Looking for the Miracles and Blessings

25 Feb

Every day we decide who to be. Every day we decide what to do. Every day we live on purpose or we react to whatever life throws at us, and sometimes life challenges us to change in big ways. I’ve been through so many of those times, and here are a few things I’ve learned about myself. I don’t do drama well. I am an animated person and can tell a great story, but drama confuses me. I have seen family members and friends say the most horrible things about each other, fight and argue and call each other names and then see them going out to dinner or going on vacation with one another and posting about what a great time they’re having. How can you be so angry at someone one day and the next week talk about how much you love them? I don’t get it. Perhaps because I’m naïve enough to believe what people tell me, I don’t realize they are embellishing the situation or spinning it to make themselves look good and the other person look bad. I get that we all have a tendency to think we’re right and the other person is wrong, but I have never understood being mean to one another one day and being best friends the next. My son has a t-shirt with a picture of a rock, a piece of paper and a pair of scissors on it with the caption: Can’t We All Just Get Along? He picked it out, but I love that shirt and its sentiment and wish the world could take a note from it.

In the US and maybe in other parts of the world, something strange seems to be happening. We seem to have confused unconditional love with unconditional support. I have seen and heard parents say that they support their children no matter what, and I find that terrifying. I love my children and always will, but if they’re messing up, it’s my job as a parent to let them know and to help them change their behavior. Just recently, I know someone who had to make the heartbreaking decision to help put their own adult child in jail because they had stolen money to support a heroin addiction. This person loves that child, and it was no easy decision, but this person also knows that their child will continue to repeat the behavior unless the pattern is broken. By sending the child to jail, they are forced to break patterns and are afforded programs to heal the addiction. Those of us who care for this family are praying that this person gets the help they need to live a healthier life when they come back to us. The parent still loves the child but refused to support bad behavior.

As a parent, I’ve had some difficult discussions with my children. When we’ve talked about their maturing relationships, we’ve said things that embarrass them, especially when we talk about the possibility of their girlfriends getting pregnant. It’s uncomfortable, but here’s the bottom line for us. We believe that people make mistakes but the Divine does not. We believe that if there is a baby conceived that life was meant to be. Yes, we’ll be disappointed and angry, but our love is greater than the moment and we will welcome that child. We will also hold our children accountable for that child emotionally and financially. We have those conversations early and often so that our children think about their actions, what precautions they would need to take if necessary and what the consequences of not taking precautions could be. It’s a way to help our children mature emotionally, knowing we will love them but not support bad behavior. We’ve also had the discussion that their girlfriend might decide not to keep the baby or even have the baby and how we would deal with that as well.

On the subject of uncomfortable conversations, this week, I was watching a video on increasing productivity, and the speaker said something that really ticked me off. He said that if you are overweight, it’s because you are emotionally immature. Truth be told, I wanted to smack him. I am overweight and have struggled with my weight for over twenty years. Last year, I was able to lose a significant amount of weight for the first time in decades. In approximately six weeks, I lost twenty five pounds. I was so incredibly proud of myself, but then the holidays came. Thanksgiving followed by a vacation followed by Christmas and New Years and my college boys being home stalled everything and actually put some of the pounds back on. They all seem like valid reasons to put a few pounds back on, but they really are excuses, not reasons. At the beginning of this month, I dove back in and have seen much less success than I did the first time, but I realize it’s because I have been eating foods that aren’t good for me. I am “sneaking” foods that I like but inhibit the weight loss, and the thing is, I love healthy food. I just don’t like making it at times, so I grab something easy instead. For me, higher protein and lower carb is always the best way to go. Back in October, when I lost the weight, if I ate really well during the day, I gave myself the gift of a piece of chocolate after dinner. Recently, I’ve been grabbing a few tortilla chips off of my son’s afternoon plate of chips and cheese without recording them. It was only a few, so why bother, right? I’ve eaten a warm cookie out the oven or a bite of something here and there and it never gets added to the daily tally of what I’m taking in, and I wonder why the number is going the wrong way. Look, for those of us who are overweight, there are worse things that we could be than fat. We could be mean, petty, vindictive or worse, but being overweight is a symptom or better said, a result of bad behavior. We have chosen to consume more calories than our body needs to function. It seems simple and in some ways it is but in other ways it’s much more complicated.

No one sets out to be an addict or be overweight. Something triggered something and before you know it, you’re addicted, and yes, most of us who are overweight are food addicts. For me, I was addicted to nicotine until my first son was born. I gave up cigarettes for motherhood, and it was a great trade. I loved and do love being a mom, but it has always been in the back of my head that this motherhood gig was temporary. On a metaphysical level, excess weight is an indication for the need for protection, and as I think back, there were so many times when I felt afraid and needed protection. After my first child was born, like every new mother, I was afraid that I would not be a good mom so I added a few pounds. I was underweight before I got pregnant, so it wasn’t a big deal. Within a month of my second child being born, my father died at the age of 54, and I was faced with the reality of raising my children without a father and I gained a few more pounds. My third child was born five weeks early with a lifelong medical condition and a year after he was born, my husband was unemployed for a year because of 9/11 and there went a few more pounds. I look back now and see how easy it was to address my fears with food, and the pounds kept creeping up. Add some bad financial decisions and it’s no wonder as the children grew and the college bills loomed, the numbers went up on the scale. It came to a head for me last September when my husband had been living in Dallas for months with occasional trips home and my second child gone to college. I reached a weight that not only felt bad, it scared me. It was a number I thought I never would see. It was time to make a change.

At the same time I was making this change, I had the opportunity to attend a creativity bootcamp online. Although I never considered my writing that creative since it is mostly blogging and nonfiction, I decided to sign up and it was life changing. I signed up with the idea of finishing a book I had been working on for over a year. I thought I could finish the manuscript and get to the publishing process, but as the bootcamp wrapped up and I was nowhere near finished, I realized a much bigger dream for the book and figured out I had a book or two to write before diving into this one. It was amazing. I got a bit sidetracked with some personal drama and the holidays but thought with the advent of this February bootcamp I would get back on track. I have done more than I would have done without bootcamp with my writing. My goal was to finish a manuscript by the end of this month and depending on how much I write this weekend, I just might make it, but the weight is a different story. It’s stalled and this morning I figured out why. When I had the personal drama, who I am as a person was called into question. When that happens, I always take that seriously, maybe more seriously than I should. For the next two months, it seemed as though everywhere I looked was an article telling me how to be different than I am. They were articles extolling the virtues of being an introvert and often telling people how to be friends and/or deal with introverts. I am not nor do I ever see myself being an introvert, and for a good part of my life, I have been shamed for being the extrovert that I am. I have learned, especially as a writer, to enjoy solitude, but I love being around people. While my introverted friends love to throw an idea out for everyone to think about, my process involves talking it out. My wonderfully introverted husband has learned that. He knows that to truly think something through requires that I talk it out. He has learned that when I ask questions of him that may sound to him like I’m insulting him or that might be offending to someone like him, I am truly gathering information to have a better understanding of life. That process gets me in trouble now and then with other people because even though I explain it to them, they misunderstand my process. It hurts at times and has cost me a few relationships, but I’ve come to peace with it because I also have friends who do understand my process. They know when I come to them, I come to them in a spirit of resolution and love rather than conflict and judgment, and because of it, I have some pretty amazing friends and some pretty amazing relationships.

It took me several years to embrace who I am because I’m different. I’m a happy, extroverted and joy filled writer. I am this person who speaks directly and will address the elephant in the room when no one else wants to, not to shame anyone but to help everyone because if I don’t, I’m usually the one to step in the poop; even if it’s invisible. I love deeply and live as authentically as I can. Some days I do that with grace and some days I stumble over my own learning process. Like everyone else, I’m a work in progress. Some days I create beautifully as I intentionally live my life. Some days I have to constantly edit, and some days I proverbially rip the page out of the typewriter, crumple it up and throw it in the trash. I’ve learned over the years not to go back to the trash and pick out the crumpled up wad of paper because it wasn’t good in the first place, but the writing process and the edits have produced an amazing piece of work I call my life. As I learn to trust the process more, I am amazed at the blessings and miracles I have been privileged to receive and witness. My life has become this interesting journey and every day seems like a mini adventure, even and maybe especially as I face the challenges along the way. I’m realizing that that challenges are often the greater gift because within every challenge is the possibility of a miracle. Yes, I believe in miracles, and I hope you do too because one of the other things I’ve learned is that if you are not seeing miracles in your life, perhaps you have forgotten that you are one. I hope you embrace the miracles and blessings all around you and have a wonderful day, week, month, year and life. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

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