Some things are good for the soul. The difficulty comes when we must recognize which things in our life are good, and which things are not so good. If we're fortunate, we have people around us who love and support us through the incongruity. I am fortunate.
A friend recently told me she wanted to see pictures in which I am happy. Pictures that reflect the me I am reclaiming.
This may not look like much. This food couldn't be simpler...blueberry muffins, blueberries, and strawberries. But for me, to me, it is a lot.
It is a lot because unlike the majority of people, I rarely think about food. My family and friends have tired of my refrain - "I don't care about food!" - and my poor husband (who loves food and, yes, is trained as a chef) has put up with my disregard for 39 years.
I recognize the problem.
Recently I began working at understanding food and my relationship with it. While I doubt I will ever become a person who lives to eat, what I am becoming is a person who understands how important food is to those I love and because of that, it needs to be important to me, too. Or at least I need to pay more attention to it.
So, on the morning of the Fourth of July, I presented my husband with this breakfast.
My thought this morning was a post on struggle. To write about the hardship that accompanies life, the pain and the sorrow we feel as we, and those we love, are faced with cancer, divorce, unemployment, financial stress, rejection, and a host of other life events that take their toll. So many of these events are present in my life right now it seemed the natural choice.
I brought all the people I love through my thoughts and gave a moment to each of them who are on the forefront of a struggle. (It took a little time to do this...but that was time well spent.)
As the parade of family and friends continued, it changed. Not the people, but the backdrop against which I viewed them. What evolved was not the slow, sad list of struggles, but the longer list of joy and fun and love that I share with each of them. I didn't see cancer and the long road ahead of treatment, I saw summer evenings on a boat. I didn't see divorce, I saw welcome smiles and time together. I didn't see unemployment, I saw opportunity. I didn't see rejection, I saw the full embrace of a loving family. As for financial stress, I saw how unimportant money really can be.
Maybe I really am a little too much of a cup half full kind of girl, but it is my choice to make and I certainly am not going to spend any time struggling to change that.
I leave you with an example of struggle. This is my granddaughter, Ryleigh (you've met her before here). Not all hills we climb are as simple as learning your first song on the piano, but regardless of the size of the hill, our struggles are hills nonetheless. The title of the song is "Love Someone". If anyone knows how to do that, she does. If I'm a cup half-full girl....she's a cup is overflowing one. Her Great-Grammy Lois would be proud.
Today I am 58. An age you won't find on cards in Hallmark stores or hear of surprise parties complete with black balloons and Over the Hill gag gifts. 58 is not a hallmark age. It is not one we celebrate. But for me, 58 is a hallmark. 58 is enormous. My father was 58 when he died. My father-in-law was 58 when he died (I guess technically he was 59, but since he died early in the morning of his 59th Birthday, I have always considered him to be 58). So you can see why 58 is an age to be reckoned with.
I spent my day, my 58th Birthday, with my husband. We went to breakfast, we went for a walk, we ate lunch in the sun on the deck and I had a nice long visit with my sister. It was a beautiful day.
I thought a lot about my father and father-in-law today and how short their lives were. I thought about all they didn't get to do. I thought about all they missed. I thought about heart disease and cancer, the diseases that took them from us. I thought about genetics (maybe I obsessed a little too much about genetics....maybe I shouldn't have ordered the bacon and eggs!). I thought about how fast 58 years goes by.
And then I thought about the future. I thought about my future with my husband. With our children. With our grandchildren. With our extended family. With our friends. I thought about my career, where I've been and where I'll go. I thought about my health. I thought about the 26 pounds I've lost. I thought about how strong I have gotten.
I had my granddaughter take this picture of me just a few moments ago. She told me I am beautiful. I intend to stay that way for a very long time.
I like this picture. It was taken at my nephew's birthday celebration last month. If you compare it to the picture I posted earlier this week you should see a difference. I see it. The difference is about 20 pounds. When I look at this picture I see not only a lighter me, but a happier me (and not just because I'm in the arms of my husband!). It's not just the weight, it's who I am, or who I am becoming.
Throughout my life I have faced challenges and I don't think there are many I have not overcome. I'm sure there were, but none come to mind at the moment. The challenges in my life have been emotional, medical, social, familial, dangerous, scholarly, career, etc. The one thing they haven't been is physical.
Now, for me, it's physical. And I'm facing it. And I'm doing it. And I'm winning.
It's April 7th...have you done your 14 crunches today?
This is a picture of me my granddaughter took in August. She said I am beautiful. I saw no beauty in it. In fact, I was horrified by what I saw. Somehow, somewhere (through no fault of mine, I'm certain), I gained weight. Not only did I gain weight, I got flabby.
My blog has been about loss and grief and life events and I've been brutally honest about my thoughts and feelings through some rough spots. Really rough spots. This is another rough spot for me. I'm not happy with how I look.
Let me change that a little. I wasn't happy with how I looked. I gained more weight after this picture was taken and did nothing to change it. I just didn't like myself so I didn't look at myself. Just now as I looked for pictures to post, I couldn't find any. Hhmmm....wonder why?!
This winter I started a conversation with my friend at work. My friend who used to be a trainer. She gave me a few tips. And a few magazines. And a few more tips. And an entire meal plan. And advice on exercise. And encouragement. And a challenge. And compliments. And support. And friendship. And results.
Since December I have lost 26 pounds. I dropped 2 dress sizes. I got stronger. I made better food choices. I started looking in the mirror again. I worked out. I even went to water aerobics.
And then I stopped.
For a day. Then two. Then three. Then a week. Then two. You get the idea.
Then my friend kicked me in the butt!
So here it is. April 1, 2013. One week before I turn 58, the age my father was when he died. The day I decide to challenge myself to do this. To get back on track. To work at this again. To continue getting healthy, to face my fears and challenges, and share them.