Thursday, July 12, 2018

Not-So-Chunky White Duchess

I have been on a journey. It began last summer after I visited my sister and took this picture:
It's like a side-by-side after/before ad for Jenny Craig.

I was mortified by how I looked. However, it went far beyond looking fat. I felt sluggish and unwell. I couldn't do a lot of things that I wanted to because I just didn't have the energy or stamina. I decided to make a change. 

I was nervous about such an undertaking. I knew it would be challenging, but I could also see where I was headed if I did nothing. One side of my family tends to be overweight and I was told from an early age that I would likely follow the trend when I got older. I worried that maybe that was truth; maybe getting fat was unavoidable for me. Maybe I was fighting a losing battle. 

Fortunately, the other side of my family is stubborn tenacious. I was not going to Fatsville without a fight. I began simply. No fad diets. No pills. No supplements. Just careful calorie and activity tracking. I got a new Fitbit and started using the MyFitnessPal app. I really became more conscious about what I was taking in and how much activity I was doing on a daily basis. 

My job is largely sedentary, so I set my Fitbit to give me hourly reminders to get up and move. I started going to the gym regularly. At first I just walked on the treadmill or rode the bike. After a while I added in some classes: PiYo, some yoga and even kickboxing. I gradually added in some weight training as well. 

My diet has never been really terrible, but I did have a portion control problem as well as a penchant to snack a lot at night. I cut down my meal portions but added in regular healthy snacks during the day so I never feel overly hungry. I cut out late-night snacking by instituting a 10pm Unplug for myself. By 9:50pm all my electronic devices are turned off and I am in bed (away from the kitchen) with a good book.  

Since the end of the summer last year, I have gone from a size 12 with achy knees and ankles and some serious gut issues to a size 6 with knees that can hold up for a run and two back-to-back weeks of VBS. My energy is great and I feel better than I have in AGES. 

But this is the most important part: There is no end in sight. I'm not going to get to a certain weight or dress size and say, "Ok, I'm done. I can go back to what I was doing before."

This is a lifestyle change for me. This is the way I will be from now on. And I'm happy. I love going to the gym. I enjoy the foods that I eat. I allow myself a treat now and then, but I am not interested in letting this go. It's not that I'm just afraid of gaining the weight back. I love how I feel now. I didn't realize how bad I felt before. Even my anxiety issues have gotten better thanks to regular exercise and cutting a lot of the crap from my diet. 

I was almost 40 when I started. I had a lot of bad habits and a family history of weight issues. I could have said, "Well, everyone in my family is fat" and felt perfectly justified. But I want to be a good example for my children. I want to be healthy for myself now and for my future self. I want to be able  to hike Cinque Terre or climb the Tor at Glastonbury when I'm an older lady. I don't want to be a burden to my sons when I'm old because I didn't take care of myself. 

So there it is. My "Yay Me!" post. I won't apologize for it. I worked hard for it. I'm still working hard. 

But it feels amazing.

*I could not have done this without the awesome support of my husband. He's been on this journey with me and is such an inspiration to me. He looks amazing too!

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

My Big Fat Fabulous 40th Birthday

Most people view turning 40 as an occasion to be dreaded and greeted with black balloons and much sobbing. I am not most people. Oh sure, getting older is not always fun. I have more aches and pains and creaks and groans now. I also have more experience. I've done a lot and been through a lot and survived a lot in my 40 years on earth.

Over all, my life so far has been pretty charmed. When compared to a large percentage of the world's population, I am living the dream. Still, I've had my ups and downs, but I wouldn't trade any of it or wish it away. Not one moment. Each moment has brought me to right where I am, and to be honest, I like where I am headed.

I am cresting that proverbial hill, but I still see a lot of life ahead of me. I feel as if I am finally settling in to who I truly am and what I am called to do in this life. The puzzle pieces are at last coming together and I am beginning to see a clearer picture of myself.
And I look pretty darn good!

Since I'm 40, my kids are older and much more self-sufficient, so I have more time to devote to my passions. Lately, those passions have taken less of a hobby type role and more of an Oh-my-goodness-I-can-make-money-doing-this type role. Just a few years ago I never would have considered such a thing. I didn't see myself as a real artist because I didn't have the confidence to put myself out there and share what I created.  I began slowly and anonymously, but over time I have learned and tried and worked to hone my craft. 

I am grateful to the community of artists and kindred spirits who helped me find my way. I am also enormously grateful to my husband who has been so supportive of my journey. He has had a huge part in helping me get over my crippling fear of failure and gain my confidence. I spent such a long time feeling unworthy and useless and he helped me to at last feel as if I have a voice and a purpose.  

I look at turning 40 not as the end of my youth, but as a positive turn towards finding myself and my raison d'etre. There are so many things I want to be and do and see. This is not the beginning of the end; it's only the end of the beginning. 

I remember when my parents turned 40 and I thought they were ancient. I see now that 40 is not nearly as old as I thought it was when I was a teenager. And as much as everyone likes to joke about everything being "downhill from here," I just choose to view it differently. 

Standing here now, at the top of THE HILL, I have a clear view of what's ahead and do you know what I see? I see another hill. You see folks, Life is not a hill at all. It's a freakin' mountain chain. I choose now to move on from this hill to the next one and climb it like it's a jungle-gym. 

I may moan and groan at times about being old, but I really feel as if my best years are still to come. There's a lot of life left in this gal and I'm not going to let a number like 40 make me slow down. 

I am just getting started!

*A very special thank you to Leann Hill for the amazing photos. Check out her portfolio here.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Pant Rant

Maybe it's the sinus meds making me stupid bold, but I just gotta say it...

I freakin' hate LuLaRoe.

I keep getting added (without my permission) to LuLaRoe Facebook groups and parties and it's making me crazy.

Y'all, I get it. Leggings are comfortable. Fine. Wear them, but wear size appropriate and AGE appropriate leggings please.

I am thoroughly confused by the number of women over 40 who are sporting "pants" that look like they were purchased at Justice or The Limited Too. Come on, ladies! Do we really need to wear neon leggings with ice cream scoops or puppy faces printed on them?

These are just plain pugly. *Ba-dum-bum!*

The ladies who sell these things shell out big bucks to purchase inventory and if they don't sell, then what? Do they get any of their investment back? Is anyone besides the LuLaRoe company making any money? The way some of these gals are aggressively pushing their "parties" I'm guessing the answer is no. Speaking of parties... there is usually wine there, right? I suppose after knocking back a few glasses of Pinot this stuff might look good. 

Lisa Frank got totally trashed and decided to make pants.

"But they're soooo buttery soft," all the SAHMs coo. That does not make up for the fact that they are butt ugly and should not be worn by any female older than 6. I have come to terms with the leggings-as-pants fad. However, these prints and styles are totally ridiculous outside of a Kindergarten classroom. 

These double as a play-mat if little Jimmy gets bored in church.

Ladies, I know comfort is key when juggling kids and work and life in general, but that shouldn't mean sacrificing style. LuLaRoe is laziness. Seriously, I can go pick out the same outfit in the Garanimals section at Walmart. Whatever happened to dressing with sophistication? 
Candy corn ain't sophisticated.

We Southern ladies have always been known for our class and elegant style. Why are we sinking to wearing stuff our daughters would find juvenile? Is it about fitting in? Is LuLaRoe the new cool thing? Just remember how you laughed when you looked at old photos of your mother from the 70s and 80s. Think ahead 10 or 15 years to your daughter howling at your many Outfit-of-the-Day pics and see if those banana print leggings are still appealing.
Get it? A-peeling? 

And we won't even go into this:
Holey obnoxious leggings, Batman!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Repairers of the Breach

We are 11 days into 2017 and I'm just now settling on my claim for the New Year. To be honest, I've spent the past week and a half just trying to catch up after the holidays. 2016 was such a looooong, disturbing year and I've needed a few extra days to "get over it."

So, here we are. 2017! I'm happy to have the past year behind me. It was so full of loss and heartbreak that  touched EVERYONE! Bowie seemed to be the catalyst, dying on this day one year ago and setting off 2016's year-long celebrity massacre.

I experienced loss in my personal life as well. My dearest aunt died quite suddenly and unexpectedly, leaving me and my family in shock. It was a tough blow to lose the woman who had been more than an aunt to me when I was a child. She had been a wish-giver, a secret play-mate and a source of love and laughter that I needed in those days.

On the day of my aunt's funeral I also said goodbye to my dear neighbor to whom I had grown very close, and who had become a motherly figure and mentor for me. Unable to live alone anymore. she moved hundreds of miles away to live with her daughter.

Just before Christmas I lost my former Sunday School teacher, fiercest prayer warrior and sweet confidant. She was a great lady who prayed me through my teenage years and taught me by example about how to live a godly life.

Now, as I'm a week and a half outside of that painful year, I have decided that 2017 is going to be the year of Redemption and Restoration. It's not really as serious and solemn as it sounds. If last year was a year of loss, this is the year that I will reclaim and restore what I can. Many things have already been set into motion and I eagerly await the chance to share them.
Return to Oz?

I will begin with myself. I want to restore my body and reclaim my long-dormant creativity. I want to exercise my body and mind. I miss the person I once was, full of energy and imagination. I will find her and reclaim her. I watched a video this morning about a man who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. In the midst of his pain and suffering, he began working on an old church, repainting and restoring it. Over the three years he worked on it, his body healed. His cancer went into remission. The restoration of the church brought restoration to his body and soul.

I'm tired of sitting around wishing I could do this or that. I want to reclaim my life and live it to the fullest. I have let my personal identity and dreams once again get buried beneath the day-to-day stuff. Responsibilities are important, but I have sacrificed a lot of who I am to things that won't really matter tomorrow. Sometimes I even use those responsibilities as an excuse and a place to hide, telling myself, "I can't write right now, I have to fold the towels."

No one will remember me for how neatly my towels were folded. If I want to make a difference in the world (and I certainly do) I need to stop hiding behind my "real job" and get out there and do things that matter. Not just for myself, but for society. I want to use my Art and creativity in ways that make things better. The world is hurting, and if I can create one moment of beauty out there somewhere, I will count myself a success.

So here's to 2017. Here's to hoping for a restoration of things lost, a healing of wounds and a reclaiming of peace. We've got a lot of work to do.
Isaiah 58:12

Monday, December 26, 2016

Caveman Facebook

I've been fascinated by cave paintings since I studied Lascaux in high school Art History. There's been a lot of speculation on what purpose the cave paintings served since the site was discovered in 1940. Were they drawn out plans? Storytelling? Graffiti? Art for Art's sake?

Perhaps they were the earliest form of social media.

A Prehistoric Facebook with...

 The earliest example of humble-bragging:
  Og kill 3 deer. Family feast. #blessed

The response from friends:
Ak-Ak and 57 others like this

Duk and Unga have sent you friend requests

Team rivalries: 
Og's team better than Ngu's team #nguteamhateweek

Life events:

Baby Oonga 6lbs 7oz
Vacation pics:
Spring Break 3156 BC

Vague Status Updates:


And even the occasional NSFW:

Maybe social media is not a new idea at all!

You are now friends with MyspaceTom.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Where Do We Go From Here?

The 2016 Presidential Election is over and done. A lot of people are happy with the outcome. A lot of people are unhappy with the outcome. VERY unhappy.

So what happens now? 

I will tell you, but first let me make it very clear that my beliefs in this matter have very little to do with my own political opinions. I voted, as is my civic duty, even though I felt neither of the candidates were particularly ideal for the job of running the United States. Still, people have fought and died for my right to vote, so I went to the polls and made a choice. 

Now, no matter what my personal thoughts on the outcome, one thing remains true: It's time to pick up and prayerfully move on, accepting what has come to pass as the Will of the Almighty and the choice of the American people. 

As voting is our civic duty, supporting and respecting our elected officials is our Christian duty. 

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

God's word commands us to pray for, respect and obey our leaders. I haven't always agreed with those in positions of authority, and that's ok. We are fortunate enough to live in a country where we can complain, speak out and peacefully protest against our leadership without fear of punishment. However, often our most powerful form of protest is a prayer that those in authority make godly decisions. 

When it comes right down to it, God is in control. Anyone in power is in that position because God allowed it. Sometimes He allows it for our good, but sometimes He allows it in order to teach us a lesson and bring us back to Him. God's own chosen people suffered under many evil kings because of their disobedience. 

So, is Donald Trump going to lead us back to God or down a path of destruction because of our falling away? Only time will tell. Until then, we must prayerfully move ahead and try to heal up the hurts of those around us. People are scared and angry, and rather that acting like ugly football fans who taunt the losing team, we need to show compassion and kindness to those who feel let down and betrayed. Now is not the time to be stirring up trouble and adding further division to an already severely divided nation. We should aim for unity through Christian love and kindness. 

God is the answer to our troubles, not any politician. Donald Trump cannot save our nation. Hillary Clinton can't either. However, we CAN find true salvation when we come together and turn our hearts back to Jesus Christ. 

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Leave the Gun, Take the Euphonium

*As far back as I can remember I always wanted to be a...

**Band Mom.

You thought I was going to say gangster, right? Well, we do carry a lot of large black cases, but they usually contain instruments and not machine guns. Usually.

I think it started back in high school when I visited the concession stand during half-time and saw all the band parents busily buzzing around filling orders and taking money. They laughed and chatted and seemed to be having a great time even though they were manning the windows at a furious pace. There was a sense of community and camaraderie about them that was very appealing.

Fast-forward about 15 years to the day my older son came home from 6th grade and announced he was in Band class. He had never been musically inclined, so I didn't think much of it at the time.

Fast-forward 5 more years and not only is he an accomplished trumpet player, but he's also Brass Captain and Band Captain.

I am fully immersed in my role as Band Mom and I have the t-shirts to prove it.
I'm not proud or anything...

As an experienced Band Mom, I have learned a lot throughout the years and I feel it is my duty to inform those new to the ranks. There are things that will always be true no matter where you live or how big or small your band may be. 

1. You are everyone's mom.
     From the moment the music store rep hands you that big black case and says, "Congratulations, it's a saxophone," you are no longer just Johnny or Suzie's mom. You are every band student's mom. This goes double if you are a Band Booster and triple if you are a Band Booster officer. You will not only see to the needs of your child, but every kid in the bus or on the field. You will find yourself holding someone's piccolo or flag or flaming baton while they run to the restroom. You will bring an extra pair of long, black socks because someone always forgets theirs. You will walk the stands asking if anyone needs water. And when your child comes to you and asks you to spot a friend some cash for lunch because he or she doesn't have enough, you'll do it without a second thought. Because these are your kids and that's what moms do. Besides, you know that kid can't possibly lug that tuba around the field on an empty stomach.

2. You will never have another free Saturday.
     Forget sleeping in on the weekend if you are a Band Mom. At least through marching season. From September until Christmas break, Saturdays will be filled with competitions, sectionals, Band Days, and parades. Just mark Saturdays off your schedule. Tell your friends in advance that you cannot make it to weddings, birthday parties, reunions, etc. because you'll be tagging along after your child with a bag full of safety pins, fresh socks and water bottles.
"Sorry I can't help you move. My kid is marching in the Sweet Potato Parade."

3. You will have to be prepared for any weather condition on competition days.
     It doesn't matter if the weather man said it's going to be clear and sunny. At the competition site it will be one of three things: blazing hot, freezing cold or pouring rain. Here in the South, it's likely to be all three in one day. On competition days it's highly advisable to bring sunscreen, a rain jacket and a fur-lined parka because, as Forrest Gump said, "You never know what you're gonna get." There will never be a nice, sunny clear day for Band Competition. The Band gods will not allow it. It's part of the testament of the instrumentalists to be able to march on foot-searing AstroTurf, slog through ankle deep mud, or crunch over frozen tundra. And you as a Band Mom will sit on bum-scorching or tush-freezing or seat-soaking bleachers to watch all of this take place.

4. You will learn to refrain from shouting at all the people talking through the half-time show.
     It never fails that some former football star will be seated near you and will spend all of half-time recounting his glory days with the team. It doesn't matter that your kid is totally rocking his trumpet solo. Jimbo simply has to loudly regale everyone in the stands with the story of his game-winning Pick 6 or of how the team was totally cheated out of the state championship win by crooked game officials. You may be tempted to hurl a music stand at him, but don't do that. It's highly frowned upon. And yelling at him to shut his pie-hole probably won't help either. 
"I've had to watch your kid roll all over the ground for almost two hours. You can watch mine for 30 seconds!!!"

Instead of getting into an ugly confrontation, just do your best to ignore the idiot who peaked in high school. Take comfort in knowing that competition day is coming and for the most part, other Band Moms are gracious in regards to paying attention and giving respect to whoever is on the field. You can bask in the glow of your child's sweet solo while the sun scorches the hair off your head, your nose freezes off, you get soaked through to your bones, or all three. 

5. You wouldn't change a thing.
     When those Band babies take the field and horns are blaring and flags are flying and batons are twirling, it becomes clear that it's all worth it. Every moment. Every expense. Every long drive to this game or that parade. The smiles under those plumed hats are worth it. They know the value of what they are doing. They're learning more than how to play instruments. They are learning how to work and live together and cooperate on a large scale. And they know they are much more than Band members. Even more than friends. They are family. And as Michael Corleone's mother said, "...You can never lose your family."

*One of the first lines from the movie Goodfellas, in case you were wondering.
**I use the term Band Mom, but this could be Band Dad, Band Grandparent, Step-parent, etc. They're all equally important!