foul odor.

For anyone who is reading along, keep me in your prayers. I've entered my 'burn/refuel' cycle now. I will have no fruit! on some days and that will be hard for me. So far today I really haven't missed the fruit...afterall, I had the luxury of a chocolate meal replacement shake for breakfast. DELIGHTFUL! I've missed ice cream and my beloved Arctic Freeze dessert. having an icy beverage really helped soothe some of the cravings for binge and cheat foods that I've been having.

Since 14 whole days remain now, I see that I'm more than one-third complete. I'll be happy no matter what at the end of the trail even if I maintain what I have now completed and achieved. My goal was a reboot of weight loss and I've broken that dreaded 'mark that cannot be broken,' so now it's up to me to keep up the good work.

The first reading from my devotional today:

Haggai 1:1-8

In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of Yahweh was addressed through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel governor of Judah and to Joshua son of Jehozadak the high priest as follows, 'Yahweh Sabaoth says this, "This people says: The time has not yet come to rebuild the Temple of Yahweh." '
(And the word of Yahweh was addressed through the prophet Haggai, as follows,)
'Is this a time for you to live in your panelled houses, when this House lies in ruins?
So now, Yahweh Sabaoth says this, "Think carefully about your behaviour.
You have sown much and harvested little; you eat but never have enough, drink but never have your fill, put on clothes but feel no warmth. The wage-earner gets his wages only to put them in a bag with a hole in it." 
Yahweh Sabaoth says this, "Think carefully about your behaviour.
Go up into the hills, fetch timber and rebuild the House; and I shall take pleasure in it and manifest my glory there -- Yahweh says.

Remarkable how we get what we need when we need it. And so it is with my body as a temple. I am rebuilding, and I will be satisfied and have enough.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Challenge: Days 4/24 - 7/24

Having worked full time this past week, and trying to keep up with some family drama and my coursework, I lacked energy or commitment to do my work on staying on track with the challenge AND write about it. Here is a top level summary.

Thursday, also known as Day 4 was without much disruption. We had much to do at work that day. I worked through my lunch for another meeting and also had zero time for getting work off my desk. I worked on details of a poster I'd be co presenting at conference on Sunday in West Lafayette. I managed my snacks, etc., on time.

Friday came with new challenges. It was the celebration for the library building's 50th anniversary and much food and music was on the plan. I did resist the cupcake and other sweets, but Lord knows I wanted a cookie. My veg and almonds held me satisfied though. In the midst of the university librarian's remarks on the occasion I saw Condoleezza Rice sweep through the concourse with her security team. Suspect she had been visiting Fr. Hesburgh. She is tall, thin and beautiful. Yet another dissuasion from the cookie.

Friday night proved more challenging. Our Apple Festival had opened the night before and carnival food was in the air. Nik thawed some less than appealing perch but the sirloin tips were calling my name. I didn't think of it right away but it is likely the tips are rolled in butter, a violation of the no dairy principle under which I operate now. My tummy turned in the middle of the night but thankfully there were no unfortunate outcomes.  I really didn't feel challenged by the sweets and other food. I am still sad that I cannot have mushrooms right now.

Saturday was more of the same, but my parents were on hand with an agenda of the parade and coffee shop along with junk food alley. Still, I held strong and had the ribeye sandwich sans bread. My craving for fried dough was rising when the elephant ear appeared. Thankfully I learned that I had lost well over the week so I fought hard to stay on track. I was early but could not remember if day seven or day eleven was the right time. Day six was used since I didn't have access yo the gym on Sunday.

Sunday was worst. Day seven was not fair. I wanted buttery corn and sweet and salty kettle corn. Wasn't there a way I could buy it and keep it until October ten? Thank you, but no. In fact I did not take money with me to the fest and Nik had only enough for his lunch. I had leftover ginger chicken while preparing my food for the week. I had to pack for my two and a half day symposium, and take my own snacks to stay on plan.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Challenge - Day 3/24

Up at 4:55, Sparked and ready to Spin at the gym. Lovely strength workout on the cycle and left me feeling like I was ready to take on the world. No, wait, that's muscle exhaustion and elevated heart rate. Why I don't  want to flee from that feeling, I'll never know. I guess it's the love of the bike. Loved and devoured my egg/eggwhite omelette and raspberries this morning. Still not minding the peaches and cream fiber. It must be my own eclectic taste buds that makes it OK.

New daily challenge: Eating clean at lunch with a new faculty colleague. I certainly didn't want to be 'that person' who is overly specific about food and its preparation by restaurant staff as it was our first meeting to discuss a new materials purchase plan for the library and the program she directs.

The restaurant is new to campus and I didn't have time to review the menu in advance. My plan of attack was a plain, mixed greens salad with added grilled chicken breast or salmon. No dressing--I don't mind a tasty salad without it, actually, and I've never been a dressing hound. What's the point of drowning fresh vegetables? I like the taste.

Lo and behold the menu had a grilled shrimp and mixed greens garden salad. No croutons, no cheese. Some sort of ginger peanut dressing came with, but I asked to sub vinegar and olive oil (Thanks, Linds!). I was eating normally at lunch and didn't mind that my host was being satisfied with tasty looking fish and chips. I could not finish the wealth of greens on the plate. I was disappointed the shrimp weren't grilled, but thankful they were perfectly boiled or steamed--they were tender, and not rubbery.

I had another late departure from work, and Nik had an unexpected class to teach from 6-7, so I knew I'd be prepping food when I got home. I wanted to snack when I walked in the door but began to chop instead. We had parsnip hash--diced parsnips cooked with a little salt and olive oil, diced onion and green pepper thrown in and then held off while the ground turkey cooked with fennel seed, savory, white and black pepper. Once that was done I added a diced tomato to the mix and let it stew a little longer, spooned out my 3oz serving and mixed it with a bowl full of the sauteed veg. Delightful. I didn't miss the cheese in the hash I created. Nik loved it and remarked how he forgets how much he loves parsnips. Thankfully they're in season right now with our produce source. Delicious AND organic!

While cooking I encountered crisis. My brother called and the conversation was stressful and hard. I kept fighting the urge for chocolate, yogurt, dried fruit, crackers, bread, peanut butter, deli turkey, cheese, butter, anything that I now consider comfort food and we keep in the house. It was hard enough not to snack while prepping the meal as I usually do, but I kept my resolve while responding and reacting to his words. I ended up hanging up with him after a prolonged silence not acknowledged. I wept a little but knew I needed to get back on track. I wept sorrowfully and painfully after I finished my dinner. I am still hurt and angry, but not so much as yesterday. I will need to make the plan for moving this forward. I will need to stay strong and stay on track. I'm thankful, ever thankful, for my husband and his unending emotional support of my needs. It's not right that he has to handle this fallout for me to keep me standing. But he does. He does every day.

And then there is God. For every need, we are covered. This morning's passage (Day 4/24, as I've been missing the opportunity to write at night), in my delivered reading is from 1 Timothy 4:12-16. I need it. I need to apply it. I was most unholy in my words and thoughts last night after the conversation. I am at a point I can only give what Nik calls 'tough love' and it hurts. I hear Nik speak with encouraging words, even to my brother, and my own ability needs so much work.

Let no one disregard you because you are young, but be an example to all the believers in the way you speak and behave, and in your love, your faith and your purity.
Until I arrive, devote yourself to reading to the people, encouraging and teaching.
You have in you a spiritual gift which was given to you when the prophets spoke and the body of elders laid their hands on you; do not neglect it.
Let this be your care and your occupation, and everyone will be able to see your progress.
Be conscientious about what you do and what you teach; persevere in this, and in this way you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.

Challenge - Day 2/24

After recovering from the great chocolate incident of day one, I realized that yes, I was learning and recognizing self-sabotaging behaviour. I don't believe for one minute it's a result of starting the challenge, but it's a matter of becoming more mindful of what's going into my mouth. So, it's a win, and a pretty big one for me.

I awakened feeling sleepy and hungry but started with my spark and then morning routine--no exercise this morning, and getting ready for work was smooth. I had thanked myself again for taking time to prepare my meal components on Sunday. This was indeed a big help.

One of the challenges I have is feeling OK about eating during meetings. I've let a few colleagues know that I'm on a 'sugar fast' for a few weeks to help them understand my sudden and strange need to eat every couple of hours. It's proving OK. I realized I might want to keep some of the Catalyst at my desk 'just in case' things get off track and I'm unable to snack mid-afternoon.

Nik was not at home for dinner, and I arrived later than I intended after picking up our produce order and being waylayed at work five minutes before my scheduled departure. My dinner included panseared scallops, steamed snap peas and tomatoes, shallots and zucchini sauteed in olive oil with some dried herbs. It was delicious and filling, and, I had enough for leftovers to snack the next day.

By the end of the day I was ready for sleep. It came easily, but I was up again in the middle of the night to void the bladder. I know I have excellent kidney function with all the water I'm drinking. Here's to the quart size Eddie Bauer bottle: The new love of my life. Well, at least daily companion. :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Challenge - Day 1/24

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

I spent the early months of summer working with a wonderful nutrition coach and a personal trainer at the gym. I was able to shed AND KEEP OFF 18 pounds of weight put on by stress and laziness in my life. My tenacity and interest waned throughout the end days of summer, as is wont to happen with any 'regimen' I adopt. I am not good at writing things down and I believe that I can do it on my own. These things are not true and I do need a good support network.

To get around my 'boredom' with my plan, I approached a friend who is an Advocare Coach. She herself lost 70+ pounds of post pregnancy weight a year or so ago. She is also a track coach at one of the local high schools. A natural cheerleader, she was on board with me getting started with her. I timed things to begin at the end of my vacation. After an hour coaching session last week, and a shopping spree, I was ready to begin.

Day 0 - Food and prep.
I spent time going through the menu plan and supplement plan to determine what I'd need to eat clean without worry for the coming week. I spent an hour after the grocery store prepping, cutting, cleaning and cooking food for lunches and daily snacks. Salads pre-made in quart size baggies, veggies in snack baggies, almonds divided, turkey burgers cooked and frozen to make easy-protein-filled snacks for on the go. I wrote out what to eat at what time. Is this sustainable? It's only for 24 days, so here we go.

Day 1 - My Mondays and Wednesdays always begin at the gym with a 5:30AM Spinning class. I am not a morning person but I have learned to either keep quiet or put on a good face. At 5:00 I had my first legitimate taste of Spark, a vitamin and energy (caffeine) laden drink mix that is a bit sweet for my taste, but down the hatch it went. I sweat like nobody's business at the gym and sustained 75-80% of my MHR during workout--I usually keep it closer to 65. I don't know if it was the supplement or because I had been off the gym for nearly two weeks during vacation--I had been to Spinning the Saturday before today, though, so it wasn't Day one for the gym.

Breakfast came within a half hour of getting home from the gym. Two Omegaplex supplements (fish oil looking things--probably the 'omega' in Omegaplex), a fibery-drink with the flavor of peaches and cream, two eggwhites and one whole egg, scrambled, and a peach. Delish. The fibery drink wasn't so bad as I anticipated. It is like drinking heavy peach syrup. I was recommended to chug it down and so I do. By this point in the day I have had at least a quart and a half of liquid if you count my intake at the gym. know that I'll be in the ladies' most of the day.

My morning snack was a grilled turkey burger and a half cup of raspberries. The burger was still frozen somewhat...boy was that interesting to chew.  Lunch came and my salad exceeded the size of the plate I had on hand. It looked like I was having a smorgasboard for lunch by the time I finished arranging my plate with shredded chicken on top. Water served me well again at lunch. We had a lunch meeting and so I was able to eat with 50+ of my colleagues as we met to discuss faculty matters. I was able to leave early as I had a desk shift to cover back at the library.

During the shift's first hour we were pretty busy. We had a faculty member who needed some assistance getting a high quality scan of a picture in a book. I took him to the Center--to help promote even its lower level services, and spied a community candy bowl on the table with the scanner. I took a Hershey's Special Dark miniature and walked back after handing off the faculty member. At the second chew, I realized what I had so mindlessly done. I found two tissues and spat the whole thing out. I had just shared with the student working the desk with me that I was 'off sugar' for a while and then I did this. I confessed, and we discussed mindlessness--he's a theology graduate student. So the good news is I caught myself before swallowing. The other good news is I have identified a trigger for mindless eating and know how it happens in the workplace so I have the opportunity to focus on that change in the next 23 days.

Dinner was great--orange roughy and steamed peas and Omegaplex. I ate some turkey breast for my evening snack and then took the 'Herbal Cleanse' pills before sleep--honestly, those are the worst-tasting thing I've encountered so far. Wish me well on my challenge. I think I'm going to need it.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

For one another, we love one another as ourselves

The reading below is from my daily scripture feed. It brought to mind the need for me to be a servant first. Always. It is so easy to fall prey to gossip and deconstructing others, and where is the return in that. It does not take so much to be open to service and love first and foremost.

Reading 2, Galatians 5:1, 13-181 Christ set us free, so that we should remain free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be fastened again to the yoke of slavery.13 After all, brothers, you were called to be free; do not use your freedom as an opening for self-indulgence, but be servants to one another in love,14 since the whole of the Law is summarised in the one commandment: You must love your neighbour as yourself.15 If you go snapping at one another and tearing one another to pieces, take care: you will be eaten up by one another.16 Instead, I tell you, be guided by the Spirit, and you will no longer yield to self-indulgence.17 The desires of self-indulgence are always in opposition to the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are in opposition to self-indulgence: they are opposites, one against the other; that is how you are prevented from doing the things that you want to.18 But when you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Readying the way

I started this post more than a year ago. All that was included was the URL to the "Success Checklist" below. I've gone through myriad change in the past year--haven't we all? Some of the points still resonate, and I have others that should be added to the list.

I'm attracted particularly to item 2 on the list,
Your Skills and Natural Abilities Find Their Purpose
 What a wow statement that is. I look for this each and every day, and sometimes foist my skills and abilities obtrusively on others. I do know one thing is true, I am a natural resource person for others. By 'resource' I don't mean that I have all the answers--God forbid I ever believe that about myself. I know better than to pretend that I know it all (I've been called that before, though). I love being helpful to others.

Using my skills and abilities I also satisfy numbers 3 and 9 on the list:
Your Intellectual Curiosity is Stimulated Daily AND You Pass Your Wisdom Along 
It's timely I found this draft today. I went looking for information on my next course in the IU Gerontology Certificate program. I have one more class to take and then a required practicum. I'm excited by the classwork and the experience I will gain, but I need to be able to manage something I am never quite convinced exists. It's number 6 on the list:
You Master Work/Life Balance
If anyone reading this has done this, and thus, achieved number 10 on the list, "Your Mind is At Peace," then please come see me and help share your wisdom with me. I need it desperately.

Friday, June 14, 2013

And things that are inherently ingrained in me

Over lunch today I talked with colleagues I dont see on a regular basis. We talked a little about work but much about what the weekend would hold for each of us. We had one thing in common: We all looked forward to downtime. Its admittedly been a busy summer.

For one, I need a serious thinning of material objects from my house. My husband works consistently on meeting the goal of "less stuff." The task is a much more difficult endeavor for me, as I was raised by a family who had few monetary resources and unlimited ability to envision how something might come in handy at a later date. Things would be stored in the garage, the basement, the attic or under a tarp. I am not sure the homestead was classified as a hoarder house at the time, but let's imagine that I likely had on the rose colored glasses of a child with strong imagination.

I had few toys. My mom was a crafter. My favorite toy was anything that away available and could be molded into a shape similar to what I wanted to play with. I created microphones out of cardboard tubes, tissues and masking tape. Macguyver was my favorite television show as a tween. I was inventive and resourceful, talents I still value today.

And yet, because anything and everything might be used in the future, I do have challenges in getting rid of things. If that piece of well worn furniture is free,I might just have a use for it. If there is fabric, yarn or other craft materials, I cld do something with that sometime. These whabits Arjun counter to clutter free environments, and I find that it m ready to get rid of the clutter. A dear friend of mine is hosting a garage sale this summer, and I a going as all-in as possible. Please pray for me. Please wish me well. Please offer me an hour or two of your time if you are local to help. I will be so thankful of your time and I will cook for you, mix you a drink or offer you coffee and laughter. I will hope that you let me cry on your shoulder if I have difficulty letting something go. It just needs to go. And so, go, it must.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Two monks cross a river....

Yesterday's post pointed to the zen tale of two monks and their outlook on living a virtuous life. I think about my desire to control things as a bit of a virtue. I also know from experience that too much focus on control can lead to a miserable life not open to the graces and opportunities we have available to us.

I wrote yesterday about leaving the excess scrutiny of my life behind. I was all set to do that when I encountered my counselor this morning. We talked about the surface things that weigh on my mind: my family, my work, my weight and health. I let the conversation go as there are things that I hope to let process a bit further than they have come already. So, talk turned to my brother and the challenges he has in his life. One can rationalize the reasons that he is the way he is. And so we did in today's conversation.

Then I was asked to rationalize how and why I turned out so differently from my family. It is a conversation that comes to bear quite often between me and my husband. The theory that resonates with me most is that I began reading at a very young age. Once old enough to read novels and biographies, I learned that life held much more in store than I had at my fingertips if only the path to those places and things could be identified, by the time I turned six and was in kindergarten, I knew I  was going to college. I wanted to be a fireman or a nurse at that age. The job description changed each time i came in contact with a new role model.

With each new opportunity I learned a little bit more about what I would need to succeed. I am still learning today, and I think that is what sets me apart from a lot of my family.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Opening up the gate, leaving it at the river

I've been working with a friend / fitness consultant / trainer / nutrition-health advocate for just over seven weeks now. I'm going to call her Woman of Steel, because she's rock-solid in her support and dedicated to freeing her fellow humanity from disease. Her work is to help me become more educated about me and my habits, me and my body type, me and what's best to feed me. I've grown to know my environment and myself much better in the past weeks. I cannot tell you how much I have learned and continue to learn each day about what is best to fuel my mind and body. Perhaps I'll share more about that as time goes on. As a result of what I've been learning, I've lost between 15 and 20 pounds and I'm feeling great. She strongly suggested that I write about and publicize for accountability. I know I have a small readership here (and I thank you for it--keep with me if you choose, and share if you like).

My days consist of thinking about food and fitness in addition to my work and home life. It's important that it becomes an integral part of who I am. I won't be returning to who I was--and what I was not doing physically to build strength and fitness (not a lot, but some--people think I'm more than eccentric for choosing to be at the gym by 5:30 on workout days). And I also won't be returning to the food that I ate all my life. My body is type A blood type and at my early-middle life age is already glucose intolerant. I've been addressing that and my underlying hormonal imbalance since 1997 with a cocktail of pharmaceuticals that I'd rather not be taking. The effect is living life more 'normally' and yet normal would be not taking anything but vitamin supplements in my book. The food that I love(d) has been killing me. You know that my husband and I tend toward healthy--organic when possible, little salt or oil added when we cook. My food demon is carbohydrate and sugar. Add to that a stressful lifestyle and accepting others' drama, and you've got a recipe for weight gain and central stores of fat.

I have really loathed my physical being for years. I cannot remember when I didn't really feel self-conscious. I was three or four years old the first time I remember someone (family members--not immediate) commenting on my size and calling me tubby or something like that. I still see the bathing suit I was wearing, and that was the last time I wore a bikini. Age three or four. I'm not sure if that was the moment or not, but I've carried that memory with me off and on for decades now, along with the internal battle of beauty v. satisfaction. Outside, I grew smart and funny. Probably saved my bacon many a time, and kept me from succumbing too much to others' opinions of me. I could self-denigrate and laugh it off. And I never really had to think much more about it.

I'd spent the last two years trying hard to lose weight, and yet I kept gaining. I consulted with a nutritionist and counselor for ten months, and sunk a monthly service fee into a national commercial program. Both worked for a few weeks (like six) until I grew bored or thought I had figured out how to game the system. Self-sabotage is what I term it. I would do well, but then get scared of what might come next. How could I change my self from who I'd been since childhood? I wouldn't need to the toolkit I'd built over time would I? If I didn't have the toolkit to protect me from others' judgement, what would I have left and who would I be? These, my friends are serious questions. I am not yet sure I have the full scope of the answers.

And perhaps I don't need them at this point. I'm not sure. I was reminded of one of my favorite Zen koans today when following a link in a favorite Twitter feed: Soulseedz - 5 ways to agree to disagree The other points are well made, but koan goes something like this:
Two monks are walking in silence. They come to a river they must cross only to find a beautiful woman waiting for help to cross. One monk lifts her and carries her across the river and sets her gently on the other side. The monks continue walking, but the second monk grows more and more agitated. He and his travelling companion have both taken oaths which prohibit them from ever touching a woman. An hour or so down the road, the second monk explodes on the first, asking how he could have picked up and carried the woman in violation of the oath. The first monk turns and responds, "Why are you still carrying her? I put her down after crossing the river?"
And so I think perhaps I need to stop re-thinking and over-thinking my source of consternation. I need to leave it at the river until we meet again.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

For all things, I am grateful

I've spent a great deal of time this week researching for my job. There are areas of focus where change happens all the time, at a snail's pace and at that of the proverbial hare. Ongoing. Change. Different. I used to tell my husband I don't like surprises. I think I do now.

Two years ago my life was full of surprises. You know those illustrations people use to show you about space and room...they fill a vase with marbles. Is it full? Yes, but then the illustrator will add sand...and there is more filling of gaps between the marbles. Is it full? Yes, we observe, but then the illustrator will add water...and there is more filling of gaps between the grains of sand.... Lesson? Our perception of 'full' is changed forever. I was under the mis-impression I didn't have room for surprises in my life. Surprises meant finding room to fit in the outcomes, good or bad, from the insertion into my world of control.

Today I read a commentary on the Huffington Post Living section (@HealthyLiving see: ) The commentary was a summary of a session at the Huff Post's first women's conference and the outcome was 26 things every woman should know about success. I was struck dumb by several, and yeah, I knew that these were things I already knew but had been variously too stressed out, strung out, down trodden, head in sand, kicking and screaming to make it go away to notice. No, really. I just had forgotten, I think. So I thank the kind folks for reminders. I posted one reminder in my career blog. The other, I think is more relevant here.

17. Gratitude will get you through a lot. "I am endlessly grateful. Every day I'm grateful," said Sallie Krawcheck, former president of the Global Wealth & Investment Management division of Bank of America. "Yes, I worked hard to have the career that I have and plan to continue to do so, so I don't want to take anything away from that. But how in the world I was born in this time to my parents in this world, right, as opposed to another time, a slum in India -- I am so grateful. I'm grateful for everything.”
That gratitude proved very useful when she was fired from the job that had made her the most powerful woman on Wall Street. “I got grateful when I got fired,” Krawcheck said. “I said, 'How many people get to be fired and it's on the front page of the Wall Street Journal?’"

I certainly was not fired on the front page of the WSJ. In fact, I wasn't fired, per se.  My duties were removed, and I was provided with little guidance on what happened, what needed to be corrected and what plans were there for me in moving on. The best advice I could get was when I received endless requests that I write up positions or job activities for myself to showcase my talents and abilities.

Doesn't that sound like a dream? You get to tell your employer what you want to do and then have the opportunity to do it. Let me share: It's not a dream scenario--and it has potential to fade quickly to nightmare. I realized that though I knew myself, I didn't know enough or the full picture of myself. Or perhaps I had just forgotten.

I did recognize my core values, and for that I am thankful. I know know the gifts that one can behold with commitment to those values, open eyes for opportunity and the ability to persevere. I will tell everyone I can, whether asked or not, that I am blessed with my work. I did not choose the service I provide in my work today, rather it was chosen for me--sort of. It's a long torturous story, but the happy ending is there. Like Ms. Krawcheck, I am grateful and I know I am blessed. I am given surprises in each and every day now, but they no longer scare me, and they no longer control me. For this, I am grateful. I still work to see that full picture of myself, and I continue to remind myself that I still have space, I am not full and therefore I am not all that I will every be.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Austin Nights

I came to Austin wondering what I might remember about my first visit more than a decade ago. Turns out, not a lot. The last time we were here was part of a whirlwind trip spent visiting too many friends. This trip was designed for selfish and no other itinerary for the duration of the trip.
I know amazingly few of the bands at the festival. Choosing is my husband's thing and I am glad to let him do so. Most I have liked. Some, I have loved.

I can choose to keep whitewashing this trip, but it started with a startle at the airport where my boss from a past and miserable life was at the airport when we arrived at our gate. I could barely stomach the vile.feelings that stirred: Clearly I am not over those responses.

I prayed and asked Nik to pray for me on the spot. I started envisioning scenarios should an interaction happen. Some were appropriate, some were not.

I know I have grown so much stronger in my life. I have been forged in the furnace. I know that a year ago I would have responded less prayerfully and less gracefully. I am thankful for an interlude that did not come to pass on that day at the airport.

This world is small, of that I am sure. Just as that next encounter will occur, so must I continue to be in the Word so that I am ready. Just when I needed it most, I was tested. In response to the test, I saw powerful, protective witness to help me be patient (thanks Rhonda for your timely post).

While I grow stronger, the world seems to fall away in encouragement. I did not respond in my usual ways: gorging on food and gossip.

When I learned to cook

As a child I was a shadow with my grandma in the kitchen. If she was in the kitchen, I was in the kitchen. We had little money, and so we cooked often with what was on hand. Grandma had a small collection of cookbooks, but really, she would read a recipe and then make it with whatever she had. Sometimes it was wonderful...her stuffed green peppers were so good. Sometimes it was...not so wonderful... the lemon pie made with seriously out-of-date saccharine tablets, so it would be sugar free for my brother and my dad. Ugh. I still remember the look on my face with that first bite.

Today I started culling through clutter in the living room while watching Hoarders: Buried Alive--excellent inspiration as I deal with my own hoarding tendencies. I found in some cookbooks the following "Diet List"

Transcribed, it reads:

Oct. 2004 "A Diet List" To Mandy and Nik

The rivers eat away at the banks
The tides devour the sand.
The morning sun drinks up the mists
The ocean eats the land
Taxes eats up property
and pride eats out the soul
But moths the diet record hold
Because they eat a hole!
--a diet from Grandma K.

I'm happy to have a copy of her handwriting. It's changed over the years.

In the Busy Person's Cookbook, I found a quote: If you lose an hour in the morning, you have to hunt for it the rest of the day. -- Chinese Proverb.

My grandma has always been so full of wisdom. I love her for that.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The effects of 7

I’m in the middle of reading Jen’s book. When you said you must have been smart or stupid to have started the book when you did, I would say the former. I don’t believe there is a stupid time to pick up any book (I’m a bibliophile and a librarian).
Over the summer my husband started the great basement decluttering experiment. It’s hard for me to part with my ‘treasures,’ and I will tell you that Jen’s experiences, and those of her council are helping me. I have been through boxes of mildewed paper clippings from my school years (scanning in process, followed by recycling). I was thrilled to have found a clipping with my grade school librarian in it–she is a reason I was an academic success. I thank her with every opportunity, but have no idea how to find her.
Through 7 I am coming to realize that I am made by our creator to be more than the things in this world. I shared 7 with a good friend of mine last night. And you can bet that I’ll be making more progress on my own excessive tendencies as my life moves forward. Thank you for sharing, Ms. Nester–and thank you for the lovely picture of the lilacs–they are my favorites.

--Fall 2012

Breaktime over

I've taken quite a break from my writing. I focused heavily on my graduate studies last fall, and by the time the holidays rolled around, I was exhausted and then a little under the weather (read: respiratory infection). I'm now back in the saddle at work and trying to keep my head above water. I'm keeping focus on why I'm here and what I'm about--and it works pretty well for me.

Who am I to judge?

While reading an article in Ladies' Home Journal on fitness and Hollywood (read: red carpet skinny), I was reminded of some terrible things we do to meet the standard body image culture. To read a section of the article entitled, "What crazy people do" and then recall what a friend a  lifetime ago did do, "Los Angeles wardrobe stylist Lindsay Albanese had one red-carpet client who cinched her middle with an Ace bandage, wrapped tightly under her clothes, corset-style. "It did define her waist a little more, but it was ridiculous," she says." And so was the motive of the person I knew.

I am reminded that I must appreciate who I am.

I am the perpetual 'dieter' and exerciser. My metabolism and physiology are challenged due to some underlying disease, and yet I am human and make choices that aren't the best for maintaining my health and wellness--and a more svelte physique. I know I will not be 'red carpet ready' as described in the article. I don't want to be (anymore). Perhaps it's come with age, and perhaps it's just a matter of accepting who I am.

I am reminded that I must appreciate who I am.

So as I begin, again, to focus on my health and wellness, I am not only working on the physical--by nutrition and exercise. I plan to work on the emotional and spiritual as well. Two weeks ago while travelling with my husband, I heard the word 'jolly' used in some ad or promotion. I jolly well miss that word. It's useful as a verb or adverb, and I like that it is used to put into good humor.

I am reminded that I must appreciate who I am.

I have spent many months (years) in a funk. I find joy in little things, and yet, I am overwhelmed by the lack of joy in my own life. I can feel the tide starting to turn, yet it remains far from effortless. I need to put myself into good humor. I can see the effects on the world around me when I reflect it back. I want it to come more naturally.

I must appreciate who I am.