They Will Know Us By Our Love

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. – John 13:35

I have not been watching the political conventions – in fact in 42 years I don’t think I have ever watched.  But I was out last night waiting for something and the DNC was on.  Before I go too far, let me say this: I am not 100% behind either side this time around…a first for me.   Usually by now I have a sense of who I would vote for if I had to decide now and this year I don’t have that.

Ok, so back to last night.  I saw what I am sure is a somewhat normal part of the process (if any of this is normal) when Bernie Sanders graciously called (despite the chanting throngs of Bernie supporters in house) for Hillary to be named the nominee.   The sound was off on the TV and I could not hear him, but the scrolling text on the bottom made it pretty clear what was happening.

Since I don’t have cable, I can’t really watch on TV, but I did get home and look up the proceedings online.  Just checked in – made sure that nothing dramatic had changed.  And then I looked again this AM and 2 things struck out to me about last nights proceedings.

The first thing I saw was about Cory Booker’s comment about loving Donald Trump.   Mr. Booker, had given a speech on opening night of the DNC and Trump had responded on Twitter as such: “If Cory Booker is the future of the Democratic Party,” Trump tweeted, “they have no future! I know more about Cory than he knows about himself.”

While in an interview, Booker responded to this by saying: “I love Donald Trump, I don’t want to answer his hate with hate. I’m not going to answer his garbage with garbage. I love him. I know his kids, I know his family. They’re good — the children especially — good people.”

It has been so easy to hate in this campaign.  Over and over the negativity has gotten so much worse than I ever remember it being.  It has gone beyond name calling and mudslinging to real hate.  I have been guilty of it too…my feelings on Trump have been clear from the beginning.  But I will say this, I was convicted by Cory Booker’s answer to the tweet.   And so I want to stop answering Trumps hate with hate.   As the Bible says, we are to love one another.  And they will know who we are if we do that.

The second thing that impressed upon me last night and this morning, was how historic this election has really been.  Regardless of how you feel about Hillary she is the first woman to be nominated by a major party to run for President.  I will not debate the merits of that nomination – as I said above, I am not 100% on either side here, but there was a little swelling of something when you realize what she has managed to do.

I never thought I would ever see in my lifetime a woman running for President from a major party.  We talk about the good ole’ boys club in Washington like it is a given.  Women and other minorities have been steadily making inroads, but there are still a lot of old, white, male faces and ideas.  It is not enough for me to say that I would vote for her automatically, but there was something about seeing it happen that was special.  It validates every little girl who ever said she wanted to be President.  It means that it is just a matter of time before a woman is elected – this election season or not.

So regardless of how you feel about the current candidates, love should be the name of the game in all circumstances.  It is by no means easy – but we have been called in the name of a great God to love.

The Reason Behind the Feelings

I was hesitant when I read the Facbook post that said maybe you should you should stop thinking about why you needed exercise and think about how you FEEL about exercise.  But obviously knowing I needed it did not make me do it.  So I thought what I have a got to lose?  So how do I feel about it?

  • I feel inadequate.  In many ways, I am a perfectionist and when I can’t do something 100 percent correct, I don’t want to do it at all.  And I can’t do what I see the people on the videos doing usually, so it makes me want to not try.
  • I feel insecure.  I don’t dance in public because I can’t imagine letting people see the jiggle that would accompany any moving.  That same mentality makes it difficult to be in the gym, a class and sometimes even in my own living room.  What is someone could see the way I feel it looks on the outside.
  • I feel defeated.  When I have to stop after 5 minutes just to stop the wheezing, aching muscle cramps, and general hurt, I feel like there is no way that I will ever be able to do enough to make a dent in the issues my body has.
  • I feel scared.  That I will work and work and work and it will never be enough.  Even if I were to lose 100 lbs, I would still be fat by today’s standards and it would be so defeating to work that hard and still be ridiculed when I leave the house.
  • I feel like I am not enough.  I guess that is the kicker – the real deal when I see above.  I worry that I will never be enough.  I will never be skinny enough to be acceptable.  I worry that I will never be fit enough to be acceptable.  I worry that I will never persevere enough to not be the fat girl.  At the end of the day, I am afraid that I am never going to be enough.

 

Defining Healthy

“Health is more than just the absence of illness.”

I read this line in a blog post written on one of my favorite blogs by Dennis Finney, a writer for The Des Moines Register.  Finney, who 1 year ago had weighed in at almost 600 lbs, has lost 100 of those lbs through exercise and eating better.  I have loved his blog as he gets real with you – the good and the bad.

What initially drew me to his blog was that he had so much to lose, he was about my age and he had managed to surround himself with a team of people willing to help: a therapist, a doctor, physical therapist, nutritionist and now a trainer.   I am in awe of his willingness to ask for help…although, I am not sure he sees it that way.

His post yesterday, May 19, was about how he always thought that being healthy just meant not being sick.  And that really hit home with me.  I always thought of myself as relatively healthy.   I knew the weight was an issue but I had never had really serious illnesses.  I got sick for sure: colds, bronchitis, strep, but overall I was ok.

And then as I got older, the weight became more and more of an issue.  And I saw it happening but because I had never really considered myself unhealthy overall, I ignored it.  And now, I have trouble walking, I don’t want to get out of bed some days, and I hurt on a regular basis.

I have committed to some short term goals to be better.  Daily meal replacement shakes.  Healthy choices when eating.  Exercises – while small steps are being taken, they are steps in the right direction.

 

 

Goal Setting

I made 2 commitments recently that I am trying to keep to.  Both have to do with my health.  Both are goals that in the past I have not been able to maintain longer than a week or two.

Why am I so bad at keeping health commitments?  The only one I ever managed to keep was giving up soda for lent.  But even that has been waning lately as I have been partaking in soda more than I have in the last 4 years since I “gave them up”.

Part of it is laziness.  Part of it is at times making commitments that were missing a sense of reality.  I would often decide to make a change that was so big or so different or so challenging that I was setting myself up for a failure.  And for someone who struggles with being “enough,” setting myself up that way is pretty much guaranteeing I will not be able to finish it.  And I don’t usually.

So what made these commitments different?  Well, each fits into a routine that already exists.  Each was a small thing I was confident I could accomplish.  And best of all, there is accountability built in to make sure I do it.

My hope is that once i complete these commitments, I will be able to take on another one and then another.  Small changes that add up.  And in the meantime, I am adding back my successful commitment – no more sodas.  No excuses.

Here we go.

 

My sister

I was asked to sing for a funeral today.  I had met the deceased but didn’t really “know” her.  She went to my church and when someone asks me to sing at a funeral (even if the family has no idea who I am), I try not to say no.  It’s such a hard time.

The family member who I met was the sister and her grief was palpable.  She managed to laugh and smile, but she was having an understandably difficult time holding it together.

Throughout the service, I kept seeing my own sister.  Imagining her having to do this for me.  Knowing her and my mom, she would have to be the one talking to people, greeting them, holding it together.   I can’t imagine.

Mortality is not something I think a lot about.   But it is hard not to when you are at a funeral.  She was only 4 years older than me.   It makes you think.

By the time I left the funeral home, I was in tears.  Not to be morbid, but as my health has been unstable over the last couple of years – brought on by too much weight, bad habits and an inability to change – I see myself in the obituaries when people my age pass.

My first instinct -was to eat.

Right?  Like I am worried about dying young, about the effect it would have on my sister and my mother, about what could be if I don’t make some serious changes.  And my first instinct was the stop at McDonalds and get a BigMac.

Food is comfort.  It is familiar.  It gives me a sugar high (for a short time) and it makes me feel better – at least for a little while.  I always said I ate when I was bored, but really, I eat whenever something happens – happy, sad, frustrating, angry, disappointing – I eat.  I crave certain sugar-full foods to give me an uplift, to push me forward.  I look for what is available and what is easy and what is going to make me feel better.

I don’t want this.  But it is the only constant in my life.  It is the only thing that has always been there.  And it is an instant high.  And I can do it anytime, anywhere.

I have said this many times – THINGS HAVE TO CHANGE.  I don’t want my sister to have to be the one standing there telling people how much she misses me.  I want to be here for a long while.  And I am pretty sure she does as well.

 

Hope

I used to see a therapist.  I went to see her to work out some things, to talk about and process something specific.  I ended up staying with her just over a year.  By the end, the problem I started with had been resolved (mostly) and I found myself searching for things to talk about each week.  It was not worth the money until I could figure out or was more comfortable talking about what else may have been plaguing me.

One of the issues I struggled with discussing with her was my weight.  It was clear that she had never struggled with weight.  She stated she had never tried fast food, she couldn’t understand why the desire to be healthy didn’t translate to an immediate change in my ways, and she seemed – for lack of a better way to say it – to struggle with my struggle.  It seemed so simple to her.  Just make a change and the weight will come off.  Decide to be healthy and you will be.

That misunderstanding of weight is one of the main reasons I continue to write about it.  It is not just that I struggle with it and think you need to hear me whine about it every so often.  But because I don’t know if there is any medical condition more misunderstood than this one.  It seems so easy for someone who has never struggled and it seems so complicated for those that do struggle with it.

And honestly, fat people don’t make it easy.  We want to believe that it should be painless – quick fixes, fast diets, pills, shakes, meal replacements…we buy into the hype.  We (generally speaking) also allow ourselves to be judged at times, we wear under baggy clothes, we make excuses for our behavior while rarely acknowledging the bad things we do, and most of all – we hide.

I hide.

I hide the fact that nothing scares me more than not being able to lose the weight.  I hide the fact that every year I inch closer and closer to the age my dad was when he died of a heart attack and I am petrified of dying that young.  I hide the fact that I eat more and eat worse than I want to admit.  I hide that the pain I feel is not just physical…the emotional pain is much, much worse.  Mostly I hide the fact that I feel helpless.  I feel like it is too late for me.  I feel like I will never be able to make enough changes to change the course I am on.

A lot of this plays into my “never enough” attitude.  I am not enough.  I can’t do enough.  I can’t be enough.  I don’t deserve better nor am I capable of change to make it better.

I know this is not true.  I know I have people who love me, a God who adores me and I am more than capable.  I am enough.  I know it intellectually.  But getting to a point where I live it has been near impossible.

I have made changes over the years.  They have been slow and small.  I have struggles still.  Daily fights with myself about how what and how much.  I post inspiration, meal plan, keep bad foods out of the house and then…something happens.  And I am back where I started.

So what now?

I have to learn to be content with small changes.  I pray that people don’t give up on me and that I don’t give up on me.   I keep looking for additional ways to make this work.  I need discipline and grace.  I need fortitude and forgiveness.  And mostly I need progress.  Just a little.  Just enough to give me hope.

On Becoming a Hermit

When I was in high school, my #1 dream for my life was to live in NYC and be on Broadway.  I dreamed about living in the city and being surrounded by people and things to do…a 24 hour circus that made you want to get up each morning and get out there.

My first year of college (when I was 21), I went to VCU and I discovered that I hated living in a city. Richmond is a small city and fairly easy to navigate compared to NYC and I hated living there.  I hated trying to cross the street in traffic, I hated living across the street from a park that at the time was scary at night (it has been greatly cleaned up since then), I hated the noise and I hated the way I felt about it all.  I transferred to George Mason and came home to continue school.

In the early 2000’s I had a string of jobs that took me further and further into the commuting nightmare of DC.  Alexandria, Crystal City, back to Alexandria – commuting was taking longer and longer.  And while I took a bus to Crystal City, my days were shorter and shorter as commuting took more and more time.  And then I got a job in Chantilly.  I loved the job.  I hated the commute.  And this is when I first started thinking about moving out of the suburbs.

When that job ended, my next job was in Tysons Corner.  My worst commute to be sure.  I would spend almost 3 hours a day just getting to and from work.  Since my job had told me that working at home was a possibility once I had reached a year, that became my goal…to get out of the busyness and move elsewhere.  It wasn’t so much about getting out of the suburbs, as it was about getting out of the DC area.  It’s not like this everywhere.  Its not normal.   I really wanted normal.

I wanted a place where life wasn’t so rushed.  Where people got out of work at a decent time and got home at a decent time.  Now, I know that there are a lot of people here who commute closes to NOVA.  I consider that crazy, but I get it.  Its where the jobs are.  But my little enclave here in Orange, feels normal.  A sleepy little community in the mountains.

Transitioning here was a lot easier than I thought it would be.  But it came with a side effect I had not necessarily wanted – but I had expected.  I am alone a lot.  I work from home and so I can be a fully functioning member of society and never leave my house Monday – Friday.   I go to church on the weekends and I have friends there, but my week is very insular.  And sometimes I wish I wasn’t.  Its hard to explain.  Its not that I am lonely exactly, but I am too comfortable at home.

I used to tease my mother that when she retired I was worried she would become a hermit.  But truthfully, she is busier now than when she was working.  I am the hermit.  And I am not quite comfortable with it.

I love my apartment.  I like my own space.  I like my little town.  I like no traffic and nicer people and easier getting around.  But I do miss having people around me some days.  I find I use the phone more at work than I used to, I call my boss more often to run things past him (which I am sure drives him nuts) and I sometimes have to just get out and drive down 15 just to get out of my house for a few minutes.  I go stir crazy occasionally.  In fact as I write this, I have to read it out loud – so I can hear a voice and use mine.

This is a lot closer to the life I want than what I had in NOVA.  But it is not quite complete.  There is still something missing.  I think I know what it is, and I know the time will come when that happens.  In the meantime, here I am.  If you would like to visit- I welcome the company.  Its beautiful here.  And only about an hour and a half from Woodbridge.  Come visit.