Sunday, December 16, 2012

I was the Crooked-Neck Girl

(The following post is the talk I gave in church today.)

Think back to your first day of 7th grade. For some of you it may be just a few months ago, for some of you it may be decades. Even though it was 30 years ago for me, I remember it very clearly. I was excited and nervous. I was finally out of elementary school! That meant I was starting a new school. Anytime you start a new school, or even a new school year it feels like you get a chance to re-invent yourself. To show the world who you really are or who you really want and hope to be. I was no longer going to be the girl that made a fool of herself on a regular basis, I was going to be one of the cute girls. I had gone through 20 different outfits and found the perfect one; I had figured out exactly how my hair was going to look. I had organized everything in my backpack, and was going to go to school early so I could make sure that I could open my locker and find my classes. With this plan I was convinced I wouldn’t seem like the lost 7th grader, which, of course I was. These were my plans. This is not what happened. After a night tossing and turning, I awoke to discover that my head was wrenched completely to one side…ear to shoulder. I could not move it…not even a little bit. Apparently, I was much more stressed then I had let myself believe, and all of that stress went right to my neck.


I panicked. I called my Mom at work and tried to explain how awful the situation was. She was a school teacher and incredibly busy, and thought I was being over dramatic (which I was on a regular basis.) She told me in no uncertain terms that I needed to go to school, so I got dressed. It took a while. Getting dressed without moving your head or being able to lift it up is tough. Not to mention, all the crying had made my face splotchy and red. How did my hair look? Did it matter? I couldn’t lift up my head…no one would notice my hair. This day was off to a rough start.

The junior high was only two blocks away, but when your head is wrenched to one side it is nearly impossible to walk a straight line. It was a looong walk to school. By the time I got there, I had 5 minutes before the bell would ring. I thought walking was tough…but, opening my locker was impossible. So I had to take my backpack crammed full of school supplies with me, which meant every textbook I received had to be held in my arms. People gave me plenty of room to walk down the halls. I’m fairly certain news about me had spread and they were all thinking, “Watch out…see that splotchy faced, crooked necked 7th grader? She’s run into about 10 people. Stay clear!” In class it wasn’t so bad…I could put my hand to my face and simply look like a bored, aloof teenager. But, when the bell would ring and my hand would move...but my head would not, my disguise was gone. I was certain I had ruined my junior high career. I would forever be known by some horrid moniker like “crooked-neck girl,” or CNG, for short. I thought this one day would define me. Fortunately, I was wrong. It turns out that my friends from elementary school felt sad for me, some even bringing me icy hot and heating pads for my neck. By the end of the week I could open my locker, get to classes and actually hold my head up high. Did I end up with a nickname? Nope…by the end of the week no one mentioned it.

As a teenager you spend a lot of time thinking about what people think of you…and trying to decide what you think of yourself. It feels as though so many people have it together, and you’re just kind of a mess. A vicious cycle begins…the more you wonder about what people think of you the more you begin to notice your flaws…the vast majority of which are only seen by you. As you focus on flaws you forget all about your strengths. This is Satan’s clever trick. The more he can get you focused on yourself and your perceived weaknesses, the less time you think about those around you and the less time you spend building your relationship with your Heavenly Father.

So, Young Women, today let’s break that cycle…at least for a moment and focus on who you really are.

First and foremost you are a daughter of God. This may seem trite because you have heard it so often that you forget what a powerful statement this is. Elder Jeffrey Holland said the following when speaking to the young women in 2005:

“First of all, I want you to be proud you are a woman. I want you to feel the reality of what that means, to know who you truly are. You are literally a spirit daughter of heavenly parents with a divine nature and an eternal destiny. That surpassing truth should be fixed deep in your soul and be fundamental to every decision you make as you grow into mature womanhood. There could never be a greater authentication of your dignity, your worth, your privileges, and your promise. Your Father in Heaven knows your name and knows your circumstance. He hears your prayers. He knows your hopes and dreams, including your fears and frustrations. And He knows what you can become through faith in Him. Because of this divine heritage you, along with all of your spiritual sisters and brothers, have full equality in His sight and are empowered through obedience to become a rightful heir in His eternal kingdom, an [heir] of God, and joint-[heir] with Christ. Seek to comprehend the significance of these doctrines. Everything Christ taught He taught to women as well as men. Indeed, in the restored light of the gospel of Jesus Christ, a woman, including a young woman, occupies a majesty all her own in the divine design of the Creator. “

I know that many of you worry that you haven’t reached your full potential, or that meeting the standards and commandments that we’ve been given is too hard. You worry that you are simply not strong enough to handle the problems that come your way, or brave enough to figure out the life that you have been given. Let me tell you simply and clearly that you are enough. You are enough. President Monson has said, that “whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies.” I promise you that the Lord has called you to be on this earth at this time, in this place, in this family. Because he has called you he has qualified you by giving you the talents and skills that you will need to fulfill your divine mission on this earth. Many of those gifts haven’t made themselves known yet, or they are mere seeds beginning to sprout – but rest assured, you do have the gifts and the power to reach your full potential. To fully access all that the Lord has blessed you with, and to feel and understand the promptings of the Holy Ghost you have an obligation to do all you can to build a relationship with your Father in Heaven.

You are old enough and wise enough to take on the responsibility of seeking out the truth of the gospel and to gain a testimony and knowledge that you have a Father in Heaven that loves you. There have been times in my life where I have felt overwhelmed and alone, during those times, when I have mistakenly turned away from the Lord I have found that anger and bitterness grew within me. But, when I have humbled myself and turned to him for comfort and guidance I am filled with a sense of love and gratitude for all that he has blessed me with. It hasn’t made problems magically disappear, but has given me the strength and courage to work through challenging times, knowing that I am not alone.

Some of the talents, gifts and inspiration you will need will not come from you, but from those around you. Look around this chapel. You are surrounded by men and women who want only to help you succeed. These men and women on the stand behind me love you and pray for you. I love you and pray for you. We want to provide you with the strongest foundation we can give you so that as you enter the world you will do so with a surety that you have a vast support system on which to call for help. When you need it, please call for help. In this ward you will see examples of bravery, courage, humor and kindness that will help you develop into the powerful women you are meant to be. Keep your eyes open and learn all that you can from your loving ward family.

So, if things haven’t gone as you have planned, if you have had your crooked neck days and can’t imagine that people will ever be able to see you for who you really are…today is your fresh start. What I see are beautiful daughters of God, who are loved and valued in ways they have yet to realize. Today is the day you can kneel down and ask your Father in heaven for confirmation that you are his. If you continue to turn to him you will be able to focus on those you can help, instead of your imperceptible flaws. You will have a source of strength to turn to when days seem unbearable. As it says in Isaiah, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” You are enough. You are loved. Never forget this. I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to serve you. I know that you are daughters of God and I know that this is His restored gospel.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

First Grade Philosophies of Life


As many of you know, while getting my second degree I am working as a Special Ed Para-educator. This year I have the privilege of working in a mainstream first grade class room. Because of the needs of the student I work with I am at lunch and all recesses with all 3 first grade classes and I am completely smitten with them. At first I missed the classroom I worked in last year, but now I couldn't imagine myself being anywhere else. Every day I receive hugs, stories, spontaneous performances and get to struggle opening 400 different "easy-open" lunch containers. (I'm fairly certain this skill alone qualifies me for grad school.)  During this time I have discovered that first graders are pretty much the most delightful people around and have decided to share their life philosophies with you.

1. Why walk when you can skip, run, twirl and bounce? It is impossible for a first grader to go into a hallway, cafeteria, gym, or playground at anything less than full speed. Even getting up from a desk chair to walk the 10 feet to the bathroom involves some kind of skipping...or at least a few gallops along the way.  It seems cruel to tell them to walk. It would be like stomping on their enthusiasm. It is not possible to skip, gallop or twirl without feeling happy. The other day I decided to embrace this joyful mode of transportation and galloped around the kitchen. My daughter Kristen was watching me from the couch. "Wow, Mom. How's it going?" "Good!" I said. She watched me for another few minutes as I galloped from place to place making dinner, and then said, "You're going to be a really fun grandma someday." (Okay...confession time: It is just possible that this is not the first time that I have galloped around the kitchen. It may happen on a regular basis and occasionally branches out to the living room and hallway. And yes, I am mentally stable.) You should try it - especially if you're feeling a little grumpy. The embarrassment you'll feel as you gallop around your house will bubble up into actual happiness....after all, have you ever seen a grumpy skipping child? (Plus, think of the calories you'll burn!)

2. Share your talents with everyone....all the time. Hardly a recess goes by without some kind of performance. Today, 3 girls came up to me and announced they had written a play and wanted to perform for me. Awesome. Here is the play in its entirety:

Girl 1: (Said VERY dramatically) It's a beautiful day today.
Girl 2: (Said VERY loudly...volume=good acting) Yes, a good day for a picnic.
Girl 3: (Stretches out arms) Yes, a very good day for a picnic.

This is the whole play. I applauded enthusiastically. Don't be fooled by its simplicity. I plan to spend some time delving into its' deeper meaning. I think there's something there.

Another boy told me about his hip hop class and invited me to attend class with him. I told him his teacher may not want any grown up students, but I'm sure he has cool moves. "Do you want to see my moves?" he asked. "Absolutely!" I exclaimed. He then busted out a pretty sweet hip hop routine. After clapping, I said, "That was amazing." "I know," he said, "I'm pretty good." (More of us should feel this way about what we do.)

There is frequent singing of original compositions, demonstrations of cub scout skills, cheer leading, even a lesson in archery. (Minus the bow and arrows...more of a hypothetical archery lesson.) I would find great joy in one of my friends walking up to me and asking if they could show me their moves. I myself have no moves, but I would attempt to come up with some kind of rap...or maybe a quick cooking demonstration... or talk about my love of the oxford comma. I'm going to have to work on this one.

3. Trust your instincts. First graders do things with absolute confidence. Case in point: The other day we were having a language arts test in class. The students' papers only contained the multiple choice answers and the teacher would read the questions. As I looked over at one boy's test I saw that he had gone ahead and filled in an answer for a question we hadn't gotten to yet. I told him he needed to erase it and wait until the teacher read that question. He then explained that he had a feeling that the letter "g" would be the answer to that question and wanted to leave it. I again told him to erase it and wait. He said, "Michelle, you've got to trust me....this is going to be the answer." The teacher than asked the students, "What letter makes the last sound in the word 'big?'" The boy turned to me with a huge smile on his face and I burst out laughing...he was right!

4. Tell people when you need a friend. Today during recess a student came and quietly stood next to me. I greeted him and asked if he needed anything. "I just needed to be near you." he said. (Pretty much the best compliment ever.) "You can hang out with me anytime." I said. "Sometimes, you just need a friend." he told me. So, we stood there, side by side, not talking. After a few minutes he said, "I think I'm ready to play again." I patted him on the back and he skipped away. This is a philosophy adults (and teens) should adopt. We all try to act like we have everything under control and can take care of things ourselves, as if there is shame in needing. Many years ago my sister and I were talking (giggling) on the phone and decided we should write a song entitled "How Dare You Try and Help Me Out." I think people would totally relate.

5. Eat dessert first. I wasn't sure I should let the cat out of the bag on this one. I feel like I'm breaking some unspoken agreement with the kids...but they all eat their desserts first. Those carefully peeled and sliced up apples and baby carrots often end up in the trash with a half eaten sandwich...but dessert is never wasted. Somehow these children keep up their skipping and running regimen fueled only by cookies and chocolate milk. The only item in lunch to be discussed or envied is the dessert. At the beginning of lunch all of the kids unpack their lunchboxes and check out what everyone is having. Is your child having trouble making friends...dessert is the answer. Your child will soar to "cool" status if you have tossed a frighteningly preserved Hostess, or Little Debbie treat into their lunch. Really want to make an impression? A pastry or leftover birthday cake can't be beat. Unfortunately, I don't think I can adopt this philosophy...I wouldn't remain so joyful fueled on by sugar alone...but I wish I felt this excited about my lunch. Can't you picture the faculty in the teacher's lounge eagerly comparing salads? Oooooo...croutons and bleu cheese?! Your mom's the best.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The HORROR that is Online Dating

Oh, boy. What sort of scary place have I paid to enter? Let us discuss.

Yesterday and today I have been on a road trip. My girls are fantastic travelers. For this I'm very grateful. Nicole loves to ride shotgun and spout out random facts (?) to me such as: Did you know it's easier to pee when you're cold? (I did not know, and I am not sure how such a thing would be verified. Please don't explain it to me if you know.) Kristen pretty much spends the entire time asleep in the back cuddled up to her phone and Ipod, the teddy bears of the teenage world. In between my random fact education, provided by Nicole, I had a chance to ponder online dating.

In case you were wondering, I should probably start by telling you I am a huge hit with the medicare crowd. That's right....If you are over 60 then I am the gal for you. This would be lovely if I were 20 years older, but I had a hard enough time turning 40, I'm not ready for 60 quite yet. I think if the man is closer in age to my parents than to me than there's a good chance we just won't be able to relate to each other.

I'm also fairly popular with the "happy to be on parole" individuals. Okay, I don't actually know that they are on parole...but appearances can be telling. I mean, if people are trying to find a mate, or even just looking to make new friends, you figure they will put one of their favorite photos on their page and some of these are scary. Look, I realize I'm no hottie, but I don't think people will gasp in horror when they see my picture. (Although, they may giggle and turn away.)

Topping the pictures in great blog fodder are the user names and introductions. I won't focus on the spelling and grammar errors, which are plentiful, but merely the content. (I'm not trying to be snobby. I make errors too, but when a 40-something year old man uses "u" instead of you or "n" instead of and I begin to wonder if a teenage girl has written the intro for them.) Moving on....dating option number 1's intro:  "I don't drive a tractor, but I wish I did." That's it. That is apparently all you need to know to fall head over heels with "ibegood2u." (I think that was his user name.) Block from future searches please. Next, candidate (drum roll please), "I am an outgoing, happy go lucky guy. I can get obsessive and sit outside your house waiting to get a glimpse of you!" Please bless that this is a joke. Block. Block, block, block, block, block. Bachelor number 3: "I am fairly calm and deliberate, so I tend to get along with most anybody in this world. But I truly 'connect' with a pretty select - 'high brow' - few. How are your brows?" According to my niece, my brows are stunning....NEXT! "I'm quite the handsome guy. I haven't posted a picture yet because I don't want to break any hearts. Just looking into my deep blues, they'd pierce through and into your soul...you'd get lost." Are you getting the idea? Bachelor number 4 (I had to leave in his spelling to truly appreciate this one.) "I likes huntin n fishin n pretty much anything in nature. I needs a women who can take care of hurself. Whos a hard worker and can take take care a hurself." Pick me! Pick me!

In spite of the frightening many, there are an intriguing few. So, tonight I attempted to instant message one. I mean, if I am going to give this an honest shot I have to at least try. I clicked on the "IM" button on Bachelor number 5's page. I wait, nervously, to see if he wants to chat with me. Ding! He does, he accepts. "HI!" I type. Shoot. I didn't mean it to be in all caps. Now it's like I'm screaming at him. Waiting for a response. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Me again: "Where in Oregon did you serve your mission?" Waiting. Fingers drumming. Waiting. Nothing. Hmmm. If he wasn't interested in chatting why did he accept the invitation? Me, yet again: "I grew up in Eugene and I wondered if you ever served there?" Is my pop up blocker on? No. Deep breath.  "I am also a dog person who has cats. When my children move out I may start sewing them little outfits." (I crack myself up.) I figure at this point he will respond or close his account. Nothing. Me (AGAIN! It's hard for me to get rejected enough.) "Are you trapped under something heavy? If not, is this some kind of experiment on the effects of the silent treatment during instant messaging? If it is please let me know how I did in comparison to the other participants. If not...Have a good night!" And I clicked off. They always say your first IM is the hardest.

Now is the time that you grab your significant other, gaze into his/her eyes and say, "I'm so glad we found each other." This should be followed by tightly clinging to one another, while you think of me....waiting alternately laughing and crying over my prospects.

Monday, July 9, 2012

I know I said I wouldn't...but I did.

I haven't posted since February?! I really didn't think it had been that long. A few random notes:

1. I've lost 38 pounds and have been STUCK...which is a little frustrating. I started feeling pretty good about myself, until I saw some family photos....nice reality check.

2. I don't know what to say when people report "Bob Sightings" to me. They seem to want some sort of reaction. "Michelle, I saw Bob on a date." "Um....well, we're not married, so he is allowed to date." I then say something like, "Hope you said hi!" or "Good for you." The latter, of course, makes no sense, and yet I have said that 3 different times (Not in a snarky way, but more of a "you did it!" kind of way.) Sorry. Over the past many, many months I have had oodles of people report their sightings...I would love to hear your response suggestions.

3. I have temporarily lost my sanity and caved to my children's requests and signed up on a dating site...just today. I explained to my children that I lacked the confidence...but they still wanted me to try (one child in particular.) I received an email (on my phone) from this particular sight, saying that someone had sent me a message. Here is the message (prepare yourself), "Hi!" At which point I turned off my phone and hid it under a pillow. I experienced an odd combination of happiness at receiving a message and feelings of horror...who is this creep? Why is he sending me a message? I don't even know him!  Hmmmm....how long will this experiment last? I'm much better at coping in person....the online thing baffles me. I still have yet to respond. I've never felt so communication impaired...feel free to give response suggestions on this, as well.

4. I have several blog posts brewing and a friend has commanded me to "spew." So, check tomorrow....I'll have more to say.

Friday, February 24, 2012

"Are You Ready to Date?"....or A Guide on Speaking to Divorced Individuals

I have a confession to make....I googled "how to know if you're ready to date" tonight. (Wait, it gets worse) And then proceeded to take the quiz offered by a well known magazine. (I will now give you a moment to either giggle, or shake your head in disappointment and embarrassment.)

It's been on my mind - and apparently on the mind of one of my special ed. students. I was in our adaptive therapy room with several of the students this week, when I noticed one of the girls looking at me intently. Then the following conversation took place:

Girl: Why aren't you wearing a wedding ring?
Me: Because I'm not married.
Girl: You should get a husband.
Me: I should? Where do I get one?
Girl: (spends many minutes thinking)
Girl: The cops.
Me: The cops? Like the police?
Girl: yeah
Me: How are they going to get me a husband?
Girl: Well....when they drive down my street they always have an extra guy in the back.

I burst out laughing, leaving her somewhat dismayed, but I couldn't help myself...it was hysterical. Now although I liked her creative thinking, I'm just not built for the criminal life and, as mentioned in previous posts, I am postally-impaired...so a letter writing romance just wouldn't work for me. I do think I would excel at the whole file in the cake thing....but I don't think that's done anymore.

I have also received some unsolicited advice and comments that make me think it just may not happen for me. (I know that sounds whiny, but if you could hear the voice in my head it's not at all whiny...you'll see.)

Since my ex moved out a year ago people have said some spectacular things to me. If you think that I was discussing my non-existent love life when these things were said you would be wrong....they just let loose with these comments. (Please keep in mind that these things have not offended me...if they did I wouldn't write about them. I just find them very funny....hello, filter anyone?) Here are a few of my favorites:

"It's good you're busy with work and school, then you won't notice how alone you are."

"The chance of finding a practicing LDS man in your age bracket (what am I 90?) is less than 20%."

"In a few years your girls will be gone to college and then it will just be you, rattling around in your house."

"You seem very confident....you'll be fine never marrying again." (Thank you?)

The nice thing about these comments is they make for very amusing anecdotes. They have great shock value, which makes a story even better. I just think that no one has quite figured out what to say to someone who has gotten divorced. Here are your two options: "I'm so sorry." Or..."Congratulations." You decide which fits best....but if you go for "congratulations" you'd better be really sure of yourself.

Dating after divorce seems like a completely different animal than dating in college and it intimidates me. Everyone has horror stories. LOTS AND LOTS of horror stories about the crazy men and women that are on the dating scene in "my age bracket." It's like every one's child birth stories. No one ever says, "Well, I went into labor for many hours and then pushed several times and the baby came out. It hurt because...well, I was pushing another human out of my body...but otherwise, pretty much as expected." I feel like all of the dating horror stories I hear should start with "It was a dark and stormy night..."

A single Mom I spoke with the other day said her friends used to try and set her up. Most of the men were so unusual that she began to wonder how well her friends knew her...if at all. She hasn't been brave enough to venture into the online dating world...and I don't blame her. I'm not that brave, either. I keep thinking it will just happen naturally...because when all is said and done I'm just an old-fashioned girl lacking the guts to plaster myself on the Internet. (Yes, I am completely aware of the hypocrisy of that statement, but my blog doesn't count.)

The chances of this happening are fairly slim, however. I work in an elementary school and go to school in my kitchen....not a lot of single men hanging out at either place. And if they were hanging out at the elementary school they might be more of that "criminal" element I'm just not cut out for.

So, until my level of desperation rises to the point of dating online (I will eventually need some horror stories of my own), I will enjoy Friday nights at the computer listening to lectures on Ethnocultural Variables (boring)....and looking for the extra man in the back on America's Most Wanted.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Bright Yellow Shorts and some Penny Loafers


An enjoyable (yes, I said enjoyable) component to regaining control of my life is working out. I have always liked working out, but became too bogged down by depression and an out of control work schedule to exercise consistently. Unhappiness is a persuasive demotivater. Once you stop, it's hard to get going again. You can come up with all kinds of good reasons: no time, no energy, I'm having a good hair day and don't want to mess it up, etc.

I work out at the local community rec. center. If you ever want to feel like you are still young and happening....work out at your community rec. center. Most days I am the only person in the room under the age of 65. (Unless Nicole comes with me.) There is a man that works out on a recumbent stair stepper, whom I'm fairly certain is 436 years old. He wears these fabulous bright yellow shorts...with matching yellow headband. He really rocks the headband. He works out so intensely that I fear for his health, and yet he can only move each pedal about an 1/8 of an inch. Quite frankly, I think that's the secret to his longevity. I mean, it would take great muscle control to only move those pedals an 1/8 of an inch and not a bit more.

I also thoroughly enjoy the exercise wardrobe of the over 65 set. Other than Mr. Bright Yellow Shorts, most of them come and work out in their street clothes. Yesterday, the man on the bike in front of me was wearing his khakis, an oxford, and penny loafers. Do you stop sweating after 65? Or is changing clothes too much of a hassle? The woman next to him was truly decked out: blazer, rayon blouse, black trousers, bracelets, and even a scarf. I kept getting worried that her long scarf would get caught on some equipment and down she would go.

A couple of weeks ago an elderly gentlemen came in and wanted to try out every piece of cardio equipment. He would ask someone how to get a machine going, stay on it for 2 minutes and move to the next machine. When I helped him with his treadmill, you would have thought that I was a mechanical genius. He was so thrilled....but, after two minutes he moved on to the elliptical machine. (That didn't go so well.)

I have started wondering if they look at me and think, "What is she wearing? Her pajamas?" I frequently feel sorely under dressed and wonder if I should at least add a few accessories to my yoga pants and t-shirt. (Maybe a beadazzler is in order.) On the upside, I usually feel like I'm going at a really good clip compared to those around me. The impressive thing, of course, is that they are all still working out. They all care enough about the quality of their health to show up several times a week. For a few of them I think it's a social outing, but for most they just want to keep as active as possible. There is one lady who comes several times a week. I thought she was about 70...nope...100!! Yes, 100 years old. She even had her picture put up on the bulletin board in the weight room. She swims, walks and lifts weights 4 times a week and she looks (and acts) amazing!

Like eating right, exercise is something we will need to do for the rest of our lives. (At least if we want to enjoy the rest of our lives.) For me I love the treadmill, some weights and a class now and then. When I get on the treadmill and turn on my music I can let my mind go and focus on how I feel. Every drop of sweat, every breath, every flexed muscle is me taking control of my life. The healthier I become, the more fit I become, the more I feel capable of becoming the kind of woman the Lord expects me to become. Exercise is hard, but it is also empowering and energizing...and if you're lucky 40 years from now you'll be slipping on your penny loafers to head to the gym.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Faith vs. Fat

Let's talk about fat. Specifically, my fat. Now there are many of you that may be rolling your eyes or may be thinking..."If she's on this courage kick why is she talking about fat?" Here is the answer: BECAUSE I am on this courage kick I HAVE to talk about being fat. People don't like the brashness of the word "fat." They prefer heavy, overweight, big...anything but fat; but fat is what it is - so I'll stick with that.

I wasn't always fat. I was actually pretty cute. In fact, I loved working out, but my fat has nothing to do with loving or hating exercise. Fat has been a source of protection. My first 10 pounds crept on after I was assaulted by a group of teenage boys. It wasn't a lot of weight - but it was just enough to feel a little bit invisible and safe. Those 10 pounds were just enough to stop any wanted or unwanted attention from other boys. What may be shocking to many of you healthy weight individuals is that being overweight is a great way to blend into the background. People don't like to notice fat people. You will deny it but it's true. It's a physical invisibility cloak. I know it sounds contradictory but it has been proven to me on multiple occasions.

In college, I began to regain my confidence. It was also nice to not have to see my attackers at school every day...that helped tremendously. I had these incredible and supportive roommates that helped me feel strong and worthwhile. I no longer needed the 10 pounds...so they went away.

After marriage, they returned. In fact, they brought friends with them. I would sometimes lose the original 10, but the friends never left and when the 10 came back they brought more friends. They seemed to always know the password to get back in, "We'll make you feel better. We'll make the hurt disappear." It was the ultimate social marketing plan...if fat were people.."and then they told two friends and so on and so on." The idea was that each little pound could protect me, insulate me from pain. But, it doesn't work that way...instead it just keeps all the pain inside...trapped. What I didn't realize, is my fat was showing how little faith I had that the Lord would look out for me. I know! I am as shocked as you! I have always thought of myself as someone with great faith...but by turning to food and not the Lord I was sabotaging my own chance of happiness. Phillipians 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." It doesn't say, "Christ will help you through these areas, ice cream will help you with the rest."

Here is the amazing part...this part's important, so listen up! As I have released my pain to the Lord and begged for his forgiveness in how I have treated myself and in the failure of my marriage something incredible has happened. Where there was pain, the Lord has filled me with gratitude. Without fail, every time I kneel and pray seeking release and forgiveness I am always left with the most incredible feeling of lightness and thankfulness.

So now 10 pounds are gone. There is a lot more to go, but here is the difference: the 10 pounds that left are the original 10. I don't have to be afraid to feel because the Lord is with me wherever I choose to go. Who knew that the ultimate weight loss plan was waiting patiently for me the whole time? I just had to trust in the Lord.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Courage

I am very excited about 2012. 2011 was a little rough for me. I got a divorce, sold a business, got a new job and went back to school. Needless to say, it was one of my more stressful years. As I have mentioned in a previous post, I am looking at all of these changes as a chance to start over...to begin anew. I decided I need to give myself a theme, to stay motivated and hopeful with this somewhat uncertain stage in my life. My theme is courage.

Back in the spring of 2011 when my entire life seemed to be falling down around me I received a call from my sister. "I'm in the car," she said, as if I would assume she could possibly be anywhere else, "and I have received some inspiration for you. Everyday you need to read Joshua 1:9. EVERY DAY." We chatted a little bit and I promised I would follow her inspiration.

(On a side note, Lisa called me a few weeks later and said, "Rob has the kids, so you have my complete attention. You can cry, vent, whatever you need." "Ummm, well, I'm making dinner right now and not especially feeling like having a breakdown. Oh - and the girls are right here." "But Rob has the kids! You have my undivided attention!" Lisa - I would like to apologize for not being able to have a breakdown at that particular moment. I want you to know there have been several since...but I wasn't sure if Rob had the kids. :))

Anyway, taking care of a few things I pulled out my bible.



Joshua 1:9 "Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be
not afraid, neither be thou dismayed for the Lord thy God is with thee
withersoever thou goest."


LOVE IT! I have been reading this almost every day since and I will tell you there are days where this verse is what has kept me going. People call courage a lot of different things: confidence, strength, fortitude, initiative, even gumption. (Maybe my theme should be gumption - no one ever uses that word anymore.) But it all boils down to courage. There are a lot of people that live their lives with amazing courage. I'm not talking about the life or death type of courage; I'm talking about the courage to wake up, every day and do your best. There are so many people that have struggles and challenges that aren't just one or two rough days, but maybe weeks, months or even a lifetime of shoring yourself up every morning to begin again.

I was delighted when I read an article written by President Thomas S. Monson, the president of my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, to find that he wrote about courage this month, as well. He included the following Ralph Waldo Emerson quote:




Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide on, there is
always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties
arising that tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a
course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage a
soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win
them.


So, no more excuses, no more blame, this is the year we courageously follow our hearts. Won't you join me?