Thursday, May 29, 2014


A FEW THOUGHTS ON FRIENDSHIP…

 In my lifetime I have been asked again and again how I could possibly remain friends with this person or that person.  People say…”But they have said unkind things about you, or Jerry, or possibly about one of your children.”

I believe remaining friends with someone isn’t a “you get one shot” kind of deal.  If I have chosen you for my friend, then I saw something in you that I liked or admired.  I have many friends that might surprise some people…they may have been in and out of several bad marriages, they may have been neglectful parents, maybe they are not Christians, I have several friends who definitely do not see eye to eye with me regarding my political views.  I even have friends who have spent time in jail and even prison.  I have black friends and white friends, gay friends and straight ones…friends from a very low poverty level and friends who own mansions on Ono Island.  I have friends who never remember my birthday and friends who criticize many of the choices I make.  But you know what???  Those same friends, I feel very certain, would jump in their car and drive across the state to pick me up if I was broken down and stranded without a way home.

I know one lady, in particular, that has pushed me to the point of wanting to smack her upside her pretty little head on more than one occasion.  She has criticized me, my family, my religious beliefs, my political views, my children, and yes, even my lack of proper etiquette.  And yet, I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she would go to the moon and back for me and my family if I asked her too…because that is who she is at her very core.

Interestingly enough, I have been questioned by many people as to why we remain friends.  Those same people had written her off as a negative force that they didn’t want or have further need of in their lives.  And I told them…when asked why we chose to stay on a friendly basis with her…that the reason was that I knew that at her very core was a good person…a person that just was most likely a product of her situation.  She has had a lot of bad things happen in her life, and I do mean some terribly sad things…and doesn’t that affect us all? It has to, in some small way.  Yes, we can choose to not let ourselves become negative or hateful, but it sometimes is just who we are.  I don’t think she means to hurt people with her sometimes ill-natured comments, or to push these people out of her life.  It is just that she doesn’t know how to be anything but painfully honest.  I believe that is what drives her…honestly.  And what we have to understand as a society is that just because her ideas and views may not be ours, that doesn’t make her wrong…it just makes her different from you and me.  There are many issues we agree on wholeheartedly…and I am always thankful for those moments we share a common view…because it re-enforces our few similarities. 

I had a good friend once say that if two friends, or spouses, are exactly alike, than one of them would simply not be necessary.  I always liked that. 

And now, here is the interesting part to me. 

Many of those people who had “pushed” her out of their lives have suddenly decided to give her friendship another chance.  Why?  Because they finally became aware of her incredible ability to be there for them when they needed her help.  And be there she is…at every turn.  She has helped them achieve many of their goals simply by putting them in contact with the right person or people.  She has helped them through trying situations when they knew she had the knowledge to get them situated and up and moving.   She has blessed them…

I can only hope that these people are there for her and returning the favor in some small way...even if it is to send her a gift card, or take her to lunch, or just to bake her a cake and deliver it in person.  Bless her with some small token of their appreciation.  Because that is how we keep friends.  By acknowledging what they have done for us…when they didn’t have to. By realizing they simply did so because they wanted to be of help…because at their very core, that is who they truly are.  Caring people.  So what if they have a rough exterior…so what if they can’t hold their tongue when they sometimes should.  In the long run…it’s about being true to yourself…and her true self may be a bit rough around the edges…but soft as jelly on the inside. 

I’ll take that any day.

 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How long is your "happy gap"?


How long is your “happy gap”?  A second?  A few precious minutes? 

These days my happy gap is so much longer than it used to be.  I think it grew in direct proportion to my age. 

You’re probably asking what a “happy gap” actually is….well, quite simply, it is those first few moments when you wake up in the morning, open your eyes, and realize you have a whole new day ahead of you.  For those first, few, beautiful moments of consciousness, you have yet to focus on what lies ahead for your day…and in those precious seconds you are blessed with na├»ve blissfulness.  Then, Wham!  It hits you in the face.  It's that little window of time between happiness and utter sadness, because suddenly the reality sets in of what you have to do once your feet actually hit the floor.  Take a shower, get the kids up, get them fed, off to school, you off to work, pay the bills, clean the house, get to the grocery store, make dinner, clean up, get everyone ready for bed…on and on the list goes…it makes for a very short, happy gap…doesn’t it???

I am not the one who came up with the term, “happy gap.”  The honor of that phrase goes to our good friend, Andy Andrews.  He used to use that term in his seminars, and I always loved it.  I had such a clear picture of what he was saying…because at the time we had two small children and not a lot of income coming in.  So, needless to say, our happy gap was REALLY SHORT!   We barely got our eyes open, and Wham!…happy gap over and out.

As many of you know we chose to homeschool our two children, so that meant we were surviving off of one income.  We had the usual amount of debt…car payment, mortgage, credit card bills, insurance…blah, blah, blah.  You know the story.  There was just soooo much to do back then, and only so many hours in a day to get it all done.  And I had the impression I was supposed to, no, NEEDED TO, get it all done and do it all really well.   I wanted to do a good job of educating the kids…I never wanted to worry that I might be making a mistake schooling them at home…so that put a lot of stress on me daily.  Plus…there were days when they made it very difficult to stay on track…days when all they wanted to do was be outside…enjoying nature…and let’s face it…so did I!   So out we would go…and then we would have to play catch up on our schoolwork on the weekends or throughout the summer.  I was always one to want a clean home…all the time.  I used to always wonder who might stop by at any given moment…and if that was going to happen, I wanted the house to look nice.  I always obsessed over a tidy home.   We managed to run up credit card bills, feeling the need to own things that I cannot even remember what they were to this day.  Things that at the time seemed vitally important to our survival, and now I doubt we still have or even use on a daily basis.  Worry, worry, worry.  Day in and day out.  Would bill collectors call?  Would the power be shut off?  Would we have enough money to put gas in the car to get Jerry to work and back? Would the house stay clean?  Would there be food on the table and shoes on our children’s feet.  Oh the list of worries.  It was endless…so needless to say…when I woke up, there not much of a happy gap to speak of.

Here’s the thing….

Here is why my happy gap is so much longer and stronger these days.

Because I finally figured out a thing or two.  And I truly think that the older I got the easier it was to see things more clearly.  Here is what I learned…

1.       If I wanted to skip days or even a week of school time so that the kids and I could experience our gorgeous beaches or our wonderful little zoo or take a long bike ride or padoodle around on our scooters….well, that was fine.  Because part of the beauty of homeschooling IS that you can school whenever you darn well please.  There are no teachers demanding assignments be completed on a certain day and at a certain time…I decided when work was to be completed.  So what if we did school at night when dad was home to help, or on the weekends when the rest of the world was packing out the beaches?  We got to go on the weekdays…when no one was there.  We often had the lovely Gulf Beaches all to ourselves. 

 

2.       I can count on one hand the number of times that someone would stop by my house unannounced…it hardly ever happened.  So what the heck was all the fuss over about keeping things perfect all the time?  It just didn’t seem all that important the older I got.  Straightened up, yes…but perfect all the time?  No.  And truth be told…I don’t think our friends even noticed or cared if it was spotless or not…true friends came to see us…not our house. 

 

3.       I cut the credit cards in half and haven’t had one since.  We paid them off, and we decided right then and there that if we couldn’t pay cash for it, we simply did not need it.  Oh what a day of enlightenment that was for Jerry and me.  I swear that was the day our marriage became better, for both of us.  It took so much pressure off of us. 

 

And you know what…the power never once got cut off.   We never, for a single minute, went without food on the table or gas in our tanks.  Not once did the kids face life shoeless or without the things that they needed to lead a lovely childhood.  Somehow, there was always plenty.  Month after month we made it through with a little bit to spare.  Sometimes very little…but a little was all we needed to face another month with confidence that God was, indeed, going to provide for our needs.  So what if there were entire years that we went without cable tv…I now look at those days as blessings…because we did more as a family.   Hours of sitting on the floor with Hot Wheels with the kids…or just coloring in their coloring books with them.  Oh, I have such wonderful memories of those years.  And honestly, if I could eliminate all of the computers, cell phones, ipods, and all the other electronic junk that clutters our daily lives, and go back to those days of sitting on the floor coloring, I would do it in a heartbeat. 

So, these days when I wake up, my “happy gap” lasts a good long time.  It lasts long past the moment I climb out of bed and start my morning routine.  It lasts right up until the time I have to get Glenn out of bed…because that girl in the morning is nothing if not impossible to wake up!!!  But that’s ok…because guess what???   I’m even learning not to let that get under my skin too much…because if I can just find a way to cope with that, than I can extend my happy gap even a little bit longer…

Let go of your worry, friends.  It’s yours to let go of.  No one else owns it.  Let go…It will make all the difference in the world when it comes to your own personal “happy gap.”   And my wish for you today is that as you go through life, you don’t wait too long to find some peace with your situation, so that you can wake up and feel how great it is just to be alive and how blessed you are to have another day in front of you.   Your extended happy gap is there for the taking.  So tomorrow morning, wake up and time your happy gap.  Figure out just how long it is before you let the negative in…and once you have made the decision to not let the negative in…your whole day can be one long happy gap.  And wouldn’t that be a beautiful thing? 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

When I grow up, I want to be Paden.




As I enter into my second week of this blog, and my journey toward optimal health, I want to share something with all of you about self- discipline.  This story does not revolve around me…as I have very little self-discipline.  This is a blog dedicated to my son, Paden.


Paden, as many of you know, is 15 years old.  He will turn the big “16” in July.  Paden Garrett Anderson is, as I have often joked with my friends, my switched at birth child.  Someday, years from now, my real son will come knocking on my door.  He will stand there and say…”Hey, a mistake was made many years ago…and you took the wrong baby home from the hospital.  I am your real son.”  And I will say, “I knew that there must be some kind of mistake, as I could never have given birth to this amazingly self-disciplined child.  Now, go away…because I’m keeping this son, because he is my role model.”


Many moons ago, when Paden was only 7 years old, I was absorbed in a wonderful book, by William Dufty, titled, “Sugar Blues.”  This is a terrific book for people who are looking for information on the pure evil that is sugar.  I have to admit that a great deal of it went straight over my head, and does every time I read it…but, I have read it 2 or 3 times over the years as a reminder of just how bad sugar is for all of us.  As I often do with informational books on health, I read several passages out loud to my family.  Most especially passages about how sugar had actually brought down whole armies, and weakened the health of entire cultures…and how sugar was most certainly linked to a number of diseases that were rarely heard of until we brought it into our daily consumption.   Diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease…well, I am not telling you all anything you don’t already know.  And truthfully all of that is not the point of this blog today.  So…back to my amazing son, Paden…

At 7 years old…he was listening.  Not only listening…but absorbing the message in this book.  Pure and simple, the message was…sugar is bad for us.  From that day forward, he eliminated almost all sugar from his diet, at least all the foods with sugar in them of which he was aware.  All candies and cakes, ice cream and donuts, pop tarts and breakfast cereals, and so on and so on.  Now, there is added sugar in almost everything we buy today, I am aware of that.  It is added to just about everything!  That is why we are a population so gravely addicted to sugar…because it is in everything!  But from that day forward, if Paden saw the word “sugar” on the label…well, he simply would refuse to eat it. 

I will never forget the first Christmas after Paden began his sugar free “ healthstyle.”   I was making fudge, my  favorite holiday gift, to give to all of our friends and neighbors, and Paden literally broke down crying in the kitchen, telling me that I was a very, very bad person for poisoning all of our friends with my Christmas fudge.  I felt guilty all Christmas season long. 

It was not long after that that I rented the family a very popular video from Blockbuster called “Supersize Me.”  Oh my goodness…that was an eye opener…for all of us.  From that day forward we swore off of all fast food…and to this day, with the exception of Chick-fil-a, we have not touched fast food.  I could not be happier about that decision.  But, again, that was the work of my son.  He simply looked at us at the end of the video and, at the ripe old age of  7 ½, said we were done with fast food.  If that hamburger and french-fries could sit on that guy’s shelf and not have mold of any kind after 6 months of sitting there…than there simply was not any real-food in there…and no real food equated to no real nutritional value.  So…that ended our fast food days.  And we have no regrets…zero.

 My point…and I want to make it loud and clear…is simply this.  Start reading to, and educating, your children at the earliest possible age about the things they are putting into their bodies.  Why?  Because Paden didn’t have 40 years of bad eating habits to overcome when he made the choice to eliminate sugar and fast food.  His little body wasn’t addicted to all of the things my body was addicted to.  Giving all of that up was as simple as walking or talking for him.  He heard it was bad for you…and thought, well then why would I continue to put things in my body that I know are going to be bad for my health?  He will never go back…there is not even a single doubt in my mind about that.  HE WILL NEVER GO BACK.  
I hope someday, when I grow up, I can be just like my son. 

Paden, when it comes to healthy choices, you are indeed my role model.  And I have a feeling you will inspire many, many people with your wise choices for the entirety of your life.  And isn’t that a blessing, indeed.

 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Today I turned 54.  I have been looking forward to this day for many, many months now...for one simple reason...I have decided that today, April 3rd, 2014, is to be the day I will start my new life.  A life of better health, a life of making better choices, a life of taking control of my actions and making my actions count for something.  I plan to change many aspects of my life this year...but the thing I want to share with all of you on this blog is my journey this year to optimal health.  For most of my childhood and young adult life...all the way up until my 39th year, I was blessed with a lovely figure and the ability to eat most anything I wanted and to not gain weight.  I stayed active...worked on my feet most of the time...and did a lot of walking on a daily basis.  Then, suddenly, a few years after the birth of my second child, everything came to a screeching halt.  The weight gain was a gradual process...it didn't happen over night...it just crept up silently, and without much warning. 

Here is the part that bothered me the most.  It wasn't so much that I was gaining weight, although I hated to look at myself in the mirror and most especially in pictures...but more than that it was the feeling that I was being a hypocrite.  For all of my growing up years, I had watched my mother and my younger sister struggle with their weight.  And as they struggled, I would always think...and sometimes verbalize...how hard can it be to lose unwanted weight? Simply stop eating all of the things that are keeping you overweight.  Simple, right?  Avoid sugars, avoid starches and cheese and dairy and all of those things that pack on the pounds. And get out and exercise.  Hello!  That's all it takes...so why couldn't they, or wouldn't they, just do it! 

Well, as I sit here today...in my 54th year...I suddenly understand that it is not as easy as it sounds.  I love sugar, adore pasta's and cheese and dairy...and bread...don't even get me started on bread!  Bagels with cream cheese, pastries of all kinds, baguettes with butter and jam for breakfast...oh, I adore it all.  And the simple truth is that my body is now addicted to them.  And to stop eating all of the things I loved most in this world overnight...well, it just wasn't that easy.  I would give things up for a few days, and see the scale drop a few pounds, and then suddenly it was as if my body just couldn't cope without it's fix of chocolate, or bread, or cheese...I just had to have it.  And so, I would give in and, WHAMO!  There were the few pounds I had lost, packed back on...oh, and of course, a few more just for good measure.

Well, no more.  I am done with this roller coaster ride.  I am turning in my ticket for a refund, and getting off this ride, for good!  And, so, today begins my journey.  Today, I start my journey to optimal health.  And when I say optimal health, I mean optimal health for a woman my age...54.

My goal for this year is very simple. 

I will lose 54 pounds in my 54th year!

A lot of friends and family think that that is too much weight for me to lose at my height and at my age.  But, I don't agree.  I know where my body should be...and I know what it is capable of...and I definitely remember what it felt like to be 54 pounds lighter.  I remember it like it was yesterday...and it felt great!!! 

This morning I started my day at 5:00am.  An hour I hadn't seen in many years, and almost entirely forgot existed...except to get up occasionally and let the dog out, and then climb back into bed and roll over for another 3 or 4 hours.  Not today...today I put on my running shoes and headed out the door to meet a friend at 5:30am for a wonderful morning walk.  We walked for a little over a mile, and that was all.  My body could have easily gone for another mile, but the bottoms of my feet were burning...literally on fire.  I walk all day long around the house...so I didn't understand why the burning was so bad, until I got home and realized that my running shoes did not have much life left in them, and that if I was going to take this seriously I was going to need to invest in a good pair of sneakers.  So, tomorrow I will be heading out to purchase a new pair. 

So, other than the daily walking, which I will continue every day, rain or shine, I also plan to eat a very simple menu.  My diet will consist of fruits, vegetables, baked or broiled chicken and fish.  That is it.  Nothing more.  I will drink water and unsweetened tea...and although my heart will miss the wonder that is "sweet tea"...I will survive.  ( If you live in the south...you know...sweet tea is simply a staple in every refrigerator)  I considered many dieting options when I was looking at starting this blog.  I thought of Weight Watchers, which has been very successful for many people.  However, since I want "optimal health", I don't feel that microwaved foods fit the bill.  I realize Weight Watchers is not all about eating only their foods, it is about counting points...but just the thought of that wears me out.  I don't think that Atkins, or any of those diet plans fit the bill, either.  In looking at the very best health choice for the long haul...it simply had to be a diet of as many organic, freshly grown, non processed foods that I could consume on a daily basis.  So, that will be my diet for the rest of this year...and most certainly for the rest of my life. 

And lastly, I'm going to dance!!!  I'm going to dance like no one is watching, as the saying goes!  Every day...whether I'm all alone or with my kids...I'm going to dance!!!  Music blaring, feet moving, heart racing...yep, that's going to be a huge part of my day...moving my happy feet!

I would love to encourage as many people as I possibly can to join me in this journey.  But, truly, my goal is a very selfish one.  I want to be around for a very long time.  I want to see my children marry.  I want to be around for the births of my grandchildren.  I want to travel a bit more and see places like Greece and the Orient, to visit my daughter in New York when she moves there next year and to visit my son at college when he heads off to start his life...and I want to see experience it all feeling great and looking great! 

And so...my journey begins.