Fat Fridays Week 29: Determination with a Capital D

Hello everyone. How’s it going? Life is tripping along over here at a rapid pace. I can’t believe our summer break is almost over. Only a couple more weeks and my kids will be back in school. Looking back over this summer I can’t say that I made any major progress in the realm of weight loss and healthy living. But, on the other hand, I feel better about myself as a person. I also have not lost hope or sunk down into despair. I now have a better handle on what health issues I need to address right away. I am still feeling hopeful and positive. These are pretty good accomplishments for me as my default behavior has usually been self-hatred and despair which then lead to even worse eating habits. So, yay me!

 

This past week I looked for some inspiration on the good ol’ internet. I found a web page connected to People Magazine that had all kinds of weight loss success stories. People who had lost large amounts of weight and were keeping it off. I would say I read at least twenty of these stories, skimming through them quickly. I loved seeing the BEFORE and AFTER pictures, I don’t know why those are so inspiring, but they are. You see them and think, That could be me! I could do this! I’ve nailed the BEFORE picture, now I’ve just got to get that AFTER picture! I can do it too! 

 

As I skimmed through the articles, I was looking for common denominators. Which diet plan was making this happen? You might be interested to hear that there was no single diet plan that they were all following. I read about Keto, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, counting calories, low-carb, weightloss apps, accountability groups, exercise programs, weight loss competitions. Pretty much, any diet plan you’ve heard about was represented. Which made me realize that Diet Plan was not the common denominator. In fact, what they all had in common was that they all hit a place in their lives where they said, Enough. I’m going to do something. And then they practiced Determination. 

 

It’s all about Determination. Here’s a definition:

Determination: noun. Firmness of purpose, resoluteness. (Google Dictionary)

Here’s some of the synonyms for Determination:

Resolution, resolve, resoluteness, will power, strength of character, single-mindedness, sense of purpose, fixity of purpose, intentness, decision, steadfastness, perseverance, persistence, indefatigability, tenacity, staying power, strong mindedness, backbone, stubbornness, obstinacy, bravery, boldness, courage, pluck. 

 

Wow. What do you need to lose weight? Read through the list of synonyms. 

 

So, I know myself pretty well. I like to think that I have all that, but history has shown that actually, I don’t. I stand in awe of the men and women who have mustered their determination and conquered. They have somehow persisted and managed to lose the weight. I want to be that person. And I am determined that no matter how many times it takes for me to try and fail, I’m going to just pick myself back up and try again. And one day, I’m going to post my AFTER picture. 

 

Everyone Needs a Manifesto

Today I have been focusing on piano. Piano teaching to be exact. In the fall I will be teaching piano lessons at our church’s homeschooling co-op which meets once a week. I will have four students this year. I had two students last year. I am slowly sticking my toe into the waters of Piano Teaching. My end goal is to teach lessons from my home when all my kids are in school, hopefully focusing on the home school crowd who have the flexibility to take lessons during the day instead of during after-school hours. We’ll see how it goes. In the meantime I am slowly feeling my way forward in the realm of teaching. I have been looking at all kinds of different piano teaching curriculum. Reading reviews. Watching tutorials. I am also brushing off my own piano books, starting to set some goals for myself in learning new pieces and brushing up on my music theory. 

As I’ve been doing all of this, it occurred to me that I should write a Piano Teacher’s Manifesto. Kind of a written statement of what my goals are for teaching piano. I’ve been jotting down different ideas today, trying to figure out what is important to me and what isn’t important to me. I think I can boil down my ideas into two key points. 1. I want to share the joy of music: expose kids to all kinds of music and hopefully pass on the wonder and delight I feel when I listen to music. 2. I want to make music accessible to them: give them the skills they need so that they can participate in music and also let them realize they can enjoy and participate in music no matter what skill level they are at. 

Once I have a manifesto then I have a measuring stick. When I consider different curriculum I can ask the question, Will this curriculum enable me to fulfill the goals of my manifesto? When I plan out my lessons and recitals I can always be making sure my methods line up with my goals. A manifesto is a very useful tool. 

It occurs to me that I should have manifestos for other areas in my life. Like parenting. What are my goals for parenting? Teach my children to know and love the God of the Bible.  Teach my children how to love and respect the people around them. Teach my children how to become responsible citizens. All the parenting methods I use, all the decisions I make should be lining up with those goals. 

How about a manifesto for my online presence? Something to regulate how I act on Facebook and my blog and anywhere else I might show up. How about: Be respectful and kind at all times, reflect character that is pleasing to God. If I was tech-savvy, I could somehow make a little window pop up every time I’m about to hit POST or COMMENT…Is this content Respectful and Kind and Pleasing to God? I would have to hit the YES button on the window before I could go ahead and hit enter. 

Ok, I’m on a roll now…How about a manifesto for my marriage? Let’s see. All my words and actions should have the purpose of encouraging and building up my spouse and promoting unity between us. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a little voice reminding you of that manifesto every time you opened your mouth to speak..”Is this going to encourage him? Is this going to promote unity?” 

Anyway, I’m having fun with the whole idea of writing down my goals so that I have some direction when I need to make decisions. Maybe I’ll expand this to a House Cleaning Manifesto, Money Spending Manifesto, and Book Reading Manifesto! 

 

We All Need Some Grace

This evening I feel very mixed up. On one hand we have a very stressful situation we are working through that always seems to be hovering in the background. Then I have a spot of pure joy bursting through me as my oldest child chose to get baptized yesterday. Then I have issues with my health I’m low-grade worrying about. My children cause a big mixture of love, amusement, annoyance, humour, anger, and really, any other emotion you can think of, sometimes all at the same time. I am feeling very thankful for the good things I have, and then I start complaining cause some things aren’t the way I like them. At a drop of the hat I could get angry about social issues. And at the same moment I could start crying because I just heard a story of about someone being amazingly kind. It’s no wonder that when people say, “How are you?”, you just automatically say, “I’m fine thank you!” What else can you say? It gets a bit complicated if you say, “I am currently feeling every emotion on the spectrum.” 

 

Being human is so complicated. I imagine a big churning pot of stew with a million ingredients and as you stir a big spoon in it, different ingredients float to the surface. How are you doing? Well, right now I’ve got some happiness, joy, and enthusiasm going on. But if you stir things up a bit, I’m sure that annoyance, anger and selfishness can make an appearance.

 

Usually, when I’m writing, I have one set of emotions that is taking preference. They stir up thoughts and memories and I end up having a cohesive idea to talk about. Then there are days like today were my thoughts are going in a million directions, my emotions are having a wrestling match, trying their hardest to be the one on top that gets noticed. My memories are popping up from all kinds of directions, and I just kind of feel like banging my head against a wall to make it all go away. 

 

I’ve been reading a book about God’s grace. I guess that my current mental state is a good indicator of how much grace I need. I’m a mess. And I’m pretty sure I am not alone in the need for grace. I can go on all day about how amazing God’s grace for me and you is. As Christians we spend a lot of time focusing on how God extends grace to us. And that is a very good thing to spend time on. I think though,  I don’t spend as much time thinking about how to extend grace to others. 

 

I am very good at thinking about how downtrodden I am, how deserving of favor I am, how in need of a break I am. I don’t think I spend as much time thinking those things about others. But, when I do, life is so much better. When my husband comes in at night, and I think, I have been here all day with the kids! It’s time for him to step up and help me! I find that this attitude does not make for a nice evening with my husband. But, if I step back and think, hmm.. My husband has been working all day in the hot sun. He must be really tired. I’m tired too, but maybe if I give him a chance to take a shower and eat and give him a big cold drink, he’ll be in a better mood for our evening of parenting we have ahead of us. 

 

I find that this is the same with people who get on my nerves. If I put my entire focus on how they irritate me, kind of keeping a score card of all the things they do wrong, then, yep, I’m going to stay in a constant state of irritation towards this person. But, if I make the effort to walk in their shoes, see what struggles they are facing, ty to get some insight into why they act the way they do…It’s a lot easier to extend grace towards them.

It’s interesting that the more we get to know someone, the easier it is to extend grace towards them. It’s like knowledge and insight naturally produce love and grace. Maybe that’s why God can love us completely and extend such amazing grace to us, because he knows us completely. 

 

In the end, we are all complex creatures who only show the world a tiny fraction of what we are thinking and feeling. May I remember daily to practice extending grace to those around me.

 

 

Fat Fridays: Week 28 Death of a Dream

Today has been a bit of a shock for me. 

Yesterday I went to my yearly check-up at the doctor’s. I mentioned that my blood sugar problems seemed to be worsening. The doctor ordered me a new glucometer since I haven’t used one in two-and-half years: since I was pregnant and had gestational diabetes. She told me to check my fasting blood sugars a couple times and after I’ve eaten a couple times and if the numbers were high to give her a call. 

So this morning I obediently took my fasting blood sugar at 6am and it was 130. It’s supposed to be under 100. Not good. Not good at all. I ate a low-carb protein breakfast of eggs, cheese, and grated carrots. An hour later my reading was 149. Not good. I called the doctor and left a message with the nurse. I expect I’ll hear back from them in the next couple days. I know that one high reading does not make a diagnosis. In fact, the Mayo Clinic website says that TWO fastings over 126 make a diagnosis. I’m just thinking that if my body can do it once, there’s nothing stopping it from happening again. 

The specter of Type 2 Diabetes has been hanging over my head for eleven years. Way back when, I was pregnant with my 5th child and had gestational diabetes for the first time. The nutritionist, who wasn’t exactly the encouraging type, told me that I would probably have Type 2 Diabetes within the next five years. I did a lot of research, figured out the whole low-carb approach, and stuck diligently to a strict diet, checking my blood sugar regularly. My 6th pregnancy I had no diabetes. Had it for the 7th, not for the 8th or 9th then had it again for the 10th pregnancy. By then I knew my weight made a big difference in how my sugars were doing. But how to keep the weight off? 

Type 2 diabetes runs in my family. My grandfather was Mexican-American. According to a NCBI article, “Diabetes and Mexicans: Why the two are linked”  

Mexican Americans, the largest Hispanic/Latino subgroup in the United States, are more than twice as likely to have diabetes as non-Hispanic whites of similar age (13).

I know of a lot of cousins and aunts and uncles on that side of the family who have diabetes, my father included. So, it’s not like it’s a big surprise or anything. I considered myself “Pre-diabetic”. It’s one of the pressing reasons I have wanted to lose weight. But…to see those numbers this morning was a kind of death. Death of the dream that I would lose weight and get in shape before my genetics and the consequences of being overweight caught up with me. That somehow I would hold it off by becoming the picture of health. 

I basically feel like a failure. Not that I want to wallow in that, but still, I am mourning. 

What it means, of course, is that I need to make a new dream. New goals. Gird myself for battle. I am not going to lie down and just accept this. I have read story after story of people who had a Type 2 diagnosis and they lost their excess weight, adopted a different lifestyle and changed their numbers till they technically weren’t diabetic any more. I know it can be done. And I want to be one of those people that do it. 

Lord help me. 

 

Parenthood Requires a Sense of Humour

I saw a little clip of the British comedian Michael McIntyre where he talks about leaving the house with kids Michael McIntyre. (Might be some swearing.) It was hilarious.

I was thinking about his comedic routine this past weekend while we were at our family reunion. The reunion was great. My brother and his wife and three of his kids were there. We had six of our kids and my parents were there as well. My sister-in-law found an amazing airbnb down near Tellico Plains in Tennessee. It was like having our own little patch of the Smokey Mountain Park to ourselves. There was a good stretch of river where the kids could tube and swim, trails to walk on, a pretty little meadow. It was great. 

Our first morning there I said that I would like to go for a walk after breakfast and see all the trails and the river. Pretty soon almost every one had decided they wanted to go too. Great! We cleaned up from breakfast and then I told the kids to go get their shoes on.  A couple kids walked past me still in their pajamas. 

 

Hey! You need to get dressed first! 

Ok Mom!

 

Kids go running off, all trying to get to the upstairs bathroom first to change, since we have one family per bedroom and very little privacy. There is a tussle upstairs, some loud thumps..someone yells. 

 

TAKE TURNS IN THE BATHROOM!! I yell up the staircase, too lazy to actually run up the steps and see what exactly happened. 

 

Meanwhile, my mom, who has no little children, sits in the living room. 

Just let me know when you’re ready.  

Ok Mom. 

 

Some barefoot children run past me. SHOES!! You need your shoes!! The ten year old then launches into a complaint about how his water shoes are no good and he has no shoes to wear and of course it’s all my fault because I didn’t buy him the new pair of water shoes that he was wanting. (Because he had a perfectly good pair already.) I tell him to just wear the cheapy tennis shoes that he brought, it won’t matter if they get wet and they will definitely keep out rocks. 

 

No way. Those are tennis shoes. You aren’t supposed to wear tennis shoes in the water.

I don’t care which shoes you wear, just PUT on shoes NOW, or you can just sit on the couch all day.

 

He goes to find his water shoes and then starts yelling because his older brother is apparently wearing HIS water shoes. Older brother protests. (Unfortunately, at the time of purchase, there was no variety available, I ended up getting the same shoe in two different sizes. Bad idea.) We finally make older brother take off the water shoes so we can verify the size of the shoe. Yes, these water shoes belong to the ten year old. Sorry older brother. 

 

Older brother then collapses onto the couch in a full-on pout. 

 

What’s wrong?? Go get your shoes on!!

I can’t find my shoes. 

Have you looked in the car? In the living room? Outside? In the bedroom?

I haven’t looked in the bedroom.

THEN GO LOOK IN THE BEDROOM!!!

 

My mom sits peacefully, turns a page of her book as I stomp on by.

 

Then I notice the two year old. He is walking around in his diaper. Good grief. I run up the stairs into the bedroom, grab clothes, diapers, wipes, socks and shoes. (It’s summer, but this poor baby has fat feet that get blisters in every single shoe unless he is wearing socks.) I run downstairs, corner the baby, and start speed-dressing him. Children who are dressed and shoed are now running around outside. I jump up, stick my head out the door..

 

DON’T LEAVE UNTIL I COME OUT THERE! 

Ok Mom.

AND WHILE YOUR’E AT IT, GO INSIDE AND USE THE BATHROOM AND GET A DRINK!

 

Children start pouring back into the house to fight for the bathroom.

 

Older brother is once again sitting on the couch, moping. 

 

WHY DON”T YOU HAVE YOUR SHOES ON???????

My shoes are in the bedroom and the bedroom door is locked and I can’t get in. 

 

What? I was just up there. That’s impossible. Go try the door again. 

 

I stand at the bottom of the steps and watch while he runs up. I hear him struggling with the door. The door is not opening. 

 

ANDY!!! It’s now time to bring in the reinforcements.

 

My husband comes, inspects the door. He needs a paper clip. We are in someone else’s house. It’s very unlikely there are any paper clips around. We search all the drawers. I find toothpicks. Will that work? 

 

Nope. 

 

Finally, with a credit card and who knows what other magic, my husband unlocks the bedroom door. (I would very much like to know how it got locked in the first place.). Older brother retrieves his shoes. I announce loudly, to the house at large, that I am now leaving on a walk. 

 

My mom has finished her book by now. She gets up and joins us. (I’d like to add that my brother and his wife are going through the same saga getting their kids out the door.)

 

We start walking down the path and I suddenly remember that little comedy clip I had seen about parents trying to leave the house. I start laughing. Parenthood definitely requires a sense of humour.